John Penrose, the Minister for Constitutional Reform, joined pupils for a lively Rock Enrol! workshop on 17 November. Pupils with learning disabilities at Little Heath School in Romford discussed important issues with the minister. They also learned about how to make their voices heard in elections.
The workshop was part of Mencap’s ‘Me and My Vote’ project, funded by the Cabinet Office. The project aims to encourage people with a learning disability to register to vote and use their vote on what matters to them. As part of the project, Mencap adapted the government’s Rock Enrol! learning resource.
Rock Enrol! is a government initiative to encourage young people to engage in politics and register to vote. Mencap adapted the resources so that it could be delivered to and by young people with a learning disability. The ‘Me and My Vote’ project aims to address some of the reasons why some people with a learning disability have not registered to vote. It explains the registration process and why it is important to vote.
John Penrose, Minister for Constitutional Reform said:
Strong, healthy democracies give everyone a chance to contribute. Everyone who is eligible to vote should be able to, and encouraged to use their voice. I am really encouraged by the enthusiasm of everyone I’ve met today and how important the issues are to them. I hope they will inspire others to get involved too.
Vijay Patel, the 28 year old Mencap Ambassador who has a learning disability and ran the session said:
We need more people with a learning disability to vote in elections because many of the decisions of politicians directly affect our lives. Delivering the Rock Enrol! sessions with John Penrose MP was great because he could see the barriers that people with a learning disability face but also how with the right support people with a learning disability can vote.
Laura Truswell, project manager for Mencap’s ‘Me and My Vote’, said:
It was great to have the minister listen to people with a learning disability talk about the issues that matter to them and have the minister talk about his experience of politics. Today you could see so many young people with a learning disability passionately discussing what they care about and how they would run the country.
Mencap and other disability groups are working with the government and local authorities on how to remove any barriers to registering to vote. For example, the Mencap Easy Read Guide, also developed with funding from Cabinet Office, was sent to Local Authorities.