Three major medical conferences hosted in Glasgow this year have left a ‘lasting legacy’ – with taxi drivers, transport hub, visitor attraction, hotels and restaurant staff all offered free educational sessions on welcoming delegates with long-term conditions to the city.

Throughout 2018 Glasgow hosted three major international medical conferences: the World Federation of Hemophilia World Congress; World Down Syndrome Congress and the International Symposium on ALS/MND.  Approximately 700 delegates, roughly 10% of those who would be attending these conferences, were living with conditions that required understanding of their needs. 

City officials from Glasgow Convention Bureau (GCB) worked with Glasgow Welcomes and VisitScotland to ensure all staff – including at host venue the Scottish Event Campus – were offered training sessions by experts from each of the host associations alongside local people living with the conditions, to ensure customer-facing staff across the city were fully prepared to give a warm, educated and appropriate welcome. 

Glasgow was the first conference city in the world to create such a bespoke educational programme for their conference delegates, according to GCB.  There were over 300 attendances recorded at these workshops ensuring that not only were the city’s tourism and hospitality businesses prepared for these conferences, they are now better equipped to engage with Glaswegians and future visitors to the city who also have Down’s syndrome, haemophilia or motor neurone disease. 

Aileen Crawford, Head of Conventions at Glasgow Convention Bureau, said: “Glasgow has been cited as one of the world’s friendliest cities and the People Make Glasgow Welcome initiative epitomises how Team Glasgow supports and works with our conference organisers to gain a fuller understanding of our delegates’ needs. The educational sessions ensured Glasgow was ready to welcome all delegates to these conferences and have left a lasting legacy on the city, benefiting both Glaswegians and future visitors living with these conditions.”

Businesses who missed these sessions or wish to recap on what was covered, can watch the training in full and access practical advice and tips in the People Make Glasgow Welcome Guide.  These videos were also presented to each client to help them prepare the hospitality industry of their next host city as they move to future conference locations. 

Feedback from each of the associations following their partnership with Glasgow has been extremely positive:

Craig Stockton, CEO of MND Scotland, said: “We were delighted to be host this year’s International Symposium on ALS/MND in Glasgow, and to work with Glasgow Convention Bureau to ensure people with Motor Neurone Disease were properly welcomed to the city.

“As well supporting people with MND, and funding research for a cure, we want everyone with MND to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. The awareness sessions we ran for Glasgow’s hospitality industry gave people an understanding of what MND is, how it affects people, and how best to accommodate someone with the illness. These practical tips and advice can be used long after the symposium leaves Scotland.”

Pandora Summerfield, CEO of Down’s Syndrome Scotland, said: “The awareness sessions allowed us to ensure Glasgow’s tourism and hospitality businesses have current and accurate knowledge about Down’s syndrome today and how to positively include and support people with the disability, whichever their area of business.  This then meant they were prepared to welcome and support people who have Down’s syndrome from all over the world to have a wholly positive experience during their visit to Glasgow.

Two Lead Commissioners, Andrew Macintyre and Stuart Campbell, also co-delivered the sessions and proved to the audience that having Down’s syndrome doesn’t stop you from doing things, they gave a clear message that having a disability doesn’t define who you are and to remember that anyone who has a disability is a person first.”

Alain Baumann, CEO of the World Federation of Hemophilia: “The remarkable efforts made by so many in Glasgow to ensure that our community can join us at the WFH World Congress is very much appreciated. The welcoming and helpful spirit of all people we worked with in Glasgow in preparing for our congress has been very much appreciated by all employees and volunteers of the WFH.”