Backed by Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association a new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Down Syndrome was formed on Wednesday, with more than 40 MPs registering as members.
Chaired by SNP MP Lisa Cameron and Labour MP Matt Western, the group aims to raise awareness of issues affecting people with Down syndrome and campaign for government policy changes to improve the lives of people with the condition.
The aim is to focus on key areas of need including healthcare and research, education, maternity care, employment and community.
Rachael Ross MBE, chairman of Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association, said: ‘Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome and the way society now views these individuals has improved over the past few years, but there is a disparity in services, education and health provision, employment opportunities are severely limited, and outdated regulations have not kept pace.
‘Change is long overdue. We hope to address these and other issues through the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Down Syndrome.’
The city-based charity was instrumental in the group’s formation, and joins other leading Down syndrome organisations and representatives with Down syndrome to help support the group.
The cause has gained support from local MPs, with Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan and Flick Drummond, MP for Meon Valley, both signing up to be members.
Mr Morgan said: ‘It is really important people with Down syndrome have their voices and interests heard and this is just the first step in ensuring that those in Parliament will stand up for them and their families.
‘Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association is a fantastic local organisation right in the heart of our city that does brilliant work to support those with Down syndrome and their families.’
While MP for Gosport Caroline Dinenage and Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt are not permitted to be members due to their ministerial duties, they have expressed support for the group.
Ms Dinenage said: ‘Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association is such a source of support, strength and positivity for so many individuals and families across our region.
‘I am all in favour of action to ensure people with Down syndrome lead healthy, active and independent lives – that their talents are recognised and their voices heard.’