Posts from the ‘British Politics’ Category

London Burns, but mindless Or Message?

Nobody will disagree that the riots that have taken place in London over the weekend, and which spread to further cities during last night’s intense third night of rioting, are despicable and outright sickening. Luting, setting fire to businesses and essentially attacking each other in what has been portrayed as mindless criminality, surely cannot just be that.

Many, including the government have stated as such but I know this society is in a state of disarray in regard to respect for others but surely the estimated six hundred, if not more, young people across the UK cannot be simply mindless criminals.

First of all, I have a huge issue with the adjective, “Mindless”. Zombies are mindless, but people have choices. Those young people had a choice every night in the past three nights whether to continue on their own usually peaceful path or go out and start causing sheer mayhem on Britain’s streets. To describe these people as mindless is ludicrous! They know what they are doing and therefore, instead of dismissing their actions as “mindless”, which by the way, I think is a pure cop out on the politicians part, we need to figure out why so many felt it OK to trash people’s lively hoods, steel and act like pure hoodlums.

It’s been suspected that the death of a young black man on Thursday in Tottenham last week was the catalyst and although I agree that is the case on the first night of riots, the spread of this outlawnlessness has stepped over that mark. Youth workers have been saying for months they’ve predicted this would happen, potentially during the summer months because of many cuts and cut backs to services and support networks for young people. But we’ll examine that in a little while.

So why are the government consistently ignoring what people are saying? It’s easier to dismiss someone’s behaviour as mindless and not give it a credible motivation as if so, the reasons would have to be heard by the vast majority of the country. Many hate what is happening in the UK and we are all hoping another night of riots will not occur but threatening these people with jail sentences and not giving the police the resources they need to combat the violence is actually going to make this problem spread, in my opinion.

As a former psychologist student, I know that once riots begin, it’s hard to make them stop. Especially in the celebrity era that we are living in. Right or wrong, other young people will go out, as I suspect was the case last night, having seen others like themselves luting and getting infamy and feeling like they could easily get away with it. Part of the mob psyche is the anonymity of the mob. While in a huge group, your identity is temporarily lost and you adopt the group’s identity. By wearing masks, as some did last night, the level of risk was reduced again as they were not only in a huge group of moving rioters but wearing masks and hoodies. Those who weren’t, clearly feel that they will not be caught or in some cases want to be caught.

So why would a large group of young people from several inner city geographics, decide to loot, vandalise and behave like pure criminals?

Only an individual can answer this of course but with what we’ve briefly heard from some people, and previous protests that have occurred, we can summarise a guess. We cannot say simply, these people are criminals because if that was the case, all the criminals would riot and loot on a more regular basis. The last riots we have seen like this were back in 1981 and 1990 when people rioted over the poll tax. That’s over twenty-one years ago and so the “mindless criminals” theory is surely shot out of the water. Criminals don’t appear every twenty or so years, they are constantly around.

Some of those people may be criminals, and it’s more than possible some of them are not. Youth workers, as I said earlier have reiterated this would happen. Services such as youth groups are being discontinued, the education maintenance allowance that helps many young people attend further education independently has been cut, tuition fees to universities have trebled making that path to their futures harder to realise and the job market is such that we have the highest unemployment rate for young people for a very long time.

I will not make excuses for violence and crime but I can understand the anger of some of those. Not all were looting over the past few nights. And the anger that a young man was shot, seemingly unarmed by police, was the spark to light the fire, [pardon the pun].

Happy people do not riot! Contented young people do not destroy the communities in which they live for a kick on a mass level. There are reasons why this happened. And although some of those individuals have gone out to simply “get a new TV” or a phone or any other luxury item or to cause destruction, you have to ask why? Sure, because they have seen others get away with it but also because they don’t see a future worth staying on the strait and narrow for.

As the world economy stands, there are no jobs to work toward, there is little prospect for a successful future. Desperate people do desperate things and although those things are not right, there is still a reason for it.

Some are saying, especially Cameron and his posse that this was not political; I argue that any riot is political. Whether you like it or not, those young people were sending a clear message the past few days. They are saying, I’m angry with this society, I will destroy it because no one is listening. It is said that rioting is the language of the unheard and the point is, this government is still not listening! By dismissing what has happened as “mindless criminality” will not solve the problem. By putting extra police on the streets may help to manage the problem but you have to listen to your people to make the country a better place and this so called “big society” that Cameron keeps harping on about. I see none of that big society anywhere. Maybe the cleaning up that went on today is the closest thing I’ve seen but that’s people helping their people, not the government helping their people helping themselves.

Austerity and oppression will bring you nothing but trouble and sadly this government still do not realise this fact. The irony is that Nick cleg predicted this would happen if the conservatives got into power and, by God, Nick, you were right on the ball. I wish you weren’t but sadly, you were.

Again, I do not condone the violence and looting and destruction that has gone on and I hope it stops but I can feel the anger brewing in this country and I hate to say this but I don’t think it will be quelled that easily. I hope I am so wrong and that the people of every city tonight sleep in peace.


Disabled Invisible? Or the Government and Media Blind, deaf and Dumb?

The 11TH of May 2011 will go down in history. Sadly, only a small sector of the British population will be aware of why.

The conservative government are bull dosing a welfare reform through parliament that will effect hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled individuals. Not only are local councils cutting services to their disabled constituents but the government is putting disabled people under siege by dramatically changing the benefits they are entitled to claim.

Not only will the long term sick and disabled only be allowed to claim Employment support Allowance [esa] for twelve months but the transformation of disability living allowance will not be recognised as something that helps disabled people live their lives. Taking the mobility component from people in residential care who are able, with that extra financial support, to visit friends and families and go to social groups that improves their quality of life, will reduce them to emotional despair. With that component gone, it will leave many isolated and unable to keep in contact with relatives and friends whilst participating in social activities that keep them integrated and active.

The extremely generalised assessment process neither assists those in need or accurately assesses disabled individuals needs correctly. And if found “fit to work” physically, is not to say someone is mentally prepared or actually able. Putting disabled people in to the “lion’s den” of the commercial workplace is going to destroy people. Having rejection upon rejection, while being virtually “bullied” by job centre Plus advisors so they can meet their targets, will mean many people are placed in frightening situations and pushed into a potentially soul destroying path.

Imagine, applying for a job, being interviewed over the telephone only to be told, when you have a disability that they are not sure how they can accommodate your needs, time and time again. Regardless of laws against discrimination, some of the reasons employers cannot employ a disabled person are not always their fault. For blind people, working with money is not practical, employers wouldn’t feel comfortable with money exchanging hands from a blind person to a sighted or vice versa in case the notes are not accurately identified or fraud is being committed. Blind people’s assessment of their own money often takes longer than that of a sighted person, so time pressure would be on them. And that’s if the technology, such as a cash register is accessible. Many are not and never will be in our lifetime.

Wheelchair users can only access buildings with ramps and lifts. And in fire situations, lifts can never be used. Not many employers are willing to take a risk of putting a wheelchair user on the sixth floor in case there is a fire. Some organisations have a buddy system but even if their intentions were their, many insurance companies would not cover the company for such circumstances.

The assessment deems myself “fit to work” if all criteria I have read and been informed about so far is accurate, because I have a guide dog. With the RNIB recently publishing a statistic 92% of employers would not employ someone with a visual impairment, where does that huge misconception that employers have no issue employing the blind come from? do the people behind this horrendous attempt at assessing disabled and sick people for work take into account that despite wanting to work, many being qualified, the employers are not able to for physical or legal reasons employ the disabled. And do these great minds who have created this ludicrous test not think that just because someone has a guide dog or a wheelchair that it can suddenly change employers or insurance companies minds? Changing the “being able to walk” criteria to “being mobilised” was a very devious thing for this government to do. Many disabled could “mobilise” themselves but for how long or how successful are many other questions that are not addressed.

Maria Miller, minister for disabled people, [if she can call herself that], stated that it is a system that is not working if there are more alcoholics and drug addicts claiming DLA than the blind. Well, Miss Miller, if your government has your way under personal independent payments, there will be very few blind people claiming dLA’s successor. Not to mention the fact that the statistics tell a different story? This is people’s futures, Ms Miller, not Jack and Ori.

The media have done nothing but promote the government’s propaganda efforts by publishing in various news sources that 94% in the Mail and 75% in the Daily Express incapacity benefit claimants are deemed “fit to work”. That figure blows my mind. Take away the fact for many disabled, they want to work but are refused employment because of their disability or lack of support into work, what about those suffering from cancer, HIV, MS, chronic arthritis that physically cannot work efficiently every day? That represents only six percent of incapacity claimants? Well, of course not. As usual, the press are promoting government support for tight reform with miscalculated, misinformed, and mostly outright . wrong statistics

The media proved yesterday how much they didn’t care about this society’s disabled. The only major news programmes to cover the march were ITV evening news who did a good piece of coverage and Channel four’s news at seven. BBC had mentioned it during the day but it was missing from it’s popular six o’clock showing on BBC 1 while it was covered on it’s website reasonably well. Sky News, one of the biggest news channels in the UK and streamed around the world mentioned it maybe once but nothing on their website at all. They were able to cover all the things going on in Libya, many foreign stories, even the sentencing of actress Lindsay Lohan but nothing on its website about the thousands of disabled marching through London to protest against the cuts.

It angers me that only the Guardian have been forth coming and extremely supportive of 11TH May protests; having constant updates on a live blog and several write ups both on its online distribution and paper broadsheet. A huge thank you to the Guardian, ITV News, and Channel 4 for having some great coverage of the protest and even interviewing Liam Burns, the shadow work and pensions minister.

None of us expect to be top of the hour news, or front page in the news papers but for crying out loud, we are still here, in our millions as a disabled community! Can this government not hear us? Do they not understand? If they want to cut the deficit, which we all agree on, why target those of us who fight enough in our every day battles with discrimination! I know cuts need to happen, but why are they cutting the quality of our lives? Why are they not recognising blindness as a disability, assessing it below even the threshold to gain a place on the into work scheme under the new ESA benefit, despite having input from organisations such as RNIB who feels their input has been ignored? How can they “assume” that my guide dog makes me more employable than a cane user who may have more sight? How can they say someone with MS can work for eight hours every day if they don’t see them in pain and unable to get up for work because every muscle in their body hurts? How can an abled bodied so called health professional, who is repeatedly passing people fit to work who clearly are not, capable of assessing someone if they’ve never dealt with that disability, some even come across it? If they are not willing to understand and take a fifteen minute snippet with a rigid questionnaire to assess someone’s abilities, it is clearly just a tick in the box and one more person off the sick and disabled list, the better, right, Mr cameron and co?

They say they’ve had conversations with organisations about these changes, but if that was true, then how was it that staff from over forty organisations representing disabled people across the board were marching alongside those people on 11TH May? Richard Leaman , Guide Dogs own chief executive marched alongside clients, dogs and staff alike to protest. Do you think if Guide Dogs as an organisation had agreed to the governments extraordinary changes that he would risk his reputation and the one of his organisation just “for kicks”?

Miller talked about the drug addicts and the alcoholics claiming both DLA and incapacity, and the media have publicised that fact over and over again, but what about those who are disabled who are going to get theirs cut? We didn’t make a life style choice to be blind, lame, deaf, or feel as though our body was on fire, we didn’t abuse the system so then why are we being punished, ignored, sidelined and forced into another system that has not worked for many?

I’ve claimed job seeker’s allowance. I claimed it for almost three years! During that time, neither I nor the job centre could find work. The disability employment advisors did not understand my needs as a blind client or how my blindness would effect me in the work place. No information was accessible to me. Not leaflets, their computer systems, the forms I had to sign every two weeks. It was only through my own research that I attended the royal national college for the blind and transferred to incapacity benefit. After I’d left college, I still couldn’t get work. And despite continued efforts to search, apply for different jobs, I am still unemployed. I was never understood and felt abandoned during that time. Ms Miller speaks of disabled people being abandoned on the current system, so what is she doing then? Throwing many into a system that is not designed to support people with extensive needs; Throwing them into a world of ignorance that no government has tried to change. She says attitudes have changed toward disabled people, really? I must have missed that evolution. We’re still pitied, avoided because people fear the unknown, shunned by others because we’re deemed too needy, patronised because we’re seen to be unintelligent and treated like second class citizens as we always have been, the media have only enhanced that point this week. And society’s attitudes have changed? Just because children are being educated more within mainstream education Ms Miller, it does not mean society’s attitudes have changed just because we’re not locked up and hidden away. The stigmas toward many disabilities still exist and many VI children are segregated within VI units within their school along with other special needs children. Being taught in the same building does not make society’s attitudes toward them any different!

Last year I started a home study degree which was funded by the university so I did not have any fees to pay. Because of the increase to come in for tuition fees, the scheme was cut at the end of my very successful first year. I couldn’t afford the fees and was forced to withdraw. I have and continue to try to gain work or qualifications to be “more employable” on a qualification basis but the truth is, unless my blindness miraculously disappears, or the attitudes of society, the employer’s being educated and insurance companies not deeming disabled people high risk enough to boot premiums to a devastating price change, I will remain unemployed from the mainstream workforce. I take offence to the many headlines calling incapacity and DLA claimants “scroungers” or “lazy” as While looking for work I’ve done everything in my power to gain employment. I’ve attempted study, I volunteer to gain work experience, I blog and participate in accessibility podcasts to widen my knowledge and experience while educating and informing the world best I can about blindness, access technology and guide dogs. I do not sit around, or enjoy four or five holidays to Spain, I do not own extravagant items or go out every weekend to clubs. I’ve tried, I continue to try to make my life productive and full but I can’t single handedly change the attitudes of employers.

Unless I gain employment within a sector for visually impaired or set up my own business, which I eventually would like to do, I will be punished for being blind and become isolated because I cannot fund my disability.

I keep hearing the phrase, “Genuinely disabled,” yet I and others seemingly do not fit into that category. As I stated earlier, the current assessment for ESA would maximumly gain a visually impaired person nine points or less and fifteen is required to qualify for the into work program. So, I clearly am not “disabled” according to these guidelines and to the media who have deemed many claimants to be “scroungers” and have insinuated “faking it”. What an actress I must be, to have faked blindness all my life!

Many do abuse the system and those people need to be caught out, no one would refute that. And that is why we are not asking this government to leave things the way they are but to listen, understand and implement changes suggested to them by the people who know. Realism and practicality need to be adopted here or else the government has outrightly broke its promise to protect the disabled and vulnerable in our society.

As MP Hunt said, stop providing abled bodied, healthy individuals from pushing out three or four children at the tax payer’s expense. If people want to reproduce, they should pay for them. My parents have worked every day of their lives and have contributed to this system and they, like others who are parents of disabled people are angry that it is more socially acceptable to get pregnant and have a child for the sole cause of living off of benefits when disabled families are having support, care and benefits cut.

Miller talks about the numbers of alcoholics and drug users on DLA and incapacity benefit, well stop them claiming it! Children born with disabilities don’t have a choice, soldiers fighting for this country don’t have a choice whether they are hit or not, police and fire service people do not have a choice if they are hurt while on duty, and yet those without the choices are the ones being punished.

This past few days, I’ve felt disappointed, angry, concerned, surprised, shocked and proud for a variety of reasons. Proud of the ones marching; proud of the efforts by those who couldn’t make it who have expressed themselves on the web; proud of some journalists who have maintained their integrity by reporting the events as they are. I was surprised how quickly my MP responded to my email that I sent her only the night of the march and even more so of her support. And yet I’ve been saddened, shocked and rather disgusted with the lack of coverage by many media outlets. No need for breaking news but it still happened! It was one of the biggest, if not the biggest march of its kind in regard to the disabled people in numbers present at a protest, and that wasn’t news worthy? I was also disappointed by the lack of response by some visually impaired people I know. Some were fantastic online yesterday and others I know marched while some remained quiet and as though it wasn’t happening to them. You may not believe writing to your MP will work, or that you’ll lose followers or friends on social networks by mentioning it, but if they’re real friends or interested in what you have to say, isn’t that better than being ignored by the government? I’ve heard people say it won’t have made a difference, maybe not but maybe it will open some eyes. It’s our future and if we don’t help shape it, then we have no real future to call our own.

Miller in my book represents nothing but an empty promise and a cruel and misconceived idea of what disability and sickness really means and how it effects those with it. She was more interested in the prime minister’s question time than the people she’s meant to represent. Even in a committee meeting about the welfare reform, she was vague, unable to give detail or straight, decisive answers to questions posed to her. Cameron’s conservatives are ignorant and malicious. Despite what they’re telling the media the reality of the assessment process, changes to DLA put the disabled in poverty and isolation, stripping them of dignity and independence. No wonder their precious media won’t report it and are more interested in US politics, affairs abroad and war because it’s not affecting them. If Hunt had denied Murdock the deal for Sky, we’d hear about that all right in its entirety but a few blind, wheel chair bound, deaf and sick people are invisible to them. Why hear the cries of the needy while you’re sat eating your finest foods and enjoying your life? Why take notice of a bunch of disabled people, “We’ll get over it,” right? Why take from the rich, corrupt bankers when you can target the ones in need? It seems they have enough money to bail Greece, Ireland, Portugal and others out of debt, give money to the rebels fighting in Libya, donate millions to countries in need and all because they neglected their own people! I feel for other countries plights, but Prime Minister, you and your government are meant to be the British government, here to make Britain better, but you’d rather help other country’s people than your own vulnerable and disabled people! If you want to cut the deficit, give us a chance to live and change the attitudes of employers and society as a whole, because without those changes, we’ll remain invisible to all while we suffer.

If that’s the society we live in, then by God help us all. Because wait until they cut child services more, or petrol prices rise again, that will be top news. I hope anyone who has blatantly ignored this demonstration of courage and pride by the disabled people of Britain never finds themselves in a similar situation. Because where will your loyal government be then? Helping Pakistan, or fighting in the middle East, or bailing out European countries or lending money to some superpower, and giving you nothing!

“The Invisible Disabled,” it seems so but I pledge to you I will not go unnoticed and neither should you. The women who fought for women’s rights were taken seriously eventually , and some would argue there were many more but many were too afraid to fight the system then. Let’s fight for our right to live good qualities of life and to gain opportunities like everyone else. Change society’s attitudes for the better, Clegg and Cameron, don’t change our lives for the worst.

[note. I am totally blind and cannot comment in detail on how people’s disabilities effect them. Hope I grasped the concept of anger we’re all feeling]

Interesting entertainment links

That’s a Cut, SunnieDae1
Broken Britain’s We have A Dream Speech, hardest Hit
Hardest Hit, Day of Action, Scope for Equality

Ignorance is Bliss; for the Government

Many knew that when the conservatives took over power, those on the lower end of the income bracket would get screwed over. Others knew that the vulnerable in society, despite repeated promises from said government would be left even more vulnerable and up the creek without a paddle. While few knew that some necessary changes would need to be put into place for the economy to recover but also knew that those who cannot help themselves would bear the brunt of these changes. Wherever you stood within these three areas, you were right.

Anyone who has picked up a newspaper, read an online article from any leading British media outlets, watched the national and local news programmes within the last year know that this country is in financial disarray. Back in October when the chancellor made his budget speech, there was a promise to protect the elderly and the disabled. This promise has recently been shown for what it truly is; a glossy lie.

We all are aware cuts need to be made, no one is actually arguing that fact but the level of which this coalition government is stampeding its path is only going to end in misery for many.

I, like many others agree there are abusers of the benefits system but it is safe to say that these benefits sustain a good quality of life for many. The new assessments being brought in for those on incapacity, while weeding out those “fakers” will put many disabled people An on the breadline and B in a severe state of vulnerability. And that’s not even taking into consideration the future preposed changes to Disability Living Allowance. And why? Because this government has not thought through how the assessments will affect a wide range of individuals with varying levels of disabilities and illnesses.

Already the assessment was reevaluated because it deemed terminally ill individuals fit for work. And even after these changes to the assessment process, many disabled organisations say the assessment is too harsh and not detailed enough to assess accurately.

For example, a lady on the national news today who suffered with a brain haemorrhage 10 months ago, who lost feeling in her right side and has limited vision has been deemed fit to work. What this government has not taken into consideration, are the many barriers that a disability will bring up for not only the individual but the organisation that will employ them.

For an abled bodied person, reading, writing, moving around unaided, being alerted to dangers or alerting others to danger are natural abilities. For someone with a hearing impairment, sight impairment or physical impairment, this is not always possible. For example, one of the questions on the test is can you pull a pen from your pocket with both hands. Many people could do this, even wheel chair bound individuals, depending on their condition. Someone with a visual impairment could pull the pen from their pocket but would not be able to use it in many situations. For those visually impaired people, many would use other formats to write and read with compared to the majority of individuals. For someone who is deaf, they may not hear the suggestion. In an assessment environment, their focus is likely to be on the assessor but in the work place, other tasks could distract and they may not hear a command to take a note.

Another aspect of the criteria to receive the new employment support allowance is if you have a guide dog. Apparently, the government foresee a blind individual capable of employment if they have a guide dog. I’m absolutely uncertain how my guide dog makes me more employable than someone who is a cane user or someone who uses neither. Your choice of mobility aid has little bearing on how you perform in a job. My guide dog will not assist my work. He’ll help me get to and from and around the work place, providing I’ve learnt the route prior, as would a cane user. Clearly, someone in government has not explained to these individuals what a guide dog does and does not do. The same apparently applies to an individual using an electronic wheel chair. So, guide dog owners, electric wheel chair users, you should know that your dog and chair clearly help you do a job. And because of these reasons, we are deemed fit to work immediately and would be put instantly on job seekers allowance.

If anyone has dealt with the job centre and has been disabled and has had a great result, I.E., got into employment that you’ve maintained, congratulations, you have to be in the minority and very lucky. Many disability employment officers, like the government, have no idea what a disabled person’s needs and abilities potentially can be.

And for one moment, put aside the assessment, the criteria and walk with me into the work place. Many, and the RNIB estimate, 92% of employers would find it difficult or mere impossible to employ a visually impaired individual. OK, government, please consider the fact you tell us a million jobs have been created in the past three months and now tell us how many of those jobs are going to be doable from a disabled person’s point of view. And not even that, how many of those prospective employers, would employ someone who is visually impaired, deaf or a wheel chair user. And not necessarily because of their own ignorance, lets face it, they’re also dealing with the economy right now. And does the government know that anyone who is disabled automatically has an increase on a risk assessment for any work place or public building? If they’re not aware of this, they should be. Because, risk assessments lead to insurance and higher risks means a higher premium. Can many companies afford a higher premium?

As much as I don’t think this to be a valid reason for a company not to employ a disabled individual, I understand it in the current economic climate.

Thus far, we’ve only talked about the physical disabilities. Does this assessment take into consideration those individuals who have mental disabilities? I’m sure someone with a learning difficulty could indeed pull a pen from their pocket when asked in a calm, controlled environment. Would that be possible in a stressful work place? Highly doubtful.

In short, the changes to incapacity benefit, although necessary to a degree are being done with such ignorance that not only is this government putting people in more vulnerable situations, they’re not helping everyone into a secure job. I do not mean secure as in financial, I mean in the practicality sense of the word. Someone who is visually impaired would struggle working in a visual environment. Likewise, someone who is deaf would find it challenging to the point of stressfulness in an auditory environment. The government want people into work, but realistically what are they going to do to ensure that happens? Many disabled individuals of working age, want to work and would give anything to work. But is putting them on the poverty line with virtually little, specialised assistance into work the right way to go? And this is before I get to disability living allowance.

Many disabled organisations understand the people they work with. Research shows getting work is not as easy as the government would have everyone else believe. Putting this aside, living with a disability, regardless of work or not is a costly affair. Again, some individuals may use little of their disability living allowance, while others may fluctuate over the months and many others depend solely on it to live day to day with their disability.

I cannot speak for someone in a wheel chair, or a deaf person but I as a visually impaired individual rely a lot on my disability living allowance to buy computer equipment so I can read emails, search for jobs, shop independently, read letters and books accessibly. I also use the mobility component to get to places I’m unfamiliar with. Despite what our oh so wise government believes, my guide dog does not have a map inside of his head and I cannot type a post code and he’ll take me there. He only works from my commands. So if I don’t know an area, he won’t know it either and we could become lost and vulnerable. So, taxis are often a way to get around. I attempt to use public transportation where possible and of the do but there are times taxis are necessary and sometimes my only option. They are expensive and on occasion I have to pay someone to assist me somewhere. For example, shopping for clothes items. I need someone to help me around the store and although shop assistants can be helpful, it is not always the case.

A minister recently said that after three years you shouldn’t need any further financial support when it comes to your disability, I’d like to see him try. You have to replace equipment, I.E., colour detectors/scales or bigger things like computers or washing machines even. People do not realise that using a launderette is not a task for the faint hearted disabled individuals. For a wheel chair user, I’d imagine it troublesome getting to the place, with all of your laundry, then many machines are probably not designed for wheel chair access. For someone who is blind, using the machines at all would be impossible without tactile access or someone helping never mind actually getting there with your laundry.

For anyone to say that living with a disability can be got used to after so many years is an ignorant and cruel statement. Without living with one, how would you know?

I’m not expecting everything to be given to me on a plate, I never would. But I want this government and any future ones to not just penalise individuals and put them on the breadline with no hope out. They need to change people’s attitudes, change legislation for insurers and companies. Make public buildings accessible to all. Put the disability discrimination act into practice and enforce it because right now, disabled people still have no rights. David Cameron talked about the happiness and quality of life for the citizens of this country, I see nothing but misery ahead for many disabled individuals. Some have said without their DLA, their lives would not be worth living. Without help into work, without changing people’s attitudes, without punishing disabled people and actually help through work experience in practical jobs and having an assessment process that was realistic for the individuals being tested and not just convenient to down the governments numbers, I don’t see life in this country worth living either. It’s a bleak future for anyone suffering with a disability right now.

The government do need to save money, they do need to get disabled people into work but not without support and not at the expense of those people’s rights. A right to live. This could be done correctly and competently but as this new system stands, they will be putting their disabled exactly where many suspected they would, at the bottom of a pile of trash.

Disabled Britain in the Workforce

With this week’s Vision conference being held in the UK, many questions about equality and access to various areas of society are being asked. Various organisations, including the RNIB and the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association are two of the main blind charities who are involved in many campaigns to better the lives of the blind and partially sighted people around the UK.

Some of the campaigns have included, transportation with the AV addition to the bus network and shared surfaces along with improvement to access of many services.

One of the questions raised on the social network twitter by the guide dogs account was are the government policies hindering or helping people into work? I know personally, the schemes seem very helpful once you can get them but it’s the attitudes of employers and the lack of implementation of the disability discrimination act that are preventing visually impaired and other disability groups from gaining full employment.

67 percent of visually impaired people of working age are not employed, the same figure that this country saw during the 70s So why? It’s very unlikely that 67 percent of working age visually impaired individuals don’t want to work, so what is the reason? From my own experience, it’s a lack of work experience on the individuals, not having the same opportunities of many of their peers during their younger years. Working with money is not possible and some other environments are unrealistic for visually impaired people to work. But above all, it’s the attitudes of potential employers. Many times, most can gain an interview and still are not able to gain employment. Continued rejection can lead to a psychological barrier and the added fight to gain equal access can make it harder for disabled individuals to keep on fighting.

Finding a job is hard for anyone in this economic climate, but for disabled individuals it is much harder. Employers, despite sometimes having the fats will not want to deal with the process of access to work programme which can take weeks and months to implement. They would possibly sometimes be more interested in hiring someone who can instantly start work without any adaptations than to wait for a perfectly capable disabled candidate take the position because of the support that would be required.

It would be interesting to know tho many of those employed are employed in the disability realm or assistive tech area? My guess would be a fair few. And the stereotypical jobs of call centres and such would be high on the check list I have no doubt. However, why should we as disabled individuals be restricted to these areas when sometimes, we may have the intelligence and the ability to do so much more. It sometimes seems, that either if you are outstandingly brilliant in an area, such as law, or you are willing to work in a demoralising position such as call centres, then there is very little support for disabled individuals to get into a job.

I’m not saying that this is true in all circumstances but it seems to be the norm. The attitude of, it’s a job, take it and be thankful should not even be relevant. The same argument is said about the tax dodgers but why should it be any different? most of those, can work in any job, but with retail and most base line jobs being out of question for most severely visually impaired people, why should they be imprisoned by their disability?

The truth is, once a visually impaired person gets into work, they are more likely to continue to come across accessibility barriers. When computer systems change, they are not always designed to work with people’s screen reading technology and then again they may struggle to work. In a lot of situations, it can work well and most disabled individuals can continue to move up the employment ladder. But with the percentage of the unemployed being so high in the visually impaired community, it is a small celebration to have.

Until the country actively acts on the disability discrimination act and actively promotes employing from all sectors of disabled groups while providing simple access to support for those individuals in work, the figure will continue to remain stagnant or increase because with the many cuts, more support will being pulled and the focus on disabled individuals is becoming very blurred. The government, with its new strange views on disabilities could be leaving millions of individuals in very difficult positions. They want to get people into work and create this “big society”, well I suggest they remember who is actually included in their society!

Reforming the Education System or Kicking it to the Kerb?

Unless you’ve been on Mars this week or haven’t read any of the UK’s media then you won’t be aware of the huge changes about to hit our education system over the next so many years or the immense student riots been taking over the country. So if you have missed it, let me bring you up to speed, first and foremost.

The British coalition government are planning to raise tuition fees to nine thousand pounds, per student, per academic year. This of course, has not gone down well with students, parents and future students alike. Currently the fees are just over three thousand pounds and so this jump would make it considerably harder for students from lower income families, or students not entitled to grants or financial help from more middle class families to go to university or be forced to study abroad. As expected, no one is happy at this prospect and many sit Ins, protests and alike have taken place across the UK. Many are angry, and rightly so with the liberal democrats who pledged during their election campaign to reduce fees, not increase them. This is a level of anger that will not evaporate overnight and I don’t think we’ve even seen the beginning in regard to the upset the general public feels on this matter.

The educational minister yesterday divulged his plans on reforming the under eighteen educational system by bringing back discipline, changing the way exams are done to a more stringent and rigorous form of testing and allowing focus to be back on the core subjects. He wants to ensure that we as a country are in line with others throughout the world and our level of standards are promoted to some of the highest.

That is all well and good mr Minister, but my question is, why? If you give the children of Britain a world class education and yet they cannot afford to attend university because your government, has bumped up tuition fees for universities to astronomical levels, then why bother ensuring the pre-eighteens have a thorough and high level of education? Do you want them to study abroad and start emigrating to countries that provide a high level of university education while having fees at either the same amount or less with the ability to study in a different country let alone culture?

Sure, give the kids of the future a fantastic, rigorous education that promotes competitiveness, discipline, respect and academic ability but where will they go once they become of university age? Because the way this government is heading, it will be potentially cheaper for students to study in countries like the US, Australia or Asia. So the geniuses of the future won’t even be residing in England due to your governments irresponsibility of tuition fees increases.

It saddens me, that finally a government have seen the light of Labours errors in regard to education that had quite frankly become a namby pamby way of teaching children. In some cases, being glorified baby sitters to unruly, antisocial scroates that couldn’t care less if Queen Elizabeth is the first or second of her name sake to rule this country. But by bringing back in the high standards of what once was our education system, not our day care system, the coalition government are damaging this country’s future by heightening tuition fees to such an extraordinary extreme. We all know we’re living in hard times but to punish the future of this country seems unfair, unjust and something to which the average person deems damn right disgusting. Its time our government woke up and realised that if they look after the younger generations, instil something of discipline, competition and academic strength, then they are building the future.

Let’s take back the high standards this country once had in regard to education and make students be proud to attend a British university while being able to afford it. And if you want someone to get the coffers from, get those overpaid, useless bankers that helped to push us into the hole we know as recession. Support the students, and they will support the country.

Attitudes Need to Change

If you disagree with this statement, I’d advise you to stop reading now as what will follow will probably displease you incredibly.

The way people are conducting themselves at the present moment in our society’s lifetime leaves a lot to be desired. My first gripe is with the English football team. Forget the fact that they may as well not have turned up for the world cup, displaying such Sunday league level performances, but when they lost, where was their passion? Looking at a variety of other teams throughout this tournament, you could feel the vibes of pride and passion the players had for wearing their country’s shirt and playing for their homeland. But England were a completely separate issue. You may have just informed them that an ice cube out of a bucket of ice had fallen on the ground and was making a slight wet area under their feet for the all the concern that was achieved on Sunday. Everyone remembers Paul Gascony famously sobbing his eyes out when his team lost but the squad against Germany merely looked nonplussed about the result. Their was no shame on their faces, no sadness beheld in their expressions and this lack of passion for their country seriously brings into question their ability to play internationally. Players should be striving to win at all games, no matter how terrible it may look on paper. The game should be played to the death but I am uncertain if England even showed up on Sunday at all.

People continuously debate if Cappello should remain manager, but my question is, should any of those players be consider for future internationals? Without the pride and passion needed, how can any of them hope to be picked again. But here’s the sad thing, they probably will be picked for the next qualifiers and make the first team without a question. And this is where our society is wrong. We allow terrible and disrespectful behaviour to continue unpunished while those who continue to try are hardly ever rewarded. Even as young as the six to ten year old age range, if they want to be competitive at school, they are guided away from their actions. Way to go for making the next generation of dispassionate, unmotivated, lay-abouts British Government. How the hell can a child learn self-motivation, self-responsibility, passion, pride and competition if they are told those activities cannot be taught in schools? For crying out loud, you cannot tell a child it has been naughty now because of the craziness of the system that dictates fairness amongst all. Fact is, life isn’t fair and life is about competition and if no one can learn these qualities then I dread to think of the future for this God forsaken country.

Another issue that has really got under my skin this week is the general self-righteousness of some blind folks in the UK. As standard, anyone who is registered blind can claim disability living allowance that is designed to help with costs that an individual may occur to their disability. I’ve heard several comments this week about from blind people that they believe this allowance is a God given right and that everything they need should be paid for by the government or such other organisations on top of this benefit. The first comment pertains to the fact that the government are planning to tighten up those who claim DLA. This, if done correctly should be carried out. Far too many are illegitimately claiming DLA and some who are not getting it really should be considered. However, the first comment I made, about it being a “God given right” came from someone who was attempting to be smart and possibly in turn scared a fair few people. They posted that the government was going to cut DLA, and at this present time, that is incorrect information. But the aspect of that comment that bothers me was that this person seemingly believes they should be getting DLA as a birth right. Wrong! Far many other countries do not assist their disabled people as much as the UK does so you should be feeling grateful it even exists.

Now, I studied away from home for two years and I know how expensive that can be. I also know that I was living on much less than many of my visually impaired counterparts as I didn’t have a lot of the benefits that I was entitled too. When I hear someone, who is on the benefits they are entitled too, including DLA, and also receive a student loan and a maintenance grant, [which was not available when I was a student], and are complaining about having to pay someone to label something, my blood begins to boil That is what DLA is for!
DLA is broken into two components, care and mobility. This labelling of goods is designed to be paid for through the care component of DLA. This attitude amongst the blind community of automatic right is beginning to get on my last nerve. Use the benefits you get for what they are designed for, if you can’t afford something, don’t do it. Student loans companies give you what you are assessed for to live on, feel grateful you have other benefits to live off of too. Your sighted peers don’t get that much money from the state.

Nothing is given to you, at least it shouldn’t be as in the case of our so called star players; You have to work for everything in life and if you are given help, use it to your best ability. Stop thinking the world owes you something, it really doesn’t.

DLA is not a Luxury but a Life Line

The UK has been hit dramatically by the world wide recession the past two years, but with the recent emergency budget and all of its announcements, will it be the disabled population who in turn pays for the country’s debts?

On Tuesday the Chancellor spent almost an hour depicting the changes he aims to implement during the term of the new government, among which were a raise in VAT, which I personally expected, cuts to public services which was sadly inevitable, a freeze on child benefit and reduction in Child Tax credit and a change to disability living allowance. The new proposal will require each person to go under stringent medical tests to approve or refuse their application. On the one hand, this does need to be done to prevent fraudulent claims but how many of the disabled population will suffer because of these requirements, especially when it comes to disabilities that are invisible, I.E, dyslexia and mental health.

As much as I agree, testing should go ahead, but disabilities are not purely medical conditions. Someone who is blind may not need to visit the hospital or be in pain a lot of the time with their eye condition whereas they may struggle while trying to be independent in the outside world. Mobility is a primary concern along with living independently and although Ian Duncan Smith claims these new implementations will force those who do not need DLA back into the labour workforce, who exactly is he referring to? Is he talking about visually impaired people who are continually fighting alongside the deaf and physically disabled to gain jobs in today’s society or is e correctly targeting those who are fraudulently claiming DLA because they would rather not work? If it is indeed the latter, I’m all for this action but if not, then they are leaving people with disabilities high and dry.

People with disabilities who rely on the money pay for taxis as an alternative if they cannot get somewhere they need, I.E., a doctor’s appointment. Someone who is visually impaired and maybe the roads are bad or their guide dog is out of work, needs that assurance that they can pay to get to important appointments. Or someone in a wheelchair who is unable to use public transport would use their mobility component to use a taxi service. The care element can be used for a variety of reasons, buying essential equipment that they need to use in order to live independently with their disability. Without the money to support them, how will the disabled people of our society survive efficiently?

Many disabled people work or want to work and disability living allowance provides them with the financial support to work effectively and live independently. If these measures are indeed aimed at reducing the number of fraudulent claimers, then it’s a good move but if not, and legitimate disabled people are going to suffer and we will continue to block the advancement for disabled people throughout the UK.

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