Unusually for me, as I write this blog, I feel a kind of anger that I have not felt in a long time. Why? Because disabled people are struggling, and it feels like this is just accepted as part of our ‘new normal.’
When I say disabled people are struggling, this is me being euphemistic in some cases. Why? Because disabled people are dying. They are dying because of Coronavirus. Office for National Statistics data shows that disabled people are at increased risk of death due to Coronavirus. It is a fact that is difficult to acknowledge, but acknowledge it we must.
Evidence suggest that in the present climate, disabled people have been, as Inclusion London put it, Abandoned, Forgotten and Ignored. Other evidence suggests that the so called ‘disability employment gap’ is about to worsen. As a disabled person who works, I am, apparently, a bit of a statistical rarity. Yet now we are told that disabled people who work are more likely to be at risk of redundancy.
We need to have some difficult conversations if we are to address this position. I say if deliberately as it might be that we do not want to as there is no longer any collective will to do so. I certainly see no general urgency to do so. Quietly, disabled people have endured their struggles.
Where are the voices in the positions of influence to change this? I know a handful of diligent individuals, many of whom have worked for several years to make things better for disabled people. Time and again though, the same people are called upon to represent us, and the weight of this is telling.
Frankly, I don’t see the next generation of disabled people emerging for the baton to be passed on to. Where are the next leaders? What is being done to support them?
In so many ways we are going backwards, and coronavirus is rapidly accelerating this regressive direction of travel.
The question is, what are we going to do about it? How bad does the situation need to get before action is taken?
Or is struggling just a part of the new normal?
If we are to stop this from being the case, swift and profound changes are needed in practical terms. We also need to restore the cultural foundations of equity that have been so violently attacked by coronavirus.
What are you going to do to help this happen? Don’t just walk on by.