130 disabled people join Minister for Equalities and Glasgow City Council Leader, at GDA's first ever online conference!
Last Friday 19th June, GDA held our first ever Conference on Zoom, Same Storm, Different Boats: Disabled People’s Priorities in Lockdown & towards Recovery.
The Conference was a resounding success with 130 disabled people connected and online, and keynote inputs by disabled people themselves, the Minister for Equalities and Older People and Glasgow City Council Leader.
Huge efforts were made behind the scenes to secure IT equipment, access to data or broadband and the digital coaching and support to get people who needed it from a place of digital exclusion to being online with their peers. Thanks to #ConnectingScotland for supporting us with funding and thanks to #GDAConnects Team for making this happen.
The conference was an opportunity for representatives of the thousands engaged by GDA since lockdown to voice their views to Minister for Older People and Equalities, Christina McKelvie MSP and Cllr Susan Aitken from Glasgow City Council who were our keynote speakers.
The Purple Poncho Players (PPPs) performed brand new material, stark and shocking but an honest portrayal of the lived experiences of disabled people at this time: this performance was inspired by the experiences and findings of GDA’s ongoing member engagement and was written by Johnny McKnight. The Self Isolation Blues provided a light touch and uplifting end to the performance which was powerful and provocative in depicting the need for change and improvement to disabled people’s lives during the global pandemic and as importantly as we move towards recovery and building a better future - one which disabled people are included and feel valued.
People were supported to break into discussion groups and their priorities will feed into GDA’s imminent Report alongside findings from the first 3 months of lockdown for disabled people.
Picture description: Group of people in the middle hold signs saying 'Supporting each other'. Quotes surround them: "There have always been inequalities for disabled people in society but I've never felt it more than now. I'm more reliant on my family now than ever before." "Need to make it clear disabled people need support whether we have a 'shielding' letter or not - the barriers we face on any given day have now sky-rocketed." "Keep up the incredible service you offer at GDA. It is the only way that we can help each other and be heard and not forgotten by government" "....keep bringing people together - because most of us disabled people are being isolated so much in the communities. On other communities, I think they just do their own stuff and exclude disabled people." "GDA has helped me feel part of a community again instead of feeling isolated and alone." "Feeling of hopelessness - to find the society that was meant to care for me has let me down."
What we've done (20th March - 12th June)
What GDA has done during lockdown (20th March – 12th June):
4500 wellbeing check-in calls made
15,000 letters and information leaflets posted
2000 detailed survey responses
100 people supported by new Wellbeing Service
504 people received deliveries from GDA Lifeline
100 people supported with welfare rights
200 learners participated in online learning and discussion sessions
Disabled people have contributed 1500 hours speaking about their experiences and concerns
345 people received digital support calls
149 signed up to receive coaching or equipment to get online
What we've learned:
What we've learned:
55% Worried about Food, Money, Medications
80% Not aware of local services they could access.
41% Struggle to access information in formats needed.
73% Worried about Isolation.
90% Worried about their physical or mental health.
Only 45% reported internet access and less had confidence to use IT equipment (note that this number improved from our first interim report 8 weeks ago which is partly down to GDA’s digital project GDA Connects.)
Headlines findings from our 3 months of COVID19 response member engagement
COVID19 has supercharged inequalities already faced by disabled people.
Pandemic responses have created new inequalities and left disabled people behind.
Recovery and renewal risks leaving disabled people even further behind - unless we supercharge disabled people’s involvement every step of the way.
The event was a powerful demonstration of a community of interest coming together to explore and voice their concerns and priorities to those in power.
“There has never been a more critical time for GDA to support its members and the efforts made show that it can be done. It’s not just about elbow grease with GDA - it’s about heartfelt dedication to making sure that disabled people are okay and have whatever we need. I literally wouldn’t have got through these last few months without them. We feel listened to and valued - and they make sure that people in power hear directly from us.” Tracy, GDA Member.
Watch out for our full 3-month COVID-engagement report, coming very soon!