Encouraging disabled people in politics – Henry Foulds

I was saddened to read of Lorraine Gladwell’s death last year, but I’m glad to see that her legacy is living on.

As this article from the Disability News Services explains, a project started in tribute to Lorraine will support disabled people in Manchester to stand for election and fight for the return of the Access of Elected Office Fund, which funded the extra costs disabled candidates face.

Always seeking an opportunity to talk about increasing representation of disabled people, I’m not going to give up this chance.

What three things can we all do to increase representation of disabled people in politics?

We must all listen to what disabled members have to say. What do we need to do to make a meeting accessible? (‘Accessible’ is such a wide term, but this excellent handbook from DEAL helps break this down.) How do we get more disabled people involved in meetings and campaigning? How do we get more disabled people elected?

We must engage. We must work with local groups led by disabled-people and national groups like DPAC when making decisions. It’s always worth reminding ourselves that 19% of the UK’s population is disabled and any decision must take this into account.

We must also encourage. Encourage disabled people to get involved with campaigning, to stand for election to their branch or constituency executive and stand for election to their council, Assembly or in Parliament. I love projects like She Should Run in the US, encouraging more women to get involved – I’d love to see something similar in the UK.

Henry Foulds