By Angela Clark
A community information day was packed with visitors at Clydebank Town Hall.
The networking event, organised by Clydebank Disability Group, saw a range of support organisations from across West Dunbartonshire and beyond provide advice and information to the public.
People eagerly queued at stalls to ask questions, gather information and the community groups were only too happy to assist.
Many of the people with stalls at the event told how personal life experiences had encouraged them to get involved.
Vale Of Leven Autism and Aspergers Forum (VOLAAF) was one of the organisations offering information.
And Secretary Nina Chapman of VOLAAF said it was her son’s diagnosis with autism at the age of 11 that prompted her to get involved with the charity.
Lack of Services
She felt there was a lack of services in the area and she now uses her experience to help others.
Nina said: “I have been involved since my son’s diagnosis. Before I had to stay at home with my son, it was difficult to take him anywhere.
“When I found this service I thought, I am not alone any more. It was somewhere for me to go and just feel normal and not judged. They provide family services, support groups, youth clubs, training and outings.”
Committee member Corrina Smith, whose son Oliver was also diagnosed with autism at the age of six, agreed the service has been a lifeline to her and many other families.
She said: “Today has been an amazing opportunity to speak to people and direct them to agencies that can help. In my experience no-one can offer better advice to the parent of an autistic child, than someone who lives with one.”
Another person to put life experiences to good effect was Brian Rocks who has lived with epilepsy for 47 years.
Now chairman of West Dunbartonshire Epilepsy Support, he told Clydesider about an event which changed his life forever and encouraged him to use his experience in a positive way.
He said: “I took a seizure at 3 in the morning and walked in my pyjamas from Faifley to Stockiemuir. The next thing I knew I woke up in a police cell, it had been assumed that I was drunk.
“After I was arrested I decided I had to do something to highlight the treatment of epilepsy sufferers. I took it to our local MSP Gil Paterson who took on the campaign to raise awareness. He took it to the Scottish Parliament, a vote was motioned and it gained recognition nationally.
“We now provide training to the fire brigade, local authorities, schools and the police.
“And I have since spoken to the officers who arrested me and they said they were shocked as they could have sworn I was drunk.”
The success of the networking day delighted event organiser Kevin Crawford.
He said: “It has been brilliant, people have been asking all sorts of questions and we have been able to direct them to the stalls that can help with their concerns.
“I am proud everyone has united together. Our slogan is “together we can make a difference” and we certainly feel we achieved this today.
“We are planning more events in the near future, the next one will be a fun day, hopefully here in the Town Hall.
“We‘ll have a range of activities for all ages and abilities. Hopefully people will come along and experience what it’s like to live with a disability.
“Most of all we want people to come along and have fun.”