📣The Warwickshire Empowerment Service brings people with disabilities together to speak up and advocate.

📆 The group meets weekly. They invited Involve to one of their meetings.

❓ Involve asked the group some questions about politics and democracy around Covid-19.

📝 This blogpost is a short summary of their answers.

📖 At the suggestion of the group, this blogpost is in an easy-to-read format.

🏛 How does the council already engage?

👓 The council produces easy-read surveys.

✍️ The council asks for our opinions through the Warwickshire Learning Disabilities Partnership Board. We talk about hate crime, health, social life and learning disabilities.

🚑 Things have changed since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.

👩‍💻 The county council has run interviews over Zoom.

💻 The council tried to find out what access to technology people had.

📭 But we have not had much feedback. We don’t know what happens to the changes we suggest.

⏳ It can take months for the council to reply.

✅ What makes a good consultation?

🔑 It should be accessible.

🎉 It should be fun!

🎧 It should be online so people can use screen readers. Or it should have an audio version.

🤝 It should not talk down to anyone.

🔤 It should use simple language and be easy to break down.

🎥 Video calls are good as they allow discussions.

🦻 Be respectful and really listen to people.

🤲 These approaches will help everyone, not just those with disabilities.

❌ What not to do…

⏱ Do not put people on the spot. Give them time.

📮 Do not ignore the responses: make the effort to reply.

🙅‍♀️ Do not invite someone else to answer on disabled people’s behalf.

💡New ideas for engagement

👨‍💻 We should have Zoom calls with MPs.

🎥 We could record videos of us and our views and send it off to the government.

📻 We should have a radio station and get Boris on!

⚙️ What does the Warwickshire Empowerment Service do?

🙋‍♀️ We are here to help people with feedback on what works for people with disabilities.

📣 We are here to get our views across and make change.

🤗 We are here to change people’s attitudes.

👩‍💼 We are here to improve our communication skills, our confidence and get our points across.

👨‍🦽We are currently preparing a campaign that will bring attention to places that are #NotMadeForMe

💪 What does empowerment mean? Why does it matter?

🎤 Everyone should have a voice. We all have ideas. So we are all stronger together.

📢 We are the ones with the disabilities so we’re the best people to say how things are for us and how they should be.

✊ If you don’t ask you don’t get!

🙏 Thanks to everyone at the Warwickshire Empowerment Service! The service is a project from Grapevine.

If you would like to hear more about the Warwickshire Empowerment Service, feel free to contact scrowter@grapevinecoventryandwarwickshire.co.uk or ejenkins@grapevinecoventryandwarwickshire.co.uk

This piece is part of the "Democratic Response to COVID-19" series curated by Involve and the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Westminster University.

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Grapevine is a charity which helps all kinds of people experiencing isolation, poverty, and disadvantage in Coventry and Warwickshire. We help strengthen people, spark community action and shift power.Our vision is local citizens with the skills and confidence to act on what they care about; connecting through their shared humanity, taking power into their own hands and regenerating their communities. Community-led initiatives in recent years have included inclusive bike rides, protecting green space in Warwickshire, and campaigning for and organising accessible nightlife. You can find out more about Grapevine on our website and follow our social media: TwitterFacebook and Instagram