Our Voice Our Rights
At ENABLE Scotland we are passionate about member led campaigning – amplifying the voices of people who have learning disabilities to make sure that they are heard, and empowering people to lead their own campaigns to protect and promote human rights.
Our members have decided to work with communities across learning disability and autism in Scotland and work in partnership with our friends at National Autistic Society Scotland and Scottish Autism to launch the ‘Our Voice Our Rights’ Campaign calling for a Commissioner for people with a learning disability and autistic people.
The ‘Our Voice Our Rights’ campaign aims to make human rights real for the 175,000 people with a learning disability, the 56,000 autistic people and their families in Scotland. A country where human rights are respected and upheld; everyone has equal access to the services and support they need throughout their lives; and where people with a learning disability and autistic people are active, respected citizens without barriers to fulfil their potential.
Many individuals and their families are exhausted from fighting tooth and nail to get the much needed support and status as equal citizens to which they are entitled. A fight that sadly, they often do not win, leaving people in crisis, and systems which do not change to support them better.
As the country prepares for the Scottish Parliamentary Elections in May 2021, the three charities are standing together with people who have a learning disability and autistic people to say ‘enough is enough’ and calling on all the major political parties in Scotland to commit to a Commissioner to ensure real change.
On Wednesday 3rd March 2021, the Scottish Parliament held a debate on support for people who have a Learning Disability and Autistic people, including the Our Voice Our Rights campaign for a dedicated Commissioner. The debate heard from the Minister of Mental Health, Clare Haughey MSP and MSPs Neil Bibby & Joan McAlpine (Deputy Convenor of the Cross Party Group on Learning Disability) amongst others. You can watch the debate in full here. The following briefing was complied for MSPs to support the debate, which you can read here.
The Commissioner would be the first of its kind in the world, established in law to champion the human rights of people with a learning disability and autistic people.
Our members are leading campaigning alongside other people who have learning disabilities, autistic people, families, professionals and others including the broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove.
You can watch a series of videos on why people are involved and we are encouraging you to get involved and to become a member of ENABLE Scotland and campaign with us.
You can also contact the Party Leaders in Scotland to call for a Commissioner for people with a learning disability and autistic people to be included in policies in the run up to the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections. More details on how to do this are below along with easy read information on what the campaign is all about.
Peter McMahon, member of ENABLE Scotland Scottish Council and Member of the Our Voice Our Rights Leadership Group said:
We need a Commissioner for Learning Disability and Autism so that people who have a learning disability like me aren’t put on the back burner or forgotten about. With a Commissioner working with us we can improve access to services and speak up for people when they cannot. Most importantly we can help people live good lives with choice and control and free from discrimination. People with learning disabilities feel invisible, we don’t want to be the invisible people any more and feel a Commissioner would help us.
Lucy McKee, Chair of ENABLE Scotland ACE Youth and Member of the Our Voice Our Rights Leadership Group said:
What is needed to change things for people with learning disabilities in Scotland is for people to be more understanding. Bullying and bad treatment of people with learning disabilities need to stop. We also need more supported employment opportunities to help us find jobs and to thrive in them. We need to give people help to get the right support for them which meets their needs. I really believe that is time for a Commissioner for Learning Disability and autism to help us speak up and speak out for change. We need a team to have our back – to help protect our rights and to make things better.
Jan Savage, Director of ENABLE Scotland Charity and Membership said:
The creation of a commissioner would do two things. It would be a symbolic appointment- a strong signal to this population that you matter, you are important to us all, and that we want to do better by you and with you.
Secondly, it would work alongside existing public bodies, their regulators and people who have learning disabilities themselves, to provide insight and accountability where things are not working well – and most importantly, lead the change.
The simple truth is that for too long and too often we are not getting it right for people who have a learning disability. We need a new catalyst for change.
Write to your MSP about the campaign:
- Simply copy our template letter.
- Send it by email to the following:
- Nicola Sturgeon MSP (SNP) – Nicola.Sturgeon.MSP@parliament.scot
- Jackie Baillie MSP (Labour, Interim) – Jackie.Baillie.MSP@parliament.scot
- Willie Rennie MSP (Liberal Democrats) – Willie.Rennie.MSP@parliament.scot
- Patrick Harvie MSP / Lorna Slater (Greens) – Patrick.Harvie.MSP@parliament.scot
- Douglas Ross MP (Conservatives) – Douglas.Ross.MP@parliament.uk
You can also find more information on our partnership Our Voice Our Rights.