2009.10.13football-199x300At the conservative conference in 2009 the Learning Disability Coalition, of which ARC was a member, organised a football match between conservative MPs and footballers with a learning disability.  The 5 MPs who took part have had mixed fortunes since – this week it has been confirmed that 2 have significant roles in the new Government, Mark Harper as Chief Whip and importantly for our sector Alastair Burt is the new Care minister. With the announcements of further cuts, welfare reform and the threat to the Human Rights Act let’s hope that the football match has had some lasting impact.

It’s been a seismic shift in the makeup of politics across the UK; over the next few months we will get a better idea of the impact there will be on support for people with learning disabilities, we’ll be working hard to make sure that our members are kept up to speed on developments and ensuring that our voices are heard.

Preparing to chair ARC’s ‘Keys to the Door’ Conference’, Sheffield with Lisa Lenton (L) – ARC England’s new Director

It’s not only at Westminster that there have been changes. There have also been some changes at ARC that will help us represent our members better. For the first time ever ARC England is to have our own Director.  Lisa Lenton, who has been our Learning and Development Manager since August, has just been appointed to this role.

Immediately prior to coming to work for ARC Lisa was based in Australia and her work there included managing government programmes to enable people with disabilities to secure work. In the UK Lisa has been a training manager for a Banking Group and a senior development officer for Nottinghamshire County Council’s Ready4work Team.

She was originally employed to deliver an ESF project for people with moderate to severe learning disabilities to gain work experience, once this was successfully completed she was appointed onto a permanent contract where she was responsible for managing DWP contracts and supporting individuals with disabilities into employment.  In the few months that Lisa has already been with us she has met with a lot of members and I know she is keen to meet up with everyone else. If you have suggestions for how we work in the new political climate, or issues you want us to raise Lisa would love to hear from you.

As we look at the 4 nations of ARC we will also need to make changes to the way the overall ARC board works so that we can reflect the more devolved context in which we are working.  To that end we will be holding our AGM on 17th June in Edinburgh at which we hope to appoint a board that will be able to lead us through a few months of governance changes. We’ll be sending out the notices soon, we would be very keen to hear if any organisations would be particularly interested in supporting us through this process by nominating a senior member of staff to the board for the transition process.

Anthea Sully
ARC Interim Chief Executive