My lords, ladies and gentlemen ... Hello, my name is Lloyd Page. I am here today to tell you a little bit about my life, especially my escape from a day centre!
Like most people, I went to school until I was 19 years old. I left school on the 16th July 1976. I enjoyed going to school, they were the best days of my life. My favourite subject was Maths but I didn't like PE!
No-one ever asked me what I wanted to do when I left school. Things were different then. That's how I ended up at Leemore Day Centre.
We didn't do anything at the day centre. I missed being at school because there was nothing to do. I spent the next 8 years sitting on my bum in a day centre, doing nothing. I was so bored. There's something wrong with that.
Then in 1984, I heard about an organisation called People First. People First are a self-advocacy group. Self-advocacy means people with a learning disability who speak up for themselves. There are branches of People First all around the country - they do lots of good work for people with a learning disability.
I stopped going to the day centre and got a job at People First in London. I felt great, on top of the world! My job was to help with their admin work, I did things like faxing letters, photocopying and sending out publications to people. I made loads of new friends and everyone was really interesting.
In 1995, People First ran out of money and I couldn't work there anymore. I was really sad to leave there, but then I got a volunteer job at Mencap and made more new friends. At Mencap I work in the human resources department, for 4 days a week. I still do admin work. But I don't just do work in the human resources department, I know loads of people at Mencap in other departments and when they are very busy I go and help them.
Now I also work in television. I got this job after meeting Donal McIntyre in 2001 at a conference. Donal is a journalist who has done very famous programmes about drugs, football hooliganism, people having to sell their kidneys in India ... and importantly he made a programme about people with learning disabilities being abused in a care home close to where I live.
Donal asked me to work for him as a researcher at the BBC. I went for an interview, I was a bit nervous but then I got the job. I worked there for 2 years. I really liked it there. I got to know loads of people and I got my security pass faster than anyone else did.
While I was there I wrote a report for Donal. It was about how people are described, the lables that they are given and how that affects them. I had to do research for the report and I wrote letters to lots of different people and asked them how people with a learning disability are described in their own organisations. This is called 'A normal everyday person'.
I am also doing some research about how stories about people with learning disabilities get covered in the media. I am going to interview people in the media and other peole to get their views.
When Donal moved to Channel 5 last year he took me with him. Since then I have been working for different production companies like Extreme Productions, Films of Record and Dare Films. At Films of Record I worked with Roger Graef, he is a criminologist and a famous film maker. I helped Donal and Films of Record make another programme about people with learning disabilities being treated badly in care homes. It makes me very angry when I see people with learning disabilities being treated badly. The programme was screened on Channel 5 last year, so through my work I helped to tell people that these things are happening and why they need to be stopped.
Donal is a great guy to work for. I really like him because he invites me to a lot of media parties and I get to meet famous people like Sir Trevor McDonald.
I am also a member of the National Union of Journalists. This means that I have a press pass and can get in to lots of interesting places like sports events and concerts.
So, what does working mean to me? It means that I have loads of friends and I do lots of interesting things.
I have my own money and I can buy things at weekends like the latest DVDs, music and new clothes. Just like lots of other people do.
But also it means that I can do things that are important like coming to talk to all of you. If I was still sat in a day centre, I wouldn't know that I was brave enough to come and talk to a room full of people, but I do things like this all the time. I think it's important to tell people about learning disability. Some people think that people with a learning disability shouldn't or can't work. But that's not true.
As you can see, I have done so much since I left the day centres, lots of different things. I feel much happier now.
That's why I call it 'the great escape'.
If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
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