Run by and for disabled people
Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA) is a thriving disabled people led organisation with 5000 members across Greater Glasgow – and counting! We are the biggest groundswell of disabled people in Scotland and a leading example of a grassroots community of identity.
Angela is a founding Board member and current Convenor of GDA. She has been working in the field of disability equality and independent living for more than 30 years. She previously worked in social work and third sector organisations, promoting equality, rights and the participation of disabled people in society with the support they need to do this.
Angela says “As a disabled person I am passionate about organisations controlled and led by disabled people. Right now, inequalities are magnified to a great extent and are deepening the human crisis facing disabled people- for e.g. social care is in crisis, even for basic supports to disabled people. It is critical that disabled people are heard and that our priorities are acted on and this is best supported by our own organisations- our DPOs.”
Angela has extensive knowledge, skills and experience both professionally in her own role and in relation to other Board roles which have fed into her Governance role at GDA. She is heavily involved in working alongside the CEO and other Board members to provide strategic direction for GDA and ensuring that GDA operates to achieve its charitable objects and funded outcomes on time and within budget. This includes leading the Board to be compliant across a range of areas including Charity law, employment law, health and safety, GDPR and equality laws. Angela also embeds shared responsibility for decision making amongst Board colleagues in relation to financial management and risk management.
Angela was previously a Board member of Self Directed Support Scotland and has recently retired from her job as Support Services Manager at Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living where she managed 3 support teams in Glasgow, East Dunbartonshire and South Lanarkshire to support people with information and advice about Self Directed Support.
In her spare time Angela enjoys socialising, reading, spending time with family and has recently became a grandparent for the first time to a now thriving toddler who she is delighted to spend time with!
Morag is a disabled person and has been involved in the disability movement since the 1980’s and is one of the founder members of GDA. Morag is an accomplished trainer in Disability Equality & Independent Living and was a key driver of SEATID during the 1980s and 1990s (Strathclyde Equality Awareness Trainers in Disability), providing expert training and consultancy to various organisations. She worked for Save the Children and during this time she was fortunate enough to do some work in Uzbekistan with the authorities promoting the work being done in the UK to improve the quality of life of disabled children. Later Morag worked as a Social Work Depute Manager of a residential training unit for disabled people, supporting them to access and have rights to independent living. The last thirteen years of her working career were as an Inclusive Living Advisor for the Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living, supporting disabled people with packages of Self Directed Support.
Morag has significant experience of Governance having served on the Boards of both Inclusion Scotland and GDA for many years. She is currently Treasurer of GDA and has significant skills in finance management, strategic planning and compliance – from the level of the individual disabled person who employs their own staff to an organisation like GDA employing staff.
Morag tells us: “My husband Brian and I and have two children who have left the nest which means I get to enjoy travelling all over the world as well as in the UK, especially now that I’m retired. I’m in the process of writing a book with a close friend who is also a disabled women, writing about our lives and experiences both as disabled children and adults.”
Iain is a retired local government officer with many years’ experience in the public and voluntary sectors. He began his working life as a trainer in the voluntary sector working with young care leavers, and he has held a range of posts in the voluntary and public sectors, latterly working as a Clerk to various high level Committees within Glasgow City Council including the Children Hearing Committee.
Throughout his working life, Iain was a trade union activist and as a disabled person he campaigned for workers’ rights and disability equality. He has held the positions of Chair of the National Disabled Members Committee of his trade union UNISON and the STUC Disabled Workers Committee. Through these posts and as a Branch Secretary he promoted the social model of disability which clearly locates disability as being constructed by barriers such as inaccessible workplaces, lack of accessible transport and support, negative attitudes and the way society is organised rather than with disabled people themselves. From this emancipatory perspective, Iain negotiated support for disabled workers in employment and for those looking to access employment. This included speaking at TUC Annual Congress for disabled workers and representing STUC at parliamentary committee and working groups.
Iain became aware of GDA through networks and joined the Board and became Vice Convenor due to extensive knowledge, skills and experience in relation to Governance. Iain works closely with the Convenor, CEO and other Board colleagues in relation to Trustee compliance with the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005, i.e. to ensure that fellow Board members and Trustees comply with their duties around acting in the interests of the charity, reporting and compliance. Iain’s particular area of interest in relation to Governance is to work with the Convenor and CEO to regularly review GDA’s Plans and compare these against our governing document to check if anything needs to be changed or updated.
“Since retiring I have continued as a volunteer, holding a leadership position which allows me to influence policy and strategy, including access and equality issues. My “geeky” love of Governance and keeping an eye on our Plans has never been more useful than during COVID when GDA has had to respond rapidly to the extreme needs and inequalities created by the pandemic. I am proud of how GDA has acted and the organisation’s leadership role in preventing thousands of disabled people from falling through the gaps in the system.”
Iain has been married for 36 years, has a daughter and a son, and is a Partick Thistle supporter.
Billy has over 35 years of experience working in the Third Sector and all of this time has involved working closely as an ally with and to Glasgow’s Disabled People Led Organisations. He has personal experience of disability, caring for a family member, and of running a project which was entirely focused on disabled people and employability for over 20 years. Billy brings extensive professional knowledge to GDA and specialises in Training, Employability and Volunteering for Disabled People. He is passionate about helping disabled people gain employment and knows that the barriers faced by Disabled People particularly young people have sadly not changed in over 20 years.
Billy says “GDA plays a vital role in the city, supporting disabled people – without GDA, the access to training opportunities, access to support for Disabled People and even being able to reduce isolation would not be possible. Just look at the role GDA has played during lockdown to see how vital these services are. GDA is an amazing organisation, if it wasn’t for GDA the lives of disabled people in Glasgow would be a lot poorer.”
Billy has key Governance skills and experience including management, strategic planning, finance and project management, employment law, performance management, reporting, compliance and partnership working.
He is Engagement and Inclusion Manager at Volunteer Glasgow where he manages a team to support people to participate in volunteering opportunities, specialising in underrepresented groups. Prior to this he managed The Wellbeing Initiative funded by the European Social Fund, covering all aspects of training for disabled people, with a focus on building skills in computing and administration, enabling progressions to SVQ in Administration and meaningful work placements.
Billy is on the Steering Group for Elevate an organisation that helps people in recovery to obtain employment. He is a former Board Member of Opening.
In his spare time Billy enjoys all things music especially ‘Gigs & Concerts’, he is a keen Partick Thistle supporter and he loves watching Movies.
Alan is an active member of GDA and brings real life experience as a disabled person facing many interconnecting barriers such as social care, access to transport and the need for accessible housing. Alan was highly motivated to join GDA’s Board “Quite simply – I want to be part of an organisation that makes life better for disabled people. After many years I can now contribute the knowledge and skills I have learned towards good governance – making sure the organisation sticks to its mission and has all the right plans, policies and procedures in place”.
Over the years Alan has held a number of volunteering roles and as a disabled person he believes in the need for disabled people to be better connected. He is a member of GDA’s Purple Poncho Players and performed live for the First Minister at the SECC during the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare Conference in 2019. He is also a member of Drivers for Change and the Social Care Expert Group and supports GDA in trying to make life better for disabled people through being involved in opportunities to design solutions with those holding power, designing policies and shaping services.
Alan is a dedicated advocate for disabled people who cannot easily speak for themselves and he represents GDA on the Adult Protection Committee in Glasgow, sharing lived experience of the many challenges that disabled people face.
Alan is also a board member with Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living and a Committee Member of Capability Scotland, so he brings many years’ experience of Governance and understanding the responsibilities required of Boards.
In his spare time he enjoys supporting football, watching the darts and visiting the snooker World Championships in Sheffield.
Nancy has supported the work of GDA from its early days, in her professional role as Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion for Glasgow Clyde College with strategic equality leadership across all college functions for students and staff. Nancy was a leading and key driver of GDA’s Learning Provider Reference Group from 2006 – 2011, offering insights and expertise to improve access to learning for disabled people. From this time Nancy was a key partner of GDA and continues to provide guidance and advice around Adult Learning and related issues.
She has dedicated her working life to providing learning opportunities to those who experience additional barriers, particularly disabled learners. Originally a drama teacher, Nancy moved into Further Education becoming Senior Lecturer in Inclusive Learning before ultimately becoming Head of Equality Diversity & Inclusion.
Nancy is herself a disabled person and committed to delivering and fighting for Equality and Human rights. On her retirement she has joined GDA’s Board as she passionately believes that lifelong learning and capacity building are key tools to support disabled people and help them to develop their individual and collective voices as well as take their own power. She was previously Board member and Treasurer of Inclusion Scotland for over 10 years and brings a wealth of governance experience and skills in managing collective responsibility, to:
- Safeguard and promote the values and aims of GDA
- Determine the strategy and structure of GDA
- Ensure GDA operates in an effective, responsible and accountable manner
- Ensure the effective functioning of the Director’s Group
- Take collective decisions with other Board members
Nancy enjoys singing, amateur dramatics, yoga and spending time outside. Nancy says,
“I understand the drastic consequences of social isolation and I’ve seen first-hand that if disabled people receive the support they need, they can achieve beyond the low expectations placed on them. I am profoundly aware of the challenges facing disabled people’s organisations and hope to continue to bring skills and strengths around the ongoing sustainability issues facing GDA”
Maureen has been a member and supporter of GDA since before GDA even had funding and has done 2 terms on the Board. As a disabled person herself, Maureen recognises the barriers that disabled people face, stating that although some progress has been made, much more must be done. Maureen feels that this has unfortunately been highlighted by both COVID itself and the responses to it which have created even more inequalities for disabled people. Maureen is passionate about disabled people self organising in their own communities of identity with peer support, access and connections to opportunities to be heard and make decisions about services which affect us. She is an active member of GDA Drivers for Change and Social Care Expert Group and wider Social Care Experience Forum.
Maureen brings both professional and personal experience to her Governance role at GDA, and has many years’ experience attending board meetings, making collective decisions as a Trustee, and acting in GDA’s best interests at all times.
Before retiring Maureen worked with Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living as an expert trainer around disability equality. She has also previously volunteered for Ceartas who provide independent advocacy to adults living in East Dunbartonshire. Maureen studied through the Open University and has a Degree in Social Sciences which has provided another lens for understanding the causes of disability i.e. social, institutional and attitudinal barriers.
Maureen says “GDA plays an important role supporting you to move forward and learn more. There is the social side of it and I enjoy meeting people. If GDA wasn’t there I would be isolated, despondent and voiceless – and I know thousands of others would be the same. GDA provide good support, taxis, PA’s and great learning classes. If I was going anywhere on my own I need to phone ahead to make sure it is accessible and have to have someone with me. Going to GDA you know there is always going to be someone there to support you. You don’t need to worry about access and support when you get there. During COVID this has continued with access all being focused on making sure people are digitally connected and supported and we’ll carry this on when we’re back face to face!”
In her spare time Maureen enjoys spending time with her family, watching good period dramas like Downtown Abbey, music, reading and taking part in the Literature Appreciation course with GDA.
Professor Nick Watson has long supported and championed the work of GDA, helping forge connections between GDA’s work and members’ voices lived experience, and the work of the Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research, where he is Chair.
Nick joined GDA’s board in 2019.
Professor Bill Hughes joined GDA’s board in 2019 after many years as a supporter and ally of the organisation. Bill is a Professor of Sociology at Glasgow Caledonian University where he teaches courses on health, welfare, disability, human rights and social exclusion.