Disability news

GENERAL ELECTION: Events held to help disabled people register to vote

people dancing at the My Vote, My Voice event held in Bradford

An event helping people with learning disabilities register to vote went ahead on Tuesday in Bradford hours before the deadline last night.

In order to use a ballot paper in next month’s General Election you must have registered through the Gov.uk website, but for some the process was a little confusing.

But thanks to the United Response charity it's My Vote, My Voice campaign parties such as the one held in West Yorkshire offered support to anyone who needed a bit of guidance.

The event staged free food and drink as well as open conversations with support workers who helped guests sign up online.

United Response area manager Nikki Jones told BBC News the charity wanted to reach out to everyone who felt “marginalised”, they added that: "Everyone deserves a voice."

The voting process is still not accessible to all, despite calls for making the system less complicated and providing support for those who need it.

Hannah Molloy is an autism support worker, she fully backs the My Vote, My Voice initiative.

"It's important to have fun about politics and not make politics as scary as it seems," Molloy told the BBC.

"Since we have begun this campaign, nearly every political party has released an easy-read manifesto. I like to think our campaign has helped with that.

"Events like this... can bring [politicians and disabled] people together to discuss those barriers to voting and help disabled people to feel included."

A percentage of disabled people were unaware they are entitled to vote in general elections, which is another reason why such events are important.

Jones said: "A lot of people... do feel marginalised and not listened to, and that makes them think their vote isn't important.

"But actually we are here to say it is. Everyone deserves a voice."

Colleague Louise Richardson added: "I have spoken to people we support before about voting and they have said they didn't want to do it - they felt confused and frightened.

"We thought this was a wonderful opportunity to support people, give them information, make it fun, give them a bit of confidence - and we have managed to do that."

[ The chimes of Big Ben marks the official closing of the polls at 10pm on Election Day. ]

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