FOR more than a year, the Clydebank Disability Group has been helping residents find out what much needed support and advice is available locally.

This was something the group founder, Kevin Crawford, struggled with when he woke up in April 2015 screaming in pain and unable to move due to ongoing health conditions that resulted in trapped nerves.

After spending months in hospital, lying flat on his back and having his spine operated on, he then had to learn basic movements such as how to sit up as part of a slow recovery process.

Having to live with a disability was an “eye opener” for the now 48-year-old as he found it difficult to find places offering help, despite many being out there.

He set up the Clydebank Disability Group Facebook page and posted what was available for people living with disabilities in the area as a small hobby.

And now, more than 1,000 people have been helped through phone calls, messages, open days and focus groups by its volunteers and committee.

The group is expanding and is covering areas such as Knightswood, Drumchapel and other parts of Glasgow, and now a new initiative with the aim to raise awareness is underway – a blog with a different person telling their story each month.

Kevin said: “There is a lot of stigma around disabilities, especially over the last several years, people saying ‘look there’s nothing wrong with them they shouldn’t have a blue badge’, or ‘I saw them the other day and they looked fine’.

“We will be posting stories from people who are living day to day with different conditions and how it affects them and what it’s like to live with it. Hidden disabilities are one thing I would like to try raise more awareness about.”

With the hope of more people speaking out and collating the feedback and results, the group plan to hold an event next year to present these to the likes of employers, councillors, teachers, the fire and police services, and local businesses.

Kevin added: “It will be so everyone can see how people are affected. We want to see if we can get help for people before they get put out of work and before the condition affects them too much.

“If they can get the right help and employers have got a better understanding of what this person is going through, then maybe they can help work around it and the person can stay in employment for longer.

“We’re hoping they can take it back and teach their employees how to deal with people with certain disabilities that they never understood before, so they’re not afraid of it.

“I feel like there’s a lot of people who don’t know how to approach people with certain disabilities and feart to say certain things, so hopefully a lot of the public will gain a lot more understanding.

“And for the ones that can’t work because of their conditions it will bring more awareness as to what this person has to go through day to day and people will stop thinking, ‘I could live and manage having to do that every day.’”

The blog – You Me and My Disability – was thought of by committee member Natalie Grant, who Kevin described as “the brains behind the brilliant idea”.