Good to Hate?

It seems very fashionable to hate the British government right now and blame it for everything bad that happening under the government. It is certainly true this government has some terrible ideas and there have done themselves no favours in the way they have delivered their messages. 

David Cameron is not a great leader as he portrays themselves as a leader of the middle class rather than the leader of a nation. And so it is easy to blame all their individual problems on him and his government, maybe as an excuse for not taking responsibility for our own circumstances.

I did horse riding every week when I was a child and I was taught that if you fall of a horse, the first thing you must do is get straight back on it and that is exactly what I did. This attitude has always stuck with me as I understand regardless of why something has happened, or who is to blame for it, you need to take responsibility and focus on the stop in hand. There are times to complain and times to just do.

Understanding the bigger picture

Yesterday I was asked if, or maybe rather told, I was a Tory. I am sure maybe people would say I was but I believe it is not that simple if you really want to understand the bigger picture. Many policies have many advantages and disadvantages, with a whole range of stakeholders from many viewpoints who will all have a say in the direction to some degree.

What a minister claims they promise what will happen will always go through a long process before being turned into a palatable solution. Many policies will be implemented within a complex landscape of norms and challenges which may need to be overcome or worked with. Many policies indeed come from the civil service who may have ideas sitting on their shelves, waiting for the right brave or foolish minister to adopt it as their own. These policies may often come as a demand from the sector they affect and in the past, they have even come from disabled people.

From whatever government, they are some policies or elements I agree with and others I disagree with. Within social care especially I try to have an active involvement in the development of policies in a way that is honest and thoughtful. The government is not a single entity but a collection of departments, organisations, people and ideas that work together in a complex way. True activism is about working with this collective to see the bigger picture, not to turn everything into a showdown between you and the government you imagine exists.

Potential cost of accepting a benefits culture

The recent battle between ‘disabled people’ and the government has been portrayed by the majority of the media as a battle of fairness and the rights of disabled people. I would like to argue that in reality that the attempts to stop the reform of DLA is a dark cloud that could potentially halt and maybe reverse the liberation of many disabled people as fully included active citizens.

If the government is forced to continue to spend monies on people with impairments who are not disabled, and are prohibited from cracking down on benefit fraud because of an over-sensitive political environment, then it will have to look at finding the savings it needs to make in other ways.

This will mean it is focus on cuts, maybe hidden cuts, more likely to affect people with significant impairments, who do not currently have a genuine voice as they are excluded from current disability movement. This means while those who shouted will have got what they wanted, cold hard cash, it will be real disabled people that could suffer.

Another concern is that if the ‘rights without responsibilities’ benefits culture is allowed to win, it is going to increase frustration by taxpayers, with could add fuel to the eugenics movement, who can argue disabled people are unaffordable. This is again more likely to be affect people with significant impairments especially as the new disability movements reinforces the prejudices behind this.

So this is why I am so concerned at the implications of the so-called victories of this new disability movement, that ironically excludes disabled people. 

Do disabled people hate themselves?

While this may be seen as quite a sweeping question, I feel it must now be asked. How can many disabled people not be seen as having issues with themselves when they are prepared to label themselves as “the broken of Britain”. The old movement always expected a degree of self loathing of its members which is seen with the BBC Ouch website.

I feel the answer to the question is complex and that from my many years research of impairment identify, it is clear differing factors of impairment will affect how people see themselves in different ways. Someone who is impaired from birth with a lifelong stable condition, like cerebral palsy or spina bifida is more likely to have a strong core identity as they see themselves as normal as people who had no change in identity. People with more significant impairments may also not attempt to compete to fail with their non-impaired peers, accepting themselves as ‘other’.

Therefore people with newly diagnosed conditions will be coming to terms with a new second identity based on their own old previous prejudices of disabled people. Also, people with minor or hidden impairments may be acutely aware of when they can ‘pass’ as normal and when in their eyes, the conditions will let them down. We have also entered an interesting time when unlike the past, there is a greater desire to validate their difference rather than their normality, where impairment was previously hidden at all costs.

I have always seen equality as the equal treatment based on the expectations of the non-impaired so-called majority although we have now seen it twisted into the humane treatment of people who from their own prejudices of themselves as disabled people, as helpless vulnerable people. I always found however something quite inhumane about the very word ‘humane’.

I am going to repeat that remark a few times in my next couple of blog but ‘shoppers are not automatically good shopkeepers’ and when disability remains a very complex subject, we need to challenge the validity of the viewpoint of people are now often just coming to terms with the fact it is an issue that now directly affects them.

My Other Life

In this quick article, I would like to refer you to this link of myself doing in a virtual presentation on Gamification and Disability;

The first reason for this is a thank you to Train4Success and secondly to provide a demonstration of Secondlife as a virtual training aid. Secondlife is still in its infancy and a large majority of people has no idea what it is, let alone the potential it has in so many fields. I therefore hope this may ignite the imaginations of a few readers.

Turning Charities into Businesses

I believe over the last 20 years or so, the role of organisations which consider themselves to be ‘charities’ has began quite muddles. Many of them as become simply service providers, often for local or national government, and the whole aim of ‘Big Society’ in to thrust the bulk of government services into the hands of charities which huge potential for wrongdoing.

While now acting as businesses, they claim the moral high ground and they feel they are still remain trustworthy campaigning organisations as well as personally profiting from a consumer culture. I am sure that this can no longer be case and I feel when the general public understands most of the money given is spent on wages, and very good wages for some, often far more than those who had been fooled into paying for them, things may change. If the public really understood the charity business and how few individuals are directly helped by them, I think it would cause a revolt and questioned will be asked.

I am not saying what the charities are doing is bad but I feel if they are restructured as ethical businesses, their long term creditability would be assured. No one minds a fair profit and decent wages if they are not fooled into believing something else. It is going to be the charities which take this on board now which will survive these challenging times.

Have A Go…

When I was on my teens, my local council really pushed the participation of disabled people into a wide range of sporting activities. I took up every opportunity that was offered to me, having a go at as many sports as I could. I always believed everyone should have an opportunity to try a wide of sports.

In this changed times and with the demographics of disability being very different, I still believe having the opportunity to try and take up sports. While in the context of social care, sports and leisure is seen as a luxury and I can understand that thinking, I believe for people who work or experience a level of stress, that sports is a very good way to balance the mind, as well as the body.

While swimming is not as fashionable as it once was, it is still one activity, with the right equipment and support, anyone can do in their own ways, and if everyone had to opportunity to do so, make we will all be a little less stressed out.

I also believe we need to go back to the ‘have a go’ attitude where disabled people try to better themselves and broaden their experiences, rather than the ‘rights without effort’ culture we have now.

Celebrating 100 posts

I am very pleased to report that this is my 100th post in this Viewpoint blog, and that it has now been several months since I have start posting almost every week day.

The posts remain a part of my way to campaign and inform on a wide range of issues, as well as letting off stem at times. I may know how big my audience is and what they really think of my blog and it certainly feels good to feel that I am doing my bit to make a difference.

Our wonderful social care

Despite all the concerns of the problems with the current social care system in the UK, it must be acknowledged that our system is probably the best in the world and certainly in comparison to America and the rest of Europe.

The concept of people living in their own homes has been nationally embedded as the preferred option in the UK for the last 20 years and the focus has moved to people having more control over the support they need. In America, President Obama has just recently announced a commitment towards providing the opportunity of ‘community living’ for disabled people, what we would call community care.

While it is important we never stop pushing social care forward, we should also recognise the achievements we have made and that on balance, this is a very good country for people who need social care.

Patronising Transport

In many areas of the country there is specialist door to door training aimed at disabled people often called ring and ride, dial-a-ride or something similar. They are often a cross between a taxi and a bus, providing door to door transport around the houses as each vehicle may pick up and drop off a number of people on the way.

Since the transport is often free or the same price to a bus fare, on paper this seems ideal to those journeys which are complex by bus but where time is not an issue, expect for one thing. The problem with many of these services is, well, to be blunt, they can be quiet patronising.

By I mean that these services can be institutionised into a way of thinking where they  believe they are doing their users a big favour. Rather than empowering disabled people to access their community, the true purpose of the service is even to transport older people on mass for their weekly planned outing shopping or to the bingo hall.

For younger disabled people who want some street cred, this can be quite off putting and it is therefore an hidden barrier to transport which needs to be considered.