People First Forum // September 2022

People First Forum is a self advocacy charity for people with learning disabilities across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

Their mission is to give people with learning disabilities the support and opportunities to live the lives they choose. Their aim is to help create a world where people with learning disabilities are treated as equals, living safe and happy lives.

I was commissioned to take a series of portraits.

Working closely with Amanda Frost, Jenny Bennet and the wider group we discussed and negotiated context, environment, clothes and props to ensure the subjects were empowered to represent themselves.

Empowerment is both a value orientation for working in the community and a theoretical model for understanding the process and consequences of efforts to exert control and influence over decisions that affect one’s life, organizational functioning, and the quality of community life (Perkins & Zimmerman, 1995; Rappaport, 1981; Zimmerman & Warschausky, 1998).


I am very proud to be assistant manager of a wonderful organisation for lovely people with learning disabilities.


Dancing makes me feel good.


Doing art makes me feel relaxed, happy and calm. It doesn’t make me feel agitated.


Pottery gets me out of the house and I get to see people. Doing pottery makes me happy and I like learning new skills.


Poetry makes me think. When I was bullied, poetry was escapism, it made me not feel threatened, lost or like a loser. It was the saviour that kept me going.


I like being at the allotment – as its peaceful and I feel close to my dad – as it was one of the last places we went together. I can be alone with my thoughts.


I’m proud to show what people with learning disabilities can do. I love being a DJ and seeing the crowds of people at Camp Bestival.


I really enjoy watching my favourite football team. It makes me really happy. Up the Cherries.


Driving gives me experience and independence. I have been driving since I was 19 years old.

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