Member of the Month – My Life My Choice
Each month, one of our small charity members is celebrated for all the hard work they do for their beneficiaries as well as being an engaged FSI member. This December, our Member of the Month is My Life My Choice– congratulations to their fantastic team!
What is your charity’s mission?
Our vision is a world where people with learning disabilities are treated without prejudice, and are able to have choice and control over their own lives.
Our mission is:
- To make sure that there is independent support for people with learning disabilities in Oxfordshire to have their say, claim their rights and to take control of their own lives.
- To make sure that the views of people with learning disabilities are taken seriously by both professionals in the services they use and the wider public.
- To “Power Up” their lives so they can make a positive contribution to society.
How do you achieve this?
MLMC raises the self-esteem and quality of life for people with learning disabilities by providing volunteering, training, employment and social opportunities for its members. This disadvantaged group face multiple levels of deprivation and the charity works to help its members to combat isolation and to lead more fulfilling lives.
Our projects and services include Travel Buddy, Stringray Nightclub, Power Up Training, Easy Read Production, and Experts by Experience. We run monthly self-advocacy group meetings across Oxfordshire.
What are your successes to date?
- Since its beginning 18 years ago, MLMC has transformed the lives of many of our members and also changed the way the public and professionals view people with learning disabilities, especially in Oxford where our members are regularly consulted by organisations such as the NHS, Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Valley Police.
- We’ve been working hard to make sure people with learning disabilities are financially compensated for their time and their skills. In the last financial year, we paid £14,862 to people with learning disabilities, and created three consultant jobs to help us pay people even more.
- Over 27,000 people have viewed one of our high quality user-led films, including the widely shared “I Am Not a Scrounger”, “The Tale of Laughing Boy” and most recent “Everyday Champions”
- Our members have spoken on national media, including live studio interviews on BBC’s Newsnight and Channel 5 News.
- In the past few years the expertise of our members have become nationally recognised. They have served on NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guideline committees, Care and Treatment review panels for NHS England, and one of our trustees, Shaun, has co-chaired the conference of the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi).
- The hard work of all our trustees, members, and other volunteers were recognised this year when we were awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
What challenges do you face as a small charity?
One of our biggest challenges is finding affordable office space in central Oxford. We need to be in the city centre since most of our members rely on public transport, but there is a shortage of accessible property for small charities.
As with most small charities, we find that there is never enough time to do everything we want to do! Although, thanks in part to training from the FSI, we are getting better at prioritising the projects which have the maximum impact on the lives of people with a learning disability.
The competition for funding is quite intense, and it can be hard to compete with larger charities for people’s attention. However, attending fundraising training with the FSI has helped us to identify our strengths and ways that we can appeal to more funders.
What is your relationship with the FSI?
We have made full use of the FSI’s free training over the last few years, with different staff attending workshops each time. Our Communications Coordinator is working towards an FSI qualification in Fundraising, so we can increase the skills we have on our staff team.
This year, we have used Cabinet Office Local Sustainability Funding to pay consultants from the FSI to investigate the impact of MLMC. The resulting report has been a really useful document for our communications and fundraising, and will help us improve all of our projects.
For the past few years we have taken part in Small Charity Week with the FSI, including attending the policy reception with one of our learning disabled trustees.
What does winning member of the month mean to you?
We have a huge amount of respect for the FSI as an organisation, and so winning member of the month is a real honour.
Interested in learning more, visit the My Life My Choice website for more information.