In March 2017, The Department of Health ended its grant funding to both the National Forum of People with Learning Disabilities and The National Valuing Families Forum.

This means that over 15 years of strong networking which joined people and families from across all regions of England and fed current concerns and experiences directly up to Government , had been put under great threat.

As yet, the Department of Health has remained quite quiet. There has been no formal statement from them on the  ending of the two Forums and no recognition of the Forums considerable achievements and contribution to improving lives of people with learning disabilities.

Entering a General Election period means that all Government Departments are unable to issue statements and so we remain unclear about how the Government plans to  hear and listen to messages from the grass roots and to engage in co production without the energy and lived experiences of the Forums.

We are all committed to continuing in some way to use our day to day knowledge and experience of how health and social care, education and work / benefits impact on ours and our families lives. We value the shared information, peer support and energetic advocacy that both Forums have always provided. The path to preserving and developing these valuable networks remains unclear and undoubtedly not without challenge.

 

Julia  Erskine

National Valuing Family Forum Representative.