I first met David Allkins, our new political correspondent, via Skype during his interview for the position.

Newquay, where David lives on the far side of Cornwall seemed very distant over the slightly sporadic connection. Despite this, David’s cheerful personality, his knowledge about all things political, and his passion to help people with learning disabilities shone through the laptop monitor.

I knew we’d be working closely together in the coming months, and that I would be David’s producer as he made his reports. But because we’d never met in person, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when I met him at Gatwick airport. I’m new to United Response and as I mentioned in my own job interview, I had never really known anybody with learning disabilities.

I have to say that I was taken aback by David’s confidence, his terrific competence and the complete professionalism he showed as we worked together in parliament and back at our headquarters in Wimbledon. Perhaps it is this surprise that shows up my own preconceptions about what people with learning disabilities are truly capable of.

I’ve worked in politics and the political media, and I can honestly say that David’s encyclopaedic knowledge of British politics is equal to any journalist I’ve worked with in the past. I also have to say that his manners and positive character when talking to MPs and other contributors are somewhat at odds with the behaviour of some on screen talent when they are off camera.

John and David at the Houses of Parliament

Misconceptions about people with learning disabilities lie at the root of our Every Vote Counts campaign.

At the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), I was privileged to hear from many people with a wide variety of disabilities. Their message was loud and clear: that they have just as much ability, knowledge and passion to vote and take part in politics as anybody else. All they want is equal access to information and the ability to participate in the democratic process.

Indeed, with much of the electorate being at best apathetic and at worst ignorant about British politics, it was invigorating to see so many people taking an active interest in getting involved. David gave an outstanding speech to the committee on Tuesday, whilst also filming pieces to camera and interviews before and after the event.

He is passionate about helping more people with learning disabilities to take part in the impending general election, and it’s a true pleasure to be working with him over the coming months.

David is working on his own blog to go up next week, outlining what he hopes to achieve in his role. We’ll also be releasing his first report on the APPG on learning disability, so watch this space!

All of David’s forthcoming reports will be available here on United Response’s blog and via the political correspondent YouTube playlist. You can also follow David's progress and quickly locate the latest Every Vote Counts campaign news by searching for #URpolcor and #EVC on Twitter.

John Cooper, campaigns manager.