Keeping Self Advocacy Alive - Petition

Cornwall People First is under threat, and we need your help!

Cornwall Council have hugely cut our funding and have said that all our funding will stop from April 2017.

Through our forums, our Keeping Our Voices Alive conference for our members in April, and by a survey we’ve just done we know that people want and need Cornwall People First to continue.

Please sign our petition.

We have a printable petition available on our webstite too which can be found here:

Please return to Cornwall People First
The Lescudjack Centre
Penmere Close
Penzance, TR18 3PE

For any questions, or if you need help to print the petition please call our office:
01736 334857

Cornwall Council have forgotten all the terrible abuse that was allowed to happen in the past decade, and wants to erode the foundations of a self advocacy in Cornwall.

Signed. sigh

Seems very short sighted imho to cut funding to one of the Country’s most active People First Groups.

A group that has been working for many years with some of the unique problems for people in Cornwall; large distances, not brilliant public transport, seasonal employment, etc etc.

If this group closed:
Who would pick up self advocacy in Cornwall?,
What would happen to the years of collective experience of the Self Advocates and supporters?

I’ve recently seen a few longstanding People First groups close, to be replaced by “Forums”

Basically afternoon discos, cups of tea and chocolate hobnobs, 45 minute stand alone meeting, the odd photo opportunity for a funder and a bit of glad handing.

Hardly a replacement for a skilled and campaigning self advocacy group. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen here.

So cross! I want to share the letter I have written today.

Dear Mrs May
RE: Self Advocacy for People with Learning Disabilities
I am writing to you to express my concerns that your Government has lost their focus with regard to vulnerable people in society. I am currently a manager of a small charity in Cornwall called Cornwall People First. Due to Cornwall Councils financial situation the council will be withdrawing funding to us from 31st March 2017. I have put myself forward for voluntary redundancy and have had this accepted in order to support the charity viability. I am not concerned for my own future, but I feel I need to put this in context. I believe in the importance of self advocacy. I know the work the charity does is exceptional and the people we support deserve to have their voices heard. How will this be possible with no secure future for the charity? Plymouth People First is in the same situation as Cornwall People First as Plymouth City has withdrawn their funding too.
My mother wrote to you and has now received a letter in response from the Department of Communities and Local Government their reference: 2739956. Within the letter it states that it is wrong for any council to target the voluntary sector. The Best Value Statutory Guidance in the Ministerial Forward states “The Duty of Best Value continues to be important because it makes clear that councils should consider overall value – including social value – when considering service provision. So it plays to the long-term strengths of voluntary and community groups and small businesses.” “There are some councils who are actively working to protect these organisations and working with them to deliver cost-effective, innovative public services. The new guidance on the requirements of the Equality Act is intended to support such activity. Local councils have been freed from excessive and prescriptive guidance and duties in return for a ‘social responsibility’ deal which asks that they continue to give support to local voluntary and community groups and small businesses.” Where is this happening in Cornwall? It isn’t within the learning disability community. The best guidance also states: To achieve the right balance – and before deciding how to fulfil their Best Value Duty – authorities are under a Duty to Consult representatives of a wide range of local persons; this is not optional. Authorities must consult representatives of council tax payers, those who use or are likely to use services provided by the authority, and those appearing to the authority to have an interest in any area within which the authority carries out functions. Authorities should include local voluntary and community organisations and small businesses in such consultation. This should apply at all stages of the commissioning cycle, including when considering the decommissioning of services. In the interests of economy and efficiency, it is not necessary for authorities to undertake lifestyle or diversity questionnaires of suppliers or residents. The learning disability community has spoken up at the Local Cornwall Learning Disability Partnership Board on numerous occasions to say they are not happy with this cut. For example please see: It has also been raised at the Safeguarding Adults Board. Members, family and friends have petitioned the Cornwall Council and are awaiting a response.
Yesterday, I heard the National Forum for People with Learning Disabilities will no longer be funded. People with Learning Disabilities have been abused, tortured and suffered enough. We live in a society where people should be treated as equals but I cannot see this happening currently. Since the austerity has been on the Conservatives agenda, the vulnerable voices have been cut. Services like Cornwall People First, Plymouth People First and The National Forum with their funding cuts have had the effect that the voice of people with Learning Disabilities has been silenced. In 2000 Valuing People and Valuing People Now made some headway in recognising the importance of people needing to be equal members of society. This is now not the case since your party has come into power self advocacy groups have diminished and the few that remain are now going to disappear. I am aware your priority to the voting public is to balance the books but at what cost? People with Learning Disabilities are also members of society and their human right to have their voice heard does not seem important to your Government or local authorities.
The Conservative Party promised in its manifesto that it would make sure “the hardest to help receive the support they need for a fulfilling life”. Over the year’s people with learning disabilities have fought to have their voices heard, make their own choices in life and be part of mainstream society. I fear we are going backwards on decades of work which secured these rights and inclusion in society. I implore this government to review their priorities and take action to stop this oblivious decline in the funding that supports people with learning disabilities to have their voices heard.
I look forward to your response.
Yours sincerely

Mrs Selina Williamson

Cc: Steve Double MP
George Eustice MP
Scott Mann MP
Sheryll Murray MP
Sarah Newton MP
Derek Thomas MP
Cornwall People First
Plymouth People First