Friday 24 June 2011

HELP: Pt 2 of #EHRC #disability harrasment inquiry - PERSONAL STORIES

Anne Novis, MBE has posted again to our Facebook Page. She is overwhelmed at the response to help her prepare her report for the EHRC Disability Harassment Enquiry. She writes:

Wow everyone you have done so well giving me info to send to EHRC re hostility related to government comments and info. BBC Ouchers have also helped, thank you so much. I have 30 pages of evidence!!!!! Thanks to you!!

Anne has a further request she'd like our help with; personal stories.

I would apreciate any more personal experiences of abuse, verbal or otherwise, harrassment that you feel you have experienced due to what government and media is saying about us. Its this direct experience that has more wieght, many thanks

As before, please respond to this post. You can submit links to something you've already written elsewhere or write it as a comment.

Thursday 23 June 2011

HELP: #EHRC #disability harrasment inquiry

Anne Novis, MBE has posted to our Facebook page asking for your help. She writes:

Hi everyone I need your help.
I have been an advisor to the EHRC disability harrasment inquiry
They have asked me for any evidence of any hostility directly related to government comments, speeches, news releases etc
There has to be a direct link so say someone says something that is the same as what MP etc has said
Or newspaper article comments which indicate hostility related to info in article about disabled people, benefit fraud, motability, work shy etc etc
I know the info is out there but trawling through all forums etc beyond me
I will collate all links and info and send to EHRC
Any help appreciated:)

This is an urgent request. Please submit your links here so that everything is in one place: mainstream media - Mail, Telegraph, Sun, Mirror, Express as well as prominent blogs, including those of all the parties. Responses on videos on YT helpful as well as all radio/TV shows where people have phoned in.

Many thanks!

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Unconsidered consequences

Cross posted with permission from Misplaced Marbles

Why are people on Housing Benefit? Because they're on low incomes. Why are people on low incomes? Generally speaking because they are unemployed, working part time, or working minimum wage jobs. Often this is because of restrictions placed upon people like health problems. Like back problems. On any given day, 1% of the population are off sick because of back pain, and it's the second most common cause for long-term sickness leave. (

Back pain covers a multitiude of experiences - an acute muscle spasm caused by gardening too much at the weekend, or a general nagging ache in your lower back, to conditions like Cauda Equina - the spinal cord at the very base of your spine being constricted, causing excrutiating pain, numbness in the legs, and incontinence.

I am one of the many people with low-grade, nagging, no clear cause back pain, with referred pain in my hips, thighs, and calves. There's no clear reason for this, I just know that, at 29 years old I swear with pain when I'm getting on and off the toilet, and feel like my partner has bruised me if he gives my bum a playful squeeze.

I've seen a physio and been given exercises to do to maintain, and hopefully improve my flexibility, as my muscles are very tight and I don't have great mobility in my spine. I need floor space to do these exercises. I'm not large - 5' 6", with an armspan roughly to match. So I need less than 6 foot squared of clean, clear floor to lie on, plus something to balance myself with (such as a chair) for some of the standing exercises.

I'm lucky, I live in a one bedroom flat, meaning my living room fulfils this function nicely. When I stay at my partner's, I can only do about half of the stretches recommended, because he lives in a room in a shared house. That room would be the living room, but it's been converted to a bedroom so three people can share the house, making the rent affordable.

This room houses a bed, wardrobe, desk, long stool, and bookshelves. There's room for me to lie on the floor, but not really move once I'm down there.

My partner is 34, and isn't on Housing Benefit. Were he reliant on Housing Benefit to pay his rent, would be ineligible for anything more than one room for another two years. As it is this is what he can afford. And I know lots of other people in a similar situation. They live in one room, paying £90 - £120 a week for that one room, and the living room is, more often than not, converted to a bedroom. This is what the government deems people aged 35 and under to require.

Now, lets imagine my partner is the one with the back problem, having to do physio twice a day to try to stay mobile. Where does he do this? He's 6' 4" inches tall - he needs space to exercise. Going to the gym sounds sensible. That costs £40 a month, give or take a few quid. Council subsidised gym memberships are hard to come by because of cuts to council budgets, and is it reasonable to expect someone to go to the gym twice a day, every day, weekday or weekend?

You need moderate warmth as you exercise, lying on a cold floor ends up sending the muscles into spasm as you try to stretch them gently, make them compliant and forgiving. You need to be able to afford to heat your home in winter to not end up locked up in pain.

When my back's in spasm I can't move. I can't get off the sofa without help. I can't get on the bus to go to a gym to lie on the floor there and cry whilst I try to unknot my muscles. That's something I'd rather do in private, thanks.

So when the government restricts the amount of space people can live in, they need to think of the unintended consequences of limiting people living on benefits to existing in one room.

I think there are people in the government not joining the dots. Not seeing the big picture. The media, aided and abetted by the government labels people with health conditions - like back problems - as, basically, workshy, but at the same time restricts the wherewithal for people to manage these conditions, and this is fundamentally wrong.