Client of Southdown's learning disability services

Raising awareness about learning disabilities and campaigning for fair funding

Posted on 14 June 2023

The 19-25 June is Learning Disability Week, which is run by Mencap annually to: educate and raise awareness about learning disabilities; smash stigmas to end discrimination, and fight and campaign for a fairer society.

Throughout the week, we are highlighting incredible things people accessing our learning disabilities services achieve on our facebook page @SouthdownHA. We’re also campaigning, on behalf of the wider care sector, for fair funding for learning disability support in Brighton and Hove.

Everyone has the right to live their life to the full

Neil Blanchard, Southdown’s Chief Executive, says: “At Southdown, we believe everyone has the right to live their life to the full, regardless of abilities, background or lifestyle. Learning Disability Week is the perfect opportunity to bust the myth that living with a learning disability means you can’t have a good quality of life. Across our learning disability services in Sussex, we support over 161 people who prove this isn’t the case; also evidenced by the health and social care regulator, the Care Quality Commission, in their inspection reports.

“I’m immensely proud of our support team who enable our clients to fill their lives with things that they enjoy, bring them happiness, and matter the most to them.  This includes spending time with friends and family, holidaying abroad, studying, swimming, and being politically active.

“Quality of life is very different for everyone though as we all have unique needs, aspirations, likes, and dislikes. Our support team work incredibly hard to get to know our clients as individuals, tailoring support as needed and using evidence-based tools to aid with varying communication, physical and learning abilities.”

Campaign for fair funding

In addition to being a support provider, Southdown campaigns on behalf of the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector to affect change for the best interests of local communities across Sussex. As part of this, over the past three years, the organisation has lobbied local councils in Sussex to ask for adequate funding to cover costs of delivering learning disability support in the community, including paying workers fairly.

Neil Blanchard says:  “Learning Disability Week is also a timely opportunity to highlight our fair funding campaign. Whilst we’ve had some success and Brighton and Hove City Council have acknowledged care sector workforce and funding pressures when considering fee uplifts for 2023/24, the 5% they agreed for this year is significantly below actual cost inflation and that of neighbouring authorities (East and West Sussex both awarding 10%). If they fail to offer competitive funding, then the market is unlikely to be able to respond or sustain current services.”

“To help protect community support for people living with a learning disability, please talk to your elected Councilor or MP.  Let them know that this is something you care about and mustn’t be overlooked.”