I joined the Union on Hill Street Group in October 2001. I heard about the group from Rita and Philomena (two other participants). There are 10 of us in the group and the first person to work with us was Deborah Bermingham. She made us think about disabled people in workshops, how they are being treated, about their income problems. She helped all of us with problems we had.
The Union is about speaking up for your rights and helping each other with any problems. Deborah left to travel around the world and Vici took over- Vici worked with us and gave us training on how to be a chairperson, secretary and treasurer and she helped us become reporters with the newsletter. We also continued talking about problems people experienced in workshops, such as bullying and the way that some people are treated. Sometimes the Union Group would call them sweatshops instead of workshops.
We are doing a questionnaire for service providers to see if they have advocacy groups or policy in their organisation. We hope to publish the findings from the questionnaire. We also hope to work with other groups like us in the near future. We have been invited by different groups to talk about the Union Group and our experiences.
We are having an ‘Awareness and Rights Day’ during the summer and it will be from 11am- 4pm and will look at people’s experience. We will be advertising this widely, so keep an eye out for it.
As part of the Union Group, Vici asked me to join a drama group in the Forum for People with Disabilities and from this I have been to America to a drama group there, I got a scholarship for this and this year I will return to America again.