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!

Blaenau Gwent People First Conference

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.

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