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​Joan McAlpine (MSP)

photo of msp joan mcapline
MSP Joan McAlpine has been a member of the Cross Party Group on Learning Disability for over a year. 
“I have a personal interest in this issue because I have a sister who has Down’s syndrome and in the past I have been involved with the Down’s Syndrome Association,” explained Joan. 

As well as having a personal connection to issues surrounding learning disability, Joan also feels it is her duty to step up, make a difference and drive change.

“Many  people are affected by learning disabilities and possibly the issue in the past hasn’t received as much attention as some other charities.  So I feel if you do have a personal connection then you have a duty to speak up about it.”

Joan is also co-convenor of the Cross Party Group on Carers, something which is again driven by personal experience.

“I’ve have an interest in elderly carers because my sister is cared for by my parents who are elderly.  I think there are specific issues surrounding this subject which need to be highlighted.” 

One of the issues which concerns Joan is the implementation of crisis care in the event of an emergency.  Often when a crisis occurs in a family who care for someone with a learning disability, the respite care which is put in place is inadequate and can involve removing someone from not only from their home but their entire community too. 

“This is something I would like to address as I know it is a problem,” pledged Joan.

The work of the Cross Party Group on Learning Disability flags up issues surrounding proposed legislation.  At a meeting in January 2014, a senior civil servant addressed the group about the integration of the health and social care bill, giving members the opportunity to ask searching questions.

Joan views the group as an important vehicle in which any potential problems can be highlighted and passed on to the government before legislation is passed.  She also feels this particular 
Cross Party Group is one of the most successful.  

Joan says: “The group is well attended and very constructive.  I’m also a big advocate of outcomes and at the end of each meeting we agree how we can take things forward and what need s to be addressed at the next meeting.”

Joan is also keenly aware of the variety of services ENABLE Scotland provides.

She sought the advice of ENABLE for processes surrounding guardianship.

“It was very helpful to speak to people who were not lawyers and who were on your side.  It was a very comforting experience, “ said Joan.

The collaborative nature of the Cross Party Group on Learning Disability means that ENABLE Scotland and its members have a strong voice within the Scottish Parliament.  

“ENABLE is an organisation which we consult and listen to. ENABLE breaks down barriers and makes it easier for people to connect.”

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