Transcript: Learning Disability Week 2016

Michael McEwan speaks to Linda Mitchell, Learning and Development Manager at Scottish Commission for Learning Disability, about the theme for this year and associated activities happening in Scotland.

Podcast Episode: Learning Disability Week 2016

Category: Disability 



What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.

MM - Michael McEwan
LM - Linda Mitchell

MM Okay now on we are here at the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability with Linda Mitchell. Linda is the Learning and Development Manager for the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability and we’re here to speak to her about the 2016 Learning Disability Week that’s coming up in May. So first of all, Linda, why do we have Learning Disability Week?

LM That’s a good question. Well Learning Disability Week is one of the biggest weeks in the calendar for reason, awareness and understanding among lots of people including the general public and people who are in power, but it’s about getting people together, it’s about learning new things and it’s about finding out what matters most to people. It used to be that Learning Disability Week was instigated by MENCAP in England and Scotland would pick up the theme, you know from MENCAP but this has changed over the past couple of years. For a variety of reasons we now have our own national strategy, Keys to Life learning disability strategy and by having our own learning disability week in Scotland it means that we can plan taking into account things like school holidays and elections and make sure we get the timing of it right for people so that as many people as possible can be involved and it also means that we can choose a theme that is really particular to the Scottish context but the main thing is it’s about involving people with learning disability, their family and their carers and those who provide support all across Scotland to highlight and showcase what people can do.

MM So every year then Disability Week has a kind of theme. This year’s not any different. This year Learning Disability Week has a theme and you’re going to tell us now what is their theme.

LM The theme, this year’s theme is celebrating success and the aim of it is to highlight the achievement of people with learning disabilities but we also want to recognise the people and organisations who are leading the way and supporting people to fulfil their ambitions and aspirations. So, it’s a great theme and we sometimes get asked who chooses the theme. So, over the year the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability we consult and we speak to lots and lots of people with learning disabilities and their family and their carers across Scotland to find out what’s important to their lives and that’s really important in deciding what the theme for each year’s Learning Disability Week will be. SCLD then takes what people are saying. We talk to colleagues in the Scottish Government and that helps us to decide what each year’s theme is going to be. So, it involves lots of people across Scotland to come up with what the theme’s going to be and this year it’s celebrating success which is fantastic.

MM So why is it important to have a theme for Learning Disability Week because I know like every year they have a different theme but why is it important to have different themes?

LM Okay. It’s really important because I think the theme reflects what’s important to people with learning disabilities and their family and their carers. So, for example last year’s theme was older people with learning disabilities. This year’s theme celebrating success is important because any theme needs to be meaningful and it needs to be able to engage people from all walks of life all across Scotland to take part in Learning Disability Week. So, the theme celebrating success, we think is really exciting. It’s engaged lots and lots of people across the country because, let’s face it, there are so many brilliant and inspiring people with learning disabilities across Scotland and this gives an opportunity to shine the spotlight on the amazing talents and skills that people have. So, it’s … we’re really challenging assumptions and stereotypes giving a platform for people across Scotland to show the huge contribution that people with learning disabilities bring to society.

MM Can you tell us what dates the Learning Disability Week is on and what events are happening up and down Scotland?

LM I sure can Michael. This year’s Learning Disability Week is running from 16th to 20th of May. There are lots of events happening up and down the land. If I tell you about a few of the events that SCLD are running and then I’ll give you maybe a wee insight into some of the other events that are happening up and down the country. So, the first event for SCLD is on Monday 16th of May. Its Building Bridges to a Good Life and this is around some mapping and scoping that we’ve undertaken about asset based practise and we now want to take our findings and to start a conversation about what that really means for learning disability policy and practise. This is just a first step, it’s a first conversation. There will be more happening around this but we felt that it was important that we did something initially at the beginning of Learning Disability Week on asset based practise. Our big event and maybe our flagship event this year is the partnership that we have with the RSA where we are awarding lifetime fellowship awards. This is totally new. The RSA is the Royal Society of Arts and Manufacturing and we were looking to find six new fellows with learning disabilities to become lifetime fellows. We had an application process where people told us about their creative ideas and a shortlist panel that helped us to identify the six successful people. So, these six people will be presented with this award on Wednesday 18th May. These are new fellows, all people with learning disabilities coming from a range of backgrounds including the world of art, dance, choreography, piping, the world of digital innovation and the world of writing. One of the great things about this is the RSA has something like 27,000 fellows across Scotland and this will open up a whole new sort of support for our new fellows. They will be able to engage with people who have maybe skills and talents that they need to make their idea become a reality. So we’re really, really excited about this and it is, we’re going to have a big event on the evening of 18th May in Edinburgh to highlight this. What else are we doing? We have a digital innovation event on Friday 20th May from half past ten until half past two and that’s going to be at Strathclyde Technology and Innovation Centre and this event’s going to showcase examples of digital innovation that aim to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities. We’re going to have a marketplace with lots of exhibitions and stand holders will be offering free demonstrations of their digital products and resources. It’s free to attend, you don’t need to book, you can just turn up. But across the country because this is what learning disability is about, it’s about engaging across the country. In Dundee during Learning Disability Week people are invited to a special networking event to meet and celebrate the success of the advocators which is a team of adults with learning disabilities who are employed or volunteer at Advocating Together. That’s going to be held at Dundee Comics Creative Space. Other things that are happening, for example the Trust Rugby International is a really proactive Scottish based charity whose goal is to bring individuals and communities together through game of rugby. They involve people with learning disabilities and they believe that all players can be enabled to participate to their full potential. They’re looking to set up a new team in the Glasgow area and they’re planning a free training session on Friday 20th May from half six to eight at JHA Rugby Club in Giffnock. Anyone who lives in Glasgow is welcome to go there. Indepen-dance are having a big dance pledge on 20th May at the Briggait in Glasgow. Down in Inverclyde there’s a one day event on Monday 9th May being held at the Beacon and that’s an Engagement event and it’s really going to be highlighting all the great things that are happening across Inverclyde where people with learning disabilities are actively involved and all the good things that are happening in sharing that to a much wider audience. Down in Ayrshire Hansel are having a week-long festival with a whole load of events. So, there’s lots and lots going on and if people want to know a little bit more about what’s going on at Learning Disability Week just come on to the Keys to Life website. There’s lots of information there.

MM Yes, that’s what I was going to say. If people listen to this and they fancy taking part during Learning Disability Week how can they get involved?

LM You can get involved in lots and lots of ways and we can give you a little bit of support. You could email us or phone us and get hold of a Get Involved pack. A Get Involved pack has like posters, flags and badges and banners and things in it, you know, that can help you with whatever the event is that you’re maybe thinking about. That might be, you know you might want to raise awareness of a local project. You might want to celebrate the achievements of an individual. You know it can be fun, it can be social. You know it’s about having funs as well, you know, and getting folk together. If you are doing something for Learning Disability Week please let us know and SCLD can promote that through the Keys to Life website, through our twitter and through our, you know, social media channels. Help to get the word out there because we want to promote as much as possible and let as many people as possible know that it’s Learning Disability Week and what’s going on.

MM Okay well thanks for your time and hopefully the week is a success. Thanks Linda.

LM Thank you very much Michael.

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