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HRH The Princess Royal helps to mark the achievements of Voices to be Heard
HRH The Princess Royal helps to mark the achievements of Voices to be Heard

Hft Press Releases

HRH The Princess Royal helps to mark the achievements of Voices to be Heard

Published: 15/05/17

HRH The Princess Royal has visited Bristol to hear more about the positive impact a speak out group for people with learning disabilities has made on the charity which supports them.

Voices to be Heard (VtbH) was founded in 2012 and is made up of members who represent the views of the people supported by the learning disabilities charity, Hft. The process allows voices from all of Hft’s services to be brought forward and involved in a meaningful way with helping to shape the charity’s strategic direction.

Today (Monday 15th May) Hft’s Patron, The Princess Royal, was invited to a special celebratory event to reflect on the achievements made by the group, who all have learning disabilities and are supported by Hft, in helping to shape how their services are delivered. Over the last five years highlights include taking an active involvement in recruitment and staff selection, as well as supporting the induction process for new employees by organising and producing training films on topics including fire safety and staff policy. 

On Monday, Her Royal Highness met with 30 invited guests involved in VtbH, including people supported by Hft, staff and trustees, at the Bristol and Bath Science Park.  The Princess was given a brief history of the group and heard more about their role in the charity’s external campaign, It Doesn’t Add Up.  The campaign was launched in response to the underfunded increase in the National Living Wage and aimed to raise awareness of the funding pressures faced by social care providers.  VtbH members played a critical role in highlighting the challenges by writing to MPs and setting up meetings. At the end of last year some of the group also travelled to Westminster to present a petition to Government, signed by more than 3,850 people, calling for an increase in funding for adult social care.

On the day there was also a presentation given by trustee, Barbara McIntosh, and Chair of Voices to be Heard, Becky, who is supported by Hft, who spoke about the achievements made to date and future plans.  A video, produced by a person with learning disabilities, was also screened highlighting some of the key achievements. This included the establishment of Voices to be Heard @ Council – a separate committee of Hft’s Council which is made up of three trustees, the Executive Director of Operations and seven representatives of VtbH from across the organisation.  Meetings provide an opportunity for VtbH representatives to work in partnership with trustees to help inform Hft’s strategic direction.

Hilary Crowhurst, Executive Director of Operations who is also part of the Voices to be Heard @ Council committee, said: “We strongly believe that the people we support have an important role to play in guiding the strategic direction of the charity.  Our speak out group was a crucial step towards creating a greater, more integrated level of involvement.  By creating a two-way consultative process it provides an opportunity for people to be heard and have their views represented so that they can have their say in the decisions that affect their lives.”

Speaking after the event Robert Longley-Cook said: “At Hft the people we support are at the heart of everything we do.  Voices to be Heard is an example of Hft’s unique Fusion Model of support model in action – delivering high quality person-centred services and engaging people as active participants to experience greater levels of inclusion, independence and choice.

“As a long standing Hft Patron, we were delighted that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal was able to join our celebrations and see just how far we have come in ensuring that we can continue to provide the best life possible for the people we support.” 

Hft currently supports more than 2,500 people with learning disabilities across the country.  Locally, the charity supports more than 28 people in Bristol and Bath.  This includes supporting people with learning disabilities to live independently in their own homes and helping people to pursue hobbies, make new friends and get involved in their local communities.

HRH The Princess Royal helps to mark the achievements of Voices to be Heard

Notes to editors

For further information please contact: Suzanne Fry, PR & Media Manager, on 0117 906 1755 or For media enquiries outside of office hours please call 0117 906 1697

About Hft

Hft is a national charity supporting more than 2,500 adults with learning disabilities across England to live the best life possible. Established in 1962, the charity uses its own unique Fusion Model to consistently deliver high quality, person-centered support across all its services. 

Services range from supported living to residential care – from a few hours a week to 24 hours a day. Hft also helps people with learning disabilities to take part in daily activities, make friends and develop relationships and to find work.

For more information about Hft please visit

Information about learning disabilities

A learning disability can be mild, moderate, severe or profound and is defined as having a reduced ability to:

  • Understand new or complex information
  • Learn new skills
  • Live independently

Subject: Events
Location: National