WELCOME TO ACCESS TO ELECTED OFFICE FOR DISABLED PEOPLE STRATEGY
– DISABLED PEOPLE’S STORIES
In 2012 the UK delivered the largest and most successful Paralympics ever, including more athletes from more competing nations, record ticket sales, a hugely successful Paralympics GB Team and the most extensive media coverage of any previous Paralympics.
During the Games Ellie Simmonds, David Weir and Jonnie Peacock become national heroes. Disability was consistently, openly and widely talked about like never before. According to a poll by Scope, 72% of disabled people think that the Paralympics have had a positive impact on attitudes. 20% say it’s changed the way people talk to them and 20% say it’s made people more aware of their needs.
Disabled role models, whether they are from the world of sports, politics or another sector, can inspire positive change. When British politician Jack Ashley died, the following tribute appeared on a memorial website:
“He inspired me from a very young age. That Deafness didn’t have to exclude you. You could rise above the crowd if you believed in yourself. My careers advisor told me I should aim to be a shelf stacker.
“Instead I ran away to London – worked in cinemas, rising to manager … I set up a laser company and fired lasers off Oxford Street and Canary Wharf … I founded a charity, taught computer graphics. And I haven’t stopped yet!
RIP Jack Ashley – you inspired me.”
I believe that we should never under estimate the influence of role models and that a strong democracy is an inclusive one. However, at the moment there are many faces missing – disabled people are currently under represented in public life.
By promoting the experiences of disabled people in public life we create a more open environment in which disabled people feel more confident to apply for political positions and change perceptions about the capabilities of disabled people.
That’s why the Government has published this collection of stories of disabled people in political life, as part of its Access to Elected Office for Disabled People Strategy. These stories alongside a package of other Government measures, including internships, training and a £2.6 million fund, are helping tackle the particular obstacles faced by disabled people who want to become MPs, councillors or other elected officials.
These policies are just the start of what we are doing to make Parliament and councils more representative of the people they serve. After reading these stories, who knows, perhaps you could be one of those whose contribution we are currently missing in our council chambers or even in Parliament itself.
Helen Grant, MP, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities