Dates-n-mates interview on STV

This blog was written by Holly Millar from dates-n-mates Scotland. dates-n-mates is Scotland’s national dating and friendship agency, run by and for adults with learning difficulties. They have approximately 150 members across the country.

Dates-n-Mates new logo jpeg

On Friday 13th  Liz, John Paul and I went to the STV studios to be interviewed about dates-n-mates and what we do. When we arrived we were made to feel welcome and Liz and the person who works for STV news explained what to do.

Before we were interviewed, Liz explained what the news reader would ask us: how dates n mates got set up and why, how many members there are, how we got the idea in the first place, what the barriers to finding love and friendship are, and what is stopping people with learning disabilities having the same as everyone else. We did not have time to have our hair or make up done by the STV lady but I put some on myself!

The news reader came out and introduced himself to us and explained that the interview would be recorded as live TV but wouldn’t go out until 8.30pm and 10pm that night. This meant that we couldn’t stop the recording – we just had to answer the questions as best as we could!

The studios were smaller than I thought they would be when we were shown onto the set. We took our seats and a lady came and put a microphone on each of us. The news reader asked us about Dates-n-mates and about tonight’s event – our Masked Valentine’s Ball. After 5 minutes, the newsreader then cut to a film about dates-n-mates that they had recorded during the week.  Hughie, Liz, Nicola and Derek were interviewed. Hughie talked about finding love, and Liz talked about what we do – it was great! I felt nervous at first, but it was exciting and it was great to be in the STV studios.

You can watch the feature here:


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I’d like to teach the world to draw!

Clare Mills, our Learning and Development Co-ordinator, blogs about bringing graphic facilitation skills to teachers…

At the moment I’m working with Children in Scotland  to design a graphic facilitation course tailored just for teachers. It’s largely, but not exclusively, aimed at those who work with learners with additional needs. The course is about listening, thinking, organising information and drawing (yikes!) but mostly it’s about making our communication better.

What is graphic facilitation?

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Changing places…changing lives

Our trainer Lindsay Kinloch reflects on the campaign that recently led to the 100th Changing Places toilet being opened…and what might be next.

Changing Places LogoFor those of you who don’t know, Changing Places are fully accessible toilet facilities for people with profound and multiple disabilities. Our partners at PAMIS have been working very hard from the first ‘Changing places, changing lives’ campaign conference back in 2009 at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, which I was lucky enough to go along to. Lots of people came to hear about the campaign, listen to inspirational speeches and sign the charters.

I was also part of the Changing Places Steering Group where we got the chance to contribute ideas and think about where the campaign might go in the future. The group was well attended and we talked about things like the kind of places Changing Places toilets should be installed in and how best to promote them and inform people about the campaign.

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Supported Employment: Home and Abroad

Picture of Cameron at reception Cameron Smith, Receptionist at SCLD, talks to us about a visit he made to the Czech Republic to find out how supported employment works there…


Supported employment is about helping people with learning disabilities and/or autism get and keep a job. It is also about supporting people to choose what jobs they want to do and find out how they can learn new skills.

My trip to Prague started with a phone call from Maura, the Deputy Chief Executive of SCLD, asking me if I wanted to join some of the Values Into Action Scotland (VIAS) team on a visit to the Czech Republic. The company who organised the trip were called Rytmus, a Czech supported employment and inclusion organisation. Previously they had come to Scotland to see how we offered supported employment services – and now they were inviting us to come and see how they do things. Continue reading

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Speak out, be heard…beat bullying

My name is LindsayLindsay2 and I am part of the learning and development team at the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability. I would like to talk to you today about bullying and hate crime and tell you about the reasons why I decided to write a course for people with learning disabilities and autism about this.

A crime happens when a person breaks the law. A disability hate crime happens when someone commits a crime against you because you have a disability.

There are lots of different types of disability hate crime. It can mean having your personal things taken or being hurt. It can mean someone threatening you or calling you names. Continue reading

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Agnes’s Story: My life as a carer

AgnesMy name is Agnes and I am a wife, a daughter, a mother, a sister, a granny and (although I didn’t realise it at first) I am also a carer.

I am employed as an Inclusive Living Advisor with Take Ctrl (South Lanarkshire). I enjoy working as it is rewarding and it gives me time to get out of the house and feel I am helping others through sharing my personal experiences.

So now to tell you a little about our family and how caring has impacted on our lives…
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Tackling hate crime: a long game not an overnight sensation

Our training manager, Susan Forrest, blogs about the Scottish Government’s new hate crime statistics and what we should do next…

Hate Crime

Last Friday the Scottish Government released Hate Crime in Scotland 2013/14. I attended the ministerial roundtable meeting hosted in Glasgow by Equalities Secretary Shona Robison and Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham.

The Ministers underlined the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackling all forms of prejudice. They welcomed the work which various agencies have done to build people’s confidence to report crimes.

The key statistic for SCLD was the increase of 12% on the previous year for disability aggravated hate crime. Anything which promotes a greater understanding of hate crime is welcome. And it is possible that this increase can be attributed to victims knowing better how to report them. But there is a big difference between knowing where to report a crime and feeling safe in the community.

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‘The keys to life': One year on


Today for Learning Disability Week we are focusing on the national learning disability strategy – ‘The keys to life’ which is just about to celebrate it’s first anniversary on 13th June.  Many of us were there at Murrayfield last June on what was a glorious day for the Scottish weather but more importantly a day of excitement for people with learning disabilities, their families and everyone who works alongside them.  Following on from ‘The same as you?’ there was understandably much anticipation about what the new strategy would say.

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BEMAS transitions project

Jo Kirby from The Action Group writes today’s blog on opening up services to young people with learning disabilities from BME communities…
It is Friday afternoon and Ben (not his real name) is busy volunteering as a receptionist, franking mail, answering calls and welcoming visitors. He has identified reception work as a career he is keen to pursue in and is delighted to be getting relevant experience to complement his college education. Ben is looking forward to Saturday night when he will be meeting up with friends at a disco in Edinburgh.

Ben is from an ethnic minority community; he has a learning difficulty and is registered blind. Three years ago his outlook was quite different. Ben was leaving the security of residential school and going through the transition to college. He didn’t have the support he needed to attend college taster days and so came very close to dropping out of college as a result. He was isolated from his local community, wasn’t in receipt of the correct benefits and had no formal support package.

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National gathering of Local Area Co-ordinators

LAC imageWe asked Vicky Nicolson, a Local Area Co-ordinator in Edinburgh, to share her thoughts on the recent National Gathering of LACs…

Local Area Co-ordinators gathered from far and wide for the National Gathering in Edinburgh on the 26th March 2014. I was delighted and excited to connect with colleagues (and friends) who work within the framework the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability (SCLD) produced in 2010.

The important word here is connect – at the National Gathering Local Area Co-ordinators had a chance to connect with each other.
We have the opportunity to hear from policy makers and researchers about how what we do connects our work with legislation and strategies, how our fellow Local Area Co-ordinators connect with the communities, the families and the individuals they work with and, most importantly, to reflect on our own connections.

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