National Council Meeting

On the 5th and 6th of March Ffion and Christy attended the All Wales People First National Council residential meeting at the Clayton Hotel in Cardiff. On day one, Joe Powell, Director of All Wales People First spoke about the role of the National Council, which was followed by the group going over the minutes of the previous meeting.

We then broke up into small groups and had a discussion about what we like and don’t like about being National Council representatives. Some people said they like being a rep because they get to have a voice for their members, while others said the meetings can be too long and it’s hard for people with autism to process all the information.

After lunch we talked about National Actions (when reps bring up issues from their groups). Caerphilly People First’s national action was that some our members receive limited care hours, which means they have to choose which activities they attend, and then miss out on other activities.

We then played a team-building game called Human Bingo which involved asking people questions like: Have you got a pet? Do you like cocktails? Have you sung at karaoke?

We finished day one with an item called Sub-Groups, where Reps were able to decide which sub-group to join. The groups were: Members (how more people can be self-advocates), Campaigning (what campaigns Reps want to start or join), and Position Statements (what Reps want All Wales People First to say about big issues).

Day two began with Joe Powell giving his Chief Executive’s report, followed by proposals to make changes to the All Wales People First rules at their next AGM. Reps unanimously voted yes to this proposal.

Next we heard from Simone Aspis from the Free Our People Campaign. This is a UK-wide campaign to get people with learning disabilities and autism out of inappropriate hospital settings. Reps voted yes unanimously to join this project.

Our last speaker of the meeting was Dan Biddle, a social entrepreneur who has written a proposal for an All Wales People First business. Reps and board members talked about how All Wales People First can start a business, and Dan presented ideas for the All Wales People First trading arm. Reps agreed with the proposals and All Wales People First will take these ideas forward.

Learning Disability Conference

On July 19th Ffion, Gethin and Natalie attended the University of South Wales’ Learning Disability Conference 2023. Guest speakers included Professor Ruth Northway, and Shaun Haugh who spoke on the subject of mental health. Ffion spoke about the work TRAC does and what it means to be part of TRAC. Siobhan Benjamin was next, talking about her son Daf who has severe learning disabilities. After the speakers there was a quiz with really good questions, which was amazing. This was followed by the presentation of the Paul Wheeler award for excellence, which was awarded to learning disabilities nurse Kloe Leigh Edwards.

TRAC Annual Review

Last week TRAC colleagues held their annual review, which we were very glad was a face-to-face meeting on campus. Discussions included past and future research, what has worked well this year, what needs to be improved, where shall we meet, and how often should we meet.

It was great to see everyone and we look forward to working with all the student nurses in the future. Also at the meeting TRAC colleagues decided to meet quarterly instead of monthly.

‘Have Your Say’ Consultation

Thank you to everyone who attended our “Have your Say” consultation this week at Fleur De Lys Community Centre. What a great day we all had discussing our lives, and what we would like to see in our community. We had great conversations that brought tears and laughter. Caerphilly People First will now work towards looking for funding to deliver on your recommendations, needs and ideas.

Tackling Isolation and Loneliness Week 4

For the fourth of the six events we have set up to tackle isolation and loneliness, we headed to the Fleur De Lys Community Centre in Blackwood.  We were delighted to be joined by ten people, some of whom we were meeting for the first time.  Everyone seemed very positive as we talked about our experiences of Covid, and how we have all coped. Thankfully, individuals are now increasingly going out into the community and attending events.  After the discussions we had a great time playing music requested by individuals, and we also hosted a quiz that was all about Easter.  Congratulations to Sophie and John who won the quiz and got to share the Easter egg.

Meeting with Chris Evans MP

We recently met with Chris Evans, MP for Islwyn since 2010, and the Shadow Minster for Defence since 2021.  We talked in detail about the proposed changes to the Human Rights Act (1998) and the lack of consideration given to people with learning disabilities when documents are produced.  Chris Evans has agreed to write to Deputy Prime Mister Dominic Raab to stress the importance of easy read documents, and the concerns people with learning disabilities have over the proposed changes to the Human Rights Act.  We would like to thank Chris Evans and his secretary for taking the time to visit us and hear our thoughts.

Medical Students Training

At the beginning of March, Ffion Poole and Natalie King worked alongside Cardiff People First to train medical students on how to communicate with people with learning disabilities. The training involved going into a breakout room and holding a number of interviews with students, where the conversations included what Caerphilly People First does and people’s lives and hobbies. We really enjoyed this and hope we can be involved again in the future.

Human Rights Act Reform

Ffion and Natalie recently attended a workshop run by the British Institute of Human Rights where people discussed the changes the UK government has proposed making to the Human Rights Act.  They want to change the laws that were in place in the UK when we were part of the European Union.  Caerphilly People First is one of the many organisations concerned by this because we believe that it will lead to people in the United Kingdom having their rights weakened.  The UK government have opened a consultation to get the views of people on the proposed changes, but unfortunately this isn’t available in an easy-read format.  This consultation is available until 8th March at:

Our Chairperson Ffion says: We are worried about this as we have not had a say or had any easy read documents explaining why and how they are going to change things.  We feel like we are invisible as people with learning disabilities.