Laura sits on our Scotland Council. She spoke to us about her involvement in a campaign event at the Scottish Parliament.
I have MS in the family and I’m passionate about people being treated with the respect they deserve. I felt the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) 20m rule was an arbitrary measure that shouldn’t apply to people.
Getting the local community involved
I was at an MS Society meeting where we were given an overview of how the 20m rule has affected our colleagues and friends. There was an opportunity to stage a protest at Scottish Parliament and remind MSPs the 20m rule doesn’t work for people with MS.
MS Society staff were really supportive in organising everything and all of the technical aspects of it. They arranged the event and engaged with politicians to let them know we would be there.
As well as our Council members we invited people from our local groups to drum up support for the event and raise awareness. We also came up with the slogan for the event which was ‘20s not plenty’ and helped with some of the social media.
Taking our fight to parliament
At the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood we met a group of MSPs at lunchtime and got a lot of the MSPs to sign up to the MS Society campaign, including my own. We felt that it was our responsibility as the Scotland Council to speak up for the community in Scotland.
I tweeted about what we were doing at the event, made sure that everyone had t-shirts and invited people I knew along. I like to think I was the energiser at the meeting. When there’s MS in the family it gives you have a personal connection and you can’t let things go.
Seeing the enthusiasm and excitement of other people at the event was great. We knew what we were driving for and so we had a shared sense of purpose.
Making our voices heard
By raising awareness we hoped that our politicians would understand the impact of the 20m rule on people. A couple of our council members couldn’t attend because of their mobility issues, due to the Scottish parliament’s accessible parking spaces being in the wrong place. So we raised that with them too. One MSP didn’t know what MS was, and they do now, so that was positive.
I have a passion that people who don’t have as vocal a voice as I do, but still have a right to be represented, should get a voice. If I have the power to stand and speak to MSPs and Ministers about the issues, then that’s my duty to do.
I think that MS Society staff are wonderful to approach, and I’d encourage others to get in touch with them. We, the Scotland Council, worked with them and helped to set up the event to raise awareness and support.
We could have done more after the event to keep people engaged. Nonetheless it was well received. The MSPs enjoyed it and most importantly, we raised awareness of the challenges of MS.