Inclusivity in the city

Citizenfest

Jan Savage looks at the positive impact events such as the We Are One Citizen festival can have on inclusivity and equality

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26th August 2019 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

While on the east coast of Scotland, eyes are still firmly focused on the largest arts festival in the world, further west, a smaller – but hugely impactful – festival took place.

The We Are One Citizen fest may not have attracted over three million visitors, but in terms of its incredible contribution to inclusivity and equality in Glasgow and beyond, it undeniably made its mark.

Last week Glasgow was host to the IASSIDD Academic Conference on learning disabilities of which the We are One Citizen fest was just one element. Both events were sponsored by ENABLE Scotland and looked to highlight how we can make our society more inclusive for people with learning disabilities. 

IASSID brought 1,200 academics from around the world to Scotland’s largest city and allowed ENABLE Scotland to showcase the progressive steps Scotland has taken towards an equal society for all. From inclusive schools to breaking down barriers for people with learning disabilities to attend university, there was certainly a lot to show our international guests.

No issue was more pressing than that of Brexit and the impact of leaving the European Union. During a round table on self-directed support, attended by delegates from across the world, myself and my colleague John Dalrymple of Radical Visions highlighted the need for greater support of choice and control within social care, and spoke of the challenges in maintaining and attracting a high-quality social care workforce to deliver this.  Ensuring the future of cross-border co-operation with partners and funders and maintaining a healthy flow of social care workers will be a top priority for a sector facing a recruitment crisis, and also for charities like ours relying on knowledge exchange and experience in our fight towards true equality for all people who have learning disabilities.

Jan Savage

Jan Savage

For people who have a learning disability, life doesn’t stop at 9pm or when a support worker’s shift ends

It was, dare I say, light relief in this context as the inclusive action spilled out of the conference rooms and into the streets of Glasgow for the ENABLE Scotland-sponsored We Are One Citizen fest, which offered a wide range of events in entertainment venues around the city.  As a charity, we are proud to support campaigns and initiatives from other organisations to support people with learning disabilities live full and active social lives.

The festival started in style with an inclusive club night at the Strathclyde Student Union hosted by Stay Up Late, highlighting that for people who have a learning disability, life doesn’t stop at 9pm or when a support worker’s shift ends.  The buzz in the air alone showed just how much our members valued the opportunity, and just how many of us take attending gigs or staying out late with friends for granted.  These opportunities are simply all too often not there for people with learning disabilities.  But the good news is that this event - alongside You Can’t Stop the Beat, our earlier ENABLE Scotland campaign - highlighted that, with the right adjustments, we can make gigs, nights and any other form of participative entertainment an inclusive and fun experience for all. People with learning disabilities should have the opportunity to lead the lives they choose and that includes staying out late and going to gigs (or staying in - if they choose). The point is they have the right to make that choice for themselves, and the We Are One festival was a testament to making that right a reality.

Jan Savage is director of external affairs for ENABLE Scotland