Let's show we value disabled people as much as badgers

Let's show we value disabled people as much as badgers

This week, Pat’s Petition closed.

The petition, established by Pat Onions, a carer who is blind, called on the government to pause and reconsider the cuts affecting disabled people and their families. To secure a Parliamentary debate it needed to get 100,000 signatures, but when it closed on Monday, after several months, just 62,132 people had signed. This was despite an enormous effort by many disabled people, some from their hospital beds.

Perhaps Pat put her finger on the reason for this when she said: "This government has put out so much propaganda about how much we cost the 'hard working tax payer' that people believe them. How many times do you hear how much 'welfare' is costing the country?"

Contrast the fate of Pat’s petition with that of the petition to stop the badger cull. This gained well over 100,000 signatures in a week, helped by the celebrity backing of Queen’s Brian May. For disabled people and their supporters it was depressing to think that the public had so much more enthusiasm for protecting badgers than it did for protecting disabled people.

But in the face of what must have been a crushing disappointment, Pat admirably vowed to continue the struggle. "No one wants to think about being hit by a bus or contracting some life threatening disease. But it does happen all too often. Then what? You turn to the state welfare for support and wham. The safety net is no longer there." We must continue not just for those who are suffering now, (and thousands are) but for the sake of others who will need the safety net in the future.

Today, the petition appears to have been resurrected by Lawrence Gough so the British public has a second chance. Please sign and circulate this as widely as possible. Prove that Britain cares about disabled people as well as badgers.

There are also other e-petitions relevant to disabled people which can be signed: if they all get enough signatures to trigger a debate it will show a level of awareness and concern about what is happening to disabled people that Parliament will be unable to ignore.

Lynn Blackmore, the mother of a schizophrenic son, has a petition calling for vulnerable patients with complex mental health problems to be exempt from the Work Capability Assessments conducted by Atos. She fears her hospitalised son will take his own life due to the stress just worrying about it is causing him.

And to stop the abolition of Disability Living Allowance, please sign here.

And if you sign any or all of these, please remember to click on the link in the confirmation email you will receive.

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© Bernadette Meaden has written about religious, political and social issues for some years, and is strongly influenced by Christian Socialism, liberation theology and the Catholic Worker movement. She is a regular contributor to Ekklesia.

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