Big Society, Disability and Civil Society Research

Website for ESRC research project 'Big Society? Disabled People with Learning Disabilities and Civil Society'

Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Senator

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On Thursday 2nd April, 2015, the team met up with colleagues from Japan International Cooperation Agency (http://www.jica.go.jp/english/). JICA has been working closely with the Federal Social Welfare Department to develop both self-advocacy, independent living and pathways into employment for disabled people in Malaysia. We had a very informative discussion thinking through approaches to job coaching in Malaysia and in the UK. The team were particularly grateful to Swee Lan Yeo, Consultant at JICA, for her support for our visit to Malaysia. Swee Lan was involved in a earlier project around disability in Malauysia and the UK. One key shared theme that emerged from the meeting was the importance of contextualising employment and self-advocacy in a wider discourse of disability activism and the politics of disability. The growth, for example, of the self-advocacy movement has provided a necessary impetus to rethink how communities respond to the ambitions of people with the label of learning disabilities. This recognition mirrors the findings emerging from the Big Society project which call for a re-emphasis on the politicisation of disability in a time of austerity. The growth of self-advocacy in Malaysia (see earlier post on United Voice) parallels earlier self advocacy movement in UK. Later in the day, we were extremely lucky to meet Bathmavathi Krishnan, Disability activist and Senator, Upper House, Parliament of Malaysia. Her post exists as a direct result of the 2008 act in Malalysia around PWD. We were grateful to the Senator for giving us her insights into the issues facing disabled people in Malaysia and for allowing us to talk to her about the UK context. Dr Katherine Runswick-Cole, Senior Research Fellow in Disability Studies & Psychology, from Manchester Metropolitan University said: “we have had a fantastic opportunity to share our ideas with our Malaysian colleagues and it has been great to have the opportunity to reflect, as a team, on our research. It has been fascinating to see the overlaps between the Malaysian and UK context and to share ideas about moving forward and working through the opportunities and challenges people with learning disabilities face in relation to employment in both countries.” IMG_2765

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Author: Katherine RC

Katherine is Research Fellow in Disability Studies and Psychology at the Research Institute for Health and Social Change at Manchester Metropolitan University

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