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Down's Syndrome Scotland
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Christian charity welcomes 'historic' Down's Syndrome Bill

by Donna Birrell

Campaigners are backing a bill designed to improve the rights of people with Down's Syndrome.

The Down’s Syndrome Bill is completing its final stage through Parliament and if passed would place a duty on public bodies to meet the needs of people with the condition.

It’s been introduced as a Private Member’s Bill by former GP Dr Liam Fox and is co-sponsored by cross-party MPs and politicians from across the political divide. 

The Christian charity CARE says the Bill is the first step in a long road towards greater disability equality.

James Mildred from Care has been speaking to Premier about what the Bill would mean for people with Down’s Syndrome.

“We’ve been very aware of the discrimination and structural inequalities that people with Down’s Syndrome face on a daily basis and we think that the provisions in this bill will ensure a much greater level of support. 

“This is a quite a historic bill and it's incredibly welcomed that the government are willing to back it. What the bill will end up doing is placing a duty a new duty on public bodies, public authorities, local councils, to meet the needs of people with Down syndrome in their particular areas. 

“When it comes to how we respect people living with Down’s Syndrome. I think the law is having to play catch up and it's fantastic that Liam Fox and many MPs from across the house are taking this step and the government is backing it which is brilliant.”

If passed, a Down's Syndrome Act will be established - the first of its kind in the world. It will improve the provision and outcomes for all those living with Down’s Syndrome in England. This will encompass, amongst other areas, maternity care, education, health & social care and employment. 

Dr Liam Fox MP said: 

“I am thrilled to bring forward a Bill to deal with the issues faced by those with Down syndrome. My aim is to deal with three main areas.  The first is to de-stigmatise Down's syndrome.  The second is to ensure that current provision of services is improved. The third is to look ahead and deal with future issues, such as long-term care, in an era where, for the first time, many of those with Down's syndrome will outlive their parents.” 

Tommy Jessop, actor from BBC’s Line of Duty crime drama and self-advocate said: 

“People might at last believe in us and give people with Down's Syndrome better chances in life.” 

 Peter Brackett, Chair of the National Down’s Syndrome Policy Group said: 

 "As the Down's Syndrome Bill enters the final stage before the Lords I am delighted to see the strength of the cross party support it is enjoying, reflective of the wish for inclusion of people with Down syndrome across all aspects of society. The voice of the Down's syndrome community is being heard and the NDSPG is excited to be a part of this journey.” 

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