Empowerment in Action: “They’ll save thousands if they listen to us.”

Last week over 400 disabled people gathered to meet Leader of Glasgow City Government Susan Aitken, and play their part in the ‘democratic renewal’ we’ve been hearing about: by pressing the new leader on her manifesto pledges and actions the council will take to address the spiraling inequality and poverty faced by nearly 150,000 disabled Glasweigians.

Councillor Aitken has set Glasgow’s sights on achieving ‘Inclusive Growth’, and GDA members sought to underline how disabled people’s inclusion will be crucial to our city’s success.

“Disabled people make up nearly a quarter of Glasgow’s population,” says GDA founding member Susan McGinlay. “And we live at the sharp end of some of the most pressing issues facing Scotland today: poverty, social isolation, and a huge crisis in social care funding. These are just 3 of many issues in which disabled people are experts, because we live the impacts day to day. We know what works and what needs to change – they’ll save thousands of pounds if they listen to us!”

Through Q & A’s and roundtable discussions, the 'Empowerment in Action conference last week enabled GDA members to revisit their 5 Manifesto Asks, launched earlier this year, and hear responses and planned actions from Councillor Aitken.

The Leader of the Council confirmed:

  • Disabled people’s equality, inclusion and opportunities to participate will be raised up the agenda of Glasgow’s City Deal planning 
  • Glasgow City Government will review the current system of Care Charging

And the Council will work closely with GDA and the Scottish Government to action-plan local solutions to the national issues felt most acutely by Glasgow’s 150,000 disabled people.

Taking office earlier this year, Cllr Susan Aitken called for a “Revolution in community empowerment” and committed to helping communities grow capacity and resilience to make confident decisions, with more say over council spending. Last week at our Conference she applauded the strength of the GDA community. 

 GDA members discussed the crucial components of this empowerment: the confidence and connections gained through being part of a fully accessible and supportive disabled-people led organization, which builds capacity through learning and peer support.

“GDA is empowerment in action! We need access and support, to remove the barriers, so we can participate. Otherwise we are stuck in the house, staring at four walls, with no voice and no hope.”

Hear GDA members’ recipe for empowerment in GDA's  new short film – and read about a year of Empowerment in Action in GDA’s ‘16-‘17 Annual Report.