SCLD’s Engagement & Influencing Manager, Kenneth Fleming, writes about why holding Scottish Learning Disability Week is more relevant now than ever in this time of global crisis…
“On one level, it seems strange to be thinking about an awareness week with a focus on the environment, when our environments are smaller than ever. It is odd to think about coming together to celebrate the stories of people with learning/intellectual disabilities, when we cannot physically do so.
So at SCLD, we have had to pause and think about this year’s Scottish Learning Disability Week. In doing so, we agreed that it matters just as much as ever to share stories about the lives of people with learning/intellectual disabilities in Scotland and promote the need to stay socially connected when we are all physically distant.
“… it matters just as much as ever to share the stories of people with learning/intellectual disabilities in Scotland and promote the need to stay socially connected when we are all physically distant.”
In terms of our theme, while much of our attention right now is focused on the pandemic, issues like climate change are not going away. In fact, if we have learned anything from our recent experience, crises that affect us all mean we all need our voices to be heard more now than ever.
People with learning/intellectual disabilities deserve to have their voices heard in debates of such importance. They should be able to live in a clean and healthy environment that allows them to flourish and live their best lives.
Staying at home does not mean the same for everyone, depending on whether we live close to green spaces, or with a garden, and again the Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated the inequalities caused by where and how people live.
Citizens across Scotland are currently having to deal with restrictions to their human rights, and a loss of independence, choice and control in their lives. For some of us, these are barriers that did not exist before. However, for most people with learning/intellectual disabilities, not being able to fully realise their human rights is not new. The barriers they face have been made worse by the pandemic, but they were not created by it.
“…if we have learned anything from our recent experience, crises that affect us all mean we all need our voices to be heard more now than ever.”
So, whilst we appreciate people’s minds will be focused on the unprecedented times in which we are all living, SCLD believes it is crucial that we continue to raise awareness of the need to change our values and attitudes and empower people with learning/intellectual disabilities to live their best lives.
Scottish Learning Disability Week is about celebration. It is about celebrating the lives of people with learning/intellectual disabilities, and those who work with and for them.
We might not be able to celebrate in the way we had planned, but we still can, and ideas on how you can virtualise parts of our ‘Get Involved’ pack are on our website.
This week belongs to the learning disability community across Scotland. A community that is moving forward despite all of the barriers people face.
“This week belongs to the learning disability community across Scotland.”
We know organisations like ENABLE Scotland are still delivering their vital services, in new and innovative ways. We know that NHS Lanarkshire Learning Disability Nurses are already thinking about how physically distant activities can take place. We know that PAMIS are working to make sure that people with profound and multiple learning disabilities are at the heart of the week.
If you are planning your own activities, please let us know what you are planning so we can share these with people with learning/intellectual disabilities. In different ways, we can come together, even when we have to stay apart!
We want to make sure that Scotland’s Learning Disability Week shines a light on the talents and achievements of people with learning/intellectual disabilities across Scotland. In doing so, we hope it can give us all renewed optimism and when we think about Scotland’s future without a pandemic, we can also imagine how we can all live in local environments where we can truly flourish and succeed.
Help us make it happen.”
Engagement & Influencing Manager, SCLD