Sue Marsh and others have done an excellent job campaigning on disability issues, with their Spartacus report and efforts to persuade the Lords to amend the Welfare Reform Bill. They’ve used social media to do this very effectively. In fact I’m on the Week in Westminster, Radio 4, tomorrow, talking about it. Social media has been great in giving people who find it more difficult to access traditional channels (because of health issues, physical access, prejudice, etc) a voice, and we’re now seeing campaigners like Sue appearing on the mainstream media, e.g. Newsnight, too. She blogs at http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.com/
I’m sad to hear that Sue’s campaigning has had a negative impact on her health. Her post here on Labour List illustrates exactly why the Government’s Work Capability Assessments are flawed, in that they often don’t take account of the highs and lows of people with fluctuating conditions. I’ve done a fair bit of work on this in the past, particularly on behalf of people with ME, as Action for ME is based in Bristol and I have a friend with the condition. They try their best to be honest when filling in the forms, but if they say they can ‘on a good day’ walk to the shops, that’s automatically seen as proof that they can always manage it, which is simply not the case. My friend, for example, could be wiped out for several days after one attempt to be ‘normal’ and socialise with us. There’s been a lot of talk about personalised services, with assessments based on an actual knowledge of the individual concerned. It shouldn’t be beyond us to do it.