Notes from our discussions with attendees.

Session One: National Strategy for Disabled People, the current Covid pandemic and the post-covid recovery

“I am not quite sure what the National Strategy is. I have a number of disabilities and I find maintaining my independence increasingly difficult, including accessing basic services.  I can’t use online or telephone banking with short term memory problems esp. with numbers. I also have sight loss so the ATM would become more difficult to use.”

“During the pandemic, I became aware of people who have not been supported by their care workers for over a year.”

“We need to design disability in at the beginning – accessibility benefits everyone, not just disabled people. It is better to have that from the start than as an add on.”

“If I go into a shop, quite often they won’t talk to me even if I am paying. They might talk to my godson or anyone else who is with me who is not disabled but the shop assistant would not talk to me as I look different.”

“Covid has exposed the many inadequacies in our modern state’s approach to disabled people – this is an opportunity to expose that If you are blind how do you socially distance?”

“The shielding list was not right and targeted enough on those with physical health which has thousands not able to access the support that they needed. I know people who find accessing basics like food very difficult.” 

“I have cerebral palsy and other disabilities but was not put on the shielding list. When I raised this with my doctors, they questioned the lack of shielding letter, but it took weeks to get an answer and get me added onto the shielding list.”

“We have been telling them for years that WFH works but now it has been proven that productivity levels are higher than when in the office. But WFH was not granted until non-disabled people needed it due to the pandemic.”

“My experience as a disabled person community councillor was terrible and eventually I had to stand down due to lack of support.”

“In Scotland 1in5 we launched a campaign to introduce the access to learning fund (to support people before they wanted to enter elected office/ politics).”

“Provision of social support services, shops not open at the moment, been without a support worker for 14 months and it has been very hard. In touch via text. Missing the social contact but also an opportunity for independent chores, etc. Critical service users are still getting this service. Was advised this was due to covid and until further notice.”

“Support workers are also offering respite from parents. Many disabled people are expected to fall back on parents/family members so the additional strain on everyone. Can also cause an escalation of health problems for everyone. Abdication of responsibility from the state.”

“Covid has brought to the forefront that disabled are ignored if they have family caring for them, support has only been provided to those in desperate need. The state only steps in when circumstances are dire, not before.”

“PIP –  faced tribunal due to PIP because of lies written in their assessment. Appealed and won, in the waiting area prior to tribunal met people who had a terminal illness. Tribunals have detrimental effect had to get cognitive behavioural therapy as a result.”

“No accountability with private companies conducting assessments. Unfair and nothing is changing. I was on DLA, have known of assessors quitting in disgust at the quotas set by the employer.”

“The whole assessment process is designed to make claimants feel awful. Heard from the council that forcing people to appeal will put claimants off so they don’t payout.”

“I hope Adult Disability Payment in Scotland will hopefully be better as no assessment will be required. PIP is a shambles, assessments designed to trick you.”

“The national strategy refers to specialist care centres – will nurses be able to tell people where they can access support closer to home?” 

Session Two: Long term commitment and ideas

“One person suggested a special fund for self-employed disabled people so that they can set up their own businesses for the future. The only time they have felt successful was when they were a self-employed reviewer as they could accommodate this around their disabilities rather than being forced into a workplace that was not accommodating.  

What worries me about that is do we not become out of mainstream re: self-employment – for some of us being able to design your own job was a better way to go.”

“Often fighting using the Equality Act is emotionally and financially draining with tight time frames. We need class action/ trade unions to fight for reasonable adjustments and build a movement.”

“If you are retired and/or unemployed reasonable adjustments are often misinterpreted. They are still required outside of workplaces but the many places where disabled people are discriminated against are not highlighted enough.”

“My Employer made me unemployed out the backdoor when requesting reasonable adjustments.  The Equality Act is on your side but if the employer deems that there are no reasonable adjustments they can give you the boot.”

“Employment of disabled people it has to be meaningful employment not just employment for the sake of it. I was employed to rip stamps off of envelopes all day – there was no interest in the development of my skills.”

“Data collection needs to improve. We need figures on how long disabled people are employed and what their opportunities for progression are so that we can accurately assess where we are and target efforts for improvement.”

“No discussion with my line manager in three years about progression. I ask at every six-week meeting but we have not started my personal development plan and is continually pushed back.”

“I’ve not had any discussions about progression or personal development in 27 years.” 

“Belief that disabled people are intentionally being excluded from the workforce – losing out on loyal and capable employees.”

“Not seen as having abilities and being able to do things in many ways – if you have a disability you learn how to problem-solve, ingenuity, resilience when things do not go your way the first time. The nature of our society means that there is one way of doing things and if you can’t do it in that way then you may be frozen out.”

“The union recognises the talent and ability that disabled people have got but employers may not. Wasted talent as the disabled people that are dismissed is clearly so skilled.”

“How to make the system better – getting rid of assessment centres. Low qualified assessors are being paid higher than NHS consultants, designed to make people fight. ESA assessments are often not conducted by doctors. HSP non-treatable incurable disease but sufferers have to be reassessed for PIP claims, claimants have to fight for full payment from DWP.”

“No human rights approach to the social security assessment process, it is degrading. Terrible impact on mental health, Katie could not have gone through it without family and friends. Impossible to honestly communicate your worst day, particularly on a good day, when your way of life is normalised to you but very different to others.”

“No recognition from professionals where claimants have incurable diseases. Felt they were penalised for going on holiday with boyfriend, had to prove they still had support needs.”

“Information is not forthcoming – individuals/parents/carers always have to fight for the available support.”

“Disabled people in Scotland need good broadband so they don’t have to travel to meet all their support needs.”

“Specialists closer to home – currently have to travel out of the country for treatment. Devolution could make this worse in Scotland.”

“Families have been requesting additional resources so disabled children can learn from home where necessary – covid suddenly made these resources available.” 

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