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April 8th, 2020

Update from Tressa Burke, CEO

Following consultation with our Health and Safety Advisers, GDA took the decision to cancel all large events from Friday 13 March 2020. Following Scottish Government advice, on Tuesday 17 March we postponed ALL activities, smaller events and learning programmes until further notice. This was a difficult decision at the time but with hindsight, the right one.

We immediately sent a letter to all members informing them of the postponement of all face to face activities and giving clear information about Covid19.

Since then, we have developed a 3 step plan to drive forward our response to COVID 19 and our ongoing reach and support to disabled people:

  1. A comprehensive membership engagement strategy which includes a detailed survey to establish the concerns and priorities of our disabled members and wider disabled people at this unprecedented time. By noon today, Wednesday 8th April, we have attempted to reach 1450 disabled people and completed 787 surveys with disabled people on Survey Monkey. The survey is being done in multiple formats to reach as many people as possible – by post, online and by phone. We have also spoken to another 100 + people who have not completed the survey but who have shared concerns about COVID19 and the impact on their lives. The GDA team has collectively spent 220+ hours talking to our members, signposting, referring and supporting disabled people and their families at this time.
  2. Our Resilience Response team has been helping our members with telephone support and has been co-ordinating essential shopping, medication prescription pickup and a variety of other needs and support.
  3. As we continue with this important work, our Learning and Development Team members – usually focused on bringing disabled people together –  have begun to test out and develop new ways of connecting our members. 
  • Our young people met online last week reporting that they no longer felt so alone.
  • This week the Purple Poncho Players had a session arranged with their Creative Team and explored the sense of powerlessness and frustration of social isolation and social distancing: they concluded that they WERE indeed making a valuable contribution by staying at home and finished their session with a Zoom version of GDA’s bespoke song, People Make Glasgow, conducted by their Musical Director.
  • Also this week, we arranged a zoom call with the Pollok Access Fund young disabled participants, now self proclaimed the Southside Superstars! Rapid progress to make sure disabled people are still connected and supported and we are all just doing our best.

Good news: As we move into the third phase of our strategy, to bring disabled people together, virtually, we are delighted to say that Scottish Government are supporting us in this work. Work is underway in the background to bring learning online and to work with those most digitally excluded so that they can be once more connected to the vital supports that are needed to shore us all up at this time. Peer support, connections and access remain the cornerstones of our work and improving the lives of disabled people is our ongoing mission.

I’d like to thank all our members for being incredibly supportive at this difficult time and to GDA staff for going above and beyond to make our strategy a reality so that disabled people feel the direct benefits.

Look out for updates on our website and social media channels – twitter and facebook for more information as we develop it.

Stay safe, stay well and stay home!

CEO Tressa Burke

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