What is your worth within Society?

Although I wanted to write at least one blog post per week, I haven’t written anything on here since my PTTLS course.  Time seems to have flown by, this past year.  I may take some time to write about all the ups and downs and why I haven’t carried on with the writing, as I intended, but not today.

Today I need to write about something else

What is your worth within Society?

Today I felt the need to write about something that made tears well up in my eyes, filled me with utter fear of the years to come, and left me feeling totally worthless.

Having an interest in politics, but still being unsure of what party to vote for, I have been following the election debates.  So far, none of the parties really talked much about disability issues.  That said, apart from the odd Nigel Farage comment, none of the parties had made me feel extremely upset either.  That was until today, when Mr Cameron succeeded in making me feel like a total outcast.

Yes, I made the fatal mistake of wanting to find out what the Conservative Manifesto would offer.

Mr Cameron was telling people his party was now the party for “hard working people” emphasising that his party offered security for everyone at all stages of their life and he was promising a “brighter, more secure future”.

Sounds really good, right?  Sure, on the surface it does, but looking at it from a different viewpoint, what very much stood out to me today was, what he wouldn’t talk about!

Like what would happen if at any stage in a person’s life, they were unfortunate to find themselves faced with a disability, which prevents them from being one of the “hardworking people”?  I know not everyone with a disability is born with it and likewise not every disabled person is unable to work.

Most people with disabilities would love to work, while many simply can’t find suitable employment able to address and take their disabilities into account, as they struggle with not just one, but several complex overlapping disabilities making it even more difficult, many other disabled people do work.  Although many of those who work, rely on benefits like disability living allowance (DLA), personal independence payments (PIP) to cover the extra costs they incur to enable them to continue to work.

http://www.scope.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/extra-costs-commission

Yet even now, so close to the election, Mr Cameron still refuses to give an honest, concrete answer about who or where the billions of cuts to the welfare budget are going to be implemented.  What is even more worrying, nowhere are we hearing that they promise to continue to protect the vulnerable, sick, or disabled.  Why is that I wonder, what are they hiding from society?  Surely, if they are confident they are doing what people want, there shouldn’t be a problem to openly talk about the upcoming cuts to welfare?  Unless of course their intent is to tax, cut, or decrease support for those people who actually need it to survive, pay their bills, and feel secure with a brighter future up ahead?

For the best part of 5 years, we were told that people on benefits are scroungers, lazy, playing the system by pretending they were sick etc..  They pushed hard to convince society that people simply chose a life on benefits!  That is, I guess until it became obvious that many people on benefits were actually employed!  Yes many of the so-called scroungers etc. were actually “hard working” people, trying to do the right thing.  They simply found it impossible to pay their bills due to low pay, high bills and therefore needed to claim “in work benefits” like help with rent, council tax and working/child tax credit.

Although politicians and the media still continue to misrepresent the fact, that people on “out of work” benefits actually have set rates.  So the only component that varies making it look like people are receiving huge amounts, unemployed or in work. is the help with rent, which in most cases actually goes straight into the pocket of landlords etc.  Nevertheless, lets face it when trying to reform welfare, telling society a benefit claimant receives thousands of pounds for “doing nothing” obviously sounds far better than what someone actually ends up with in their bank accounts/pockets.

I’m digressing slightly, getting back to the Mr Cameron’s speech, and what it was that made my eyes fill up and feel total despair?

Mr Cameron stated:

We are the party of working people, offering you security at every stage of your life.

If you’re a young person looking for training.  If you’re looking for a good job.

If you want to buy your own home.  If you’re raising a family and need help with childcare, or a great school place for your child.  If you fall ill, and need to rely on our NHS.  If you are reaching retirement, and want real security……we are there for you – offering security at every stage of your life……yes, the Conservative Party – the real party of working people in our country today.

The truth is this.  We are on the brink of something special in our country.  These past five years have been a critical period.  We have drawn on all the resources of our nation to turn a great recession into a great recovery.  Together, with the hard work of the British people, we have rescued our economy, created record numbers of jobs, put Britain back on her feet.  We have put our country on solid ground, laid solid foundations.  But let me tell you: the next five years are much, much more important.  The next five years are about building on those foundations.

The next five years are about turning the good news in our economy into a good life for you and your family.  Realising the potential of Britain……not as a debt-addicted, welfare-burdened, steadily-declining, once-great nation – which is what we found……but a country where a good life is there for everyone willing to work for it……a good job, a good home, a good start for your children, a good and secure retirement.

Well Mr Cameron, I was “hard working” and did the “right thing”, until I became ill.  I did not choose nor did I ask to become disabled.  Do I want a good life, with a good job, a nice home, a secure future?  Of course I do, but the reality for many of us is not so simple.  Who will happily employ someone with complex disabilities, knowing that as well as reasonable adjustments a person may require, and extra time off for hospital appointments, they then can’t rely on the person turning up for work from one day to the next.  Perhaps the person is unable to complete tasks required, without running the risk of needing to leave early due to their disability, or the disability is impacted by changes in weather, so fluctuates.  I could continue but I dare say you get the gist.  So please tell us, where is our security or brighter future?

You insist on calling yourself compassionate, and have on several occasions told us about how difficult things were for you, that you know what it’s like coping with disabilities because of your son, who sadly passed away far too young.  So what would his future be like in your “hard working, doing the right thing” Britain?  Would you be claiming DLA for him or rely on receiving accurate advice and timely support?  Can you imagine how much harder it would have been if had you been less fortunate than you are?  Imagine him grown up, of working age, without a family there to help and support him.  Would he be undeserving of a secure and brighter future, because he was unable to work?

This is not meant as a personal attack against you, far from it.  No parent should ever have to say goodbye to his or her child.  All the same, I really would like you to appreciate the impact your speech may have had on possibly thousands of people like me.  Intentionally or not, you essentially voiced an opinion, that unless a person is able to perform paid employment, they simply have no place in your version of future Britain.  Many disabled people unable to gain paid employment try to contribute their bit towards society by volunteering when they feel well enough.  Again, it seems in your Britain this has no value as there is no financial gain, despite often filling gaps left in desperately needed services left by your cuts to local councils.

Like many others in similar situations, I already spend much of my time feeling useless because I’m no longer able to do the things I used to take for granted.  There you were, going on and on talking about “hard working people” with every mention of it you succeeded in making me feel more and more worthless, and just when I thought you couldn’t make me feel any more worthless, you came out with this!!!!!!

“When he was attacked from all sides for his welfare reforms……Iain Duncan Smith said: No.  We hold firm and stick to the plan because this is about giving people dignity and hope and getting Britain back to work

That’s what we offer: strong leadership, not weakness……competence, not chaos – and that’s what Britain needs today.”

Perhaps one day you and Mr Ian Duncan Smith would be brave enough to meet with some of us who have had first-hand experience of being given what you called dignity and hope although I doubt that this will ever happen.

Yes Mr Cameron, I got your message loud and clear.  In your vision of a Great Britain the only people who matter and deserve a brighter future are those who are able to work, while those who can’t are a mere burden on this country and therefore obviously neither matter nor deserve your promise of a brighter future.

“Pressure of modern day”

One of my friends posted this today:

“Pressure of modern day” sitting on the bed her son is talking to his friend on the Xbox saying “it’s not funny I’m going to do rubbish in the sats I always do rubbish I’m just stupid” It’s heart breaking to listen to.

My response went like this:

As parents, we try our hardest to ensure our kids know that they are loved and supported.  That all they can do is to try their best and we’re proud of them no matter what the outcome.  Unfortunately, our education system and some of the teachers can wipe out all our efforts.  For instance, a child may come across as very bright, but have difficulties with getting the answers down on paper in a structured and organised way.  Some teachers may not spot the problem and assume the child is just lazy, not very bright, or not trying hard enough.  Put yourself in the child’s place, being told these things.  I know there are kids out there who can’t be bothered, but there are just as many that are.  I really don’t envy our kids these days and am not surprised we see an increase in younger kids with anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and lack of hope.  Learning should be fun, encouraging, interesting, inspiring and something we love.  Instead, it seems to be just the opposite, stressful, pressured, driven by fear of failure and sometimes even hate, starting from a very young age.  Why can’t we let our kids be kids just that little bit longer and let them learn through exploring and having fun.  Let’s face it they’ll already be forced to work even more years than we do, so why rob them of the precious few years of being a child too?  Rant over; sorry had a hectic week at meetings.  Adults making decisions about kids’ lives with very little thought about how kids may feel about things.

Other parents left similar comments about their children worrying about tests, feeling anxious and dreading sats.  My children are both grown up now, but I can remember my boys making the same kind of comments although I think kids today have more tests than my kids did.

Are all the tests throughout the school years damaging to children or is it just preparing them for adult life?

Meanwhile on the T.V.  I heard Mr Cameron commenting on free schools and stating how education had improved over the last couple of years and I felt the anger and frustration rising up, as it often does when politicians make statements about things that are far from what my experience has been while my boys were at school and due to the voluntary work I do, still experience far too often via the families I support.

The families all have something in common, they all have children with “hidden impairments”.  Mostly ADHD, which can often overlap with other conditions like Asperger, ASD, OCD, Dyslexia etc.  Many of the children are in mainstream schools and struggle to get appropriate support.  In the worst cases, some of these kids are even denied access to a decent education.  Many children are illegally excluded.  By that I mean they aren’t officially excluded or expelled.  School just simply calls the parent at home or at work and asks them to pick the child up after a couple of lessons, because school isn’t able to manage the child.  The parent then has to drop whatever they were doing to pick the child up early as schools can’t cope, but schools often don’t record that this is happening.  Meanwhile if a parent decides to keep the child at home because of these occurrences, they are sent letters threatening them with fines and even court.

I sometimes despair with some of the schools and some teachers I encounter, but like any profession, there are good and bad.  The good ones try, but often have their hands tied and can’t change things even if they wanted to.  Lets face it, there are some truly great teachers/educators out there, some of them all met up in the room on the reflexion course 🙂

I get fed up with government, who make decisions, push through policies without due diligence, or a distinct lack of thought of the long term implications  Perhaps better consultation with the very people their policies affect, like teachers, support staff, parents and yes even our children into what would help, could bring about real positive change and even ease the pressure currently put on kids, teachers and schools.

Unfortunately, when people have bad experiences, they often forget that there’s always two sides to everything.  Many good teachers are frequently just as frustrated with the system as the parents and kids are.  This is definitely something worth remembering if you ever come across an irate parent or even if you are the parent dealing with schools or teachers