Glasgow’s journey to independent living

Councillors, charity workers, disabled people, decision-makers and campaigners gathered in Glasgow today to ask: “Can disabled people ever be truly independent?”

Glasgow Disability Alliance, an organisation run for disabled people by disabled people in the city, say that the answer to this is simple – yes, they can. Which is why the Alliance is welcoming Glasgow City’s Council’s commitment to implement an Independent Living Strategy for Glasgow with open arms.

Earlier this year, the Council made the commitment to work with GDA and other organisations to formulate a strategy allowing the city’s disabled people to live more independently. Today’s seminar, led by GDA and hosted by the Council at Glasgow’s City Chambers, explained why the proposed Independent Living Strategy is so important, urging councillors to stand by their word and make the proposals a reality.

“Independent living means having the same choices and control as any other citizen; disabled people of all ages having the same freedom and choice as anyone else,” explained GDA chief executive Tressa Burke. “We believe that disabled people can be independent, with support at times.”

Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living chief executive Etienne D’Aboville and councillor Matt Kerr, executive member for Social Care in Glasgow City Council, also gave their view on the importance of independence. Tressa and Etienne both pinpointed the barriers which disabled people face and highlighted that, if different agencies work together, these barriers can be broken down to give disabled people more of the freedom they need. The proposed strategy would make all of this possible.

This message was emphasised by a performance from the Purple Poncho Players, a performing arts group made up of disabled people who discuss the challenges they face in a creative way. Through comedy sketches, song and poetry, the Players showed what independent living really means. The sketches demonstrated that independence is hindered by things like lack of understanding from employers, accessibility issues and benefit changes and cuts – it’s not about living alone and fending for yourself. In each instance, the problem wasn’t disability, but the surrounding world. With the right support and understanding – and a proper strategy in place from policy makers – independence could be achieved.

Find out more about the Glasgow Disability Alliance at www.gdaonline.co.uk.

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