'We are all colleagues together in a very
Ultimately our goal can be nothing less than
total transformation of our culture.
Only when the most vulnerable of us is valued
and appreciated for his or her gifts will everyone be safe and
supported to be a fulfilled person.
Inclusion is in the journey, not in the goal.
Each step of the journey is as important as the ultimate
A wonderful gathering happened in Liverpool on the 27th April
2016. People travelled from all over the UK, from Cornwall to
Scotland, in order to join together in celebrating 20 years of
Partners in Policymaking leadership courses.
It was made even more wonderful and emotional as the news broke
that finally the people who had been fighting for justice for the
96 people who were killed and 766 people who were injured at
Hillsborough had got justice. One person said, 'we always believed
that we were right and now the rest of the world knows it'. This
statement echoed what Partners does for its participants; there is
a knowledge and understanding between us and a belief. We don't
question when someone says they are having a hard time, we support
each other through bad times, through grief and also celebrate when
something goes well.
It was a wonderful celebration. The sun shone, we had stunning
views across the Mersey and thanks to Gaynor, Julie and Wendy the
venue was wonderful with Partners in Policymaking bunting,
afternoon tea and balloons making it feel like a real party. Mix It
gave an amazing performance at the evening celebrations and Elvis
even made an appearance too.
We remembered those who we have lost - Nicola Elwell, Danion
Allen, Tia Pollitt, Roger Dyer, Jo Harris, Mitchell Green -
our children who taught us so much and left us too soon. Also Paul
Taylor, Herb Lovett, Judith Snow, Marsha Forrest, Amanda Caine,
Karen West - all the people who fought so hard for justice and
rights for disabled people. We will never forget them.
Hearing all the good news lifted our spirits and several people
said they felt recharged. There is a real unity and power in our
network. None of us need to make this journey alone.
Personally, I can't tell you how moved I am by all the lovely
messages and comments. The flowers and gifts were overwhelming. Two
weeks later I am still getting waves of happiness just thinking
about it. Thank You.
Many people are uncomfortable with the term 'leader' or
'leadership', preferring terms such as 'activist'. Partners
graduates are people I admire and respect because they are not
driven by personal ambition but by a cause and a desire to make
life better for people who need support. Partners are people who
exercise leadership and bring about changes. The celebration was an
opportunity to hear about some of the wonderful things people are
Working separately means that our voices are limited, but when
these voices are heard collectively, giving united messages of what
disabled people, their families and the people who are paid to
support them want and need, things will really begin to change for
the better. Partners encourage each other to imagine better, to
seek the best solutions. We have been doing this for twenty years
and will continue together until we are successful in creating a
fair and inclusive society.
During World War II, many men who were exempted from the
military as religious conscientious objectors were assigned to
alternative duty with civilian public service teams and sent to
work in state institutions for disabled people. They were horrified
by the brutality and inhuman conditions of the institutions and
recorded instances in diaries and in letters to one another.
After the war, a group of them founded an organisation to
improve the institutions and began publishing articles in national
magazines about their experiences. Their accounts were the first
exposures in decades of the deplorable conditions in state
institutions and an important contribution to eventual reform.
Three things about these men enabled them to speak out: they
were "outsiders" with fresh, unbiased eyes, who got to see all the
way inside; they had allies in one another who validated their
perceptions and gave them the support of a group; and they were men
of conscience who refused to walk away from the suffering of other
human beings. By recounting and by publicising what they had seen,
they acted according to their consciences and brought an
unacceptable situation into public view.
Partners in Policymaking helps its participants to get out of
the confusing maze that is 'service land' in order to know what is
possible and see clearly the way forward.