Change that leads to better lives

The Power of Partnership Boards

The theme for this year’s Advocacy Awareness Week is ‘the power of partnerships’. For advocacy this can mean many things. Organisation to organisation. Advocate to customer. Advocate to advocate. Partnership is how we work, and how we connect with our customers.

Photo from partnership board in Cumbria House 692 519

For us the power of partnership means equality. It means respect and support. And there is no better example of this power in action than The Cumbria Learning Disability Autism Partnership Board, of which People First, some of our members and one of our Trustees, are proud to be a part.

The Partnership Board

The Partnership Board is made up of a range of people and organisations who want to make life better for people with a learning disability and/or autism in Cumbria.

This includes people with a learning disability and/or autism and family members, as well as people from organisations including:

  • the Council - staff and local authority councillors
  • the NHS
  • the police
  • education
  • leisure services
  • social care and health support providers
  • charities
  • services such as transport

The Board meets four times a year and has three co-chairs including the local councillor and anyone who thinks they can make a difference to the lives of people is welcome to attend.

The Board Meets to…

The Board is not part of any formal system. It is not part of the NHS or Council. The Board is made up of experts and offers an expert view on existing services and support and any future services that might impact on people.

Members keep people up to date with things that are happening in Cumbria and discuss issues that people with a learning disability and/or autism have said are important. People are also invited to come and talk to the board and we foster involvement from everyone to work together to make change happen.

The Board work to hear people’s voices and stories, encourage effective partnership working and make sure that central to all decision making is that people with learning disabilities and /or autism live healthy, meaningful and safe lives.

As Mark Humble, Senior Manager Commissioning of Learning Disability, Mental Health and Autism at Cumbria County Council puts it:

“I think a partnership approach is the best way to make sure that everyone has a voice and things get done. However to make partnerships work best they need to done using co-production”

Lou Townson

The Experience of Being on the Board

Lou Townson is an Expert by Experience, a Learning Disability Consultant, a co-author, and a Trustee at People First. Lou is also co-chairs The Cumbria Learning Disability and Autism Partnership Board. Lou, for many years, has donated her time tirelessly working in partnership to support people to lead better lives.

Lou tells us more about partnerships and The Board:

I feel partnership working is very important for people with learning disabilities because it’s an achievement.

I have been involved in Cumbria’s Partnership Board on and off for the past 20 years. When I first started doing this work it was run very, very differently.

I was the only co-chair with someone from the County Council. Although there were people with learning disabilities within the meetings there were many professionals there and it was run more like a traditional board meeting.

Now it is run very, very differently. We have two coaches who have the label of a learning disability and a further co-chair. We are joined by a lot more people with the label of a learning disability within the room and professionals so it’s a big meeting now. We still have an agenda but the agenda is often set after discussions with what people within the meeting would like to talk about.

People feel that they have actually done some good in changing somebody’s life or something for the better.”

For more information about the Board:

You can email at:
Follow The Board on Facebook: @CumbriaPB

Contact Office

Bath (Registered Office)

National Development Team for Inclusion
4 Queen Street

Full Details

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