Every now and then, I get frustrated at the hand life has dealt me. But also, every now and then, people pop up like glowing beacons and I am grateful to them.
The first up to get my thanks is Danielle Sheypuk and Carrie Hammer. Carrie is a fashion designer who wanted to use role models in her shows. Danielle has a Phd and is a practicing psychologist. She earns her money, and wants to spend it too. She enjoys fashion, and like she said, disabled people wear clothes too. And she has cerebral palsy, and is a wheelchair user.
It makes financial sense, that if you sell a product, to appeal to as big an audience as possible. Businesses have been tapping into the pink pound and the grey pound for a wee while now. It makes financial sense to tap into the *disabled pound too. However, I go to the shops, and it's rare that I see other wheelchair users. And it's not because we don't exist, or need stuff. I believe, and through experience too, that places aren't particularly accessible. Even new places. I bet you some person in a hard hat had made a decision about what would work, without EVER getting in a wheelchair and trying it for themselves. If you're going to drop a kerb, drop it so it's flat!
My second thanks go to Francesca Martinez. She is a comedian, actress and campaigner. She also has cerebral palsy. I like what she says, and you too can read it here.....please do.....
To the unknown person that gave me the present of books.....I'm getting to them I promise you, and I can't wait! I am a slow reader these days and I'm still working through, and enjoying, The Casual Vacancy. You have probably given me a years worth of reading, and the pile is patiently waiting, and your card is permanently displayed too, and these things still make me smile.
*I have a problem with the word disabled. All words pre fixed with dis signify being without. In this case, without being abled. I have difficulties, yes, and things are different now, BUT I am NOT without ability.
I have been absent due to sickness bugs and news that has occupied my mind, and now I emerge, it's to find chaos....
What is going on? It's all very unsettling. Where is the care?
Aristotle is often quoted as saying,
'You can judge a nation by the way it treats it's most vulnerable citizens.'
And whilst this is true, it's just a starting point. Because I would also add that it's about equality and money too.
'Seven Deadly Sins
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Science without humanity
Knowledge without character
Politics without principle
Commerce without morality
Worship without sacrifice.'
Don't be without. Because otherwise you are just a taker. And sadly, we all know people like that. People that are only there when there's something in it for them. But when the tables turn, they are nowhere to be seen......
And all's gone quiet on the North Korea front. And the nuclear reactors at Fukushima in Japan. Are we so occupied that we've forgotten? Because that's when things creep up and surprise you, and that surprise will not be good.
First they came for the socialists,
And I did not speak out,
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
And I did not speak out,
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
And I did not speak out,
Because I was not a Jew.
And then they came for me,
And there was no-one left to speak for me.
And this man knows what he's talking about, as he spent 7 years in a concentration camp as he was outspoken against the Nazi party. 7 YEARS!
We all have a duty of care to speak out about unjustness. Don't fail to speak out.
I've lost count of the amount of times that people have said, 'But they help you, don't they.' These people are referring to my physical predicament, and how my home no longer works for me. These people, when pressed, cannot tell you who 'they' are, and what qualifies as 'help.'
So, I'll tell you about my experience of the 'help.' Several years ago I contacted my local home improvement agency (HIA) based at my local council. I was finding the steps at the front of my property difficult, so a handrail was installed. The same was done inside, alongside the stairs. Magic! Thank you! And for a while, that was enough. But as time passed, I degenerated, and I needed more help. An occupational therapist (who'd been hired by the local council) wrote a report saying I needed a downstairs bedroom and bathroom. And she was right.
Let battle commence......
The council denied me this help because they said....
a, my house was too small.
It's a 3 bedroomed house. If I applied for a council house, I would be eligible for......a 3 bedroomed house.
b, my house is excessively cold.
This said without the council measuring the temperature. Ever. Not once. Let alone over a period of time.
c, my house is uninhabitable.
d, my house is worth £47,000. I am linking c and d, because my house was valued recently by 3 estate agents with an average of £180,000. And ALL of the estate agents said I didn't need to do a thing to prepare for sale, as it was presented beautifully. And what bearing does the value of my home have on my needing help?
Never once did the council back up what they were saying with facts. Probably because they didn't have any. We, in our fight back, provided facts, professional opinions of builders, architects, surveyors, solicitors and Foundations, a government body set up to oversee all HIA's. We had to go through 3 stages of complaint, and then on to the ombudsman. I had faith that here, at least, we would get a balanced view. Well, that bubble popped when it became apparent that the ombudsman dealing with our case, didn't know that disabled adaptions are VAT exempt. I wouldn't expect the average person on the street to know this, but if it's what you're dealing with in your job, then yes! You should know it!
When you work, you have no choice but to pay into the pot. When misfortune befalls you, in my case in the form of a bad luck illness, you believe the pot you paid into will be there, to support you. What you find instead, is that someone is holding the pot lid on REALLY tightly. We put up a really good fight with that lid, but sadly, the grip was not loosened. And we left the fight battered, bruised, disheartened and empty handed. But proud of the fight we put up.
'They help you, don't they?' I can honestly say, no, they do not. They have, however, made me feel like a worthless piece of shit.