When Dundee City Council decided it was important to get the views of people who used their learning disability services, they adopted a Citizen Leadership approach. They funded Advocating Together to employ five people with learning disabilities to consult with other people with learning disabilities, and find out what was most important to people, and what services would help them most. Advocating Together provided training for these five 'SAY reps', to give them the skills and information to do the job well. They also hosted events and other opportunities where the wider population could give their views. The council also put procedures in place to make sure these views were influential in the council's planning. The result? A Partners Into Practice Action Plan (PiP) for the next three years, which people with learning disabilities living in Dundee feel they have had a real say in producing. You can watch a video about this work here: The council has also supported other Citizen Leadership initiatives. Dundee Independent Advocacy Support (DIAS) has pioneered a unique project working with people who have Learning Disabilities - the Peer Advocacy Project. DIAS manages the peer advocacy partnerships, in which people with learning disabilities advocate for their peers. They can do this because they have shared knowledge and common life experiences with their advocacy partners. This arrangement enhances each partnership because it fosters supportive and empowering relationships by placing a value on the experiences of both the peer advocate and the advocacy partner. This project also allows for shared negative experiences to be seen in a more positive light.
The User and Carer Forum think this example highlights the following principles:
The council provided a number of opportunities to develop the leadership qualities of the five SAY reps, including access to self-advocacy groups
3. Early involvement
People with learning disabilities were involved early on in the planning process and to a large extent were able to set the agenda
7. Control through partnership
The council and members of these two advocacy organisations created a strong partnership where decision-making was shared