Almost every disabled person I know is devastated by the UK election result. We had hoped for a socialist government that would not only end austerity but dramatically improve disabled people’s lives.
We desperately need a new compassionate benefits system. We campaigned for the UK to sign up to the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. We lobbied for improved and properly funded social care with a guarantee of Independent Living for disabled people of any age.
But none of those things look possible in the next few years. So how do disabled people prepare for the future?
As one of my wisest friends posted on her Facebook wall last Friday morning; ‘Don’t mourn, organise’. She is right, that’s the only way we can survive.
So here are some ideas:
Join your local disability group or Union
There will be lots of campaigning needed in the next few years. Being part of a supportive group is great for making new friends and finding other people who understand what you are going though.
All unions have retired members sections and Unite has a Community Section that in many areas throughout the UK has regular meetings and lots of activities and training.
We can all use new skills – you can learn via your Union or via your local disability group. If they don’t have any training available, ask for the training you need. Learning more about how to claim ESA, PIP or UC is likely to be useful for you and for someone you know. It’s always easier to help someone else fill in a DWP form than do your own.
Get a Benefits and Work subscription, it’s invaluable. They produce the best, easy to follow guides on how to claim. The first year subscription costs £19.95. If that’s more than you can afford, why not share the cost with a friend. A repeat subscription is usually 40% cheaper.
Help or support other disabled people
Whilst up-skilling can help you do some practical stuff around benefits, all of us have other skills we can share. Teaching crafts, passing on recipes, helping with internet skills, the list is endless. I’ve done genealogy for friends in return for a spare ticket to an exhibition I wanted to see.
Think what you can share and what help you might want.
Focus on spending time with ‘your’ tribe
Friendships were made or lost over Brexit and the same is likely to happen over this election. It’s very difficult to find real support and true friendships amongst people with radically different political views and values.
Choose your friends well, make sure they are positive people who can support you and won’t do you down or disrespect you.
That advice applies to family members too! Ration your time with those who stress you.
Practice self care
This is the most important way of looking after yourself. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a treat – there’s so many sales on right now – you can treat yourself to some of your favourite bath or shower gel. Maybe you would prefer chocolate? If a special liqueur is more to your taste – cheers! Just don’t drink too much of it!
Whatever you decide to do – be kind to yourself and others.
Wishing you all a happy festive season!