The panel at the Disability Hustings event

Putting the voice of disabled people at the centre of our democracy

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Representatives from the main political parties were grilled by disabled people and families at a ‘hustings’ style Q&A event organised by 10 leading disability charities, including the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD).

More than 100 disabled people and their families, carers and professionals attended the national hustings event which took place on Thursday 5th December at Augustine United Church, Edinburgh.

It was organised by leading disability charities National Autistic Society Scotland, Scottish Autism, MS Society Scotland, ENABLE Scotland, Scottish Women’s Autism Network, Leonard Cheshire Scotland, Sense Scotland, RNIB Scotland, Scottish Commission for Learning Disability and the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland.

Sheila Gilmore from the Scottish Labour Party, Tommy Shepard from Scottish National Party, Caron Lindsay from the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Iain McGill from the Scottish Conservative Party and Elaine Gunn from the Scottish Green Party answered questions from subjects including: education, attitudes towards disabled people, transport, Brexit and disability benefits, as well as health and social care.

The charities organised the event to give a platform to disabled people to put their concerns directly to politicians ahead of next week’s General Election.

Despite the fact that one in five people in Scotland is disabled, there has been little discussion about the challenges facing them and it is hoped that this event goes some way to trying to address this imbalance.

SCLD’s Events and Information Assistant, Cameron Smith, asked the panel how they would aim to make Scotland’s public transport system more accessible; and specifically how they would support people who have challenges that are not physical, such as those with a learning disability, like Cameron himself.

SCLD's Cameron Smith asks a question to the panel at the General Election 2019 Disability Hustings event

Cameron Smith puts a question to the panel
© Martin Shields

Cameron says:

“It is important that people with learning disabilities use their right to vote as active citizens in the upcoming election and have their say. People with learning disabilities face many challenges and barriers to becoming fully involved in our communities, such as succeeding at school or finding employment.

 “We need the action from elected politicians to make a positive difference, and listening to our voices should remind them of the need for change.”

The UK General Election takes place next Thursday 12th December 2019.