On Wednesday 28th September, #MEAction Scotland led a successful #MillionsMissing demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament – the first time it’s been held in-person for three years. While it was in some ways a smaller event than #MillionsMissing Scotland was in 2018 and 2019, what it lacked in spectacle it made up for in engagement from politicians and the press.
Approximately 120 people with ME, their friends and families joined #MEAction Scotland at the demonstration. As always, the most powerful testimony came from people living with ME – some present at the event as well as others too ill to join us, who submitted messages to be read out.
Prior to the day, people had been encouraged to ask Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) who represent them to come out and join us. The number of MSPs, who not only came out to sign our pledge but also stayed to listen to people’s stories, far exceeded what we had hoped for. People in power listened to the issues and the stories of people with ME, and committed their support.
The pledge we asked MSPs to sign said, ‘I undertake to support #MEAction Scotland’s call that everyone with ME should have access to ME specialist services for an assessment, a care plan and ongoing support as required.’
MSPs who signed the pledge were Jackie Baillie, Claire Baker, Jeremy Balfour, Sarah Boyack, Miles Briggs, Foysol Choudhury, Alex Cole-Hamilton, Murdo Fraser, Christine Grahame, Fiona Hyslop, Bill Kidd, Monica Lennon, John Mason, Paul McLennan, Carol Mochan, Willie Rennie, Emma Roddick, Alex Rowley, Brian Whittle and Beatrice Wishart. Sue Webber, Pam Duncan-Glancy and Edward Mountain couldn’t join us but they pledged their support online.
As the pledge was an ask of the Scottish Government, members of the government did not sign it but some did attend to show their support. Cabinet Secretary of Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf, made a short speech and then stayed to speak to people. He was joined by Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport, Maree Todd, and Minister for Social Security and Local Government, Ben Macpherson. The #MEAction Scotland team will deliver the pledge to the government soon.
The demonstration secured widespread press coverage from The Independent, The Times, The Scotsman, The National and various regional papers. Many of the newspapers used a similar story, leading with quotes from speaker and supporter Stuart Murdoch, lead singer of Belle and Sebastian.
We were delighted to see so much support from MSPs and the press, and we’re already building on MSPs declarations of support through emails and meetings and planning our next steps. Huge thanks to everyone who shared details of the event, came along, watched online and emailed MSPs.
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