People with learning disabilities in Merton organised their first conference entitled “Speaking up about bullying”, which took place on Tuesday 18 July at Morden Hall Park.
They were joined by a range of representatives from community, including Councillor Maurice Groves, police, school pupils, staff from Transport for London, Merton’s day centres and leisure department. Everyone worked together to look at ways of stopping people with learning disabilities being bullied.
The day was a great success, resulting in a number of positive suggestions including people with learning disabilities running awareness sessions for people in the community about how it feels when they are bullied, and supporting people with learning disabilities in standing up to bullies.
All suggestions will be put into a report, which will be presented to Merton’s mayor and councillors and shared with the community. Merton People First (an advocacy group) and Merton Speak Out (a user consultation group) will now work to create a plan of action based on the ideas given at the conference.
Everyone who attended the conference received a ‘Working to stop bullying’ wristband. At the end of the day each person released a balloon into the sky, in Merton colours of green and purple, whilst shouting “Stop the bullies!”
Marion MacFarlane, Merton Council’s representative for people with learning disabilities, said:
“We shouldn’t be bullied because we are the same as everyone else.”
Councillor Maurice Groves, Merton’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said
“As a member of the general public, it was very illuminating to hear the problems and concerns of these residents within our community.
“The organisers presented a very professional approach to the very difficult subject. They coaxed out many stories of humiliating experiences. As a caring community we have to listen and work with our partners to alleviate and stop these distressing experiences.”