Monday 26th May 2014
60 YEARS OF ENABLE SCOTLAND
Last Wednesday evening I attended a debate in Parliament to mark the 60th anniversary of Enable Scotland, a charity that has fought long and hard for people with learning disabilities to be included in society and to enjoy the same rights as everyone else.
The debate was led by my Labour colleague Jackie Baillie, who does a great job heading the cross-party group on learning disability in Parliament. During the debate she rightly pointed out that we have come a long way since 1954 when people with learning disabilities were severely disadvantaged.
Children with a learning disability could not go to school. There was little chance of entering into employment. And there was no hope of living independently. The only choice was to remain in institutional care or stay in the family home.
Largely due to the work of Enable Scotland things have changed for the better. Nowadays the overwhelming majority of people with learning disabilities live in their communities and receive the appropriate care and support. They are part of society and many attend college and have a job.
Nevertheless, there are still barriers that need to be overcome. As my colleague Jackie Baillie emphasised people with learning disabilities continue to experience significant health inequalities and continue to experience isolation and loneliness. More worryingly, statistics show that nine out of ten children with a learning disability are bullied and a similar number are the victims of hate crime.
If Enable Scotland continues to do the fantastic job it has done over the last six decades these barriers can be overcome. I wish the organisation a happy birthday and the same level of success over the next sixty years.