Saying Hello to Sense

Two ladies standing in Portcullis House smiling next to a Sense banner

At Sense we believe people with complex disabilities should always lead the conversation, so who better to introduce MPs to Sense than the people we support. With a new Government and many new MPs in Parliament, it’s important that we build relationships with them as soon as possible.

In February, Sense’s Public Policy and Campaigns team hosted a “Say Hello To Sense” event in the House of Commons where MPs and Peers met Catherine, Tony, Maria and Daniel who all communicate differently.

Thanks to the efforts of an incredible 169 Sense campaigners, 22 MPs and Peers dropped in to say hello (you can find a full list at the bottom of this blog) – a great turn out for a busy afternoon in Parliament.

‘I felt confident and passionate about showcasing the work of Sense’

Catherine, Tony, Maria and Daniel showed parliamentarians different communication methods, including British Sign Language, Braille, the Deafblind Manual Alphabet and assistive technology. The group shared their experiences of being supported by Sense and described the daily challenges they face in accessing the right communication support. The MPs learned how to spell their names in British Sign Language and made a braille name sticker for their parliamentary pass.

Catherine standing next to an MP holding a sign that says 'I've said Hello to Sense'

Catherine said: “It was a fantastic day and I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with everyone!  I felt confident and passionate about showcasing the work of Sense and the importance of matching deafblind people’s varying communication needs.

I was able to teach the MPs and Peers to fingerspell their names – I hope they remember how to do it and that they find time to learn some more BSL!

Daniel agreed, “The event was cool and it was nice to see MPs including mine”.

Daniel teaching an MP how to read braille

Building relationships

Parliamentarians told us how much they enjoyed meeting everyone and learning about the work Sense does. Henry Smith MP commented “it was good to meet with Sense in Parliament and inspiring to communicate directly with those the charity supports”.

As a result, the Policy and Campaigns team have developed some important relationships with MPs. Andrew Gwynne MP committed to championing the rights of disabled people on his website “an inclusive society is accessible for all and I am encouraging everyone to consider how they can improve the ways in which they communicate with disabled people in their lives”.

Help us to ensure no one is left out of life

The next few months will be a challenging time in Parliament, but these new connections with parliamentarians will help us to ensure people with complex disabilities and their families are remembered in decision making. Without the help of Sense campaigners, we couldn’t continue to make this progress.

People talking at a parliamentary event. One of the ladies is in a wheelchair

By signing up to be a campaigner, we’ll keep you updated on our latest policy and campaigns updates and send you quick and easy opportunities to take action online. Sign up to be a Sense Campaigner today and help us to champion the rights of everyone living with complex disabilities, including those who are deafblind.

Event attendees PartyConstituency
Gary Sambrook Conservative Birmingham Northfield
Fleur Anderson Labour Putney
Bell Ribeiro-Addy Labour Streatham
Rosie Winterton Labour Doncaster Central
Mary Foy Labour City of Durham
Lee Anderson Conservative Ashfield
Henry Smith Conservative Crawley
Feryal Clark Labour Enfield North
Kate Osborne Labour Jarrow
Grahame Morris Labour Easington
Brendan Clarke-Smith Conservative Bassetlaw
Labour Enfield Southgate
Elliot Colburn Conservative Carshalton and
James Davies Conservative Vale of Clwyd
Sir David Amess Conservative Southend West
Andrew Gwynne Labour Denton and Reddish
Baroness Tanni
Crossbench Peer  
Lord Addington Liberal Democrat

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