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Wed, 15 Jul



How do we make politics more accessible for disabled people after COVID-19?

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How do we make politics more accessible for disabled people after COVID-19?
How do we make politics more accessible for disabled people after COVID-19?

Time & Location

15 Jul 2020, 19:00 – 20:00


About the Event

The CPF and Conservative Disability Group are hosting a discussion to find out just how accessible politics is from everything from joining an Association and attending meetings, to going to Party Conference or attending meetings in Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and town halls. If disabled people want to stand for an Association officer position or elected office - how accessible is that process?   Let’s explore these issues and more and ensure that our politics is as accessible as it can - so everyone can have their voice heard.

In countries across the world, parliaments, offices, hospitals, schools and GP surgeries have emptied due to coronavirus yet many of those organisations have carried on business almost as usual.  Coronavirus has revolutionized our perceptions of what can be achieved remotely. Could coronavirus be the catalyst to enabling disabled people far better access to politics then ever before?     

According to the Office of National Statistics nearly one in five people have some form of disability in England and Wales - yet how easy is it for disabled people to involve themselves in politics and the decisions that affect them?   How accessible are Association meetings and Party Conference? Can disabled people easily attend meetings in Parliament whether they are Select Committee meetings or APPGs?   Are disabled people made feel welcome with British Sign Language (BSL) facilities, accessible meeting rooms and shorter queues so they are not exhausted when they finally get to a meeting. Or are they made feel unwelcome so they do not attend in the first place.   

Our excellent panelists and Chair for the discussion will be as follows:  Anna Firth - (Chair) Voluntary Director, Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) & former Parliamentary Candidate (Canterbury), Barry Ginley - Former Local Council Candidate & Deputy Chairman of the CDG, Cllr Daniel Duckworth - Conservative Councillor on Preston City Council, Celia Hensman - CDG Member, Party Campaign Manager & Young Conservatives Chairman .

 British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation will be provided at this event for participation with members of the D/deaf and hearing impairment community.  

Speaker Bios

Anna Firth will Chair the event and was elected as the National Director of the Conservative Policy Forum in April 2020. She is a Sevenoaks District Councillor, and gave up her cabinet position to fight Canterbury as the Parliamentary Candidate. At the General Election in 2019 she increased the Conservative share of the vote to its highest for 30 years. She is a grassroots campaigner and passionate about giving members a greater say on the policies and priorities of the Conservative Party.  A former Barrister, she is also a strong advocate for the environment, health equality and social justice.    In 2017 she co-founded and Chairs, Every Step Counts , a successful, not-for-profit, well-being, walking scheme, to increase access to open spaces and tackle loneliness. Prior to entering politics she was a healthcare Barrister for 12 years, also using her legal skills and expertise as a Charity Trustee for West Kent MIND and as a secondary school Governor.  She is on the Board of the Conservative Environment Network and a Patron of Tories for Climate Action.  

Barry is a board member of the Global Disability Innovation Hub; a member of the government’s Paralympic Legacy Advisory Group; and a Trustee of the Maidstone Relief in Need charity. In 2017, Barry gained an Masters in Business Administration MBA from Henley Business School, the first blind student to complete the programme. In 2019 Barry was appointed as the Chair of the South East Regional Stakeholder Network, a newly created disability forum to listen to the views of disabled people.   

Daniel, who has aspergers syndrome (an autistic spectrum condition) is a Conservative Councillor on Preston City Council and successfully proposed a motion on 30th January 2020 that Preston City Council works towards the award of being an "Autism Friendly" City.  At the time Daniel said, "I feel as a council we can play a major part in the community by raising awareness and challenging stigma and prejudice surrounding learning disabilities.  We recognise some good work has already been done but there is always more we can do".  Daniel's goal is to help Preston become and autism and learning disability friendly city and for the city to work towards achieving the autism friendly award from the National Autistic Society in order to start a conversation and drive change within the wider City. 

Celia Hensman is a member of the Conservative Disability Group, a Manager in the Conservative Party and is also a Young Conservatives Chairman. Celia has been campaigning and working to improve disability rights since she was 16 years old, including being part of Parliamentary Select Committees and various charities. Celia herself has Loeys Dietz Syndrome and has experienced first hand the challenges of working in politics with a disability, this has not prevented her and many others from achieving their goals.

 British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation will be provided at this event for participation with members of the D/deaf and hearing impairment community.  

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