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Votes and voices of people with learning disabilities matter in General Election

Five residents from Strode Park Foundation’s Faversham home Lady Dane Farmhouse, who have never voted before, are being supported to make their mark in this year’s upcoming General Election.

The residents, who all have learning disabilities, recently took part in the first of two workshops run by Home Manager Claire Dante.

The first, held on Monday, was to run through the process with the residents and to share with them the easy read manifestos from each party.

The second workshop, due to be held next week, will see the residents be given a sample ballot paper and they will get the chance to have a practise go of marking their cross.

Home Manager, Claire Dante, said: “We wanted to give all our residents, who had capacity, the chance to vote. Four of them have never voted before and one has only ever done it once. So, it is about opportunity and making the process accessible to all. We have organised these workshops to make sure they have enough time to understand the process and get everything ready in time.”

Two of the residents will do postal votes and be supported to post these themselves in the next few weeks. The other three will vote at their poll station in Preston Church Schoolroom on Thursday 4th July. All five of them will head to the poll station on the day though so they can see what it’s like and get to grips with this new experience.

Claire added: “The My Vote, My Voice website has been very useful and has everything explained in an easy way for our residents to understand. This is really important for them as some of the paperwork and manifestos can be quite complex. Our residents matter as much as everyone else and it gives them the chance to have their say and feel included in their community. As a well done we’ll take them to lunch after they’ve been to the poll station.”

Director of Care, Becky Richards, said: “Everyone with a learning disability and/or autism has the legal right to vote. And Claire and her fabulous team are doing a great job to enable the residents to take advantage of this right. It’s important we make it enjoyable to ensure they don’t get put off by the experience. The more people with learning disabilities that vote, along with their families and friends, increases the voice in this community. It means the issues and concerns are given a higher priority among politicians.”