A People’s Parliament is one way of not only ensuring civic engagement of autistic people and people with learning disabilities, it also enables people to co-develop local policy and push for improvements in professional practice.

The Learning Disability and Autism People’s Parliament is made up of local people who have relevant lived experience. As the Parliament covers various topics in a year, we work with people with a range of experiences to match the subjects we are focusing on. The Parliament has formal links to the Health and Wellbeing Board. It is located in the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell, just outside of Birmingham. 

Key areas for the Parliament in 2020-2021

The People’s Parliament is project based; the Parliament holds meetings relevant to individual project areas. Sandwell residents with learning disabilities and autistic people work on Parliament projects dependent on relevant lived experience. Quality of Life reviews are all anonymously reported to the People’s Parliament. Once the findings from the review are sent to the Parliament, dependent on the nature of the review other areas of work may emerge. 

Quality of Life review of peoples health in supported living

This review explored how well people in supported living are enabled by social care providers to maintain good health. The report is being presented to the Learning Disability Advisory Group, which reports to the Sandwell Safeguarding Adults Board. As a result of the review, Changing Our Lives is working in partnership with Sandwell Learning Disability Community Specialist Health Services from Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and the Learning Disability Mortality Review (LeDeR) team from Black Country CCG to deliver a series of health inequalities learning events from October to December 2021 for staff within supported living providers. Best practice within these providers will be shared at a celebration event, supported by Sandwell Safeguarding Adults Board in the winter of 2021

Sandwell’s Autism Strategy

Changing Our Lives worked with just over 100 local autistic people and their families looking at priorities for the autism strategy. These priorities were formed into 9 promises. An update on the autism strategy went to the Health and Wellbeing Board in June 2021.  A series of workshops and local community events are planned for later in 2021 and early 2022, with a view to the strategy being launched in April 2022.

Link Up Sandwell: Digital Inclusion

The pandemic has shined a light on the digital poverty and exclusion experienced by many people with learning disabilities and autistic people. Whilst lots of these individuals were isolated before the pandemic, the lack of access to digital technology further exaserbated this, especially during periods of lockdown and shielding. The Parliament is working with local people and families to highlight the need for their access to this technology.

Changing Places

Working with local disabled people and families, alongside Sandwell MBC, the Parliament is highlighting the need for more Changing Places toilets across the borough. More Changing Places toilets in accessible and frequently used locations will enable disabled people who need hoists for personal care, to be free to use community services and facilities like any other resident of the borough.

Ordinary Life stories

All of the work of Changing Our Lives is rooted in the belief that no one is too disabled and no one’s mental health is too complex to lead an ‘ordinary life’. Telling people’s stories of their ordinary lives is one way to show that people can live in their own homes, in ordinary streets, access employment opportunities and other opportunities that the majority of the population take for granted. In 2021-2022 the Parliament is holding a series of Ordinary Life story book launches in Sandwell libraries.

Quality of Life Review – people living independently after coming out of hospital

This Quality of Life review will work with people who have been living in a hospital setting. and will focus on their quality of life of people when they leave the hospital. It will start in late 2021 and go through to 2023 as the team will be visiting people with 6 month gaps to see how they are supported to maintain their independence.