Paid internships for disabled are backed

A SCHEME to offer paid internships at the ­Scottish Parliament to disabled graduates has been welcomed by a Glasgow MSP.

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James Dornan, SNP MSP for Cathcart, called for the scheme last year in a speech at Holyrood.

This week Youth ­Employment Minister Angela Constance ­announced such a scheme would be put in place in conjunction with a disability charity and the voluntary sector.

Mr Dornan said: "I am delighted that this has come to fruition ­following my Disabled People in Politics Member's Debate last September.

"Following this I had discussions with The Presiding Officer and the Scottish Parliament and I'd like to thank them, as well as The Scottish Government, SCVO and Inclusion Scotland for reacting so positively to my suggestion of starting this ­internship and for all their hard work in getting it to this stage.

"It is great that the Scottish Government has taken a positive step for equality in funding this pilot project.

"It is an important step towards a more ­inclusive Scotland and I believe firmly that our democracy and decision making is enhanced and strengthened when we have many different voices and experiences represented."

He said he looked ­forward to welcoming the first intern to his office.

The scheme will be run with Inclusion Scotland and The Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations.

Sally Witcher, Chief Executive of Inclusion, said people with disabilities were under-represented in elected office, even though their experience would help provide better informed policies.

She said: "Like the rest of the population, some will also have the interests and skills needed to represent a constituency and to become adept politicians.

"It is unacceptable that they should be disadvantaged in accessing opportunities to develop that potential, and Scottish democracy is the weaker for it."

Mr Dornan has ­already taken on young people senior pupils from secondary schools in his constituency on paid internships for.

He organised an ­essay competition and a selection process where pupils submitted a piece of work.

One was then chosen to work in his office in Cathcart and at ­Holyrood, providing ­experience of work and an insight to the ­workings of the Scottish Parliament.

The paid internship in 2012 was the first of its kind at Holyrood, taken up by Campbell Mills, who was a pupil at Kings Park Secondary.

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