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Saturday 16 November 2019
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Hearing from the Seldom Heard

People with learning disabilities face many barriers in being able to complain about the services they receive. Nationally there is a drive to improve access to complaints procedures in both health and social care through 'Making Experiences Count' (Department of Health 2007).

However people with profound and multiple learning disabilities and other complex communication needs are not going to be greatly helped simply by the production of an integrated complaints procedure or an 'accessible' complaints leaflet, however well designed.

The Hearing from the Seldom Heard project aimed to look at how to overcome barriers and create listening cultures within organizations to hear from those who are seldom heard.

Six areas of good practice were identified

  • Getting to know people really well
  • Better communication
  • Raising awareness of the human rights of people who are seldom heard
  • Improved access to advocacy
  • Ensuring everyone has their own complaints buddy
  • Effective complaints procedures


The project resulted in a resource pack, written by Sue Thurman, containing practice recommendations, resources and links to examples of innovative work. The pack contains information on each of the key areas identified by the project with examples of good practice, and perhaps most importantly real life stories about people’s attempts to hear from people who are seldom heard.

There are a limited number of copies of the report available on CD from BILD, there is a charge for £3.50 to cover postage and packaging, or you can download the information for free using the links below. All the files are Adobe PDF files.

You can download the document below.

Hearing from the Seldom Heard

Section 1: All about Hearing from the Seldom Heard

1. The background to the project  (67kb)
2. What the project involved  (610kb)
3. The recommendations  (77kb)
A poster advertising the project


Section 2: Some Background to Hearing from the Seldom Heard

4. The background to complaints - Human Rights  (95kb)
5. The history of complaints  (138kb)
6. Why some people are seldom heard  (383kb)

Section 3: The good practice suggestions

1. Getting to know people really well

Getting to know people well  (221kb)
Resource one - meaningful information article  (28kb)
Resource two - the story of Hugh (77kb)
Resource three - Multi Media Profiling (1,646kb)

2. Learning to communicate better

Learning to communicate better  (208kb)
Resource one - communication tools  (528kb)
Resource two - Listening and Responding Cycle  (39kb)
Resource three - I'm Creative Too  (569kb)

3. Raising awareness of human rights

Raising awareness of human rights  (79kb)
Resource one - Complaints awareness session  (55kb)
Resource two - Watson model February 2009  (489kb)
Resource three - Framework for consultation  (72kb)
Resource four - Quality Network  (344kb)

4. Access to appropriate advocacy

Access to appropriate advocacy  (115kb)
Resource one - What is non instructed advocacy  (32kb)
Resource two - Watching Brief  (.pdf, 129kb)
Resource three - Advocacy groups who work with people unable to instruct

5. Access to complaints buddies

Complaints buddies  (84kb)
Resource one - circles of intimacy  (78kb)
Resource two - Rachel's story (83kb)
Resource three - Calcraft's recommendations on whistle blowing  (171kb)
Resource four - Whistle Blowing  (73kb)

6. Making good use of procedures

Making good use of procedures  (110kb)
Resource one - ICAS and people with learning disabilities  (43kb)
Resource two - Advice on complaining  (49kb)


Section 4: Acknowledgments and Appendices

Acknowledgements  (91kb)
Appendix one - BUILD for the Future  (215kb)
Appendix two - Somerset Advocacy Management Committee  (951kb)
Appendix three - Somerset Speaking Up groups  (1,915kb)
References  (52kb)


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