Contrary to public understanding, we Crips spend more time overcoming the negative effects we get from the various charities that claim to represent us, than we do benefiting from the services that they are supposed to provide.
“But where would you be without them?” I hear some of you ask.
Well, for a start we wouldn’t be seen as a pathetic, needy, homogeneous group of people, to be treated with either pity or contempt. We wouldn’t be made to jump through the many hoops that these organisations have set up for us, nor would we have to perform as grateful crips in front of an audience set up to applaud the achievements of the said organisations.
The damage caused to Disabled people by most of the bigger charities over the whole of the past century is incalculable. From locking us away in institutions and away from the mainstream society, to diagnosing our physical impairments as a ‘mental handicap’ and therefore denying us the right to an education, these organisations have a lot to answer for. Representatives of charities have also caused us to suffer sexual and physical abuse as well as instigating a programme of control which sole purpose was to disempower us and make us even more dependent upon them.
This ‘abuse’ still continues, albeit in a more subtle way than in the past. Each year an example of this ‘charitable model’ concept of disability is given hundreds of hours of air time on national radio and television as celebrities compete with each other to see who can perform the most embarrassing stunts in the name of Disabled children. The children are then trotted out and made to show how grateful they are.
Little wonder that one of the more popular groups amongst Disabled people on Facebook is the ‘I shot Pudsey Bear’ campaign. Admittedly some of the bigger charities are slowly starting to get their houses in order and have begun to recruit Disabled people to positions of influence on their management teams. Scope is one example of this.
However, others, having hijacked a lot of ‘our’ language from the Social model understanding of disability and presenting a more enlightened image, are still controlling the Disabled people that they claim to represent.
The old slogan ‘Rights, not charity’ is still as valid today as it ever was.
Has anyone else noticed that we’re in danger of slipping back to where we all started from?!
I’ve always seen the Disability Arts Movement as being in the vanguard of the Disabled People’s Movement. As Disabled artists we’ve focused upon our oppression and expressed this through our art. Together we’ve used the Social Model to identify and then confront the many barriers within society that conspire to disable us; the key word being ‘together’.
However, of late I’ve seen a slide back to the early days when we were all split up into impairment groups. You know the sort of thing; mobility impaired to the left, visually impaired to the right, learning disabled over there, Deaf people … well, you get the idea. And along with each impairment group came its organisation ‘for’ and its own route for funding etc.
Disability Arts focus seems to have got a bit wooly over recent years and it seems more about blending in with the mainstream and not making our unique stand as Disabled artists any more.
Or is it me? … I’m sure you’ll let me know!
A team of doctors at Queen Mary, University of London, hopes to encourage "difficult" patients to comply with treatment by paying them for every jab of anti-psychotic drugs that they have.
‘Experts’ believe a third of patients given the label of bipolar or schizophrenia fail to comply with their prescribed medication regime causing relapses and a higher cost to the NHS. They claim that missing as few as one to 10 days of oral anti-psychotic therapy nearly doubles the risk of a patient being admitted to hospital.
To avoid this, doctors often prescribe depot treatments - injectible versions of the pills - but this is not fail-safe and patients may simply not turn up for their jabs. Reminder phone calls and texts are also ignored. When all other attempts to achieve adherence have failed, bribery may be an option, according to Professor Stefan Priebe, who led the Queen Mary team.
He expects that not only will patients be happy to trade an injection for cash, but that the "money for medication" scheme should pay for itself, with the financial costs more than off-set by the savings made in reduced hospital admissions.
But mental health charity Mind said people should be taking medication for the health benefits not for the money. A spokesperson for the charity, Alison Cobb said: "Psychiatric drugs are known to have unpleasant side-effects, and people should take medication because the health benefits outweigh the drawbacks, not because they need the money."
Why do I get the feeling that this is all about money and has nothing to do with the welfare of patients?!
By the way, you can read more about this subject on the blog of the Crimson Crip
Ha ha ... we've even got our own line in snack foods now!
The last time I was in the DAO office, Jon Pratty, our Manager, asked me if I'd seen the latest in snack foods for Disabled people?
As he had a twinkle in his eye, I gathered that some sort of joke was forthcoming so replied: "OK, I'll buy it. What have you got for me?". And here you have it ... our very own line in crisps!
Apparently they're available in the motorway service stations if ever you're feeling peckish.
What next I wonder, crip-olata sausages? Crip-tique underwear? Come on, I bet you can come up with some more ideas ...
Being of the generation that can say ‘I saw Hendrix play at the Isle of Wight Pop Festival’ (what do you mean, who?!) means that I’ve also seen a lot of water go under the disability bridge.
I wasn’t part of the original move by the Fiscally Impaired Against Segregation (FIAS) in 1970, when they identified disability as the exclusion of people with physical impairments from the mainstream of society. Nor was I involved with the birth of the Social Model during the same decade or the redevelopment of same in the early 80’s by the Disabled People’s International in order to include all impairments. But I did take up the Social Model banner soon after this and was involved with the British Council of Disabled People (BCODP) when they decided to make the removal of barriers within society their main focus.
Next came the protests and demonstrations about lack of access at the many company HQ’s, railway stations, bus stations, Local Government buildings and central Government offices during the 80’s and 90’s, the main protest banner being taken up by the Direct Action Network (DAN) and still being carried to this day.
The reason I’m telling you all this is because I suppose that I’ve carried the knowledge within me as to how we’ve arrived at where we’ve arrived at today, as Disabled people. This brings me to my point, and also to the reason for this week’s cartoon.
p class="MsoNormal">“So where is this Disabled People’s Movement?” one young Disabled guy asked me the other day. And when I tried to explain to him about our history, the way in which the Social Model had helped us to empower ourselves, he just looked at me rather pityingly and said: “Oh those old farts. That was in the olden days, man. It’s all different now!”
I suppose my dropped jaw must have indicated that he’d said something that had trampled over my sensibilities, because he quickly added: “That’s not to say that it wasn’t relevant all those years ago. But we don’t need anything like that now … do we?”
So there you have it … the younger disabled people of today look upon us as outdated old farts, spouting our slogans and holding up our Social Model understanding of disability which, according to at least some of them, has no relevance in today’s society. This probably explains why we don’t have many younger disabled people joining our ranks and as we ‘old farts’ all die off one by one, so our voice can only get smaller.
So, how do we attract these young disabled people? What can we do to make them think of themselves as part of the Disabled People’s Movement – to take a pride in the fact that we are all brothers and sisters together, still fighting for our rightful place in society?