A lifetime full of Memories

My General Pictures

I have achieved a lot in my life, not as someone with cerebral palsy or a disabled person, but as a person, far more than most people of any age. This is not because I have been especially privileged or things have been easy, far from it, but because I have been prepared to make the most of the opportunities provided to me, the same opportunities many people have but do not often take up. I just overcame the barriers in the way of the opportunities because for me, it was natural to do so.


I am not sure I am a ‘lucky’ unless you believe you can make your own luck but I do know I have worked hard and continue to work to achieve what I achieve and I resent people who do not know me calling me lucky simply because I am able to work, dismissing the many barriers I face. I know I am not special but I am doing my bit and following my journey.


I know who I am and I am proud of who I am, and I love myself and what I have grown and matured into. Today is always the best day of my life because it is a combination of all the many wonderful memories I have from every day before it. I am positive but I do live in the real world and when I see something that is not quite right, I do anything I can to correct it, rather than simply moaning on the sidelines.


Who I am and what I achieved is natural to me and I can not imagine life being any other ways as I have a lifetime full of memories to keep me smiling when the days feel dark.


If you like what I say, have a look at my site at www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74, or even leave me feedback on +44 (0)121 364 1974 or email simon@simonstevens.com  

I Am Disabled and I Am Not a Socialist

I remember a time when disability politics was simply about the issues, providing improved accessibility and greater rights to people with impairments regardless of who was in power. The disability lobby always received a more friendly ear from Labour than the Conservatives but it was all friendly. But in recent years, as sick people and people with hidden impairments have gained a bigger voice, maybe at the cost of the voice of people with significant impairments (who may on reflection may never have had a voice), the agenda has turned from rights and responsibility to welfare and dependency as a desired goal, as the prejudices towards disabled people by disabled people becomes so much more apparent.
The sad reality of this agenda shift is that I believe the disability agenda as been hijacked by the wider socialist movement. By socialism, I am referring to people whose politics is Left of Labour and purport to believe in social justice. These are the people who enjoy attacking the government whatever the reason, and the supposed welfare cuts affecting disabled people are simply the latest in a long line of bandwagon issues which they have hijacked from anti-capitalism to the Vietman War to further back to beyond my time. Social media has galvanised the damaging power they can weld.
This has led me to believe that currently if you are a disabled activist, or claim to be simply one because by write anti-government tweets, you must be a socialist and that you can not be anything but a socialist. This is because a significant minority of people, claiming to be disabled, also have some link to socialism, and feel they have the absolute right to control the current disability agenda, viciously attacking any disabled person who refuses to go against their victimhood agenda. It is clear that the so-called collective has a dislike for disability despite often being disabled themselves and care less about the damage they are causing to disabled people, so long as they can attack this government.
For myself, the only difference between capitalism and socialism in terms of disability is whether the residential care institution people with significant impairments are locked away in are funded by charities or the state, as neither political ideologies has shown its natural desire to include disabled people as contributing citizens because disability is an issue far more complex than to be properly dealt within the simplification of party politics. As a result, I feel in recent years that the personhood of disabled people has been lost and we are all portrayed as victims dependent on the welfare state.
Like it or not there are only a small minority of the 12 million disabled people plus sick people in the country will ever encounter ATOS, even when they start reassessing people for PIP. But because of this fierce minority full of anger and hatred, who I am as a person is lost like so many others. My hobbies, my interests, my roles in society and so much more of who I am is boiled away until all is left is someone labelled ‘profoundly disabled’ and unemployable, with no means to contribute to society, simply reliant on state charity.
I am tired of this misrepresentation of how I am and I will not be silenced. Why should the silent majority of disabled people, who are also not socialists, suffer and be turned into nonsensical statistics, simply to please this minority? The answer right now is that if you refuse to nod your head when they demand, they will bully and intimidate you until you learn to behave, as they have turned social media into their own version of Room 101. And because the public just sees all disabled people as perfect angels who can do no wrong, they simply get away with it!
Impairment can affect anyone regardless of their background and we must assume that disabled people includes a wide range of viewpoints, just like any group, and it is immoral for any political movement to hijack any group for their own agenda. Diversity must be respected and for too many people, these are empty words as the only diversity they accept is the kind their approve of. What changes the world for the better has never been what a collective majority have wanted but the minority and extreme viewpoints of mavericks who have been prepared to challenge the norm and stand up for what they believed in.
I am disabled and I am not a socialist because I am an individual with my own mind, not a sheep following the latest fad because it is easy.

ATOS Bashing Is Just a Fad

Over the last few weeks I have noticed a number of supposed news articles which appear to call for public anger at the legitimate process of claiming disability benefits rather than any apparent failures of the system. These lead me to suspect that it is now a trend and even fashion to find anything to bash ATOS, DWP, and the whole government with, regardless of any facts or proportionality.
I will offer three examples of what I mean with my observations but before doing so I must give the now obligatory disclaimer that while I have shown my intention to work with ATOS and have offered them my services, I am not an employee of ATOS and they do not know I have written this. My views on disability have not changed or will change because of whom I may or may not work with. And if it is worth anything, I am not a Tory and I find many of their policies repulsive.
The first example is Paul McCauley from Northern Ireland, who has been left severely brain damaged after a sectarian attack on him. His parents made the local headlines because they were angry and disgusted because they had to fill out a benefits form not once but twice, and how dare the government be so insensitive! My observation here is surely the parents would have initiated the application and any process can be frustrating and distressing but I am afraid this is life. The article does not suggest he will be refused benefit but simply how awful it is that the government can not read minds when the public demands pity over facts. As I have suggested before, a possible solution to this would be locally commissioned specialist teams and in this case a hospital based one who can match administration with sympathy. Other than this, what is newsworthy here?
The next example is now infamous Amy Jones, the woman who ATOS told her cerebral palsy would get better apparently. As someone with CP myself, I totally agree that the actual brain damage that is cerebral palsy will neither improve nor worsen in the way other conditions do, but the effects of cerebral palsy are a little more complex and over a lifetime, there will be fluctuations in one way or another that no one ever explains to you. She acknowledges she had a number of operations to improve her function and therefore this may had contributed to any observations made by ATOS. I also find it interesting that she intends to work but also intends to appeal the decision she is currently unfit but requires a review in six months, because she appears to want the right not to work.
All kinds of reports written since the dawn of time have contained errors and inappropriate wordings but that does not make these things newsworthy especially in this case we do not know the full picture. While she may be enjoying her five minutes of fame and increased twitter traffic, she does not realise she is only being used by the media in their relentless attacks on the government regardless of who gets hurt.
The final example is Ryan Norman, a severely impaired young man whose mother is angry and upset because now he is 20, his child benefit has stopped and she will face financial struggles before she now has to apply for ‘his’ benefits. The headline is that he will have to prove he is unable to work but makes no suggestion he will not receive what he is entitled to. I am simply bemused to how this has made the national press as this is what happens to every family when their disabled child reaches 20 and indeed for non-disabled children who leave school at 16, the child benefit stops then. No government has promised disabled people or anyone a stress free life and the issue of transition has been problematic for as long as I can remember. What I am more concerned about as how Ryan’s mother called him nothing more than a baby to a reporter, is it really acceptable behaviour towards young adults, disabled or not?
These examples show how desperate the media are to find non-existent cuts to benefits for people with significant impairments, and I am sure there is a newspaper somewhere willing to pay handsomely for the first proper story of someone losing their benefits, double if it involves a former solder or paralympian! ATOS bashing is a trend that masks a deep dislike and pity for disabled people as ‘other’ rather than included members of society, and simply adds fuel for the eugenics movement since if disabled people are naturally and automatically unemployable, what is the next logical conclusion?
I call all this a fad because it is very easy to attack this government. I strongly believe that the very minute we have a Labour government, the media will change their agenda instantly, focusing on why are these supposedly disabled people not working, as a new fashion, and I believe the current media spokespeople of disabled people, like Sue Marsh, will find themselves being yesterday’s news as the media seeks a fresh angle.

Follow Simon Stevens on Twitter: www.twitter.com/simonstevens74

Having a voice


My life is always changing, improving, and the last six weeks have not been any different. My frustration over the last year or so is that I did not have a opportunity to write for a national newspaper and have the level of voice I desired. But in August, my patience was rewarded when I was given the wonderful opportunity to write blogs for the Huffington Post and I believe I have not wasted time in making the most of this.


This has been a huge learning experience for me as I realise that threy are far more people who oppose my way of thinking, despite them still being a disruptive minority. I have realised twitter is not the best forum to express anything but the most simple ideas, especially if your ideas are complex and out of fashion. Being either unique or fashionably unpopular has never bothered me but it has taken me a few weeks to come to terms with how unpopular I need to be to be brave and say what I really think, rather then being a silent coward, scared to break ranks against fashion, like so many of my peers seem to do,


When the boy really told everyone the emperor was wearing no clothes, he was not instantly believed and it took him years, until he became a man, before people actually began to realise he was right all along. Meanwhile, while the emperor remained believing everyone liked him, the reality was people were simply too scared to do anything but patronise him in the way he desired. The boy however never lost faith in himself despite the fact people never wanted to believe the facts he pretended and the many insults he received.


I will never be silenced and all the vile comments that have been made against me, which too few people have been willing to condemn, has been me stronger. I know truly look forward with a wry smile to what nonsense people has come up with. I think people get frustrated that I feel able to say what I believe and that I am a public figure who is for the most part, as much as anyone can, totally independent from anyone else, something they can not get their heads around as they continue to find someone to make me accountable for disobeying fashion.


My daily blog has been retired because after talking to a friend, I realised little was more, and I focused on trying to do two in-depth posts in the Hufffington Post, which I am now going to post here. I am also from today, decided to do a weekly personal blog, this, to explain my general feelings and thoughts which is more about me and how I think, rather than anything else. 


I hope you have enjoyed this first of many insights that will begin to answer the question “Who the hell does Simon Stevens think he is?!”


If you like what I say, have a look at my site at www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74, or even leave me feedback on +44 (0)121 364 1974 or email simon@simonstevens.com  

What Does Disability Mean Anyway?

In 1999 I started a MA in Disability Studies in Sheffield that I gave up after a year because it was bias towards psychoanalysis, something I really could not get my head around. I however gained a lot from the experience and the first lesson I learnt was that within disability, there are two basic but unanswerable questions. These are what is disability? And how many people are disabled?

To the average person these may look easy questions but as soon as you examine them properly, you realise they are impossible to answer. Disability is a socially constructed concept, like many things we assume to be the norm, and what is interesting is how many different definitions of disability exist. If we ignore other countries and just focus on the UK, and even than just on legal definitions of disability, we can still find quite a number. How disability is defined in the equality act is different to that to qualify for DLA/PIP, which is different to qualify for ESA, social care and even educational support. The definitions of disability are contradictory, incompatible and confusing in trying to understand what assistance someone may apply for.

But all these definitions are based on one of two models of disability, which are the medical model and social model, as defined by disabled people themselves. The medical model was born out of the industrial revolution and sees disability as a medical problem, where a person’s “deficiencies” is the focus of attention, that needs curing or removing since a disabled person is an inferior being that has no meaningful place in society. Over a century ago, this way of thinking saw the creation of special schools and residential institutions that are still to some degree with us today. Most people would like to believe we have moved on from the medical model but I am not sure this is actually the case and in fact worry that in recent years, the medical model has been widely adopted by many supposed disability activists.

In the 1970s, a group of disabled people got tired of the negative portrayal of themselves as bundles of medical problems and created another way of looking at disability. They firstly divided the biological side of the issue, impairment, from the social side, disability. So the social model acknowledges biological differences, impairment, as a matter of fact, eg I have cerebral palsy and this is just the way it is. But the model argues that disability is the social barriers that people with impairments face that as physical access, poor attitudes, lack of personal support and so on. It is a model that has been widely adopted by most disability activists, charities and others internationally, and has been central to much social policy since the 1990s.

As someone who has grown up with the social model and for the most part, lived the social model, I have made my own observations and interpretations. Firstly, I think it is becoming increasingly accepted that everyone has impairments in one way or another, and more importantly that not everyone who has some kind of impairment experiences disability, which is social barriers. Impairments need to be managed, as a fact of life, and the personal experiences of impairment, however difficult, may not bring disability. I feel this is a concept people are just starting to acknowledge and trying to understand.

Secondly, I personally regard disability to be a state that changes from minute to minute like the concept of being vulnerable. My core identity is my impairment and I see disability as external to myself. I am only disabled by many specific situations, which can be removed by improved access, improved attitudes, personal support and so on. I am therefore not often disabled at home because my environment is set up for me. When I go somewhere new, they may be more barriers and therefore I would be disabled. On this basis, I see the role of government is to remove these barriers and so reducing the number of people with impairments who experience disability. It is however difficult for many people with impairments to relinquish their disability status.

Finally, I see the social model as removing the barriers that are in the way of disabled people taking up their responsibilities as opposed as being about rights as citizenship is a balance of rights and responsibilities. As this dawns on people now many barriers are been undoubtedly removed over the last 20 years, there are continuous moves by some people to discredit the model, saying it is ‘old hat’ or arguing a range of excuses why it does not include them. This makes me wonder why disabled people fought for the equality they now have when this is not what they really wanted?

Disability is a concept that is far more complex than people would ever imagine and this article has only provided you with a brief insight into the issue that has more questions than answers.

The Barriers to Disabled People’s Happiness

I strongly believe that everyone has the opportunity to achieve happiness if they wish it, including disabled people. By happiness, I mean a natural contentment, a level of inner stability and a positive outlook that enables people to deal with anything that life throws at them. It is not a perfect state of bliss but rather an achievable state of being that we can have if we are willing to make the effort to grasp it.

For people who have been born with impairments, like myself, they do not know what it is like to be any different and so they have a strong self-identity as disabled people and will be on a whole be happy with life, as I am. But the majority of impairments happen during people’s lives and are more likely as we get older. The onset of impairment, whether sudden or gradual, will create a change in a person’s identity and this will result in some form of grieving process that the person may or may not recognise.

The grieving process can have up to six stages, which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance and celebration. I would like to believe that the proper completion of the grieving process goes a long way to enabling someone to be happy, and this is where I feel we have the problem. The grieving process for anything may take a few days, weeks, months, years or even decades. The way each person comes to terms with having impairments is going to be very different and I am not about to prescribe any rules. However, I will say that the biggest barrier to disabled people’s happiness is often that they are stuck somewhere in the grieving process, often totally unaware of the problem.

I truly enjoy having cerebral palsy, and I know I am not alone, but there are so many people who are not happy with being impaired because they have not reached the acceptance stage of the grieving process. Their dislike of their situation is transferred into a belief all disabled people dislike being disabled and this forms a pity model of disability. If any stages of the grieving process are not properly recognised and supported it can be destructive for themselves and people around them.

The potentially most destructive stage is anger and this is where people’s unhappiness of their situation is thrown into sometimes irrational rage for things which they feel challenges them. This is where we can see the rage against any supposed cuts ‘against disabled people’, as newly impaired people focus their anger on anything or anyone who goes against their maybe unrealised dislike for themselves. I believe this is the central reason why some of my previous articles and comments have caused such a reaction by people clearly still coming to terms with their impairments. They will clearly deny this but as they are often consumed by their unrealised grief, they will not be able to stand back and see what their anger is doing to them and others as it manifests itself into hatred, jealousy, envy and so on.

My frustration is not with the uncontrollable actions of people going through an inescapable process of achieving acceptance at some point in the future, but how the liberal media and the charities exploit disabled people’s irrational anger for their own objectives, without providing them access to proper emotional support to achieve happiness. The rational leaders of campaign groups have used the anger of grieving individuals for centuries, delaying the process in others to have their pawns, ready to believe anyone is their enemy. With the era of social media, these pawns can be pointed towards the people who challenge the views of the leadership, acting like piranhas as they verbally strip individuals to the bone quicker than you can say anything.

Since the media, charities and campaign groups benefit from stopping disabled people finishing their grieving process, we are left with a growing population of very angry people. This is made worse by the fact the NHS, DWP, ATOS, Social Service departments and so on very often have no understanding of the grieving process, let alone be able to recognise and support individuals to come to terms with their impairments. It is not until there is a greater focus on the emotional journey can many people with impairments achieve some kind of happiness. This happiness will also make them stronger to challenge the cuts that may directly affect them in a way they will be currently unable to do, trapped in a world full of red mist.

This article is likely to receive a hostile response because it is difficult to tell people what they are not ready to hear, even if they need to hear it. Personal attacks are a symptom of the problem this article deals with as many disabled people fail to understand happiness has little to do with what they have, or what is external to them, but rather how they feel.

Yes, the Bedroom Tax Is a Mess

The bedroom tax is one of those simple and understandable ideas that looked great on paper, until you start to implement it and realise it is not going to work in the way anyone hoped. The aim was to help match the size of homes within social housing to those who needed them by discouraging people to be living in properties which were too big for them, a simple concept that should have worked.

I think the central problem with this policy is the lack of one bedroom properties for people to move into especially as economically it is much better to build two and three bedroom properties which can be used by families and single people alike, to avoid issues with changing demographics. And for myself, one of the shocking decisions made on the policy was the exemption of pensioners in paying the tax, this relevantly wealthy group are the ones sitting in the bulk of under-occupied properties, who should have been given a range of incentives to downgrade as an alternative to the bedroom tax.

And then we get to the main event, disabled people versus the bedroom tax. With everything else going on, this was at best an oversight on the part of the government, which has turned the whole policy toxic, making it this government’s poll tax. It would be inaccurate to suggest that every person who defines themselves as disabled within social housing require an extra bedroom, but there are never ending examples of why a family that includes disabled adults or children would need one.

For my own situation as someone with cerebral palsy, I live in a three bedroom flat within social housing. The first bedroom is for myself, the second is for my live-in volunteering personal assistant, and the final room is my office, where I am right now as I am typing this. Being self employed, my income is not as I would like it and so I qualify for tax credits and housing benefit. While my volunteer’s room is exempt from the bedroom tax, my office is clearly not. Half of me has accepted that the office is my own choice and that’s an reason business expense, while the other half believes I work from home because I am disabled and why should I be penalised.

I think the real problem is not so much the bedroom tax, but the poor implementation and execution of Discretionary Housing Payments. Despite David Cameron, DWP guidelines, my local council guidelines and many managers in my council all confirming that there has been funding made available with a specific priority to helping disabled people with the bedroom tax, the reality is this is simply not the case.

I believed that since the payment was discretionary, it would be reflective of individual need and I imagined a points style system where my level of income over personal expenditure would score some points, and my impairment related need for an extra bedroom would also score some points, along with a whole range of other factors. Since I assumed my need would score higher than my income, I did not write down every last penny I could think of.

It was only after a confusing meeting with my council that we finally understood each other and I realised they were simply interesting in whether I was penniless before they would enquire about my actual need for an extra bedroom. I had previously been confused to why the application form had not been asking me about my disability or my need for a bedroom. Because I was self-employed they were wanting to know everything about everything which they were making value judgements upon despite claiming they were not. In the end, I decided for my own sanity, it was easier to simply pay the tax!

While the recent court case on disabled people and the bedroom tax suggested people should put their faith in Discretionary Housing Payments, I do not feel it is working. I also believe the additional administrative costs associated to the bedroom tax is wiping out any benefits that the government could attribute to it.

In summary, the bedroom tax is in a mess and it is very clear to see. I am however not sure what the solutions are. The issue of disability needs to be taken out of the equation and I would suggest as a quick solutions would be to exempt people receiving the care component of DLA/PIP, as well as mandating all councils to take actual physical need into account in terms of Discretionary Housing Payments. As the election gets closer, it will be interesting see if this government will flinches on what is a very unpopular policy.

Mainstream Education Is So Important for Disabled Children

For over a century the majority of disabled children have been educated in special schools, excluded from their non-disabled peers. It is only in the last 30 years that this has started to change as more disabled children have been increasingly been given the right to a mainstream education as this form of apartheid is slowly exposed and removed.

I think before going further, it is important to understand my own education journey as someone with cerebral palsy. I was born in 1974 and my first school was the children’s ward of the local mental hospital before it became its own school for the ‘mentally handicapped’, opened and named after the Queen. They quickly realised I was rather intelligent and I was briefly integrated into my local village school at 5, with mixed success. After spending a few years at a mainstream school with a ‘physically handicapped unit’, I was fully integrated at 11 at my local all boys mainstream school, where I received a proper education although I was constantly bullied. Then I attended the local mainstream sixth form college doing my A-Levels before doing my degree at Coventry University.

I strongly believe in mainstream education because of the right of non-disabled and disabled children to be educated together. I can quickly tell those disabled adults who have attended mainstream schools, as opposed to special schools, simply by their posture. Mainstream schools provide disabled children with the same expectations to succeed as their peers, the social skills needed to compete in an non-disabled world which special schools fail to do, and toughens disabled children up for the real world, not to say anyone deserves to be bullied.

My belief in mainstream education does not mean I do not believe in special education because I do strongly believe that everyone should get the specific education they need. I believe the criticisms against mainstream education by parents and others is because many children are integrated into their schools rather than included. Integration is when the child is required to simply fit in with the school and no consideration of their needs are taken into account. This is not proper inclusion, where the school reasonably adapts its policies, practices and teaching methods to accommodate the specific needs of the child. There is always going to be some middle ground where the child must learnt how to adapt to the school in the same way they will need to adapt to other situations throughout their life to succeed.

My concern with the government is that they have turned the issue into a matter of parental choice, where parents of disabled children should have the right to choose a special or mainstream school, arguing they wish to end the ‘bias towards inclusion’. This standpoint assumes in this instance as opposed to any other, parents are suitably experienced to make decisions that would determine whether or not their child will have any opportunity to be properly included into society.

It is my belief that currently the special schools ‘market’ is dominated by third sector providers where the aim of the school is to simply prepare children for adult day services that are also dominated by the third sector. If a child is inappropriately labelled as having learning difficulties at an early age and then denied a proper education because of that label, they will become adults where it will be hard to determine whether they have learning difficulties because of an impairment or from the fact they have not received a proper education.

Special schools are ‘sold’ to parents based on promises and exploiting the parents’ fears of how their disabled child will cope in the real world. Like everything, special education has been ruled by fashion and trends over the years, rather than anything else. The policy of free schools, allowing parents and others to set up their own special schools on any ideology they choose, is a further step into this consumerism ‘fad’ culture where the parents wants come before the needs of the child.

The segregation of disabled children from mainstream education for over a century has caused immense damage to the fabric of society that can only be mended when all disabled children are fully included into mainstream education as standard policy, not just as a right but as a norm. At the same time, the education system must be responsive of the individual needs of children, disabled or not. Proper inclusion into mainstream schools must be the only ‘choice’ desired by everyone, for the benefit of everyone.

Changing the Conversation on Disability

The politics of disability used to be about achieving equality and inclusion as contributing citizens but in 2010 the welfare reforms changed everything. The charities, supported by a whole host of new generation sick and disabled activists have ripped up the equality agenda and replaced it with a list of demands that see disabled people as naturally inferior beings unable to work, who need benefits, pity and cold hard cash to be swept under the carpet rather than included in society.

The current disability conversation is destructive and hostile, and for any future (Labour) government to get an handle on this hysteria over benefits, WCA and ATOS by disabled people and the charities exploiting the situation, they must change the conversation. Firstly, they must eliminate the notion of being unfit for work, which has enabled the pity seekers to get massive attention. I would therefore propose that they scrap WCA, which I have believed for some time without pressure from anyone else.

My suggestion is not because it has failed to define who is notionally fit or unfit, but because it is an unworkable notion as everyone has human potential and can with the right support at some point make some level of meaningful contribution, which is not saying everyone can work 9 to 5. The process has also failed miserably in recognising and supporting the emotional journey of coming to terms of newly acquired impairments and preparing to make a contribution to society.

At the same time, I would scrap DLA, PIP, Direct Payments, Personal Budgets, Access to Work and others monies paid to disabled people and/or carers, and replace them with one single outcome focused need led individual payment covering everything a disabled person requires in terms of additional costs, assuming the use of Universal Credits for household income. I strongly believe disabled people should get exactly what they need when they need it to become contributing citizens.

To implement this properly, it needs to be assessed in a new way and therefore while I intend to work with ATOS to improve the immediate situation, I would scrap the big assessments contracts given to ATOS and others. I would replace them with locally commissioned small specialist interdisciplinary teams, which are matched to people’s specific needs at given times. These teams will be more responsive and will use discussion rather then formal assessment to meet people’s specific individual needs.

This new system would not be interested in medical labels and will take people at face value, looking instead at what is their exact additional needs at that time because of their impairments based on their outcomes, what they intend to do, in terms of work, education, raising a family or fulfil other important roles. The pressure to prove difficulty will be removed and it is then about explaining precisely what they need because of their difficulties.

I feel if these suggestions were properly implemented that it would quickly move the conversation on disability back to equality and inclusion, where the role of the state is to enable and empower individuals to reach their full potential. It will support so many sick and disabled people currently trapped in the grieving process of coming to terms with their situation, and enable them to complete their emotional journey in a less stressful relationship with the state. By meeting exact individual need when it is needed, it will avoid label based compensation where a fixed amount creates winners and losers. Since many sick people may have no additional needs to what is provided already to them, it puts the onus on them to prove what exactly they need which they would then easily receive.

I feel this is how the next Labour government will go, simply to diffuse the situation, as well as moving away from a dependency culture and allow disabled people to be regarded as equal citizens with the same rights and responsibilities as anyone else. I feel it will be very hard for charities and activists to argue against this way of thinking without revealing their true intentions of keeping disabled people dependent. The conversation of disability must change and I feel my ideas represent a good first stab in trying to do this.

Is a Proper Debate on Welfare Reform Possible?

For many disabled people working in the field as consultants and activists including myself, the welfare reforms have dominated the agenda since 2010 pushing so many other issues, like grassroot sport and quality of wheelchair services, to the sidelines. But the big question and frustration is in terms of disability, is it really possible to have a proper debate on the issues around the welfare reforms? I fear the answer is certainly not and I now have some direct and personal evidence that demonstrates this.

Just a few weeks ago I wrote a blog for Huff Post on some urban myths that exists in my opinion in terms of welfare reforms inviting people to properly explain them to me with some evidence, something I am still waiting for. At the same time and coincidentally I wrote an article on another website where I explained carefully and thoroughly why I was currently exploring working ‘with’ ATOS, someone I am 110% not employed by despite the urban myth that has now been created about me. Putting the two articles together and I would have got less flak if I have declared myself a Nazi!

I knew my articles would be controversial but I have received more abusive and hateful comments in two weeks than I could have imagined possible on Huff, on Twitter, on Facebook and on countless socialist and anti-ATOS websites. The comments have not been discussion points but hate filled personal attacks and trolling. I have been called everything under the sun and I had every aspect of my life judged on lies and myths. And if I defend myself I am have been met with more abuse and told to stop playing the victim of what is clearly the disability hate crime they so easily complain about when they feel it happens to them.

One Facebook ‘like’ of the urban myth article started yesterday afternoon has received so far 116 comments, mostly insulting who I am as a person rather than what I said. And I know this article will result in further abuse by people who will not realise the fact they are digging in own graves by their continued abuse of myself but simply see the word ATOS and simply see red mist. So just for them – ATOS ATOS ATOS ATOS!

I can now reach the conclusion that because of a minority of hostile sick and disabled people who have very sadly trapped themselves into being the victim in a government conspiracy they have created, too many commentators, politicians and activists are too scared to say what they really think as they do not wish to experience the same level of abuse I have and I am not at all surprised. I was bullied constantly at mainstream big school for many years and this has made me very thick skinned so I really do not care I am so hated.

Some poor unsuspecting people make comments on the issues not realising the trouble it will cause for them. An example of this is Dr Phil Peverly who recently said in an article that he believes if Stephen Hawkings can work than why can’t most of the people he sees at his GP surgery who are sick and claiming to be unable to work. Like myself, he would had received a better reaction if he also declared himself a Nazi, which is a joke by the way, neither of us are Nazis before people start attacking us for being Nazis! As well as lots of abusing comments, what I find more concerning and unacceptable is that two extremist groups have published his work’s physical address. In this age of social media, I really worry the only reason to do that is to incite someone to visit him with the intention of a physical altercation!

While we have some interesting TV programmes like Channel 4’s “Benefits Britain 1949”, which could be useful starting points to discuss the current and potential future reforms, they are dismissed as ‘poverty porn’ and government propaganda (despite it being a Labour government in 1949) by people who actually believe we live in George Orwell’s 1984!

I once again have to conclude most people who understand the situation and the fear induced hatred that exists on the subject just do not know how to stand up and be counted. It is only a few brave souls or perhaps crazy idiots like myself who are prepared to properly stand up and fight to be heard. I am outraged that as a disabled person all my life, for four decades, I have had my own issues stolen from me by a bunch of sick and disabled people who will verbally abuse anyone who refuses to support their paranoid socialist victimhood ideology that berates me for working, for being positive and even for smiling.

It is therefore not at all possible to have any sensible debate on the welfare reform and I fear for many disabled people, free speech and the right to have your own political views are a thing of the past as mob rule certainly wins.