We were very excited to co-host a meeting with the new Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport, Maree Todd MSP, at the Scottish Parliament on 4th May. This meeting brought together 23 senior leaders and key decision-makers across all 8 Pillars of Include For Good.
The meeting took place during Scottish Learning Disability Week where the theme was Lead to Change. This event was certainly a fantastic example of leadership in action.
The Include For Good Rapporteurs outside Parliament. Left to right: Dylan Stevens, Fiona Dawson, John Gallon, John Kearney, Kris McLaughlin, Sandy Stark, Rosie Murray, Natalie Patterson.
There were some nerves but also excitement in the build-up to the meeting. Some of us were still amazed that we were getting the opportunity to go to Parliament never mind giving a presentation in front of senior leaders.
We were very well prepared for the day and this helped with our confidence. We knew that what we had to say was really important and that we had worked hard as a team to strengthen our message and pull our presentation together. Everything was in our own words and we did plenty of rehearsals so we felt ready.
Nerves and excitement were again the main emotions at the start of the day but once we got into the Committee Room and the meeting got underway these settled. We are a strong team and all look out for each other and we each made sure that the others were okay.
There was still a sense of disbelief that this was really happening and we knew what an honour it was to have this opportunity. We were looking forward to telling the people who can make change happen about the reality of our lives and what needs to change but there was also a feeling of caution.
Maree Todd opened the meeting and finally we were getting to share our presentation.
John Kearney (above left) and Sandy Stark (above right) getting their point across.
Throughout the presentation, we were helping each other by switching on microphones, turning pages, and reassuring each other. It felt really good to be sharing the 8 Pillars with the key decision-makers in person. They had all seen the video that introduced the Pillars to them but it was great to look them in the eye and explain the challenges that we face.
Maree Todd MSP chatting with Rapporteurs during a break.
After the presentation and a short break, we took questions from the audience. Their engagement was out of this world. They were interested in what we had to say and that showed in the questions they asked. They had clearly listened to and understood what we had said and are willing to help.
Maree Todd had questions as well. It is great to have her on board.
Everyone’s favourite question however was the first one asked – “Where is everyone else?” We were all thinking it but she actually said it!
We have all had previous experience of people saying they are listening but nothing has changed.
These senior leaders have all filled out the commitment cards; they can now be held accountable.
This time it will be different.
We are all thrilled at how successful the day was and are keen to take things to the next level.
The overarching feeling about the day amongst the team is pride. We are proud to be part of the Rapporteur team; proud of where Include For Good has got to so far; proud of the engagement we got from the key decision-makers in the room.
Here is some of the feedback we have had from the senior leaders who were there on the day:
We are busy working through the commitment cards and building a plan for the next steps. We have already had scoping meetings with some of the key decision-makers and are meeting to prioritise our work.
We will also be reporting back to Maree Todd on the commitments made and the next steps agreed. This will be an ongoing process with Ms Todd following up with us on how the work on the commitments is going.