By Sarah Eckford, SNP campaigner
A month or two ago, I heard about a campaign called the One in Five Campaign. It is built on the premise that roughly 1 in 5 people in society have some kind of disability and this should be represented in areas of political representation, as well as within wider society. And during the course of the recent Westminster campaign, I met one of the co-founders of this campaign, Jamie Szymkowiak.
Like one of One in Five’s other bloggers, Sarah Anderson, I have dyspraxia. My particular form of dyspraxia is acquired from a cancerous brain tumour in early childhood and the treatment I received for it. The tumour made its presence known when I was just three and resurfaced when I was four and a half. So that meant that I had at least two surgical operations and a round of radiotherapy before even starting primary school.
At the age of thirty-four, I am now trying to navigate life as best I can.
As well as having acquired dyspraxia, I also have Raynaud’s disease, which means the blood does not circulate as well as it should to my hands and feet. I have always had very cold hands. But now I have a label to go some way to explaining it.
I joined the SNP at the end of 2011, after helping with leafleting in the Holyrood campaign of that year. The catalyst for me was what came out of the previous year’s Westminster election.
So I did as much as I could in this year’s Westminster campaign to ensure an SNP win in my constituency of Dundee West and to help the SNP get as many seats as possible in Westminster. And what a fantastic result it was, in Scotland. It’s just a shame the majority of the UK decided to vote Tory. But at least Scotland has a strong voice now in Westminster.
The campaign was quite hard on me at times. I had to rely on either lifts or public transport. I was so shattered whenever I got home from campaigning that I had virtually no time or energy for housework. My feet very often ached. My knees threatened to give way a couple of times. And I had to make sure I kept a supply of chocolate and fizzy drinks handy so I could stay alert sometimes. But it was all worth it in the end.
So what now? Well, in the short term it’s another few weeks of catch up and recuperation after the election. Then on to the next campaign…
I started to think, a year or two ago, about the possibility of running for political office myself, but only if it would be beneficial to the party and the general public. Right now, I’m not sure it would be in anyone’s best interests, especially mine. So only time will tell where I go from here.