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“Radical action is needed now to ensure disabled people are listened to and necessary changes are made to what social work themselves describe as a broken, fragile & ineffective system failing to meet it’s legal duties”Chief Executive of GDA, Tressa Burke.

Last week, nearly 150+ members met online and in person for our ‘Care About Us’ event to discuss the social care system in Scotland and how it needs to change. We were joined by Minister for Social Care, Maree Todd MSP, alongside decision makers and professionals working in social care, nationally and locally.

The event was opened by the Purple Poncho Players, a group of GDA members who use music, comedy and gritty drama to convey their real life experiences of barriers and oppression, to challenge and invoke audiences to act to build a better world.

Image of GDA’s Purple Poncho Players on stage, one GDA member is in a wheelchair in central stage, speaking to the room. Other members are sat behind him in a semi circle, looking on.

They asked in one performance, “How do we drag our social care system out of the past? How do we make it a springboard for choice & control that enables disabled people to take up our rightful roles?”

GDA Chief Executive, Tressa, addressed the audience, setting out the state of social care in Scotland and the dire need for change: “10 years on from the Self-Directed Support Act in 2013, disabled people in Glasgow report extremely long waiting periods for assessments, eligibility criteria being too highly set and based around agency defined need as opposed to independent living as it’s set out in Article 19 of the UNCRPD.”

Image of GDA’s Purple Poncho Players on stage, one GDA member is in a wheelchair in central stage, speaking to the room. Other members are sat behind him in a semi circle, looking on.

As part of GDA’s Future Visions for Social Care project, we have been collaborating with Dr Richard Brunner, Research Associate from the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Disability Studies. At the event, Richard presented the collaborative report from GDA and the University of Glasgow ‘A Time to be Bold: Scotland wide-learning from the GDA Future Visions Projects’.

Outlining a case for an improved model of social care support and information in Scotland, Richard said “We make the case for the Scottish Government to be bold. We need resourced and funded Disabled People’s Organisations in every local authority in Scotland.”

Image of Dr Richard from the University of Glasgow, speaking at a blue podium on a stage, looking out towards the room of GDA members.

Including disabled people’s voices in decisions about social care, through representative disabled people’s organisations, is vital to ensure the social care system is fit for purpose.

GDA members know that as disabled people, our voices are often not heard or ignored by decision makers. In response to this, a collective of disabled people, supported by GDA staff, took part in a Photovoice Project, capturing the reality of social care in Glasgow through photography.

GDA Staff Meg and Sophie facilitated a live Artists Panel at the event, where members spoke about themes in their photographs, including: isolation, loss of choice and control, a sense of despair and hopelessness and their campaign for social care that supports independent living. The audience also got a sneak preview of photographs included in the project, which will be featured in an upcoming GDA publication and exhibition.

Image of stage, seating three GDA members on left hand side of the stage and two GDA staff, Sophie and Meg. They are facing each other on the panel.

Finally, we were joined by the Minister for Social Care, Maree Todd, who spoke to and met with GDA members.

Members were glad to hear her commitment to disabled people’s representation on the National Care Board for the National Care Service and to improve services that are currently unable to meet our needs.

Now disabled people’s organisations’ presence on local Integrated Joint Boards must also be ensured so the collective voice of disabled people is properly represented. Despite a renewed commitment to deliver a NCS, GDA members still have urgent concerns about care charges which are plunging disabled people into further poverty during the cost of living crisis. Disabled people are also determined that there are more resources committed to social care nationally and locally and that these are protected.

Image of GDA members in a ballroom, sat round circular tables, looking towards the stage. Minister Maree Todd is speaking to members in the room, standing on a blue podium on a stage.
Graphic Illustration with pink background that reads in black writing in top left corner ‘There needs to be an overhaul…’ and a yellow banner of ‘Disabled People’s Human Rights’ which four people are holding up.

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