United Response’s news correspondent David Allkins attended a Parliamentary event last week in recognition of the United Nations’ International Day for Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) and had the opportunity to interview the Shadow Minister for Disabled People, Debbie Abrahams MP.

This year’s theme for IDPD was ‘inclusion matters’. Sadly, 20 years on from the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act, inclusivity for disabled people remains a pertinent issue. 

There are 12 million people in the UK living with long-term illnesses and disabilities. The key message of the day was that successive governments have failed to tap the potential of people with disabilities, and enable them to play a full part in their communities and the world of work.

Inspiring speakers

The Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Owen Smith MP, delivered this important message alongside Debbie Abrahams. We also heard from a range of speakers with insights into the major challenges facing people with disabilities including poor financial assistance, discrimination at work and cuts to disability employment advisors at jobcentres.

Owen Smith MP gave an impassioned speech at the event

"Yes, this is an important day, but the one thing that strikes me is that it can't just be one day" - Owen Smith MP

The floor was opened to the audience and people with a range of disabilities spoke passionately about the struggles they face in daily life. They highlighted areas where successive governments have failed disabled people in the past and what can be done to tackle these issues.

The crowd at the International Day of Persons with Disabilities event

Audience members shared stories of their struggles and put questions to the MPs present.

The event highlighted the real struggles people with disabilities face in society. At United Response, we believe people with learning disabilities, mental health and physical support needs should have equal access to the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

Like David, we hope that the issues raised on IDPD will stimulate greater efforts by the government to create a more inclusive society for all. 

Danielle Mendel, press & campaigns assistant.