Another Christmas gone by and here we are, still bumping along life’s wobbly road. 

From Able Magazine #109 (January/February 2014)

We’ve trundled into a new year and gladly, the days are slowly lengthening once more… As I write this now though, the Sun is setting and I feel the kettle calling for a cuppa. January is a time for reflection, to look back on the ups and downs of the previous year before moving ahead.

At a recent meeting of disabled people, individuals gave their own reflections on personal experience of living independently, to be presented to the UN.  The room was full of people wanting to be actively moving – to be out, about and getting on with their lives despite all obstacles placed in our collective way.

I recall feeling gloomy in 2013 upon receiving a letter from DWP, announcing their decision to close the Independent Living Fund: a funding stream that enables me to employ my own personal assistants and thus, live independently.  Myself with many friends and colleagues spent much of those 12 months, campaigning for that decision to be reversed and literally, move the debate around independence for disabled people forwards.

On the 6 November 2013 something truly momentous happened; the Royal Court of Justice upheld the Appeal of five disabled claimants, finding that the Government had breached equality duties when making the decision to close the Fund and so therefore, the closure decision was quashed by the Courts.  We were all stunned!

Aside from it being a victory for us who had campaigned, it felt like a win for everyone; the law had protected disabled people’s freedoms in terms of equality and has projected us forwards.

That afternoon I did an interview with Radio 5 Live on the verdict, from my Mum’s kitchen, in a dazed but happy state.  The government had the opportunity to appeal against the ruling but wisely I feel, they chose not to.  When the future of the ILF was raised in the House of Commons, the Minister for Disabled People – also a columnist for Able Magazine – assured that the whole decision process would be looked into.

It is now paramount that we all work together for a new funding stream that will enable all disabled people to live independently, regardless of age, postcode, etc. As disabled people, we know that we are capable of doing great things and contributing in a positive way to society, whatever the levels of our different impairments.  So we keep that hopeful pendulum swinging with a positive momentum.

This is the twentieth year of Able Magazine, a `lifestyle’ mag; let’s keep on with our lives, on with moving onwards and upwards!  Happy New Year.