It is very important for disabled people and people with mental health difficulties to influence policy making. A policy sets out rules, laws or the way things need to be. They are written in national government and locally in councils and Clinical Commissioning Groups. These policies influence the way we all live and come to think about the world around us.

Disabled people and people with mental health difficulties, like many others have traditionally been left out of policy making. This is gradually improving but often people’s views and experiences still seem to be an add on, something that has to happen but will probably not end up greatly influencing the end result.

In Changing Our Lives, working alongside disabled people and people with mental health difficulties, we creatively facilitate a range of ways to ensure people are at the heart of policy making and influencing current thinking. Some of these ways include People’s Parliaments, Ideas Festivals, Keep Up events, Citizens' Panels, as well as campaigning and researching.

Some of this work takes place in local areas, for example the Mental Health People’s Parliament in Sandwell enables people with lived experience of mental health difficulties to work as MPs in their own Parliament. Read more

Other work has a more national approach, for example the Got My Back campaign and our work on postural care as well as our work with the Learning Disability Public Health Observatory, influencing public health, and iHaL, where we facilitate a national group made up of people with learning disabilities and families.