The Government's treatment of disabled people

​​Haris Hussnain, member of the Gwent Green Party, on the Government’s failure to see disabled people as ‘a group of people who need to be heard’.

Buses UK London Bus
Buses UK London Bus
Haris Hussnain

During the pandemic, many of us were told to ask others to get things for us, rely on others for entertainment and rely on family members to help us. This was the advice many of us were given from MPs and those in favour of lockdown restrictions. I was never against lockdown. However, I was and still am against crisis policies and plans being created that don’t include marginalised groups.

The Government, through the pandemic, ignored the issues of isolation and loneliness faced by people with disabilities. I had just started university around the same time the pandemic started. It was a crazy time for many. I remember the news would broadcast morale and encourage people to stay positive. I didn’t find Joe Wicks jumping up and down morale-boosting. This was around the same time the NHS was being put under a lot of strain, and the government weren’t listening to their pleas for help. Many disabled people rely on the NHS to access healthcare, mobility aids and social care support. The Government systematically discriminated against us all by not catering to the needs of NHS staff members.

The only sense of peace and normalcy many of us had involved catching the bus. I can’t drive a car, and many other disabled people can’t either, which leads us to rely on public transport to get us places. Even with the rail strikes, I found a mostly empty bus, but the seats near the front had been taken. As a visually impaired person, I usually sit in the chairs near the front of the bus to avoid hassle when getting off. I feel that the government isn’t respecting my well-being it should be sorting out the current state of the country. All that changed when the price of petrol rose. I remember waiting at the bus stop and seeing all these full buses, praying that mine was empty. I was lucky that it was. Otherwise, I would have had to pay £30-£40 for a taxi to get to the same place. Getting a taxi isn’t an option for many, and there is a reason why disabled people have a bus pass. People wanted to use the bus to avoid using their cars, which is understandable and wholeheartedly supported. But, the Government should have listened to the demands of rail staff and invested more in public transport. The current state of the transport infrastructure is unsustainable for long-term use, and a crammed bus isn’t healthy either.

However, I’m not surprised that nothing has been sorted with the current state of the country. When I read about the blackout plans to save power, I was disgusted at the total disregard for the wellbeing of disabled people. As a Green, I’m usually enthusiastic about saving energy but not when it medals with people's lives. Many disabled people require the power to be left on so that their assistive technology can function, and others need the power on to stay alive. Health and social care services provide support to many. 

Still, because the Government won’t listen to their pleas for help, disabled people are being told to ‘sort out their own plans’ by MPs whose job is to draft, implement and execute those plans – which they haven’t been doing since the pandemic started. They may have made amendments to their plans to accommodate disabled people, but this isn’t good enough. The current government uses the medical model of disability to create ‘reasonable adjustments’ meaning they view us as a burden and the problem. This attitude isn’t exclusive to Tories, since many Labour policies and politicians treat people with disabilities and other marginalised groups as a problem to be removed rather than a group of people who need to be heard.

I had high hopes that we might get some peace after the pandemic. However, I fear that we might have to endure more destruction as we are forgotten whilst greedy politicians fill their pockets.