- Your Voice Advocacy Project was originally called the West Glamorgan Forum and was set up in 1989 in response to a document produced by the Welsh Office entitled ‘All Wales Strategy for Learning Disability Services’.
- This document set out new ways of working in the Learning Disability field. It recognised for the first time that people with learning disabilities had the right to ordinary patterns of life in the community and the right to be included in the decisions made which affected their lives.
West Glamorgan Forum
- As a result of the findings in this document, a group of parents of children and adults with learning disabilities came together and established the West Glamorgan Forum.
- Its aim was to ensure that the All Wales Strategy was to be implemented in the then county of West Glamorgan (now encompassing unitary authority areas of Neath Port Talbot and Swansea) and that parents were involved in planning how new services would develop.
Development and Progress
- As the forum grew it became a powerful campaigning group representing parents and people with learning disabilities. By the mid 1990s the Forum was also responsible for working with adults who attended local day centres and their work was aimed to include people with learning disabilities in their running
- These groups were also involved in recommending changes to the services and were supported to express their views by the Forum which was paid for by the Local Authority.
Your Voice Advocacy Project
- After 1994 West Glamorgan no long existed as a county and the organisation took steps towards establishing itself as an independent advocacy project. By doing this the organisation had to apply for funding and was successful in getting National Lottery Funding from 1996 – 2002.
- In 2007 the Forum changed its name to Your Voice Advocacy Project and today and is going from strength to strength with the procurement of new funding for exciting new projects to support people with a range of disabilities.
- Until January 2018 YVA was funded to deliver advocacy by the Big Lottery and Lloyds Foundations, but changes in the law made it difficult to get funding for advocates this way. Local Authorities were expected to provide their clients with an advocate, so YVA is now almost wholly funded by contracts with Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.
- YVA has exciting plans to work with other charities such as Age Cymru Swansea Bay and to merge with Swansea People First, who have a proud history of campaigning for self-advocacy amongst learning disabled adults.