Voice’s Old Susannah looks at events over yet another vibrant and dynamic week in the ‘Deen. By Suzanne Kelly.
Congratulations to all those who took part in the Paralympics – whether as athlete, supportive family member, friend, carer or spectator.
This was by all accounts the biggest, most successful, most visible (and probably most vibrant and dynamic) Paralympics to date.
And yes, congratulations to Team GB for their impressive haul of metals – but nationalism should not be the most important focal point of this great event.
This might be a good point to mention that sporting achievement and medals are not the only area where people with special abilities excel.
Want proof? Please visit VSA’s Easter Anguston farm before 23rd September and walk the art and sculpture trail, part of the North East Open Studios programme. Not only is this a well laid out, environmentally sensitive show with wonderful artwork on view.
It’s also a collaboration between people from different age groups, skill levels and abilities – local professional artists’ work is shown alongside the work of children, people with autism, and people from other countries. This show treats them all the same, and you’ll be hard pressed to tell what kind of person has created the works that greet you: they are all, without exception beautiful and amazingly creative.
Things are improving for people with special requirements and special sets of skills, but unfortunately, there are signs all around that we’re just not doing as well as we should in terms of help, inclusion and respect. Let’s do better.
Hopefully here in the Deen emergency services have now stopped parking their vehicles in ‘Handicapped’ parking spaces. You might remember a certain instance when a fire truck parked at a local supermarket in the handicapped spaces so the firemen/women could go shopping.
Perhaps some relevant definitions won’t go amiss. And furthermore, as we’re all suffering from UTG fatigue, this will be a web-free column this week (well, I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it).
Uncomfortable: (adjective) state of being at ease or mildly distressed.
Pity the poor staff and customers who were at Costa Coffee in our own Bon Accord shopping mall yesterday: they were made ‘uncomfortable’. The Walker family were feeding their young, ill child Brayden via a feeding tube. How rude of them!
Naturally, they were asked to leave. We can’t have that sort of thing in public, and Mrs Walker should just stay home with her child. According to the Scottish Sun, Brayden’s parents were asked to leave and never return to the Bon Accord Centre café in Aberdeen. Somehow, Old Susannah doesn’t think they will want to.
I also mystically predict that Costa Coffee will continue to feel ‘uncomfortable’ for some time to come as sales slump.
Well done to the staff of Costa. No nonsense approach there
This must be the first time that such an offensive sight was seen in our town. Let’s hope we can stick to our traditional public behaviour standards of assaults and good old-fashioned drunken exploits.
I would like to commend the bravery of the person who made the complaint against the Walker family; it’s important to stand up for your right of not having to look at ill people. Well done to the staff of Costa. No nonsense approach there. Rather than explaining to the complainant that not everyone is well and healthy, or that everyone has the right to peacefully pursue a normal life. Nope, just a get out and don’t come back.
Well played! Wonder what they’d have said to Christopher Reeve or Stephen Hawking?
Brayden suffers from the kidney condition posterior urethral valves and needs 24-hour care. Therefore, like anyone else suffering with a medical problem, he should just stay out of sight, at least until ATOS hit him with a benefits assessment appointment at some future point.
ATOS: (proper noun) a multinational company, services include IT services – and work fitness assessments.
Old Susannah has an acquaintance (who i would like to consider to be a friend, too) who was in a serious accident over a year ago. In that year there have been operations (they are on a first name basis with doctors and nurses at the local hospital treating them), setbacks, challenges and so on.
This person is currently in hospital (again), and has not been able to move without discomfort (if at all) for much of this time. As well as the physical devastation, there must also be a heck of a lot of stress and residual trauma.
Naturally, a benefits assessor has visited, and told this layabout to get back to work and that their benefits are to be cut.
In the spirit of the age, ATOS, the benefits assessment firm, comes to mind. They are proud sponsors of the Paralympics. Hooray!
They were also implicated in scandalous treatment of the long-term disabled. The Guardian newspaper had this report in July:-
“Dr Steve Bick, a GP with 20 years’ experience, applied for a job as an assessor with Atos to carry out the work capability assessment (WCA), and secretly filmed his training for Channel 4′s Dispatches programme, which will be broadcast on Monday 30 July at 8pm. Undercover filming shows Bick being told by his trainer that he will be watched carefully over the number of applicants he found eligible for the highest rate of disability payments.
“The trainer tells trainee assessors: “If it’s more than I think 12% or 13%, you will be fed back ‘your rate is too high.’” When Bick questioned how the company could know in advance the precise proportion of people who needed to be put in this category, the trainer replied: “How do we know? I don’t know who set the criteria but that’s what we are being told.”
“Bick asked: “So if we put 20% in, we would get picked up on?”. He was told by the trainer that, in that scenario, his cases would be reviewed.
“The DWP said it was unable to respond in detail to the programme’s findings because it had not been shown a full transcript, but a spokeswoman said it was “nonsense” to suggest there were targets or expected results of any sort. She said assessors’ results were monitored to make sure they adhered to an average, adding: “If individual Atos healthcare professionals record results considerably outside the average, their work may be audited to ensure quality. If no issues are found with the quality of work, no action is taken.”
There’s that word again – uncomfortable.
So here’s this person I know, trying to get their life back together, going through operations, experiencing pain, and this is the criteria – apparently – that assessors are using to ‘keep targets low’.
No doubt my friend will be forced back to work, ready or not, if they want to keep a roof over their head and keep eating. No doubt the young Walker child will be expected to get some kind of low-paid demeaning job as soon as he’s old enough to talk. And this is, of course, a good thing.
We’ll have 6,500 brand new jobs of all kinds once we build the web, and we’ll need all the low-paid cleaners, street-sweepers, graffiti-removers and tree-fellers we can get.
Damn – and I wasn’t going to mention the web.
Next week: More definitions, and hopefully a review of all the articles the P&J and Evening Express will publish about the new granite web scandals over the secrecy of the TIF application and the radio blitzkrieg that should have never been.
PS – a true reason to be cheerful: the Led Zeppelin 02 Concert Film ‘Celebration Day’ will finally be released. Once it’s out, look for me in whatever cinema it’s showing in for the first few weeks at least.
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