I have signed up to show my support for Mencap’s Hear my voice campaign.
The new campaign is about empowering people with a learning disability and their families to have their voices heard by their local MPs and candidates in the lead up to the May 2015 General Election.
There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK but many feel they are not listened to by those in power and the issues they that are important to them – like hate crime, better healthcare and education – are often not talked about.
Through the website www.hear-my-voice-org-uk, people with a learning disability and their families have a space to share their experiences with their local MP and, in return, MPs and candidates can show their support by signing-up to say they are listening.
I'm listening to people with a learning disability because I feel strongly about this group of people being fully included in our society.
Before I became an MP I worked for 10 years in learning disability services and have a first-hand experience of the many challenges faced by people with a learning disability and their families.
These are some of the most vulnerable in our society and listening to people with a learning disability and involving them is not just a question of equality but one of respecting their human rights.
I hope other MPs and candidates will also pledge to listen so that people with a learning disability and their families are heard and we build a society where they are valued and respected as equals.
To find out more about the Hear my voice campaign and Manifesto, visit: www.hear-my-voice.org.uk
Photo attached: Virendra Sharma MP with Mencap spokesperson Ismail Kaji