Yesterday, Trailblazers met in Westminster to have the first All Party Parliamentary Group on Young Disabled People since the June election.
We were joined again by Heidi Allen MP as the Chair of the APPG. Disabled peer Lord Shinkwin and disabled MP Jared O’Mara joined as Vice Chairs, along with John McNally.
Our Trailblazers each put forward a topic they feel passionate about. From using taxis as a wheelchair user, access to the high street to narrowing the disability employment gap. Our Trailblazers Ambassadors let politicians know that they still experience discrimination in their everyday lives, but wanted to find the solutions to the issues young disabled people face.
Emma Lines spoke about narrowing the disability employment gap. She said:
If the government is aiming to narrow the disability employment gap they will need to make a lot of changes to their current procedures. There needs to be more support for disabled people finding work. Access to Work is great but only if you are in employment, it doesn’t help with getting to interviews or work experience or volunteering roles, which results in a lot of disabled people not being able to gain vital experience or employment as they can’t get there or get the appropriate adaptations.
Trailblazers also had the opportunity to meet with Sports Minister Tracey Crouch MP at Westminster yesterday. As a result of that meeting, Trailblazers will be setting up a Sports Stadia Access Working Group which we hope will help to move access forward for disabled sports fans.
Among those meeting the Minister was our Trailblazers Ambassadors Vicki Dennis and Dean Yorke. They were supported by Trailblazers Manager Lauren West and Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Director of Campaigns, Care and Information Nic Bungay. Among the discussion was:
- Vicki Dennis discussed her difficulty in going to matches with more than one person, causing problems when she has her nephews with her and cannot supervise them as they have to sit away from her
- Dean Yorke also raised difficulties in seating, where his carer has had to sit behind him
- Vicki also raised the lack of locks on disabled toilets, and therefore they are being misused
- Also discussed at the meeting was the need for stadiums to have good evacuation plans for disabled people, including any equipment they may need to get disabled people out safely in an emergency evacuation
Trailblazers Ambassador Thea Downey attended her first APPG meeting yesterday. She said:
I only joined Trailblazers relatively recently and wanted to get involved – the APPG seemed like a great opportunity to do that. I found it really interesting to see what the MPs had to say about our issues and I was impressed by Heidi Allen’s genuine desire to do what she can to improve things for young disabled people.
It was good to feel like our voices were being heard and I look forward to seeing what actions are taken to make progress on each of the topics that we discussed.
Trailblazers Manager Lauren West said:
We want to offer our thanks to Heidi Allen, Tracey Crouch, Lord Shinkwin and Jared O’Mara for taking the time to meet with our Trailblazers and discuss the issues that have real impact on the day-to-day lives of young disabled people.
We know that access and inclusion for disabled people has come some way, but there is still more to be done. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Young Disabled People will be the platform for the remaining issues and proposed solutions to be heard.
Do you want to find out more about our work with decision makers to improve access and inclusion for young disabled people in the UK? Find out more here and join Trailblazers!