Category Archives: Disability

Swimming with the tide

Remember Leith Waterworld?

This was a unique facility at the foot of Leith Walk – a swimming pool with shallow areas and room to play. Edinburgh Leisure had nothing else like it. Leith Waterworld was closed in January 2012, and sold to a commercial property developer in May 2013. Nothing has been done with the site since: it’s just another greyzone area in Leith.

The decision to sell the site for a million pounds to a property developer was defended by the SNP councillor for Colinton / Fairmilehead, Richard Lewis, who is now the City culture and sport convenor, as “we had to be realistic” since a property developer will promise to develop the site as a soft-play area and generate 80 jobs [which did happen eventually…] whereas Splashback, the community campaign to re-open Leith Waterworld, was “a long punt”. (By December 2014, the main sign of that promised “substantial investment” in the area was a pile of dangerous rubbish left outside the Leith Waterworld building for over a week: the property developer, based in Glasgow, professed themselves entirely unaware of the rubbish heap.)

As I wrote in September 2012:

Leith Waterworld was a treasure: a pool designed for all children, for disabled adults, for family use. Closing it down means fewer children will be swimming regularly, learning to have confidence in the water, discovering they love to swim. It’s ironic that this should be Edinburgh’s Olympic & Paralympic memorial: closing a pool that fostered the love of swimming.

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Iain Duncan Smith is proud of this

Iain Duncan SmithIain Duncan Smith says:

This government has embarked on one of the most aggressive programmes of welfare reform Britain has ever seen, and we already have a proud record of achievement. There is no doubt that changes to the welfare state are desperately needed. Our reforms will put an end to people being left on sickness benefits year after year; they will eradicate the trap that has left so many better off on benefits than in work; and they will ensure the benefits bill is sustainable over the longer term.

For example, someone like Steve, permanently disabled since an accident thirteen years ago:

I suffer from fibromyalgia, depression, severe pain in the lower back and neck and constantly have to have pain relief. My left leg is useless as a leg, and will if I don’t watch it get caught under my own wheelchair wheels as I’m not always aware of where it is. My right leg is better but standing upright, for even a few seconds’ causes a massive increase in pain then, I collapse and have even passed out.
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Filed under Benefits, Disability, Poverty

Help, you’re killing us

https://edinburgheye.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/old-age-and-death-sticker-set.jpgEveryone dies. Nothing’s sure but death and taxes.

In general, over decades of the NHS and welfare support and help for disabled people, people have been living longer. Since the first Coalition government spending review, cuts on spending have targeted the poor and disabled.

The DWP’s own figures say:

The prevalence of disability rises with age. Around 6 per cent of children are disabled, compared to 16 per cent of working age adults* and 45 per cent of adults over State Pension age in Great Britain.

In 2008/09, 16% of pensioner households were living in poverty.

Esther McVey, the minister for disabled people, told the Mail on Sunday in March this year that in her view many of the people receiving disability didn’t really need it:

“Only three per cent of people are born with a disability, the rest acquire it through accident or illness, but people come out of it. Thanks to medical advances, bodies heal.”

Mortality rates have been falling steadily for years. There was a blip upwards in 2003, but it was followed by a blip downwards in 2004 – no overall change in the general trend downwards. Since the beginning of 2012, mortality among older people has been rising steadily, and has continued to rise in 2013.

[Note: The government have since decided to ensure no further evidence is published that could evidence a general trend upward by abolishing the Public Health England reports.]
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Filed under Age, Benefits, Disability, Housing, Poverty, Women

Dear Tom Midlane

Lolcat: Im in ur knapsak enjoyin ur privilijYou appeared annoyed this afternoon on Twitter when I did not greet your advice with the respect you felt it deserved.

I’m sorry. It’s difficult to remain (relatively) polite and to the point when we have only 140 characters to explain why I do not agree with you, nor do I respect you.

“The left”, however variously defined, is broadly speaking a movement for social justice and equality and against privilege. If you are accustomed to playing the game of life at the lowest difficulty setting there is, yet still consider yourself to be on the left, you are probably used by this time to having people who play the game of life at higher difficulty settings advising you to check your privilege. Indeed, that’s possibly what inspired you to write this article to which I am responding at terrible length and very late.

The left, it’s fair to say, has a long tradition of infighting. Groups with only a hair’s breadth difference in ideology splinter off into rival factions, aggressively defending their interpretation of the One True Path. It’s the perfect example of what Freud called “the narcissism of small differences”: communities with adjoining territories and seemingly identical goals who engage in constant feuding, striking outlandish poses to differentiate themselves from one another.

It’s important to reflect that the movement for social justice has, over the past two hundred and twenty years, accomplished paradigm shifts in the ways we think and act. We take for granted that there is something wrong with slavery, with war crimes, with rape: we assume that women have a right to our own property, that employees have a right to safe working conditions, sick leave, days off: that children have a right to shelter and food and care even if their parents can’t provide for them: that people too old or too sick or too disabled to work should be cared for still. True, I can think of examples in every country in the world in which those rights are violated, but it’s not so long ago in the history of humanity that none of these things could be taken for granted by anyone.
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Filed under Disability, Equality, Human Rights, Justice, LGBT Equality, Poverty, Racism, Women

This is what Tory gets you

Unnamed DWP spokesman:

“ESA for people who could be expected to get back into work was never intended to be a long term benefit.

“The time limit of one year strikes the best balance between recognising that some people need extra help to enter the workplace and that the taxpayer cannot afford to support people indefinitely who could return to employment.”

Marilyn Blakeman was initially told she was now permanently on incapacity benefit. But Iain Duncan Smith, proud of his ability to change people’s lives and get them off benefits, has indeed changed her life and will soon get her off benefits. Of course that would mean she’s living on nothing, but that would certainly be a life-changing experience, wouldn’t it?

Leigh Wright, of Jobcentre Plus wrote:

“You must attend and take part in work-focused interviews if you are asked to do so, to qualify for your benefit. You may also have to carry out work related activities that your adviser thinks will help you be able to return to work in the future.” If not: “Your payment can be reduced by £14.07 a week, rising to £28.15 a week after four weeks, until you comply. We call this a sanction.”

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Pseudonymity on the Internet

For those that need the warning, further down this blog I discuss child abuse.

I’ve been thinking about names and Internet privacy since Jeremy Duns asked the internet:

The answer to me is obvious: yes, they are. My personal unfavourite is the Herald, which bans all pseudonymous commenters: the New Statesman, which is just a complete muddle, is probably the next worse. Facebook is problematic, and Google Plus is a cosmic screwup all of its own. Part of that reason is that most computer systems do not handle names very well: see Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names.

Jeremy Duns has, fairly enough, got valid reasons to detest people who use multiple pseudonyms on the Internet, aka sockpuppets, which the Urban Dictionary defines as:

An account made on an internet message board, by a person who already has an account, for the purpose of posting more-or-less anonymously.

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Filed under Blog Housekeeping, Children, Disability, Feng Shui Kitten Fixes Stuff, In The Media, LGBT Equality, Women

This is prolife governance

In 2008, fifteen Shadow ministers who are in the Cabinet today voted to cut the right to choose abortion to 22 weeks. (David Cameron: also Chris Grayling, William Hague, Philip Hammond, Jeremy Hunt, Andrew Lansley, Oliver Letwin, Francis Maude, Theresa May, Patrick McLoughlin, David Mundell, Owen Paterson, and Eric Pickles.) SPUC Off! Keep Abortion Free, Safe, and Legal

David Davies, Liam Fox, Damian Green, Patrick McLoughlin, Owen Paterson – in all twenty front bench Conservative MPs, including Jeremy Hunt – had earlier voted in favour of cutting the right to choose abortion to 12 weeks.

In October 2010, Jeremy Hunt was happy to “elaborate” on the role of Tory cuts in denying people on a low income support for large familes:

“The number of children that you have is a choice and what we’re saying is that if people are living on benefits, then they make choices but they also have to have responsibility for those choices,” Hunt said on Wednesday’s Newsnight. “It’s not going to be the role of the state to finance those choices.”
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