To Disabled People Who Feel Hopeless After the U.K. Election
As a chronically sick person living in the U.K., after Thursday’s election, I’ve been feeling some sense of hopelessness and fear for the future. Some might not share this. However, years of austerity have adversely affected sick and disabled people disproportionately as a group. Disabled people have struggled due to cuts to disability benefits which help us to pay for services that enable us to take our place in society, maintain employment, and access other public services such as the NHS, education and social care systems. This can make the prospect of another five years of Conservative government a daunting thought.
I’ve personally found it heartbreaking. I, like many others, had hoped for a brighter future with investment into local infrastructure to create more jobs, funding for education to improve employment prospects and more funding for health and social care. I had hoped I and many others could live without the insecurity of wondering whether we will still be able to afford our prescriptions or go to the doctor in five years’ time.
For many, it feels bad right now and it may get worse in the future. But I’ve since realized we can’t change Thursday’s result. We can only look at what we can do to create change, no matter how small. So I got thinking about what we could do. Here are my ideas, for those who are able:
1. Get involved in local politics. There is going to be much soul-searching happening over the coming months and joining in the debate to help shape the future of our country is going to be needed more than ever. Also, local parties, particularly those in opposition, organize local campaigns to fight for health and other local services. So if you can, get involved.
2. Get involved in Facebook campaigns. Many charities such as Centrepoint, Crisis, the Trussell Trust and others create campaigns to lobby government where you can show your support and that can easily be shared over social media. There are also more grassroots campaigns such as the group Fighting for Our NHS, which shares petitions and organizes demonstrations.
3. Give to charity. More people than ever are going to be turning to food banks and other forms of charity to get them through the coming months and years. Show that you care by donating food, clothes, toiletries, volunteering your time or simply making a cash donation. A post created by Jack Monroe on Friday helped raise nearly £24,000 in just eight hours for The Trussell Trust (it’s since reached £35, 200). That shows what can be accomplished when we pool resources. The Biscuit Fund is another great charity run by volunteers that provides emergency funds for those in need.
4. Be kind. A lot of people are going to be facing real hardship. If you know of anyone in this situation, and your own circumstances allow, give a gift of some money, some food or just be there to listen. Small acts of kindness can go a long way to making someone feel that they’re not alone and the effect can often be felt for a long time afterwards.
We’re facing some really difficult times right now, much more difficult than I’ve known in my lifetime. But I believe if we pull together and share our individual light with each other, we can not only make it through this but also blot out some of the darkness that currently surrounds us.
Getty image by 8213erika.