The lovely folk in the lead make us practice chanting before we set off. For 99% of us, shouting for anything is an entirely new experience. Most people with an impairment or a chronic illness are quietly stoic. The older generation in particular often settle into that ‘Blitz’ mentality of ‘keeping calm and carrying on.’ But now keeping calm and carrying on might kill you. Certainly it will lead to further exclusion and greater poverty. It is with a shocking sadness that we are rallying, accused of ‘scrounging’ of ‘leaching off the state’ and ignored almost entirely by a society warped by the recession.
|The Disabled are Revolting!|
The march route is short and takes us from the central park though a corner of the cathedral forum, with the wonderful library to the left and back to the park again. We chant lustily at about a dozen tourists, several irritated shoppers and a murder of crows that are looking rather too intensely at a few of the limping stragglers in our group.
What do we want?
When do we want them?
|Cath, me and Tim amongst the rabble1|
‘I am blind, my husband in visually impaired. I have two visually impaired children,’ says B. ‘I work hard and I want my kids to have every opportunity. Last year, we had a special bus service and I paid £250 getting the kids to school. Now the service has been cut and we have to find over £2000 a year. How?’
Her son stands up. ‘I want to go to university. The fees are so high now that most kids are having problems finding the basics. Given I would also need additional equipment, transport and access finance I am immediately excluded.’
Another woman with cerebral palsy, asthma and learning difficulties says her care has been cut from 10 to 3 hours a week. She still needs the care though.’
Other people talk about being excluded, passed over, dismissed, and judged useless. The changes in benefits, cuts to services, rescinding of the basic mobility component of the DLA means that more and more of us are unable to get out of the door, let alone to work. There are no good stories. Only one MEP has sent a message of support. In the distance the duff duff bass sound from the Top Gear Road Show wafts over briefly and disappears like a bad smell.
‘Was it a good march?’ my friend asks when I get back.
‘It was a beautiful day,’ I must admit. ‘But no. No, there was nothing good about such a march.’
|My placard with thanks to Munch.|