Tag Archives: Hannah Cockroft

An essential foundation

Guest post from Martyn Sibley – blogger, entrepreneur, and co-editor of online magazine Disability Horizons

Did you recently read or hear about David Weir and his housing situation? Despite his huge success he still lives in an awkward and inaccessible house. Imagine, if a 6 time gold Paralympic hero struggles, what is life like for an everyday disabled person?

In general the cost of living is rocketing, incomes are falling and then there’s the fact that life costs more if you are disabled. Then let us take a more specific look at social care. Getting out of bed, getting dressed, preparing food and showering are basic, but necessary actions for us all. Many disabled people are being denied access to this very crucial support.

Richard Hawkes explains this exceptionally well in his New Statesman article. On a personal level, I’ve just travelled the length of this great country and seen some of the most amazing sights of Britain. With my wheelchair, adapted car and 24/7 care support; I’m independent, run my own business and travel the world. However in the past I have had issues securing the funding for these essential foundations to my life.

Of course, this problem is wider than my own experiences. The care system is in crisis, local authority budgets can’t cope and two things are happening: The bar on who gets care is rising, and those lucky enough to get care are seeing their services squeezed and rationed. Furthermore, with an ageing population, this effects everyone of us!

On a political level the Care Bill will be debated by MPs in the commons in late October. The government is attempting to sort this mess out. The big question is who is in and who is out of this system. I fear they are going to set the bar at a very high level.

From government to the general public, from businesses to disabled people; we all have basic needs and deserve to have them with dignity. I just hope we all wake up and act before we reverse the great progress of disability rights in recent years.

Whilst David Weir fights for accessible housing, Hannah Cockroft is fighting for our social care and our future. Earlier this week she supported Scope at a Britain Cares event in Parliament, where MPs could see how important social care is to their constituents.

So #WhatDoYouDoWithYours? Are you similar to me, living your life with some social care support? Let’s get sharing our stories and help people understand why this is so important.
Post with the #WhatDoYouDoWithYours hashtag on Twitter and share the story of what you use social care to do in their lives.

Check out what other people have been saying or find out how to get involved.

Paralympics Legacy – how do we keep on the right track?

I’ve just spent the weekend watching the Anniversary Games. Clare Balding and Ade Adepitan in the commentary box, Richard Whitehead’s amazing win, and Hannah Cockroft on the front page of the Metro on my commute today – it felt like a small piece of last summer all over again.

I’ve looked back at a rather excitable blog that I wrote last year, after spending the day at the Olympic Park.

I was full of Paralympic buzz, and as chief executive of a disability charity, it felt amazing to see so many people talking about and watching disabled athletes.

Research showed what we had all hoped – that, looking beyond sport, the Paralympics had the power to change attitudes towards disabled people.

But away from the euphoria of the Olympic Park and there’s another side to the story. We’ve been asking disabled people over the last few weeks to tell us whether they think the Paralympics change their lives for the better.

Many contrast the positivity of the Paralympics with how tough their life is right now.

The Government hoped more disabled people would play sport.

The jury’s out on whether this happened.

The Government points to small rise in the number of people taking up sport. But independent research shows just a handful of sports clubs had facilities for disabled people.

Disabled people we speak to echo Tanni Grey Thompson’s point, which is that if you can’t get out of the house or pay the bills, it’s not easy to play sport.

You can’t separate Paralympics legacy from the squeeze we’re seeing in local care and support. And you can’t separate legacy from the financial difficulties facing disabled people right now.

Parents of young disabled children tell us a lot that they really struggle to find fun things that their kids can do – sports or arts clubs, for example – with other children who aren’t disabled. Lord Coe, speaking on 5Live, said there was more work to do when it came to disabled children and sport in schools.

At the heart of legacy is the idea of changing attitudes.

“Visibility” is a word that I kept using last summer. The best thing for me about the Games – beyond the adrenaline and the excitement – was the sheer visibility of disabled people.

The Paralympics achieved record ticket sales, and record-breaking viewer numbers on Channel 4. Many people visiting the Games were struck by the number of disabled spectators.

The fact is that shockingly few people actually know a disabled person. So what is said publically, and in the media, is shapes attitudes towards disability.

Jump ahead one year from London 2012 and open a newspaper. We are sadly now more used to reading headlines about disabled people which include the words “benefit cheat”, than ones celebrating success.

This is even acknowledged in the Government’s recent report into legacy, which highlights that any positive shifts in attitudes during the Games are likely to have been undone by the debate over welfare reforms.

Triple gold winner Sophie Christensian has called the Paralympics a “turning point in perception.” I love this description. But now we have turned, how do we keep on the right track?

Last summer was a breakthrough moment. But many disabled people think that the buzz of last summer is well and truly over.

Legacy is a long-term project. But we need to start by making sure disabled people can live independently, can make ends meet and can live in a society that doesn’t write you off just because you’re different and need a little support to get on with your life.

I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts – tell us on Facebook or tweet us @Scope using either #Paralympicseffect or #Paralympicsfail