Andrew has been a part of the self-advocacy movement since 1994, joining North Herts People First (now known as Herts People First) and then later chairing the organisation. He joined the self-advocacy movement because of personal experience of discrimination and wanting to make sure that it didn’t happen to other people with learning difficulties.
Andrew was a Trustee on the board of POhWER from 1996 until 1999. Andrew became the Director of People First (Self Advocacy) in 1999. His first job with the organisation was to get the Department of Work and Pensions to recognise that Access to Work should be available to people with learning difficulties. People First became the first user-led self-advocacy organisation to have people with learning difficulties supported in their roles through Access to Work.
During his time with People First, he has been a member of the Disability Rights Commission Learning Disability Action Group, the Equality 2025 Advisory Group, the Equality and Human Rights Commission Disability Committee, the Independent Living Group chaired by Baroness Jane Campbell, the Social Care Taskforce Advisory Group of Autistic people and people with a Learning Disability and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Learning Disability.
Andrew has been a true inspiration to so many people in the Disability movement!
Ray got involved in the self-advocacy movement through a local group, which he then started to work for as a development worker. He started working for People First (Self Advocacy) in 2001.
Over his many years at People First, he has been educating people on what it feels like to be a person with learning difficulty, how to make things easy to understand, and make sure that people have power, choice and control over decisions in their lives.
Ray has run lots of training for self-advocacy groups, Disabled people’s organisations and health and social care professionals, and supported individuals and organisations to increase their skills and confidence. He has been an active campaigner, especially for black people with learning disabilities.
He is now the People First Development Manager, involved in the Advocacy Plus project, Empower Easy Read service and the London Campaign Network. He will carry on standing up for people’s rights and will not give up the fight!
Ray is a superstar in so many ways!
You may recognise him from his appearance on The Undateables.
Samantha Johnson joined People First in 2018 as one of the Coordinators on a local partnership project between People First (Self Advocacy), Breaking Out of the Bubble and SCIE, called Supporting Each Others Equals Power (SEOEP). Her role was to support people with learning difficulties and disabilities within Lambeth to gain independence, by breaking down barriers within society. Samantha is now the Advocacy Manager.
Samantha has been part of the self-advocacy movement since 1994. Her journey began when she joined The Advocacy Service of Hammersmith which now referred to as Hammersmith and Fulham Mencap. Initially, she joined the self-advocacy movement because she wanted to be in control over her life and because of discrimination she was receiving.
Samantha also worked for the DWP as an admin officer, and helped set up various projects such as Safety Net People First. She is also a trustee for Hammersmith and Fulham Mencap.
Samantha will continue to be a voice for people who don’t have one and believes that ‘every person with a learning difficulty and disability has the right to be heard’.