We were there to represent Mind in Taunton and West Somerset and Advocacy in Mind, there were groups from many other charities there including Taunton and district Citizens Advice Bureau, Rethink Mental Illness. Bristol and many others. There were also hundreds of people representing themselves. As well as carers and families who were representing those who are too disabled to be there themselves.
Why were we marching? Because the coalition government is targeting disabled people in
its welfare reform bill, which is passing through the House of Lords now, this is after, George Osborne said he would ‘place the burden on those with the broadest shoulders’. How can this be true? The proposed cuts in benefits are going to lead to many thousands living from hand to mouth and many will be made prisoners in their own homes by the recommended changes to the Disability Living Allowance.
Another effect of the welfare reform bill, which the government seem to have conveniently forgotten or ignored, is the likely result of the financial hardship, which they are imposing on an already anxious minority group. This will be a dramatic increase in clinical depression, anxiety and stress, thereby increasing the pressure on our already overstretched mental health services and charities.
We had representatives of numerous types of disability from the very visible to the invisible, although our disabilities are different; we all have at least two things in common. These are the continuing and constant cuts, and threats from the government. The protesters came from all around the South-West, not only Bristol, there were people from Somerset, Avon, Devon, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Dorset, and probably even further. Many made a long, arduous and sometimes painful journey to demonstrate and voice their anger in a peaceful way.
In many ways the pain that so many were willing to endure on their way to the march, during the march, and going home after the march: gives the Hardest Hit March even more meaning and impact. Of course, even though you and I can see this: this government is totally bereft of understanding and empathy when it comes to the pain and suffering of disabled people, this thought will not even cross their minds, and they will not give a jot about the predicament into which they are forcing disabled people.
Any political opinions or comments in this blog are my own and are not necessarily those of Mind in Taunton and West Somerset, National Mind or any other charity I have mentioned.