Following up on a promise made when the vision for Include For Good was being developed, Mr Kevin Stewart, Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, came to meet with the Rapporteurs on Monday 31st October.
The Include For Good Rapporteurs and Mr Stewart. Left to right: Dylan Stevens, Sandy Stark, David Ross, Mr Kevin Stewart, John Gallon (via Zoom), John Kearney, Rosie Murray, Fiona Dawson.
SCLD Chair Eddie McConnell opened the meeting by welcoming Mr Stewart and asking everyone to introduce themselves.
Rosie Murray introduced the presentation by explaining that the 8 topics Include For Good will focus on are all drawn from our personal experiences and those of some of our allies. She stressed that the focus of the presentation would not be on all the different problems we experience in these 8 areas but instead would look at the impact that these challenges have on our lives and the changes we want to see happen.
Rosie also shared what it means to all of us to be Rapporteurs, the journey we have been on and why it is so important to us all that this role is paid.
The 8 Topics
Unfortunately, Kris McLaughlin was unwell and unable to join us but David Ross kindly stepped in and delivered Kris’ part of the presentation. Key messages that Kris wanted to raise about employment included:
Next up was Fiona Dawson who advocated for better support plans and Health Passports for all that we help to write.
Fiona also raised the lack of privacy faced by those who have the support of a support worker to attend health appointments and the need for more Learning Disability Liaison Nurses and Health Advocates.
Natalie Patterson was on holiday on 31st October, paid for using her earnings as a Rapporteur. She shared her concerns about identity through a pre-recorded video. A key takeaway from this was:
Sandy Stark used a Q & A with Linda from SCLD to discuss transport. He raised the challenges of applying for and renewing bus and rail passes, gathering the paperwork needed and using online forms. He explained the huge impact of not having a pass on people’s lives.
Media and Culture
Dylan Stevens told of positive interactions he and fellow Rapporteurs have had with the media but also shared the very negative experiences of one of our allies.
He spoke about the challenges people have in accessing media and cultural activities and events and the importance of having these opportunities in our lives.
John Gallon was joining us remotely from Nairn and gave his presentation over Zoom. He shared Dylan’s experience of early education and the discrimination and lack of understanding he suffered and how this was repeated when he transitioned to college. Dylan felt dehumanised by these experiences.
Access to Justice
David Ross shared concerns about the lack of understanding of learning disabilities within the Police, Justice and Tribunal systems and called for better training for all.
He questioned why people with learning disabilities are not judged by a jury of their peers and called for people who want to be jurors to be supported to do this.
David also called for a big reduction in the percentage of people with learning disabilities who are detained.
The final topic was presented by John Kearney, supported by Rosie. He spoke of people not being able to choose their staff and of last-minute changes to support without notice and how this affects us.
John explained the impact that being supported by strangers has on us, leaving us scared and feeling at risk.
Following the presentation we shared the list of people that we want to speak to. Mr Stewart advised us to choose who we talk to carefully and to talk to the people who are driven to make changes. He suggested that this is not always the top people and that sometimes there are people a bit lower down with a better understanding who can still help us – they make the best allies.
Mr Stewart spoke to everyone in turn about the issues they had raised and shared his thoughts on what he had heard. There were several points that he agreed on and many issues that he is going to look into for us. There were also some areas where work is already being done.
Mr Stewart will look to put us in touch with the people doing this work.
A number of concerns had been raised throughout the presentation and discussion about the need to access and complete information online.
- Mr Stewart has asked the Rapporteurs to think about examples of clear, simple and easy-to-use websites and any examples of good websites that are in Easy Read. He would like us to share these with him.
Do you have any examples you could share with us? If so, please email email@example.com
- Mr Stewart will look at our list of people we want to speak to and make suggestions on whom he thinks could help us most.
- Mr Stewart will arrange a venue at St Andrew’s House or at Parliament where we can invite these people to meet with us. Mr Stewart will attend so we can challenge people together.