Our History

Speak Out was started in 1994 and became a charity in 1999.

We began as a small Citizen Advocacy project, recruiting volunteers from the local community to become an advocate for someone with a learning disability. The project started with one member of staff supporting around 20 citizen advocacy partnerships.

Speak Out now supports over 400 people with learning disabilities each year. A team of 9 staff and over 30 volunteers provide a range of advocacy, community and user-led projects. Our projects support a diverse group of people with learning disabilities to address problems such as severe isolation, poverty, disadvantage and discrimination.
Some key developments in our history include:


From April 1st Speak Out starts to provide Care Act Advocacy to people with learning disabilities as the new Care Act Law comes into place.


New Community Connecting Projects were set up supporting people to access activities in the community and build supportive peer networks.


Speak Out moved to new premises at Westwerks and launched the Hub project, offering a drop-in service, new advocacy groups and user-led activities.

Speak Out and partners (Mind, Age UK, The Fed and Impetus) established the Brighton and Hove Advocacy partnership (BHAP). Together BHAP deliver specialist advocacy services across Brighton and Hove.


Speak Out started to offer ICAS advocacy to people with learning disabilities who need support to make a complaint about health services

Speak Out achieved the QPM quality mark for advocacy.

‘Train the Trainer’ Course was run, 10 new trainers began to work alongside Speak Out staff delivering Disability Awareness training.

New photography and film projects were run.


The ‘Making Choices’ Project was launched with 3 year funding from the Volunteer Fund (HSCVF) to recruit and train volunteer advocates to support people with issues around ‘personalisation’.

Cooking together project and the Food advocacy projects were set up.


Speak Out website was launched.

New tools and advocacy procedures were developed to meet national advocacy standards.


What’s to Do’ project was set up with 2 year funding to support people with mild learning disabilities to access activities and services in their community.


Speak Out started to run regular Disability Awareness training courses for the Council Workforce Development Team and other local organisations.


The Link Group was established with funding from the Learning Disability Development Fund (LDDF). 5 members started to attend the Learning Disability Partnership Board meetings to represent the views of people with learning disabilities.

Speak Out staff team was now 7 part-time staff.


The ‘Getting Involved project’ was funded to develop ways to include people with learning difficulties in Speak Out’s Management Committee.


4 Self advocacy groups were established and supported by Speak Out.

Issue advocacy was developed and provided by staff and volunteers to support people to address specific issues.


The first Self Advocacy group was set up with 12 members that met regularly. Group members attend to the Learning Disability Partnership Board meetings.

Speak Out was now run by 4 Project Coordinators.


Speak Out becomes an independent registered charity.


Speak Out started as a Citizen Advocacy scheme with one staff member.

Around 20 volunteers were recruited, trained and supported to provide long term advocacy to local people with learning disabilities.