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In April 2018, SUSE organised the first ever Scottish DuoDay, joining a European movement in support of equal working rights and opportunities for disabled people and people with long term conditions.
SUSE chose the theme of leadership to showcase that disabled people have leadership aspirations and that these can be realised. 13 leaders from disability and employability organisations answered this call for action and the CEOs and directors of partners such as the Grassmarket Centre, City of Edinburgh Council, The Health & Social Care Alliance, ENABLE Scotland, the Lennox Partnership and Social Firms Scotland hosted DuoDay participants this year.
SUSE also organised a unique DuoDay experience for 3 young disabled people at the Scottish Parliament. Karen, Yiorgos and Paul who are supported by Project Search and All in Edinburgh, took part. They learned more about the working life of MSPs with Jamie Hepburn and Jeane Freeman and had the opportunity to talk about their experiences of supported employment.
Karen currently works for Get2Gether, a charity that provides social opportunities for disabled people. This involves six hours of Supported Employment each week and she told us this has helped her to manage living with a disability and long-term condition. ‘I have always been driven and wanted to work but felt that the system was set up not to allow me to because I felt that working reduced hours was the only way I could manage my condition and stay healthy. Through supported employment, I have been able to stay in employment for 4 years and I have been able to develop skills, confidence and my employability skills.’
Karen, Paul and Yiorgos attended First Minister’s questions at the Parliament and met with the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, in her office. They had the opportunity to tell the First Minister how being supported to work has changed their lives and allowed them to look forward to the future. Karen explained that ‘By having a job I have been able to raise my own expectations of what it means to have a good life. In fact, not just to have a good life but a great life and be prepared to work hard and go out there and achieve it.’
For SUSE, the DuoDay initiative was a success with all of the duos getting a lot of publicity on social media and some participating organisations even offering jobs to the young people they were paired with. This is an important moment for the employability sector with the launch of Fair Start and this was a great opportunity to highlight the role of supported employment in enabling disabled people and people with long term conditions to access real jobs for real pay.