Susan elects to spend day as councillor

A YOUNG woman with learning disabilities has spent a day in the shoes of a senior Leeds city councillor.

Susan Hanley, of Morley, got a taste for local government when she co-chaired the Great Council Chamber Takeover in January this year, an event which saw 50 adults with learning disabilities ‘take over’ the council chamber at Leeds Civic Hall to find out how local democracy works.

She was also part of a delegation from Leeds that travelled down to Westminster in the summer to meet with local MPs as part of Learning Disabilities Awareness Week.

The takeover event was supported by councillors from all parties, with Coun Lucinda Yeadon, who has responsibility for adult health and social care in Leeds, getting involved as one of four councillors on a panel answering questions from the delegates.

She then invited Susan to shadow her for a typical day to help her get a better feel for the work of a senior councillor.

Susan said: “I really enjoyed spending the day with Lucinda. It was interesting to see the variety of different things that she is involved in, and the work that she is doing to support adults in the city.

I’m really interested in how local government works, and what people with learning disabilities can do to make sure that their views are heard. Having this opportunity makes me feel that the council are prepared to listen to our problems and take on board some of our ideas.”

Susan has Down’s syndrome and used to attend a day centre for people with learning disabilities in West Ardsley. Through the centre she went on a series of work placements, working as a waitress, an administrator and a shop assistant.

In 2009 she took up the position of co-chair of the Leeds Learning Disabilities Partnership Board where her role is to challenge prejudices and ensure the voices of people with learning disabilities in Leeds are heard.