Ladies and Gentlemen, Firstly, thank you all very much for attending today as we mark a significant milestone in our journey towards real inclusivity and support with our first-ever Disability Fair organised by the Gibraltar Government.
As the Minister with responsibility for Supported needs and Disability, it is an honour to address you today, ahead of some truly amazing speakers who will shortly be telling you about their journey or interaction with disability.
Please stay along and listen to what they have to say as I am sure it will make for some very interesting, informative and, undoubtedly, emotional listening.
Events like this have long strived to empower and bolster the strength of the disabled community.
Today, we are united to highlight a fundamental truth - disability is not confined within a singular, neat, or easily defined box.
It encompasses various forms, affects individuals uniquely, and has the potential to touch any one of us at any given moment in our lives.
Our purpose today, however, goes beyond merely convening under one roof; it's about offering support, guidance, and inspiring each other to surmount the obstacles and feelings of isolation that often accompany disabilities.
I would like to assure each and every one of you here today that the Gibraltar Government remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that every member of our community feels supported and that support is available to every single person who needs it.
I would also like to reflect on the vital role played by charities, support groups, and professionals within the private sector, many of which are here today.
You are often not thanked enough and you always work hard for no recognition, so THANK YOU! Today's Disability Fair is aimed at putting the spotlight on disability.
It is designed to highlight the resources available within our community and aims to better inform users of the services available and on offer, both by the public and private sector.
Two years ago, the Chief Minister decided to set up the Supported Needs & Disability Office with the aim of streamlining and coordinating disability related services for government and for affected families.
I would like to take a moment to thank the brilliant Jenny Victory, who leads the Supported Needs and Disability Office for her work and for making this Disability Fair a reality. Thank you, Jenny.
The physical representation of our collective efforts today stands as a testament to our unity and determination - we are all gathered here, under one roof, to assist and support each other.
It also goes without saying, but I am going to say so anyway, that my door is always open for anyone who would like to meet with me to discuss matters relating to disability. Please contact my office, or email the Supported Needs and Disability Office, to arrange a meeting.
It is also particularly poignant that we have organised this Disability Fair today, as Sunday marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
This year, the United Nations' theme profoundly resonates with our shared mission: "United in action to rescue and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for, with, and by persons with disabilities."
Therefore, let me end by taking this opportunity to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to working collaboratively, ensuring that inclusivity, accessibility, and support remain at the forefront of our political agenda.
Let us work on this journey together, and let us continue to create a more accessible, supportive, and inclusive Gibraltar for all its residents.
Thank you very much!