Why do I want to be a political correspondent? Because politics affects me and other people with a learning disability.

We often have to depend on the state or ask for things like benefits or tax relief. Changes in budgets to the National Health Service or education may affect us, and where we live will be changed according to how easy it is for people to buy houses there or to start a business.

Politics affects us but it is something that is very easy to see as distant. In the UK media, it is very easy to see politics as something that happens involving a small group in London and nowhere else. It is easier to name members of the cabinet than your local MP. Coverage of politics can be easy to miss. If you know how to monitor newspapers and broadcast media then you can pick up the details, but if you don’t know, then you can miss it. If you have a learning disability, then politics can be pushed even further away.

My job

As a correspondent, I have to relate information and interviews about politics in terms of how it affects people with learning difficulties and disabilities. I can give advice on how to become more involved and help people see politics as something that affects them at the ground level. If this happens, more people with learning disabilities may vote or look at what parties they want to choose to run the country.

Everybody should have access to easy read material that tells them how they can register and vote. All political parties should be producing easy read material that explains their manifestos and what they can do to help the disabled community. People with learning disabilities have to register to be able to vote, and I want to help them to be confident enough to do this. If I encourage a few more people to vote in the general election, I will have done what I set out to do.

My first report: APPG on Learning Disability

The issue of inclusion in the political process was examined in a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Learning Disability, which I attended last week. The meeting was about how voting could be made more accessible for people with learning disabilities. Mark Harper, the Disabilities Minister, spoke on this, as well as representatives from Dimensions UK, the Electoral Commission and Mencap. I spoke about easy read materials and the Every Vote Counts campaign for United Response.

This is the focus of my first report as the United Response political correspondent. Take a look at the video here:

 

 

People with learning difficulties deserve to have a voice

I realise that politics and politicians do not have a very good reputation these days. Politicians are seen as self-serving and ineffective; politics is seen as a something that happens on the news involving speeches and middle-aged men in a room shouting at one other.

So why do I want to be political correspondent? Because people deserve to have a say in things that affect them in any way that they can. The polling results suggest that people are splitting their votes between a wider range of parties and the possibility of a minority government or a coalition looks likely. Politics is becoming even more confusing than ever!

This means that more needs to be done to encourage people with learning difficulties to engage with voting. Democracy is important but there is a danger that it can be seen as something remote and removed from people’s lives. If people are unable to relate to it or see themselves as alienated from it, then it becomes weakened. My role is to change this.

David Allkins, political correspondent.