AN OPEN letter to all candidates standing in the upcoming general election.

We are The Being Heard in Government group.

We are a group of adults with learning disabilities who have been meeting regularly now for more than six years to learn about democracy and get more involved.

Some of you will already know of us. We have been involved in demonstrations to protect our services and demonstrations to speak out about the terrible treatment of people with learning disabilities in some secure units, and some care homes.

We have been to Parliament and worked with the Government to make sure that when they change laws, like the Mental Capacity Act, that they think about the needs and wishes of people with learning disabilities.

In 2017, just before the last snap general election, we conducted a small research project about the experience of people with learning disabilities when they try to vote.

You might be surprised to know that 70 per cent of people with LD want to vote, but only 30 per cent of them do (Mencap research).

Our research found that people with learning disabilities often rely on others; carers, support staff, parents, family members and so forth in order to be able to vote.

Voting is a basic human right and one you probably take for granted, yet we are often denied the chance.

We found that some carers tell people how to vote, some say that we don’t want to vote and don’t help us to understand or get involved.

Imagine what it would feel like if you wanted to vote but needed help and no one would help you or that people told you “you don’t want to vote, you don’t understand”.

Well, we do want to vote and we do understand, sometimes we just need support to understand.

Every time there is an election, we work with other service providers to hold an accessible hustings, and we will be doing the same this year.

Sometimes, we have found it hard to get people along to talk to us – some candidates always are supportive and come but others we might not see or even get a reply from.

It makes us feel as if our voice, our vote, our rights don’t matter.

We therefore want to invite all of the candidates from Brighton and Hove to an Accessible Hustings event to be held on the morning of November 26 between 10.30am and 12.30pm. Please get in touch with us, either by email at or call Dawn on 01273 421 92.

We hope that everyone reading this thinks about the people they might know, who may have a learning disability or even just need a little extra support to have their say. What will you do to help them?

Thank you

Rohan Lowe

Ian Metherell

Katie Lord

The Being Heard in Government Group

Brighton and Hove Speak Out