A CELEBRATION of the positive contribution made in the Borders by people with learning disabilities was held last week.

As part of Learning Disability Week, the five chairs of the region's Local Citizens Panels staged the celebration in Galashiels.

Dozens of people with learning disabilities, along with their families and carers, attended the informative and fun event to share their own stories.

And they were told of the achievements of each of the Citizens Panels over the previous year as well as an outline of their aims for the next 12 months.

Local Learning Disabilities champion, Councillor Kris Chapman said: “It is vitally important that we recognise and acknowledge the ways in which people with a learning disability are active, connected and included in communities right across the Borders and this event was an opportunity to do just that.

“The fact that it was so well attended is testament to the commitment that everyone involved has towards making sure that the voices of people with a learning disability and family carers are heard and that their contributions are both respected and taken into account.

“I would like to congratulate the Citizen Panel members on organising such a successful event and for what they have achieved over the past year, which I have seen firsthand as I travelled across the Borders to meet with each of Panels.

"They are to be commended for all their hard work, and I look forward to seeing their plans come to fruition over the next 12 months.”

During the event there was also a special performance by the Keys to Life choir.

The choir was set up in August 2018 to give people with learning disabilities the opportunity to meet up and have fun.

And their practice certainly made sure of a perfect performance in front of an enthusiastic audience.

Jennifer Freedman from the Local Citizens Panels said: “The event was excellent, useful and interesting.

"I particularly enjoyed hearing how other people were involved in their communities; all their stories were very encouraging.

"I also thought that the Keys to Life Choir was hugely enjoyable."

As well as Jennifer, who chairs the Galashiels and Selkirk Citizens Panel, there are Steven Oliver (Berwickshire), David Learmonth (Tweeddale), Rhona Henderson (Hawick and Jedburgh) and Brian Boardman (Kelso and Coldstream).

Steven added: “One of the perks of being an Local Citizens Panel chair/vice-chair is being able to attend these events.

"They are very similar to the meetings themselves – not too formal, but unlike the meetings, the emphasis is on having fun as well.

"They are also the only chance we get to see and catch up with other members.

"There’s still a lot of negativity towards disability but it’s to be celebrated as we can still contribute to society.”

The Local Citizens Panels are always interested to hear from people who would like to find out more about their work and the positive difference they aim to make.

To find out more, visit: www.scotborders.gov.uk/lds or contact the Learning Disability Service on 01896 840200.