Jean Urquhart welcomed the charity Down’s Syndrome Scotland to the Scottish Parliament last Thursday to mark United Nations World Down’s Syndrome Day on 21 March and Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week which ran from 17 to 23 March.
Down’s Syndrome Scotland is the only Scottish charity focused solely on the needs of people with Down’s syndrome and their family carers. It provides information, support and services for people with Down’s syndrome, their families, carers and those with a professional interest. It also seeks to improve knowledge and understanding and champion the rights of people with Down’s syndrome.
“It was a delight to meet Kim and the others from Down’s Syndrome Scotland, and hear about the great and vital work they do to support so many families, and new projects like the Communication Skills Pilot that started this year.
“People with Down’s syndrome can work, do their job well and have a great quality of life, as Kim proves. But for that to happen there need to be opportunities, and far greater public understanding.
“Everyone has a right to be listened to, but people with Down’s syndrome are often ignored or discriminated against. As a society we have to do more to include people with learning disabilities and their carers. For my own part I’d like to start by urging anyone in the Highlands and Islands who feels politics isn’t delivering for them to get in touch – it’s my job to help all local people navigate the system and make their voice heard.
“I want to thank Down’s Syndrome for giving MSPs their time and expertise, and for the incredible work they do all year round.”
Pandora Summerfield, Chief Executive of Down’s Syndrome Scotland, said:
“This information session at the Scottish Parliament is a great opportunity to raise awareness of Down’s syndrome. By informing MSPs about the condition and about our services, we want to ensure that the interests of our members are not forgotten in political debates.
“As a charity, we are committed to helping our members reach their full potential. Through our work, we know that issues like speech therapy, welfare, employment and dementia are major causes of concern to people with Down’s syndrome and their families. These are important topics that need to be discussed. Improving knowledge of Down’s syndrome is key to our mission. We look forward to organising similar events in the future, including hosting the World Down Syndrome Congress 2018 in Glasgow.”
Down’s syndrome is caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21 inside some or all of the body’s cells. Approximately 1 in 1,000 babies are born with Down’s syndrome in the UK. It is one of the most common congenital conditions, which occurs in all ethnic groups. It is the most prevalent chromosomal disorder and also the most frequently recognised cause of intellectual disability.