Abuse must be reported so it can be tackled - MP

Elaine Precious, Mike Penning and David Gauke at the Mencap meeting
Elaine Precious, Mike Penning and David Gauke at the Mencap meeting

ONE of the key issues facing people with learning difficulties across Dacorum is abuse, it was revealed at a meeting with West Herts MPs.

A majority of those attending the meeting on Thursday night said that they had faced some form of abuse, verbal or otherwise.

Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning and West Herts MP David Gauke were at the meeting organised by charity Mencap at Berkhamsted Football Club.

The meeting gave people with the learning difficulties the chance to tell their MP how government policies impacted on their lives.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Penning said: “With an issue like abuse it’s important to tell the police about it for two reasons.

“Firstly, so they can catch the person is question, and secondly so that can record how often it’s going on so they can apply for extra funding to help them tackle the issue.

“If you have another issue that’s affecting you, the best thing to do is to stop me in the street which is what everybody does. I also have a surgery every week.

“The key with an issue is knowing who to talk to and who is responsible for what.

“Please do come to us, we’ve got fantastic staff and we can try and sort it out.”

Other issues raised included changes to the benefits system, discrimination, transport and help for carers.

It was felt that the application and interview process, the fear of losing benefits, and competition for jobs with non-disabled people, were all problems when looking for work.

Elaine Precious from Dacorum Mencap said afterwards: “It’s not always clear with politicians if they’re really listening or not, but I think the meeting was very useful.

“The turnout was good, and it let people know who their MPs are and where to go if they want help with an issue.

“We also had representatives from relevant organisations including the Sunnyside Rural Trust and Diverse HR Solutions.

“It is definitely something we’d like to repeat annually.”

The meeting was prompted as part of a national campaign by disabled organisation RADAR to promote better contact with MPs.