Thursday i had the dubious good fortune to be looking through twitter during and after the #WOW debate…
I came across some long and varied tweet between several campaigners and Mr S and as you might of guessed there was plenty of mud slinging. Some of which i felt was way more extreme than was necessary or healthy and probably has had lasting consequences for at least one participant. ..
Anyway what struck me apart from all the completely out of proportion accusations where several interesting views of Mr S…

Firstly Mr S is convinced all campaigners have been sending death threats to ATOS… personally I can say that I don’t think any of the campaigners I know would do that, least i would hope they wouldn’t after all despite their involvement I believe the fault lies with the DWP even if ATOS are complicent and should be held accountable. Death threatening the company and staff is counter productive to getting public opinion on our side… Most of us have been to busy helping individuals and trying to effect useful change at the DWP to engage with individuals at ATOS.

Secondly Mr S seems to think that all people who are not paraplegics or born with some form of life limiting physical or mental disability are not disabled and are therefore workshy… as someone with a hidden disability/illness who works and runs my own business  as well as having a disabled partner who also works full time in a skilled job it would seem that that assumption is on shaky ground… and this evening I was just celebrating with a friend who has had to give up a job because of her ME who has been successfully employed by another employer full time but more suited to her needs before she has had a single day unemployed… So maybe Mr S is showing his prejudice in demanding to know why we want money taken from the ‘real disabled’ (his words) to fund people he perceives as workshy when people who are chronically sick can and often are to sick to consider working in an employment market that has little understanding of their needs and no intention of employing them… and the so called mechanisms designed to help disabled people in to work to manage work and to retain work function so poorly see my previous blog about Access to Work here… But those of us who can find such employment are more than willing to do so if our health allows…
Sometimes having work and being willing to work still doesn’t always make it possible for you to actually work…

Thirdly Mr S seems to think that the WOW petition and other campaigns are about shutting disabled people away out of sight… or in one of his more colourful responses thinks we campaigners want all ‘real disabled’ people ‘gassed’ to leave more money for the ‘fakers and workshy’… this shows a deeply disturbing truth and I think fear that Mr S has… could it be his agressive defence of the welfare changes is his way of kinda wearing camouflage… hiding in plain sight from a system that is destroying disabled peoples lives… im on your side so dont attack me im a ‘real disabled’ person…

And his oppinion about us couldn’t be further from the heart of what campaigners want, in fact what we are fighting for is exactly the opposite…
We absolutely believe those that are well enough and who can and want to work should get as much support to do so as possible but thats not what the Work Capability Assessment does. It doesn’t say ok what work can you do or what work would you like to do and what do you need, how can we support you to be able to achieve that ambition… The WCA asks can you work on any or all jobs whether appropriate or available and even hypothetical jobs that may or may not exist… and it does it in a way that is hostile, unsupportive, adversarial, terrifying and damaging to both self esteem and mental well being, having a devastating effect on the claimant… There is little provision to help those found fit to actually get the work they can apparently do and no safety net if after trying work they find they cant do it or get sicker or have new disabilities develop.They just have to reapply and go through the whole nightmare again… I fully expect cases of WCA/PTSD to be recognised in the coming years…

I say all this from experience the only support is through the work related activity group which doesn’t apply if your found fit for work and even if do end up in this group the system is so badly floored you might fare better out on your own… As a Job Seeker there is the Work Choice option which i talked a little about in my previous blog… but it is far from successful and if it fails you have to start all over again…

Simply put the WCA tests for the wrong thing in the wrong way and will therefore never achieve its goal… assuming that is, that the goal is not just to cut the numbers and save money… if its about getting the disabled and those with chronic illness back in to work where possible then it has to start with the right question. Which in many ways is not a question at all but a dialog individual and tailored... what work can you do or would like to do and how can we help you do it…

My fourth observation is more worrying and yet for me the hardest as I hate criticising personal choice and believe that every individual is entitled to their opinion assuming it doesn’t hurt anyone else… but reading the comments on twitter Mr S made to several activists and campaigners I found myself deeply disturbed that Mr S thought it was appropriate for an adviser and self proclaimed voice for disabled people to speak to members of the public in this way… to accuse them of terrorism and to accuse them of murdering ‘real disabled’ people and wanting them gassed. Is deeply hurtful, I was shocked that anyone would think that of people I know who are passionate about the lives of disabled people being about choice and inclusion and I was shocked that someone who says they want the best for disabled people could be so far off track and so hurtful… I think the tweets from Mr S should be investigated by twitter by the police as he must have come very close to braking both the rules and the law…
As a disabled working person and a human being who tries to see the good in all things I was disgusted and appalled by his behaviour on Thursday and call upon the powers that be to investigate his twitter activity…
Dxxx

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