Homes Not Hospitals Protest

Last week Caerphilly People First staff and members were at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay for a peaceful protest arranged by All Wales People First, titled ‘Homes Not Hospitals: Stolen Lives’.

The aim of the protest was to bring publicity to the campaign of families for the release of people with learning disabilities and/or autism, who are trapped in mental health hospitals in Wales.

Our members Ffion, Gethin and Natalie were there with their banners, protesting about this awful policy which condemns people to hospital, just because the resources aren’t there to entitle them to live in the community.

It was great to see so many people there, and it is hoped that decision makers in the Senedd will listen to our pleas and do something about this inhumane policy where people with learning disabilities are locked up like prisoners.

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.

‘Through Our Eyes’ Photography Project

On Wednesday 5th October Ffion and Christy attended the shortlisting session for the All Wales People First ‘Through our Eyes’ photography project, at the Marriott Hotel in Cardiff.  Through Our Eyes shares the stories of people with learning disabilities in Wales through photographs and videos, and they will be staging an exhibition at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, on November 24th, which will be attended by Mark Drakeford MS and Jane Hutt MS. The group at the shortlisting session decided which pictures they liked best, and which pictures best represent the project, which challenges perceptions and stereotypes by highlighting the valued roles and activities of people with learning disabilities in our communities.

Focus Group Activities

This week the group made their weekly visit to the garden plot at Taraggan Educational Gardens, and although the weather was too hot to do much physical work, the group dug up some of their potatoes and took them home.  One of our volunteers, Morgan, sent us a picture of the meal he made that evening using the potatoes.  

During the afternoon the group welcomed Geraint, Tracey and Kelly from All Wales People First.  Geraint did his SATV (Self Advocacy TV) roadshow with the group, and we covered subjects such as: what we want that we haven’t got now, day centres, and COVID.  We then played Family Fortunes and Wheel of Fortune, answering general knowledge questions, which the group really enjoyed.  We also sang happy birthday and presented a birthday cake to Chris, Anthony and Morgan who share the same birthday.  Happy Birthday, boys!  

All Wales People First Adfest 2022

This year’s All Wales People First conference, otherwise known as Adfest, was held on 21st and 22nd June in Conwy, North Wales.  The theme of this year’s event was ‘Reconnecting’, and ‘celebrating the place of people with learning disabilities in Welsh society’.  This was the first in-person Adfest since 2019, and Christy and Ffion attended as representatives of Caerphilly People First. 

On day 1 the keynote speech was given by Stuart Todd of the University of South Wales, who talked about the Covid impact study he has carried out.  He was followed by Joe Powell, Chief Executive of All Wales People First, who engaged the group in a session called Devil’s Advocacy.  This involved Joe asking questions like ‘should people with learning disabilities be the first to lose their jobs during Covid?’ and inviting attendees to give their views.

Ffion and Christy attended two workshops on day 1: ‘Health and wellbeing’, hosted by Carmarthenshire People First, and ‘Holding on to your rights’, hosted by the British Institute of Human Rights. This was followed by attendees giving feedback from all the workshops being hosted.

After this, it was time to relax.  Some people had a swim, some went for a walk, and some just caught up with friends they had met over Zoom during Covid.  After sitting down for our meal, the evening ended with a disco hosted by DJ Gerraint, which was great.

The morning of day 2 was spent enjoying the ‘Speakers’ tents’ where various organisations – including Welsh Ambulance Service, Gig Buddies, North Wales Together, Practical Pilates, and the Through our Eyes photography project – gave presentations about the work they do.  It was especially great to meet Victoria and Rachel from Gig Buddies, after having only spoken to them previously on Zoom.

Other organisations, such The Ambition Party Project, Rainbow Gogs yr Enfys, Conwy Connect, Improvement Cymru, Cheeky Pants, and Rainbow Gogs yr Enfys, had exhibition stalls where they provided information (and sometimes goodies).    

Also on day 2, All Wales People First held an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) where members voted on proposed changes.  The conference ended with the Mirror Awards, which are presented in celebration of the great work done by self-advocates and groups over the past year.  Well done to all the people and organisations who won an award!

It was a brilliant few days away in North Wales and great to be back meeting face-to-face.  The Quay hotel, where the conference was held, and where most people stayed, was excellent.  The staff was very helpful, the views were beautiful, and the food and the service was outstanding.  We can’t wait to see you all next year in South Wales when we’ll do it all again!

National Council Meeting

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.

national council