TOM Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Malling, visited the Edenbridge residential and supported living services, run by national learning disability charity Hft, last week to hear of the lived experiences and daily challenges faced by learning disabled people.
Mr Tugendhat spoke to some of the adults supported by Hft about his job and heard what the charity does to support people with a learning disability within his own constituency.
The visit was an important opportunity for people supported in Edenbridge to develop a relationship with him. While touring the facilities, the MP took questions on how he would support people with a learning disability into work, his thoughts on staff recruitment in adult social care and what he could do about more accessible transport in the area.
The residents were excited to meet him, commenting that ‘it was my first time meeting him and he listened to us really well’ while another simply said ‘he was a really nice chap’.
Hft Edenbridge provides a number of facilities, including two supported living services where adults with a learning disability are supported to pursue their interests which range from birdwatching and horse riding to football and James Bond. They are also supported to play an active role in running their home including deciding their menu, making shopping lists, shopping and cooking, with support as required.
The day service offers a safe environment for people to meet and participate in activities, offering activities such as easy yoga, Zumba, cooking, computer sessions, art, music, dance, games and pamper sessions.
Mr Tugendhat, who rose to prominence after running for the position of leader of the Conservative Party last summer, said:
“It was fantastic to visit Hft in Edenbridge to see how they care for both residents and adults with learning disabilities, some of whom visit the site for the day.
“The team that offers support to the adults are so dedicated and it was clear to see how much they care for everybody who relies on the services Hft offers.”
Victor Finney, Hft’s Registered Area Manager, said:
“We were thrilled to be able to give Tom a greater understanding of what Hft does, as well as giving the people we support an important opportunity to ask their local MP questions.
“He was able to hear from his own constituents – the people we support – and answered their questions as he toured the services. He also had the chance to listen in on Hft’s Voices to be Heard group, where people we support come together to discuss any issues that are pertinent to them. This was an invaluable opportunity not only to gain a better understanding of the daily challenges people with a learning disability face but also to hear how they enjoy living their best life possible.”