Loneliness: the second cruel stigma Britain inflicts on disabled people : The Guardian


By 

The idea that we are different and don’t want to work, laugh in a pub, or go on a date is far too common. The result, for far too many, is stark isolation
A wheelchair-user using a ramp. ‘It’s still often impossible for us to get in a building.’ Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Increasingly, I feel lucky to leave the house. That’s a strange feeling for someone to have, particularly someone in their early 30s. As a millennial, I know I should be concerned with my nonexistent pension or ever diminishing chance of buying a home – and I am, really. But as a disabled person, I’m aware that nowadays even basic parts of a normal life can’t be taken for granted: going to the office, meeting friends in the pub, even regularly seeing another human being.

New research from the disability charity Scope has found almost half of working-age disabled people are chronically lonely, saying they “always or often” feel lonely. Staggeringly, that works out at about 3 million lonely disabled people in Britain.

The Office for National Statistics has described Britain as “the loneliness capital of Europe” – finding that we’re less likely to have strong friendships or know our neighbours than inhabitants of any other country in the EU. Young people are said to be particularly affected.

But the Scope research points to what can only be called an epidemic of loneliness for disabled people in this country. It’s possible, of course, to be surrounded by people and still be lonely – but break down this week’s study, and this is about stark isolation. On a typical day, one in eight disabled people have less than a half-hour’s interaction with other people.

We’re rightly increasingly aware of how old age can lead to severe isolation – a recent study by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness found that almost three-quarters of older people in the UK are lonely – and the psychological and physical damage this can cause. However, we rarely talk about how, for a whole section of society, loneliness linked with disability and long-term health problems is a stain on decades of people’s lives. Perhaps one of the most disturbing findings of Scope’s research is how younger disabled people, like millennials generally, are affected: 85% of young disabled adults (classed as 18- to 34-year-olds) admit they feel lonely.

Beware of thinking that loneliness is some natural byproduct of disability. The strain of ill-health and disability can often lead someone to be isolated, but how society chooses to respond can either help fix it or compound it. I recently had a bad health spell that meant I was pretty much stuck in bed for two months. But even once I was better, I was very aware that – without support to leave the house or a relatively flexible job – I would still be in bed. These sorts of fears are even stronger at a time when the government is dramatically underfunding the social care system, and tightening eligibility on disability benefits.

I speak daily to disabled people who are essentially cut off from society – twentysomethings unable to go to university, and not because of health problems but because they don’t have a social care package that enables them to get to lectures. Others are forced to be “put to bed” at 8pm because their council has restricted their care slots.

Increasingly I hear from disabled readers who for years have used the Motability car scheme to do something as basic as go to the shops but who, in their tens of thousands, are now housebound after cuts saw this benefit taken away. Or wheelchair users who haven’t been outside for months because, stuck in inaccessible housing, they can’t get beyond their own front door.

Last week the Guardian’s Disability Diaries chronicled how wheelchair users have to turn down invitations to see friends because the pub or restaurant – or public transport – isn’t accessible. It isn’t exactly surprising that disabled people are isolated when it’s still often impossible for us to get in the building.

But attitudes towards disability are also powerful barriers. Two-thirds of the British public admit that they actually feel uncomfortable talking to disabled people, according to separate Scope research. Worryingly, millennials are twice as likely as older people to feel awkward around disabled people: a fifth of 18- to 34-year-olds have actually avoided talking to a disabled person because they are unsure “how to communicate with them” – as if having a disability makes us a separate species.

It’s well established that there’s a stigma around admitting to loneliness – but for disabled people, a stigma around disability is contributing to loneliness. Imagine how lonely day-to-day life can be when the majority of the public avoid talking to you.

Whether it’s government policy removing our social care packages or a stranger ignoring us in the street, tackling this persistent idea that a disabled person is somehow different to other people – that we don’t want to work, laugh in a pub or go on a date – is going to be a crucial part of ending disability’s chronic loneliness.

Britain has a problem with isolating disabled people. Acknowledging that this actually matters is perhaps the first place to start.

 Frances Ryan writes the Guardian’s Hardworking Britain series

 

Source : Loneliness: the second cruel stigma Britain inflicts on disabled people : The Guardian

Poverty costs UK £78bn a year in pressure on hospitals and social services, research finds | Home News | News | The Independent


Poverty inadvertently costs the UK £78bn per year, due to lost taxes and use of public services, research has suggested. This amounts to 4 per cent of GDP or £1,200 for every person in the country. The study Counting the cost of UK poverty has been undertaken by researchers at Heriot Watt and Loughborough Universities along with poverty action charity Joseph Rowntree. It suggests public service cuts to those in poverty may be a false economy, as people struggling with lower-incomes are forced to rely on public services more.

Source: Poverty costs UK £78bn a year in pressure on hospitals and social services, research finds | Home News | News | The Independent

Cherylee Houston Slams Government Over Abuse Of Disabled People


Same Difference

The government are facing accusations of possible human rights violations as they are grilled by a United Nations committee this week – and Coronation Street star Cherylee Houston tells The Canary “people are dying” because of Tory policies.

On Wednesday and Thursday in Geneva, the UN Human Rights committee on economic, social and cultural affairs will be publicly reporting on its conclusions after more than two years of evidence gathering. A report has been submitted from the UK government and a representative invited, but it is unclear whether one will be in attendance.

The concerns of the UN relate to the state of the nation up to 2014, and are overarching: the blacklisting of trade union workers; the inadequacy of measures to prevent forced marriage and FGM; protection of asylum seekers; modern slavery; homelessness and tackling the gender pay gap are just some listed.

But the biggest area of criticism has…

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£12bn unclaimed? I wonder why.


Poppy's Place

Last week I had one of my regular long chats with my wonderful father and, as it often does, what he said got me thinking. Why don’t more older and disabled people know about all the things they are entitled to from the State and that they deserve to receive? How many lives could be improved and made easier if people just knew what’s out there to help them? Welfare benefits, home helps, aids and appliances, it’s all there and available but people often don’t know about it or don’t realise it applies to them and their own particular circumstances.

My father and my Step-Mother are a case in point. They are now in their 80s and their health is not as good as it once was. They both have trouble walking any distance due to disablin medical conditions and in doing all the things they used to delight in…

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Please try to check, what’s so hard about that?


Poppy's Place

No wonder people in this country believe disabled people are inherently scroungers, receiving money for nothing, when we are greeted by headlines in national newspapers and on the TV, like the ones I have seen today, saying that our welfare benefits are to be cut by £160 per week in next week’s Budget. Benefits that we receive for being sick and disabled. Benefits that are supposed to help put us on a level playing field with our non-disabled fellow citizens. Benefits that we ourselves, or our families, have contributed to by way of taxes and NI contributions.  No wonder we are being vilified and thought of as living a pampered life of luxury when we’re not. No wonder we get shouted at and abused in shops and on the streets by people who are also struggling in the gloom of austerity. No wonder when misinformation such as that I have…

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Welfare Cuts Leave Millions Of Working Families Struggling To Make Ends Meet | Welfare Weekly


Welfare cuts are damaging the economic security of millions of working families, according to a damning new report.

Source: Welfare Cuts Leave Millions Of Working Families Struggling To Make Ends Meet | Welfare Weekly

Sitting target: How welfare cuts prevent disabled young people from making their own way


Original post from Disabled Go News

‘………………by Alex Taylor

alex-taylor

I frequently think of my life as a never-ending race, in which I am up against the man I should be for the prize of the life I desire. I hold the sharper mind, but carry a permanent injury, so I mostly remain two steps behind. Occasionally I may draw level, thanks to a combination of bloody-mindedness and support from others, without which I would undoubtedly fall even further behind. Alone, it would be no contest.

Yet the fact that I have cerebral palsy has never truly scared me before now. Sure, there have been many battles of angst-ridden internal frustration, but these have always been personal. At no point previously have these battles, due to my disability, endangered my life choices or sense of identity. I have my parents’ support, both financial and otherwise, to thank for this. It has allowed me to dream big and achieve beyond what others narrowly imagined.

As I look to move out of home permanently, aged 25, with journalism finally beginning to pay its way, the reality of fully relying upon Britain’s 2015 model of social welfare is nauseating. This Government has pledged to cut £12bn from the welfare budget, and leaked Whitehall documents suggest that a portion of these cuts will fall upon disability benefits.

Like many other disabled people, I live in a twilight zone, with a mind and personality at sharp odds with the restrictions of my body. Most people do not know how my disability affects my daily life. I do all I can to hide it. But, bluntly, I need help just to live. I cannot dress or transfer to the toilet without help. I cannot cook. This is just the surface.

Now, at a time when I should be taking risks to make the most of life, thanks to Government cuts, I face the prospect of becoming what Stephen Hawking so perfectly described as a “burden”. This is something every person needing assistance dreads, whether they are elderly, disabled, depressed or in the grip of addiction. I presently rely on year-long live-in care placements from Volunteering Matters, a charity providing volunteering opportunities for foreign and domestic students who average between 18 and 22 years-old.

This arrangement suited me perfectly during days of drunken student hedonism and essay-filled all-nighters but, eight years on, I crave long-term stability. I would like to have someone within my age range who understands where I am in life to help empower me. But instead, I will either need to rely on a series of agency carers, costing hundreds of pounds, or council care.

The concept of the professional council care worker is now a myth. Many councils, including my own, outsource care responsibilities to private companies who draw from a limited pool of employees with no standardised training. This leads to a make-do rather than best practice attitude, with hours squeezed due to financial constraints.

To give you an example: as a young man, I asked the council for a male carer to provide two hours’ additional assistance in the morning to allow my mother some respite. You see, our live-in volunteer is only allowed to work 35 hours a week. Crucially, this includes hours “on call” as much as hands-on work, and falls far short of the actual hours in a week. This leaves mum and dad, aged 63 and 68 respectively, to fill in the gaps. Both have been denied carers’ allowance because they are in receipt of the old age pension. Admittedly, we do not live close to the breadline, as they were both successful in their lines of work, but they are literally being made to pay for having a disabled son.

After waiting for four months, during which no male carers were found, I reluctantly agreed to a female carer in a bid to speed up the process and save the strain of my mother’s (understandable) tiredness and the strain on the family. A lady was found within days. I began to prepare myself, to think of the bigger picture. And then, fortuitously yet ominously, the lady failed to turn up. Eventually a man was found.

I had plenty of female “carer” relationships throughout my childhood, including every classroom assistant, every nanny. It is a different story now – let alone the fact that a female carer would cause difficulties with future girlfriends, for instance. Imagine how silently awkward it would be, how delicately confusing and painful for all involved. I am a full-grown man and deserve to be treated as such.

I am not alone in this desire. There is no more vivid depiction of the strain disabled people are facing than when, earlier this month, 30 disabled protesters, some in wheelchairs, tried to storm Prime Minister’s Questions. They were fighting to save the Independent Living Fund (ILF), a longstanding £320m initiative central to helping disabled people manage care costs and live independently, which was recently signalled for closure and finally terminated last week. Its loss will affect 18,000 disabled people, the most disabled being the most affected.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) continues to frame the closure of the ILF not as a cut, but rather a “transition” of responsibility to local authorities under the new Care Act. A spokesman for the Government told me that “more than £260m will be made available to former ILF users” in the forthcoming year, with local authorities and devolved administrations “fully funded to ensure disabled people get the targeted support they need to live independent lives”.

Read the full article online: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/sitting-target-how-welfare-cuts-prevent-disabled-young-people-from-making-their-own-way-10468093.html

Roisin Norris

Hi I’m Roisin Norris, Digital Marketing Executive at DisabledGo and I will be uploading blogs and news for you all to read.

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