We very much welcome the publication of the island’s first ever Disability and Inclusion Strategy. Many people, both within the States and outside it, have worked incredibly hard as a team to make this happen. The States now has a much clearer idea of the barriers that are holding many disabled islanders back from being able to work, shop, learn and lead independent lives.
The biggest of those barriers is not stairs or high pavements, though obviously access is an important factor. Disability is much broader a concept than many people realise and doesn’t just relate to difficulty with mobility or sight or hearing. Our members may have communication or learning difficulties, a mental health issue or a long-term condition like lung disease.
The biggest barrier disabled people face on a daily basis is other people’s attitudes towards them. It’s amazing how much difference it can make when people are encouraged and supported to take simple steps to include disabled people, and also those who care for a disabled family member or friend. We thank the Policy Council for making ‘thinking differently’ about disabled islanders and carers the central theme of the Strategy and for introducing disability training for States employees.
This Strategy will mark the first step on the long road to making sure everyone in Guernsey has the opportunity to be fully included in local life. If passed in November, it will leave a lasting legacy of which all States members can be proud.