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How conversation can break down barriers

Posted onPosted on 13th May

An initiative is under way in Mansfield to break down barriers and change attitudes to difference and diversity.

OneConversation encourages people to come together to talk and challenge stigma, stereotypes and social isolation through non-confrontational and friendly conversations.

Find out more information here

They may be stepping inside an unfamiliar world, but the organisers hope that the conversation could change someone’s mind about disability.

The long-term initiative was born out of the annual OneWalk in Mansfield town centre, which is held to mark Learning Disability Week.

The OneConversation group in Mansfield includes people with various ability levels.

A spokesperson said: “Labels exist within the group (learning disability, autism, acquired brain injury, neurotypical), but we have come together as equals to share our skills and different perspectives, and to break down the stigma and discrimination those with disability face.

“We are doing this by taking the simple art of OneConversation to schools, colleges and the wider public through a pop-up café.

“We meet most weeks and are exploring, playing, arguing and figuring out what having a conversation looks like.

“We want to communicate to others how we want to represent ourselves.”

The OneWalk/OneConversation work is led by Brad English, clinical psychologist, and Tracy Radford, creative producer, who both work in co-production with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

They said: “We constantly hear through the conversations we have that people with learning disabilities and/or autism have had enough of being left at the margins of society. Our activists have decided to do something about this and be the change they want to see.

“One conversation could be all it takes to help a person see what is actually there more clearly, and to free them, and those they are regarding, from the assumptions that maintain these unnecessary divides within our society.

“These divides create the illusion of difference, and that which is different is feared.

“This fear exists in both directions, leading to avoidance, ignorance, and archaic narratives of having to protect the world from people with learning and developmental disabilities, as well as protecting people with learning and developmental disabilities from the world.”

One Conversation was launched in Mansfield with conversations at Mansfield Town FC and sessions that are planned for Queen Elizabeth Academy, Vision West Notts College and through conversation café sessions at The Hive in the Four Seasons Shopping Centre.

Conversation Café dates:
Monday, 24th June, 11am-3pm
Saturday, 29th June, 11am-3pm
Saturday, 6th July, 11am-3pm

Organisers hope that their work will eventually spread beyond Mansfield into other areas.

OneWalk event
The annual OneWalk event is again taking place in Mansfield to show that people with learning disabilities are welcome in the town centre.

The walk, launched in 2017, takes place during Learning Disability Week.

OneWalk 2019 will be held on Thursday, 20th June in the town centre, starting at 10.30am with songs from Atmosphere Glee choir, before an official opening at 11am.

Open to all, it will start from outside the Old Town Hall and follow a short route around the town centre.

Organisers hope the walk will be a celebration of inclusion, showing solidarity and support for people with learning disabilities and demonstrating that everyone is valued and belongs in Mansfield.