Disability charities grill election candidates

Autistic attendee david weir asking the panel a question

More than 100 disabled people and their families, carers and professionals attended

Graham Martin's photo

6th December 2019 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Representatives from the main political parties came under scrutiny at a hustings event organised by 10 leading Scottish disability charities.

More than 100 disabled people and their families, carers and professionals attended the Q&A session at Augustine United Church, Edinburgh.

It was organised by the National Autistic Society Scotland, Scottish Autism, MS Society Scotland, Enable, 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, 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.

Given that one in five people in Scotland is disabled there has been little discussion about the challenges facing them and our event tried to address this imbalance.

David Weir, an autistic attendee said: “The event was really important because it gave autistic people like me an opportunity to have our voices heard by the parties.

“I always vote and encourage other autistic people to vote. I feel that many politicians don’t listen – so the more disabled people speaking up the more they will understand the challenges we face and hopefully do something about it.”

Nick Ward, director of National Autistic Society Scotland, and hustings chair, added: “Much of this election campaign in Scotland has focused on Brexit or independence with the concerns of disabled people and families side-lined.

“One in five people in Scotland are disabled, including 58,000 autistic people – that’s a huge part of the population whose voices must be heard and respected by those seeking election.

“I hope the party representatives were able to understand first-hand the wide range of issues and challenges that disabled people families face and commit to take action.”