Barbara is a lady we support with learning disabilities and additional needs. We started supporting her in September 2012 and she’s been on a journey to political engagement ever since.
When we first started supporting Barbara, she had never voted before and was very disengaged when it came to politics.
Previous providers had not helped her understand her right to vote and as a result, even at 81 years old, she had never been able to exercise this simple democratic right.
Indeed, it is likely she fell into the significant number of people with learning disabilities and autism who believe that they can’t vote –a common misconception that is completely untrue.
By coincidence, we started supporting Barbara just as we launched our Love Your Vote campaign. After years of politics passing her by, you could forgive her if she seemed disinterested – but she wasn’t.
She joined the first group of the people we support who took part in the campaign’s workshops and sessions back in 2014.
She visited parliament to go to a hustings session. And shortly after, she was supported to cast her vote in the 2015 general election for the very first time.
It was an emotional day for Barbara and her staff team, who were thrilled to be able to help her do something that had so much personal meaning.
She hasn’t stopped since – as Love Your Vote has grown and thrived, so has Barbara. You will regularly find her watching the news in her London home and talking about politics with her staff team.
In February this year, she took her second trip to parliament. And shortly after, she prepared to vote in this year’s general election by reading the easyread manifestos online.
On the day, she used our innovative new voting passport to help her plan what she needed to have and what to do.
It’s been a pleasure for her staff team to see her transform – from someone who didn’t know a great deal about politics to someone so politically engaged.
She is very clear on what she wants from the political parties and her vote will go to whoever can maintain her pension and offer the best future for people with disabilities.
Her story is one of inspiration and hope that proves it’s never too late make a difference… or to love your vote.