Resonance FM Podcast

7/30/2011 09:25:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 2 Comments

is up here

Tim Abbott, Kaliya Franklin and Stephen Lee Hodgkins of Disability Lib had a roundtable discussion about organising the disabled community and looking to the future.


Resonance FM this afternoon..

7/29/2011 03:26:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

On today's Technical Difficulties, I am joined in London by Stephen Lee Hodgkins of DisabilityLIB and from Wirral by The Broken of Britain founder Kaliya Franklin to dream about the future, and how to get there intact.

Join us at 3.30pm British Summer Time and feedback. Resonance 104.4fm 104.4 FM in London or elsewhere



7/27/2011 01:00:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 10 Comments

 Thanks to Batsgirl for this excellent post, originally published here

I know this is ground we've covered before, but a look at today's front pages makes it necessary to go over it again.

In the UK, we have a welfare system. The disability benefit side of it has been being overhauled for the last few years. Labour started it, the Coalition are continuing it, they're using the same company (Atos) to execute it and the same advisor (Lord Freud) to justify it. This is not a party-political issue - red, blue or yellow, to borrow a phrase, they're all in it together.

In summary:
  • If you have a doctor's note stating that you are unable to work because of illness, injury or impairment, you apply for Employment Support Allowance (ESA). For the first 13 weeks of your claim you are paid the "assessment phase" rate of up to £67.50 per week.
  • If the assessment classifies you as entirely unable to work, and unlikely to ever be able to work, for instance because you are bedbound and terminally ill with a life expectancy of less than a year, you are granted unconditional ESA at the "support" rate of up to £99.85 per week.
  • If the assessment decides that, although your disabilities are substantial, you would be able to do *some* work at *some* point in the future with the right conditions/support/equipment/adjustments, then you are awarded ESA at the "work-related activity" rate of up to £94.25 per week. To continue to receive this you must attend regular work-related activities.
  • If the assessment determines that your NHS-diagnosed conditions are not severe enough to substantially impair your ability to work in an office environment, or that you would only require minor adjustments, you are deemed "fit to work". You don't get ESA at all, and are placed on Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) which is a smaller amount of money with much higher conditionality attached. If you are fortunate, there may be a note on your jobseeking file excusing you from mandatory application for specific jobs that would aggravate or be incompatible with your condition (for instance someone with speech and hearing difficulties may be "fit to work" but excused from mandatory application for call-centre jobs).

Leaving aside all the arguments about whether the system is fair, how their fitness-to-work tests relate to what is required to perform a job in the real world, and so on... the Department for Work and Pensions released these statistics yesterday, about ESA applicants over the last two years:
  • 7% were incapable of any work (Support group)
  • 17% were able to do some sort of work given the correct support (Work-related activity group)
  • 39% were deemed to be fit for work and were moved onto jobseeker's allowance
  • 36% dropped out of the application process
  • 1% of applications were still in progress

Today, the Express have taken these numbers and decided that 1% (still in assessment phase) plus 7% (Support group ESA) plus 17% (WRA group ESA) equals 25% of applicants approved to receive some form of ESA. So far, so true. However, their headline screams that therefore the remaining 75% - those moved onto JSA, and those who drop out of the system entirely - are "faking".

This is simply not true.

The fact that a person has failed to score enough points to get ESA (yes, it really is a points-based computer system) does not mean that they scored no points whatsoever, or even that they're not disabled, just that they're not quite disabled enough to be Officially unfit for work. That's why we have the assessment process! To assess people!

To apply to be assessed is not "faking".

To have a level of impairment that falls just short of the ESA bar is not "faking".

There will also be quite a few applicants who suffered an acute injury or illness (for instance, they were in a car accident) and were advised to apply for ESA as a temporary or worst case scenario - but in the 13-week assessment period, they have recovered well so they have been moved to JSA or have returned to work.

To recover from an illness or injury does not mean that the illness or injury was "faked".

There are also the people who get placed onto Jobseeker's Allowance, and go to appeal, and win. The rate of people winning their appeals is around 40% and this increases to 70% where the appellant has someone to represent them. Regrettably, there are also a number of genuinely disabled people who simply don't have the wherewithal to fight an appeal, and have to attempt to survive without the benefits they need. I myself have been in this situation.

To be too ill to fight is not "faking".

There are people who, during their assessment period, are fortunate to find a suitable job which is prepared to make the necessary adjustments, or who, like myself, have enough personal support around them to enable them to be self-employed.

To return to the taxpaying workforce is not "faking".

A very few people will be fortunate enough to have other resources to fall back on. Perhaps an insurance payout of some kind, or a lottery win, or the sale of assets, will save them from the indignity of having to complete a process that treats them as the worst kind of fraudster from beginning to end.

To have alternative resources is not "faking".

Most significantly, there are those who die before the assessment phase is complete.

To die of a condition is perhaps the strongest possible indicator that the condition was not "faked".

I'd provide more concrete statistics, but we don't have them. Once you leave ESA, you're not monitored. We don't know how many of these people have got jobs, have died, have killed themselves, have left the country... no one cares. The Express just goes ahead and calls them all "fakers".


Compare and Contrast?

7/26/2011 11:14:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 3 Comments

 The real picture...

Disability Benefit Reform - Is The Government Hiding Behind Atos Errors? By Kaliya Franklin

Versus....the official picture...

The Government's Policy Objectives For Incapacity Benefit Reform - Select Committee Report


100 Voices - The Video!

7/25/2011 02:15:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

The first ever conference for people with learning disabilities was put on by The Brandon Trust in Bristol on July 2nd. This is the video of the day for anyone who'd like to watch...apologies for my bad signing and singing and huge thanks again to Billy, Pat and Ann for all their help!


BREAKING NEWS!!! Government Delays Welfare Reform Bill...

7/15/2011 01:44:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 6 Comments

This just in from the Disability Alliance

I'm sure they won't mind me posting it in full :

Government delays Welfare Reform Bill

15 July 2011
The Government has been forced to delay the 2nd Reading of the flagship Bill in the Lords due to peers' concerns over the people affected.
DWP is suggesting other business has blocked progress but the surprise postponement till September from Tues will also give the Government time to lobby peers and answer the queries raised in DA's legal challenge.

This is wonderful, surprising, startling news!!! I need a little lie down before I say any more, but remember this - if it gives the government more time to lobby, it gives us more time too :)))


On work and 'being well'

7/12/2011 11:52:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 7 Comments

"You're relatively independent aren't you?" was a question put to me recently by an online friend. A question I didn't really know how to answer and one I'm not sure time to reflect has helped.

Sure, I live independently. Sort of anyway. It would be more accurate to say I live alone, require large amounts of support and have learnt to make the best of life without that support. But what does it really mean? Another friend's comments this weekend provided that answer. Roland, phoning to check I was safe and well after travelling alone in the BendyVan commented how glad he was, not just that I now have a car I can drive without immediately dislocating all my major joints, but that I'm well enough to be making the most of it at the moment.

Roland's right, I am relatively well at the moment. But this weekend highlighted just what level of independant functioning my relatively well means, and how challenging it is to translate that relative wellness into practical day to day life, let alone work.

When we start dating someone new, we all want to impress them, to show them our good points and hope that by the time our less good points start to emerge that that person likes us sufficiently to focus on the good rather than the bad. It's a bit like starting a new job, we're all keen to impress and prove our suitability for the role. For me, disability is a huge stumbling block to both those situations. Being sick, disabled and without diagnosis impacted hugely on all my personal relationships and ability to work. It would probably be fair to say that whilst employer's make it clear that it's a problem for them, when it comes to relationships it's a far bigger deal for me than it is for many of the partners I've had, but there it sits, firmly on my shoulder, whispering dark thoughts into my ear about how hard it makes life, how much it impacts on everything, and creates additional burdens simply not there when not yet sick or disabled people form relationships.

Can the person who cares about me cope when I dislocate, fall or stop breathing? Can they deal with seeing someone they love in agonising pain without any ability to help? Will they be prepared to support me financially if we ever wanted to live together or marry? Time limiting contribution based Employment Support Allowance will make that a pressing question for many couples, for those where the working partner is low waged it will prove impossible to form permanent, stable relationships with a sick or disabled person as the financial responsibility is to be passed to the partner from the state.

But really, it all comes down to can they cope with the day to day reality of chronic sickness and disability? In just over 24 hours this weekend I needed to ask for help to reduce dislocations in my thumbs, my shoulders, my hips and my pelvis. I needed to be helped off the floor many times, to be helped from sofa to door, to be brought food and drinks, to have morphine dispensed to me. I needed valium fetching after my pelvis was reduced and the consequent muscle spasms shook my entire lower half. I needed the comforting hand placed on my leg to reassure and console as I fought off tears. I needed help when I accidentally brushed my hand against my neck getting dry and my airway collapsed. I needed medication bringing urgently, and monitoring while I fought to gain control of my breathing. I needed someone there to make the decision about whether or not to phone an ambulance, to be able to explain to paramedics and the hospital what, if anything they could do. I needed help to shower, quite the comedy event with a small, slippery, wet bendy person liable to fall in dry, non slip conditions. I needed to be told when I'd clearly pushed myself too far and had to lie down.

That isn't a bad day, or me being unwell. That's me about as good as it gets. Issues which are challenging enough in a home based, personal environment where no-one has to worry about health and safety or the impact on anyone but the two people involved in that relationship. In a home environment, whilst it's difficult it can all become a natural part of that relationship, just another way in which partners support each other.

But, requiring that level of support in a workplace is not so easy. And remember...this is as good as it gets. Would you employ someone who is guaranteed to dislocate on a regular basis, fall over on a regular basis, vomit on a regular basis and highly likely to stop breathing on your premises......?

Really, would you? Because I wouldn't.


The Begging Letter

7/12/2011 10:04:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

This post by Duesexmacintosh originally appeared here 

Okay, I really have reached the end of my tattered patience. I WAS going to post a thoughtful piece about the market clearing rate/efficiency wages and the Conservative MP who told the commons recently that disabled people are not as productive as their ‘normal’ colleagues and therefore ought to be free to accept less than the minimum wage to improve their chances of being hired, but why waste my time? I’m obviously being unreasonable to expect the same rate of pay for doing the same work.
Latest news from the Department for Work and Pensions is not much brighter with the announcement of a national fraud hit-squad trawling the country postcode by postcode
Fraud investigators are launching a door-to-door blitz to catch couples who rake in extra benefits by falsely claiming to live apart. The taskforce hopes to save the taxpayer £100million by interviewing every claimant in high-risk postcode areas.
Their main targets are parents who say they live alone while in fact cohabiting with their partner or husband.
Officials from the Department from Work and Pensions and Revenue and Customs will check benefit payments, bank accounts, tax credits and any outside earnings. They will also work with councils to check residential addresses.

Meanwhile someone who claimed government support to rent accommodation from a landlord who was in fact their partner returns to the House of Commons after an entire week’s suspension. The Financial Times says that David Laws is Not Above the Law but I’d beg to differ. As someone on benefits I’d rightly be gaoled for doing what he did – and in fact the local council actually lie-detectored me a couple of a months ago just in case I was doing just that (sorry, but it turns out that SkepticLawyer and I are just good friends). True, the results of this bogus technology are actually no better than chance but that’s not the point.
The first principle of the rule of law – as I keep being told – is “treat like cases alike”. I have complained privately for several years that we’re turning into an “exceptional” society (common standards of behaviour no longer seem to apply because OUR case is always “exceptional”) but in this case I’m not sure if the message is that Laws is too “exceptional” to lose or that the source of my income means I’m an “exception” to fair treatment.
As you can see from the earlier news story, all it takes is living in the wrong postcode for the government to be empowered to examine my bank account and the implication seems to be that the goal of this new taskforce is to eventually work its way across the entire country so no one on any benefits can reasonably expect their financial records to be private, the same way that families who can’t afford private education can’t be sure that the local council won’t set up a surveillance operation outside their home because they might be gaming the catchment areas.
And back onto disability issues, even the Supreme Court has decided that those who can’t afford private night care can be reasonably expected to deliberately soil themselves and wait until morning rather than unreasonably expect their local authority to pay for care assistance at night. So I guess that rather makes it official – the only rights you actually have in this country (including basic dignity) are the ones you can pay for.
Being British used to mean you could expect general basic levels of life, liberty and well being. This wasn’t mandated by a written constitution in the American style but had persisted by common cultural agreement right up until this century. Habeas Corpus meant you couldn’t be summarily detained or held incommunicado by government or royal authority and legal tradition almost as long meant you couldn’t be put to torture for a confession either. Every citizen had identical legal rights even if their personal finances didn’t always guarantee them identical standards of legal representation. These rights were suspended alongside Habeas Corpus in the last decade as an anti-terror measure. No I’m not trying to argue that welfare is “a right” – sorry student protestors but education isn’t either, they’re both privileges – just that the most important identifying feature of a “right” was that it applied to everyone regardless of their economic performance. It was the basis of our stakeholding in what David Cameron now calls the “Big Society”.
So what exactly do I have to do in order to reclaim what I once assumed to be the natural inheritance of my citizenship? Response from the left and most anti-capitalists is simply “be rich”, but I’m trying to be a bit more nuanced and specific plus I’m in favour of the free market. The same way capitalism can’t see your colour (just your balance sheet) in a free market I’m free to ‘get the hell out of dodge’ by fair means, or increasingly foul. Yes, I am thinking of MPs using public money to profit from the booming UK property market and ‘flipping’ residence to dodge capital gains tax while they were at it. Chris Bryant MP, the current commons scourge of Rupert Murdoch is almost certainly right that the media has no place snooping on his social networking or financial arrangements, but it is apparently fine for a government department or local authority to do that to me. There’s a reasonable justification because my rent is being underwritten by a government allowance (just like his).
So here’s my idea: I quit.
I want nothing more to do with your shoddy system and quite frankly after the names people like me have been called for the past 18 months, I now feel that I owe you precisely nothing. Zip. Zero. The big goose egg. I used to feel that I should be contributing whatever social capital I can in lieu of the financial capital I lack, but I’m afraid any goodwill that had been generated by the benefits I was entitled receive all these years has rather been offset by the name calling. I owe Britain nothing. It’s every woman for herself.
Now before my mother gets all excited reading this, that does not mean that I am returning to Australia. Unless you can drive you can’t get around properly over there so it’s just not practical, plus it’s too bloody hot. And I do still live in Edinburgh which has views that are tough to beat. But even so, I’m moving to a croft in Shetland.

Not tomorrow, obviously, but I’m going to move to Shetland and buy a home (the other idea was migrating to a distant corner of New Zealand and buying a dairy farm but the Kiwis won’t let me in because I’m disabled). An additional perk is that Scots Law means you have ‘dominum’ over your property with full-on castle doctrine/get off my lawn style rights, none of this feudal model of leasing it from ultimate crown ownership nonsense. I have an idea for a business that will probably be within the limits of my disability (I wont know for sure until I try) and with the normal caveat of the one in three failure rate in first three years of operation, might even provide enough income to free me from benefits entirely. The only problem is that the whole system is such a hash, I’m going to be a bit busy fighting the DWP for the next five years for my share of the tattered scraps of disability benefits that remain to actually do anything really productive towards this goal. That’s unless I get some kind of Head Start.
Now interestingly in the new privatised Work Programme devised by Ian Duncan Smith, a private company like Ingeus (tenders vary regionally) will get a healthy bounty of £14,000 for placing a long-term Incapacity Benefit claimant such as myself in a job and keeping me in it for a year. Personally I’d rather claim that money myself as I have economic self-improvement ideas a bit more advanced than subsidised shelf-stacking in Poundland and £14,000 would be a nice healthy deposit on the croft (not a huge chunk given the overheated price of British property in even the remotest of isles, but certainly a start). There is also the small issue that since the collapse of the credit bubble, people who aren’t working can effectively no longer qualify for credit so a business loan won’t be the answer. I realise that I’m seen as a bad risk but realistically, there’s no proof that ‘successful’ Work Program participants will be removed from the benefits system entirely either if they’ve been farmed out to minimum-wage jobs by the private providers. They could still qualify for housing our council tax benefits or an income top-up via tax credits because of low wages or be forced out of work by their health and be back onto benefits entirely again in another couple of years, leaving the tax-payer £14,000 out of pocket despite scriptural levels of belief in the efficacy of financial incentives (apparently they only work on corporations).
So why can’t I get a piece of my own action? At the moment I’m writing up a business plan and when it’s complete I will be making a formal application to the DWP to do just that AND will be expecting to get a damn good reason alongside their response of ‘no’. You see, I know that it’s one rule for the companies and another for the claimants and I’m paranoid enough to believe that the only way to avoid the massive economic misery this government seems intent on inflicting is to start working on achieving post-apocalyptic levels of financial independence right now. Unfortunately because I’m disabled, I can’t just go out and get a job. My problem is not lack of motivation (thanks anyway, DWP) I’m simply not well enough to work full time and don’t currently live anywhere I could achieve subsistence by drastically reducing my living costs for food and power etc. by growing/generating my own. [On a croft in Shetland, however...]
Well the government keeps saying that we should count on the charitable sector to step into the gap where government provision of welfare and services have been withdrawn, so this is me sticking my hat out, readers.
This is a begging letter asking you for money. I’m looking for someone (or a group of someones) to start by donating £2000 via to establish a Disabled Person’s Trust with the purpose of buying and developing a croft in Shetland. This will route the establishment money direct to my lawyers (SkepticLawyer & LegalEagle) who will be the trustees so I don’t get the opportunity to blow it on a Bang & Olufsen television or something. I don’t think I would because I have much better plans for it, but I make no guarantees. [I'd suggest making the reference "DEM's DOMINIUM" to keep it seperate from donations to the Skepticlawyer blog itself]. £2000 is what it will cost for a scottish law firm to draw up the Trust Deed.
After that I’ll be trying to raise up to £250,000 for land and business development all of which will be donated directly to the trust (because apparently, people on benefits are all obsessed with consumer electronics – despite the fact I don’t even HAVE a TV at the moment) and only released at the discretion of the Trustees.
Pride is for people who can afford choice. Nor am I “exceptionally” worthy either – there are many deserving causes out there and I can personally recommend Dogs for the Disabled in the UK or Assistance Dogs Australia or another of the excellent Guide Dog training charities in your area. You might like my business plan and think it’s seriously worth a punt to make it happen (copies of what I have so far are available by emailing a request to – though keep in mind I’m still researching at the moment) or you might just want to say “up yours” to The Man. Your motivations for giving are your business, I just need your money.
Please give what you want to.


No Ifs, No Buts Mr Laws, Benefit Fraud is a Crime

7/07/2011 10:49:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 3 Comments

 Guest post by Sue Marsh

Having been found guilty of 6 breaches of Commons Rules and suspended for 7 days, David Laws is back!

"Mr Laws resigned after just 17 days as a cabinet minister, following reports he had claimed about £40,000 to pay rent to his partner, the lobbyist James Lundie. Such payments have been against parliamentary rules since 2006.....a long investigation by the parliamentary standards commissioner had discovered other breaches relating to phone bills and building work."

"A parliamentary committee ruled in May he should apologise to the House of Commons and be suspended for seven days. The suspension began on 7 June."

Nonetheless, he was the economic glue that binds the coalition. The hard-line right-wing Lib Dem who It was thought could bridge the gap between the Osbornes and the Vinces. Without him we got.... well, Danny Alexander and it hasn't been pretty has it?

It's been clear from the first whiff of scandal that the Condems wanted him back and would bring him back as soon as they thought they could get away with it,

"Only a few months ago, David Cameron was expressing impatience at the time the commissioner was taking with his inquiry because he was keen to see Mr Laws back in Government"

but less than a month after his suspension expired? Quietly appearing in the House of Commons in the midst of a huge media scandal that's keeping everyone too busy to notice?

He cheated. He committed benefit fraud.

In fact, the DWP would call him a benefit thief

They are very clear on the matter :

"Deliberately withholding information that affects your claim is stealing. That’s why we are targeting benefit thieves! Those who steal benefits are picking the pockets of law-abiding taxpayers." 

Yet again, we have one rule for them, but entirely another for everyone else. Every time I see Mr Laws sitting in the HoC I will remember that he is a cheat. He was found guilty. But it didn't matter. After all the expenses scandals, after the promises that it would all change, after all that LibDem drivel about a "New Politics" we have to swallow yet another huge hypocrisy pill from politicians. 

And they wonder why no-one likes them, hardly anyone goes out to vote for them and no-one trusts them. 

They've got away with this systemic corruption for so long, they think they always will. "Oh, don't worry, the sheeple won't remember, the sheeple won't care"

I'm not actually sure they have much longer. Lip service will no longer do and too many more of these decisions might bring the whole stinking house of cards tumbling down. Hopefully they'll land on Rupert Murdoch.


McDonald, R (on the application of) v Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea

7/06/2011 01:06:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 8 Comments

David Cameron, October 2010

The Supreme Court have made a decision in the case of Elaine McDonald a former principal ballerina in the Scottish Ballet. The legal arguments are varied but centre around whether there was a fair review of care conducted, whether the decision infringed Ms McDonald's rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and whether there was a breach of section 21 and 49A of the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) (now superseded by Equality Act 2010)

On a 4-1 majority the Supreme Court have dismissed Ms McDonald's appeal. Whilst the legal principles are important, for most of us they aren't relevant. The crux of this issue is very simple.

"What do we, as a society, think is an acceptable way to treat our elderly people, our disabled people, our sick people?"

The answer from the courts is damning to us all. It says that as a country we find it acceptable to leave our elderly people, our disabled people, our sick people lying in their own piss. All night. Even when that person is not incontinent and only requires a few moments assistance from another person to ensure their dignity and comfort.

Is this what we want for our mothers and fathers? Is it what we want for our grandparents? For a generation who fought for all our freedoms? Is this what we want for ourselves? Even if you don't really care about sick or disabled people one day we will all be old. We will all be vulnerable. We will all learn the lessons of powerlessness, of how it feels to have our lives held in an uncaring hand. When that time comes for you, do you really want to be left in your own urine. All night. Every night. Until you die?


Pride And Prejudice

7/05/2011 04:52:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 3 Comments

All day Sunday it niggled away at me. The 3rd of July. In that irritating manner thoughts have when you know you're supposed to remember something but can't quite pin down what it is. I couldn't remember anyone's birthday I'd forgotten and as it was a sunday I definitely hadn't forgotten a hospital appointment..but still it was there...sitting directly underneath the Mr Tumbles earworm I ingested on saturday. Shouting "Hello, hello, how are you...Hello, hello, you forgot me"

Saturday was an incredible day. I was invited to speak at the 100 Voices conference held by The Brandon Trust, a south-west charity which supports people with learning disabilities. It was held in Bristol, so after all the trauma of inaccessible hotels, wheelchair launching and being shut in a cupboard it's fair to say I was a tad nervous about travelling alone. As it was Bristol I was able to take the BendyVan on it's first road trip and have the BendyBus with me to get about, so at least I was fairly confident I wouldn't get shut in any cupboards I couldn't at least ram my way out of.

The Premier Inn I stayed in wasn't exactly accessible..but frankly my standards are low and I was just happy not to have to go on a pallet lift. The fact that there was no disabled parking available and that I couldn't get through any of the doors, just merged into the existing nightmares I'm having about burning to death locked in a cupboard. I consoled myself with the fact that I was at least on the ground floor and attempted to put the reported murders and window that I couldn't reach to shut properly out of my mind. The fact that the staff were so friendly and helpful did go some way to making up for the hassle, but really, in the 21st century is it too much to ask that a lone crip campaigner not need to flash her cleavage at friendly builders to get them to open hotel doors?

Fortunately after all that stress, the 100 Voices conference proved the perfect antidote. It was the happiest, most inspiring event I've ever been to and I came away feeling part of a huge family of disabled people. I was pretty nervous about my speech as it was the first time I've ever spoken infront of an audience like that, but it was great fun. Billy, Pat and Ann who helped me out were absolute stars...and within 30 seconds of being on stage I knew they were in complete control of where the presentation was going...I was just along for the ride. If anyone would like to see there are photos available here and there will be a dvd. Thank you to all the people who watched the conference through my blog!

After a much needed sleep I went to stay with friends in Birmingham and spent the sunday there before heading home wondering why I'd been talking so much about the process of becoming disabled and my feelings about it. I haven't driven so far in many years, especially unaccompanied and I was feeling proud of myself and all the people I'd met the day before; pride in being part of the most fantastic community in the world, proud of the way all sick and disabled people pull together to help each other and the lengths that we will all go to to ensure that people we don't actually know are safe and supported. Pride in having made it through the last 13 years alive, relatively sane and intact. Pride in my new life and new world.

So yesterday, when I finally remembered why the 3rd of July is important to me it seemed fitting to have spent the day remembering my old world and feeling proud of my new one. Our community is incredible, loving, supportive and safe and I literally could not be prouder to be a part of it.