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Richard is one my best mates. We attended Coventry university together. Had many hilarious and intellectual conversations throughout. Rich is a political genius and I wanted him to write this piece around the recent media coverage of disabled people. I hope you find it interesting, helpful and wanting to question the status quo. Thanks for writing this, bud!

In this article I hope to show the reasons why Shipley MP Philip Davis felt able to make such a disablist statement and how the debate around welfare reform and barriers to employment has taken a wrong turn, before turning to what could be done to improve the situation.

The recent comments by Mr.Davis that those with learning disabilities should be paid less than the minimum wage to encourage employer’s to give those with impairments jobs, has rightly been condemned by activists, charities and by all shades of political opinion. Apart from the comments being deeply offensive, it is my understanding that to pay someone less than the minimum wage is illegal and dare I say it a flagrant degradation of their human rights.

However, I believe the current political climate make such comments acceptable and is further evidence that we are a long way from ridding our society of disablist attitudes. Nothing exemplifies this more than the current debate surrounding welfare reform and barriers to employment.

The harsh rhetoric employed by the media and parroted by politicians of all stripes in a desperate attempt to be seen as tough on welfare , put forward the argument that, whilst protecting those who are most in need, they are going to be tough on those who are fit to work. This  is unhelpful and wrongheaded as the recent debacle over the last government fitness to work test highlights.

There is an assumption that being on benefits is an easy life, and that people are happy to be in receipt of welfare. They argue the current benefit system discourages people from finding work.  This does not tally with my own experience of being in receipt of benefits.  It has long been noted that dependence on the welfare system traps individuals in what has been commonly termed the ‘poverty trap: once caught in the trap of welfare you  are more likely to fall into debt  in order to meet living costs and suffer from a physical or mental illness’. To those who adhere to the view that being on benefits is an easy life,  I would point out who would logically choose to live in poverty with social stigma of being a ‘scrounger’ and constant demonization by the media?

There is also a wide spread myth  that benefits are easy to get and the criteria for gaining them is soft, for someone who is eligible for benefits I can state  that this is not the case as anyone who has had to tackle the labyrinth that is the DLA form can testify .

There is also a view that there is no sanction against cheating the system. Again this is not the case. If the DWP suspect you of wrongdoing you have to prove that you are not guilty during that period whilst all money is stopped until the matter is resolved and if found guilty you must pay all money back. In the most severe of cases one could go to prison.

In an effort to reduce the cost of the welfare state there is an attempt by the coalition government supported by labour’s vote on the welfare reform bill to toughen already stringent rules on claiming benefits. There is a danger that such a move could hark back to Victorian times of the poor house and  adopting harsher measures which will create divisive policies that give credence to  the idea of deserving and the undeserving poor.

Amongst the social and political elite one idea of how to fix our ‘broken’ welfare system is gaining momentum as evidenced by a speech given by Ed Milliand  on welfare reform in which he argued that for an individual to be in receipt of state support they must contribute to society. Personally I have nothing against the idea of active and participatory citizenship.  However I am deeply concerned that the barrier’s facing those with an  impairment or   disability in gaining employment or making a contribution to society are not fully recognised, leading to unhelpful comments such as those of Philip Davies becoming the norm and feeding into policy making process. This would set back the cause of disability equality decades. It is widely known that if you are disabled you are less likely than a non-disabled person to find a job. This I believe is due in inflexible practices and employer’s concerns surrounding the associated costs of employing a disabled person. Here are a few of my own thoughts on how to resolve these problems:

  • All members of parliament should attend mandatory disability awareness training with emphasis on understanding  the social model of disability to ensure better understanding of the issues facing disabled people.
  • Educating the public on why people receive welfare thus enabling society to have a more measured debate around welfare reform.
  • Recognise the cultural diversity that disabled people bring to the country eg. Social media, the arts, etc.
  • Widening the definition of employment and work to give proper standing voluntary work
  • P.A’s for care work to be given proper recognition.
  • Companies must be made aware of the full range of help available to them in employing disabled people and how it benefits their company – access to work
  • A greater flexibility in employment practices and welfare to work schemes

What do you guys think to this vitally important topic?

Richard Currie
richard.currie81@gmail.com

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Welcome to my 200th post and its a big one! Did you all manage to read my guest blog post a couple of days ago? HossyLass was able to articulate a perspective of disability I am unable to. Not because of a moral or principal disagreement, but because our impairments (the correct word to use for someone’s medical condition) affect us very differently. I have always been aware of different impairments – my cousin is deaf, my other cousin has Down’s Syndrome, I work with a blind man and a dyslexic guy, I know wheelchair users with different impairments, even within SMA (my impairment) the spectrum is massive. Also my aunty has had ME (chronic fatigue) for many years and a uni friend is tussling with this at present too.

Since I have been speaking out through my blog my aims have been: to inform, to inspire and to change. I believe the power to any blog is personal experience. However when an individual speaks out against government decisions or societies discrimination, it has to become a collective. The disability community is a clever, articulate, politically aware and economically savvy bunch. With the increased cost of living, government cuts and welfare reforms disabled people are becoming scared and rightly vocalising this. While the cost of living affects a whole economy, disabled people face additional costs. While the cuts are affecting many groups, cuts for disabled people can mean no food, hygiene or shelter. While welfare reform are largely embraced to simplify a complicated process, it is actually scare mongering and scape goating disabled people.

The feedback I have had alongside this terrible political economic state has been:

  • From people with very different impairments to my own
  • Impairments that can cause so much fatigue and pain, getting out of bed is not possible
  • People so fearful of the governments ‘Back to work’ initiatives
  • Individuals questioning how the social model is valid to them
  • Questioning how a government can be so callous in their narrow views. An example of the new tests for 1.5 million on incapacity benefit (a benefit for people unable to work due to disability or long term illness) is as silly as if someone can hold a pen. Its clear to see someone could hold a pen, but have multiple reasons why work is still not possible

I do not pretend to have the answers. I want to just share my opinions on this. I see this in 2 strands – the identity of the disability community and the identity of the government policy changes.

Medical v Social model – A big part of the disabled communities identity stems from which overarching model they use. Despite its limitations I do back the social model. To my mind the medical model was where disabled people were ‘the problem’. Their impairments were to be cured. They were shunned away from society and received awful medical treatment such as electric shocks to remove their impairment. The idea of the social model is liberating. Disabled people are not the problem, it is the construction of society. I do concede its inclusivity for different impairments has its limits. However please do not suggest the medical model is right.

Medical treatment is a necessity, but this is wholly different from the oppression of the medical model. Surely it is about understanding an individuals limitations physically and mentally, receiving physio, spinal fusion operations, pain relief etc. Then in understanding what could still be achieved despite medical limitations learning how to remove any additional societal barriers in the way. Employment could mean encouraging businesses to offer more part-time jobs and working from home. Socialising could mean open minded friends being creative around social settings. I still maintain the world is everyone’s oyster, with the right medical and technological advances, government support and societies inclusivity.

If the disability community can reach a rigid stance on its collective identity, there is greater chance of change. If segments of a minority group stand for conflicting needs, the government will struggle to satisfy its needs. With one collective loud voice, how can the government ignore 10m people?

The government policy – I believe if the common needs are sieved out, we can offer solutions and not just problems. At a top level this could be:

  • An understanding of different impairments and their implications on a person
  • Disabled people, even with similar impairments, have different personalities and views. There is no such thing as one size fits all
  • Once understood, listened to and included in decisions, disabled people just want to get on with living life. We are not trouble makers or fraudsters.
  • It will take money, time, innovation and learnings to get to a perfect policy. However with affordable medical treatment, equipment and care; disabled people will achieve their own potential

Mr Osborne and Mr Duncan Smith – If you invest in disabled people the way you are encouraging the world to do in your economy, you will see a massive ‘rate of return’. In contributions to the economy, in increased employment through social care, in tax revenues from both of these, and in healthcare savings from improved welfare and happiness. Open your eyes!!!

Please retweet, email and post this anywhere. Raise the awareness that this is a complex issue with complex answers. Only collectively (through healthy debate) can we find the answers. I hope this sparks some thoughts, passion and change to at least one of you.

Martyn
martyn@martynsibley.com
Twitter: @martynsibley

As mentioned, there is only so much I can inform and inspire around my daily routine. If anyone has questions on how I manage working, getting around London socially and travelling do get in touch. My past week has been working hard, seeing 6 friends from university in Camden Friday night, my mum and dad yesterday before returning to work today! Has been another great week 🙂

Furthermore I have been aware that my experiences of disability are biased. Meanwhile my guest blogs have been generally from others with a similar impairment. Todays blog is a guest blog from a blogger name HossyLass. It lays out the recent government policy decisions’ effects on disabled people, but better still shows an insight to disability from an experience different to my own. I am writing a blog on my perspectives of the social model for later in the week, but have to say this article is fantastic at outlining the shortfalls of the social model. Enjoy!

I personally am furious about the Government reducing, or rather bastardising, the social model.

They claim in the Disability Living Allowance reform that the world has moved on since its inception, and is a very different place from what it was when they constructed the DLA. And hence DLA needs reforming.

Yeah, we had the DEA and DED’s. Powers that are only effective when wielded as a weapon of defence by disabled people. Now that has changed to the Equality Act 2010, but until the change is proved to be working then it is just wishful thinking, and they cannot rely on the world of wishful thinking. Not when that reliance is at the expense of disability benefit reductions.

Wishful thinking and the necessary retrospective actions are just some of the flaws in the Governments interpretation of the social model.  Given the reductions in Employment Law for small companies, the legislation promoted as the great social equaliser becomes not just a toothless beast, but a totally vacuous promise.

However the social model was never meant to be used in isolation. It is an academic tool to be used alongside other models, to be used as a framework for reference when discussing all aspects of disability. The use in isolation, and subsequent bastardisation, of the social model has left some disabled people in a very vulnerable position.

The social model is not a valid model for people who are sick, and disabled by illness. It leans towards those who are disabled without illness or pain, i.e. it leans towards those whom society generally recognises as disabled. It then leads automatically to the ESA and the whole “working” thing which is portrayed as a good thing, and I agree, because if the world was flat, and wheelchairs were wonderful and free, and all transport accessible, and all people could sign, and hearing loops existed in every cable in the land etc, etc, etc (fill in your own wish list) then disabled people would have a better chance of being equal regarding many aspects that disable them.

It is only a better chance, but the equality of access and communication will only be effective when the wishful thinking is fulfilled. It won’t be achieved by current legislation. It won’t be achieved by Dave’s “Big Society” either, because if society was such a nice obliging disability-friendly place then there would be no need for legislation.

However, even if this utopian idyll existed it would do very little for those who are simply too ill to participate, a point that gets ignored constantly.

Those who have chronic illnesses and disabling conditions often look totally free of disability. You can pass them in the street and not feel the urge to stare, pat their guide-dog or lust after their wheelchair, because you haven’t noticed that they are disabled. This is because people with chronic illnesses and disabling conditions have a tendency to stay at home, indoors, and usually in bed when they are disabled by their illness. Some are hospitalised when their illness becomes noticeable. At this point the social model, as portrayed by the Government, becomes irrelevant. All that matters is the medical aspects, the treatment, and the vague belief that “some day soon” the condition will go into some form of remission. Their lives are controlled by the random fluctuations in their conditions.

The medical aspects of life are what controls the behaviours and choices these people make – “Can I cope with a crowd today?”, “Will I have enough stamina to get me to the shop and back?”. When they do go out in society it is often dictated primarily by the medical aspects of their condition.

The reform of DLA and the horrific ESA are both heavily influenced by three significant beliefs;

The belief that society will somehow become accessible, and therefore remove all barriers disabled people face, the belief that all people will get better from debilitating conditions, and the belief that sufficient financial sanctions and enforced work participation will in some way bring about the first two scenarios.

Well society won’t become instantly accessible just because DLA has been reformed, and people won’t recover from genetic life-long conditions regardless of how many times they are tested. If we don’t remind people that the medical model is as relevant as the social model, and that these reforms and cuts are based on projections, unfounded beliefs and wishful thinking, then a significant proportion of the disabled community will, in the not too distant future, get seriously shafted.

And no amount of belief or wishful thinking is going to change that.

Guest post by HossyLass, originally posted on http://benefitscroungingscum.blogspot.com/ by @bendygirl

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You know it gets tougher to write new, innovative, non-repetitive and funky blogs. I guess when you have a routine of work, and (unfortunately) cannot travel every week, this is unavoidable. On the flip side, with random events, news articles and the variety we have in the world; the task is not impossible either. So I turn to the personal, the political and the possible…

On a personal level, I need to mention an ailment (this is for you Lena!). Off the back of my first reggae concert and indeed big night out since winter, I felt rubbish last week! I ambled into Thursday with a cold  when I had to take a train to Wakefield for an inspiring work meeting. That night, my second of the ex Austrians, Lena, visited for the weekend. With a delayed flight I collected her from the airport around midnight. Fortunately my semi cold subsided Friday morning to allow a really nice few days with the Viennese vixen. With food and wine Friday in the flat, a visit from Billy for his birthday Saturday in Camden and a drive around the sights of London Sunday night – it was a good weekend.

The reason I mention blog topics and ailments is Lena pointed out my propensity to mention on martynsibley.com when I feel tired and unwell. I know I do this to share my winter worries and how some days are a struggle. Despite my positivity, it wouldn’t be honest of me to not share my limitations, difficulties and concerns. She also noted my arms looked tighter and a bit weaker. This is something that comes with the SMA territory, does play on my mind and is something I debate how to lessen. However I appreciated the fact I sometimes worry/stress myself into feeling under par and can do more to maintain my physical well being. Honestly, I really appreciated this observation.

Therefore while winter will always be hard and my SMA may cause me to get a little weaker, I have a current aim. Which is to not dwell on illness/tiredness and begin my swimming and stretches again. With the clocks having gone forward, spring in the air and good times coming – there is no time like the present. Plus it is easier for me to swim in warmer temperatures and my muscles loosen up in the heat too.

Having had a kind of personal epiphany and a ‘new season’ resolution, I turn to the political. For those who wondered about my views on last weeks budget (I know, it has been a while, but I was out Saturday night in the Jazz Café and my hangover last longer now) and for those who didn’t see my live tweets for Scope. My executive summary would be that the budget was surprisingly better than expected. However it was off the back of some hard and harsh cuts last November, which are hitting disabled people particularly hard.

My view is we need cuts to reduce the deficit and inject confidence back into our economy. We should expect those better placed to bear the brunt of this. Disabled people need to know their standard of living will not decrease over and above the already challenging situation of inflation, unemployment and cuts, just because of their additional needs. I really hope the government will not make disabled people scape goats alongside alleged ‘fraudsters’ and ‘benefit scroungers’. With this said and done, last weeks budget seeks to gain business and economic growth. If disabled people are included and supported appropriately with this agenda, I will be happy. Lets just hope the plans to kick start the economy are fully inclusive.

Lastly, the possible! I have some interesting opportunities this week around the blog work I do. There may be the chance to work on some other social media projects, there is a relaunch of ‘seminar in your slippers’ (my online seminars around managing care packages and for wheelchair travel), the launch of mine and a friends online magazine, and even a disability app!!! Stay posted for more information on this.

Coming up, I am seeing my good mate Rich from uni at the weekend. Then Rico, the German lad, is over next weekend. All before I head to Cyprus for a week in mid April. With spring here, more exercise, enjoyable projects at Scope and new blog related activities, I am very excited about the coming months…

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Hi readers. Another week has passed already. I am keen to tell you about a new project I am working on for Sunnier Days (my social enterprise). Therefore I will share Thursday nights debauchery and this weekends fun in a separate blog over the next couple of days on my site.

Sunnier Days is the very personal name I have given to the ‘vehicle’ enabling me to make some of my ideas around disability a reality. Those close to me refer to my positive attitude, my love of sunny holidays and because my projects (the blog, work with Hackney council and DisabilityLib) are about improving things – Sunnier Days felt right and was born!

So what is this project about? You may remember last May I decided to find a venue, inspirational speakers and market an event for disabled people. My friends, family and blog readers gave positive feedback, however the guys in the BBC ouch chat rooms were more sceptical. I managed to get a great venue in Shoreditch – London, the BBCs disabled tv presenter Natasha Wood and disabled model Sophie Morgan, and 20 people attended! It was the first time I have ever done something like this. It was challenging, scary, great fun, uplifting and a big learning experience.

The feedback showed that there is an appetite for dissemination of inspiring and informative information to disabled people, their friends/family and professionals. The down side was the costs associated with hiring a venue, putting on catering and transportation to the event. I continued with my blogging, looked at social networking sites and pondered many other ways of providing a platform for debate, sharing and positive change around disability.

More recently the ability to run a seminar online was brought to my attention. Part of my new years’ excitement was around the prospect of running the Sunnier Days events (like last Mays), but straight to someone’s living room.

Having a disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy I have been a member of the charity for my impairment since birth – www.jtsma.org.uk – (I was also on the board of trustees for 2 years). We have partnered up to launch this idea for their members and my blog followers. ‘Seminar in your slippers’ has been officially launched this week!

To see my cheesy promo video and to download the flyer with full details, please click http://www.jtsma.org.uk/seminar_in_your_slippers.html

Feel free to retweet this, email friends and phone anyone who might find this useful. I hope, even with a couple of tweaks from these 2 seminars, that ‘seminar in your slippers’ can become a great innovative way of delivering informative and inspirational details to the living rooms of the disabled community. Please do sign up, join us on the scheduled dates and provide feedback so we can achieve this!

Exciting times hey 🙂

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I am sat writing this blog in my old skool wheelchair that has dead batteries and not offering me the best of comfort! I have taken a days annual leave, knowing the weekend was going to be tiring in a debauched kind of way. More to come. So in knowing I would sleep  most of the morning, I took the opportunity to get my normal wheelchair booked in round the corner from mums at the repair shop. The reason is that when I reach half of full speed the front wheels wobble like mad, plus the footplate is all bent up from wheelchair drink driving incidents of years gone by (I don’t do that anymore of course! Lol).

Since we caught up last I cruised through another cold, booked a holiday to Tenerife (I am solar powered and need a hotter climate 24/7), and had a great week again at Scope. Tuesday I drove 3 hours to Worcester for a productive 2 hour meeting and then a 4 hour return journey. Worked at home Wednesday and really got stuck into a new project Thursday and Friday. Friday night I had a coke at a ‘leaving do’ of a long time Scope friend, before heading Saturday morning to mums with the hoist. My PA and I executed a military exercise, dropping irrelevant road trip items at mums and jumped in Matt’s car (tweet handle: @smegfirk, whom I went to school with) before his PA drove us northwards.

Now we hit the good stuff – Manchester. So why? Well my mate Graham who was ‘Dicky’s’ (AKA Rich’s) carer at uni (heres some infamous Dicky footage: http://martynsibley.com/dicky-and-marv) was 30 years old and threw a bash. Matt had never been away with his PA’s, partly as he only ventured into the world of PAs last year. So I had sorted the hotel out and general ‘wheelies on tour’ logistics and we planned dinner with Dicky, drinks at Grahams party, some sleep and a Sunday snack before heading back down south.

We made good time, but on arrival bumped into one of Dicky’s friends who coincidentally was taking refuge in our hotel. She had lead the March of NUS and unions protestors against student and general government cuts. There had been a few incidents in the city so she was waiting for things to calm. Eventually we hooked up with Dicky, grabbed some food and hit the party.

We overcame the big step in the bar with the bouncers help and with no accessible loo I used my special bag contraption for the night. A few drinks in Matt, myself and our PAs had an interesting chat. It was around the etiquette, rules and laws of standard for PAs. This was interesting for me as 2 weeks earlier I had the incident of my PA being refused entry to the bar. I have observed that unless there is a care agency with their own rules, Direct Payments do not have (or at least effectively communicate)rules for many differing factors for the disabled person ‘managing’ the arrangement, the PAs exact role and how society acts towards PAs.

My approach is understanding the laws, having a base agreement on pay, responsibilities and expectations and that I always want communication. ‘I do not have problems, but challenges’ as someone advised me. Therefore I noted with interest that Matt was going through the steps I did when I began Direct Payments. He is doing great, but my point is there should be a known, communicated and enforced procedure from the day a social worker signs off your budget and leaves you to basically run your own mini business – budget, rotas, employment etc etc.

Anyway beyond my more serious thoughts, the night was great and it was good to have a drink with good mates after my winter health issues. Some other stuff did occur later, but it really is a case of what happened in Manchester stays in Manchester I am afraid ;-)sorry!

I am off to sit more comfortably as typing this has nearly killed me. I am also nursing the wounds of Tottenhams defeat yesterday. Good news is mums doing a roast before I drive back tonight in my good chair. Working tomorrow and potentially a crazy night Thursday with my step  brothers band after they have a big music meeting – http://www.myspace.com/silenthouseparty. single out now! Laters…

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Dear all elected officials and decision makers (at a national and local level)

In light of the recent cuts to government spending, we (Martyn Sibley of London and Richard Currie of Manchester) are writing to convey our deep concern at the affects they will have on the disabled people of the UK. We are only 2 of 10 million disabled people in Britain, but our views are by no means unique. This letter forms our contribution to a large online campaign – 1 month before heartbreak. Many people are blogging today to urge your good selves to consider aspects of the Disability Living Allowance and general disability reforms, and how they will truly work in the ‘real world’.

The DLA provides vital financial assistance for the extra costs incurred as a result of being disabled. The consultation is looking at tougher assessment criteria (to reduce the number of claimants) and even withdrawing the vital transport component of the allowance. It ends on 14th February 2011. Furthermore there are discussions to disband the Independent Living Fund, assisting disabled people to live full, self directed lives. Please don’t break anyone’s heart on Valentines day. Or for that matter, ever!

We would like to start by acknowledging  the social, legal, economic, political and technological improvements of the past 50 years . With the social model of disability being enforced through laws and motions such as the Disability Discrimination Act and the UN convention , disabled people have seen vast improvements in societal inclusion. We both have had happy childhoods, met good friends, accessed our education system to Masters level and have ambitions the same as anyone. We personally strive for full independence using our electric wheelchairs, accessing social care provisions and using DLA for the extra costs we incur as disabled people.

As a positive recognition of the coalition government, we are glad you see the merits of Personalisation. The key here is that it may not be for everyone. With such a varying scale of impairments in the disability world, person centred plans are vital. Where possible, people should direct their own provision of services, giving them the flexibility, choice and control they deserve. When certain tasks and responsibilities are simply too much, this must be recognised and solved innovatively with brokerages and other support services. Really the crux of Personalisation is to improve disabled people’s lives, not to cut costs and corners. Please ensure there is enough money in the coffers. It is difficult to employ a PA to carry out care-work 24/7 under the minimum wage. Furthermore without the foundations of care in our lives how can we work, be financially sustainable, socially engage and be happy and healthy?

Unfortunately, even in 2011, this all has not resulted in full inclusion. Physically there are many buildings, transport links and leisure activities that are not accessible. Attitudinally many people still have cautious and incorrect views on disability. It is widely known bus and taxi drivers get agitated because a wheelchair user requires a ramp. Employers often feel concerned of disabled peoples’ ability to carry out a job, instead of assessing them on actual merit. We already need to improve a lot of things despite the progress made. So why make such regressive policy decisions?

With disabled people finding access to qualifications more difficult, trying to change attitudes and access to jobs in an already very difficult labour market, and having less disposable income because of the many extra costs incurred (more expensive travel methods, purchasing and repairs to necessary equipment, central heating costs, extra rent to provide space for PAs…), why slash DLA?

We know there are people claiming it who should not. We totally agree this should be stopped too. However is it the core reason our country is in debt? No. Is it fair that while stopping the fraudsters, people who really do need DLA are worried if they will keep it, worried how they will be assessed (we for one are not attempting to run on any machine to fall over and prove our disability), and others may not even bother applying when they ought to? No.

Furthermore, if you are to disband the Independent Living Fund, supporting 21,000 disabled people with their care needs, consider this. If local councils struggle to financially support 50% of our care now, how will they fill the void left from the ILF, when their overall budgets are being slashed as we write this?

The point is with so much positivity to celebrate, but with so much more to improve, why make decisions that will entrench disabled people back into poverty and exclusion? We say:

  • Invest in disabled people with Personalisation social care, but for the right reasons. Listen to the challenges disabled people face, work with us to find solutions and be willing to fund this properly. In the long run, the spending and investment will lead to disabled people with better education, better skills for the workplace, better chance of being given employment (encourage remote working to become the norm when appropriate) and the means to live happy and fulfilled lives
  • Acknowledge that DLA assists with the huge additional costs of being disabled – care and mobility. Stop anyone from claiming falsely, but in a way that doesn’t scare monger disabled people and doesn’t portray an image of lazy, slacking scroungers. Work with disabled people on the assessment methods and don’t break our hearts!
  • Keep the ILF. Or at least find a plan to fill its void. One that will be effective. Do not cause unnecessary stress to those who rightly use it and will always require social care funding

 Feel free to send any responses, thoughts or questions to martyn@martynsibley.com and lets work together. The deficit can be cut and disabled people can be supported to live inclusively. They are not mutually exclusive occurrences.

 Kindest regards.

 Martyn and Richard

 http://martynsibley.com/

http://thebrokenofbritain.blogspot.com/2011/01/more-one-month-before-heartbreak.html

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My plan was to do a little video following xmas, and prior to the new year. Having drank lots of vodka xmas eve in the infamous http://www.musicboxstives.co.uk/ and eaten so much food since, I am not feeling tip top today. The video shall still be done, just not now 🙂 The xmas period was lovely with family and we saw a pantomime for the first time in years boxing day http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/en/RoyalDerngateTheatres/en/Home/WhatsOn/JackTheBeanstalk. Nuff said!

So, while I have some down time, I have 2 cool bits of news and a request for help with the Olympics. Firstly, following my meeting Professor Dubawitz at the JTSMA conference, my article was published in his international journal last week, cool hey. Then after many shares and tweets for my ILF article within the disability world; http://thethirdestate.net/2010/12/how-abolishing-the-ilf-will-affect-real-people/ and http://falseeconomy.org.uk/cuts/testimony/what-will-replace-the-independent-living-fund-the-dread-kicks-in spread this important news. Its been nice to see my writing reach newer audiences and raise awareness on these passionate issues and views.

Finally please read the below and pass on to anyone who can help. I hope you had a great xmas time too and are as ready as I am for 2011, its gonna be a big one!

From a contact I made recently for London 2012:

As part of our process we will be conducting user testing for the website, and we very much hope to include a wheelchair user as one of the testers for this. However, we are finding it very difficult to find a wheelchair user who is available on January 6th, and who preferably has an interest in sport.

We require someone who is:

– Available to attend on January 6th 2011, at a facility in Central London.

– A wheelchair user

– Regularly travels in London

– Has an interest in sport, or who has attended sporting events in London.

The session itself will simply consist of us asking them their opinion about a prototype web site. There are no wrong answers, and anything they can tell us will be valuable. They will receive £30 on the day for their hour’s time.

If you think you may be able to help, please let me know as soon as you can. If you are able to suggest this to a number of people who may be interested, it may be easiest to direct them straight to the short survey at the following link, which will help us confirm that they are suitable:

http://www.surveymk.com/s/VGBRC3N