Advocating nationally and internationally

This year, knowing PM Theresa may’s fondness for shoes, Henry Edgcombe hand delivered a pair of shoes to Downing Street.

This was to highlight learning disability charity Hft’s ‘Walk in Our Shoes’ campaign which calls on MPs to recognise the challenges faced by people with learning disabilities.

Henry appeared on BBC Devon and co-authored a piece in the Guardian to draw attention to the campaign.

This followed a trip with Hft to Geneva to help inform a UN committee hearing investigating the UK Government’s implementation of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Growing in confidence

Henry’s learning disability means he needs support for a range of aspects of daily living.

Since 2015, as vice-chair of ’Voices to be heard’, Hft’s speakout group, Henry has played a pioneering role in advocating for the views of people they support to be heard at the highest level of the organisation, helping to shape the charity’s plans and representing Hft on local, national and international platforms.

In the space of under a year, Henry has evolved from a shy young man.

He’s now a confident role model who’s helping to instigate positive changes for the lives of people with learning disabilities.

“I joined Voices to be Heard because to tell staff at Hft about the support I receive and help Hft become the best it could be.

“We were then asked to help campaign on the funding cuts. I felt proud to be able to speak up for people with learning disabilities.

“People often don’t hear me because they think I’m shy. This makes me feel angry. Taking the time to listen to me makes me feel calmer and chatty. I have a lot to say – and so do other people with learning disabilities – but I don’t feel that we always have the chance to have our say.”

Beyond advocacy, Henry also volunteers as a conductor on a heritage railway line at Tiverton-Exe Valley Railway Centre in Devon.