Deaf and Disabled People tell Merton CIL that ‘feeling connected helps us to live an independent life’.

On June 25th 2019, Merton CIL held its annual event ‘My Voice Matters’ at the New Horizons Centre in Mitcham. Deaf and Disabled People came together with the local community to talk about what we need to live an independent life.

Volunteers, Members and service users, shared their views, explaining why having choice and control, feeling confident and feeling connected was so important in helping them live independent lives.

Rhianne Birchmore, a local volunteer told us “volunteering helps me to feel connected. I feel as though I am making a difference. I can really see how much of an impact volunteering has and that feels good. Feeling connected makes me feel more confident to live an independent life”.

Merton CIL service user Chris Bull said “accessing services and activities in Merton, stops me feeling isolated and builds my confidence. Having the choice and control to do things like drive a car, when I want, is so important. It makes me feel like I have my mobility back”.

Local organisations such as Wimbledon Guild, Carers Support Merton, Wimbledon Midwifery District Nurses Benevolent Society, Job Centre Plus, Polka Theatre and more came along to engage with Deaf and Disabled People. They shared what services they could offer and how Deaf and Disabled People could get involved and feel connected in Merton.

Sarah Henley, Member and Trustee said that she feels ‘angry, frustrated and as though she does not matter’ when the tools for her to live an independent life are not put in place. However, Sarah having choice and control has allowed her to visit the set of her favourite soap Emmerdale and to go skiing.

Merton CIL knows how important community connections are and is keen to support Deaf and Disabled people get connected and involved in the local community. We will use the information gathered at My Voice Matters 2019, to help feed into our independent living toolkit, which we are co-producing with our members.

Staff from Sainsburys Local in Morden volunteered at the event. They helped to host a raffle which included a £20 gift voucher from Sainsburys, and a donated Flower from Gardenia of London in Wimbledon Village.

We also said farewell to CEO Lyla who will be moving aboard next week. We thanked Lyla for her continuous hard work and dedication over the past 7 years. She has helped Merton CIL become the success that it is today.

You can watch snippets of the speeches, listen to the audio and see pictures from the event here -

If you were unable to make it on the day and would like to tell us why having confidence, feeling connected and having choice and control are important in helping you live an independent life, please email

Thank you to everyone who came along on the day!



About Merton Centre for Independent Living (Merton CIL): Merton CIL is an organisation run and controlled by Deaf and Disabled People, delivering supportive services such as Advice and Advocacy and Disability Hate Crime Prevention for Deaf and Disabled People within The London Borough of Merton -


For more information contact:

Charlotte Wilson


Telephone: 0779 671 2502



 MVM 19 - Sainsburys staff with merton cil volunteer and member