Learning Disability Wales’ flagship magazine, Llais, recently published its very last printed edition after 28 years in production. In that time we have produced 122 editions, with 750 contributors, 1,500 photos and 850,000 words! To mark the last ever edition we asked some of our regular contributors, readers, and editors to reflect on what the magazine has meant to them.

Llais lives on, in the form of blog posts and articles, here on our new website. We will remain true to the spirit of Llais – providing a platform for debate and new thinking within the learning disability sector in Wales. If you would like to contribute a blog post for us please contact Karen Warner, on 02920 681160 or email karen.warner@ldw.org.uk.

A word from the editors

“I have enjoyed working to produce Llais with John our joint editor. I have got to know people, the issues, hear their stories, help people put their thoughts and concerns on paper, share new ways of working, good practice, getting great photos, taking photos, doing interviews and working with Amy Barrett our roving reporter. I would like to say a huge thank you to all our contributors. There wouldn’t have been a magazine without you! Also thank you to Welsh Government for funding Llais.

“Yet times change. Social media and the internet have revolutionised not just the way that we gain information but how we want it presented: shorter, more accessible bites, rather than long articles. We will continue to raise debate, to ask the more challenging questions and to share good practice through the new website, our newsletter and social media accounts. We will do this through a richer mixture of shorter articles, blogs and videos.

“Our membership is now free of charge. See our website for details www.ldw.org.uk. I would like to say a huge thank you to all our readers and contributors over the 28 years. We couldn’t have produced it without you.”

John Gilkes: “The Last Voice? I can’t recall how many editions of Llais I have edited. What I do know was that it was a privilege and a pleasure. You all shared your thoughts and celebrated your successes, achievements and frustrations.

“You ruffled feathers when they needed ruffling, offered praise when it was deserved and always balanced a criticism with a solution. We will all miss the feel of Llais in our hands, its physical presence and great design. But it’s a new world, and a new world needs a new voice, a new way of communicating what needs to be said. Your voice will still be heard but in different ways. I am sure that LDW will ensure that your stories, views and experiences continue to be heard across Wales.

“As Nina Simone might have sung: ‘It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for us and we’re feeling good’.”

Our reader’s thoughts

Adrian Roper, Chief Executive of Cartrefi Cymru Co-operative, ex Chair of Learning Disability Wales for many years and valued Llais contributor.

“When Llais was launched back in1989 it quickly became the house journal for everyone involved in promoting decent lives for people with learning disabilities in Wales.

“It has been the vehicle for so many great debates and a brilliant source of news and inspiration. Here’s to a new generation of bloggers and tweeters keeping the flag flying in new ways.”

Llais magazines from over the years

Jodie, Llais reader:

“Llais became a perfect vehicle to debate and highlight progress and good practice from the All Wales Mental Handicap Strategy in 1983, particularly focusing on the closure of the learning disability hospitals.”

Gerraint Jones-Griffiths, past Chair of our annual conference and administrator from Engage to Change:

“Llais has done well to capture the life with people with a learning disability and what they have achieved and to my knowledge no other disability newsletter or magazine has been able to achieve this. People have been inspired by the success stories.”

Joe Powell, Director of All Wales People First:

“Llais has provided a ‘voice’. In my opinion it has been the single most important chronicle of the struggles, successes and failures of the learning disability sector in Wales since 1989. I would advise anyone who wants to learn about the history of the learning disability sector in Wales to start with Llais.

“I was initially saddened to hear that the paper publication has ended, but encouraged that Llais will still exis

t in a different format. Sometimes it is not just the voices that change over time but the medium in which that voice is expressed. Sometimes it is as much about the singer as it is about the song.

“Llais has effectively managed to orchestrate the collective voice of the membership of Learning Disability Wales from a wide range of perspectives and represent those voices accurately and with real authenticity. I wish them the very best with helping Llais find its new voice and I thank them most sincerely for allowing All Wales People First to express the voice of our membership and self-advocacy over the years.”

We will be uploading articles from back issues of Llais to our new website over the coming months. Read the articles here.