A LEADING disability campaigner has called on local authorities and social care providers to work more with disabled people to improve their services and achieve true equality.

Trevor Palmer has spent the last 20 years advising organisations and charities how to improve accessibility.

He is also a director of Disability Wales and has helped set up or run several charitable projects including ResponsABLE Assistance, an organisation which supports disabled people in disaster situations around the world.

He runs his own business, GL100 Services, in Newport.

Mr Palmer began working on disability issues a few years after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1994.

He says going in the space of a few years from an active, physical and well-travelled lifestyle to being confined to a wheelchair has made him well-suited to understanding how people with disabilities are hampered by a lack of accessibility or support.

“I’ve never considered myself disabled, but I am disabled by a lack of facilities,” he said.

“For example, if I want to go and buy a pint of milk, it’s impossible for me to do so if there’s no dropped kerb for my wheelchair.”

Many disabled people, he said, were in the same situation.

He believes much of the legislation introduced in the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 is yet to translate to real-terms improvements to how disabled people are treated in Wales.

“The Welsh government has spent time and money trying to introduce better wellbeing, which sounds fantastic, but as a recipient of social care support, there is still an attitude among many social services staff who lack an understanding of the real world,” he said.

Disabled people are dealing with “the same issues as 20 years ago,” he added.

This question of transforming legislation into real change will be the subject of the Disability Wales annual conference in Wrexham on Friday, October 12, when disability groups will be joined by activists and politicians to explore the theme of “making legislation work for disabled people”.

“Why are we having a conference about that?” Mr Palmer asked. “It’s because we feel unequal, and until I feel I am an equal member of society in every aspect, I won’t feel liberated.

“I need to be independent, and I want all disabled people to be independent,” he said. “That has been my passion for 18 years.”

Mr Palmer does see the future as holding some optimism, with today’s students of social care being taught the value of “co-production” – treating recipients of social care as valuable assets who can provide expert, first-hand information about the services they need.

Through co-production, care providers and the recipients of care work in collaboration on projects, and Mr Palmer sees this as a way of making people with disabilities feel valued and equals to able-bodied people.

“Young people understand co-production”, he said. “But it will take a good 15 years for them to get into positions high enough to make a difference.”

If you would like to find out more about disability issues, Mr Palmer’s website, www.gl100services.com, contains a discussion forum where people can ask and offer advice.