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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Disability groups in Mid and East Antrim to be invited to take part in 'lived experience' workshop

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council logo with people faded in

Disability groups in Mid and East Antrim are to be invited to take part in a workshop with councillors to discuss the way forward for a proposed new “lived experience” group.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has agreed to establish a disability working group with direct input from the community by those who understand the challenges of living with a disability.

Speaking at a previous council meeting in November, Knockagh Alliance Councillor Aaron Skinner welcomed an invitation for disability groups to attend a workshop either virtually or in person.

Cllr Skinner added he believed the council should listen to those who have experience of disability and they should be “part of our decision-making, including decision-making on how this group should operate”.

He indicated the local authority could learn from Fermanagh and Omagh District Council which has an established similar disability living experience group.

Party colleague Maeve Donnelly, a Larne Lough representative, said she was “very happy to second”.

She added: “The voice of people with additional needs and sensory needs needs to be heard.”

Separately, councillors were also given an update on the recent meeting of the council’s Inclusion and Equality Sub-Committee.

Ballymena TUV Cllr Matthew Armstrong said there have been “a few unhappy families on the back of our Halloween event at People’s Park, particularly due to the volume of people in attendance”.

“I think we fell a wee bit short in terms of how we looked after our accessibility arrangements and in terms of provision for those with additional needs and sensory needs but I was very glad to see the committee was able to come together with some action points. I am very glad that was taken forward,” he commented.

Bannside Ulster Unionist Cllr Jackson Minford said:

“With regards to the Christmas lights being turned on in Ballymena, it was far from inclusive for those with accessibility needs with regards to the toilets.

“We closed our toilets in the town and buildings are available like the Tower Centre and Fairhill but those buildings close at 6pm on Saturday evening. What was provided for the event in town were two ‘Portaloos’ in Wellington Court but no accessible portable toilets for those who required them.

“I think for future events, those need to be taken into consideration.”


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