Older disabled people discover the meaning of life

Glasgow Disability AllianceOn Thursday 19 February, over 250 older disabled people will gather at The Thistle Hotel in Glasgow for a unique event entitled ‘The Meaning Of Life: Older People and an Age Friendly Glasgow’.

On the day attendees will have the opportunity to have their say on both the Scottish Parliament’s Inquiry into social isolation and on Glasgow City Council’s plans to make Glasgow an ‘Age Friendly’ city.

The event is organised by Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA) who are keen to provide the opportunity for older disabled people to hear how meaningfulness, happiness and a sense of purpose is fundamental to staying well and to share their own views on this.

A Reportproduced for GDA in 2014 about Social Capital revealed that disabled people in Scotland -in particular older people who are disabled or havelong term conditions-frequentlyreport experiencing isolation and need additional support to form vital relationships and networks.

This is particularly poignant in light of the Scottish Government inquiry into the effect of loneliness and isolation amidstwarnings that a lack of social connections is as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Tressa Burke, CEO of GDA believes that reducing social isolation is key for many disabled people:

“Too often the emphasis for disabled people is about getting into education, getting into employment, getting into doing something that society deems worthwhile. At GDA we value all of these things and whatever choices disabled people make. But as importantly, we also believe in the importance of connections for connections’ sake. Despite research telling us that social isolation increases the risk of early death, the importance of combating loneliness is often overlooked.”

Thursday’s event will be chaired by Tressa and will feature presentations from GDA’s Development Manager Sandra Stuart and Glasgow City Council’s Executive Member for Social Care Cllr Malcolm Cunning. Sarah Rochira, Older People’s Commissioner for Waleshas sent a video message of support. GDA will also premiere their new short film: “A Meaningful Life”featuring the organisation’s older members. There will be 22 information stalls about services for older people, and the event will conclude with afternoon entertainment from ‘That Swing Sensation’.

Crucially, over 250 older disabled people will get the opportunity to discuss:

  • What are the mainthings you’re concerned withas anolder person?
  • What keeps you happy and well and helps you cope when times are tough?
  • What’s already good about Glasgow and what would make it an Age Friendly City?

Responses are anticipated to echo feedback and lessons GDA have learned from older people to date (in particular findings from ‘Wisdom, Wit and a Whirl’, a GDA event-and related report-held in 2013 focussing on reshaping care for older people) which include the importance of social connections, a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, andhaving choice and control over your life.

Interestingly these themes also chime with the World Health Organisation’s themes for an Age Friendly City, and Glasgow is currently applying for this status.

About Glasgow Disability Alliance

Glasgow Disability Alliance was established in 2001 and is a charity run by disabled people, for disabled people. GDA’s mission is to act as the collective, representative voice of disabled people in Glasgow, promoting equality, human rights and social justice. GDA has a membership of over2500 disabled people. GDA won the Herald Society Equalities Award in 2010, 2011, and was a finalist in 2012 and 2014.

See our website www.gdaonline.co.uk or follow us on Twitter @GDA__online

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