The People First group is a Self Advocacy group for people with learning disabilities who meet every month in Lancaster. The group focus on relevant issues and speak up for themselves and their peers to ensure their voices are heard in decision making processes. The group is ran by James Huges by the Research in Action (REACT) project at Caritas Care. React promotes the rights of people with learning disabilities through the development of training, research and consultation and is led by people with learning disabilities. At the meeting I discovered that discussions take place around a wide variety of topics. These ranged from finding paid work to housing needs, breaking down barriers to accessibility and equality, language and labels, transport, friends and relationships. The group of self advocates work with the Area Partnership to help make important changes happen.

Guests are regularly invited along to the group to share news and projects with the group. As James had taken part in the Leapfrog co-​design project on ‘Tools for non-​written consultation’ earlier in the year, this was a good opportunity to share some of the tools Leapfrog have developed so far with the group to gain valuable insights and feedback on how the group use and adapt the tools to suit their needs.

It was a fun session showing the group a selection of tools developed so far and the group seemed to really engage with them. The Grid tool was a clear favourite by James who could instantly see lots of ways it could be used as ‘it’s a toolkit in a box’ that doesn’t need a computer to work. The Grid tool can very easily gather votes on a variety of options in a visual, accessible fun way. Another guest Holly immediately picked up that the Interactive Journey tool could be used for creating NHS Care and Support plans. Sarah from Learning Together North West Ltd, a social enterprise that focuses on training and consultancy aimed at breaking down barriers to develop an inclusive society instantly saw uses for the Visual Voice tool. It was a really positive and energising meeting. The next step is to arrange follow up meetings with some of the group to get to know their organisations better and learn how Leapfrog tools might support them in more depth.