Last Saturday marked International Day of Disabled People (IDDP) an annual day to promote awareness of disability issues, the rights of disabled people and the integration of disabled people into their communities.
To mark the occasion, Remploy, an organisation dedicated to increasing employment opportunities for disabled people, has set up the Remploy Relay to spread the message of IDDP and it theme for this year – Aiming High and Achieving More.
The Relay is asking people who are passed a baton to share an inspirational story of a disabled person, group or organisation which has aimed high and as a result achieved more.
Last week in Parliament I was visited by two workers from the Remploy factory in Edinburgh and was passed the baton.
In my time as an MSP I have worked to support disabled people, whether on behalf of an individual facing difficulties or with campaign groups fighting to protect services such as in the case of the City of Edinburgh Council’s flawed care and support carer. I have met many inspirational individuals who each had a story to tell.
One that stands out is campaigner Muriel Williams. Over the last two decades Muriel has dedicated herself to improving access to transport for disabled and elderly people helping them to improve their quality of life and maintain their independence.
Muriel has served on a wide variety of groups dedicated to accessibility issues. She is also heavily involved in Handicabs, an charity providing accessible transport in Edinburgh and the Lothians. Through her work she has provided a lifeline to many people across the Lothians giving them the opportunity to get out, meet new people and take part in activities they might not otherwise be able to.
I recently met Muriel when I nominated her as my local hero for the official opening of Parliament earlier this year. I was hugely impressed by her determination to continue raising awareness of the barriers disabled people can face. When I was speaking to Muriel she spoke about all of the fantastic organisations and volunteers she has worked with.
These are the sort of people that the International Day of Disabled People aims to celebrate for their efforts to aim high and achieve more for disabled people.