Why must I always have justify my ability to work as a disabled person?


I will hold my hands up and admit that being able to work, to show my intelligence and other abilties, is very important to my personhood and therefore my mental wellbeing. Being paid is nice and essential for living, but it does not match the sense of achievement working provides me.

Before I go further I should say that with all my physical and emotional difficulties, on a biological level, no test is ever going to find me fit for work, and yet at 43 I have achieved more than most non-disabled people do in their lifetimes. Since my birth, I have had to fight hard to demonstrate my intelligence and my ability to contribute to society against the system and the public attitude that I am unable to contribute to society, so why bother. If I suddenly gave up work, people and the system would just accept it without fuss, supporting me into a life of passivity.

Most left wing and liberal activists believe I am unfit for work. Ofcourse if they know me they would say otherwise, as I am ‘lucky’ I can work ‘as not everyone can’, but if they were to judge me from afar as internet style voting of who can work or not, I would be seen unfit every time. My ability to work with a significant impairment scares people as it disproves people with lesser impairments at least can not work and that the whole scrapheap is a social construction. They response to this ace up my sleeve, especially when I start asking who they have personally decided is fit or unfit for work and therefore society, is online abuse and trolling.

The best I can hope for from these activist that while everyone thinks I am unfit for work, I still have the ‘right’ to work. My response is thank you so much for that permission. I am allowed to work but the left will do everything it can to stop me from working? I work despite organisations like EHRC who create a climate where I am hated to do so. If disabled people are going to be written off at birth, offering the begrudgingly the right to work if they fight for it, how will they be motivated to work?

Recently, I have been told that Labour’s scrapheap for people with impairments does not exist but what else do you call a place you put people by paying them indefinitely to sit at home doing nothing all day without any attempt to improve their situation? Labour promised in their 2017 manifesto to end reassessments for ‘the severely disabled’, a term no activist is willing to define. So this means one assessment for life, and so for people born with severe impairments, this one and only assessment without appeal will be at birth, hence throwing people on the scrapheap from birth. This is the logical conclusion, but activists demand evidence that they will accept, waiting to change their minds until the second holocaust is in full swing!

Few people really want disabled people to work. The EHRC has stated supporting disabled people into work is a step backwards and the UN is similarly angry that the UK government does not believe disabled people belong on the scrapheap. The oppression I face has got worst because of the bigotry of other activists as I am now abused and trolled for working and daring to want to be a citizen. I will always fight back as I know time will prove me right.

If you like my blog article, have a look at some of my products;
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Understand Dysabiity – Coming soon

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You can also email me at simon@simonstevens.com

We should push disabled people to achieve their potential

It is often said generally that it is wrong to judge people with impairments, or indeed anyone else, solely in terms of ability to do paid work as the method of contributing to society. While I completely agree with this, I also feel this should not be used as an excuse not to push people with impairments to reach their potential. This means that paid work should not be simply ruled out because of assumptions made about what someone with specific impairments can or can not do.

We also need to be honest about the fact many people with impairments will not see paid employment as their central purpose in life, which is perfectly normal. For those who do not regard paid employment as their calling, the lure would be the income it provides them to enable other aspects of their life. Being dependent on benefits as the sole method of income can only ever afford people a level of poverty in comparison with others.

What appears to be broken is the desire of have an improved quality of life, and society’s willingness to afford this ability of betterment to all people with impairments. The focus of many welfare activists is to assume that paid employment, in all its many forms, is outside of the possibilities of many people with impairments, and therefore the focus of the state should be to provide them with a comfortable level of acceptable poverty as people excluded from the rights and responsibilities of mainstream society.

This low expectation of the contribution of many people with impairments is without doubt discriminatory, despite the fact it is currently positively framed in terms of human rights. Those who wish to push people with impairments to achieve their full potential are accused by welfare activists of labelling them as ‘benefit scroungers’ as a method of discredited the inclusion into paid employment. It is disheartening when the United Nations has ruled against the government’s efforts to support more people with impairments into paid employment, arguing it is their legal right to be thrown on the scrapheap, and labelled as worthless!

We should have the same expectations of people with impairments as we have for everyone else. If paid employment is not the end goal, than it is the means to enjoying other aspects of life. It should not be a case of wanting to work, but more about having a responsibility to work, and reaching your full potential. While I am aware that the practicalities of doing this is not fully in place currently, we should ensure that the right attitude exists, which I believe is not the case.

While it is the responsibility of individuals to achieve their potential, it is the responsibility of society and the state to support individuals to do this. The start of this happening is an unconditional belief that everyone has something to positively contribute to society. The problem is that in terms of people with impairments, this simply does not exist, and there is little encouragement for it to exist. I do not know of any other activist or organisation, other than the Government, who is willing to proudly state all people with impairments have a contribution to make. This fact shows the real prejudice people with impairments face in 21st century Britain.

I am proud to say that work has set me free

In the last few months, a number of welfare activists have linked the term ‘work sets you free’ with the government’s welfare reforms. This term is regarded as sinister because in german the term is translated as ‘arbeit macht frei’, which was painted onto the entrances of Nazi concentration camps.

The inference is that the government desire to support more people with impairments into work is some kind of conspiracy to cause harm and suffering in comparison to the actions of the Nazis. It is somewhat distasteful and disrespectful to the survivors of concentration camps to imply the government’s action in supporting people with impairments is on the same par.

Portraying work is something evil and unobtainable for anyone with any kind of impairment is deeply harmful to people’s place in society as well as their personal identities. In defining work is the activity of helping others in any way, it is simply wrong to assume people with impairments can only be in a position of taking as oppose to giving.

I am very passionate about seeing people with impairments as capable human beings because work is fundamental to my identity and my liberation as someone with significant impairments. As someone who is self-employed, I have struggled to maintain a stability of paid income and so rely on tax credits, although I believe this is because I am offering a glimpse into the future that is very hard to market.

This however does not mean I stop working in one way or another because it is something I really enjoy. This blog is work, with the aim of expressing my viewpoint and further add interest with potential customers. It may be unpaid and indeed voluntary but it is still a form of work!

I personally can not imagine a time where I am not working, balanced of course with holidays and leisure activities. A lot of welfare activists say work is not good in terms of mental health, but I think work is fundamental to my positive mental health, as I am sure it is for many other people. Boredom can only lead to depression and unhappiness.

My self-worth is rewarded by helping others. This has kept me going when I have had periods of significant depression. I know I have always had a level of determination that has given me the courage to take up many opportunities available to me in a manner many other people with impairments may shy away from. But does this somehow make me special? An exception to the rule that people like myself simply can not work?

The welfare activists have set up a self-fulfilling prophecy. If people with impairments are deemed unable to work by mainstream society, then they are going to be less encouraged to work.  It is an interesting paradox that the many hours of campaigning people ‘who can’t work’ do to defend their unemployable status is actually helping them develop skills that shows that by their actions, they are working and capable of working.

I need to work because it is what liberates me from the restraints historic oppression has attempted to place upon me. I am sure I am not alone in this and therefore I remain proud about the benefits that work has provided me. This is why I remain frustrated at those who feel the need to devalue the importance of work for people with impairments with such hostility.



When did asking a disabled person to take responsibility for their actions become a crime?

It is generally assumed that the way to improve the inclusion of sick and disabled people is to focus on providing them access to rights. However, rights simply exist, they are passive and meaningless without responsibilities. Anti-discrimination ‘civil rights’ legislation, like the original ‘Disability Discrimination Act 1995’ is really about the right to take responsibility in terms of employment, transport and so on. It is easy to provide equal rights on a piece of paper, but it is much harder to create equal responsibilities, the true sign of inclusion.

At a time where the agenda should be shifting from rights to responsibilities, it has instead been halted and maybe reversed. As more people identify themselves as disabled people, there is an assumption that being associated with this label means it is acceptable to make excuses to avoid responsibilities. Society seems to be backlashing against this next step to the full and meaningful inclusion of disabled people as full contributing members of society.

By this, I mean that the media, politicians and activists have framed disabled people as the most vulnerable members of society who needs protecting at all costs. The misplaced prejudice reduces disabled people to the ranks of children, unable to take responsibility for their actions. We now reached a point where even asking disabled people to fill out a form results in public outcry because it is too stressful for them!

The mock outcry is partly designed to attack the government, as the stressful forms only ever relates to DWP, as opposed to anyone else. If we look dispassionately at the experience of the average hospital stay, people are subjected to far more violations of their human rights. They do so to get better, and so to receive welfare benefits, you need to fill out forms and have assessments. This is no different to getting a mortgage and millions of other every day stresses.

If you really believe an assessment is too stressful for some people, redesigning it will be meaningless as someone will always complain its not right for them. And when did it become the responsibility of the state to provide disabled people, or anyone else, a stress-free life? Any change in circumstances is and will always be stressful. Wrapping up disabled people in cotton wool will keep them vulnerable and fragile.

While the term is now hated by many over politically correct activists, ‘tough love’ is exactly what disabled people need to be enabled and empowered to be included into society. There must be consequences to my actions and I must have the right to make a complete mess of things. I always found it hypocritical many activists demand the government treats people with mental health issues with ‘kid-gloves’, yet they are happy to personally insult me with no empathy for my own mental health issues, and how that affects my management of emotions.

Too many people are willing to play the disability card to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. It is acceptable to explain the reasons why you may have difficulties performing specific tasks, but simply saying “I am disabled, I can’t …” should no longer be acceptable. If you do not want to work, just admit it as saying “I would love to work but…” annoys me greatly. We all have a responsibility to make a contribution to society, or take the consequences of not doing so.

The ability to take responsibility, or simply take, is going to be the key differences between the Conservative and Labour manifestos at the next election. Labour wants to take social responsibility away from disabled people, making us no different to children. The Tories are bravely fighting against the prejudices that exist to give disabled people the social responsibility they deserve.

– If you like what I say, have a look at my website at http://www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74

What do I mean by ‘Work Shy Movement’?


In my last article on 2013 I referred to the ‘Work Shy Movement’ and I would like to provide a more in-depth explanation to what I mean by this. Firstly, I am not suggesting anyone who is a part of this movement is work shy themselves, quite the opposite as this is a middle class ideological movement of people who believe they can run the government from their dinner table.


I see it however as a belief in the right for people, particularly sick and disabled people to be unnecessary long termed unemployed out of charitable pity and the idea that a civilised and relevantly wealthily society should look after those they have decided to write off as week. In comparing an unemployed, sick or disabled person with an injured animal ore starving African, they are encouraged the idea of work shyness.


The ‘Work Shy Movement’ is a model that sees disability in terms of the medical model, that is sick and disabled people are naturally inferior and unable to work, preferring to sweep them under the carpet with insufficient benefits to keep them disempowered and ineffective. It is a movement peddled by many people claiming to be disability activists but it goes against the social model of disability and the true equality, inclusion and liberation of disabled people, ignoring and even destroying the work real disabled activists can been doing for 50 years.


Not all disability activists are the same, while those in the ‘Work Shy Movement’, a term I will use until they admit they exist and give themselves a title they find acceptable, are Welfarists, I am very much an inclusionist. 


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  


Disabled People Can Work, Rest and Play

I might be showing my age when I say I remember the Mars bar advertising slogan “a Mars a day lets you work, rest and play” but I think it is a perfect way of describing what a balanced lifestyle is, in terms of mental wellbeing. I would like to propose that disabled people need and deserve to have this balance, in the same way as anyone else.

The first and probably most controversial of these in terms of disabled people is of course work. While many disabled activists claim they wish to work, the evidence is very different. This can be highlighted by an astonishing article on a disability blog I read on Friday that claimed that many disability activists were offended that the Conservative Party used the term “hardworking people” at their party conference, which suggests to me these activists believe disabled people can not and should not work, seriously insulting the many disabled people and their families who are hardworking in the widest sense of the meaning. I think this desire to write off disabled people as unemployable is demonstrating these activists are like the racists who hide behind the issue of immigration to justify their belief system.

Work for me does not necessarily mean paid employment or indeed any employment but also education, training, parenting and so on. For so many, work is therapeutic, and often the best way to manage something like depression is not to sit at home stewing but actually being at work for a whole range of reasons. If you really want to work, you will find a way of doing so, even if there are a lot of barriers. Once again, those who are complaining that the government is not doing enough or public transport is terrible, despite often having a car, are simply making excuses that I am tired of hearing.

Those who work clearly deserve a rest and therefore deserve a stress free holiday, which is currently more easily said than done for many disabled people. A holiday is something that has to be earned and I am afraid if you are too sick to work, then you are too sick for a holiday. Holidays are not so much a luxury as an important way to balance the left brain with the right brain, and ensure people can relax and keep good mental wellbeing. While doing nothing, or just less, may be great for a few weeks in the year, it can be very stressful if it is forced onto people.

I believe one of the biggest problems for disabled people who do not work, is the unnecessary stresses and strains of not working on the mind as boredom can be much more damaging than any amount of hard work. If I was told I could not do any more work ever again, like many people, I think I would feel my life was not worth living. This is why it is so important mentally and emotionally to have the right balance between work and rest to have a good quality of life.

Play is the poor relation of Rest, especially amongst adults. While people can get the need for a holiday, the gaps between them can be too long and therefore we become burnt out before we reach our holiday. Play is those little fun and exciting things we do on a more regular basis to keep us sane. These may include going swimming, going to the theatre, going Whitewater rafting and so on. There are as important to the mental wellness of disabled people as much as anyone else, but it is often what gets the least attention.

I feel that like holidays, it is right that the state does not generally pay for play as it must be earned through work financially and emotionally. This means those who prefer not to work, in the widest sense, are excluding themselves from play, and having a balanced lifestyle, probably exacerbating the stresses and strains they are experiencing. While people understand the Paralympics, access to grass root mainstream sport and other activities for disabled people is still not as accessible or inclusive as it should be. This means many disabled people are not attracted to play activities and therefore are denied the opportunity of a balanced lifestyle.

We must look at changing welfare and social care policies to ensure all disabled people, and indeed everyone, have access to the three components that make a balanced lifestyle, if not just for their benefit, then for the benefit of the whole of society as a solution to addictions and other vices. Hard work is something good for the health of the nation, not a form of stigma to be avoided.

 If you like what I say, have a look at my website at http://www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74

We Must Expect More From Disabled People

I think one of my biggest frustrations with society in terms of disability is the naturally low expectations the public has for what disabled people can and indeed should achieve. While everyone talks about the equality of disabled people, the reality is we are perceived as inferior beings, less capable of achieving what most people want in life. I am often asked about aspects of my life, like if I like to go out, as if I was a child, and these are by my non-disabled professional peers who apparently know I am their equal.

An example of what I am talking about is the recent news about the supposed plight of James Sleight, a young man with Downs Syndrome, who went to a mainstream school, and is apparently being evicted from ‘his home’. His home is in reality, from what I can understand, a residential group home, a care service he is not a tenant of, where the one achievement that has been highlighted is the fact he lives with a flatmate of his age, who will be another service user who neither of them would have had a choice over. And now because his family are upset, we must all sign their petition to keep him in a service that we do not even know he is happy about. The media seems not to be interested in his quality of life, his aspirations or his goals, but just what his family wants. The most shocking comment I read was in The Independent, which implied he was too stupid to know who David Cameron was, despite wanting to meet him, or was that his family?

I have personally fought all my life to explain that despite having cerebral palsy and needing support from a personal assistant with everything I do, I lead as normal of a life as anyone can and in whatever normality is. I have the same level of choice as anyone else, which means I have the same level of responsibility as anyone else. Despite all the wonderful images of independent living promoted by the social care sector, it does not mean I have free choice, because no one has that. I can only go to the theatre if I can afford the tickets, have the time to go and so on.

The biggest mistake many social workers and other professionals make with me is when they tell me I can do anything I want within a service, since the reality is they have specific and low expectations of what I will want to do, and therefore they will be horrified when I actually do something they was neither expecting or willing to let happen. Professionals assume for disabled people, ‘going out’ means something like having a cup of coffee in town, but for me it means going whitewater rafting or seeing a musical in London.

Why must we assume disabled people expectations are limited and indeed good. When I lecture social work students, I like to challenge them to see how far they are willing to accept the true lifestyles of disabled people, even if that includes being a gangster. We will not have achieved true equality for disabled people until we can see them inspiring to achieve in all aspects of life, even if it is as a criminal. People must imagine what disabled people could achieve, and then take it a step further, and still further, until we can truly see disabled people as having the opportunity to do absolutely anything.

Unfortunately right now, this kind of equality is not on the agenda, as the 2010s will sadly be remembered as a period where the portrayal of disabled people as incapable inferior beings was strong and the damage that this was doing, in the name of fairness, was high. The fashionable hatred of ATOS is being used to justify the systematic prejudice of disabled people, often by disabled people themselves, in the same way racists use the fear of immigration to justify their prejudices.

Until we can see all disabled people as bundles of potential and assume with the right assistance and support, they can achieve or not achieve in the same way as anyone else, we should stop pretending that a fair society, in terms of looking after people deemed to be too weak to be considered full citizens, as anything to do with true equality and equal opportunities, as to achieve that, we must demand the most of everyone.

– If you like what I say, have a look at my website at http://www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74

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 Solidarity an Excuse for Disabled People Not to Work?

As someone who was born with cerebral palsy, I discovered the old ‘disability movement’ when I went to University at 18 in 1992. I quickly saw this unelected and unaccountable body as a way for a minority to dictate to the majority. I quickly understood the Solidarity others find so precious was actually quite oppressive. The needs, voice and rights of so many disabled people have been excluded, especially those with severe impairments and learning difficulties. But the movement’s actions won us civil rights, if nothing else, that we have all benefited from. I however always seen myself as an individual who has a right to think for myself and escaped from the self segregated oppression demanded from me by the movement.

The old movement has been all but dead for a number of years as its generation of activists have been institutionalised into the system they supposedly once fought against. But in 2010, the welfare reforms created a new ‘sick and disabled’ movement where we were now called to stand together to fight against ‘cuts’ that are yet to materialise in any meaningful way, and help sick people to, well, have the right not to work. This movement is very interesting as for the most part it does against everything the old movement was asking for. Inclusion and liberation has been replaced by exclusion and victimhood. I know it is hard to see but let me explain.

I fundamentally believe everyone should get what they personally need to be active and equal citizens able to fulfil their social responsibilities, which could include paid work. In this context someone with a mild form of diabetes will need less resources to support them than someone which severe cerebral palsy. Further, as the built environment, attitudes and policies improves some people with impairments, and we all have some kind of impairment, will become less disabled on a minute by minute basis, and some will no longer be disabled, compared to 20 or 30 years ago.

But this is not good news for sick people or those with minor impairments, because it is likely the current system of benefits means they get more than what they really need. I have tried to find out what some sick people really need and told to mind my own business as they avoid my questions and so leading me to conclude they do not need much. They need solidarity and a collective identity because they need to piggyback on the public perceptions of disabled people to cash in on the higher average need of disability. Since disability is so hard to define, it is so easy for people to cash in to what they see as people receiving benefits, cars and so on. But they do not want the real prejudices and discrimination that comes from being disabled, being outraged at what is normal for us.

The main trick of many sick people who do not wish to work is to imply they face the discrimination of the so-called average disabled person in terms of inaccessible transport, employer’s attitudes (apparently) and cost of living when they do not actually personally face these barriers. Since the identity of sick people is often created by medical professionals and many have not come to terms with their conditions, they will believe impairment is a negative thing and transfer that onto other disabled people, making sick people a big problem to the positive inclusion of traditional disabled people.

The situation is made worse as many sick people are mollycoddled by health professionals telling them what they can not do and so they are then not ready to face the hard nosed world of DWP and Atos, who are simply interested in whether they are fit for work rather than their emotional journey to work. This is where they need to piggyback on the collective identity of disabled people, pointing at people with cerebral palsy and others saying ‘I am like them and they can’t work’.

And this is where I am a problem for so many sick and disabled people, because I do work in my own way as a disability consultant. And while they may not see it, I am ‘sick’ from a nerve virus four years ago as well as having mild bipolar. So I show there are no excuses, especially when they are unwilling to explain how they are personally and specifically unable to do ANY kind of work, despite blogging 20 hours a week that they can not work!

So I say it is time to end the illusion of solidarity of disabled people and let us be the unique and wonderful individuals we are, who can all work in our own ways, rather than being chained together wallowing in the doom and gloom of self-segregation.

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

– If you like what I say, have a look at my website at http://www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74

Let the autumn work begin


As I come back from my week in Belgium, it is now to look forward to the autumn ahead and the latest chapters in work and adventures for me. I never know what I am doing from one month to another which can be frustrating in terms of planning my finances but also exciting in terms of not knowing what is coming around that corner.


Day by day steadily and slowly I am becoming more organised, more stable, more influential and more well known as each day remains a day worth living. This autumn will see my campaigning and other work go to the next level as other things full into place. I therefore look forward to getting back to work and getting stuck right back in!


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