Thank You and Merry Christmas!

 As we approach the end of another year, it is traditionally a time of reflection and thank you.

So let me start with the thank you – to our members, Access Panels, sponsors, funders and partners – Thank You.  Without your continued support, Disability Equality Scotland would not be where it is today – continually working towards Equality, Inclusion and Participation for all disabled people in Scotland.

As I reflect on the year (for me at Disability Equality Scotland, that is just 1 and a half months), I am drawn to the fact that it has been another tough year for all of society in 2022.  We are faced with the cost of living crisis, the energy issues (and costs!) and we still have health concerns including covid.

All of this impacts disabled people in a different manner to non-disabled people.  We have to continue to raise the issues that affect us daily.  We have to continue to work at a local and national level to influence policy makers, planners, and funders as well as private, public and statutory bodies.  We need to ensure that they don’t just tick a box for equality and inclusion for disabled people, but that they actively embrace this and live out their plans.

We have heard a lot recently about our government wishing to hear the lived and living experience of disabled people, in regard to the planning of the National Care Service.  That true lived and living experience is so crucial in all areas of planning – it has the power to change a non-disabled individual’s perception, thoughts and ways of working.

Thank you for continuing to share your experience through our weekly polls, for attending our webinars and for completing surveys.  We truly value your opinions, and this helps us take the voices of all our members across Scotland to various national meetings.

2022 has seen Disability Equality Scotland receive funding through the Equalities and Human Rights Fund, along with Scottish Government funding for Access Panels’ support, and Transport Scotland.  This saw us:

  • Host webinars for disabled people and Access Panels across Scotland;
  • Provide Easy Read Training to a variety of organisations;
  • Work with many organisations such as Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS), Transport Scotland, Sustrans, Sight Scotland, and many others;
  • Help establish a new Access Panel in Orkney and support the information sessions of others across Scotland (hopefully to be established fully in the new year);
  • Continue to deliver the Face Mask Exemption Digital Card, in conjunction with Scottish Government
  • Take part in the creation of the government’s Disability Equality Strategy, along with other disabled people’s organisations across Scotland (work still ongoing);
  • And there has been so much more, with information being distributed through our newsletters, weekly poll questions, internal training on access and equality, hate crime training work and plans for the future.

We can’t reflect on the year without noting that as an organisation we said farewell to Morven and Emma, our CEO and Deputy CEO.   We know that they are both missed but enjoying their new roles. So, with myself and Douglas (our Deputy CEO) joining the ranks, and our new Convenor, Kayla-Megan Burns, it truly is an opportunity to take Disability Equality Scotland into a new phase, alongside our amazing staff and members.

As we think about 2023, we continually hope for a better year for all.  We are most excited about continuing to work with you to:

  • Host more webinars on disability equality and inclusion (there is a hold the date note later in the newsletter);
  • Deliver more training on Disability, Equality and Access;
  • Establish greater partnerships with more organisations;
  • Grow and value our membership and Access Panels – especially our youth membership;
  • Launch our national hate crime training and charter across all transport modes (in conjunction with Police Scotland);
  • Promote Access Panels at a national and local level;
  • Launch our Braille Labelling Campaign (look out for information on this).

Our Birthday is coming up in February 2023 – we will be 20th years old – so no longer a teenager.  Do help us celebrate our birthday throughout the year – look out for opportunities to be involved.  There is always a good time for cake.

We would not have achieved what we have, or have the opportunity to continue this work and new work, if it was not for your support and goodwill.  A final massive Thank You!

From our staff team and the Board of Disability Equality Scotland, we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best of 2023!

Lyn Pornaro, Chief Executive Officer