As Blackwood Homes and Care continues to grow into the next half-century of its existence, it’s important to remember the individual, who formed the organisation – Dr Margaret Blackwood MBE – and her inspiring story.
After being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy as a 14-year-old girl, Margaret’s purpose and ambitions were effectively written off by a society that didn’t seem to care, but she used that initial despair to fuel her drive to bring about positive change – she became a tenacious trailblazer for Disabled Rights.
Breaking Down Barriers
Margaret dedicated her adult life to breaking down barriers and improving the quality of life for those with disabilities. Overcoming her own personal struggles, she championed change and made a difference to the lives of millions – through sheer will and determination.
Born in Dundee in 1924, Margaret Blackwood's life took an unexpected turn at the age of 14 when she was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. Faced with limited options, she suffered decades of despair until she discovered the work of an English woman who had founded the Disablement Income Group (DIG).
Inspired by this movement, Margaret established DIG Scotland in 1965, striving to amplify the voices of disabled individuals in Scotland. In 1972, she formed the Margaret Blackwood Housing Association (MBHA).
A relentless campaigner, Margaret fearlessly confronted politicians, demanding that they recognize the needs and rights of disabled individuals. Her impassioned cries of "You haven't mentioned the disabled! Are we a dirty word?" echoed through the halls of power, forcing politicians and policymakers to face the issue. Margaret refused to be ignored.
In the present day, the legacy of Margaret's ground-breaking work lives on through Blackwood Homes and Care, a charity she established. Operating across Scotland, our organisation puts customers at the heart of everything we do to ensure people live their lives to the full. By embracing innovation, Margaret ensured that individuals with disabilities could experience greater independence, support, and dignity.
But Margaret’s legacy extends far beyond housing and care provision. Recognising the importance of disabled individuals living fulfilling lives within their communities, she fought tirelessly for equal rights and opportunities.
She led the famous March on Wheels at Princes Street, Edinburgh. Again, Margaret refused to be ignored and choreographed thousands of people – many in wheelchairs – to move through the heart of Edinburgh. Disabled people were no longer invisible – Margaret made sure of that.
A Champion of Change
Her efforts led to the creation of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act in 1970, which introduced financial benefits and assistance for disabled individuals in the United Kingdom.
Margaret's dedication and achievements did not go unnoticed. She received an honorary doctorate from Aberdeen University in recognition of her exceptional contributions to disabled rights, and in 1978, she became a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).
Dr. Margaret Blackwood MBE's indomitable spirit and unwavering advocacy forever transformed the landscape of disabled rights in Scotland and beyond. Her legacy continues to inspire countless individuals, organizations, and policymakers to strive for a world that embraces equality, inclusivity, and the fundamental belief that every person, regardless of ability, deserves the opportunity to live their life to the full.
Thanks to our founder, independent living has become a reality for thousands of people across Scotland and her spirit continues to live on in Blackwood Homes and Care.