Making your own decisions

A care service in Penge is supporting four individuals with learning disabilities to make sure their voices are heard at the upcoming general election.

Crystal House is home to young people who are in transition from residential college, foster care or the family home.

Senior support worker Diane Liston says the service has made sure the group are all registered to vote on June 8.

“The election is providing us with a great opportunity to demonstrate to people with learning difficulties and mental health needs that they have a voice,” said Diane.

“Usually those who find decision-making difficult are in that position because they have never been given the opportunity.

“Within Regard we challenge that every day, enabling people to move along a pathway where they can make ever more decisions for themselves.”

Just like the rest of the electorate, the individuals who live at Crystal House are receiving numerous leaflets through the door from the various political parties, and looking at what they all have to say.

Diane said: “The people who live here like watching the news together, and sitting around the dinner table in a group talking about what’s going on in the world.

“We try to prompt discussions all the time. Our task is then to support them to make decisions for themselves.

“Having the ability to vote is a fundamental right in a democracy and every person has the same power as the next person to affect the result.”

According to Diane the ‘hot issues’ among the group are the lack of litter bins on Penge High Street, a more reliable public transport service and fixing uneven pavements.

Crystal House, run by Regard, the UK’s fourth largest care provider, aims to support people the people who live there to develop their independence.

Statistics released by Mencap show that only a third of people with learning disabilities vote.

Regard, the organisation behind Crystal House, provides supported living and residential services for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and acquired brain injury, and cares for more than 1,100 people, with a dedicated staff of more than 2,200 across 149 locations throughout the UK. Find out more about Regard at

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