Last night I went to the ‘launch’ event of Dudley Voices for Choice at the David Lloyd Centre, Brierley Hill. I put ‘launch’ in inverted commas as they have actually been around for over a decade now. But last night was a celebration of the next stage of their development – the award of charitable status.
I had been invited by Rachael and Tina who I had met at the WeLoveCarers awards a week or so back.
Once again it was an inspiration.
DVC work with people with learning disabilities to give make sure their voice is heard when decisions are being made which affect them. Importantly they also employ people with learning disabilities and autism to deliver their training too – making sure they get paid for their work.
What made the launch special was that it was, fittingly, the users of the service themselves who told the story of the evolution of Dudley Voices for Choice. DVC has supported them in getting involved in many fora where their voice can get heard. It had helped them too when they had wanted to demonstrate against the closure of day centres in the borough.
On a individual perspective, Rachael told her story of having a total lack of confidence, how she had turned up at DVC sessions and how now she was lecturing herself, helping others to understand the challenges faced by those with learning disabilities. It was a shining example of success, and it was almost impossible to believe, listening to her, that Rachael had ever lacked in confidence.
The event made me appreciate four things in particular:
- How much potential there is in every person if only a route can be found to release it.
- How much we should appreciate and support organisations, like this one, that can change lives for the better.
- Those with learning needs are people too. Of course they are. They have the same emotions, the same needs, the same hopes and the same dreams as we all do. They should have the right to have a say on decisions which affect them too. All credit to DVC for giving them the means to have that voice.
- How much courage it takes to stand up and address an audience of well over a hundred. Particularly when you have learning difficulties. Yet the young service users of DVC did this highly effectively and with determination.
It was very kind of Rachel and Tina to invite me to the event. I do hope that DVC goes from strength to strength. It a valuable service which deserves success.
Lacking in confidence? After the formalities Rachael asked me to dance. I NEVER dance. Yet I couldn’t resist her request so charmingly put was it.
Lacking in confidence? Nah!