Co-production Week 2019

Co-production Week 2019

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

We are more than 'the blue bobbles'

By Samantha Johnson, who is an expert in many areas (See below)

About me 


I am a young black woman aged 41 with learning difficulties. I go to church every Sunday expect for when I am away with the church or weekends away on holiday. Every month on a Sunday I go out with a group of people called the blue bobbles.  The reason why we are called the bobbles is because of the blue bobbles on the tube map showing which stations are accessible. They are accessible for wheel chairs, and people with mobility needs.  The blue bobbles are a group of people with Spinabifida and Hydrocephalus, we go out to accessible places (blue bobbles), I think it is important for us to get know each other to share our experiences and support each other.

My history in self advocacy

My self-advocacy journey started in 1994. This was with speaking up and supporting people with learning difficulties to get the services they need.  Here are some examples of work I have done: 

  • I am qualified to train people with learning difficulties to speak up 
  • I helped set up a self-advocacy group called Safety Net People First in 2000, this was with Mencap’s director in Hammersmith and Fulham. I was also Co-Chair for Safety Net People First when it was first set up back in 2000
  • I have Co-chaired Hammersmith and Fulham’s Partnership Board for people with learning difficulties to speak up so they can have their voices heard 
  • I am also now one of the Trustees of Hammersmith and Fulham Mencap 
  • I have done a lot of speaking up training with service users from ifferent London Boroughs as well as outside of London 
  • I have worked with the DWP for a year as an administrations officer
  • I was involved in making a film about GPs working with  service users in Hammersmith and Fulham
  • I have co-chaired the Valuing People Partnership Board
  • I have done training and given talks to doctors, nurses, reception staff at GP surgeries, medical professionals and psychologists around meeting the needs of people with learning difficulties   
  • I have done a lot of work about getting the right type of housing for people with learning difficulties and given training to housing staff
  • I have also done a lot of work around people with learning difficulties getting a personal budget or a heath budget so that they can make their own decision and choices
  • I have been involved in the consultation that helped set up the Friends and Family App which asked how your doctor’s appointment was.

Why is Supporting Each Other Equals Power so important?

It is such an important project because it is helping people with learning difficulties to live independent lives with the right support.   For people with learning difficulties not getting the right support can be one of the biggest barriers in their life.  This project is also important because we support people to speak up for themselves and support those people who feel they do not have a voice to speak up or are not listened to.

It is all about “Nothing about us, without us” Often decisions are made for people with learning difficulties and our voices are not listened to.  This project is about having the peer support to have control over our lives.


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