A new campaign aiming to celebrate the talents and capabilities of people living with learning disabilities says we all have a part to play in challenging stigma.
Charity Get2Gether was set up to tackle social isolation in adults with additional challenges.
Before lockdown, it regularly arranged events from nights out to life drawing classes – but its members quickly embraced technology when the meet-ups were moved online.
Now Get2Gether is launching ‘Becoming Visible’ – a campaign sharing the stories of members to push for more awareness across society.
It aims to highlight that the adults it works with should not be underestimated, and they should not suffer discrimination.
Becoming Visible highlights this as a human rights issue, and says everyone deserves a chance to lead a fulfilling life with a job, good housing, and adult relationships.
Over the past year, Get2Gether members have seized the chance to learn new skills and host online events.
Corey Watt, from Musselburgh, has Down’s Syndrome and studies cookery at Edinburgh College.
He has been hosting dance workshops on Zoom.
“It’s good experience,” he said. “People love the support – I teach my friends online on the group.
“College has really helped me, to support me to teach and learn new things – I feel incredible.”
Fellow Get2Gether member Mairi Gilfedder says “God broke the mould” when she was born.
She’s had to deal with a number of health problems. But, like Corey, she doesn’t let anything hold her back.
She runs an online advice column under the title ‘Mystic Mairi’ – she also offers horoscopes and palm readings.
Mairi, from Edinburgh, said: “My friends and colleagues are very accomplished in their individual talents – and that’s really important, that we focus on what we can do, we never focus on our disability. Never.
“We are very competent – much more competent than you think we are.”
Project manager Marion Smith says the way members adapted over Covid-19 is testament to their strength and capabilities.
She said: “They learnt so quickly – it really makes a lie out of that assumption that people with learning disabilities can’t learn.
“The very shocking statistics are that only between four and five per cent of people with learning disabilities have a job – what we want to show is that’s not because people aren’t able to have a job.”
You can find out more about the campaign at http://get2gether.org.uk/becomingvisible-campaign/#page-content