Inclusion Scotland (IS) is a consortium of organisations of disabled people and disabled individuals. Through a process of structured development we aim to draw attention to the physical, social, economic, cultural and attitudinal barriers that affect our everyday lives as disabled people in Scotland. We aim to encourage a wide understanding of those issues throughout mainstream thought in Scotland. In short, we want to reverse the current social exclusion experienced by disabled people through civil dialogue, partnerships, capacity building, education, persuasion, training and advocacy. Read more about Inclusion Scotland
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Members and interested parties are invited to the Inclusion Scotland AGM & Conference 2015
Friday 3rd July, Registration & Refreshments: 10am – 10.30am
AGM: 10.30am to 12.15pm followed by Lunch
Conference: 1.00pm – 4.00 pm
Radisson Blu Hotel, 301 Argyle Street, Glasgow G2 8DL
The theme this year is:
Austerity for us, Prosperity for who?
This year we will be asking YOU how Scottish Government should use the devolved powers coming to Scotland to improve the lives of disabled people. Workshops on -
How can we change the Work Programme and Work Choice to make them work for disabled people and improve our employability?
How can we reshape disability benefits so that they really support disabled people to participate in Scottish society?
How can we make the Scottish Welfare Fund fully accessible to disabled people?
Followed by Q & A session with an invited Panel - Natalie McGarry MP, Ken Macintosh MSP, Emma Rich (Engender), Prof Nick Watson (Director, What Works Scotland and Centre for Disability Research, Glasgow University)
Non-members are welcome to both parts of the day, but only Full Members are entitled to vote at the AGM.
Please let us know if you have any access needs, communication support or dietary requirements.
Inclusion Scotland is seeking a proactive, flexible, creative individual to take the lead in delivering our new 'Rights and Resillience' project.
Full information on the role and how to apply can be found in the attachments.
New research by disability charity Inclusion Scotland confirms that disabled people are suffering stress, fear and isolation because of Welfare Reform.
Leading disability charity, Inclusion Scotland, surveyed hundreds of disabled people and then carried out face to face interviews with some of those affected to find out how UK Government Welfare Reforms were impacting on their lives. A clear picture emerged of disabled people living in increasing fear of losing their benefits and struggling to cope with a system that seems designed to deny them their rights.
One of the disabled people interviewed described the trauma of losing a friend who committed suicide after being found ineligible for benefits at a Work Capability Assessment - “They got him on a good day, they didn't see him on a day when he was in bed crying and couldn't get up. He pulled himself together as best he could for the medical and was told his benefits were stopping….three months later he was gone.”
Some of the research’s key findings were –
- Disabled people are finding the process of applying for benefits increasingly difficult and distressing. One interviewee explained: “I was having terrible anxiety attacks" (while waiting to hear about an application). "Suffering depression is part of my MS, but I was having anxiety like I had never experienced”.
- Disabled people have been left confused by the sheer number of the benefit changes taking place and the lack of reliable, accessible information about them.
- Disabled people are not receiving the help they need from overstretched Job Centre Plus staff. DWP staff simply do not have the time or skills to help learning, physically or sensory disabled people overcome the barriers they face in completing complex forms or searching for work.
- Some Job Centre staff are openly hostile towards disabled people and use derogatory terms to describe them. In one case a claimant was shown a tin of air freshener which advisers said they used because, “the people who come in here stink”.
- The political and media rhetoric about skivers and scroungers has left disabled people feeling stigmatised, vulnerable and isolated.
- Disabled women who have survived sexual violence and abuse are being failed by the benefits system which re-ignites the trauma of abuse,
- Disabled people increasingly fear losing their disability benefits and being plunged into poverty because their impairments and health conditions create extra costs which JSA does not meet.
Sally Witcher, CEO of Inclusion Scotland said, “What disabled people have told us confirms our worst fears. Welfare cuts are costing disabled people their health, their peace of mind and, in some cases, their lives”.
Dr. Rosalind Greig, the researcher who carried out the interviews said, “It was really distressing to learn just how many disabled people are living in fear not just of welfare cuts but of how their neighbours might be thinking of them as benefit scroungers”.
Commenting on the research the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Alex Neil, said: “This report highlights the Scottish Government’s concerns that benefit cuts have already affected some of the most vulnerable people in our society. That is why I am so concerned about the further benefit cuts that the UK Government are planning to inflict. It is unacceptable that disabled people are finding the process of applying for benefits so distressing. With our new powers we will do what we can to make the system fairer and simpler, we will re-establish trust and openness, and we will reject the stigmatising and divisive language that the UK Government has introduced. Until these powers are devolved we will oppose all further cuts to the welfare budget and any other reform which undermines the provision of care and support for disabled people.”
- Release Ends -
Notes to Editors:
1) Inclusion Scotland is a national network of Disabled People’s Organisations which is funded by Scottish Government to engage with disabled people and involve them in the policy making process. It is a pan-impairment organisation which works with disabled people from all impairment groups i.e. physical, sensory and learning disabled people as well as mental health service users.
2) 315 disabled people responded to the online research survey with another 60 providing ‘free text’ comments.
3) 24 disabled people who responded to the survey then took part in face-to-face interviews to provide in-depth insights into how welfare reforms had affected them.
4) The full research report can be accessed here – Welfare reform impacts report
For further information or interviews contact –
Bill Scott, Director of Policy
Inclusion Scotland is calling on disabled people to get involved in the One in Five campaign, and on everyone interested in increasing disabled people's engagement with politics to give the campaign their support. The campaign is a grassroots movement seeking the support of political parties for five keys asks which would improve disabled people's inclusion and representation in politics.
Dr Sally Witcher OBE, Chief Executive Officer at Inclusion Scotland said “Disabled people are significantly under-represented in elected office, where their life experience and knowledge of access barriers could inform public policy and promote greater inclusion. Like the rest of the population some will also have the interests and skills needed to represent a constituency and to become adept politicians. It is unacceptable that they should be disadvantaged in accessing opportunities to develop that potential, and Scottish democracy is the weaker for it. Disabled people have much to offer society, and we see improving access to politics as key to progress in unlocking that potential.”
Recently Inclusion Scotland received confirmation of funding from the Scottish Government to carry out a one year project investigating the potential for improving access to elected office in the future. Building on our recent parliamentary internship pilot, the project will involve recruiting five disabled interns, who will be placed with each of the parties represented in the Scottish Parliament to investigate barriers to participation in party politics. The project will also investigate the case for a Scottish version of the Access to Elected Office Fund which would cover the elections held within Scotland.
For more information on the One in Five campaign: http://www.oneinfive.scot/
We have produced a Manifesto for Inclusion for the upcoming General Election on 7th May 2015. We have produced it so you can ask candidates at your local hustings, if party activists knock your door, or you could email your local candidates and ask them for a response. We hope you find the manifesto useful - please use your vote and use it wisely.