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APPG for Disability reflects over the past year of progress on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

11 December 2018

On Monday 3rd December, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the APPG for Disability held a drop-in event for Parliamentarians to celebrate the disability sector and the work that has been done over the past year.

Dr Lisa Cameron with Mark Hoda of the Shaw Trust

Charities including the Shaw Trust, Sightsavers and the Alzheimer’s Society chatted with MPs and Peers about their important work and what it means for disabled people around the country. 

Dr Lisa Cameron, chair of the APPG, was thrilled to host the event to pay tribute to the tireless work of charities and the members of the APPG in pressing for equality across all aspects of society. From transport to employment, and from housing to accessible toilets, there is certainly work to celebrate, but also to anticipate.  

The successes of organisations feeding into the Inclusive Transport Strategy shows through its strong reception and funding allocation in the budget, and here at the APPG we’re thrilled to champion the cause of the Changing Places toilet campaign. The numbers of disabled people in employment have also increased significantly over the last few years, and we are especially pleased that the Department for International Development, in its new strategy launched on the 3rd December, has committed to eliminating orphanages around the world. Disabled children are over-represented in orphanages and are one hundred times more likely to die than non-disabled children, so we are delighted that DFID has responded to the roundtable we hosted with Hope and Homes for Children on this matter. A real difference will be made to disabled children abroad, who will be moved out of dangerous and exclusionary orphanages and be placed into the loving care of a family that all children deserve.  

But there is still so much to do. Disabled people still regularly face problems with the accessibility of public transport – you need only follow the Baroness Thompson on Twitter to hear innumerable bad experiences – and while the number of disabled people in work is increasing, the disability employment gap is still standing strong at over 30%, meaning that disabled people are not getting the equal access to our economy, and an equal chance to contribute, as they should. And while increasingly more places are incorporating Changing Places toilets into their new and old buildings, there is still a dire shortage of these necessary facilities across the entire country, denying hundreds of thousands of disabled people both the dignity and independence that we all enjoy. Something as simple as going to the toilet is not a luxury, nor should it be treated as such.   

After the event on Monday, Dr Cameron said:

“I’m very pleased with what the APPG and the disability sector, as a whole, has achieved over the past year. We must be under no illusions, though. There is work to be celebrated but always more to be done. The successes we’ve had should only encourage us to campaign further and harder until the Government respond properly on all fronts. I look forward to chairing the APPG for Disability into the new year as we take on even more challenges.” 

For now, though, we will stop to appreciate all the work that has been done over the last year by all involved to achieve the changes that have been made. We gladly closed off on this 26th International Day of Persons with Disabilities this year with our friends from the third sector, and we can’t wait to see what will have been achieved by the next one.