Warrington Speak Up began in 2003 as a small self advocacy group led by and for people with learning difficulties. Their aim was to help people speak up about the new charges for care being implemented by Warrington Borough Council. Six enthusiastic self advocates met in local cafes and pubs to plan a pro-active campaign against the charges, encouraging others who were affected to join with them. Enlisting the support of a project worker from Warrington Council for Voluntary Services, meetings were facilitated with local councillors and a silent demonstration planned outside the town hall. Self advocates were passionate about their right to be involved in decisions that impacted on their daily lives and committed to ensuring their voice was heard.
The beginnings of a strong self-advocacy movement was established in Warrington using the vision set out in the Government White Paper ‘Valuing People’ 2001:
“that all people with a learning disability are people first with the right to lead their lives like any others, with the same opportunities and responsibilities, and to be treated with the same dignity and respect. They and their families and carers are entitled to the same aspirations and life chances as other citizens”
Spurred on by the success of the charges campaign, self advocates joined together to plan and deliver a conference for people accessing day services. Eighty services users shared their views, ideas and experiences in order to influence the commissioning and delivery of local service provision.
Becoming a Charity
By 2006 the group had grown to twenty members and with the help of a small grant were able to get support to become a registered charity and employ a part-time self advocacy worker. Using office space within the CVS the self advocacy movement continued to grow and make a difference in people’s lives. Successful grants from Lloyds TSB and Awards for All enabled the charity to expand and relocate to new offices within an exciting new community venue housing a range of 3rd sector statutory organisations.
As the staff team grew, reputation strengthened and range of services on offer increased, the organisation were successful in winning further contracts to deliver generic and learning disability issue based advocacy, facilitate service user engagement groups and deliver a range of other projects including Warrington’s Safe Places hate crime initiative, discreet groups for men and women, older people’s advocacy in residential homes and quality reviews of a wide range of commissioned services.
Warrington Speak Up is committed to providing quality advocacy services. Staff, volunteers, trustees and self-advocates share the same aspirations, working together to ensure that what we do is the best it can be. Continuous quality improvement is key to fulfilling our commitment to meet the needs of the people we support. We act with integrity and professionalism, doing what we say we will do.
As part of the Board of Trustees commitment to developing quality Warrington Speak Up were awarded the ISO9001:2008 accreditation in January 2014. We are now working towards the Advocacy Quality Performance Mark.
Our aim is for Warrington Speak Up to be instantly recognisable and synonymous with excellence.
Charitable Incorporated Organisation
In October 2014 Warrington Speak Up became a CIO. We now have an active team of eight staff members.
In April 2015 Warrington Speak Up were awarded the contract by Warrington Borough Council to deliver Care Act advocacy across Warrington and within two prison settings.
Speak Up Together Advocacy Hub
In December 2016 Speak Up formed a collaborative partnership with Together for Mental Wellbeing to deliver advocacy services within a new Warrington based advocacy hub. Speak Up Together Advocacy Hub provides a range of advocacy services, offering a seamless service from a single point of access and one location.
Warrington Speak Up Advocacy Hub
On April 1st 2018 Warrington Speak Up were proud to be commissioned by Warrington Borough Council to deliver all services within the advocacy hub. Two new advocates have been appointed to join the team. We look forward to the opportunity ahead of consolidating the hub achievements and positive reputation it holds within the region as well as strengthening even further the quality of advocacy delivery within Warrington.
Although proud of the achievements made to date we are acutely aware that it is not enough. As Government cuts continue to impact upon the lives of vulnerable people it is more important than ever that advocacy organisations maintain their focus in challenging the causes and effects of injustice, oppression and abuse and in upholding basic human rights.
Our aim of strengthening the voice of people living in Warrington who face discrimination, disadvantage and social isolation remains at the heart of all we do.