Varsha Sharma is a Young Mencap Ambassador, embarking on an exciting journey. She has recently turned 18 and is preparing to register to vote and engage in the voting process for the first time. Aware that they are many young people in her position who do not participate, Varsha is eager to document her first time voting from start to finish to dispel myths and highlight the importance of exercising your civil right.
Sadly, across the UK only 1 in 3 people with a learning disability engage in the voting process, many stating they simply don’t know how. Varsha wants to empower young people both with a learning disability and without to ensure they understand and are reassured about the process of registering to vote and then voting. You can follow Varsha’s story on the Mencap Wesbite.
Varsha, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hello, my name is Varsha Sharma and I am 18 years old. I am a student at Belfast College where I study Beauty Therapy and I am looking forward to voting for the first time in the upcoming NI Assembly elections.
Why do you think everyone should register to vote?
Because everyone should get a chance to vote to choose the right leaders in government.
What do you think stops people with a learning disability from registering?
Maybe they are nervous and not sure how to. I feel the same way, I know I need a little bit more confidence in making sure I know what I am doing. But I am very happy that I am going to register and then vote.
Why have you shared your story?
It is Important for everyone to vote, however I have noticed people with a learning disability get treated differently, so it is important for people with a learning disability to engage in voting, to make sure they are represented.
I am looking forward to talking with candidates, to ensure they know the problems that I face having a learning disability and for them to understand those problems.
I’m excited about learning how to register and then how to vote. And I am excited about showing other people how to get involved in voting as well.
You can follow Varsha’s Story on Mencap NI’s Website