Some of the people we support recently went to meet MPs to discuss accessible voting for people with learning disabilities. Matt and Jamie tell us how they got on.

On Tuesday 5th September 2017 we went to Westminster in London to attend the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) meeting on making voting accessible for people with learning disabilities.

 

We met with Matthew (our support worker) at Café West in York and then walked to the railway station together where we caught the 11.57am train to Kings Cross. We arrived in London just before 2pm so that gave us lots of time to get to Westminster. On the way we did some sightseeing and we saw the BT Tower, Nelson’s Column, the Cenotaph on Whitehall, the lion statues in Trafalgar Square and lots of statues of famous people such as Winston Churchill and Field Marshal Montgomery.

 

Heading to Westminster

We then met Eddie, Emma (United Response Policy Officer) and Ollie (Eddie’s Support Worker) at Westminster Station before setting off for the Palace of Westminster. Before we entered the building we had to go through security. We put our bags and belongings on a tray that was on a conveyor belt and they went through an x-ray machine. We then walked through a metal detector. This was all to make sure we were not carrying anything dangerous. We were all then given visitor passes. After having a drink in the café we went to Committee Room 5. On the way we saw lots of busts of former Prime Ministers.

 

There were lots of people at the meeting. Once the meeting started we listened to Mark Harper and Chris Skidmore who are two MPs (Members of Parliament) who said that they want more people with learning disabilities to vote. We then listened to Alison Holton (from the Association of Electoral Administrators) and Alisa Irvine (from the Electoral Commission) who talked about the work being done to make voting more accessible.

 

Asking MPs questions

The next person to talk was Luke from Foxes Academy. Luke is a young man with a learning disability who said that he had a good voting experience but two of his friends who have learning disabilities had a lot of problems when trying to vote. His speech was very good and got a big round of applause. After his speech some of us asked the politicians questions.

 

Matt asked:

“It is often very difficult to tell the different political parties apart so could they do something to make their messages and policies clearer?”

The politicians agreed that they had to make their messages clearer but did not say how.

 

“It was an interesting experience”

Matt says:

“I was very nervous as I was asking the question to actual Members of Parliament in a room full of strangers. However, I didn’t show that I was nervous and people said positive things about my question afterwards”  

  

After the meeting Jamie got the opportunity to speak with Chris Skidmore (who is the Minister for the Constitution). Jamie says:

“He asked me where I was from and when I said York he said he had written a book about Richard III who was a King from York. I liked talking with Chris. I think it is good that he is wanting to help people with learning disabilities”

 

After having our picture taken with Chris Skidmore we had a meal at Burger King before catching the train back to York.

Matt: “It was interesting experience. I mean, how many people get to go inside Westminster?”

Jamie: “I had a great day and I was excited to go to Westminster and to talk to a Member of Parliament”      

 

Written by Matt Hamilton and Jamie Wilkinson

Making voting more accessible

United Response welcomes Minister Chris Skidmore’s announcement that the Government has opened a call for evidence on accessible voting which everyone is encouraged to respond to and share their experiences good or bad. 

If you are interested in attending the next learning disability APPG on apprenticeships please let us know.  

 

Find out about our Every Vote Counts campaign

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