You Don’t Matter …

marchThere are 13 million disabled people in the UK, with 89% of them eligible to vote in the upcoming General Election.

13 million.

Have you heard any of the political parties address us and our needs directly during the election campaign?

Have you been overwhelmed with election promises about rolling back the savage cuts and stigma we have faced since the recession began way back in 2008?

Of course you haven’t. We don’t matter. Our purpose is purely as a scapegoat – when the chips are down, blame the people least likely to be able to fight back. It’s cheap but brutally effective. According to the tabloid newspapers, we all drive top-of-the-range free cars, doss around at home, unwilling to work and more than happy to leech off the state.

Yet this election is central to our future and we need to make our voices heard. A few facts:

  • 1 in 5 disabled people struggle to pay for food.
  • 1 in 6 wear a coat indoors as they are unable to afford heating.
  • The number of physically disabled people deemed homeless has increased almost 50% between 2010 and 2016.
  • Motability cars are being removed from disabled people at the rate of 700 a week – or 35,000 a year – due to reassessment from DLA to PIP.
  • 85% of people with MS will be unemployed within 10 years of diagnosis.

If I hear (No Saint) Theresa May appeal once more to ‘ordinary hard-working people’, I will scream. What is ordinary? Normal? What if I’m disabled and still work hard? Well, Theresa, I guess that makes me extraordinary, given the almost insurmountable barriers in my way.

At the last general election, I cornered one of our MP-hopefuls in the street as he was campaigning. I politely asked him what he was going to do about the disabled parking abuses rife in this area. He couldn’t get away quick enough. It’s a non-problem. I challenged someone who had parked, without a blue badge, in a supermarket car park on Monday at around 8am. His reply? ‘Disabled people don’t get up early, what’s your problem? Now **** off’.

It seems we face a battle on two fronts – being ignored by all the main political parties and the increasing hostility by the general public (whipped up to almost hysterical levels by the media, owned by billionaire political party donors).

I despair. Frankly, I’m worried.

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10 thoughts on “You Don’t Matter …

  1. Suzanne says:

    Preaching to the choir. I support Labour but you’re right, no one has addressed our rights or recent financial losses. Like you I work. I’m in that limbo land where I find work a struggle and absolutely exhausting but I’m not deemed disabled enough for Pip so I’ll just work till something goes pop again. I think it’s the most depressed I’ve felt in a very long time. The future for the disabled in society looks bleak indeed

    • stumbling in flats says:

      I’m totally with you. I don’t have a choice – I have to work. This is why I’m not looking forward to more treatment, even though I might need it. To take a couple of weeks off, after all the other times I haven’t worked due to relapses, well, I can’t even think about it.
      I’m not ashamed to admit that I wake up every morning with a sense of dread. My son goes off to uni this Autumn and obviously I will lose all the benefits related to him (including the money his father pays which hasn’t increased in over 7 years), yet he will still need stuff from me. Plus, they’re only at uni 30 weeks out of 52. So those weeks he spends at home are going to be tough. You’re right, it’s bleak.

  2. Joan (Wales) says:

    After first reading your post I went away and had a think about it.

    I am on DLA and have been informed that I will not be going to PIPs, I don’t know if that is due to my birthdate or for the length of time (10 years) that I have been disabled. I’m just thankful that for once I won’t be messed around by the powers that be. By the way, did you know that once you reach the age of 65 the DWP assume you are frail and ‘wobbly’ anyway due to old age. A fact I found out when I put another claim in because I had deteriorated so much since my last claim, (someone suggested I should). Makes you wonder why they raised the pension age, doesn’t it? So I suggest to anyone who is getting worse and needs more support and is approaching 65 then they shouldn’t waste any time.

    As for parking I see people who can walk perfectly ok using the disabled parking spaces. When I make a comment to my husband he says that maybe they have a disability we can’t see ie had a stroke etc. It makes my blood boil.

    One thing that annoys me is the narrow spaces/walkways in some shops. My husband has to negotiate very carefully to avoid the clothing stands or shelves. For all their talk shops still have a lot to do.

    Also, have you noticed that in most restaurants the public conveniences are upstairs?

    Rant over … for now.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi there,
      I think if you’re over 65 you won’t be reassessed from DLA to PIP, it’s automatic.
      I know what you mean about the loos – one place I really like going to has a loo upstairs. Really rickety iron ones. They have a disabled loo downstairs, but weirdly it’s normally covered up by a table and I have to ask the staff to move everything out the way for me. So now I don’t bother going so much.
      I do understand what you mean about parking, but I have a blue badge and to most people, seem ok. I have one because of fatigue and foot drop and use it when I need to, which isn’t always. What the badge gives me is freedom. If I’m in the middle of a relapse and need to get out somewhere, just knowing that I’m likely to find a space somewhere makes it far easier to go out and takes a lot of stress out of it. Having tripped and fallen over so many times while out, I find parking nearby an absolute godsend! I just get back to my car and recover. I also drive an automatic now and could never go back to manual as my legs cramp and go numb when I change gear – so much so that I had to constantly pull over and wait for it to subside.
      This life sure isn’t fun!!

      • Joan (Wales) says:

        It certainly isn’t. To me I think of it as a curse.

        With the parking, you can tell if someone is having problems walking or problems with their mobility in general. You don’t need to be using a wheelchair or stick to see people having difficulty. No, I am talking about the ones who don’t appear to be having any problems at all.

        When we go to Sainsbury’s we generally have a coffee and their coffee bar has a wall-to-wall and floor to ceiling window overlooking the disabled parking. I have seen people who park in the disabled parking walking quite sprightly, hefting heavy bags into their boot before nimbly getting into their cars and driving off. No way are they disabled and if they are then I apologise here and now.

        Another gripe for me is the disabled toilets that double-up as shower cubicles for people who are travelling, especially on the motorway. When I used one the floor was flooded with water. Certainly not good for a disabled person unsteady on their feet. Also they are occupying a disabled toilet.

        • stumbling in flats says:

          Couldn’t agree more – those toilets are one of my pet hates. Also, have you noticed how a lot of disabled toilets in restaurants seem to be dumping grounds for cleaning equipment, buckets, etc? Says it all really.

  3. Zoey says:

    What makes my blood boil are comments like the ones by Joan (Wales). 50% of the time I walk quite sprightly when I park in disabled bays, I look totally fine and am in my 30’s however in the supermarket I will get dizzy from the lights, the people around me, the noise. Etc . I will really struggle to push a full shopping trolley around however as I have children to feed I don’t have much choice, i get confused at the till hoping the till member won’t chat too much as I will stumble on my words and forget things and struggle to pack my bags anyway without distractions of talking and the growing fatigue, then lift hefty bags into my boot but know I will ache for the rest of the day possibly longer. I need to sit in the car before I can drive off and then sleep for the rest of the day before I pick my children from school.
    Yet to a judgemental person watching me from a cafe window you probably wouldn’t know this. We have enough hostility to face without people who should have understanding doing it too.
    I hate having a blue badge and it has taken me 2 years to accept using it to make things easier for me without feeling like I am wrong for doing so yet small minded comments like yours are why we face all the judgemental attitudes.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      HI there! I don’t ‘look’ disabled either, i.e. no visible mobility aids and my supermarket experience almost totally mirrors yours.
      I was at an event last week and everyone commented on how good I looked, despite coming out of a relapse. What they don’t see is that’s it. I went home, slept and was useless for the rest of the day, plus I took the next day off work.
      With the disabled parking thing, what I hate most are the looks from some people when I pull up into a space. Others who are getting back to their cars sometimes stare/glare at me. I would far rather they asked me why I had my badge. If I’m feeling up to it, I ask if they have a problem and then we get into talking about MS. To be fair, most of them apologise and I hope I’ve spread a little bit of understanding.

      • Joan (Wales) says:

        I apologise unreservedly to Zoey and anyone else I may have upset by my comments. That wasn’t my intention as I believe we suffer enough with MS.

        My mother-in-law told me a good few years ago that once when she was with my sister-in-law and couldn’t find a parking space she (the sister-in-law) parked in a disabled bay, even though there is nothing wrong with her. My mother-in-law was laughing about it as she told me. It was that comment and her attitude that made me think there are a lot of people who do the same, so now when I see people who are not looking disabled, tired or in difficulty with their mobility, I think the worst. Obviously poor judgement on my part and I apologise once again.

        • stumbling in flats says:

          I can see how that clouds things 🙁 I know a few people who do that too, on a regular basis.
          The great thing about this blog is that it’s open to comments and hopefully a safe space to exchange viewpoints and ideas.
          Wishing everyone a Happy Sunday. I’m just back from working in our new little office 🙂 It’s such a relief to be able to choose whether to work from home, the office or on-site, depending on how the MS is doing!

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