Michael McEwan: Inclusive club nights are essential

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Everyone enjoys a good night out and that is no different if you have a learning disability.

Dates and Mates ran their first all inclusive club night called Late in April 2012, and due to its huge success late has moved to three times a year.

The event is open to all, especially welcome people with learning disability, in recognition that none of the mainstream night clubs offer a welcoming and safe environment for people with with a disability.

Late is a space for people with and without disability to enjoy a safe and authentic clubbing experience, providing a number of trained floor staff who realise that a lot of clubbers may be going to for the first time, and this can be a daunting experience.

Dates and Mates is a Scottish dating and friendship agency, run by and for adults with learning disabilities, it is a good opportunity to make to friends, also support to improve confidence, build personal relationships and get support and guidance on first date etiquette.

We can all think back to the transition between school disco, the odd house party to queuing up at a night club on a Saturday night, it’s natural for most but not if you have a learning disability.

This event provides a unique opportunity for people who may not have had the confidence in the past, or feel that they may have been excluded from clubbing in the past, to go out let their hair down and enjoy themselves, while feeling safe in their surroundings.

Late is part of a ongoing UK wide campaign called Stay Up Late, a registered charity committed to promoting the rights of people with a learning disability to live the lifestyle of their choosing. It could be going to a pubs to see bands, clubbing or seeing friends, part of everyday life for lots of people, however if you have a learning disability you may need support to do this.

I have still noticed at these club nights some people with a disability aren’t able to lead full and active social lives, as their support workers finish at 10 pm which means a number of people have to leave the event at 9pm. I believe that people with a disability have the right to stay up late, and have fun with the correct support to help realise they can stay up late and choose how they live their lives. I would like to see support workers on occasional later hours, so that people with a learning disability can stay up late.

This is an excellent campaign and promotes a positive message that I would like more people to hear about it, or encourage wider membership of Dates and Mates.

Michael McEwan is a disabled rights campaigner. He is also a DJ for online based Disability Radio Station , Able Radio.

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