Monthly Archives

March 2016

George Osbourne

There is only so much you can take Mr Osborne

By | Disability, Hollie Williams, Lifestyle | No Comments

Written by Holly Williams

Well it has certainly been a lively week in politics and in what seems to be becoming a nasty habit. Disabled people have once again been brought into the limelight of much of the Government’s cost cutting with Chancellor George Osborne announcing in Thursday’s budget plans to save £13billion a year by slashing payments for care aids such as walking sticks, wheelchairs, hand rails and other equipment that many people rely on to deal with basic needs such as washing and going to the toilet. This latest action is just the most recent step in a long line of measures by the Conservative party that seem to solely exist to punish and persecute the most vulnerable members of our society, which has also included the creation of the bedroom tax that penalises many disabled people for having necessary space in their homes for carers or equipment and brutal reductions to the PIPs benefit scheme that has seen a severe drop in the funds many people use to pay for support to help them live full and active lives.

Is it any wonder that so many disabled people feel victimised by this Government over the past eight years? The focus on money saving targeted at those in our society who need the most assistance and protection is now bordering on nothing more than blatant prejudice. Maybe there is something of an echo back to the days of the Thatcherite 1980s still hanging over the mind-set of the Tory party, the memory of the old ‘get on your bike and find work’ Norman Tebbitt attitude that those who don’t contribute to society financially must be given short shrift until they do.

But the reality is that the individuals who suffer the most from these cuts are on the whole unable to work and those who could possibly earn a wage are finding it harder to do so because the basic support that allows them to engage in society, simply get out of bed and dressed in the morning is being taken away from them. Perhaps the attitude of the Conservative party is even more cynical than that, perhaps they are using disabled people as their scapegoat because they are aware that they are a group whose voice still goes unheard, a minority small and powerless enough but who soak up a significant percentage of the country’s funds that their pockets can be picked to make up the national deficit. It can’t help feel like a smack in the face to learn that the savings made by the most recent rounds of cuts more or less equal the tax bonuses being offered to middle class families. What is even more hurtful is the knowledge that the Prime Minister David Cameron was the father to a disabled child and many believed that this factor would make him more sympathetic to the plight of disabled people and their families, when the opposite appears to be true. Perhaps the fact that Cameron comes from an highly affluent, privately educated family means he was able to finance his son’s care himself and has little knowledge of how hard an ordinary British family has to fight to provide essential assistance that disabled people so vitally need.

But as physics teach us, when you push against something you’re bound to find the point of resistance and it would appear that with the cuts to disability provision , that point is coming very close. The ripples of Osborne’s budget are already reverberating back towards him with blows coming from very close to home. Friday night saw the resignation of Work and Pensions Minister Ian Duncan Smith in a open letter to David Cameron in which he calls the budget cuts a ‘compromise too far’. But this is a man, you remember, who oversaw many of the most severe penalties against the Government support of disabled people so one does have to question whether this change in attitude is down to a wounded conscience or a political play in his own career. With the tide of outrage against these cuts growing in volume, is it possible that Duncan Smith is simply getting out while he still can in the hope of retaining a small shred of dignity? His outcry against his colleagues may look like a flag of hope to many fighting the cuts but I find it very hard to believe it will mark any state of real change of attitude by the Conservatives towards disabled people. Until I see real positive action and change in current policy, I won’t be holding my breath.

The Iceberg Effect by Holly Williams

By | Disability, Lifestyle | No Comments

A while ago, my mum asked me idly if I could get rid of any part of my disability what part would I pick. She was referring to my Cerebral Palsy which pretty much affects my entire body. At the time, I told her I probably wished I had better speech as I find it quite hard to join in with conversations with people and the way I talk gives the impression that I have learning disabilities. But as I’ve gotten older, I think I would like to change my answer. If I found a genie living in a magic lamp who was able to spirit away part of my medical condition I would tell him I was quite happy to live with all the obvious impairments I struggle with but would be eternally gratefully if he could zap to oblivion all the stuff that people don’t see right away; the problems and difficulties that from the outside seem like nothing but as I get older are becoming more of an issue for me.

I think that is one of the reasons people who aren’t disabled have such a difficult time relating to people who are. Because unless you actually have a specific condition, you have no idea of all the little hidden extras that go along with it that the person has to deal with just to keep going every day. I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past couple of weeks because in that time I’ve found myself having to deal with a lot of the extra stuff that comes along with having my disability and quite frankly it’s been getting me down. It can feel like you signed on for having trouble with movement or speech and get geared up to cope with that and then another part of you starts to think ‘I’m bored with being left out of this whole disability thing, I want to have a go.’ I try not to let it get to me but there are times, like this week, when I think, do I really need something else? I thought I had everything sorted.

For example, I’m epileptic and, as Michael Caine says, not a lot  of people know that. Not a lot of people know it because after spending most of my childhood trying out different meds, I finally found the one that works and, touch wood, haven’t had a fit for about 20 years. The problem is that these drugs also cause tunnel vision so this week, as I do every year, I had a three hour drive from my home to King’s College Hospital to check that I’m not going blind. What gets to me is that I know my eyesight isn’t effected by my CP because all through my childhood I had 20/20 vision. But to live my life semi-normally I have had to literally give up part of my sight so I don’t have a fit every couple of days. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not wandering round like Mr Magoo, I can still do everything I want to, it just makes me question the fairness of the universe when I am told I’ve lost 10% vision in one eye because of something that’s meant to help me.

Then there’s the side effects of the side effects, the fact that I have to deal with the whole test in the first place. The getting up at 6am to be on time for my appointment, the long journey that leaves me tired before I even have to concentrate on the test. The ability King’s have to lose my notes so the specialist doesn’t know whether he’s testing my eyes together or individually, not to mention that once I’ve had the main test the staff manage to forget both me and the poor guy next to me in the waiting room so we’re still sitting there when the afternoon paediatric clinic starts. This time I got an extra treat, something new that I wasn’t expecting, a glaucoma test, he didn’t even warn me. Just when I am thinking we’re on the home stretch, I hear the phrase, ‘Right, I’m just going to numb your eyeballs.’ Excuse  me, I’m not at doctor but I do know that when you numb something it is to stop pain. I wondered what he was going to do. I did really want to be a helpful patient and I can only apologise to the poor Asian male nurse for the stink my body kicked up. I knew he was only doing his job, unfortunately my muscles didn’t.

Anyway, I’m sorted for the next 12 months but it just gets to me that I don’t feel like I signed up for this when it’s not directly related to my CP. I am getting better though. Slowly, as I grow  older I am realising that like my walking and speech CP is going to give me these unexpected gifts and it does no good to get angry about them. Just have to hope next week will be better.

houses of paliament

Update on our Campaign for better access and improved disability training for door and security staff qualified through the SIA

By | Business, Disability | No Comments

UPDATE 09th March 2016

We’re delighted to announce that through our campaigning we have arranged a meeting with Justin Tomlinson MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disabled People) and Norman Lamb MP (Shadow LD Spokesperson on Health) to meet with Jennie Williams (CEO, Enhance the UK) and Gary Mazin (Head of PR & Marketing, Enhance the UK) to discuss the EDM motion 1103 about giving disability awareness training for security staff. This meeting will be held on Thursday 24th March at 10:15am, Department for Work & Pensions, Caxton House.

We can also confirm a meeting has been arranged for Jennie and Gary to meet with Tony Holyland (Development and Technical Manager, SIA) and Karimah Pedro (Competency Officer, SIA) at 12pm on Thursday 10th March.

Background

It feels like we have come a long way with our campaign which started back in January after I’d been refused entry into the Fire Station Bar by the doorman. At the time I had no idea that what was an extremely traumatic experience, could turn out to be a real positive for the disabled community.

It became clear that the Security Industry Authority (SIA) needs to improve its clarity and ensure disability awareness training is given to all people who receive the qualification as a door supervisor or security guard.

We then spent a lot of our time and energy lobbying MPs and trying to bring this important discussion as much publicity as possible.

After a lot of campaigning and discussions Norman Lamb MP agreed to table an early day motion to discuss this in the House of Commons. Over the course of 3 weeks, this motion has received 29 signatures (and counting!). We also managed to gain support from Lord Holmes and Baroness Campbell. As the MP for Lambeth where the original refusal took place Kate Hoey MP also helped by writing directly to the Home Secretary and Justin Tomlinson.

Full details of how this campaign came about can be read here:

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/partially-blind-man-refused-access-to-waterloo-bar-and-shoved-because-he-had-guide-dog-a3156866.html

http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/security-industry-silent-on-flaws-in-disability-equality-training-for-bouncers/

The current EDM:

http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2015-16/1103

Coming Soon: Liability Magazine

By | Disability, Lifestyle | No Comments

We are incredibly excited to announce the release of our new online disability and lifestyle magazine – Liability. Our fabulous fierce female writers and vloggers have a range of disabilities and are here to cover all kinds of topics from current affairs to fashion and beauty. We wanted to create this magazine as an outlet for all the amazing women we know who are doing incredible things, and also happen to be disabled.

Many bloggers with disabilities have huge followings and it’s not hard to see why. Approaching topics so often dominated from the able-bodied perspective, disabled bloggers are offering an insight into a world that many people don’t get to see.

But of course they don’t ALWAYS have to mention their disabilities. That’s not necessarily what makes them them. In an increasingly more diverse world, especially on the internet, differences are to be celebrated and anybody can and should voice their opinion about what they are passionate about, whatever that may be.

Liability is about confidence, adventure and being yourself – no matter whose toe’s you may step (or wheel) on.

To find out more about Liability magazine or to get involved, please email hello@enhancetheuk.org.

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