Thank you to the UK channel 4, I have felt totally part of something so exciting. We have come third in the medal tables and we left with 120 medals!
Truely inspirational to watch and as one of the Channel 4 presenters said today, "today disabled people can walk a bit taller and able bodied people be in awe". We say good bye to the Olympics and Paralympics once and for all in a few minuets. We will watch Coldplay perform along side a festival of fire. It will be all singing and dancing and so it should be for all those athletes, an amazing games organisational team , volunteers who have proved with thinking about accessibility, dynamic thought, a can do attitude and communial support, all our world atheletes can be in an environment where they can compete and strive to be better than the next person!
However as we say good bye to the British games, disabled people are left wondering how long the new positive ,public opinion of disabled people will last? Previously there have been reports of hate crimes soaring towards disabled people in the UK, fuled by various poor journalistic articles flooding our newspapers, it would appear the games have lessened these feelings. However perhaps the darker side comes from those that should know better, should be more intelligent than just lumping ALL Disabled people as scroungers, we expect the tabloid journalists and readers to come out with ill considered statements but those employed to work for the people,we expect better things!
Our welfare system is out dated, it needs modernisation, there is not a genuinely disabled person who would not agree with this. We all know that work needs to change so work works for disabled people, whether we need help wiping our bottoms , feeding, washing,protection from self harm or have regular major surgery, I know of no actual disabled person who does not wish to work, oh sure there are lazy itis people ,as there is in able bodied groups, who you can bet had a poor work ethic before and and we're anxious to gain a disability label for the smallest of problems just so they would be absolved from needing to be anyone to anyone, perhaps a welfare shake up will shake them out because they embarrass genuine claimants. They are the black sheep of our disability culture. We are as angry about these people as our able bodied friends. However at the moment what is happening is a shake up of welfare with no infrastructure in place to actually get those deemed fit for work ,with severe disability,a job! What welfare shake up seems to be doing is giving some civil servant (rarely a disabled person is employed to be a disability assessor with DWP or ATOS) a basic job of ticking a few boxes and stating if the assesee is capable of work or is a bag of spanners and needs to be stuck in a dark corner of society, not allowed out their houses and definitely no smiling or laughing allowed from them as this makes them look too happy and healthy! Now all this is fair enough, after all the assessor is mearly doing a job,but with no "best practice" in situ in order to support organisations, companies or the individual employer in how to support a disabled person in employment, all the welfare shake up will do is cease benefits in genuinely very ill people leaving the vulnrable up poo creak without a paddle. It is putting every physically disabled or mentally ill person or their carers, in a position of having to appeal, costing tax payers thousands and appeal is usually won because the initial assessment is so flawed. The alternative is leaving individuals unable to get a job because in the UK jobs are scarce right now and whether we accept it or not, if you put a well twenty five year old beside a twenty eight year old requiring accessible buildings, disabled parking space, personal carer for personal help in the loo or feeding, plus a need for regular surgery, chemo appointments, dialysis twice a week etc up for one job, who really is likely to be given the job in this economic climate?
We would love to say oh no the disabled person would get a job but one of our Paralympic gold medalists has been reported saying he got a 2:1 in sports education in 2004 and has applied for hundreds of jobs and only got four interviews and no job offers!Can we really honestly say the UK is really actively supporting, or ready to support employing those with major "special needs"? Indeed many of our athletes are very concerned that the welfare support they receive to meet extra costs of living with their disability, will be withdrawn or cut and they will find themselves, come the next Paralympic games, unable to compete because the very money that helped them get an accessible taxi or their own adapted car to get to training, will no longer be there, this is a sad state of affairs as we say goodbye to a tremendous exhibition of all sports people's determination to try and be the best.
So here we are, the closing ceremony, disabled sports people, given a chance, given the right support tailored to their needs, given the time, the patience, the motivation, the determination both from organisation and individual,the accessibility, will often work and work hard. Whilst public transport is still inaccessible, whilst work has to take place in an office rather than at home via Skype, voice dictation (needed to be done in a quiet room useless in an office), emails then work for those who need personal care in a day or extensive medical intervention will NEVER be able to work. It really is as simple as that, until we change the way work works then the welfare shuffle is a very expensive disaster for the tax payers, not one that I think is fair on anyone, disabled or able bodied.