An independent charity for people with learning disabilities

Summer Newsletter

Dear Friends and Supporters,

I am writing this as Learning Disability Week 2024 comes to a close. The theme for this year  ‘Do you see me?’ has been very fitting for an advocacy organisation like Lewisham Speaking Up. We were founded on the principles of self-advocacy and it’s vital to what we do and more importantly, how we do things. Read on for news on our self-advocacy work including the chance for people with learning disabilities to apply for roles as Lewisham People’s Parliament reps.

When people can’t speak up for themselves or feel that they aren’t being heard, then our 1-2-1 advocates can step in to help.  I’m delighted to say our money management advocacy service has just been awarded another three years funding by the Henry Smith Charity. In the first three years this service helped secure around £100,000 in benefits and savings, so we are really pleased we can carry on with this important work. As the cost of living crisis is still very much with us, this work is needed more than ever.

We would also like to thank the Anton Jurgens Trust and the Merchant Taylors Foundation for awarding us grants of £4000 and £3000 respectively towards our Community 1-2-1 advocacy service. This service has been helping with a lot of housing cases, where people with learning disabilities tell us that they feel they are not listened to. Read more on a couple of these cases below.

Finally, we are pleased to say that Lewisham Speaking Up will be a formal member of the Lewisham Safeguarding Adults Board. This will really complement our work with the new Lewisham Learning Disability Partnership Board and we look forward to working with both groups to make the sure the voice of people with learning disabilities is heard loud and clear.  So, if the question is ‘do you see me?’ we’d like to think we are helping to make that answer a ‘yes we do!’

Marsh Stitchman, Director


People's Parliament

Our next People’s Parliament will be on Friday 20th September 

from 10.30 – 3.00 at the Catford Civic Suite.

We will be voting for our new People’s Parliament Reps!

 Anyone with a learning disability who lives in Lewisham can apply to represent people with learning disabilities. Applications are open until 9th August. If you are good at speaking up for people with learning disabilities, or know someone who is, you can email Ellie at

Learning Disability Week

Mary, Lloyd, Colin and Peter

This year’s learning disability week was from 17 to 23 June and the theme was “Do You See Me?” 

Our reps shared on social media where they would like to be seen. We were invited to two events during the week. The first was Estia Centre’s Learning Together event where we took part in workshops about health, employment, social care and the general election. 

We also went to Transport for London’s learning disability forum where we talked about how transport can be more accessible for people with learning disabilities.

Lewisham Learning Disability Partnership Board

The Lewisham Learning Disability Partnership Board has returned! The first meeting took place on Monday 24th June and some of our reps attended. Eventually, one of our reps will co-chair the meeting too. 

As part of the work, there will be 5 delivery groups, which will meet separately and feed back to the board. They include health and wellbeing, housing, education and employment, care staff and developing the local market. We are really looking forward to supporting the board and making sure it is accessible and inclusive for people with learning disabilities.

Good Lives Manifesto

Learning Disability England have published their Good Lives Manifesto, which explains what people with learning disabilities need to live a good life. 

We looked at the manifesto in our Tuesday Zoom Group, and decided to send it to all of our MP candidates. Please have a read!

Women's Group

We speak up for ourselves
We discuss important women's issues
We share our stories
We visit interesting places
We always have fun

1-2-1 Advocacy

Community 1-2-1 Work

Our 1-2-1 Community advocate Jan, has been working on a lot of housing related issues lately which takes a huge amount of time. We asked her to share a couple of cases to give people an idea of what she does.

Two cases I’d like to share, I have been working on for a considerable amount of time, almost a year for each case.

Case 1:

This concerns a family who were living in accommodation which was not fit for purpose.  Black mould and dampness had spread throughout the apartment.  Additionally, there were electrical safety concerns, such as exposed wires in wall plugs and ceiling lights.

We tried approaching the landlord, but as they declined to engage with us, the matter was referred to Lewisham Council.  This was then followed by many emails and phone calls to see if they would support this case and what were their plans would be.   Eventually, Lewisham Council acknowledged that this family needed assistance and they agreed to address the deteriorating state of the flat.  A statutory repair notice was given to the landlord. After some searching, the Council eventually located suitable temporary accommodation for the family while the work was carried out.

The end result was that the family decided to stay where they are, as they did not want to return to their old accommodation. They are currently bidding for a new property.  Their old flat has now been completely renovated and placed with the letting agency. From referral to result, this case took almost a year.

Case 2:

The second case was a lady who requested that her housing association comply with their repair and maintenance duty. This tenant said she has made many phone calls to her housing association and felt like she was being ignored.

We did several home visits, made several phone calls and sent emails with photos, requesting support from her housing officer.  Nevertheless, the housing officer was still reluctant to engage with us.  We too felt like we were being ignored.  As her housing situation continued to disintegrate, we decided to escalate it to the complaints department.  After several complaint letters, the housing association acknowledged the tenant’s grievance and confirmed they will look into the situation.  The results were an apology from the housing association, followed by discussions of repairs and decorating.  However, no date has yet been specified.  The tenant said ‘at last they are taking me seriously and listening to what I’m saying’. So far, this case has taken 9 months and still isn’t fully resolved. I would like to say I’ll give an update in the next newsletter, so fingers crossed!

Money Management Advocacy Work

We have had several people with learning disabilities have problems with mobile phone companies.

These problems include:

  • selling people with learning disabilities contracts they cannot afford.
  • selling phone contracts that people with learning disabilities do not understand.
  • not telling the person with learning disabilities about any hidden charges (money they add on for extras, such as having a monthly itemised bill printed out and sent to your house).

Do you know?

Most mobile phone contracts are for a period between 12 months and 24 months.

  • Mobile phone companies often have a department that can help if you have been sold a contract that you cannot afford or do not understand.
  • Mobile phone companies also do social tariffs for people who are claiming benefits.
  • Social tariffs can be cheaper than a normal tariff or contract.
  • You will need to provide your National Insurance Number.
  • You can stop the contract at any time.
  • The bill will stay the same amount


There are other mobile phone and internet deals that are affordable and LSU can help you with.

If you have a problem with mobile phone bills or want advocacy support to find out about affordable mobile phone deals, phone 020 8692 1862 to speak to Michelle.

Contact us

Referral forms can be found here

Phone: 020 8692 1862

Share this:
Skip to content