More than an observation

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Some news headlines not made up by me, but sadly very real: Disabled children falling deeper into poverty (the very basics food and clothing); More news from bbc amongst others…the mental health system in crisis…last weeks news: concern over 15 minute ‘flying visit’ calls to provide support in peoples homes…….The week before: disabled people being excluded from their own graduation due to inaccessible ceremony venue…..disability hate crime on the increase but still not being recognised as a real statistic….media stories questioning if there really was a Paralympic legacy or has it fizzled out already, just one year later?

Over the past couple of months I’ve been involved in a number of disability movement events, either speaking, mcing, singing or a bit of all. I sense a real increase in lobbying, challenging, demonstrating going on over the past year. One of the most moving and shocking to be involved in was the 10kCuts event on Parliament Square. I’m still trying to make sense of how 10,000+ people can have died due to government actions, without a bigger public outcry or the news picking it up and asking the question how/why? Of course you will know that i have been a little involved in the Save The Independent Living Fund Campaign which has been back to the high courts and we await judgement, four to six weeks from now.

All these events have really happened, I’m not making them up, you can google, research, ask others and its all there. My blog isn’t really a comment about these events in particular, others are writing much better than i could about the injustice of all of the above. My blog is the observation that even though we have been battling for access, rights, inclusion and independent lives throughout our lives…things seem to be intensifying.

I’ve never felt that paranoia of the big brother state getting me, thats not to say I don’t feel we are oppressed or marginalised people, just that I always believe that right will prevail and change will happen slowly. But the intensification of lots of disability issues, the above is only a small sample of that, makes it hard to stay bright and chirpy about our oppression and discrimination…you know…we are stronger as a result of it, type stuff.

This blog really is about my genuine confusion as to why the government (and opposition parties) cant see there is a problem for disabled people living in the uk right now?

Whilst at University I learnt to try and write objectively based on research, evidence and reasoned argument based on those principles. Of course I/we all write and see things through our own set of values and beliefs, we all do. Im trying to write this as objectively to, im not making a judgement on individual facts or even saying it must be all made up. Its the observation that it is prevulant, being reported and more disabled people are becoming mobilised by what is happening.

So even if you accepted (and I don’t) that all the above was reported on the bbc, newspapers etc as a left wing or anti government bias, even if you take that away….objectively, independent bodies (BMA, BBC, governments own appointed research and reports, the justice system) you cannot deny things are happening negatively and theres a lot of it around! the disability movement (another discussion to be had) or organised collectives of disabled people are becoming active, court cases regarding disability issues are being brought forward which are of a critical nature about fundamental basic rights and they seem to be on the increasing. media reporting of issues around poverty, abuse, exclusion and discrimination is a regular (at least weekly, if not daily).

Yesterday I was working with my local cil. we’ve only been operational for less than a year and already we have a body of evidence, which we have not dug around for, it has come to us through peoples real experiences. Some of this evidence is horrendous and no individual would accept it in a civilised society where freedom, liberty, justice and dignity are meant to be corner stones…the cornerstones by which we are judged as a society.

I’ve held off writing about these things for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are many others writing much more eloquently than I about these issues. Secondly you who know me, know I’m a fighter but I’m also a lover, i protest through music and trying to be the change I want to be in myself, so i am always determined to be on the brighter side, glass half full type person and part of me doesn’t want to write about the negative things that I individually feel passionately about.

But the last few months have given me thoughts and experience and evidence of how serious my smile and fight really is. It is why we must become even stronger, together to continue the fight for what we believe in acceptance, equality and justice. I also know we need our issues to be recognised and supported much more widely than just within ourselves. These wrongs must be righted (is that a wrong word?) by many others so that we build allies and alliances disabled and non disabled people together and that as a society we all realise that disability issues are about how we all live and work together.

A final shocking but true thought/reality being suggested to a few……

Is it really acceptable to be told that instead of having support at night, you could wear a pad if you need the loo?

And yet those saying it go to work, fed, showered, in their smartest suits and dresses without even knowing or thinking how long that all takes them to get ready and out the door, or without considering how much tat time to get ready may cost in monetary terms to the hour…..i do…….down to the minute.

I’m so grateful to work and meet with so many amazing fighters, friendps, allies and people who don’t let any of the above stop them from getting on and making a difference. We are not going away, the fight will continue, not for us individually but for us all collectively. I will continue to sing & smile my way through at the ridiculousness of the wrongs, its what we do, be resourceful and creative. we cant allow wrongs to break the collective heart, so we have to be strong until we get further along the road to justice and equality.

We carry on sausages.

  1. Sue
    October 25, 2013 at 16:34

    John,I don’t normally take a stance on the band wagons of rights,issues etc but can I say one thing? I think people with disabilities ( and I have some very close knowledge of this which I may have mentioned at the last gig we met up) do the best by simply ‘being there’. Acting, playing,singing in bands, being in every part of life means that everyone,disabled or not is treated the same and everything HAS to work for everyone like access etc because they are all invaluable and important – the same. SO,when you build a school, pub or hotel, theatre etc, if a range of people are just part and parcel of things, everything will be incorporated and normal. No-one would consider colour a barrier now like years ago so why should ability be an issue and everyone has issues, whether visible or not so we should all just get on. Ideallistic maybe but I actually l think more people think like this now and things are changing – with my friend I often forget his differences – which has led to him having to call me back from dashing upstairs in theatres etc when we have gone to the upstairs bar(ahem!) but if you consider everyone different yet the same, you forget ability,colour or anything else-we are just people for God’s sake!

    • October 26, 2013 at 18:15

      Thanks sue, which gig ?

      I’ve been playing a few recently so my apologise for asking.

      Tbh I don’t believe disability has anything to do with ability it’s all about discrimination and not allowing a group of people to reach their potential. It’s about having proper opportunities in the arts industry….real representation and acceptance of value and quality.

      Thank you for your comments.

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