The disability movement is at a crossroads as a raft of controversial new benefit reforms is introduced. The Guardian newspaper recently asked charities, campaigners and social media activists what happens next. A range of influential figures responded including Steve Winyard, co-chair of the Hardest Hit coalition.
The lack of obvious leaders is a big concern for disability politics – we need disabled people themselves in those visible positions. It would be great if “bedactivists” such as Sue Marsh and Kaliya Franklin could be among those leaders.
The idea of Hardest Hit is that if there’s genuinely going to be a disability movement, charities and disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) have to work together with a united voice. I don’t think we impact on the government significantly in smaller groups, but there’s an enormous tendency to fragment, mainly because the charities aren’t run by disabled people.
Although charities are changing – the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is now a DPO – it’s still hard for some DPOs to accept these changes have taken place. In campaigning, we need to focus very strongly on government and parliament, and get politicians from all parties to understand the devastating impact the work capability assessment (WCA) and the Welfare Reform Act are having on people’s lives.
We plan to have a much stronger presence at the party conferences this year. More charities will cover costs for disabled people to attend, to ensure that MPs and other delegates hear their voices.
Head of policy and campaigns, RNIB and co-chair, Hardest Hit coalition