Rebellion against April’s hostile environments
Brexit extensions and Extinction Rebellions and here we are in April, ducking between showers, whooping at the sight of cherry blossom and grinning up into the lighter evenings. It’s a crazy time, but at least one can feel the coming of summer. I must believe that the days will lighten further and Mitzie is convinced of it! The delightful Mitzie is now six-months into her tenure and is proving a real superhero! There are still a couple teeny things… like the fact that she loves going out but isn’t that interested in going home again… but I was like that at her age so I forgive!
In the darkness though, more death and despair is being caused by the current welfare system. Several suicides in the press since I last posted, including that of Jodey Whiting. Jodey, a mother and daughter, was informed she had missed an appointment and had been, in her absence, found ‘fit-for-work’. This in spite of her severe disabilities including a recent cyst on the brain.
Last week we were told of the horrific and obviously DWP-related death of Stephen Smith. Stephen had been found ‘fit-for-work’ whilst being so disabled he was unable to get to the kitchen to feed himself. At the time of his assessment, he had weighed only six-stone and had not been able to sit up straight. And all this still causes barely a ripple of outrage in the press and wider society even though the DWP were found culpable.
This is a hostile environment …a murderous one. How hard it is to keep from giving up…but we mustn’t. We mustn’t.
Who is NOT giving up?
At the CULL launch, we made sure the names from Culum’s List were hanging up for all to see. We had a minute’s silence to remember those who have been ‘killed’ by the State. We spoke about the fear, the dehumanization, the isolation.
AND we celebrated the fact that there ARE good people out there. Individuals and organisations are creating their own rebellions: fighting, collecting testimonials, researching, and giving the disabled hope.
Like the MP Laura Pidcock who said that she understood that being assessed was like ‘psychological rape.’ And, of course, Dr Frances Ryan without whose courageous and persistent journalism so much less of this would have been exposed. Her book ‘Crippled’ is out shortly and I hope to get my paws on it soon!
Also, organisations like WOW and D4D.
WOW started as a petition campaign at the end of 2012. It achieved its goal of more than 100,000 signatures to gain a debate in parliament, which resulted in the passing of a motion to “… calls on the Government to commission an independent cumulative assessment of the impact of changes in the welfare system on sick and disabled people, their families and carers….” You can read about the motion and how it was achieved on their What is WOW? page.
Since then WOWVoices has provided a forum for the voices of the disabled to be heard: “If you are a disabled person, carer or a health professional you can send us your experience of how the cuts to services, the NHS and welfare reform have affected you personally and the people you know.” Send your voices to them and read the latest stories from the frontline on their Blog.
D4D is a very short way to express a whole lot! The acronym stands for: “Disability and community – Dis/enfranchisment, dis/engagement, dis/parity and dissent!”
A lot of words, yes, but important ones. D4D is a research programme which examines the ways in which disabled people express, perform, experience and practise ‘community’. It seeks ways to facilitate that community, including “robotics, the arts, education, employment, genetics and gaming.” Like WOW, it also gives “voice” to the otherwise unheard stories of disabled people coping with, and thriving in, life. I am currently working as an Associate Research Fellow on the D4D project.
Hear my voice too, in this new film about CULL!
Here’s the film about the CULL launch. 12 minutes of stuff. Let me know what you think!