Blogging Against Disablism… Guest Post… by Helen Sims… Spartacus and Me

Hello all, well this is a surprise my first guest blogg… please welcome Helen Sims… and her piece…

Spartacus and Me

Dealing with hardship, discrimination, prejudice and unfairness as a disabled person isn’t new. Dealing with it on this scale at the hands of our own government is. I became involved with what is now the Spartacus Campaign before the ‘Responsible Reform Report’ was even published although I was not involved directly on writing it.

I knew something was going to happen. I knew something had to happen because there were a lot of frustrated, angry, isolated and frightened people out there (myself being one of them) that were facing uncertain futures as a result of the Coalitions plans to cut benefits.

On top of that, the negative press coverage, the governments ‘scrounger’ rhetoric had already begun and it was hurting me. That is why I joined as many disability groups and networks on Facebook as I could manage to keep track of.

I wanted to know if I was alone in feeling victimised and persecuted just because I was unfortunate enough to be born with a physical disability that means I cannot walk or even stand unaided. I was sad, but also relieved to find that I was by no means alone.

In those early posts, I discussed my frustration, anger and pain at what had been thrown at us. I was assured that something was happening, so that we could, at the very least have our say. I felt better.

Campaigning for Disability Rights isn’t new to me. I have always had a strong sense of injustice and a desire to do whatever I can to make things fairer.

As ten year old, I wrote to the then Prime Minister John Major to voice my concerns about the cuts in the Special Educational Needs budget.

I had recently transferred from my beloved ‘special school’ to a mainstream primary school and I was struggling to settle in. I was ‘different’ there. At my previous school I was just one of many people with a disability. I had been bullied there for a while, granted, because I frequently got my work done early and was able to spend my time writing stories or helping my friends.

The bullies didn’t like that, but it was settled by the time I left so it broke my heart to leave, but I know my parents made the right choice for me.

When I heard about those cuts, I remember being outraged and panicked for the friends I had left behind. How would some of the worst affected children cope if they were forced into a mainstream school situation, without the care and help they needed? Society didn’t cater for us, and I knew it.

Propelled by some unknown force within me, I sat and wrote my letter. The next day, my Mum posted it.

I’ve been writing letters about various different disability related issues ever since. Some have got me local press coverage and support, some have been left unanswered.

For me, it is the latter that says it all. It has gone on happening but I never dreamed back then that I would feel as ignored, victimised and hurt as I do now and that’s why joining what became Spartacus is so important to me.

When you campaign alone, it can seem like you’re getting nowhere and I was tired of being ignored. As the pressure and worry of being reassessed and possibly losing my Disability Living Allowance began to ‘get’ to me, I sought others in a similar situation – mainly to reassure myself that I wasn’t being paranoid! I wasn’t!

When the ‘Spartacus Report’ was published, I worked to promote it, writing to Lords and MP’s and sending it everywhere I could think of. I had an overwhelming feeling of taking some power back and regaining control in a situation that was against me.

Had it not been for Spartacus and the wonderful, warm and supportive people I have met, I probably would have given up campaigning altogether.

I was beginning to feel so alone in the struggle and the relentless attack on us by the media and government, even at that point was beginning to erode the fragile self esteem I have fought for. It still is, but I am not alone anymore.

Cerebral Palsy does not make life easy. There is constant pain as well as lack of mobility. There is exhaustion and difficulty every day. I want more than anything to be a mother, have a job, and live a normal life. I want to do the things others take for granted, but I don’t have those options and it’s not my fault.

Spartacus has given me a sense of purpose that I felt was somewhat lacking before. Even though I have a wonderful marriage and my writing, there were so many pieces missing.

Spartacus and the online family I have found through it is so important to me now. It’s become so much more than the ‘Responsible Reform Report’ and so much more than I ever thought it would be. I will always be grateful for that.

Blogging Against Disablism Day…

http://blobolobolob.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/blogging-against-disablism-day-2011.html

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. tinkebelle says:

    Well done Helen….your experiences mirror so many others in other peoples lives…..but one thing is obvious…..together we are stronger….and yes….you and I ARE a part of a bigger family….a family we didn’t even know was there….but they are….here’s hoping the thousands of people out there, who feel alone ,can find Spartacus too.

  2. NTE says:

    It can be hard to continue to battle, when you feel you are on your own. I’m glad you found a group you are able to feel a part of, and hope that your work with Spartacus brings about the change that is so badly needed.

    1. ravenswyrd1 says:

      Thank you Dawn… 🙂 Dxxx

  3. Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wished to mention that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing in your feed and I hope you write once more soon!

    1. ravenswyrd1 says:

      Thanks very much, this is very new to me so I’m hopeing I don’t make to many mistakes… Dxxx

  4. I couldn�t refrain from commenting. Very well written!

    1. ravenswyrd1 says:

      Thank you, I’m on a steep learning curve.. lol Dxxx

  5. I’m glad you found the Spartacus group when you did Helen and thank you for all the hard work you and others have done on behalf of us all.

    Reading through the BADD 2012 posts has made me realise that I can’t, shouldn’t be leaving all of this advocacy and campaigning to others – I need to shout and make my voice heard also.

    Thanks for an inspirational post.

    Cheers! 🙂

  6. I live in Canada…but I’ve been following what’s been going on in Britain with the benefit cuts, and blogging about them, because…it’s sickening, quite frankly, and there’s no coverage of it in Canada or the US that I’ve seen. I think that the work that Spartacus has done is amazing, and wish I could do more from here to help. I know that you’ve got some great Canadians on your team already – you’ve got my blog and my contacts at your disposal if you need more awareness. Great post, Helen!

    1. ravenswyrd1 says:

      Thanks for your support I’m sure Helen will appreciate all your comments… If you want to get involved please go to the forum http://www.spartacusforum.org.uk and join the community conversation. Dxxx

  7. ravenswyrd1 says:

    Hi All,

    Thank you so much for all your lovely comments about my guest post on Debbie’s blog. I’m glad you liked the piece and I appreciate you taking the time to read it.

    It is so important that we continue to get the message out about all the injustice, lies and unfairness that disabled, ill and vulnerable people are having heaped on them at the moment especially.

    I’m glad that I am able to use my writing to raise awareness of what is happening to us, and how important it is for people to stand along side us, and let people know that the way we are being treated is not fair or right.

    If I have encouraged even one person to get involved, then that has made me so happy.

    I have a personal website with more of my writing on it, which you can find at

    http://www.poetrypoem.com/helenspoetry

    I also have a Facebook page for my work. At the moment it is a closed group, but feel free to join if you want to know more about me. I would be honoured to have you. You can find that here:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/Helenspoetry/

    Thanks for your time and interest and thanks to Debbie for lending me her space.

    Love,
    Helen Sims

  8. source says:

    rather valuable stuff, all in all I picture this is worthy of a book mark, thanks

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