Local carers have met with MSPs Martin Whitfield and Pam Duncan-Glancy to discuss some of the problems disabled teenagers face transitioning from school into further education and work.
Ms Duncan-Glancy has introduced a Members’ Bill at Holyrood, the Disabled Children and Young People (Transitions to Adulthood) (Scotland) Bill, to try and help address some of the difficulties often experienced by young disabled people and their families.
She joined Mr Whitfield at a meeting of Carers of East Lothian’s Carers Panel to talk about the bill and hear from the carers about their experiences and how parliament could potentially help to bring about improvements.
As well as speaking to the Carers Panel, the MSPs also visited the Teens+ centre in Musselburgh. Teens+ is a charity which provides further education, life and social skills, and other transition support to young people who, due to their needs, would ordinarily be excluded from accessing any form of further education once they have left school.
The feedback gathered on the visits will help to inform potential changes to the Young Disabled People’s Transition to Adulthood Bill as it progresses through the Scottish Parliament.
Speaking after the visits, Martin Whitfield MSP said:
“I’m very grateful to Carers of East Lothian and the Carers Panel for giving me and Pam the opportunity to meet with them and to Teens+ for providing us with an overview of their excellent local service.
“We welcomed the chance to discuss the very important issues around transition and heard some valuable insights into the problems many young disabled people and their families currently experience as they transition from children’s services to adults’ services.
“We are committed to continuing to listen to young disabled people and their carers and to pushing for improvements in the support they are entitled to as they get older.”
Pam Duncan-Glancy MSP, who is also Scottish Labour’s Spokesperson on Education, said:
“Hearing directly from carers in East Lothian was a real privilege and underlined just how important it is to change the law and improve the life chances of young disabled people.
“Parents and carers want the best for their young person but too often the system is holding them back. The Young Disabled People’s Transition to Adulthood Bill will help change that and give young disabled people a fighting chance at a future.
“They, and their carers across East Lothian, and Scotland, deserve nothing less and I look forward to working with them to make that a reality.”
Jess Wade, Chief Executive Officer of Carers of East Lothian, added:
“A parent carer attending the meeting reflected that they welcomed the opportunity to be listened to by an MSP with lived experience of disability and an understanding of the issues that affect disabled people and their carers.
“They appreciated the proactive approach taken by the visiting MSPs to inform and educate carers about the bill as carers can spend so much of their time and energy navigating policy and legislation.”
Further information about Carers of East Lothian’s Carers Panel and the rest of its work can be found at https://coel.org.uk.