Syal sticks up for disabled people!

coins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I posted the following on my Facebook page today as a ‘status’ but then decided what had been said merited further thought, so I decided to write something here. The following is what I wrote on Facebook.

While I was watching the Andrew Marr show today, I heard panelists talking about £1bn being lost in tax avoidance because companies are now conducting are their affairs through Ireland. Meera Syal then said “I can’t believe nobody’s doing anything about it, given that I know at least 3 or 4 ppl who are literally on the breadline because their disability benefits have been cut.” When you put it like that, it shows just how inconsistent the Government is being, especially when you consider that ‘Dave’ talked about ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ at the last party conference. Where is your compassion now, David Cameron?

I listened to this part of the programme a couple of times to type exactly what Syal said. Listening to the rest of the discussion, I quickly became disgusted as her fellow panelist seemed to casually dismiss what she said. Only Nick Robinson (standing in for Andrew Marr) attempted to discuss what Syal said, he too brushing it off by saying that at least politicians were ‘starting to’ realise what was going on, and talk about how to sort it. Sorry, but they could talk about it forever more but that doesn’t mean the problem will be solved. The other panelist then talked about how the companies would say this sort of inconsistency was down to the Government and the law-makers, and is about getting the balance between bringing in money from taxes and lowering corporation tax so that these companies could work from this country, but without addressing the inequality which Syal had tried to bring their attention to. Syal then said this situation was ‘immoral’. However, Robinson was keen to move on, asking the other Panelist to begin discussing the next story of interest. A little later in the program Robinson interviewed Theresa May, largely concerned with the fallout from the shooting of the soldier in Woolwich. May claimed Cameron ”has a grip on the terror laws, reducing the deficit, and a grip on reform of the welfare state” I beg to differ. as I did at the back-end of last year, both with Cameron’s approach to reform/cuts and the motives, or e-motives, behind his, and his party’s actions.

Perhaps Robinson would say there was no room to discuss Syal’s concerns; it was not in the script/autocue. However, they have plenty of time to talk about the same story over and over. Perhaps they would say it was ‘in the public interest’ to discuss this story. However, the discussion that there was surely shows the blatant lack of thought for the poor of this country. There is no escaping it when the truth is highlighted so baldly.

We ignore those on benefits and the ‘working poor’ at our peril… time will tell just what the consequences of this inaction will be. How much more can people be squeezed? Apparently the delivery of Universal Credit on the deadline is in doubt, hurrah!! Watch this space in the coming months for more comment!

p.s. if you are from outside the UK, what is the Government’s attitude towards poor and/or disabled people? What help do you/they get if any? Do you agree with how you/they are treated? What, if anything, would you do differently? If you are from the UK, what do you think?

The (6) impossibles…

This is my answer to yesterday’s daily prompt.

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – the White Queen, Alice in Wonderland.

What are the six impossible things you believe in?

It took me some time to come up with six but I rather like the finished list!

1. I will live in this flat forever.

I feel so settled here it is impossible to imagine ever leaving. I guess I will one day but I don’t like to think about that. It may be sooner than I think with the benefit ‘reforms’ looming…

2. I will wake up thin one morning as if by magic
I like to think the above will actually happen, and not about the reality; months of denying myself things, and hard work

3. My body wouldn’t need naps.
Naps are good and healthy but some days all I do. I’d be able to control them instead of naps controlling me.

4. I will wake to the news that the House of Lords has forced a u-turn on the abolition of the ‘severe disability premium’ under universal credit. That would be sweet, but impossible, because what’s done is done. I can dream, right!!

5. Someone will invent lower calorie chocolate that is a match for the original and tastes amazing! Haven’t found any, at the moment, except ‘child size’ bars.

6. Esther McVey, the Government Minister for  Disabled People, will see sense and table a motion for the re-installation and reworking of Disability Living Allowance in preference to the ironically Personal Independence Payment.

I’d love to hear what you think of it, and see everyone’s list of impossible things! I’m such a dreamer. However, dreaming aids creativity, as does sunshine! Happy Tuesday, readers.

Three doors, one nightmare?

This Daily Prompt is the original inspiration for this post. It’s difficult for me to write, as I don’t normally remember my nightmares. I’m on such heavy medication that I have deep foggy sleep where I barely dream, nevermind have nightmares, so until recently, I didn’t know what they felt like. Anyway, here is my best shot…

The beginning…

There are three doors, all of equal width apart, and all the same shade of blue, which white numbers on the door. Which do I pick? I close my eyes, spin around, and stumble vaguely in the direction of the doors, entering the first one I find. Disabled people are begging in the streets, painfully thin and stinking. There is a person with a disability trying to go the wrong way through the Christmas Crowd. Pushing, pushing with all their might. I can see the effort they have to put in. They are pale, sweating and exhausted. I reach out to try to help, but they cannot see me. Yet I cannot take my eyes off their struggle. I wonder, where is their support worker, why such struggle on their own? People in the crowd tut and glare at the person, swearing under their breath at the persons stupidity in trying to fight the crowd. The do not see the person or their struggle, merely the incontinence. I stare, helpless to do anything.

Memory of struggle

Slowly, a memory comes back to me. I was that person fighting the crowds. Sweating and fighting to stay on my feet, determined to push on. I hear it, I cannot miss it. The person does not try to hide their contempt. They shout at me, swearing. Supposedly under their breath, but loud enough for me to hear. The memory is but that. Part of my nightmare… long enough ago not to remember the words, near enough to remember the swearing and the contempt. They, and the crowd, and the fight was the reason I finally gave in. I’d had enough. The next time I went to fight the crowds, I had a weapon. Not a very secret one, but a weapon. One capable of inflicting harm, nipping ankles and causing more trouble. I do not care, I am only relived that I do not have the same struggle, I have a new struggle but it is not the same nightmare as the old one.

Exploring my surroundings

The memory disappears as quickly as it came. I wonder, what else is there here? I do as the person with a disability I saw, and fight the crowds. They cannot see me, yet are aware of an inconvenience.  Irritation upon irritation. I find a shop, filed with food and good things. Freshly baked bread, warm from the oven. Cakes of all kinds, glistening icing, full of shiny fruit. Chocolate cake, dark and indulgent. Lovely fruit juice, something to quench my thirst. I feel in my pocket, searching for money. I find a few coins, not enough to buy anything. I find my wallet, go to a cash machine, reaching the buttons with difficulty. I check my balance. There is nothing. I wonder when I will have more, and with horror realize I have a few days of not eating, meaning a hospital visit for dehydration. My money for that month had gone. I wonder, how have I spent it? Perhaps on my mobile phone bill? My connection to people, to help, an antidote to the aching loneliness which sometimes haunted me. Or my food shop, supposed to be for food, but spent on washing powder, cleaning products. I could go on, but cannot bear it. I feel it afresh. Deep and Raw. So, what do I do? Join the other beggars, it’s them who shout the loudest, and yet no-one hears me, so no one gives me anything, I am invisible to them.

A Nightmare?

I wake up shivering and sweating, struggling for breath. The pain rises in my chest, breath is harder to find. Eventually the feeling passes, and I drift into a sleep which gives no rest, fighting and fighting till I lose the duvet. I am freezing, yet I do not wake. In the morning, I go to put on my trousers. I used to have help to this. I reach into the pocket, and find a few coins. This was no nightmare…


At the moment, this is just the stuff of nightmares. And yet, the present reality is bad enough. See my previous post. Who knows what will happen when “Universal Credit” comes in?


Two stories, one theme: survival

Dear Readers, if there should happen to be any of you left, once again I apologise for the lack of posts in recent weeks. For the moment, my need to sleep is greater than my need to write. Well, this is generally true. Fortunately, this morning at least, my need to write is greater than my need to sleep. This is somewhat concerning given I have an appointment at 9 am. (All attempts to request extra consideration within the unbending appointments system have gone unnoticed, so I continue to have to make my best superhero(ine) effort to make it anyway.


Talking of heroines, I’d like to draw your attention to the latest little fighter to make the headlines, a baby girl called Maddalena, born at 23 weeks weighing less than a pound. There are several things unusual about this mites story. Firstly,  that she was born at 23 weeks. This is significant given that threshold at which life is considered to be viable is 24 weeks, but this one was born at 23 wks and two days. When babies are this early and this small, every day counts, which is why being 5 days short of 24 weeks is worth reiterating. The second unusual thing about this story is that Maddalena ‘s story was introduced as a miracle of miracles, not only was she born at 23 weeks, and therefore considered ‘unviable’, but she was saved by a pair of scissors. At first this was puzzling, but it transpired, that a pair of scissors were found in the bag which contained the infants tiny body, so ‘experts’ thought she weighed more than she did. Apparently, according to the way this was reported, she owes her survival to this otherwise insignificant detail. Had the pair of scissors not been there, once again her life would not have been considered viable, as she would not have been considered able to survive and, more importantly, to support life, and a quality of life which would make the thousands spent on her medical care deemed to be a worthwhile expense. In these days of the NHS  having to justify every penny spent on patient care, (while wasting thousands of pounds in beurocracy!) this added weight is what gave her a chance at life, as presumably, doctors thought that if she was surviving at less than a pound, not including the weight of the scissors, she obviously is surviving for now, and is being given a chance.

Forgive me for bringing up the ‘religious’ thing once again, but in my opinion, no detail in this little ones life is insignificant, or unnoticed by her Heavenly Father, and her life was no accident, or mistake, whether her survival is considered viable or not. It is clear, at least to me, that God has a purpose for this little one, for it is He who is giving Maddalena her every breath, and He can use anything to thwart the expectations of the medical profession, even a pair of scissors. It seems for the moment, at least in what has been broadcast  that Maddalena does not have a disability as yet, unusual in one so small. However, as with all premature babies, her survival is still precarious, and due to her weight and how under-developed her immune system will be, her life could be wiped out by something as simple as a cold. For now, however, she survives. I intend to follow her progress.

Disabled people, discrimination, and the Paralympics

On the same day as this little child was born, there  are others fighting for their very survival. In a world where achievements such as the ability to find, and maintain a job, and indeed to be able to search for a job in the first place, and therefore not sponge off the state, is paramount, disabled people continue to fight. We are fighting for many different reasons. As in the case of Madelina, we are figthing to prove to prove our lives are ‘viable’ and have meaning and purpose, despite some in society, including, it seems, the majority of the goverment would seek to place on us.

As I suspected, the Paralympics have been judged to have had no lasting impact on the way ‘odinary’ disabled people living ordinary lives are viewed and treated by society at large. It seems the ‘Superhero’ label is all too relevant. Achieve heroic things, and you are considered an inspiration, and your life is considered worthwhile, for you are making a contribution to society by inspiring the rest of the nation to consider themselves lucky, amongst other things. It may be that view of disabled people in sport, and disabled people’s sport has changed, but as I suggested in a previous post some months ago, Lord Seb Coe was too quick to say attitudes towards disabled people had changed in any meaningful way. As is stated in the news item, According to this latest survey from Disability Charity ‘Scope’,

  • 53% said they still regularly experience discrimination
  • 67% said that the Paralympics have done nothing to improve the way they are spoken to

A high profile figure has come out in support of the survey, The Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC has said in the article it is his “hope that [the Parlympics] has enhanced our understanding of people with disabilities, my fear is that the surveys continue to show a high level of abuse.”

While I applaud his courage in furthering the cause of little known “Disability Hate Crime” for some of us the fight is even more basic than this. Some of us are fighting for our survival  and the right to a basic income, food, heat, an (accessible) roof over our heads, for those who are able, meaningful work, to allow independent means of obtaining these things.

There are so many arguments it is difficult to keep track of them all. However, one of the arguments I have heard that shows a lack of basic understanding, (and an attitude that stinks to the Heavens) is that why should the taxpayer be funding disabled people to stay in their beds all day when others have to go out and work to obtain the same things others get for free. I have said from the beginning that in some ways I wish to distance myself from activism as we are only in part fighting for the same things. I do not wish to associate myself with much of the propaganda constantly churned out through social media, and consider the current fight regarding #ESA to be somewhat irrelevant considering that this will be dispensed with in a matter of months. For me, ‘Universal Credit’ is the more important fight, as there are rumours that the ‘premiums’ on which I depend will be wiped out. For now, this is but a rumour. Nothing is certain for now, although I fear the ‘devil (will be) in the detail’. For now, we survive, and fight on!


BBC News – Benefits changes: Universal Credit system warning

via BBC News – Benefits changes: Universal Credit system warning.

The ‘magic’ of Paralympics 2012 has already evaporated

I am sorry to say, but my cynicism proved correct! Not even a day after the Closing Ceremony, and here are major concerns from charities involved with the most vulnerable people (disabled people included) who risk being harmed through further changes to the Benefits System in the UK. So, Sir Philip Craven, what say you to the way disabled people are viewed now?

When major changes to the distribution of the funding we (as I include myself in this) rely on for mere survival is being carried out in such a way to risk further harm, and yes to some of the athletes too. At least to those who are unable to work, as Disability Living Allowance, (soon to be PIP) isn’t included in Universal Credit, and so for the moment those athletes who earn a decent wage wouldn’t be affected by this. Depends whether they earn their full income, or if the state tops it up or not, as I think they’d be affected by the changes.

The idea is all well and good, but any idea of a “Universal Credit” is just what it says on the tin, i.e. a one sit fits all approach, worrying charities that people with specific circumstances will lose out. I would wholeheardely agree with their concerns. It is a nice but will not work in practice, as Gingerbread (who work with single parents, state in the article.

There are so many other issues. Even if the IT system is ready in time, and even if people can access it, can access their payments and that part of system works fluently for those who have the IT skills there are still other issues. For example Citizens Advice Beurea warn

the Universal Credit system “risks causing difficulties to the 8.5 million people who have never used the internet and a further 14.5 million who have virtually no ICT skills”.

Oh. my. Goodness. Given that this alone presents a massive challenge and it is by no means the singular problem with the proposals, Ian Duncan Smith should be called to adress people’s concerns. There so many other flaws in the proposed system. Really too many to state and full discuss here. Please read the article for yourself.

Regarding my cynicism I refer to a discussion I had with two friends last night, which is appropriate to include here. I’m afraid to say we weren’t swayed by the “isn’t everything wonderful” attitude of Messers Coe and Craven. 

One final word about paralympics 2012 The speakers did not half talk a lot of nonsense. Lord Seb Coes gems of wisdom included the lines: ”we will never think of sport the same way, and we will never think of disability the same way..” How is he so convinced that years of discrimination and so on has been turned around in te course of a mere 11 days. He’d have to start by changing goenments attitudes to both disability and to disaled people. Another man with high expectations of disabiled people is Sir Philip Craven who talked about a small boy who had been reading Treasure Island with his mother, who asked him about the main character, expecting her son to sy the man was a “pirate, instead he said “athlete” The implications of this, is to assume that all who are disabled in some way are ‘athletes’, or can become athletes which is far from the case.

He also committed a further gaffe , which to me was worse than the first, as he claimed the magic of the Paralympic  Games would last  for an eternity, what a lot of RUBBISH!! Sorry to sound particularly Bible bashing, but he really has not thought this one through.My thoughts seemed to be echoed by my friends, including Partakers_Dave  and, and Pam who said she was “worried that such amazing feats will be expected of all disabled [people]in a way that will be even more disabling”.

Disabled people are made to feel the truth of this already as we’re expected to be ‘superhuman’ when, what for some of us are  ‘superhuman feats’ like being able to work, find and maintain a job is expected of all of us who are out of a job, whatever the reason may be even if we cannot look for a job due to being sick, disabled, or both, never mind having the energy or resources to be a full-time athlete or attempt similarly great things.