Please note, this is a guest blog and views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of BIHR.

In December 2021 the UK Government launched its consultation on the reform of the Human Rights Act. In this blog, Fiona Dawson (member of The Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities Human Rights Town App Development Group) writes about why the Human Rights Act Matters to her and why its protections must be retained.

I’m Fiona and I am part of the Human Rights App Development Group. I am doing a blog about why the Human Rights Act Matter to me and to other people with learning disabilities.

The Human Rights Town App is for people with learning disabilities. It creates a vision and a pathway to human rights. It teaches us about the articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The app is fun and practical for all. The app shows a town which people can travel around and answer questions to help them understand their rights. The app is very appealing to the eye. It’s important we get this app out across Scotland and the rest of the UK, for people to download it!

You will probably ask me, why do I think the Human Rights Act matters to every one of us?

Human rights are everywhere, and it shows us how important everyone is in life. The Human Rights Act is for every individual. It's there for a purpose, it's there to protect us.  

Human rights are life, our experience of rights comes in different shapes and sizes and makes everyone unique. The Human Rights Act is a set of rules about the way we live our lives. It’s the law that everyone has rights, and this includes people with learning disabilities.

The Human Rights Act takes 16 rights from the European Convention on Human Rights and makes them law in the UK. I personally feel very strongly about protecting our human rights, I stand for human rights.

Using the language of human rights helps us to have the confidence to stand up for our rights and to have a voice. We all need to be heard. It’s really important we let people with learning disabilities have a voice.

People with learning disabilities are here to make Scotland and the UK better and to make change happen. We are here to support one another, make our voices stronger and improve our chance to have a say.

We need to have the opportunity to speak up and work with public services to find better solutions that we trust.  We need public services like day services to be able to get to know us and work with us.

I know sometimes this can be challenging. Care homes and respite homes deal with people such as disabled people and the elderly. These places can be 24/7 but they must still be flexible. Every place and service must include us. They should speak to us individually and directly. They need to be approachable and willing to help and should have easy read information at all times.

We need to use human rights to stand up for ourselves and make certain we are heard. We cannot let people with learning disabilities be forgotten about.

I know for me, when I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with people with learning disabilities and in particular with Down Syndrome. I am now releasing there are so many more people with learning disabilities finding life hard. Having a learning disability doesn’t mean I can't do things, it’s about my abilities, not my diagnosis of a learning disability.

I am fighting for disability rights. I know I have good friends and someone I can turn to for help, but other people with learning disabilities may not have that security and stability. They may not have the confidence to speak out. It can be scary, but I know there is always a way to make our voices be heard.

I know I can do things, but I am slower at learning than some other people and that it does take me more time to develop my understanding. People might think that people with learning disabilities do nothing, that is not true.

Let’s now bring forward people with learning disabilities for them to have a voice, there is nothing wrong with us. There is support out there and we need the right help and support. We have choices and decisions of our own, we cannot let anyone bully us or force us to do things we don’t want to.

I care about the Human Rights Act because I care for others as well as myself. We are standing up for our human rights, people with learning disabilities are the driving force for change.

Since 2020 we have been locked away in our homes. COVID-19 has been hard for everyone and in particular people with learning disabilities. We feel shut out of the world. Lots of us are still scared of going out there. Many people with learning disabilities have been shielding and some people still are. Our human rights are still not being met. More needs to be done about this. We need to be prioritised.

Please listen to us, give us a chance, and let us have a voice. Human rights and disability rights should be a priority. We need people with learning disabilities who have lived experience to work to make sure we are involved in decision making.

There are some groups of decision makers who are not giving people with learning disabilities a chance to speak to them, this needs to change. Not every organisation or group is getting it right for us. We want to be heard, but are they all listening to us? No, they are not!

We need decision makers and public services to be more open and give us our rights. This includes involving us in the review of the Human Rights Act.

Human rights and disability rights matter. We are all trying to live our lives as best as we can but the human rights of people with learning disabilities are not being made real and that is where the problem arises. Discrimination is wrong and we need to change that.

We all matter, our Human Rights Act matters, and our lives depend on it.

More information on SCLD’s Human Rights Town App is Available here.