Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Three Good Reasons Why Government Disability Policy Matters To YOU


You might have heard some stuff in the media about disabled people.

You know the stuff. "Disabled people are claiming too many benefits"

"The Work Capability Assessment is a fair process".

"The country can't afford the benefits bill".

"We're all in this together".

Even if you harbour the suspicion that some or all of this is so much spin, it's not top of your own list of concerns though.

There's paying the mortgage.

There's holding on to your job and making ends meet.

You can't be expected to worry about what happens to a few disabled people, right?

I mean … you're sympathetic and so forth (poor dears). Some of them sound like they're not on the make.

But, it's not your battle, huh?

Three scenarios

Here are some thoughts.

Tonight on their way home from work your husband or wife is hit by a car, breaking their back. They are never going to walk again. Tomorrow you are going to grapple with becoming the sole earner whilst learning to become a carer too. You are going to learn about housing benefit to make up the rent. Your house will be regarded as too big for your needs so you won't get enough. You can't afford to adapt the property so your partner can have some independence. Your partner will be unable to get into that favourite restaurant you both love because the wheelchair won't go up the steps and they are regarded as a hazard for other eaters. ATOS say your partner is fit for work but employers consistently tell them they've not been shortlisted for vacancies. From tomorrow you are going to realise that everyone suddenly looks on you both as burdensome and costly. You come to live with peoples' suspicion that any welfare payments you receive are probably fraudulent.

You don't have a partner?

Tonight whilst settling down with a drink in front of the telly you find you suddenly can't move one side of your body. Your mouth contorts. You try to speak and a strange slurred sound comes out. You can't raise your arm or hold the glass. Fortunately a friend is round and recognises the signs that you are having a stroke. They call 999 and your life and some of your future is saved. Tomorrow you wake up and come to terms with the fact that these symptoms might respond partially to speech and physiotherapy but you are now a disabled person. You can't go back to work. The savings you put aside for buying a house are counted as your living benefits are means tested. Add most of what's described above.

Young, fit? Not at risk of chronic illnesses yet?

Your Father died a while ago and your mother has been living independently on her own. Recently you noticed that she was forgetting things you had just told her. Now you learn from the neighbours that she has been wandering around the local streets without warm clothes and doesn't seem to have been eating. The doctor has informed you today that your mother has Alzheimer's disease and will become progressively less capable and aware. The disease will kill her eventually but she can have five years if looked after well. Your siblings won't hear of Mum going into 'a home'. One of you will have to give up their job to look after her … and the consensus is that that will have to be you. You need to give up your job and become a full time carer. You discover the complexity of claiming benefits to enable you and your mother to survive. You do this job 24/7 for every day of the year. The local authority has no funding left to pay for stand-in 'respite' care so you can have a break. The stress means you become ill yourself.

Someone else's problem?

There is a tendency when we are young and healthy to imagine that disability is something that hits other people. Yet it can visit all of us in the space of 24 hours and seldom goes away.

Disability isn't just something that people are born with. It can arrive in your life through accident, or illness, or simply the result of ageing.

So, when the government is pursuing policies which disabled people say are harmful to their lives shouldn't we be just that little bit more concerned?

Before tomorrow?


Erikpan said...

In the last scenario, don;t forget what happens after the mother dies: the job centre will ask you what you have been doing for the last 5 years and make you feel like a scrounger. You will find it hard to get work because of a long period of absence, but are now completely out of the loop work wise because your only job for 5 years has been keeping your mother alive. While dealing with the death of your parent you must now find somewhere to live and a job, all the while being made to feel like a parasite by society.

Erikpan said...

Great post by the way. I suppose it's different for me having grown up with a disabled sister, but it boggles my mind that some people can't see that disablement and injury can happen to *anyone* at all. In my opinion if you call the disabled scroungers you deserve a bit of disablement of your own, to show them what it's like.

For a disabled person even getting out and having a life represents a major triumph. If only people could start to see this.

Christine Burns MBE said...

A lot of people have difficulty imagining things that haven't already happened under their own nose.

Anonymous said...

Hi Christine,

I'm writing to you because I've had a look at your blog site and think it's fantastic.
I was also hoping you, or someone you may know, might be interested in getting involved in our current campaign here at Diversity Jobs.
Our site is currently going through a big over-haul and we’re trying hard to get to the bottom of how we can really help people in their search for a fair and inclusive work place. We are here to provide people with support and encouragement, whilst getting their voice heard.
We are in the process of putting together a whole new section of our site, called the 'big IDEA'.
We are actually hoping to find a few people who might be interested in contributing something to our new site. There’s a range of content which you could contribute, – from simply answering a couple of short questions, to writing a long article for our blog or maybe even some creative writing, it’s entirely up to you – as long as we’re getting your opinion, we’re happy.

So just what is the big I.D.E.A?

The big I.D.E.A is a central hub for the diversity industry to communicate its services, news, awards, events, best practice, opinions, support, products and training. The site is interactive, encourages debate, conversation and communication to evolve and grow the industry. It’s fresh, relevant, will sometimes be provocative, but more than anything will be involving and engaging.
With so much information out there on the web relating to Inclusivity, Diversity, Equality and Accessibility it's become time consuming and hard to traverse the large number of fragmented sites offering information. Many people have told us they found themselves in a mine field of offerings, so we're pulling together the best of what the industry has to offer in one easy to use interactive site.

Within a very short time frame has become the UK's leading diversity focussed careers site and we'll have millions of people pass through our site in the coming months as well as a large number of corporate and government sector clients wanting the industry to be clear in its intentions and initiatives.

Please do get in touch if you are interested in getting involved – even just to have a chat, we want to hear from you.

Kind regards,


Anonymous said...

Diversity Jobs promotes an ATOS assessor vacancy, so if in Swansea watch out if you are from the LGBT community and you have serious mental or physical health needs, I have mental health issues and chest problems (having a pain attack as I write), but neither the NHS nor ATOS feel any sympathy.

Richard turner said...

Thanks for all the tips mentioned in this article! it’s always good to read things you have heard before and are implementing, but from a different perspective, always pick up some extra bits of information. Visit@

Lexmark Printer Support said...

Thanks for sharing
Lexmark Printer Support | Brother printer suppor | Lexmark Printer support number | Lexmark printer toll free number

Airlines@123 said...

Delta Flight Cancellation Policy Thanks for the nice blog. It was very useful for me. I’m happy I found this blog. Thank you for sharing with us,I too always learn something new from your post.