Author Archives: Diane Reddell

How the Access Fund can help you to attend Conference

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The Liberal Democrats and its members are like the fans of North East football teams – passionate, hopeful, want their team to succeed and aspire to be number one.  In addition to this they have good networks, a sense of community (both have a social endeavour to collect for their local foodbank) and are willing to help each other out if a crisis occurs.  They are resilient, similar to the Liberal Democrat membership.

North East fans are welcoming (unless it’s a local derby!) like the Liberal Democrats when new members join the party and attend conference for the first time with their first timer events.

Both, North East football team fans and the Liberal Democrat membership have had a rollercoaster ride with the highs – promotion and increasing number of MPs to share a place in Government, and lows in recent years – relegation, losing MP seats and have had a few changes in Leadership.  Despite these lows both have been resilient and have had a fighting spirit.

The Liberal Democrats would love you to support them on campaigns, vote for them, join them and perhaps become a councillor or MP for them.  In particular, the Liberal Democrats would like people with disabilities, people from BAME, LGBT+, unemployed and low wage people backgrounds to come to conference and let their voices and votes be heard to create policies which will empower their lives.

The Liberal Democrats have set up the Access to Conference Fund to help with the costs of attending conference. I had help from the Access to Conference fund to allow me to pay for my support worker costs to attend conference to listen to the debates and take part in several fringe events.  Hopefully, at the next conference I will be able to get on stage to speak for a motion.  I need to get the mechanics planned properly.

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Lib Dems should be involved in the Digital Jobs Action Summit

With the Brexit negotiations looming I feel we need to look at our countries digital skills. We also need a nationwide digital strategy linked to the devolution plans for building digital skills, diversifying private IT investment UK-wide, support of digital start-up companies with both finance and IT mentoring and encouraging ‘pay it forward’ schemes for finance and IT mentoring for digital business and Government services.

However, we also must focus on diversity and inclusion as part of this digital strategy.  One example of this is the Northern voices programme which has been set up to get more women in IT and to speak about IT at conferences and in the media: it has similar aims as Liberal Democrat Women to get more women in STEM roles and in senior positions.

The Liberal Democrats want UK businesses to thrive and become global. Being part of the single market for trade, trade investment and for knowledge transfers of IT innovation will help these businesses thrive and thus keep and create digital jobs.

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Why the Conference Access Fund is a good thing

I would like to tell you about the Conference Access Fund which Liberal Democrat members have provided. It helps members on low incomes or those who have a disability by providing financial assistance so that they can take part at conference. I used the fund to assist with the costs of having a support worker to enable me at conference. May I firstly say how helpful the stewards and Lib Dem HQ conference staff were at conference.

The Conference Access Fund is unique to the Liberal Democrats as the other four parties with the exception of the Green party (who give their members up to £90 for travel and expenses) do not have such a fund. The Labour Party mentions disability access and having a women’s day at the start of their conference but they do not provide financial help with the associated costs of attending. The Conservatives and UKIP do not mention either disability access or a fund.

Having discovered this, I then googled how many MPs are disabled within the current parliament. Only  2 MPs out of 650 have a disability. Also from the Bridge Review of the Civil Service and its fast stream programme, disabled people are significantly underrepresented. Where is the voice of disabled people in Parliament and in the policy making teams within the civil service?

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Reflections of a conference first-timer

key_conference_registerHi! My name is Diane and I am disabled. Now I have made that confession, I would like to share my reflections of being a first time attendee at conference.

A few months before the conference I deliberated whether or not to attend the spring conference in York. Due to my disability I required support to attend the conference and this can be quite costly as most things are for disabled people.  Also I was unsure what actually happens at conference and I was concerned that I did not have enough knowledge to fully engage with the motions being put forward.

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