Dr You – Talking About Disability

Disability can arise in a number of ways, and is described as anyone who has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out daily activities. 

In simple terms, these impairments may include: loss of limbs; a visual or hearing impairment; long-term health condition such as cancer, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and heart disease; learning difficulties; and mental health problems such as autism, eating disorders, depression and dementia.

Disabled people are often talked about as though they form one group. But every disabled person faces different challenges and health conditions.  In fact, more than 80% of people with a disability were born without it and find they have to adjust.


More people are living with a disability because we’re living longer, and improved medical treatments are helping people to manage long-term health problems.  For a lot of people, independent life also means being employed, with half of those disabled in the UK being in employment.

For those who have become disabled through an accident, illness or a deteriorating medical condition, life will change significantly. But with the right support, individuals can often continue to live in their own home, remain in employment, and enjoy an independent life.

Local group Advocacy Western Isles offers one-to-one confidential independent advocacy support.  Priority is given to those with mental health issues, people with learning disabilities, children and young people, and parents/carers.

The role of independent advocacy is to support people to speak up for themselves and to promote what they think is in their best interests.  This can be through ensuring their voice is heard, their views are taken seriously, their rights are explored and upheld, and that they are involved in decisions that are made about them. 

Advocacy Western Isles can help achieve this by finding out about your rights, helping with forms and letters, receiving clear written and verbal information, attending meetings and if need be, speaking on your behalf.   

The range of issues can be varied and complex. This includes challenging decisions; bullying in the workplace; support with care needs and carers assessments; additional support for learning needs; family break up and contact/residency issues; and support for  young people who come before the Children’s Panel.   

Advocacy is all about being on someone’s side, helping and empowering them to deal with whatever issue they may have, and putting forward what they believe is best for them, especially when their views are different from professionals and agencies that are involved. 

Advocacy Western Isles also supports adults with learning disabilities and runs ‘The Stand Up For Yourself Self Advocacy Group’, helping adults with learning disabilities to have a stronger collective voice about matters in the community which concern them.  The group also operate the SMILE Project (See Me I want to Live Equally), which trains others on how best to treat people with a learning disability using forum theatre and audience participation. 

Local groups and services can refer people to Advocacy Western Isles, or individuals can self-refer themselves by contacting Advocacy Western Isles, Lamont Lane, Stornoway, telephone 01851 701755, or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

The ‘Dr You’ range offers a wide range of self-help books, available within your local or mobile library.