The disability balancing act

As many will know I have been making the most of the warmer, lighter, healthier summer months since about May by working hard (including external consultancy stuff), partying lots and visiting cool places. After the JTSMA conferences long weekend and going straight to work the Monday after I realised I needed a chill. So I really did not do much last weeks evenings until Friday. I celebrated Paul Carter from works birthday with other work mates and hit the sambuccas. However I slept soooooo much Saturday, did a massive shop, cleaned, sorted the post and got my head straight. Sunday I worked on the e-campaigning toolkit I am designing but still relaxed.

Having gone back to work yesterday and attended a little blogger meeting with Mark Borland and others from the Priority trust last night (doing great work getting wheelchairs for children – I have had some head space for thinking time. When it comes to my life I have tussled in the past with if/when my disability needed consideration and when it was irrelevant. I have also gone through this with new friends, when they comment on how they begin to forget I am disabled over time. I have this same debate with my blogs. I know that for many they like this site because I am a normal guy, doing normal things, despite my disability, and this is good for younger disabled kids and non disabled people. Disabled adults also like seeing some of the stuff I do but others prefer it when I get more political or highlight something being effected because I am disabled.

I generally try to just write as I feel. Generally its just my daily life, sometimes a hotel will mess up wheelchair access and other times I will commentate on broader disability news. I would love to have more feedback on which areas people want more on and what is interesting. As for today I can say I was reading loooaaads on the welfare reform being proposed, because I am hoping to support Scope’s employment services fund their projects. It hit me really hard how the assessments and cuts proposed for Disabled Living Allowance (DLA) will be detrimental for disabled people. Furthermore all of this is under the idea that ‘fraudsters’ are costing the economy so much, when in fact the numbers of false claimants are minimal. plus the cost to enforce these checks will be larger than the estimated fraud level – hinting at the fact the government want to cut the overall total claimants, potentially into the cohort of those who deserve the benefit.

This whole area is another balancing act around disability. I agree that more incentives are needed for people to work. I often have seen that I could not work and still gain the help to exist. For me I need to get out and keep my brain occupied. however because I work most means tested assistance for things I require due to my disability will be refused. I often go without, as running a 2 bedroom flat in London solo costs enough. forget me as i know working puts me in an ok position. what about the people that genuinely cant work, or would but find discrimination or inflexible working conditions? we need a way to understand a persons disability, but more so there ability, in a non intrusive way. then we need to support employers into understanding the needs of that person (instead of the all or nothing approach). finally having understood the person, supported employers and enabled many more disabled people to work, disabled people would require less support financially but in a way that is fair and not forced.

This will take time but the present option is branding many disabled people as lazy, forcing them to prove their disability and actually cornering disabled people into self prophecised unemployment – of the governments doing. with so few fraud cases, is this really the biggest drain on the economy? no, the short sightedness of the recent decisions are the cause. the whole choice to cut spending is a whole other debate i have as a keynsian fan, but if you are going to cut, do it sensibly. dont do it where you snowball a perceived problem to become worse and more costly. as disabled people feel the stress of assessments, lower incomes and lower enjoyment levels, mental health problems could kick in, adding newer costs.

It just seems whether on my perception of myself, how friends perceive me, how I blog and the big governmental decisions all require balance. Balance of acknowledging someone’s limitations and needs, investing in the areas that improve their life and allowing them to flourish and give far more back in ways that are different but just as valuable. sounds simple and to be honest it is. its the bureaucracy and red tape that confuses, adds costs and reduces welfare that is the problem, and the reason this world is so off balance when it comes to disability at times.

See what happens when I think!? Back to the fun stuff – I am actually flying a plane Saturday – video blog to come 😉