Better outcomes for Telford and Wrekin residents with a learning disability and their families

Telford and Wrekin Council and local partners are well progressed with implementing the “Live Well with a Learning Disability” borough-wide four-year strategy, helping adults with a learning disability enjoy a full life, as independently as possible.

“A lot of people think that we can’t handle ourselves even though we can, now and again, we just need help.”, says a member of Telford Voices, a group who gets together weekly to help improve local services for people with a learning disability.

“It could be a lot better, a lot easier for people with a learning disability”, says another group member. 

Councillor Andy Burford (Labour), Telford & Wrekin Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult social care and health, integration and transformation couldn’t agree more with the Telford Voices group. 

Half a year ago, Cllr Burford and local partner organisations put together a borough-wide forward planning for people with a learning disability, by closely working with people with lived experience, their family and carers. 

He explains: “We started this strategy because we can do better at improving the lives of adults with a learning disability in our community, by creating more choices for them.

“We can improve their health and wellbeing better than we are, as well as their leisure and employment opportunities. 

 “The “Live Well with a Learning Disability” Strategy is about ensuring that all people with a learning disability in Telford and Wrekin confidently enjoy a full life, as independently as possible and have access to the same opportunities that people without a learning disability have.”

So how is the borough-wide “Live Well with a Learning Disability” strategy translating into practice?

As part of it,  the Telford Voices group was formed, initially as “a chance for people with a  learning disability to get together, meet their friends, chat about what’s going on in their lives” , recalls Jennifer Tinkler,  the Council’s My Options Service Leader, who coordinates the group. 

The group soon started to meet weekly to discuss what it is like to live with a learning disability in Telford and Wrekin, the good things that are already out there, the struggles that people still have and to plan for changes that need to happen, for better care and support.

Jennifer explains: “We discuss subjects that are now part of the Learning Disability strategy, such as Health, Getting into Work and Getting Out and About in the borough – so everyone’s ideas, thoughts, difficulties can be incorporated in the strategy.

“That’s the role of the Telford Voices group – to make sure the voices of people with a learning disability in Telford and Wrekin are heard”, concludes Jennifer.

And this is what a member of the group also thinks. “At Telford Voices we all get together and have a voice to say what we can do and how we can help our community. 

“We talk about life skills and how to be more independent and to basically be better than we already are, to improve ourselves in our own communities.”

In the end, “strategies should lead to practical outcomes. We should test the success of the outcomes against those who help to shape those, the user of the services.” – highlights Cllr Burford. 

He adds: “We already have success in the development of the Learning Disability Strategy, for example in the way we work at the Council’s Skills and Enterprise Hub-by putting people on pathway of activities, to help them move on with their skills and into employment.”

Jennifer also acknowledges the successful role of the Hub: “Our Council’s Skills & Enterprise Hub very much adopted the Learning Disability strategy and people’s feedback that they want to learn new skills and get more chances of stepping into work. We developed pathways at the Hub to facilitate this for them”.

“It was difficult to find an actual place that would take on people with disabilities” – admits Stacey, member of Telford Voices and Co-Chair of the Learning Disability Partnership Board. 

The real success of the Hub is “focusing on individuals, rather than on the needs of groups in general. This helps them to become more confident with their professional skills, but also in their social activity.” explains Cllr Burford. 

So what does the future hold for people with a  learning disability in Telford and Wrekin and how will the borough-wide Learning Disability strategy can continue to support them?

Cllr Burford states his commitment. “Work at the strategy will continue over the next years, with the Skills & Enterprise Hub being very important in what we can achieve.

“We need to continue to make real strives in giving adults with learning disability increased opportunities and control over their own lives, with what they need and deserve.” 

“It’s exciting to see the impact the strategy has and the changes it makes.”, adds Jennifer. 

But as much as the Council’s Skills and Enterprise Hub does to help bring the strategy to life, real progress can’t be made unless the Telford and Wrekin community plays its part as well.

Jennifer appeals to local organisations to give people with a learning disability a chance: “What we’d love to see is communities being more inclusive, employers being more inclusive, giving people with a learning disability more opportunities. 

“Having different people work in your environment for example or attend your local groups – gives you a mix of ideas, a mix of personalities, that can be beneficial. 

“For example, we supported a gentleman with learning disability to get a job in a café. He was brilliant at it. He struggled with aspects of the job, such as the café machine. But he was the best person there at customer service, he really brought the café to life. 

“We just need to look after people a bit more - if we work together, hopefully we can all form a stronger and more inclusive community.”

Stacey confirms: “Even if it’s a little job, they can do something, I always say”.

 “We want people to understand that we can work and we can have a job.” 

Telford Voices group continues to meet weekly to ensure the Learning Disability strategy reflects their voices and to make the lives of people with a learning disability as good as it can be in Telford and Wrekin, for employment but also for other topics part of the strategy.

They want the group to get bigger, to reach more people with a learning disability and tell them about the support available to them but also to ask them to contribute and influence the changes that still need to be done. 

“We need more voices, what other people’s views are about different services and what services they use and things we need.”, says Stacey. 

If you're interested or know someone interested in finding out more about Telford Voices and joining the group, get in touch on 

For more details about the four-year borough-wide strategy for people with a learning disability in the borough and the consultations that have taken place visit 

Do you have a learning disability or care for someone who does?

As part of the Learning Disability Week, the Council’s My Options team is organising a drop-in session on Thursday 23 June, 1.30pm – 3.30pm at Telford & Wrekin CVS Centre, 12 & 15 Hazeldine House, Central Square, Telford, TF3 4JL.

People with learning disabilities, their family and carers can come, have a coffee and cake and chat to our team about the support they need to make their lives better.

For more information or if you can’t attend the event but want to pass on your views, contact our My Options team on 01952 381317, 

Photo (right to left): Jennifer Tinkler (Telford & Wrekin Council’s My Options Service Leader), Stacey (Co-Chair of Learning Disability Partnership Board), Cllr Andy Burford  (Telford & Wrekin Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult social care and health, integration and transformation) and two other members of Telford Voices group