Monday, January 30th, 2017
Scottish Green Party prospective local authority election candidate Helen Woodsford-Dean is delighted to have received a grant from the new Access to Elected Office Fund, run by Inclusion Scotland. The scheme, funded by the Scottish Government, provides funding for additional costs and assistive technology adjustments for upcoming elections for disabled candidates.
Phyl Meyer of Inclusion Scotland said: “The Fund exists to address the fact that disabled people are one of the most under-represented groups in politics – while one in five of the population have a long-term health condition, impairment or physical/mental diversity we don’t see that proportion reflected in our elected representatives. A big part of the reason for that is that many disabled people face unfair disadvantages in getting involved in politics, and our Fund aims to balance that up as much as possible. Our grants and support are apolitical, are not a contribution to the actual campaigns, and are open to disabled candidates of all parties or independents.
Helen, who is the Orkney Greens prospective candidate for the West Mainland Council Ward next May, makes light of a rather serious issue. She said “I don’t hear very well. The official title is ‘mid-range hearing loss’ and it basically means that I struggle a bit to hear people when they are talking, and especially in certain situations. So, I had been especially worried about hustings and meetings, in the run up to the election – how was I going to understand what I was being asked, and what other people were saying? I didn’t want to alienate myself from people who might be thinking of voting Green just because I couldn’t hear what they were saying.
“And then one of my friends told me about Inclusion Scotland who have an ‘Access to Elected Office Fund’ which is designed to provide assistance to disabled people who wish to stand for public office. I contacted them and had a telephone interview during which the gentleman from Inclusion Scotland spoke slowly and clearly! The decision panel subsequently awarded me a grant to provide a device called a “portable listener” which amplifies the sound I need to hear, and also pay for someone to occasionally note-take so I don’t miss things. As a result I feel that the playing field has been slightly levelled for me.”
Steve Sankey, the Orkney Greens’ other prospective candidate in the East Mainland, Burray and South Ronaldsay Ward added “Helen’s positive approach typifies both Helen as a person, and the Green Party’s emphasis on inclusion and fairness. We pride ourselves on being a caring and a listening party, and we’d be grateful for your support in May.”