Passionate about the rights of people with learning disabilities, Lucy Hinksman has worked as a campaigner with Pembrokeshire People First and All Wales People First for more than 12 years. So when she heard the BBC inviting people to explain how they would run Wales if they had the chance, she was keen to respond.
“I have learning disability,” Lucy explained, so I have first-hand experience of the barriers people like myself can face and with the reduction in funding for advocacy projects, the problems can only get worse.”
Quoting the social model of disability which identifies the barriers which make it difficult for people with ‘disabilities’ to fully participate in society, Lucy told the BBC that a change of attitudes was essential.
“It is the barriers in society that make people disabled,” she told the BBC. “If attitudes change, we are no longer disabled.”
She went on to say, that she felt more people like herself should be involved in Government to work at relieving the loneliness and isolation faced by so many people with learning disabilities and to remove barriers to employment.
Lucy’s own experience is a case in point. She worked for six years in the hospitality industry but, despite having an NVQ in hospitality and catering, was never given the opportunity or support, to advance beyond washing up.
She explained that employers could offer more support if they understood what was needed. “I believe that learning about disability awareness should be available in schools and the work-place,” Lucy said, “Our voices should be heard.”
Hearing her voice, the BBC News, Wales Today, were impressed enough to broadcast an interview with her. She has since had further interviews with Clare Summers of BBC Radio Wales Breakfast Programme and with the online magazine www.pembrokeshire.online.
Lucy went on to say that she thinks ‘labels’ divide people. “I am Lucy first. Having a learning disability just means that there are some things I need more support with. Everyone needs support with something.”
As well as campaigning, Lucy has her own photography business and is an active community member of The VC Gallery, based in Haverfordwest, a project set up to support Veterans and the wider community, through creativity.
Art engagement and the wider support The VC Gallery brought to Lucy’s life, helped with her emotional needs through lockdown.
Lucy is a keen advocate of the benefits of art to well-being and works hard at encouraging others to get creative! With her community conscience and passionate drive for equality, Lucy is an inspiration to many.