The early days of the All Wales Forum by Norbert Flynn
The early 1990’s were the latter years of the All Wales Strategy which was seeing quite large amounts of funding going into services for people with learning disabilities. Long-stay hospitals were being closed and the residents beginning to live in the community. Many new services were started by voluntary organisations.
It was suggested that as people with learning disability had their representative organisation ‘People First’, then parents and carers should have one too. A meeting was held at Greenway Manor in Llandrindrod Wells, facilitated by Ken Davies and Alun Thomas and at which there were parents from Cardiff, Swansea, Caerphilly, Pembrokeshire, Gwynedd, Powys, Anglesey and others.
Our first annual general meeting was in Oct 1991 and I was elected as chair. There was no funding but I have records of £50 being donated by South Glam Parents Federation and other parent groups also donated. We met quarterly, much of our discussion was an exchange of information, and we also provided a representative for the Learning Disability Advisory Group.
We were regularly in touch with the Welsh Office and they organised an annual review meeting of the All Wales Strategy at which parent representatives from various parts of the country attended. We did not have email so organising attendees was by phone. In 1997 or 8 we managed to get reps from 21 out the 22 Local Authority areas to attend. The Welsh Minister was quite impressed and said that the Forum should be funded. Ken Davies was our first employed director.
We arranged conferences each year from at which a government representative, such as Jane Hutt, would often speak.
The rest is history!
AWF newletter No. 1 – Read our first ever All Wales Forum Newsletter no 1 issued in 1998.