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 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.
Caerphilly People First has been very closely involved with TRAC (Teaching and Research Advisory Committee), which is based at the University of South Wales. At the end of October the members attended a TRAC meeting at the University where members of TRAC delivered a presentation on communication. After the presentation we spent an hour chatting in groups with the student nurses about our lives and personal experiences. Each student will now design a poster based on the comments of individuals from the People First groups, which people will read and rate for accuracy.
There was a further meeting in November where TRAC members talked about delivering training in 2020/2021, and discussed the new curriculum. The group also talked about the modules for year 3 students. TRAC has yet to have any involvement with year 3 students and look forward to helping them with their ‘Communication and Complex Needs’ module.
Also in November, Ffion and Kath were at the simulation ward in the University of South Wales, helping to train year 2 students. Kath played the part of a patient with asthma who needed to learn how to use the asthma pump. Also on the ward were people playing other roles, including someone having a panic attack and someone suffering from dementia.
The most recent Caerphilly People First county meeting was held in Bargoed YMCA at the end of November. At the meeting we were joined by Anwen, Stacy, and Liz from the Caerphilly County Borough Council Equalities team. The ladies were at the meeting to gather the views of our members on the 7 equality objectives the council have written, with the aim of making Caerphilly County Borough a fairer place to live and work.
The objectives are to:
- Understand and remove the barriers people face when getting services (such as health, transport, housing).
- Improve education for everyone.
- Help create communities that are strong and include everyone.
- Make sure people who live in Caerphilly have a say in how services are run.
- Make sure people can get services in Welsh.
- Have a workforce that includes all the different types of people who live in Caerphilly.
- Lower the pay gap between men and women.
Members gave their views on the 7 objectives, and these will be included in the report that is due to be published in April 2020.
At the meeting we were also joined by another guest speaker, Adam from Pride Cymru. Adam explained that Pride is an organisation which works to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion or ability. Their aim is for the LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans) community to be valued and accepted in their community, and to be free from hate crime, discrimination and prejudice.
Adam also talked about Pride Cymru’s Big Weekend (attended by Ffion and Sharon from Caerphilly People First in 2019), which Pride would like to make more accessible for people with disabilities. Adam also stated that 180 Pride event volunteers have attended learning disability awareness training, to prepare for the annual Pride Big Weekend.
The most recent All Wales People First National Council meeting was held in Swansea at the end of October, and was attended by Christy, Sharon (standing in as deputy for Ffion), and Natalie (a student nurse on placement with us).
At the meeting, elected reps from various People First groups came together to discuss issues relating to the lives of people with learning disabilities. Some of the subjects discussed included the issues people are having with renewing their bus passes and blue badges. Caerphilly People First members have also been having problems with this. Joe Powell said he would contact Transport for Wales to see if they will attend the next meeting and talk to reps about these issues. The group also talked about voting and the difficulties people with learning disabilities face when trying to vote. The next national council meeting will be held in Flint, North Wales in January 2020.
The All Wales People First conference 2019 was held on the 17th and 18th October, at the Village Hotel in Cardiff. The conference was titled ‘Adfest 2019: Isolation and Loneliness’, and was attended by Ffion, Sharon and Christy.
On the first day Joe Powell, Chief Executive of All Wales People First, talked about the work that he has been doing during the year. Joe was followed by Julie Morgan AM, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, who spoke about what plans the Welsh Government has to help people who are experiencing loneliness and isolation. Later we used electronic voting pads to vote on questions about Loneliness, Relationships, Love and Community. One of the questions asked was: Has being part of a self-advocacy group made you less lonely?
After lunch we attended a workshop run by Pride Cymru, and one by National Centre Mental Health (Cardiff University). During the Pride Cymru workshop we were put into groups and talked about definitions such as Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual. In the mental health workshop we had to shout out words relating to wellbeing, being accepted in the community, and why people are isolated.
We began day two by having a look around the stalls which were set up in the conference room. Some of the organisations with stalls included: the Welsh Ambulance Service, Welsh Government, Pride Cymru, Public Health Wales, and the Police and Crime Commissioner. During the day these organisations gave presentations in various rooms, which people were invited to attend.
After lunch Ffion and Sharon socialised and helped out on some stalls, before the conference Mirror Awards took place. Congratulations to all the award winners! At the end of the conference everyone swapped details to keep in touch, and we can’t wait for the next conference in 2020!
Towards the end of September we attended a Pan Gwent meeting at Able Radio in Cwmbran. Growing Space Ambassadors gave a fantastic presentation, and People First groups held a Q&A session with various heads of services. We talked about Housing, Transport, Relationships and how people’s lives can be improved.
We chatted with the Ambassadors of Growing space about their job roles and how we would like them to feedback to us about what they do and the progress they make.
Jim Wright gave a presentation on The Govtech Catalyst, which is the £20 million fund set up to help private sector innovators tackle public sector problems. Torfaen and Monmouth are now working on taking this forward with the help of big companies such as Apple. They are working together to develop apps that will improve daily life for people with learning disabilities.
Members and staff recently attended a Pan Gwent networking event at Able Radio, Cwmbran. People First groups attending talked about future events, and members exchanged ideas about possible funding and talked about which areas we need to focus on. The groups also discussed the importance of self advocacy.
In June, Ffion Poole, Kath Toms and Christy Taylor attended the Mental Health and Learning Disability Partnership Board Meeting in St Cadocs, Caerleon. We delivered a presentation on Learning Disability Awareness, and the panel showed great interest and was very enthusiastic about the project. A copy will be sent to the director of education.
During the past two months Caerphilly People First has attended meetings of the Citizens’ Panel. At the first meeting we provided an update about the training we have been delivering in schools. Those attending were very impressed with our work, and said they would be happy to recommend us to schools, scouts, girl guides and youth clubs throughout Gwent.