Campaigning for deaf children at the Labour party conference

My colleague has returned from the Labour party conference in Manchester in one piece which is good news. Apparently, it was all a very interesting atmopshere what with the brothers fighting it out to decide who will be leader. I assume this is referring to the Milibands rather than what’s going on in North Korea but anyhow.

It sounds like the team were rushed off their feet meeting with MPs to let them know about the National Deaf Children’s Society Hands up for help! campaign. Again, all the MPs seemed very positive and keen to do what they can to help make sure deaf children get a fair chance at school. Some examples included:

* Pat Glass MP, who seems to know more about special educational needs (SEN) than the rest of the Houses of Parliament combined. She strongly agreed with one of the recomendations of the Hands up for help! report: that local authorities should join forces to make sure that they can offer a comprehensive package of support to every deaf child. In fact, she tried to do this when she worked on SEN in London. Great minds thinking alike, etc.

* Rosie Cooper MP, whose parents are deaf and who has been a leading figure on the All Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness. She was very keen to get more information about services for deaf children in her local area and even more keen to write letters, table parliamentary questions and so on to highlight some of the issues raised in the report.

* Michael McCann, MP from Scotland. Michael has three deaf siblings. And one of his siblings has four deaf children. They should call themselves the McCann deaf factory. Again, very supportive and keen to help make sure that deaf children in Scotland get the help they need too.

I also heard that my colleague did some effective stalking and managed to track down Ed Balls MP, who used to be Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families and is still a strong champion for disabled children, as well as a leading figure in the party. Rather gratifyingly, Ed had heard of the campaign and said he would read the report with interest. Very gratifying, indeed.

And finally the conference were a good opportunity to talk about wider and important non-education issues that affect deaf children – such as play and mental health services.

All in all, it sounds like another successful conference for the National Deaf Children’s Society. Next week is the third and final conference as the team heads to Birmingham for the Conservative party conference where we’ll be handing over to Megan, a deaf young person, to lobby MPs on education issues, instead of us. Really looking forward to it.


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