A blog by our lead volunteer, Michael Shanks

3rd December is International Day of People with Disabilities, a day to celebrate the achievements of disabled people but more importantly to recognise the huge challenges still facing many of them and the barriers that remain in their way.

This year in particular the United Nations has decided the focus should be on disability and the COVID-19 pandemic, recognising that disabled people have been some of the most affected – by the virus itself but also by the way we have responded to the virus as a society.

Many of the young people we support at Scouts have had long periods of social isolation over the past two years which for many compounded what were already limited opportunities for social activity. We have only been back at Scouts for a few weeks after 18 months of not meeting and it has already been amazing to see the young people get back into all the activities and catch up with their friends.

We also know that this year has been tough for many families, and it has taken us longer than we hoped to reopen all our sections. Partly that is due to a lot of our volunteers moving on during the past two years and us having a real shortage in our team providing one to one support.

International Day of People with Disabilities is also about recognising the lack of facilities disabled people have – something the pandemic also threw into sharp relief.

While we weren’t meeting during the periods of lockdown our volunteer team, and in particular our Board of Trustees were working extremely hard to raise the funds necessary to start construction on our redevelopment of Glengoyne Lodge.

Together with some key funders and more than 1,000 individual donors we raised £300,000 and started the build – a remarkable achievement given the difficult circumstances we are emerging from. However those difficult conditions have meant that the cost of raw materials has increased dramatically, which is why we are looking for support to raise the final £60,000 to complete the project so many of you helped us start.

We will be sharing much more about our next fundraising steps soon.

We look forward to getting fully back to ‘normal’ soon – whilst recognising that for many of the young people we support normal is still a long way away from the access, inclusivity and opportunity that those of us without a disability enjoy every day – pandemic or no pandemic.