Melanie Melanie Reid Louise Cooper Charles Ellis Olde Mel Carreras Britain Acton

Best Of Today 2017-08-30:09:50.00
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  • You're listening to a podcast from the today programme on B.B.C. radio for all the things that have changed about our country in the sixty years since this programme came on the air.

  • Our attitude to disability in one form or another must be near the top of the list.

  • One of our listeners Charles Ellis, who was born.

  • Sixty years ago, summed up one aspect of that change.

  • When he got in touch with us.

  • I've got multiple sclerosis.

  • I was diagnosed it.

  • Twenty years, my legs don't work, or my hands.

  • Don't work very well.

  • My voice, isn't British and my eyes are affected.

  • So I would think I'm profoundly disabled, and I suspect.

  • Sixty years ago, the only way forward for me, would have been living in an institution, but things have moved on.

  • So much, I've lived on my own independently, with the help of brilliant Carreras and I also work say nine live a fairly independent life which sixty years ago, would be unimaginable.

  • And what would also have been unimaginable.

  • Sixty years ago was our attitude to disability.

  • Many of you have told us, it's impossible to look back on those years without being a bit embarrassed a routine use of the word, crippled, for instance, I've been talking about all this to two distinguished journalist, the times columnist Melanie Reid, who was paralysed in a horse riding accident in two thousand and ten And the radio four presenter Peter white, who's been blind since birth, people didn't really think of disability as a distinct group at all, and we didn't think of ourselves.

  • That way, and they would talk about the blind or the death or, indeed, people who were crippled, and that was the kind of language that was used, but the idea of a disability movement to a lobby that didn't exist, and there was still a lot of people with severe disabilities who lived in institution, because there was no equivalent care in the Community, then with, there was no escape for them, really, they were trapped, and it was that green really, who were the first to focus on the idea of disabled people working together to change things.

  • And what have been the big developments over the sixty years, I would say, first of all, something called the chronically sick and disabled act, which sounds pretty grim.

  • In a way, but I had a huge effect in nineteen seventy, it was the first real recognition that people with disabilities.

  • There was an awful lot, we didn't know about them, and he's put a lot of responsibilities on local authority, then there were new benefits, which began to come along in the seventies and early eighties, things like the mobility allowance, which help people with a getting around and be getting help in their own homes.

  • And then, of course, the disability discrimination act in nineteen ninety seven was Groundbreaking and a lot of these changes, they happened because of direct action.

  • I mean, in the nineties.

  • There were examples of disabled people blocking the entrance to Parliament.

  • They were lying in front of buses to point out that the buses weren't accessible, the sort of things were happening, which the suffragettes would have recognised that did have a very big effect, because it made people sit up and take notice and say they're really angry.

  • And Melanie, what about you, because it's what seven years horrible accident, what sort of reaction.

  • Have you inspired in people, I still Fi.

  • I appreciate the world is a much easier place than it was sixty years.

  • Sixty years ago, I probably wouldn't have survived because it wasn't until the nineteen sixties, the people with broken necks started surviving and appreciate the world is a nicer place, but I still feel I strayed in well that wasn't built for me and how does it work for you, then.

  • Well, I think we're pretty good at giving superficial respect to disabled people.

  • But I think there is a long, long way to go in terms of infrastructure and accessibility.

  • I think there's a lot of mouth music, but we're not so good at the nuts and bolts and how do people treat you with kindness was kindness, people can be thoughtless, but it's usually thoughtlessness.

  • It's not cruelty, and when they're reminded their kind, I come across very little and kindness.

  • And Do you in part resent that kindness.

  • Do you feel patronised.

  • No, I'll take kind as where I find it, and I appreciate that I don't have a problem with that at all.

  • No, I think you do Peter a bit, don't you.

  • Well, I think there's a difference between people like Melanie who had their accident later in life.

  • And people like me, I was born blind went to blind skills and have been blind all my life, and we don't always treat it, people like me as gratefully, as we should, because being helped all the time can be quite a strain.

  • Actually, I mean, I've been working on this and talking about this for fifty or sixty years, and sometimes you think I'd completely been wasting my time, because it's at a kind of deeper level that you feel that you're not completely understood the bit of my situation that isn't understood is that being blind is normal for me, I do not wake up every morning and think, Oh, dear.

  • I'm still blind.

  • I just wake up thinking, I'm still me, and it's always a bit difficult that people don't kind of get the idea that it is possible to be comfortable in your skin.

  • It's a disabled person, and that must be very different for you.

  • Mel, yeah, that's really interesting one, because one of the few mums unkindness I really had was in a queue to get on the aeroplane in child go to Come back to Britain.

  • I now wouldn't fly, because it's, it's too tough, but I was first in the queue, in order to get me on the plane, first as a disabled person to get me into my seat and in the sort of gangway down to get on the plane, a family barged past me just would not wait for a disabled wheelchair, and it was, it was pretty pretty horrible.

  • But then, if you follow Peter's argument, then that's just people acting normally treating me as if I wasn't in a wheelchair that I didn't deserve any extra space, if you like, and that is a real dilemma.

  • In a way, because we press for changes, and we want to be treated normally, but actually, when we treated completely normally has Melanie is describing we don't like that either we're irritated by that one of the huge changes in the last sixty years is surely language Peter earlier in this conversation.

  • Use the word, crippled, what we cannot do.

  • Now, of course, is describe somebody as a cripple and Melanie, would you be appalled at that describes a CRIM, no, I wouldn't actually, I mean, I know people in wheelchairs we often refer to ourselves.

  • In that way, but it's a bit like the n. word, isn't it.

  • It's O.K. for some people to use it, but not for those who aren't so a difficult one, but I like to claim back some politically incorrect language.

  • And what About the use of simply something I disabled, you can we can't any longer.

  • I think so, Aye.

  • You are disabled, we can see you are differently abled, Oh, that's nonsense.

  • It completely misses the point, which is that, with the, if you like to call the disabled movement, the disabled tribe, there is this huge apartheid.

  • There's a whole forgotten about people who, who are the lobbyist.

  • Third, the unseen ones, the ye Olde the frail in the continent, who are just as disabled, as we are, but they get completely forgot about, I just get irritated by their disability tripe.

  • Sometimes I do, because to me, they, and I don't include cured.

  • This Peter, but to some of the lobbyists obsess about the wrong things, I think it's difficult, because I think a lot of the things people say about the medical side of disability, a lot of the public.

  • Wouldn't even begin to understand, I mean the whole argument, for example, about genetic therapy, the fact that some disabilities could now be got rid of the fact that we're talking more and more about screening people out now, a lot of people would say, what's not to like about that.

  • These are terrible diseases, quite a lot of disabled people would say, yes, but once you start screening unborn disabled people out, then, what does that do to the attitude of those that are here, what does it do about the way we actually value people.

  • So that's what those fears are about both of you for your attitude to the Paralympics, and the way we report them of the way we talk about them.

  • I'm very torn on this, I'm a sports fan, I think I had a bit to do with getting the Paralympics much more widely covered outfit, I think, treating it as a sport.

  • It's great.

  • What I do worry about is that we have not got rid of this idea that it should be inspirational cos, that's not what disabled sports men and women on the whole want, they want to be treated as sports, they don't, I don't think they do necessarily want to be role models.

  • The fact that the Paralympics is now properly covered is great.

  • Some of our reactions to it, I think it's still very sentimental life.

  • Melanie like Peter, I find it difficult one because inspiration is an overworked word and Paralympics come be like circus tricks.

  • They can be very glamorous.

  • It can be the pony Acton in the circus, because some people, myself included, struggle to push twenty yards very slowly.

  • In a wheelchair.

  • And when Paralympians make it look so easy whizzing around there is this sense that we just don't try hard enough, and you almost become the to the cause.

  • If you're not doing your absolute best and sparkling and shining and whizzing along, and so it can put the wrong impression of what her capacities are to the World, I get a sense from both the view that there is something of a backlash against the disability lobby and some of the measures that they had been proposing is that the case, and if so, what worries you about where that might go with that backlash, if indeed it exists, Peter, I think there is a backlash, and I think that's true, I think it can be traced back partly to the discovery by governments that they were actually spending a great deal on benefits rather more than they'd budgeted for.

  • And I should say this is across the political board, and that's where the rhetoric about scroungers, which I think genuinely disabled people have suffered from by Association, it worries me that people have stopped thinking that one of the best ways of overcoming disability is actually to give people a little bit of money to do it with it's all very well talking about education, attitude and table a bit cash goes a long way melody.

  • I'm very grateful to the disabled lobby, I would hate them not to be there.

  • Good on them.

  • And please keep fighting, but I hope that they can widen their outlook.

  • Sometimes a bit, and be a bit more inclusive of the many different types of disability.

  • There is out there that will be my plea for the future.

  • Peter wide and Melanie Reid, thank you both, Hi, I'm Louise Cooper, before you go.

  • This summer, money boxes asking whether With facing the death of retirement and if millennial ze today will be able to afford a twenty year plus holiday at the end of their lives.

  • How affordable is the state pension.

  • What role should employers have in providing a wage in retirement.

  • And what of the pensions industry and the government doing to reduce complexity and encourage saving the programmes are also available to listen to as a podcast, just search for money box.

  • And of course, don't forget to let us know what you think.