Halton Speak Out's self-advocates and performers, 2016
Halton Speak Out are a self-advocacy organisation based in the borough of Halton, Cheshire. Its primary function is to support individuals with learning disabilities living in the borough through a range of services including peer-advocacy, person centred planning, training and the People’s Cabinet to name a few. Halton Speak Out was founded in 2001 by its current manager Mal Hampson who has supervised this PhD. Its mission statement 'the right to have a life' reflects the ethos of the organisation as it continues to address inequalities facing individuals with learning disabilities living in Halton. The organisation came as a result in a change in legislation; following the publication of the Valuing People Now white paper (Department of Health, 2001). Mal Hampson saw a gap in lack of user led services and seized upon the opportunity resulting in the conception of Halton Speak Out. The organisation began with a staff team of two young people with learning disabilities, the manager and an income of £10,000. Since 2001 the organisation has grown year on year and its current turnover is £180,000, which is primarily funded via the Local Authority and The Big Lottery.
Currently Halton Speak Out runs five projects; People's Cabinet, Safe in Town, Bright Sparks, Adults Project and Children's Project. Each of these projects have a project lead and co-workers. In 2007 Ella Together was formed, a sister organisation of Halton Speak Out. Although run by Halton Speak Out staff, Ella Together is distinctly separate and came about from the organisations broader interest in promoting social inclusion. As Halton Speak Out is a registered charity specifically for people with learning disabilities, this excludes people on the autistic spectrum, people labelled with behavioural issues and importantly people without any additional support needs taking part in projects. Ella Together's aim is to promote social inclusion by fostering an environment where a range of people can practice performing arts together, now boasting a membership of 89 and sell out performances.