Disability hate – from people who should know better

I’ve just been told about this rather disheartening incident involving my dad this morning.

My dad has a friend called Ray. Ray is blind and physically disabled. He has a guide dog, and uses a walking stick too. My dad has serious spinal problems and also walks with a stick. Both of them are entitled to use blue badges for disabled parking.

My dad and Ray went to McDonalds for breakfast this morning. This particular branch has just two disabled parking bays. This is not normally a problem but today when they arrived both were in use. One of the cars, though, contained a woman and a child with a blue badge on display who were sat eating food from the drive-through. My dad had to stop and let Ray and his dog out in the road and then park in a standard bay with further to walk.

My dad stopped and pointed out to the woman that she was blocking a disabled parking bay causing problems and risk for them and that this wasn’t necessary since she wasn’t getting out of the car and could therefore park in a bay further away from the restaurant. (He does this himself when he is not getting out.)

She was immediately hostile, announcing

“You don’t pay for my car.”

My dad pointed out that this wasn’t the point, but then she noticed his walking stick. At this point she actually threatened to physically hurt him, finishing with

“Walk away know while you still can, old man.”

My dad sensibly left it there.

This incident makes me sad because not only was this abuse of a disabled person but it came from the mother of a disabled child who really should know better. The rules for parking don’t explicitly state that she shouldn’t use the bay but they do say that you shouldn’t sit and wait for a non-disabled person and that consideration should be given. (See below.) Even so, she was hostile and abusive when there was no need to be. It also makes me sad that the woman’s first reaction was to defend her possession of the car, clearly related to public attacks on Motability in recent months.

Who can use the badge?

The badge is for your use and benefit only. It must only be displayed if you are travelling in the vehicle as a driver or passenger, or if someone is collecting you or dropping you off and needs to park at the place where you are being collected or dropped.

Do not allow other people to use the badge to do something on your behalf, such as shopping or collecting something for you, unless you are travelling with them.

• You must never give the badge to friends or family to allow them to park for free, even if they are visiting you.

• You should not use the badge to allow non-disabled people to take advantage of the benefits while you sit in the  car. Although it is not illegal for a badge holder, or a non-disabled person waiting for the badge holder to return, to remain  in the vehicle while the Blue Badge is displayed, consideration should be given to using a car park whenever possible.

• It is a criminal offence to misuse a badge. This includes people other than the badge holder taking advantage of the parking concessions provided under the scheme.

Taken from The Blue Badge scheme: rights and responsibilities in England, page 8

 

Daily Mail backpedal on DLA attack?

On Friday the Daily Mail published a story with a front page headline “DISABLED BENEFIT? JUST FILL IN A FORM”. On Saturday, a story by the same author appeared inside the paper, this time presenting some of the objections to the first story.

I’m afraid that I remain rather cynical on this. The piece looks to me like a rather hurried climb-down by the same author that wrote the previous story. The tone of the two pieces is completely different; the first one contains many (incorrect) assertions, while the second one simply quotes various objections from charities but asserts nothing. Indeed, the words “claims” and “said” are all over the place in the article including the headline. The article does make an effort to present the correct data about numbers with evidence and amounts claimed but this is still limited to a tiny paragraph more than halfway through. Then look at the prominence given to the two articles – one was a front-page headline and the other was hidden inside the paper.

Ultimately the intention of the writer is betrayed by the choice of final paragraph – a quote from Ian Duncan Smith which again emphasises the lack of checks of permanently disabled recipients of DLA. This emphasis is purely idealogical and in my opinion an absurd stance – checking permanently disabled people so frequently costs a fortune and achieves nothing! My dad isn’t going to re-grow the discs in his spine. Blind people aren’t going to suddenly see. Paralysed people won’t suddenly walk again. Admittedly some people’s health will improve, but for people on DLA that is a rare occurence and could be better served simply by writing to the patients or their GP once a year and asking if their condition has changed.

 

More hate from the Daily Express

Daily Express headline: 4M SCROUNGING FAMILIES IN BRITAIN

This is depressing but it’s a perfect example of the hate coming from the tabloid papers. The Daily Express main headline for the 2nd September 2011 is “4M scrounging families in Britain.” The text goes on to explain that there are nearly four million households where no one works.

Where do I start with this?

I don’t have the figures to hand, but I am sure that a fairly large number of those households are people who are too sick or disabled to work. There are approximately 2.5 million unemployed people in the UK, so even being generous and assuming that none of those on job seekers allowance are couples and so they are all living one per household, that leaves at least 1.5 million households that are living on Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support.

The editors of the Express must know this, so they have deliberately chosen to call people who are too sick or disabled to work “scroungers.” The word scrounger is a derogatory term intended to portray people as deliberately taking from others. Except they are wrong. I haven’t met anyone who is too sick to work that wouldn’t work if they could. Most of us who are sick or disabled are desperate to do something meaningful and worthwhile instead of feeling useless. Then there are the 2.5 million unemployed people – at the last count there were only half a million job vacancies for them to apply for. Half a million might be able to get work – assuming no turnover from other jobs into those vacancies – and the other 2 million can’t have a job. An insignificant number of those people might have the skills, ideas and circumstances to be self employed.  The editors of the Daily Express have no idea of how many households are made up of people who are able to work but do not want to. In the end it boils down to a deliberate attack on people unfortunate enough to have to live on state benefits, and the use of a derogatory term like scrounger is simply spreading hate. There is no excuse and the Daily Express should apologise.