Opinion Former Article

United Response welcomes inquiry into disability harassment

The national learning disability charity, United Response, has welcomed plans announced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission today to launch a formal inquiry into harassment experienced by disabled people.

Su Sayer, chief executive of United Response said:

"Thankfully we live in a time when overt racism is no longer acceptable, yet as a society we continue to look the other way and allow people with disabilities - especially those with learning disabilities - to experience harassment on a daily basis. Any inquiry which seeks to tackle this issue and offers disabled people the freedom to live their lives free from abuse, is something which we fully support.

"Through our UR On Board project, we have worked very closely with councils, transport authorities and the police in Greater Manchester and Liverpool, to try and tackle harassment. With support from all sides, what began primarily as a project to tackle the bullying experienced by people with learning disabilities on public transport, is now looking at harassment across several areas of daily life. It has also led to the police setting up several hate crime reporting centres, where people with learning disabilities can go and report harassment, safe in the knowledge that they will be listened to. This project has shown us just how much can be achieved when public authorities not only take an issue seriously, but involve disabled people from the beginning in finding and delivering a solution.

"However projects of this kind on their own will not end the harassment that people with learning disabilities experience. We need to see a change in public attitude, whereby the abuse of disabled people is no longer met with indifference, but by public outcry. Calling public authorities to account is a welcome start, but this must not be used as an excuse to transfer responsibility from the individual for their own actions. Disability harassment is an issue which we must all play our part in addressing."

Ends
For more information please contact Sarah Bartlett or Jaime Gill in the United Response Press Office on 020 8246 5237/ 020 8246 5122 or email sarah.bartlett@unitedresponse.org.uk or jaime.gill@unitedresponse.org.uk

Notes:

United Response is a top 100 charity operating in England and Wales, providing a range of support and services for more than 1,500 people with learning disabilities, mental health needs or physical disabilities. We employ over 2,000 people across the organisation and have won many awards for our pioneering work since being founded in 1973.

Our mission is to enable people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and physical disabilities to take control of their lives.

Our vision is a society where disabled people are equal participants and have access to the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

The services we provide depend on each person we work with. We can provide 24-hour support for people with profound physical needs, or just a few hours for those who need less support to live their lives. We can job coach someone into meaningful paid employment. We can provide outreach support for someone with a mental health need or help people who find it difficult to communicate by making information more accessible. The key to our success is that we work with each person to do the things they want to do, supporting them to communicate what they want and tell us how we are doing.

In support of our vision, we also campaign to improve the lives of people with disabilities in society. This may mean lobbying decision makers such as MPs to ensure that people's voices are heard or it might mean working directly with disabled people so that they can be more directly engaged in the democratic process. We also work with employers to ensure that more people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and physical disabilities get a fair opportunity to work.

In 2008 alone, we were shortlisted as best employer in the Third Sector Excellence Awards and highly commended for our Annual Report. We also won a highly prestigious National Training Award for the investment we make in our staff. To find out more please visit www.unitedresponse.org.uk          

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