At the beginning of March, Amy Jones, Cyril Luke and Christy Taylor attended the Gwent Citizens’ Panel meeting. The first speaker was Matthew from MIND Monmouthshire, a mental health charity. He spoke about the project and all that they do to help people with mental health issues. The next speakers were Sian and Grant from Aneurin Health Board talking about building stronger communities together. They also spoke about the Health Board giving physiotherapists and other health workers work experience in doctors’ surgeries.
On the 2nd March, Ffion Poole and Amy Jones—supported by Christy Taylor—attended the University of South Wales to talk to the student nurses about what it’s like living with a learning disability and how difficult it can be.
As part of the training, everyone watched a video about how nurses should interact with people with learning disabilities. We then went into groups with the students and discussed our lives and what things are difficult for us. The students will use this information to design a poster which will be marked by us at the end of May.
On Thursday 20th February, Ffion Poole, Hannah Thomas and Christy Taylor went to Swansea where they gave a presentation to Mandy, Leanne and Matthew from the Welsh Ambulance Service. The presentation was of the training Caerphilly People First provides to medical students, and was filmed in order to publicise the working relationship between the Welsh Ambulance Service and people with learning disabilities.
The possibility of Hannah becoming a Learning Disability Community Champion for the Ambulance Service was also discussed. Ffion is already a Champion, and the role involves talking to groups of people with learning disabilities about the work ambulance staff do.
We were recently visited by two officers from Gwent Police who talked to us about Mate Crime. Mate Crime is a form of hate crime that is defined as abuse or theft being carried out by someone who claims to be a friend. This can include financial abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse. People with learning disabilities are often the target of mate crime.
The Crime and Disorder Reduction Officer and Community Support officer who visited us told us that the police take these crimes very seriously and they want people to REPORT IT! They acknowledged that this can be scary but there is always someone that will look after you and support you. They said that you can call them on 101, or contact them via Crimestoppers or Facebook. If a crime is in the process of being committed you can call 999.
On the 28th February Ffion, Amy, Christy and Cyril attended the 2020 Blaenau Gwent People First Conference. The first speakers were Andrew Day and Paul Swann who talked about the Gwent Advocacy Strategy, and how people with learning disabilities have been involved in the work. Andrew also stated that the GATA (Gwent Access To Advocacy) helpline is now in place for people needing information about advocacy.
The second speaker was Emma Scherpatong from Blaenau Gwent County Council who spoke about the equalities plan for 2020. The plan will be published in easy read format and will be available in March 2020.
Geraint Griffiths from the Engage to Change project was the next speaker and he explained that Engage to Change helps people ages 16-25 who have autism or a learning disability to get paid employment. To do this they help you write a CV and also prepare you for your interview.
David Arnold from Blaenau Gwent 50+ Forum spoke about places being more accessible and age friendly. He said that the next meeting of the forum will host Gwent police talking about cyber crime, internet safety and scams.
Next, David Williams from the Gwent Citizen panel spoke about what the panel does. He said that recent discussion have been around transport, public toilets and accessible areas.
Sadie Rogers from Growing Space discussed their new Travel Buddies training scheme. Growing Space are hoping to encourage people with learning disabilities to use buses and trains and become more independent.
After lunch we attended the ‘What Matters to Me’ workshop. We split into groups and discussed transport, health, housing, and relationships/friendships. Each person had to write 3 concerns they had on these topics and this was then fed back to everyone attending the conference.
On the 27th and 28th January Ffion Poole and Christy Taylor attended the first All Wales People First National Council meeting of 2020, which was held in Flint, North Wales.
During the two days the group spoke about what they like and don’t like about National Council meetings and how they can be improved in the future. Other items up for discussion included bus passes (some members are still waiting for their new ones), if people are happy with the term learning disabilities, and whether All Wales should campaign to have the Welsh Assembly appoint a learning disability commissioner. 100% of members voted yes to this question. The group also discussed appointing a patron to All Wales People First. This is usually a famous person who is able to create media interest and encourage donations.
Also during the meeting, the Chair of All Wales People First, Joe Powell, gave a presentation on the ‘Five Giants’ strategy. Joe explained that this strategy aims to solve the problems with self-advocacy in Wales. The five giants refer to five big problems in self-advocacy, which are: IPA Contracts (which state that local authorities must fund advocacy), Funding Cuts, Mission Drift (moving away from core work), Competition (sometimes with other People First groups), and Lack of Funding.
The next meeting of the group will be held in South Wales in May 2020.
On Thursday 27th January 2020, Ffion and Hannah – supported by Christy – attended the first TRAC (Teaching Research Advisory Committee) meeting of 2020 at the University of South Wales. TRAC members have decided that the group needs to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and at the next meeting we will split into groups and start working on our social media pages. The group have also decided to produce a TRAC logo and a leaflet explaining the work the group does. It was also decided that TRAC would create an email address which all People First groups involved with TRAC will have the login details for, in order to access information and paperwork. The next meeting will be held on Thursday 26th March 2020.
At the beginning of February Stacey and Edward from the University of South Wales visited Caerphilly People First to get our views on what information should be included on hospital passports for people with learning disabilities.
A hospital passport is designed to give hospital staff helpful imformation about you which will help them make your stay in hospital more comfortable. During the meeting Ffion, Hannah and Amy were asked to decide which ten pieces of information they thought the passport should include, and then rank those ten pieces of information in order of importance.
At the end of January, Jenny, a student nurse from the University of South Wales had a one week placement with Caerphilly People First. During the week we showed Jenny around various day centres, and provided Safeguarding training to her. We wish Jenny all the best and hope to see her in the future.