Carers, voluntary and public sector organisations from across Leicestershire and Rutland have pledged to work together to create Safe, Well and Happy communities for people with learning disabilities.
Representatives of health, police, education, local authority, advocacy and faith groups attended a packed meeting to look at how they can collaborate to create supportive communities, through a new ‘Safe, Well, Happy’ Partnership.
The event, at Braunstone’s Brite Centre, was hosted by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT). It focused on bringing together the ‘learning disability community’ to share resources and co-ordinate regular activities so that people with learning disabilities have opportunities and support to make friends, learn new things and connect with different organisations.
Organiser Jane Parr, from the Trust’s learning disability service, told the audience of more than 50 carers and community representatives: “We are committed to supporting people to live happy fulfilling lives in their community. “The Safe, Well and Happy Partnership is building on the fantastic work organisations are doing already and looking at how we can reach even more people and families. We hope to see the development of groups in communities that are led by carers, volunteers and organisations.”
Among the speakers were Councillor Manjula Sood MBE, Leicester’s Assistant Mayor for Communities and Equalities and Chair of Leicester Council of Faith’s, who said: “In many faith communities people don’t want to talk about learning disabilities and we need to work together to do more to overcome this stigma. “I welcome more of these events.”
Many of those attending pledged to stay involved in the initiative and plans are in hand for regular forum meetings to take the work forward. Next steps include identifying locations, venues and volunteers to host local Safe, Well and Happy groups and to form an ongoing steering group to create a place for organisations to share resources and co-ordinate community-based activity for people with learning disabilities across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
Steve Woodhead, the Whole Life Disability Strategy lead for Leicestershire County Council, said: “The Safe, Well, Happy event provided a great opportunity for professionals and carers to come together with a shared belief that we can make a difference in small ways that will have a great impact on the lives of many people with learning disabilities. “This work links perfectly into the development of the Whole Life Disability Strategy.”
Rob Melling, head of community development at LPT, reinforced the importance of people with learning disabilities and carers being actively involved and playing a leading role in the development of the Safe Well and Happy Partnership. “Fundamentally we have to ensure that activity is meaningful for the people who will access it and that means those people playing an active role in developing and leading it. This is about being more resourceful with the resources we already have and through the opportunities created, enable people to maintain their health.”
Jane Robins strategic planning and commissioning manager with Leicestershire County Council added: “I was delighted to be included in the big conversation with so many different people, all wanting to do something to make a real difference for people with learning disabilities, let’s keep the conversation going”.
The next Safe, Well and Happy Partnership steering group will meet on the 2 May at the Brite Centre in Leicester. People who would like to attend can contact [email protected]