We had our Fringe session on Saturday afternoon, and the room was packed! Jeane Freeman kindly joined us to speak about the importance of including disabled people in decision making, asking attendees to sign up for the upcoming Social Security Experience Panels. These panels will bring together people with experience of the current system to help inform the Scottish Government how the new system should work in our best interests. For more information on how you can join, please click here. She also spoke about the Fairer Scotland for Disabled People Delivery Plan, which was developed in response to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She highlighted the commitments that have been made in areas such as social security, housing, employment, and public life. The full plan can be found here here.
Phyl gave an update on the work that the Employability and Civic Participation Team at Inclusion Scotland have been doing, and the future direction of our work. Then we took questions and comments from the floor. We were pleased to be joined by several candidates who are being supported by the Access to Elected Office Fund. They shared experiences of the support they have received, including transport assistance, personal assistance, and assistive technology. It was clear that the availability of such a fund has made an impact on their decision to stand and the way in which they are carrying out their campaign. MSP for Paisley, George Adam spoke of the usefulness of the fund to his sister Jennifer who is standing in Renfrewshire and thanked Ethan for his support. Other issues were also discussed such as the availability of reasonable adjustments in work, and issues around housing.
Earlier in the day, I managed to sit in on a debate session around support for adults to be assessed for dyslexia. The motion was submitted by Paul McNeil, who gave a very passionate speech about the limitations placed on him by others and the need for more understanding of the barriers that dyslexic people face. At present it is only possible to access a free dyslexia assessment if you are in education, which means that people who were not diagnosed during education have to pay to access this.
“At the age of nine, a teacher told me not to dream too high. How dare they tell a nine-year-old that?” Paul McNeil
Others came to the stage in support for the motion. The room was filled with laughter when the chair accidentally read that a speaker was opposed to the motion. When corrected by the speaker that he was really in favour of it, he stated “I was actually quite glad because I thought “how’s this going to go?”” It was great to see such overwhelming support for the motion, and Paul’s speech demonstrated the positivity of people with lived experience being involved in politics. An article about this debate can be found here at Common Space.
At the stall we caught up with the members and politicians. Towards the end of the day, Phyl did a tour of the exhibition room to show the organisations that had come along to exhibit to those who couldn’t be there. Tour begins at 2:30 on this video.
We were also joined by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the Former First Minister Alex Salmond, and others at our stall.