In the New Year’s Honours List, Scott Watkin was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his tireless work teaching people with learning disabilities about eye care.
Scott works for the charity SeeAbility as an Eye Care and Vision Development Officer. He has a learning disability and an eye condition called keratoconus which affects the cornea.
“Back in November, I received a letter through the post. I didn’t have a clue what this letter was about and to my surprise I had got a British Empire Medal for services to people with learning disabilities. I started crying when I told my wife,” Scott explained.
As part of his role, Scott talks to people about his eye condition and helps other people with learning disabilities to make sure they get the eye care and vision services they need.
Adults with a learning disability are 10 times more likely to have serious sight problems than others, while children with a learning disability are 28 times more likely to have serious sight problems than others.
“For the last 10 years, I have been working at a local level up to national level, to make sure that people with learning disabilities had a voice,” Scott said.
However, he never thought his efforts would be given any kind of recognition.
“I was told I’d never get a job, I’d always live in a care home, and I would never live independently. Now I’m married and have children, I live in a three-bedroom house, and hold down two jobs.”
As well as his role at SeeAbility, Scott teaches at the University of Hertfordshire as a visiting lecturer on the Learning Disability and Nursing courses and sits on the Learning Disability England Representative Body. He also co- chairs the stakeholder group within Transforming Care which works to help make sure that people with learning disabilities move out of an assessment and treatment unit and go back into the community.
“What the BEM has done for me is to tell me that actually I need to carry on and keep doing more and more for people with learning disabilities, to make sure that they have a voice and get the eye care that they need.”
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of Connect Magazine.
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