bemix began with the rising up of people with learning difficulties as ‘self-advocates’ - speaking up for themselves and taking control of their lives. We’ve always believed in collaboration over competition, seeking to join forces with individuals and self-advocacy groups across England to gain a greater voice for change. While boosted by the national Valuing People strategy of 2001, self-advocacy was deeply damaged by the austerity policies of recent governments, culminating in the closure of the National Forum of People with Learning Disabilities in 2017.

Learning Disability England (LDE) had just been founded, enabling a new, independent voice for self-advocates, family carers and professionals uniting together. People across the LDE network are troubled by the loss of people’s voices and power to bring change, especially since the recent BBC exposure of hidden abuse at Whorlton Hall.

We’re excited to be one of five organisations working with LDE, funded by NESTA, to form a new social movement of self-advocates determined to renew a new, louder voice for change, without the reliance on state funding that undermined the National Forum. Our partners are all amazing local organisations led by people with learning difficulties:

Sunderland People First

My Life My Choice

Changing Our Lives

Lewisham Speaking Up

bemix Director Steve Chapman is our leading self-advocate for this partnership. Steve says “We need more speaking up, and training so people learn to ask the right questions about what is being done to support them. I’m excited about joining up with other groups to do this.”

Photo above: Steve Chapman with Jodie from Sunderland People First at the People’s History Museum, Manchester.

Banner photo: Steve Chapman and Matt Clifton from bemix, with Jodie from Sunderland People First and others.

“There have always been ideas worth fighting for…”