Persons with disabilities (PWDs) are neither scroungers nor superheroes, a 43-year-old man in Rotherham, South Yorkshire maintains.
His name is Shaun Webster, the international project worker of Change, a human rights organization led by PWDs. He has visited the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Moldova to train health- and social care professionals on ‘de-institutionalisation’, community living, and community-based care.
With a learning disability himself, Webster has called for the closure of long-stay institutions for young people with learning disabilities through Lumos, a children’s charity founded by JK Rowling.
“They’re doing it faster in Europe, building small group homes and getting people into the community, here they’re dragging their feet, still putting money into care homes. Other countries are less scared, ready to work with people with learning disabilities,” Webster was quoted in a report.
Webster also believes that PWDs, which number about to 1.4 in the United Kingdom, should be more visible in communities ‘to challenge the status quo’. Politicians must be engaged, and a political party of PWDs ‘might be an idea to get our voice across to government because we’re the experts in real life.’
To date, Webster would champion ‘the fact that people with learning disabilities can, should, and do have the same “real life” as everyone else, with a job, home and family life’. He had three children with his childhood sweetheart before they separated. He is now a grandfather of two toddlers and lives in a community-based supported housing.
“It’s starting,” he says, “but we need to make it louder … people want to have proper jobs, to live in the community and not be vulnerable or patronised.” ~ Shaun Webster
Video posted with permission from lumoscharity