Michelle Steel, Director, People First (Scotland) – My experience of the Gender-Based Violence & Learning Disability conference

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Abstract painting used to represent gender-based violence conference On the 15th of March I attended the SCLD Gender Based Violence and Learning Disability Conference in Glasgow. I attended as a People First (Scotland) representative and I was one of the key speakers for the day.
Image of three people sitting behind a desk which says "welcome" When I arrived in the morning, SCLD staff were welcoming, helpful and made me feel at ease. The location felt good and the meeting rooms were quite spacious. The food was also good. I liked practising my speech before the event start, on stage, in front of a big empty room.
Our Group I thought that all the presentations during the conference were fantastic, especially the Minister’s welcome video and the presentation about the National Advisory Council on Women and Girls, as well as the members from the Equally Safe group.
Image of two people writing on a blank flip chart In my role as People First representative, I delivered a presentation alongside Charlie McMillan about the Scottish Government’s Gender Based Violence and Learning Disability Steering group, which we co-chair. I felt our presentation went really well and participants shared with me that they appreciated my input. This made me happy and proud of the work we do at People First.
Image of a woman holding a microphone I attended the Equally Safe group workshop and I thought it was really good. It was great to see the materials that members have created at People First over the years to be developed and delivered fantastically by new voices. The women in the group were strong speakers and there was good discussion amongst participants.
Image of a woman pointing to a pie chart I also attended the Justice workshop where Dr. Phillippa Wiseman gave us further interesting information and evidence about women’s experiences with the police and the courts. I wish Police Scotland had told us more about what they specifically do to support women with learning disabilities, especially if they have been through gender based violence. It can be hard enough to report it, so we need professionals at the other end that know how to help and understand our specific communication needs.
Image of three people with an arrow encircling them Before attending the conference, I thought it might have been more professionals than people with learning disabilities attending. That was still the case but there were a lot more people with learning disabilities attending than I expected, which was a pleasant surprise. That is how it should be.
image of a group of people with learning disabilities It was great to see so many people, many of whom I had not seen for a long time. Some I had met only online but not in person.

It was a long and tiring day but I enjoyed it. It was brilliant.

Michelle’s image courtesy of Gavin Hopkins