I won’t lie to you. At 2 pm, on Monday, June 4th, 2018, I wasn’t sure what I was going to write. But I guess I’ve wanted to tell people about this for a while now. It’s an idea. And everybody I’ve talked to about it has said something along the lines of “That sounds like a really good idea.”
I can’t tell you too much about the whole plan yet. I’m sure people will help me out, but I don’t know who these people are yet. But I can tell you that I’m going to make it happen.
Discrimination against people with disabilities is extremely common. In the UK, 13.3 million people have a disability. That’s almost one in every five people. But think about it; how often do you hear about discrimination against disability in the news? People need to be more aware of it.
Lots of Discrimination Exists
Only 17% of disabled people were born with their disabilities. The majority of disabled people acquire their disability later in life. As well as that, around 7% of children are disabled, compared to 18% of working age adults and 44% of adults over State Pension age.
As they grow older, these statistics clearly show that it’s more likely for people to obtain disability. But we all grow older every day! If you consider how many friends most people gather on Facebook, quite a few of those will probably have a disability of some sort already, no matter how old you are. More and more of your friends will gather a disability as time continues as well.
If you have a disability, it’s going to be more difficult to live your life in some way. And when discrimination takes place against disabled people, it’s so often not easy to deal with it. I feel I was affected by it just four months ago. But I wasn’t ready to deal with it properly.
You’ve got to know how to manage these unfair acts when they occur. I wanted to do something, but disabled people can’t just ‘ring the police’. It’s a long and complicated process – Click here to read the ACAS PDF about it.
Take a look at everything that’s involved. It’s so obvious that disabled people and their carers so often won’t have enough time or energy to deal with the problems that occur. So often, this means they don’t win their battles against the offender.
What People Need to Know
There are plenty of other facts about disability in the UK that people need to know. These first facts are regarding families with disabled children.
- In the UK, there are 800,000 disabled children under the age of 16; that equates to one child in 20.
- The annual cost of bringing up a disabled child is three times greater than that of bringing up a non-disabled child.
- For disabled children, the most common impairments are social and behavioural (33%), learning disability (31%) and stamina, breathing and fatigue (31%).
- The average income of families with disabled children is £15,270, which is 23.5% below the UK mean income of £19,968. 21.8% have incomes that are less than 50% of the UK mean.
The stats above make one thing clear: if you have a child with a disability, then life gets a lot more difficult. And it’s not just about the family’s income alone. In February last year, new statistics showed that services weren’t doing their job properly either. In the UK, the Government were setting higher thresholds for accessing care. Regarding council support, disabled children in England are finding it increasingly difficult to get the support they need.
As mentioned, the income of families with disabled children is much below the average income of a household in the UK. But plenty of disabled people move into adulthood and start looking for work. Here are a few important facts regarding disability and employment.
- 5 million disabled people are in employment, compared to 2.9 million in 2013.
- In January 2016, the UK employment rate among working age disabled people was 46.5% (4.1 million), compared to 84% of non-disabled people.
- Disabled adults are nearly three times as likely as non-disabled adults to have no formal qualifications, 30% and 11% respectively.
The first statistic tells us that yes, more disabled people are now in employment. But due to the recession, gathering employment was so much more difficult five years ago. After leaving in 2012, it took me two and a half years to find work after university.
Now, the second statistic mentioned points out an obvious flaw by employers. Only 46.5% of people who are looking for work with a disability are employed. 84% of people without a disability are employed.
And why is this? Is it a total fluke? Or do you think employers are swaying away from people with disabilities? When they tell them about their problems, so many employers are worried that they may have a negative impact on their workplace.
Now, to begin with, you might think the third fact backs up the employer. But what does a lack of formal qualifications matter? If they have none, disabled people who want to work know where to find work. They’re simply not going to be applying for jobs that require them.
Rule It Out
Gathering employment was possibly the trickiest task for me to complete after I finished university. I did a lot of voluntary work. If I wasn’t disabled, it could well have got me a decent enough job within 12 months. But, despite getting interviews, it just didn’t happen.
And that’s because employers were swaying away. I was good, but unlike the other candidates, I had epilepsy.
But why should this happen to people with a disability? If anything, people with a disability should find it easier to find work. Life is already more difficult to live when you have one.
So, why not make finding employment a legal right for people with disabilities?
I believe that employers should be obliged to offer a reasonable percentage of their employee positions to people who are disabled. This sort of thing wouldn’t cause any problems. It’ll only lead to better standards of equality.
This sort of system perhaps appeared to be working when I was employed at Lloyds Banking Group. It was a temporary job, but the company used a lot of temporary staff. I also know I wasn’t the only employee in the office to have a disability.
Eventually, less staff were needed, and they let me go with around 30 other employees. But up until then, they respected my needs for two and a half years.
There are many other Improvements to Make
There are already charities that focus on improving the lives of people with disabilities. But if we’re going to deal with the biggest problems, I believe we need a little more movement. This movement needs to come from the people who have these disabilities, and those who care for them.
Isolation was a big problem for me for quite some time. I was depressed, struggling to make new friends, and just wasn’t sure what I could do about it. I had epilepsy, but I didn’t know anybody else who had it either. Eventually, I met a few people through a Manchester group meeting that was set up by Epilepsy Action. But it wasn’t many.
We need more meeting groups. Meeting groups for many people to attend. People with disabilities should unite on a one-to-one basis so they can interact with others and socialise more. They can learn about the problems of others, talk to other people about their own, and gather advice from other people too.
As well as that, the meeting group will have key speakers at every meeting event. At the first few meetings, I’m guessing this will be me. These people can help organise meetings, speak out to make people aware of issues, and appraise others for dealing with them.
In the future (although it could take quite a while) I like to idea of holding a website for people with or caring for people with disabilities to sign up for and communicate with others online. The website could involve news of important events regarding disability, hold forums, updates on meetings, and other useful information as well.
All in all, I want to create a headquarters for disabled people. By doing this, we can bring key problems to the centre of attention. We can shout out louder than ever before against intolerance of disability.
Greater Manchester will be Leading the Way
Building the way up to a brighter future will probably start by setting up meetings in Greater Manchester. It’s where I live. There are other disability groups in the area, and I’ll talk to them when possible, getting to know how they run their own business too.
It could take a while to do this. But I’m sick and tired of our problems being published at the back of the newspaper. Issues are being swept under the carpet, and it’s time to give them some light. People without a disability should know more about the problems that disabled people deal with too.
There’s so many ongoing problems for disabled people, and it’s time for people with disabilities to receive much more respect from others.