Our Voice is Being Heard
Project news from ALLFIE’s Armineh Soorenian, ‘Our Voice’ Project Leader
ALLFIE has received the funding to create the ‘Our Voice’ project, so that Disabled Young people can have a say on what matters to them. This project addresses the isolation and intersectional exclusion experienced by Disabled Young people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At ALLFIE, we feel that during the pandemic, Disabled Young people’s voices have not been heard. As a result, support for their Independent Living needs, and control over what support remains has worsened. This is why we applied to the DPO COVID-19 Emergency Fund, organised by National Emergencies Trust (NET), to start a COVID-19 national participation project for Disabled Young people.
What is ‘Our Voice’ project?
We have recruited 11 Disabled Young people, aged between 16 and 25. The participants meet with members of the ALLFIE team via Zoom for about 90 minutes every few weeks, to have conversations and share their experiences. We have also used the time for training, introducing the social model of disability and the importance of using the right terminology when talking about disability. We felt it was significant for the participants to be aware of their rights and increase their knowledge about disability politics, so that they can participate meaningfully in the future discussions and own the Our Voice meetings going forward.
Inclusive Education, Independent Living and Intersectionality
Over the past few months, the Disabled Young people have shared their experiences of inclusive education, Independent Living and intersectionality during the pandemic, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on their lives. The Young people have been involved in co-facilitating the discussions with ALLFIE staff and have brought their perspectives to the conversations. We intend to collect plenty of evidence and information on Disabled Young people’s experiences and the narratives will then help us, as an organisation, to plan future projects and activities for Young people.
Our Disabled Young participants have found their participation in the project beneficial, with a growing sense of confidence in disability rights. They often tell us how much they enjoy meeting each other and sharing their experiences, knowing that they are not on their own in facing disablism.
The participation of ALLFIE’s staff in the meetings has allowed the sessions to have an intergenerational feel, and for the Young people to learn from those who have been involved in the fight for disability rights for many decades. The ALLFIE staff have also found the sessions informative and interesting, learning about some of the existing and emerging barriers for the younger generation and what is important to them. From the feedback we have received, we are very keen to continue with the discussion groups beyond the project, and let the Young people organise and lead their own meetings.
We hope that the Young people will go on to further leadership opportunities with the Disability Rights Movement.
‘Our Voice’ Outcomes
From the conversations we have had, participants have produced resources on their experiences that are being posted on ALLFIE’s webpage and in other publications. Look out for articles on social media with the #OurVoice, and if you want to know more, please contact Armineh Soorenian.