We spoke with Sue Avery, Project Lead, LD Health & Wellbeing Project at The Advocacy People about her experience of being a member of the Health Alliance.
Tell us about your organisation
The Advocacy People (formerly seAp) is a free, confidential, independent charity organisation, providing advocacy services across the south of the country. The Berkshire team provides independent advocacy for the whole of Berkshire, (except Slough). The basis for advocacy is providing an independent person to represent the views of a client, if they are unable to do so themselves. The advocate will try and gain their clients views on a particular issue or decision, and ensure that their views are voiced, and their best interests and rights upheld. I have worked as an advocate for The Advocacy People in different roles since 2006. As an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA), working with adults and young people, and most recently as an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA). The IMCA role introduced me to working with people with a Learning Disability (LD).
What is your role within it?
I am currently the lead for the Learning Disability Health & Wellbeing Project for Berkshire West. Our organisation was commissioned by the then CCG, for this 3 year project which is now in Year 2. I work closely with my colleague Alex Osterritter in promoting H&W to adults with LD, their carers/family.
What services do you provide that relate to health / NHS?
We have been focusing on promoting the importance of Annual Health Checks, the right to Reasonable Adjustments and finding out the barriers in accessing health services. In addition to consulting people with Learning Disabilities, their carers/family for their views, we work alongside various LD health professionals, who readily share their experience and expertise. In addition, in Year 2, we are promoting National Screening which has a low uptake by people with a Learning Disability. We are currently supporting a project to introduce an AHC lesson into Specialist schools. Increasing awareness of mental health and well-being is also on our agenda.
What made you join the alliance?
When the project started in September 2021, we initially became aware of the wealth of information on LD HWB both across Berkshire West and nationally. Also the work that had been done, or was being done, by other organisations. It became obvious that we needed to find out what was being done across BOB as well in our local area. The ideal opportunity was to join the ‘alliance’.
How has being part of the group helped you?
We were invited to join the Health Alliance in July 22, we had already made strong links with Reading Mencap and CLASP in Wokingham and had established a place within the Learning Disability and Autism Action Group. By joining the alliance, we were able to see how much great work was being done across BOB. We now know about the many different organisations who were working along similar lines to our project. Joining the alliance has helped to map what was happening across BOB and develop important links. It has also helped us to avoid duplication of work.
Have you built your network since joining?
Yes, we have definitely expanded our knowledge of the LD projects and organisations across BOB. It has opened up the possibilities of linking in with and working with other organisations. We hope that organisations are now aware of our project and that we can use opportunities to compliment each others work.
What would you say if you were to recommend it to others?
It is the ideal opportunity to find out about the different organisations and the work being carried out within BOB. It is one of the core communication channels within BOB.
Links to connect: