Richard Lochhead

Moray SNP News



Richard Lochhead MSP and representatives from Elgin ENABLE this week attended a reception in the Scottish Parliament to celebrate ENABLE Scotland’s 65th Birthday.

ENABLE works to support those living with learning disabilities and campaigns to end discrimination and break down barriers faced by people who have a learning disability.

At a reception at the Scottish Parliament attended by Richard Lochhead MSP, ENABLE Scotland celebrated 65 years since, in April 1954, five sets of parents of children who had a learning disability held a meeting in Glasgow and formed the charity to help them fight for their children’s rights to live as equal members of society. That charity would become ENABLE Scotland, and from humble beginnings set about changing Scotland for people who have a learning disability.

Around 120,000 people have a learning disability in Scotland. According to the charity, many are lonely and isolated, are victims of bullying and hate crime, are unable to find work and have lower life expectancy than the general population.

A recent Scottish Government report found more than 700 people with complex needs are still in institutional placements far from home, and the experiences of pupils, parents and teachers show that more must be done to deliver the objectives of additional support for learning legislation to make our schools truly inclusive.

Mr Lochhead was delighted to welcome local representatives to Parliament and to join them at the event to celebrate ENABLE’s work. 

Speaking after the event Mr Lochhead said:

“I have long admired the fantastic work that ENABLE Scotland do to support people who have learning disabilities and I know that the Elgin Branch does a great job locally.

“It was a pleasure to welcome some of the folk involved in ENABLE Elgin to Parliament and to join them for the 65th birthday celebration of the national organisation.  It is also a big year for the Elgin Branch which is 60 years old this year – so it was a special event all round.

“It was good of them to make the journey from Moray to Edinburgh and I was delighted to be able to take them into the floor of the Chamber while they were visiting.

“ENABLE are a formidable campaign group and have been successful in breaking down many barriers faced by people with a learning disability.  However, there’s a long way to go and a lot of work to do to deliver equality for every person who has a learning disability and I will continue to do what I can as local MSP to support the Elgin Branch and the efforts of ENABLE nationally.”

Elgin ENABLE Branch Secretary, Anne Speake added:

“I have been involved with ENABLE for over 40 years now and have seen the huge difference the charity has made to people who have learning disabilities.

“There has been a lot of progress since ENABLE was first set up 65 years ago but it is important that we recognise that there is so much more still to be done.

“It was great to join colleagues from across Scotland in the Parliament to celebrate the work of ENABLE, none of which would have been possible without the help and support of parents and carers who have done so much down the years.”

The charity’s CEO Theresa Shearer said:

“For 65 years, ENABLE Scotland has been breaking barriers – winning the right of children who have a learning disability to be educated, securing the closure of institutions and the right to self-directed support in the community of your choice, and campaigning against bullying and discrimination.

“We continue that work today, and through our strong partnerships, ongoing innovation and the continued backing of our members and supporters, I am confident we will be here for as long as people with learning disabilities need us to campaign for them and give them a voice. We will be here until every person with a learning disability lives the life they choose.”

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon was a guest speaker at the event, and said:

“Congratulations to ENABLE Scotland for its fantastic work enriching the lives of people living with learning disabilities across Scotland for the last 65 years.

“ENABLE Scotland has been an essential partner for the Scottish Government, helping to tackle inequalities and supporting the ambitions set out in our learning disability strategy for everyone in Scotland to live full, healthy and rewarding lives.”