For International Day of Disabled People, we’re taking a moment to celebrate the incredible strength and tenacity disabled people have shown, and the contributions they have made, throughout all the challenges 2020 has thrown at us: shoring each other up, speaking out, holding on; and pushing for solutions to the barriers in our way, and the inequalities that have been supercharged by this pandemic.
Our battles are individual and collective: oppression of one disabled person affects us all. That’s why we’ve supported:
- Over 6000 disabled people to connect with vital information, services and supports this year
- Over 300 disabled people to tackle digital exclusion and get online
- Over 300 disabled people to come together, through over 400 learning opportunities and peer support activities.
- Over 2000 disabled people to speak out about the barriers they are facing, to influence policy and action during this challenging year, and beyond.
As GDA members continue to feed into COVID Recovery plans in Glasgow and at Scottish Government level, yesterday GDA joined Minister for Equalities and Older People, Christina McKelvie and Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey, at the annual #DisabilitySummit. Together with our fellow disabled people led organisations and allies, we took stock of where disabled people’s rights have got to, 4 years on from the launch of the Fairer Scotland for Disabled People delivery plan. Safe to say that the challenges today are greater than ever – but so is the drive to overcome them.
As we look to 2021, here are just some of the priorities GDA members have highlighted throughout our hundreds of hours of work and discussions this year:
- All our rights embedded in law, including rights to food, housing, social care, independent living and the right to participate in our communities and decisions that affect us.
- Disabled people’s access to vital services must be supercharged (health and social care, supports for mental health, housing and welfare rights) to mitigate widening inequalities and pandemic impacts.
- Take urgent action to prevent widening of the disability employment gap; focussed support to remove barriers at all levels of education and ensure young disabled learners are not left behind
- Supercharge disabled people’s participation, voices and lived experience expertise, to help monitor and uphold Human Rights. We need mechanisms embedded in law, and in the National Performance Framework, to ensure participation is meaningful, and resourced with inclusive communication and community development support.
- Place-focussed approaches must always be complemented with approaches led by communities of identity, such as disabled people, LGBT people and minority ethnic communities – who face structural inequality that cuts across local boundaries.
- Co-design a National Social Care agency, with and for disabled people – modelled on our Independent Living Fund and building on co-design approaches of Social Security Scotland – to deliver Social Care support that upholds dignity and rights to independent living.
- Invest in empowering, preventative, community-based supports that are truly person-led, such as GDA’s Future Visions model – putting disabled people in the lead to navigate pathways, tackle barriers, achieve goals, participate and fulfil potential.
Disabled people are determined to continue speaking out, working in partnership, and driving the dialogue on how we can achieve better outcomes and a fairer more equal Scotland. These strengths, efforts, and rich, diverse lived experience are a resource that Scotland can no longer afford to overlook.
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