Supporting adults with a learning disability and autistic people to have their say

Picture of a group of people supported by Sunderland People First


Picture of people from Sunderland People First at a UK Parliament outreach workshop

Working closely with Sunderland People First, our Outreach Officer for the North East, Lynn Hobson, facilitated two accessible workshops in Sunderland for people with learning disabilities and autistic people, the first in late 2019 and the second in mid-2020.

Both sessions were a great success and led to a range of interactions with UK Parliament, including a meeting with a local MP to highlight issues that matter to the organisation and visiting the Palace of Westminster to support our forward planning.

Partner organisation

Sunderland People First logo

Sunderland People First was set up in 1994 as a self-advocacy group for people with a learning disability and autistic people.

Through its dedication and commitment, it has developed into a group that campaigns locally and nationally to champion the rights of people with learning disabilities and autistic people, and improve their lives.

Accessible workshops


In early December 2019, shortly before the General Election, Sunderland People First invited our Outreach Officer for the North East region, Lynn Hobson, to lead an interactive Empower workshop for local people they work with.

This workshop explored how people can have their voice heard at Parliament. It was an engaging and accessible session, which generated some wonderful feedback.

Following on from the success of the first workshop, Lynn was invited to facilitate a second session in May 2020, this time focusing on petitions.

Picture of a UK Parliament outreach officer with a workshop participant

Lynn Hobson (R) - UK Parliament Senior Outreach Officer

Lynn Hobson (R) - UK Parliament Senior Outreach Officer

Engaging with Parliament


E-petition and meeting with MP

An e-petition was started, asking for the creation of a user-led, independent body to support the Care Quality Commission to monitor secure settings. This was done to support a key campaigning goal of Sunderland People First - to stop the abuse of people with learning disabilities and autistic people in assessment and treatment units and long stay hospitals.

Even though the petition did not secure enough signatures to warrant an official response by the UK Government, Sunderland People First held a digital meeting with Julie Elliot MP (Sunderland Central), to seek support on the issues that matter to people with a learning disability and autistic people.

Advising on accessibility

Having formed a strong working relationship with Sunderland People First, we invited members of the group to visit us at Parliament.

They provided valuable input on our forward planning for the Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster, giving expert advice on various aspects of accessibility that need to be addressed as part of this important programme. Our work with partners such as Sunderland People First is critical to ensuring that Parliament's built environment and facilities are accessible, inclusive and fit for purpose.

Staying in touch


We continue to offer our support to Sunderland People First and the people they represent, to help ensure that their voices can be heard at Parliament in different ways.


About us

Picture of people taking part in engagement activities

The Participation Team

The Participation Team at UK Parliament works on behalf of both Houses to deliver award-winning visitor services, outreach activities, educational programmes, learning resources, and opportunities for the public to engage with parliamentary business.

We promote Parliament’s unique role in our democracy, help to make Parliament relevant and accessible to all UK citizens, and show how people can get involved with Parliament’s work in different ways.

PPicture of two community outreach sessions run by UK Parliament

How we can help you

  • We visit schools and colleges in person and online, to run free sessions for your students about UK Parliament and its work.
  • We offer EMPOWER! workshops, for adults with learning disabilities. These highly accessible sessions typically last 45 minutes and are adjusted around the needs of your group. They’re designed for a minimum of 10 people, including carers.
  • We also run SEND workshops, which are sensory based sessions aimed at pre-curriculum age students between 7-19 years old

Please get in touch to find out how the Participation Team can work with your organisation to deliver tailored outreach activities.

Further information and links

© UK Parliament 2022

Photo credit: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor | Accessibility statement