A day in the life of a Local Area Coordinator

john at desk

My name is John Spiteri. I am a Local Area Coordinator (LAC) covering Hawick and Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders. I get up early to walk my dogs and feed the chickens, and usually get into the office at around 8.30am. I catch up with colleagues, and respond to phone calls and check emails. Today, I also have to text some people early to remind them about things that are happening later.


Most of the people I support in my job are looking for opportunities to connect to people in their communities and to find work. This is difficult in a place like Hawick with high levels of unemployment and a lot of disadvantage.

john and graeme


At 10am I have a meeting with my colleague Graeme, from HAPI (Hawick Acorn Project Initiative) to discuss work planning for the gardening and cooking project. I helped develop the project after identifying a gap in the area for this kind of activity.


We received funding towards the development of HAPI from SCLD’s Self-Directed Support pilot project. The project helps people to develop new skills and make friendships. It provides work experience in a therapeutic environment.




Elliot is involved in the gardening project. He enjoyed helping to restore an old greenhouse and an allotment to plant onions, cabbages, lettuce, parsley, coriander and chives. Group members will be learning how to cook once the crops have grown.





At 11am I go along to a meeting of the self-advocacy group, Live a Life. I’m not a member of the group or the facilitator. I go along regularly to update on things that are happening in the community. Today, I told the group what I know about local work placements and volunteering opportunities.


geraldineAt 12 noon I have a meeting with Geraldine, the Development Worker from Reaching Out, which is a community project in a local church. This successful community project has provided excellent volunteering opportunities for the people I work with. It was great to make links with such an inclusive project.

I have found the Reaching Out project to be a valuable asset to the community and it provides lots of opportunities for people to work towards their personal goals. Geraldine and I believe that working together has really helped bring different people together in a positive way.

soupa lunchOn Wednesdays I try to have lunch at the Soupa Lunch run by Reaching Out.  Coming here for lunch gives me an opportunity to catch up with people who I work with. Lots of members of the community come to the lunch. It gives me an opportunity to introduce people and support them to build friendships. For example, I chatted with John and  Beryl who now  offer informal support to their neighbour who has a learning disability.

Today, I spoke with Rhona, the mum of a young man I work with.  Since we first started working together, James has become more confident and active in his community and has built his social networks.  We talked about his plans to get his own flat and what help he might need from me.


Around 2pm I drop in to a weekly games club that was started by myself and Angela, my Community Link Worker colleague.

People meet in a local pub and some of them have started to make connections with staff and regulars.

I used this time to catch up with people I support, and to stay in the loop with upcoming activities. Today I wanted to catch up with Martin who I am helping to link up with another man I support as they have similar interests.

john on phone


Throughout the day I receive lots of texts and phone calls from people I work with. After 3pm I have time to catch up with these.

As a result of one of the phone calls I decide I need to visit someone at their home to talk to them in person.



After a busy day I head home around 5pm and relax by taking the dogs out for another walk. My job can sometimes be unpredictable and when you’re working with lots of people, you never know what’s coming next!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest Blog: ENABLE Scotland Supports Police Scotland’s Hate Crime Campaign

Police Scotland

Police Scotland launched their Hate Crime campaign today (17 August 2015) and ENABLE Scotland is getting behind this week’s theme, disability hate crime.

Figures published by Police Scotland earlier this year revealed disability hate crimes reported have risen by 270% from 48 in 2010/11 to 177 last year; with a 20% increase in the last year alone! But these crimes still remain under-reported throughout the country – this is really just the tip of the ice-berg.

In November 2014 ENABLE Scotland launched its own campaign called #bethechange which aims to challenge the use of offensive and abusive language directed at people who have learning disabilities.

#bethechange was inspired by our members who told us about their experiences. They said:

It is simple. There are 3 words I would take away because they hurt me the most: mongo, retard and freak

It is time to take the demons out of the darkness and shine a light on the horrible words being used.

As part of our campaign we want to encourage members of the public to #bethechange; reflect on their own attitudes and behaviours towards people who have learning disabilities; make a positive decision to #bethechange; and help us challenge the use of offensive and hurtful language about people who have learning disabilities.

Sometimes people who have learning disabilities may not recognise what they are experiencing is bullying or indeed a hate crime, therefore the role of the community is crucial. We are asking communities to stand up, commit to #bethechange and where they see hate crime report it to Police Scotland.

Want to #bethechange? You can help by downloading our campaign resources and running a campaign in your local area visit.

If you are a victim of disability hate crime or know someone who is a victim of disability hate crime, please report it to the police! You can report hate crime to Police Scotland by calling 101 or online here.

If you can, support these campaigns on Twitter using #bethechange and #ReportIt. Keep an eye on our Twitter feed this week @ENABLEScotland to find out more about our #bethechange campaign.

By Kayleigh Thorpe, Policy and Campaigns Manager, ENABLE Scotland @kayleigh_ENABLE

For more information relating to learning disability in Scotland, visit the SCLD website.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How I See My Life Now

competition winner
The Thera Trust recently held a creative competition, ‘How I See My Life Now’, where people with learning disabilities could share their perspective on how they viewed their lives. Categories included photography, writing and art. We’re thrilled to say that Lindsay Kinloch, SCLD’s Learning Facilitator, has won first prize!
Lindsay’s entry, a poem entitled ‘Our Abilities’, will be showcased at the Strathmartine Discoveries project exhibition at Discovery Point on 28 August. Her poem will also appear in the September issue of The Strathy magazine.
The competition was judged by leading crime writer, Alanna Knight MBE, film-maker Iain Mitchell, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, Shona Robison, and Bobby Heron, who is a member of the projects Steering Group.

Well done Lindsay, what a brilliant achievement!

Here is the winning poem:

Our Ability

I see everything through the eyes of the professional that I am facilitating others and learning along the way.
Though I have learning and physical disabilities they don’t define who I am
My personality shines through brighter enabling me to shape peoples life, making people smile along the way.
In my opinion life is a book of poetry waiting to be written and everyone including me has a song to sing.
We are all like a butterfly wanting to spread our wings and explore our possibilities.
The world I believe is full of pretty pictures 3D images that speak out waiting to be touched.
Life is a book of memories old and young full of past and present.
Wonder lies beneath every journey waiting to be discovered.
When wonder is discovered it opens up revealing many emotions, creating new experiences eventually unleashing our ability allowing us to shine.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

My Opinion: The Keys To Life, Plans for 2015-17

cameron profile

Cameron Smith, SCLD’s Receptionist, shares his views on the outcomes published in the Keys To Life Implementation Framework and Priorities, 2015-17.


Hello! In this blog I am going to be talking about the new Keys to Life Implementation Framework and Priorities, the plan for the next 2 years of the 10 year strategy for learning disability in Scotland. I have lived experience of learning disability and I am proud of this.  I think it is important that the voice of people with learning disabilities is heard – I have first hand experience of the issues that the outcomes are trying to address!

There are a couple of outcomes that I am going to be focusing on and expressing my views and opinions on.

The topics are Choice and Control, Independence and Active Citizenship. The Scottish Government will design delivery plans to help them achieve these outcomes for people with learning disabilities.

choice and control

The first outcome is ‘Choice and Control’ and this mentions that people with learning disabilities can get hurt and are forgotten about.

In my view, this is a disgrace and people with learning disabilities should be treated the same as everyone else.

I like what we have done about it already. For example, the Scottish Government and other organisations we have looked at ways to stop the bullying of young people with learning disabilities at school and have supported different projects tackling hate crime.

I like that the Scottish Government are going to try to stop bullying of people with learning disabilities in the workplace, including working with advocacy partners to help people have their voices heard. I would love to see if it works well.

The second outcome that I am going to be expressing my own views on is Independence.


The things that I like already are that the Scottish Government have trained people with relevant training courses and they have supported my colleagues at SCLD to run training courses for people with learning disabilities, and for staff who support people with learning disabilities.

So what else are we going to improve? There are a couple of things that are in the keys to life plan that are really good, for example working with partners across Scotland to improve accessible transport.

I like this idea and I while I think that some transport right now is good, really isn’t. For example, if someone gets on the train in a wheelchair, then they would need to hold the train and get support from the conductor to get the ramp down and then wheel the person onto the train and find a space for them. I think this is a long process and there could be something better. For example, an idea I had was for ramps that are built into the doors and extend automatically. The final outcome that I am going to be expressing my views and options on is Active Citizenship.


The things that I like about what the Scottish Government have done already is that they have helped people with learning disabilities to get a job. I really like that they have supported them throughout. For example, it would be helpful if different versions of application forms were available and people were supported to complete application forms. I think that everyone with learning disabilities should get the help for finding and getting a job.

So how are going to improve? Well over the next two years, the Scottish Government are going to try and find more jobs for people with learning disabilities. I think this is a really good idea as people should have more choices to do the kind of job they’re really interested in.

Another thing that the Scottish Government are going to do is to support ideas for people with learning disabilities to come together in their community. I think it’s really important that people feel they are supported to live happy lives in their local area, so this is a great idea.

These are my own views and opinions on some outcomes from the new keys to life Implementation Framework and Priorities.

If you would like to read the new Keys to Life Implementation Framework and Priorities and form your own opinions on the Scottish Government’s plans for learning disability in Scotland, you can read it on SCLD’S website here..

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Guest blog (Central Advocacy Partners): Disability Hate Crime

CAP staff

There are times when victims or witnesses of Hate Crime might not feel comfortable reporting a crime directly to the Police and would be more able to report it to someone they are familiar with. To ensure everyone is better able to report Hate Crimes, Police Scotland works in partnership with a wide variety of voluntary organisations who perform the role of 3rd Party Reporting Centres. Staff within 3rd Party Reporting Centres are trained to assist a victim or a witness to make a report to the police.
Central Advocacy Partners has been a 3rd Party Reporting Centre for over 2 years, but our experience is that generally there is a lack of knowledge about the role of 3rd Party Reporting Centres. We would like to make you aware of the Police Scotland Hate Crime campaign, which is scheduled to run from the 17th August 2015.

The Equality Act 2010 replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single act which strengthens the protection afforded in some situations and creates nine protected characteristics, which cannot be used as a reason to treat people unfairly. Every person has one or more of the protected characteristics, so the act protects everyone against unfair treatment. The protected characteristics are:

• age
• disability
• gender reassignment
• marriage and civil partnership
• pregnancy and maternity
• race
• religion or belief
• sex
• sexual orientation

The campaign’s aim is to raise awareness of Hate Crime, how it impacts on victims, their families and communities, and how people can report it.
The campaign will be run mainly through social media platforms, with people talking about their experiences, how they felt, the impact the hate crime has had, what, if anything they did about it, and the ways of reporting hate crime incidents, particularly through 3rd party centres.
The campaign will run for 4 weeks. Each week will focus on a different strand

Week 1 – Disability
Week 2 – LGB/ Transgender
Week 3 – Race
Week 4 – Religion

There will also be posters, which will carry the following message:

Hate Crime – If you see something REPORT IT by calling 999 or 101.
If you want support to report you can go to one of our 3rd party centres where you see this logo.

‘Scotland no place for prejudice’

It would be great if you could support the campaign by providing a talking head, a quote or by raising awareness about the campaign on your own social media platforms. The time scales are tight so please let the Equality and Diversity Unit know as soon as possible if you would like to be involved. All contact can be made either through their mailbox diversityunit@scotland.pnn.police.uk, or by phone on 01236 818923 or 01236 814710.

Elizabeth Findlay
Central Advocacy Partners

cap logo

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Guest blog – Talking Mats

This guest blog was written by Lois Cameron and Rhona Matthews, Talking Mats

Keeping Safe: Enabling Adults with learning disability to reflect on their lives and raise issues of concern

Over the past 3 years we’ve been funded by the Scottish Government to develop a Talking Mat to support people with Learning disabilities to raise issues of concern. Talking Mats is a visual framework originally developed through research at the University of Stirling. Talking Mats provides a listening space for people to reflect on their lives and express their views. To create the ‘Keeping Safe Talking Mat’ we have worked in close partnership with Survivor Scotland and KASP. The development of the resource has developed over 3 different projects and with lots of trial and feedback from people with learning disability.

One of the key themes from the national Scottish strategy for people with learning difficulties ‘Keys to Life’ is to keep people safe, but in order for people to be able to reflect and discuss their lives they need to feel that they are in control and ensure that the support provided to them is genuinely person centred . It is important that a discussion focus on a holistic overview of an individual’s life. This is inherent in an effective Talking Mat conversation. A further advantage of the Keeping Safe resource is that it provides a structure for the staff to explore someone’s life in a non-leading way and cover topics that can be sensitive to raise.

What we have done

We have produced a new Keeping Safe resource with 3 topics of conversation

o Health and well Being
o Relationships
o Thoughts and Feelings


Trained staff in the 14 health boards across Scotland at foundation level. This means they learn to use Talking Mats and this Keeping Safe resource specifically. This training has been provided jointly with KASP so staff become more of aware of the overlap of symptoms and behaviour that may arise for people with learning disability who have experienced harm. Staffs are also supported to think through how they respond appropriately to any concerns that may arise and their own feelings and confidence about raising topics that can be difficult to discuss.

What we will do

The final stage of the project aims to have accredited trainers who will be able to lead ongoing training and sustain use of the resource in their local health board area. We also aim to bring the practitioners who have been using the resource together to collect the stories and share the learning


We have one last foundation course organised in Stirling in the Autumn . It is a 2 day course held on the 25th Sept and 23rd Oct if you would like to attend then please email info@talkingmats.com to find out if you are eligible to attend this free Keeping Safe training

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest Blog – Project Ability


Project Ability is a Glasgow based charity that runs visual arts workshop programmes for disabled young people, adults with learning disabilities and adults with mental ill health. Aspire, their programme for adults with learning disabilities, takes place at Trongate 103 and offers a wide choice of creative activities and learning opportunities. You may have read the recent Project Ability blogs about the beautiful artwork on display around SCLD’s Equal and Healthy Lives event, or at the ‘A Fairer Scotland’ parliamentary event, both celebrating Learning Disability Week 2015. Thank you to the artists at Aspire for sharing your talent with us!

Berengere from Project Ability got in touch with SCLD to share an update about the exciting news that Project Ability will be going on the road!

Project Ability: On The Road

For the past year Project Ability artists have been out and about making art with people with learning disabilities the length and breadth of the country.

We have cut a swath across the country and been north, south, east and west. These one-off workshops are free and can be adapted to suit experienced artists and complete beginners. They are sociable and fun and each workshop is delivered by a professional artist and an artist with a learning disability who has perfected their craft in our workshop programme.

We want to connect people with learning disabilities through a shared interest in visual art. No person or group is too far, or too remote and we can set up at your kitchen table or in your centre!

A workshop is free so please contact us if would like to get involved. We are taking bookings for August through November 2015.

Email us at info@project-ability.co.uk, or call us on 0141 552 2822.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disability and Media


Michael McEwan writes for the magazine Learning Disability Today and presents a weekly show on Able Radio, an online station created to give a voice to people with disabilities. The Able Academy are now also providing training for people with learning disabilities in presenting, producing and gaining ICT skills. Michael blogs for us today about the inclusion and visibility of people with disabilities in the media…

The media is such a big part our lives now it’s hard to get away from, whether it’s radio, TV, newspapers, magazines or online content and it can be a good way to raise the profile for disability issues. Back in 1992 disability campaigners were in the position where they had to protest en masse outside London Weekend Television studios, unhappy at the pitiful stereotypes of people with disabilities they were using in charity appeal films for the ITV telethon. The protests got huge media attention and the telethon was scrapped. The campaigners had made it clear that people with disabilities were sick of being portrayed that way. Media representation has certainly moved on since then and I would like to talk about some of the more positive examples that are out there.

In Summer 2012 Channel 4 was the home of the Paralympic coverage and they did a good job, filming more then 500 hours of all day every day coverage. The Paralympics did much to bring positive change to the way disability is perceived, and also gave an opportunity to see people with a disability in front of the camera presenting. Also at this time Channel 4 had a show call The Last Leg , featuring a mix of comedy, guests and Paralympics highlights. The show received strong reviews and regularly pulled in more then a million viewers. The host, Adam Hills, is a stand up comedian from Sydney who was born without a right foot and wears a prosthesis – a frequent source of comedy in his act.  Adam’s co-host Alex Brooker was born with hand and arm disabilities while the third member of the team, Josh Widdicombe, has no disability. It’s great to see positive role models on mainstream TV, achieving great things.

The same year Channel 4 created a pilot reality documentary called The Undateables. I wasn’t a fan of the title of the show as we can all have a romance or friendship if we wish. The programme follows people with a wide range of different disabilities through the highs and lows of finding love. The series was nominated for a BAFTA TV award in 2014 and the viewing figures were so good the show is still on. Some of the soaps have also included disability storylines over the past few years, with Eastenders and Emmerdale both featuring the birth of children with Down’s Syndrome.

While we have definitely moved on from the protests outside television studios in 1992, there is still plenty of work to be done and it will be interesting to see where media representation of disability goes in the future.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

IT Skills for Learning and Work

Picture of students listening

Iain Jenkins is a senior lecturer on the Skills for Learning and Work course at Glasgow Clyde College. This is a two year course that aims to prepare young people with learning disabilities for life after school. Iain’s blogging for us today about the benefits he’s seen technology bring the students he works with…  

The Skills for Learning and Work course aims to prepare young people with learning disabilities for life after school, assisting them in the transition from school to mainstream college courses or open employment. We do this by building skills that can be used in life and work that will enable students to approach the workplace and any further learning with confidence. The course aims to improve personal awareness, work preparation skills, job searching skills and independent travel – all things technology can support.

In their first year students attend college three and a half days a week, developing their skills and building their confidence to enter the workplace. In their second year, the students spend one day a week at work experience placements. At the end of their placement they create a PowerPoint presentation to deliver to first year students about their placement, to share their experiences of their time with employers – and to let the first year students see what they can achieve.

As well as thinking more analytically about their placement, the students develop skills in presenting and sharing information in a professional manner. This is an essential skill which can be helpful for future employment. It also provides first year students with the opportunity to see how successful their second year counterparts have actually been.

Using information technology as part of their course students gain experience in a supported environment – and this helps to builds their confidence. They learn how to use the resources to create professional and sophisticated outcomes and often the technologies are resources which they may well be expected to use in the world of work. While teaching the students to utilise the available technology, it is amazing how the student’s skills and confidence develop when they create published resources.

We assist students in learning how to use a number of technologies as part of the course, showing them how to use Microsoft Office and Publisher to create presentations and spreadsheets to help plan an event. Teaching good internet searching skills allows students to look for jobs online and plan travel routes, supporting their employment prospects and independent living skills.

A website we use a lot with students is the Pixton Comic Creator, an interactive site that is normally used to create comics. The medium of comics is very popular among our students and I use the site to get the students to produce a Visual CV. Firstly, the class draw a storyboard on paper, using each panel to illustrate their address, qualifications, skills, qualities, hobbies and ambitions. With their draft version on paper, the students log on to the website and select/design an avatar who will guide the reader through their illustrated CV. Selecting an avatar, and using the character to describe their personality and history can encourage the students who are on the autistic spectrum to get involved with their story providing them with a visual representation of their school/working life which they can refer to during the course. The illustrated CV also helps the students when they are preparing their proper CV to send to potential employers.

Technology can be used to great effect with students with learning disabilities, giving them skills that can be used professionally and personally – and more often than not it’s also a fun and enjoyable way to learn!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

IT For All! Learning Disability Week and Digital Inclusion

Picture of a computer

As part of Learning Disability Week 2015’s ‘Equalities’ theme we are focusing today on digital participation and inclusion. Disability is a factor in the 1.3 million people in Scotland who are on the wrong side of the ‘digital divide’, with the Scottish Household Survey Annual Report 2013 telling us that some 46% of people with long-term illness or disability do not use the internet. We know the research that’s out there tells us that increased digital participation can improve a person’s quality of life, whether that’s finding a cheaper deal online or using social media to get involved in a conversation. Today we will be promoting useful resources that can help make this happen under the hashtag #LDWeek2015 on Twitter. Please get in contact if you think there’s something we should mention!

Today we have launched a new easy read all about getting online – the benefits, how to do it, how to search for information and how to stay safe. We hope this resource will help people with learning disabilities who aren’t currently on the internet find out more and decide if it’s something they would like to try or not. It’s also got lots of good information for people who need a bit more confidence using online services. If you know someone who might find this useful please pass it on, you can download the easy read here…

We will also be putting up more blogs as the day goes on around the theme of digital participation. Iain Jenkins from Glasgow Clyde College will be blogging about the benefits he’s seen technology bring the students he works with and Michael McEwan who writes for Learning Disability Today will be looking at the inclusion of people with disabilities in the media…

We hope you enjoy finding out a bit more about including people with learning disabilities in the digital inclusion debate, please get in contact if there’s anything you think we should know about!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment