Tag Archives: disabilities

LibLink: Sal talks about International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Yesterday was International Day of Persons with Disabilities and Lib Dem President Sal Brinton wrote a blog highlighting issues disabled people face. It begins:

I am very aware that one billion people around the world live with a disability – that’s roughly 15% of the global population. I am one of them, mainly using a wheelchair and sometimes walking with sticks. I could have written something smooth and supportive, but I am angry at having to be an afterthought in our society today.

I’ll be frank. Most people are not aware of the daily barriers and difficulties that we face, whether it is the benefits system using the medical model of disability, making decisions about us that bear no relation to our lived experience, or travel – whether by bus, train, taxi or plane – where both the companies running transport and the wider public have no idea of how difficult even the simplest journey can be.

As a senior politician, I turn up to event after event around the country, including TV interviews, where I cannot get to the stage or platform. As a traveller, I have been left on trains at 10pm at night, been reduced to tears in airports, been offered an accessible room in a hotel to discover it has a bath, not a shower…. Many other disabled people can add to this tale of frustration!

Sal continues:

I want to thank friends and colleagues who are supportive on social media when I post if things have gone wrong. But we need a more fundamental rethink. People with disabilities need everyone to come on side and help us to change the system.

Posted in LibLink | 1 Comment

Baroness Celia Thomas writes….The disabled man in the airport

A few days ago, it was reported that last year a paraplegic athlete, Justin Levene, shuffled through Luton Airport on his bottom because his own self-propelled wheelchair was stuck on the plane. He didn’t want to accept Luton Airport’s offer of a different non-self-propelled wheelchair, not least because of the danger of pressure sores, but also the indignity of losing his independence that had been so hard-won.

I have seen various accusations; that it was churlish, offensive, arrogant, publicity seeking – the list goes on.  However others, notably disabled people themselves, have applauded him for drawing attention to the difficulties people with disabilities face if they travel, particularly the inadequate facilities at airports. Some people have accused him of making a fuss but, until you have experienced how little people seem to consider accessibility issues, making a fuss often becomes the only thing you can do to ensure people take notice. The news coverage of Justin Levene is case in point.

This comes at the end of a week when I attended a meeting about disabled access and inclusion, with two Ministers, civil servants and disabled Peers. We were told about the new cross-departmental committee on disability, and its consultation with the Disability Charities Committee – a group I’d barely heard of.  After a bit, one of the Government-supporting Peers let fly.  He told about attending a VIP dinner at a high-end hotel in central London, only to discover that there was no accessible toilet there, but that he could be led to a bedroom some way away which had an accessible bathroom attached to it. He said he felt worthless and demeaned by that, and made sure he was dehydrated.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Nascot Lawn respite centre wins High Court reprieve

Nascot Lawn, the only respite centre in Hertfordshire for children with complex needs, was due to close in May. Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group announced in November that it was withdrawing funding for this vital service.

Several parents got together to fight this ruling. And yesterday, the High Court found that Herts Valley CCG needs to work with Hertfordshire County Council on the future plan for Nascot Lawn. Funding is now guaranteed until August. If they cannot reach an agreement on keeping Nascot Lawn open, Hertfordshire County Council can refer the …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

Opinion: To be free from poverty, ignorance and conformity, our society must have robust support for disabled people

Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day 2015. It’s the tenth annual day for disabled and non-disabled people to blog about their experiences, observations and thoughts about disability discrimination (known as disablism or ableism). It aims to raise awareness of inequality, promote equality and celebrate the progress we’ve made.

An online acquaintance of mine said he was going to write for #BADD2015 in terms of the political parties’ manifestos. Good Lib Dem that I am, I looked forward to hearing some positive stuff about my party. I know there’s lots to talk about.

The Lib Dems have budgeted the £8 billion a year the NHS will need during the next parliament, which is bound to be relevant to the lives of people with disabilities and other long-term conditions, as many of us do seem to see doctors, nurses and specialists often enough to be on a first-name basis with many of them!

The Lib Dems’ unique dedication to improving mental health care is also relevant to many disabled people, both those whose disability is primarily or entirely a matter of mental illness, and those who experience poor mental health as a result of other disabilities. Mental illnesses are some of the most common, and most “invisible,” disabilities in the UK, and at the moment the mental health care many people receive (or fail to) not only doesn’t help them but can actually make their mental health worse.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Sal Brinton refused access to bus because driver wouldn’t ask man with buggy to move

Sal BrintonJust over a year ago, party President Sal Brinton wrote on here about her woeful experience of rail travel, saying she felt that disabled people were treated like packages. She outlined what had happened to her over a six month period:

  • Last Sunday, returning from the Scottish Lib Dem Conference in Aberdeen, I was  left on an empty train on an empty platform at midnight at King’s Cross for over 15 minutes before I spotted someone on the first floor, and waved furiously to get her attention;

  • Refused permission on to a pre-booked train, because rush hour commuters rushed on the train ahead of me, and the train conductor didn’t want to move the commuters and risk being late – even though she watched them barge past the National Rail guy with the ramp and me;

  • Often been taken off the train by the conductor because the station staff weren’t notified I was on the train;

  • Having to be transported off the end of a rail platform, across the rail lines and up the other side, because many of our stations, even on main lines like Brockenhurst on the  London to Bournemouth line, don’t have lifts;

  • And been told by Complaints Dept at First Capital Connect that  lifts at Luton aren’t on the capital works schedule for some years and it is also  acceptable not to have lifts there because they are available at Luton Airport station;

Yesterday, she had an equally unpleasant experience while trying to board a number 24 bus in London. She told the Evening Standard what had happened to her:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 21 Comments

Opinion: The value of reading

Continuing on from my last post on mobility, I’m taking another look at the replacement for the Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

The second area where the current proposals on PIP disadvantage blind people is in that of communication. This is one of the activities under the broad heading of ‘daily living’.

Posted in Op-eds | 1 Comment

Opinion: How do we get home?

I am a physically disabled Liberal Democrat member living in London and have held a Taxicard for about 5 years now. For those who don’t know this, a Taxicard allows Londoners with mobility problems subsidised trips in black taxis within London boroughs.

On Good Friday, I asked the London Taxicard service a simple question. It was a question I have asked them several times before: How many trips do I have left?

The answer? 52.  The next question: When is that up to? Here comes the unpleasant surprise: That’s for the whole year.

Fifty-two trips a year? That’s one trip a week, I …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 22 Comments

A Radical Activist Grandma writes… Lib Dems must make their voice heard on mental health and disability issues

Suzanne Fletcher had an experience many Lib Dems have experienced at the party’s conference: she’d prepared a speech but there was not time to call her during the debate. However, Lib Dem Voice is delighted, with Suzanne’s permission, to share her thoughts with our readers…

The speech I didn’t make at Lib Dem conference on the Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) and Work Capability Assessments
First of all congratulations to the Disability Consortium for their well-run campaign to get people to come and vote in this debate, although I was certainly going to be here anyway, along with my colleagues from Stockton, …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 7 Comments
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