Tuesday, 1 April 2008
Today was our local Go Forum, a small but growing group of local disabled people fighting for local issues that affect disabled peoples lives. It was one of the best I've been to, because there was a sense that within the general mess and struggles we are trying to improve there was a sense of coming together.
There are many different views on the group, which is probably it's strength & if honest there has been some tensions on the group, this is mainly in the context of discussions of major cutbacks in services in Merton and the best way forward. Well although there are still differences there was a general feeling that we stand together so that all disabled peoples needs are considered. New things are not a choice if they are at the expense of other things being taken away.
If something needs changing then change should be done by working together to improve things. People need to be involved and supported in being the author of their own changes.
We are concerned about these local issues because they have a very real impact on all people, not just disabled people, but their families, loved ones, children, older people, working people, disadvantaged and excluded people and the comfortable, regular folk. It's about all of us.
I genuinely feel that those we are working with within the local authority also do care & they are trying to do a difficult job in which they very rarely get praised for. I think & hope they are trying to get it right (or do I just see the good side of everyone?), we need to begin to build a dialogue of trust in each other. They need to trust that we can make the right decisions if given the right tools and we need to start to trust that they will not take the process away from us and yet again dis empower us back t the status quo. The reality is we're not going back to those dark days, we'll just move onwards.
My fear is that cabinet, the group with the power to decide only see figures, a balance sheet and the most in vogue initiative that will create good headlines. I have met a few good councillors to discuss the future of a CIL, and I can only hope that those that genuinely care about people out number those who have whatever other motives to balance the figures.
Disabled people can and do contribute to our society but can only do it if our needs are adequately met, actually fully met, adequate isn't enough. Once fully met we play a full active part in our community, we buy things, we work, we pay taxes, council tax, just the same as everyone else. The current discussions around cut-backs have very little to do with a genuine transformation programme. Transformation is generally a positive process where you start at one place and through learning and understanding, you move to a better place, transformation. The cut backs are about very basic things like getting around from a to b, having support for our loved ones, being able to meet friends that we want to have by choice, having a purpose to life.
I agree that services and provisions may need to change in terms of transformation, but that is different from creating cut backs to essential services and provisions. If people are genuine about transformation, then enter into a process of change, the new tag is co-producing, us together, with us having more control over the things that affect us, as a result we change, that change will also mean you need to change too!
By the way I still haven't heard from MP Mr Steen about his parking habits, sadly it is now obvious that when he said he was happy to hear from disabled people he obviously didn't and just needed the publicity. (thankfully he isn't an MP in Merton).