A young woman who has a learning disability accepting an award from a sports presenter

You’re Not Alone: Hazel Irvine Launches ENABLE Scotland’s Christmas Appeal

December 13, 2016 Fundraising news

UK sports presenter Hazel Irvine has today launched ENABLE Scotland’s Christmas fundraising appeal.

“You’re Not Alone” appeal tells the story of 17-year-old East Dunbartonshire S6 pupil Lucy McKee.

Lucy was bullied, ignored, and isolated at school, until she joined a local youth group run by ENABLE Scotland a few years ago.

“I didn’t have a single friend at school. I felt like I didn’t fit in. Some of the children bullied me and called me names, or just ignored me. I felt invisible. Getting involved with ENABLE Scotland transformed my life; I now feel part of a special family,” she said.

With her new-found confidence – and supported by a new headteacher – Lucy took a stand and gave a speech at her school assembly about her experiences.

“I wanted them to understand what it is like to have a learning disability and how hurtful it is when people call you names. I wanted to make it better for me and younger people who might be bullied too.

“Since I gave the presentation, school has got a lot better for me. People know who I am and talk to me now. Mr Brown [her headteacher] says younger children look up to me as a role model.

“But there are thousands of people in Scotland who have learning disabilities who aren’t so lucky. Who don’t have a shoulder to cry on. Who don’t have a family like ENABLE Scotland.”

TV sports anchor Hazel Irvine is honorary president of the charity and lives near Lucy in East Dunbartonshire.

“When I was growing up my next door neighbour had a learning disability. We be-came great friends.

“But growing up beside Shona I was struck by how difficult life can be for people who have learning disabilities. Thanks to a local ENABLE group, Shona had the opportunity to take part in many social activities, but for so many others, having a learning disability is a deeply isolating experience.

“I’m proud to say Shona has become a lifelong friend, and thanks in part to the friendships she built through her local ENABLE network she leads a happy, active live surrounded by people who care about her.

“But unfortunately the picture looks very different for lots of young people who have learning disabilities in Scotland today.”

Lucy’s youth group is paid for by donations from the public. It costs £10,000 to run a youth group for a year. But it’s transformed Lucy’s life.

Irvine added: “Your small change can make a huge impact on young people who are different and don’t make friends as easily as you do. Please give generously.”

Lucy McKee spoke about her experience of isolation and loneliness during the launch of ENABLE Scotland’s #IncludED in the Main?! Campaign last week.

The campaign included a national conversation with over 800 young people who have learning disabilities, their parents, carers and teachers. They spoke out to say that the Scottish education system is leaving pupils who have learning disabilities side-lined – and even at times without an education.

The charity is calling upon the Scottish Government to take on the recommendations of the report and set new guidelines for additional support in schools to ensure Scotland delivers truly inclusive education for every child.

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