Talkback

About Us

Talkback is about choice, opportunity and respect for all people with a learning disability and/or autism.

We work across the Home Counties to empower people to understand and use the skills that will enhance their quality of life. This will enable them to be involved in their local community and have their voice heard by professionals and peers.

We want to change perceptions within society to create a positive engagement for all people.

“Where Talkback leads… others follow…” 

Speech marks

Management Team

“What I like about Talkback is that when you get involved no one tells you what to do. We get support, but people stay in the background.  We are on equal terms. We are in control of our own actions and minds.  We have opportunities to think about how we feel and what we want in our lives.”

Our History

Talkback, from conception in 1998 to current day, has strived to create an inclusive professional environment that steers and challenges mainstream thinking with regards to disability and autism.

Our engagement with people in their supporting services and community now stretches nationally, to include:

  • Consultation e.g. Businesses / Education / Community
  • Commissioning Development e.g. Councils / Social Care / Health Services
  • Experts by Experience within the Care and Treatment Review for 20 years

Talkback Professional Services

ENGAGE gathers a diverse range of people’s voices and helps them express their views to influence positive change, both over their own lives and in their community. We ensure the voices of those we engage with are heard by statutory and non-statutory services. Our Advocacy Services include Care Act Advocacy and Community Advocacy, plus an Experts by Experience programme and Easyread service.

Engage

Issues experienced: People with a learning disability and/or autism can have low self-esteem and self-confidence. This can be for many reasons; being treated as a child even in adult life, having their capabilities underestimated, or having been bullied at school or the victim of a hate crime. Often people around them tend to speak for them and make decisions on their behalf. This results in people with a learning disability and/or autism not feeling they are able to speak up for themselves.

How we address this: We enable people with a learning disability and/or autism to gain social and life skills which, over time, improves their self-esteem. This confidence enables them to speak up for themselves and to realise that their voice matters. By vocalising opinions, individuals become more independent and capable of making decisions which affect their lives.

Engagement

“What I like about Talkback is that when you get involved no one tells you what to do. We are on equal terms. We are in control of our own actions and minds.  We have opportunities to think about how we feel and what we want in our lives.”

Engaging with people is at the core of what Talkback is about. We have a team of staff whose purpose it is to find individuals’ unique ways of communicating and to ensure their voices are heard. Through working groups in the community, we gather people’s experiences to feed back to professionals, with an aim to improve services whilst promoting respect, choice and opportunity.

Co – Production

Our co-production service is designed by and with people with a learning disability, based around the core principles of co-production as described by the Social Care Institute for Excellence:

  1. Equality – everyone’s opinions and experience are equally valued
  2. Diversity – diverse perspectives are assets, not challenges, for any project
  3. Accessibility – everyone has the opportunity to take part in the process on an equal basis
  4. Reciprocity – people feel they receive something back for putting something in; they feel their input is needed and valued.

Previous projects have included:

  • Co-produced consultations on the High Speed 2 rail initiative
  • A collaboration on barriers to health in partnership with Health Watch
  • A review of SEND policy in West Berkshire.

“Together we have made sure that people with learning disabilities have a say in the services we use and try to show organisations how to give us better access to services…”   – Michelle

Management Groups

Since Talkback is user led, our Management Groups are at the heart of Talkback’s work, ensuring that everything we do, and how it is done, is decided by people with learning disabilities and/or autism.

The Management Groups feed into Talkback’s board of Trustees to help make decisions on key issues affecting the organisation.

“Talkback has given me confidence to speak up on issues that I feel strongly about.”

“Talkback has helped me to put more in and get more out of life.”

Training

We provide expert training to ensure we help everyone.

Including:

  • Professionals who need to understand more about how to interact and develop people with learning disability and/or autism
  • GP’s and health professionals who need to look at health needs of individuals
  • Retail staff who need training in how to recognise and communicate with a diverse range of customers
  • HR and business managers and staff who want to truly create an inclusive organisation and understand how to achieve that
  • Churches and other social organisations who want to learn about inclusivity and how people with learning disabilities can be an active part of their community.

Advocacy

Advocacy is about understanding each person’s needs, thoughts and feelings to ensure they receive the right information and advice. An advocate is independent, non-judgmental and believes that people are the experts in their own lives.

Individuals’ self-advocacy skills are worked on, empowering people to give a ‘real yes’ and a ‘real no’ and to make authentic decisions about their lives. This makes community advocacy accessible to everyone, including those with multiple and profound disabilities who may have alternative communication needs.

Spot Purchase

Talkback welcomes spot-purchase arrangements for specific advocacy provision, including referrals by Local Authorities for Care Act Advocacy and Community Advocacy.

We are available for spot-purchase for:

  • Community advocacy
  • Care Act advocacy
  • Fulfilling the Expert by Experience role at Care and Treatment Reviews (CTR).

We ensure that people’s care and treatment meets their individual needs

“Talkback’s given me the confidence to cope with major changes, like moving home…” – Jeremy

Quality Checkers

Our Quality Checkers are a professional trained team of people with learning disabilities and/or autism, and thus have lived experience.

This team:

  • Assess services and provide effective feedback in order to promote inclusion and development
  • Share knowledge to empower businesses or individuals to gain inclusive awareness
  • Encourage and define high standards of excellence in services
  • Provide comprehensive reports and make key recommendations
  • Engage organisations to develop accessibility, inclusivity and equality.