Langdon members find their voice at Westminster

Members speak out at forum for those with disabilities


In front of a Westminster audience including Sarah Newton, Minister for Disabled People, young adults from Langdon participated in the Speaking Out Forum, designed to give a voice to those with disabilities.

Robert Bluestone, 21, has Asperger’s and struggles with the stress and pressure. But with the help of mentor Marion Myers, he spoke confidently about his passion, running.

“I have just completed my first half marathon,” he told the MPs, family members and prospective employers who had gathered at the Speaker’s House.

Langdon had “helped me get a job, make loads of friends — and I have developed a love for running”, he added.

Alongside Mr Bluestone was friend and running partner Jamie Pash, who had also been mentored by Mrs Myers.

Explaining his love of vinyl, he said he had “started getting into records about five years ago when I first discovered vinyl which belonged to my mum”. He told the JC he had been “nervous”about speaking in public. “But I learnt a lot about how to pause when speaking and now I feel more confident.”

Robert Woolf, 24, delivered an entertaining appreciation of American sitcom The Goldbergs, which is about a family of five Reform Jews living in Pennsylvania. “One of the reasons I relate to this programme is because there are also five of us on my mum’s side of the family,” he said.

“There are aspects in the show that I don’t relate to, such as the two sons having girlfriends. But they both have been rejected at times — like me.”

He went on to announce he was single, suggesting that potential dates could ask for his number.

“I am asthmatic so I was worried that I would run out of breath while I was speaking,” Mr Woolf said afterwards. “But I did OK. I used to have more of a stutter but it has gone now and that is through practice.

“On the way here I was revising changes. I made a few mistakes but it is important not to be too hard on yourself.”

His Langdon mentor, Michal Booker, said it was “wonderful to see him grow and flourish” after a challenging few years. “Since he has been at Langdon, he is a different person.”

Billie Brazil moved the audience with a rousing speech about living with a disability.

“You need to see me and not just my wheelchair,” she said.

“I am a person in my own right. I am not just a poor thing in a wheelchair. I am proud of my difference even though there are things that I am not able to do.”

She said later that “people don’t understand what it is like to live with a disability. They make judgements. I hope people listen to me.”

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