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SNAG, Unite and VOGG urge support for ‘One Voice’ disability demo

The Special Needs Action Group [SNAG] said it will support a demonstration planned for tomorrow, highlighting “the lack of progress” in disability and special educational needs provisions.

The demonstration will set off from Casemates Square at 5pm on May 24 under the theme ‘We are one voice’, calling for the remaining sections of the Disability Act 2017 to be enacted and for closer alignment to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disability.

Flyers for the demo also highlight other issues including a call for more specialist professionals to cater to increased demand for disability support and services and ensure continuity of care.

“We understand the frustration and urgency felt by members of the community who have been affected by these shortcomings for years and therefore support the organisers of this demonstration,” SNAG said in a statement.

“Despite the efforts of many individuals, the progress made thus far has been insufficient to meet the growing needs of those requiring services, provisions and support within our community.”

“The demand for these resources is expanding at a rate that the government has been unable to adequately plan for.”

“As a result, facilities such as St. Bernadette's Centre, the Care Agency, and schools are struggling to accommodate the increasing number of users, leading to overcrowding and limited access to necessary services.”

SNAG also pointed to “significant delays” in the diagnosis and provision of therapy services for children, young people, and adults, as well as “inadequate access” to mental health support for individuals in need.

“The promised pathways and strategies have not been finalised and even if they were, the government has not done enough to ensure that local professionals receive the necessary training or resources to effectively implement these plans,” the group said.

“Reliance on locums and foreign specialists has become increasingly challenging leaving many individuals without the support they require.”

“The benefit of looking towards the future and planning, which should have commenced many years ago, could have avoided instances of brand-new schools already been at near capacity, far too many people going without imperative services and centres that are becoming small and overcrowded, with basic resources such as transport buses being in a very sorry state.”

And it added: “We believe it is time to move beyond empty promises and unimplemented legislation. We believe it’s time to move beyond Special Needs Committees that never meet and have never been actively engaged. It is time to move beyond pathways and strategies that are never finalized and implemented.”

“The consequences of these shortcomings are significant and impact the daily lives of individuals and their families. It is these hardships that motivate people to protest and demand change.”

SNAG said it would support the demonstration and continue to advocate for the rights and needs of people with disabilities, and those who have special educational needs or require support.

“Both the affected people and the hardworking professionals on the ground deserve more and better - and we will stand with them,” the groups said.

“Please join us in standing with the community affected by these issues as ‘One Voice’ and urging the government to take immediate action on the issues they are raising.”

“Together, we can strive for a better future where everyone has equitable access to the support and provisions they require.”

UNITE

Unite the Union’s Community/Retired Members Branch said it fully supported the ‘We are One Voice’ campaing around strengthening disability rights, and improving education, care and support for those with disabilities in Gibraltar.

“It is the Community/Retired Members Branch firm belief that the enactment of the remaining section of the Disability Act 2017, together with a revision of the Act to closer align with the United Nation Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities is the way forward to ensure that this section of our Community is adequately protected and cared for,” the branch said in a statement.

“We wholeheartedly support the request that more attention is needed for disabled people's urgent and pressing concerns.”

“The Community/Retired Members Branch believe that this section of our community need more support and resources for the betterment of service users, their families and carers.”

VOGG

The Voice of Gibraltar Group said it would also back the demonstration on Wednesday, urging others to participate too.

“The Voice of Gibraltar Group encourages our community to support the demonstration to demand their right which is well overdue,” the group said in a statement.

“Your voice will make a huge deference.”

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