Doug Woollard was a leader at Community Living BC for 10 years.
He was involved from the beginning and helped with the creation of CLBC.
Doug retired on February 27th, 2015. The CLBC Self Advocate led Editorial Board had a chance to thank Doug Woollard for his work and for being an ally and friend of self-advocates.
Members asked him several questions.
Here is a summary of his responses.
Q. What have you learned the most at CLBC?
Doug- I’ve learned it is important to listen and understand at a deep level what people are telling you. The challenge for everyone who works as a social worker, or in this field, is that we have to overcome the belief we know best. People in helping professions sometimes have a feeling they know best. I think all of us have to overcome that. We have to start from a belief that we have to listen deeply to those we serve and go in the direction that takes us. I had early experiences that taught me that the hard way. If you actually go right to a person and understand where they are at, you can solve almost every problem.
Q. What is the next challenge for the movement?
Doug- The family movement in B.C. is very strong, through the Family Support Institute and service providers also have strong voice through Inclusion BC and the CEO Network. The change that would be beneficial, would be a stronger self-advocacy movement. Sometimes self-advocates get drowned out by family and service provider voices. This is not a criticism of families but if you want change, it would be good to see equally strong voices for self-advocates and families.
Q. What can we do to make our voice stronger? What is your advice?
Doug- I’ve thought about this quite a bit. This Editorial Board is one small step toward a greater voice. How do the voices get heard, and how do they carry more weight? Organizations like CLBC can do things to promote your voice. We can’t speak for you, but we can give you opportunities. There is a role for service providers as well. I also think it’s important for independent groups to do it, too. You have to have voices coming from variety of sources, and then you need to have some way to have voices to come together provincially. If you could get 500 participating, instead of 50 or 100 at an annual self advocacy conference, that would be a huge step forward. You need to introduce those voices, and then get those voices heard through regular meetings with politicians.
Connecting with politicians directly and regularly is really important. Other groups do that. People with developmental disabilities need to do that as well.