Are rights only applicable when it’s easy to apply them?
Do hard won rights become an irritating distraction when the going gets tough?
Is disability sliding back into the dark corners? Behind barriers?
It certainly seems like that.
The Covid pandemic shifted priorities, understandably. Emergencies call for emergency measures. Priorities for action and for spending change to meet emerging needs.
Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Shield yourselves.
For more than a year, now, we have been suspending normal life, but I am not aware that the laws in this country have been suspended. A few, yes, to allow government contracts to be issued quickly (without scrutiny).
The Equalities Act was not suspended. Just ignored.
People living with a disability have been hidden away, told to hide to avoid Covid. And we have indeed hidden.
We’ve been so hidden that the services we need for everyday quality of life cannot find us. Or possibly are not really trying.
We’ve become invisible. And what you can’t see, or hear, can be ignored.
I am generalising of course, and I’m sure there are examples of good support to those with disabilities, but I am beginning to read and hear of more and more who have been ignored, and left to their own little piece of darkness.
Stories of councils refusing assessments and support because their funds have run out.
People living with dementia having no contact at all from already sparse health or care services.
A person with dementia who had a severe stroke and was admitted to a care facility. Eight months later he has not yet been assessed for eligibility for care or ‘continuing health care’ funding. (Not for want of trying by their partner.) And they have had a demand for fifteen thousand pounds fees.
The millions who have been shielding from all physical human contact…including many who cannot have vaccine for medical reasons…when are we going to get out again?
There is considerable public support for a covid vaccine/antibody certificate, to allow access to bars, shops, sports venues…Ok. It does seem logical. But look again, and ask: is it fair, is it legal, to prevent a person from visiting a place, or from enjoying a little pleasure/leisure, because they have a disability?
Does a crisis mean we should abandon commitment to fairness and equality?
Does a crisis overrule the rule of law?
Or does a crisis mean that our society should make more effort rather than less to support those who need it?
Several politicians in government said they would find whatever funds were necessary, for the NHS, for council services, for furlough, ‘eat out to help (the virus) out’, etc. But their priorities seem to have forgotten the unseen people. Shielding support was appalling…remember those ‘rations’ boxes?
One measure of civilisation is how we look after those who fall into difficulties. I think we are failing this test. And I, like others, worry that progress in equalities has slipped a long way backwards.
The clear messages that we see and hear around us, in words and actions, are now:
Survival of the fittest.
The strong get more. The weak get less, and can go hang.
Get on your bike (if you can). (Yes, back to Tebbit times.)
We don’t care about those who fall by the wayside, or under the feet of crowds.
Britain cannot afford to care about the invisible millions with disabilities.
Dispensation with the truth.
We are in a precarious place. We must not let society disintegrate.