Michael McEwan    

Freelance Journalist 
                                Public Speaker   



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Experiences of working on the frontline with a disability

Posted by Michael Mcewan on September 13, 2020 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (0)


What are the experiences of those with disabilities working on the frontline during Covid-19?


I interviewed Scott Kennedy, Lynn Murdoch and David Ross, who spoke about how they've continued to provide care and support, despite the challenging circumstances.

The impact of Covid-19 on disability sports

Posted by Michael Mcewan on September 13, 2020 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)


The 2020 Paralympic Games were due to be held in Tokyo this year over August and September, but have been rescheduled for 2021.

 How has this affected the organisations and athletes involved?

I got different perspectives from Gavin Macleod, Chief Executive of Scottish Disability Sport; and Stephen McGuire, an athlete for Boccia UK ,who was due to participate in this year's games.

Bill Scott: The impact of Covid-19 on disabled people

Posted by Michael Mcewan on September 13, 2020 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (0)


Bill Scott is Director of Policy at Inclusion Scotland, an organisation that works to achieve positive changes to policy and practice, so that disabled people are fully included throughout all Scottish society as equal citizens.

 I spoke to Bill about the results of their Covid-19 evidence survey, which reveals the impact of Covid-19 on disabled people.

Please note that this was recorded on 20 April 2020.

YSGT 2020 - Online

Posted by Michael Mcewan on August 4, 2020 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (0)


There has been some progression in modern times of representation and equality for people with a disability, but one major hurdle remains- getting into employment. 

There are a number of good employment support organisations who tirelessly campaign for disability equality in education, and employment.

 Values Into Action Scotland , Scottish Commission for people with Learning Disabilities and many partner organisations currently run an annual event called Young Scotland's Got Talent (YGST)

 Since it's inception in 2010 the event has brought together all the relevant agencies who give advice on employment , hold fun workshop , showcasing the talent of young people with a learning disability or autism with interesting jobs , and also invite keynote speakers from different industry sectors.

 The event centres on a catwalk with a difference, as people with learning disabilities strut their stuff in work uniform, finishing with an interview by the compere about their job, to inspire the audience.

 In past years YGST has been a national roadshow into different towns and cities, to highlight issues and try to break down some barriers into employment.

 Scheduled events this year were quickly postponed with the rapid onset of Covid 19 lockdown restrictions.

 With new technology such as Zoom coming to the forefront of 2020 life, some of the event was moved to a fully online platform, and topically focussed on young people with a disability currently working on the front line.

 During the event a total of 36 visitors attended the virtual showcase, which was presented and coordinated by a cross teams from the different organisations who make these events a yearly success.

 Apart from creating a fun space, information and atmosphere for young people , and their families to help them to get jobs, the main focus is to look at the talent, not the disability,this is an avoidable label which should never be a consideration over ability for a role.

 These events are necessary to promote employability, but in a more equal society , we wouldn't need to have this platform. We still need to have this for now , to keep this issue to the forefront, and highlight that disability equality in employment still has a long way to go.

 In Scotland in 2020, approx. 9 in 10 of the general population have jobs, not so for people with learning disabilities and individuals on the autistic spectrum , where approx. only 4.1 people in 100 people are in employment, with just 1.6 in 100 people in jobs of 16 hours or more.

Experiences of unpaid carers during Covid-19

Posted by Michael Mcewan on June 22, 2020 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)



I spoke with three carers: Alex Davis, a full-time carer for her son; Frank McGowan who cares for his older brother; and Liz Carson, who cares for her son.


Each person tells us about their experiences of caring in lockdown.

Supporting people with a disability during Covid-19

Posted by Michael Mcewan on June 22, 2020 at 6:15 PM Comments comments (0)



Organisations that support people with disabilities and long-term conditions will have their own set of particular challenges during the Covid-19 crisis.


I spoke with three organisations – Scottish Personal Employers Network (SPAEN), Partners for Inclusion Group and Unity – about the services they provide, the challenges of the current situation and how they're supporting people.


Posted by Michael Mcewan on June 22, 2020 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)


Indepen-dance creates opportunities for disabled and non-disabled people to enjoy, express and fulfil their potential through dance.


I interviewed one of the founding members, Karen Anderson, as well as Adam, a dancer involved in the project.

KOR Records

Posted by Michael Mcewan on June 22, 2020 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (0)


KOR Records is an independent record label that creates music projects for young people with additional support needs and releases their output.


I interviewed Geraldine Heaney about the work of the record company.

Disability on TV

Posted by Michael Mcewan on June 14, 2020 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

The third series of BBC TV drama The A Word has just finished , it first appeared on the channel in 2017, following the development of a young boy and how his family cope with the revelation that he has been diagnosed with Autism.


The main character, Joe Hughes, displays clear signs of communication problems and consistently isolation himself by listening to his favourite pop songs through large headphones. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of songs which he listens to and accurately sings along with the lyrics. His parents initially seem oblivious to his condition and wonder why Joe is ostracised by some of his young peers.


The latest episodes follow him growing up , both at home and school the viewer has a fly on the wall view of some of the challenges he faces, . I think it will give people a good insight into the Autistic spectrum , how family and friends work together to provide support.


I had been following the A Word production team on Twitter and the show got good feedback from people who had family member with Autism or just people watching it became they like the show and wanted to learn more about what Autism is. I think the BBC did well here to highlight this issue and I'm hoping that other channels will follow on.


If we look at different show like Coronation Street welcomes actor Liam Bairstow as the first key character with down syndrome in the show. In Emmerdale James Moore ,who plays Ryan Stocks in the show, has cerebral palsy . In 2019 James won best newcomer at the National Television Awards, a good win also for disability equality.


Another equally momentous win was on Britain's Got Talent in 2018 when stand up comedian Lee Ridley aka Lost Voice Guy ,won the show .

Lee has cerebral palsy which severely affects his ability to speak, he uses a voice synthesiser to communicate, and he was the first, and funniest, comedian every to win the show.


It's only with more TV programming that highlights and perhaps breaks down the barriers , that will help us to move closer to an equal society.


TV is an excellent platform to raise awareness about disability issues , particularly for younger generation who sadly still have limited education

in the school curriculum about disability conditions.

Communication for All

Posted by Michael Mcewan on May 3, 2020 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)

In my last blog i was talking about the issue of Human rights during the lockdown, and relevant to something on our TV screens daily.


From the start of the pandemic Scottish and UK governments have been holding a daily news conference , I noticed a major difference, that the UK conference doesn't have a sign language interpreter.


The lack of BSL creates a major risk to public health, if people who are deaf are unable to understand key updates and advice being issued in the daily briefing.


As a result deaf campaigners have started legal proceedings against the UK government .

A Twitter campaign is running call #wherelstheinterpreter? which has now morphed into class action legal case.


COVID-19 affects everyone in all walks of life, and British sign language (BSL) users fairly say they are been discriminated against. In response to media questions on this Number 10 advised that they have a agreed to interpreters on the news channel so we'll just have to wait and see.


In Scotland in 2015 British sign language act was passed, making it compulsory to have BSL interpreter in person or on video at government briefings, or on visual communications.


At the Scottish Government briefings the interpreters stand 2 metres behind the ministers , similar to Wales and Northern Ireland whose interpreters are shown on a small screen in the room.

It is important that everyone is equally represented during such a critical situation, one which is entirely new to us, but the message has to be the same , that information is shared to all , in a way that can be clearly understood and followed. 

I hope to see BSL interpreter on Westminster daily briefing soon , and more so that we start to come out of lockdown in a gradual way , that is safe and can be followed by each of us.

Know Our Rights

Posted by Michael Mcewan on April 16, 2020 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (0)

We may all be experiencing a lack of control of our lives in this COVD-19 pandemic, as we struggle to understand what is happening around us and try to follow government guidelines.


Though we may not be aware of them, each of us are covered by basic human rights, particularly in this moment, daily life can feel very different.


The world is being pushed to adapt but should still be mindful of our rights , we have to make necessary changes in our busy lives, while it may feel that some rights are being taken away, like freedom of movement to visit family and friends. The way we shop at the supermarket has changed, as we are limited to how many can safely enter, and keeping to social distancing.


We should be concerned that carers,people with a disability and long term conditions must feel at this time,and to get the right support they need


I've been talking to some carers in the past few weeks, they have been going round supermarkets to try and get everyday essentials ,which have been sold out ,and they also worry what would happen if the carer takes ill.


Caring is a full time job as many people with a disability or long-term condition can't isolation themselves as thoroughly as others , they need regular hands on help to do everyday tasks such as personal care , making meals , handling finances and getting to appointments


When I'm taking about carers i mean both paid and unpaid. People often do not think of themselves as a carer particularly those who don't ask for other for help.


It's important that all public has accessible information, that's why I welcome organisations who are publishing key facts about the virus and guidelines in a easy read way, designed for all.


There is currently misleading news being circulated on social networks , that's why easy read information is critical as a reliable source.


I think more awareness need to be raised of human rights and also simple steps to ensure people with any disability don't feel excluded from everyday life, these may include writing things down when you are using a face mask, for the benefit of people who lip read, and creating flash cards for people with autism.

Human Rights Day is observed by the international community each 10th December. It commemorates the day back in 1948 when United Nations General Assembly adopted the universal declaration of the name Human Rights.


The Human Rights Act gives us all the protection of individual rights such as to live, or right to a fair trial. There are in total 16 rights.

This legislation guarantees that people have the means necessary to satisfy their basic needs like food , housing and education.


I miss being around my friends and family, though I can still see them and talk to them online, it's not the same. That feels like a basic right is being taken away from everyone for the moment, but we will get it back in time, when it will be good to see people face to face again .


As a disability advocate I spend most of my time campaigning on different issues like getting the right support by asking questions to my local council or government , and to stand up for the rights of people who often can't find their own voice.


While it's a particularly stressful time for everyone, we need to put emphasis on looking out for each other, though most importantly we must look after ourselves and acknowledge our human rights.





Challenging Times

Posted by Michael Mcewan on March 18, 2020 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)


The Coronavirus outbreak has everyone spooked , hopefully we're joined in taking steps to control of the outbreak and preparing to get through this very challenging time as one


We should all come together and help each other as a community, also thinking about people in our community with a disability and how will this impact them and their carers in Scotland.


We all need to think about the messages we're putting out, I would imagine people will be feeling confused , overwhelmed and panicking.

 I think there is an urgent need for clear and accessible advice on the coronavirus for people with disabilities an long term conditions, as many people with a disability can't isolate themselves as thoroughly as other , they need regular hands on help from other people in daily life.

 A number of organisations are to be commended who've so far published information on how to keep safe in a easy read and designed to be accessible to all. All public and statutory bodies need to be mindful of this when prodcing information about the impact of COVID 19, particularly if it concerns how social care and support is provided

 The public should be made aware of the need to take simple steps to ensure people with disability are not excluded from everyday life. We can all help by raising awareness and now is not the time to impose what you think is best for other people. If you live or work with someone ,or care for  those , who may be particularly vulnerable to the virus , please take the risk seriously and extra careful with your own precautions , so you can remain healthy and able to help

 I know that some carers are worried about this , as they will have to go out to the supermakets to get everydays item which are rapidly selling out,despite appeals from supermarkets not to panic buy, allowing them time to restock .

I wouldn't like to think what would happen if the those who need carers are left without vital support, particularly as getting a doctor's appointment would be another obstacle.

 I would like to say well done to carers and support organisations, keep up the good work , during this incredibly challenging time.

 If you know any one in your community with a disability , long term health condition or mental health issues , try to ask how are they are, or give them a call, it's always good to hear a friendly voice in isolation . It is important we look after each other , though crucially we must look after ourselves and keep safe.

 Arrangements will be in places for people in receipt of benefits who can't attend assessments of jobs centres appointments , if they are required to stay at home because of Covid 19.

A single message would be to say keep well , stay safe and together we will get through these most challenging days, weeks and months 

Humans of Scotland

Posted by Michael Mcewan on January 22, 2020 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (0)


Humans of Scotland is a campaign that highlights the voices of those with long term conditions, disabilities and those who are unpaid carers.


I interviewed Angela Millar, the campaign lead and two people who share their stories as part of the campaign, Raven Lane and Michael Byrne.

Michael Byrne LETS

Posted by Michael Mcewan on January 22, 2020 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (0)


I interviewed Michael Byrne, the founder of LETS (Lived Experience Trauma Support) and author of Poems From A Mod: My Journey Through Trauma, Recovery And Survival.


Michael was diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder based on many traumatic events in his life, including abuse as a child, the murder of his father and surviving the Clutha disaster. In April 2017 he had a devastating breakdown which was complete in late January 2018. Since then he has been in recovery.


Health warning: This episode describes scenes of traumatic events that listeners may find disturbing.

Include Me 2 Club

Posted by Michael Mcewan on November 21, 2019 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)


Include Me 2 Club aims to change the face of social care in East Renfrewshire, by taking a person-centred, community asset-based approach.


I interviewed Paul McIlvaney, the Chair of the project.

The Life I Want

Posted by Michael Mcewan on November 21, 2019 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (0)


The Life I Want is a partnership project in Greater Glasgow and Clyde that includes people with disabilities in the design of services.


I spoke to Donna-Marie Speir, the co-ordinator of the project.

Gig Buddies

Posted by Michael Mcewan on November 21, 2019 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (0)


Gig Buddies is a project that matches people with a learning disability with a volunteer who shares similar interests to engage in nightlife activities together.


I interviewed the Scotland project manager, Samuel Maggs and also spoke to a user of the service, Kerry Ferguson.

People First

Posted by Michael Mcewan on November 21, 2019 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)


People First is an organisation run by and for people with learning disabilities.

I spoke to Rosie Smith, one of the members, who told me about the work of the organisation

IASSID Conference 2019

Posted by Michael Mcewan on October 8, 2019 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)


In this episode I chat with Linda Mitchell from the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD) about IASSIDD - the World Congress of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, which was held in Glasgow on 6-9 August, 2019.

IASSIDD Congresses are the leading international research and practice meetings in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Congress theme is Future4All.

Waterbaby Arts

Posted by Michael Mcewan on October 8, 2019 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)


In this episode I chat to Ruth Foster, a tutor at Waterbaby Arts and two of the dancers involved in the Dirty Feet programme, Sandy and Maureen Graham.

We hear about the work of Waterbaby Arts and the experiences of Sandy and Maureen.