Currently running on Facebook is a campaign lambasting the Comic Relief 'Red Nose' day because, they say: "(We) are annoyed and distressed at Comic Relief's decision to include David Cameron in the video to this year's charity single by One Direction. They then go on to list all of the atrocities committed by Cameron, aimed at sick and disabled people, and those on benefits or on a low income.
Firstly, let me make it clear that I agree wholeheartedly with this group's stance against Cameron and the present government. What the ConDems are doing to certain sections of our society beggars belief. I have, along with other disabled activists, been in the thick of the fight against them and will continue to take my place alongside those who challenge the government.
However, to boycott an organisation that is the very antithesis of Tory policy, just because of Cameron's appearance in the video is, in my humble opinion, not exactly constructive.
Many years ago, when Comic Relief, Children in Need et al first appeared on the scene, disabled activists throughout the country were appalled at the patronising crap which oozed from our TV screens. Not only did we boycott these appeals but we also tried to make sure that everyone knew why. We chained ourselves to the railings outside TV stations, we leafleted and a few intrepid souls even managed to gate-crash televised events to publicise our cause. "Piss on pity", "Rights not charity", "Nothing about us without us" were bold new statements way back then.
We all know what Mr Wogan and his cronies did. They ignored us and have pretty much continued as if nothing had happened. Lenny Henry and the other, original Comic Relief organisers, however, started up a dialogue with us and asked what they were doing wrong. They listened when we explained and took our criticisms on the chin.
From this small step many of us began working with Comic Relief (arguably the ONLY such charity to have agreed to work with disabled people on our own terms). Some of the results have been the increased involvement of disabled people in the organisation, funding being directed towards organisations "of" rather than "for" disabled people and changing the "tragic but brave" stereotype that so damages our struggle for equality and full citizenship. (And it became an approach they've used with other groups they support, too.)
Those of us who are really long in the tooth will remember that landmark training resource "Altogether Better" which was so vital to disability equality/disability action training throughout the 1990s and beyond. Perhaps for the first time, it enabled Deaf and disabled people of all ages to tell our own story through the video clips and materials it brought together and it tackled some highly controversial issues head on. Who funded it? Well, Comic Relief actually.
So please guys, hammer Cameron and his cowboys as much as you can. I'm with you on that. But don't risk sabotaging probably the only organisation of this type which, in my opinion, has worked hard to take our issues on board and provided a level playing field for us all to operate together on.
Thanks for listening. Rant over (for now!).
This week I’ve handed my blog spot over to an artist whose medium is being creative with the airways.
Her name is Merry Cross who, apart from being a presenter on Reading community radio, is also well known as a disabled activist and one of the organisors of the Berkshire Disabled People Against Cuts movement.
Here’s her contribution:
Community Radio for disabled presenters
"Years ago, it struck me that radio is an ideal medium for virtually all disabled people, except obviously you Deafies!* I even drew up schedules for an entire radio station devoted to our issues, and tried, naively to float it (it sank without trace).
But then the internet and community radio stations came along and I leapt at the chance of a weekly show on Reading’s ‘Make Yourself Heard’ - blissfully unaware of how much work it would be! But I’m so glad I did it, because not only can it publicise local issues and give local Crips a voice, there’s nothing to stop it covering national issues too. And then there’s nothing to stop English speaking people from all over the world contributing or hearing it!
Also, not being part of a posh outfit run for profit by a bureaucracy, there is no pressure to support the status quo. FREEDOM! What’s more I’ve found some hugely supportive people through it, and formed many new relationships.
So, whilst I’d quite like never to have any competition (!) I’d recommend daring to take the step to anyone.
And of course there are some other disabled people doing radio shows, with 'Alan Commonly Known as Maglite' trying out Skype as his prefered medium. So I’ll just have to keep upping my game!
*And it’s finally dawned on me that I could at least make the scripts available on request, to make it somewhat accessible to Deafies."
You can find out more about Merry and her work with Reading community radio by clicking on this link.
It is being stated that physical and sexual abuse has been prevalent within mental hospitals, disability institutions and care establishments throughout the UK for the past 50 years. Many of the incidents that were reported were allegedly ignored, either because the resident or patient was not believed or because it was not considered in the 'best interest' of the care community to make such allegations public.
Now we have a growing list of statements made by people who were institutionalised during this time who claim that they were also abused, not just by staff, but also by well know public figures, including the late TV celebrity Jimmy Saville.
Lynn Harrison who facilitates a FaceBook group of people with experience as a user of the mental health system told me: "Speaking with many other disabled people who have come up through the care system, they tell me that this represents the tip of a very large iceberg which has seen vulnerable people, particularly those with mental health diagnoses, learning difficulties and other impairments, being abused in many ways for far too long by organisations that have professed to protect them.
"This scandal has also highlighted the prevalence of vulnerable people being disbelieved and ignored in the past when they have been brave enough to try to speak out."
For too long the establishment has worked hard at maintaining the status quo that disabled people should be seen and not heard. They tell us through their words and actions that our complaints are not valid and we should be grateful to those organisations who have taken it on themselves to offer us both a home and the care which we need; we should be grateful, even when the people involved in these organisations physically and sexually abuse us.
In a climate where this government seem determined to push us all back into care, we say ENOUGH!
Like hundreds of other disabled people in the UK today, Adam Lotun has experienced verbal and physical abuse, has been spat at, pushed off the pavement in his wheelchair into oncoming traffic and accused of single handedly bringing this Country to the brink of bankruptcy by claiming disability benefits.
Now on top of this, like thousands of other disabled people in the UK, Adam has been subjected to the ATOS work capability process and as a result has had his benefits cut and his accessible Motability vehicle taken away.
However, unlike most of his disabled peers who have been left feeling disempowered by the heartless actions of the coalition government, Adam Lotun has decided to make a public statement and say "no more".
Taking his fight straight into the enemy camp, Adam is standing as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Corby By-Election on Nov 15th 2012. His aim is to show that the age of the career politician with their selfish, self promoting attitudes has ended and that the caring and compassionate society that he was brought up to believe in still exists.
Speaking in his Blog, Adam argues that today's politicians have lost their way and no longer care about those very people that they are supposed to represent.
"I'm arguing against injustices by those in power ... it is no longer acceptable that the 1% should be ruling over the 99% ... that Parliament needs to be reformed so that we can secure a future for my children and future generations."
Adam has been working with other disabled people to achieve disabled people's rights and equality for over 20 years. He has played a leading role in recent direct action initiatives, chaining himself to other wheelchair users in attempts to block roads and raise awareness of the damage resulting from cuts to disability benefits.
During this time he has heard many examples of discrimination and injustice, but the stories that are emerging from those disabled people who are being abused by the ATOS work capability process are causing him the most concern.
In his latest blog Adam comments on a recent CH4 television news item that focussed on one example of just how badly disabled people are being treated by this system.
"I have heard of a great many injustices to disabled people and have often taken up the fight with them to redress their wrongs ... but I have never witnessed anything so deliberate as to lead to the tragic and needless death of the disabled person upon who the CH4 news item was based ... it left me feeling sick to my stomach."
This particular news item has become a clarion call for Adam and those other disabled people who are working with him towards winning the Corby By-Election. Adam feels confident that the people of Corby will turn out in force to elect him as their parliamentary candidate, influenced by the support that he is receiving from across the country by the disabled community.
He added: "I know that the people of Corby believe that all of my supporters from around the UK who have offered their time, support and resources to enable me to represent them, will continue to assist us in our fight for true democracy.
"That they now have friends from as far afield as John O'Groats to Lands End who will have their hopes pinned on the people of Corby to make a stand against those outdates ideas that have led this country into the state it is."
They will do this by putting Adam forward as their choice to represent their community on the 15th November 2012.
If you feel able to spare time to assist Adam in his fight for parliamentary recognition then please contact him by clicking on this link to his blog. Any and all offers of help will be gratefully recieved, not just by him but by the people of Corby.
The present government, seemingly run and controlled by a small clique of ex Public schoolboys, seem intent on taking us back to the 1950s where people did what they were told, without question. And the alarming thing is that this tactic seems to be working!
Let's just look at what has been happening with regard to Disabled people. Seemingly overnight the ConDems have managed to reverse the process in which society was begining to view us in a more positive framework.
People were beginning to accept and support our right to accessible housing, accessible transport, access to mainstream education, etc., and also the right to represent ourselves, rather than be beholden to the big charities whose main preoccupation seemed to be to keep a lot of non-disabled 'disability professionals' in work.
The view that we were helpless, pathetic creatures who needed to be cared for and detained within 'special' institutions - basically kept off the streets - was also slowly changing thanks to the pioneering work undertaken by disabled activists and academics over the past 60 years or so.
We'd started to succesfully challenge the negative stereotypes of disability that were portrayed on television and in the cinema and also encouraged some of the media to write about us in a more positive framework. Slow work and constant hard graft, but we were getting there.
But, in the short time that this lot have been in power, they've managed to reverse much of the progess we've been making. They have been sabotaging many of the tools we had aquired for creating our independence, encouraged the press to portray us as benefits scroungers and a drain upon society, and effectively set us back some 50 years. And what's even worse, is that the general public are falling for it all!
But are we down hearted? Too blooming right we are! So what are we doing about it?
I'd be interested to hear ...
Having been out of things for most of the last 12 months I was saddened to hear that the political activist and god-father of the disabled people's movement Vic Finkelstein had recently died aged 73.
Originally deported from South Africa in the 60's for his support of the anti-apartheid movement, Vic was the main architect of 'The Fundamental Principles of Disability', published in 1975, which argued that the problems faced by disabled people were caused by society's failure to take account of their needs, not by their impairments.
In 1972 when Paul Hunt wrote his now famous letter to the Guardian, calling for a radical new disability organisation to be formed, Vic eagerly got involved along with other politically active disabled people in the UK.
It was the resulting organisation, called the Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation, that published 'The Fundamental Principles of Disability'. Not only was Vic a key participant in the discussions that produced this document, but he was the main drafter of it.
He was also prominent in setting up the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People in 1981 and became its first chair. In the same year he represented Britain at the first world congress, established by Disabled Peoples' International.
'To deny or not to deny disability' by Vic Finkelsteinhas been hugely influential to countless numbers of both disabled and non disabled people new to the Social Model. Both simple and profound, it shows how that it is society that creates the barriers, and not our ‘defective’ minds and bodies, as the Medical Model would have us believe.
Vic was also instrumental in setting up the first Open University Disability Study courses, working with Colin Barnes and others at Leeds University.
My own memories of Vic are based around the comments he used to send me whenever one of my cartoons had caught his attention. Not one to mince words was our Vic and I learned a lot from him in this way. He'll be sadly missed.
The Guardian's obituary of Vic, by Mike Oliver, can be found by clicking on this link.
One of the main problems affecting many disabled people at the moment is a lack of income. And, as a result, a reduction in the ability to make those choices that affect the quality of our lives.
Until recently, many disabled people earned a reasonable income from providing professional services to organisations which provided disability equality training for their workforce, as part of complying with their legal obligations in relation to employment and providing services. But recently this, and other equality training, seems to have slid right down to the bottom of the agenda - if not off the agenda completely.
Crippen the cynic believes that this is all part and parcel of the present government's efforts to undermine our status as equal citizens in society. First, they labelled us all benefit scroungers and a burden on society. Then this gave them licence to go ahead with their cuts in support services, giving a bit of encouragement along the way to those charities that claim to represent disabled people. So this - among their many other evil acts - has resulted in a reduction in funding everywhere and signposts a one-way route into residential care for many of us.
Many disabled people spent several decades wrestling disability action and equality training away from the "simulationists". Those were (and alas still are) largely non-disabled people, who think that making people wear a blindfold for 5 minutes enables trainees to understand what it is like to have a visual impairment or sending people out into the high street in a wheelchair shows trainees just how brave it is to tackle life on wheels. Having slogged to make disability equality training more meaningful, apparently now our skills are no longer recognised as valid or having any value.
Apart, that is, in those organisations which seem to have revived the old tradition of inviting a disabled people to come in and talk about their own experiences, providing them with a cup of tea and a sticky bun for their trouble.
So if you are one of those crips providing your services for free, could I just remind you that it took years of hard graft to establish our role as professional disabled people in the field of equality training. The last thing that we need is for our disabled brothers and sisters to undermine us in this role and to devalue the importance of this work.
It also goes without saying that we need to earn a living and be in a position to fight against those right wing bigots who don't want us to have any part in their Big Society!
The Big Society Sucks! - a poem by Ann Young
I will not go quietly
Or rebuild bridges burnt
I'll make my own way now
With many lessons learnt
Hard work needs reward
It's the only way
A good day's work
For a decent pay!
We fought so hard
For our equality
Don't throw all that away
By wanting work for free
I'll not work for nothing
It seems so wrong to ask
I'm a disabled woman
Reclaiming my working class
I was offered voluntary work but rejected it. I have worked so hard to get where I am and giving away my hard earned knowledge for free goes against everything I believe in as a disabled women with strong working class values. I do believe there is still a mainstream view that we have nothing of value to offer, so I just wanted to voice my own thoughts regarding Cameron's Big Society rhetoric.
Ann Young April 2010
A moving tribute to disabled activist Rowan Jade, who died suddenly at the age of 40 whilst on holiday with her partner and child.
The tribute is by Baroness Jane Campbell and echoes many of our own thoughts and feelings regarding this amazing young woman.
Jade will be sadly missed by all who were fortunate to know her.
To access the tribute please click here.
If like me, you've never visited
Gallery and Events Officer Leo Devlin was there to welcome me at the offices of the Arts and Disability Forum (ADF) and give me a quick tour of the exhibition space and other facilities that we'd be using that afternoon. I'd only previously corresponded with Leo by email and it was great to actually get to meet him face to face.
Organised primarily by Chris Ledger (Chief Executive) and ably assisted by Leo and Michelle Henry, ADF's Finance Officer, an exhibition of my cartoons entitled ‘The world of Crippen’ was scheduled to kick-off that afternoon. This was to follow a short introductory talk about my work in the meeting room upstairs.
The folks at ADF had done a lovely job on the cartoons; framing them in matt aluminium and hanging them on the purpose built display boards that were set around the exhibition space.
Before people started to arrive I had a chance to chat with Chris and Leo and learn a bit more about the organisation. With strong links established with other arts organisations, ADF seems to have become the main focus for disability arts in
Speaking later to Noirin McKinney, who's the Director of Arts Development at the Northern Ireland Arts Council, she expressed her admiration for what had been achieved by the ADF team in a relatively short space of time.
The introductory talk was opened by Margaret Mann, Chair of ADF who welcomed representatives from many of the City’s allied organisations including Queer Action and Open Arts. The talk ran over time as visitors to the exhibition questioned me about events taking place within mainland Disability Arts, especially where art was being used to confront the inequality of life for Disabled people.
Chris and I actually go back some way and between us we remembered and shared with the audience many anecdotes and stories from our involvements in early DAN actions etc. In fact it was handy having her there as on several occasions my memory failed me and she was able to provide the name of a person or occasion that had slipped out of my mind (that's what happens when you get older!)
The ADF team had already started to raise awareness regarding the concept of disabling barriers within society and how disabled artists could use their art to confront these. My cartoons had been selected to reinforce this theme and they seemed to have helped generate a positive and empowering effect upon visitors to the exhibition.
The exhibition was opened by Monica Wilson, Chair of Belfast Disability Action, who spoke about past and future collaborations with ADF. I'd previously provided a christmas card cartoon for them which portrayed Martin McGuinness as santa's little helper (I think Ian Paisley was santa!) and she pulled my leg about him still looking for me (which is what this week's cartoon is based upon!)
A further welcome was provided by Noirin McKinney of the NI Arts Council who encouraged visitors to mingle and discuss the work on display whilst enjoying the refreshments that had been provided.
A canvas containing a huge question mark had been framed and hung on one of the walls within the exhibition. Beneath this was a box with a postal slot set into it. The purpose of this was to invite visitors to the exhibition to post a suggestion for a new Crippen cartoon to be created. This had to relate to a disability related situation currently taking place within NI and which then could be presented to the appropriate political or charitable representative as part of a wider campaign.
The exhibition, entitled ‘The world of Crippen’ is staying at the ADF premises for a few more days before touring other disability related bases in NI. The individual limited, framed prints are for sale with all proceeds going to ADF to fund their continuing programme of disability arts for NI.
For myself, I found the enthusiasm and energy that was being channelled at ADF gave me a huge boost and a determination to return in the near future for further collaboration with them.
I've recently received an email from a Disabled equality trainer in Australia asking if she could use some of my cartoons about labelling within her courses. She hadn't come across the concept before and felt that it might help her to get across the equality message to both non-disabled and disabled Australians.
"No problem" I replied, and then began to wonder if other readers of this blog in other parts of the world were as ignorant of this concept as she was. With this in mind I've recreated a simple example and cobbled together some information about the subject for you.
The concept of labelling people, especially Disabled people has been with us since early times. Then we were made to wear labels that identified us as ‘witches’ or as the ‘familiars’ of bad spirits or ‘changelings’, or, if we were lucky, as the harmless village ‘dolt’ or ‘idiot’. Although if hard times came, such as a crop failure or something equally as harmful to the community, then the ‘idiot’ often became the 'scapegoat' and was disposed of to appease the gods.
As times progressed and society became more enlightened (Ed - our American readers should note the use of irony here!) we were seen more as figures of fun and were given the labels of ‘Jester’ or ‘Fool’. Those of us with mental health issues were also allowed to entertain the nobility, but were put on display in places like Bedlam and given the labels of ‘Mad’ and ‘Insane’ regardless of our actual condition.
We were also given the label of ‘villain’ in early children’s stories, usually with an eye or a limb missing, or labelled as the ‘weak’ or ‘needy’ character whenever sentimentality or charity were portrayed by such as Charles Dickens and other writers of his time.
Following the onset of the industrial revolution we were deemed ‘worthy poor’ and allowed to beg, and some argue that this is where the label of ‘handicapped’ (cap in hand) originated. The label ‘Invalid’ also appeared about this time and literally means ‘not valid’.
The medical professionals during the 19th and 20th century, deciding that we needed repairing brought with them their own labels. These ranged from the familiar ‘idiot’ to the ‘imbecile’, the ‘feeble minded’ and the ‘moral defective’. More labels followed as they began to split us into groups of impairment, resulting in 'Mongol’ and ‘Spastic’ to name but a few.
The more subtle labels remain to this day and are still used by those groups and organisations who wish to control us and wish to separate us from society. It is mainly the charities that rely upon the power of labelling, still portraying us as ‘vulnerable’ and ‘incapable’ amongst other disempowering descriptions. The medical profession also continue to play their part, although have changed some of their labels to appear more progressive; ‘Cerebral Palsy’ replacing ‘Spastic’ and ‘Down’s Syndrome’ replacing ‘Mongolism’ for example.
Remember, labelling people is about disempowerment and only works if the person who is given the label agrees to wear it.
I’ve had some correspondence recently with a colleague known in crip circles as Deaf Bitch. Her shared insights into Deaf culture have helped me to understand a great deal about the many forms of oppression that Deaf people face within our society.
Here’s some of what she wrote followed a recent programme about children having cochlear implants.
“I was watching a programme about a one year old boy who was about to have a double cochlear implant.
"During the programme we heard the mum say about her older daughter, who was also born deaf and who also had this done, that before the operation 'it was like she died'.
“This was followed by the surgeon saying that if the boy didn't have this operation he would be 'condemned to a life of sign and special schools'.
“I don't get into blaming people who want their children to have this invasive procedure, whatever my personal view, but this just made me jump up and down in sheer fury and distress.”
And here’s a sample of Deaf Bitch's outstanding poetry …
I’ve had enough....
suggesting gently in ladylike tones
hinting it might be a good idea if....
proving the business case
explaining the law
taking the barriers down inch by painful inch
brick by careful brick
I want to
all in one go on one perfect day of ecstasy.
Deaf Bitch 2010
It's not unexpected that people who experience severe mental distress generally find night times the worst time to be alone. This is compounded by mental health trusts not being required to have any more than a tick box quota of staff available at night. In fact, most don't bother providing any real service during this time other than fielding a token Crisis Team often consisting of only two people.
I talked to a survivor who attended a recent workshop regarding mental health Crisis Teams. She was told that team workers see themselves as delivering a home treatment service - the teams are in fact called 'Crisis and Home Treatment Teams'. This involves delivering drugs to people at home in order to keep patients out of hospital and to allegedly save money in terms of expensive admissions.
Whilst they are out on these so-called 'drug runs' there is usually no-one else available at their base to answer phone calls and respond to requests for assistance. So one would assume that the trusts, needing someone to cover this out-of-hours service, would turn to an experienced private agency or mental health charity in order to check that any phone call, for example, is met with an appropriate response. WRONG!
In fact mental health trusts often ask the police to carry out a 'Safe and Well' check on any patient that they are unable to visit themselves. Unfortunately the police have little or no training in mental health issues, and seem to regard this duty as a bit of a nuisance, to put it mildly. In the experience of our survivor a lot of police officers are extremely prejudiced and will often view anyone presenting with mental distress as a potential axe wielding killer. Forget the loveable village copper image. The description of one such response team fitted more the heavy booted descendants of the notorious Special Patrol Group (SPG).
Therefore, if the police go to a house and can't get a response, often because the person is too scared to open the door, they have been known to break it down. Even if they don't have to break their way into a home, they often forcibly drag people out, usually handcuffed (more them once this has happened to our survivor when she's only been wearing a night dress - no slippers even!), before being taken to a police station to be locked overnight in a cell; this is their definition of a Place of Safety! As you can imagine, for people who are already in an extremely distressed and often confused state it is a terrifying experience to also be treated like a criminal in this way.
It was estimated that in 2006 around 250 people killed themselves within 48 hours of being detained in this way. Are we surprised?!
Has anyone else noticed that having adopted our social model language, the big charities and government departments have started to twist the wording around so that the 'problem' is back with us crips?!
For example, a recent press release from the Department for Work and Pensions contains the lines: 'It is clear that the current assessments are failing to pick up on people with major barriers to work' (this refers specifically to Disabled people). Now we could be charitable and say that this misrepresentation of the Social Model concept is down to a lack of understanding and ignorance on their part. Or you could see this as yet another example of how 'they' are always going to label 'us' as the ones with the problem!
Still don't get what's happening here?!
Well, traditionally Disabled people have been seen as the ones with the problem and that we have to either be cured or fixed in some way in order to fit in with society. Along came the Social Model understanding of disability and the concept that 'it was society that was throwing up the barriers that disabled us' was introduced. As well as taking the 'blame' away from us crips it was now a much easier task to focus on society and identify and remove those barriers that were disabling us. Eventually this understanding was introduced into mainstream thinking and began to replace the Charitable Model understanding so loved by society and the many charities that had been set up to represent us, and also the Medical Model understanding which put the specialists in charge of our lives.
As I see it, this subtle change back to Disabled people 'owning' the barriers means that we've now come full circle, allowing society to opt out of its responsibilities once again and with us crips being at fault!
Where do we go from here I wonder?!
All this business about opening the tendering process for Social Care Commissioning to groups and organisations of Disabled people has brought in some interesting mails from fellow crips who have started to enquire about the process.
As the powers that be have included the words 'fully accessible' in the information explaining about the process, one would be forgiven for thinking that applying to tender for any of the services would be a completely barrier free experience.
Think again. In one Local Authoriy area the first hurdle we are faced with is the application form itself. Seventy four pages long, it reads more like a manual for dismantling ... something that's difficult to dismantle (!) than something that's supposed to be the open door to an accessible process! 'Fully accessible process', I think not!
Be interesting to see what else surfaces as we delve deeper into this new venture. If I was an old cynic (Ed: surely not?!) I'd begin to suspect that they didn't really want us to jeopardise the cosy relationship that they've had with all of the groups 'for' disabled people!
My mate Dawn has continued this debate on her blog. Click here to read on ...
Sometimes when an old cynic like me thinks we are not making any progress and there’s too much of the same-old, same-old, I get a dig in the ribs and a reminder that us crips do occasionally have some influence. This nudge was another example of how we have penetrated the portals of policy and power.
Thanks to years of background work, solid research, lobbying, persuasion, arm-twisting and hard, under-funded graft by crips, disabled people’s (and carers´) organisations are now officially sexy and sought-after. There’s a big conference coming up this week run by the Department of Health on user-led organisations (ULO's). Of course lots of it now is in that impenetrable language – officialese – but there you go.
“The success and sustainability of User-Led Organisations is a vital part of the transformation of Adult Social Care and the wider personalisation agenda ... each Local Authority with social services responsibilities should have a User-Led Organisation in place by 2010. This conference is an opportunity to learn about and celebrate the successes achieved by ULO's ... ” goes the conference blurb.
Actually we do have something to celebrate here. These people just didn’t wake up one day and think “ah, let’s do something positive for the disabled [sic]”. Like with pushing for anti-discrimination legislation, like crips campaigning their guts out for direct payments (and individual budgets) and much, much more – being a thorn in the side of the Powers That Be does sometimes have an effect.
Before you think I’ve fallen into a vat of schmaltz and popped on a pair of rose-tinted specs, I hasten to assure you that the Crippen crap-o-meter is still pulsing. We need to see Councils putting some financial welly into all this to support crip organisations, properly and without strings attached.
We need to see this top-down rhetoric having a real effect locally – and – oh, please! – we need those medical-model, finance-gobbling, charity-focussed ‘for’ organisations to move over and let us take control of our lives.
A special thanks to Mrs Crippen for her invaluable input here.
Our esteemed Editor Colin has invited the dao bloggers to look back over the past year and highlight some of the events that have crossed our keyboards.
Never one to stick to a brief and usually finding ways to expand the boundaries (Ed: Tell me about it!), I delved into my back-up hard drive, clicked on the folder marked 'the beginnings' and came across the original cartoon that had started me on my career as Crippen.
I've redrawn it several times since then, adding colour, altering the characters, etc., but the context has stayed the same - so called non-disabled expert hogging centre stage and expounding their views on disability, usually to the detriment of Disabled people.
So I think the real message here is that until we are allowed to participate fully at those policy making forums that are deciding our futures, run and control those charities and organisations that have been set up to represent us and make redundant all of those non-disabled parasites who are making a living off of our backs, only then will the need for such politically inspired cartoons end.
Until this time (and don't hold your breath!) I'll continue to bang on about the injustices that run riot through the disability arena.
Have a good rest during this holiday period and join me again in 2010, along with all of my colleagues at DAO.
Having been in a similiar situation myself, I empathised with an email I received the other day relating a story about a sadistic Occupational Therapist (OT).
The bottom line was that the crip in question was being denied the use of a wheelchair because her OT considered that it would make her lazy. The fact that by using a walking frame rendered our crip totally exhausted everytime she used it, also meant that any time she had between periods of travel were spent recovering for the next part of the journey.
Never mind that a wheelchair would make the travelling around easier and therefore allow her to spend the times in between doing something more productive!
Unless she can raise the money herself to buy a wheelchair privately, our gatekeeping OT is sticking to his determined course of 'therapy' because he 'knows what's best for her'.
So if you see a young crip draped over a walking frame fast asleep, try not to wake her up...she's probably just got back from another visit to the OT department!