Access to Cheers

At the end of last week I wrote Access to Tears, a post describing how, after a long and upsetting process, Access to Work (AtW – the scheme that provides support for working disabled people) had decided not to fund the cost of my support worker’s flights and accommodation for a work trip to Canada, and that this meant I wouldn’t be able to take up this paid work.

I’m pleased and relieved to report that yesterday I got a call to say they’d reviewed the situation. After contacting the Festival I’ve been invited to speak at, they’d changed their decision and agreed to cover the costs. This means I’ll be able to go and that at last I can feel excited about the opportunity.

As I described in my previous post, this has been an extremely upsetting process, designed, it seems, to be deliberately difficult and exhausting. While I’m pleased that in this instance AtW have now made a sensible decision, getting them to do so has cost a great deal in physical and emotional energy, and wasted a lot of time.

And my experience isn’t isolated: disabled people up and down the country are having to fight for the support they need to do their jobs. We must keep challenging the secretive and destructive changes to Access to Work and expose the climate of hostility and suspicion now operating within this vital scheme.

I’ve felt encouraged in the last few days by the immense solidarity and support I’ve received. Thank you to everyone who’s helped highlight this issue – please do keep sharing and signing this petition. Together we can stop these changes and ensure that rather than causing tears, this scheme continues with its job of equalising access to opportunities and ensuring that workplaces are inclusive.

I’m not cheering because AtW have changed their minds, I’m cheering because the last few days have shown me how much people care about these issues – it’s within our power to keep AtW working.

Finally, if you know anyone in Canada, please do tell them about my talk at ‘The Republic of Inclusion’ event in Toronto on 15th February.

3 responses to Access to Cheers

  1. jenfarrant says:

    It’s good to hear they have come around.

    I am newly disabled and have just managed to get a really lightweight wheelchair funded through NHS/Access to work, I am delighted, but it took a lot of fighting and going backwards and forward. In fact I wrote a 3 blog post series about it if you are interested.

    However, I have just won a contract which will entail me going into London and I will need to take taxis (fatigue is a major component) quite a lot, and obviously this will be more than for a non disabled person. I work in the arts, so my client’s aren’t going to be able to afford to pay for taxis. I have applied to access to work, so we shall see what they are like on an ongoing basis.

    I also need a support worker on a sporadic basis, I run events/festivals and I need someone to be my body on those days, when I can no longer physically run around, or when I need to go a long drive away, which I cannot do any more without significant pain. So let’s hope A2W com through on that too.

    Do you have any advice to offer me?

  2. jenfarrant says:

    Hello, sorry for some reason I didn’t see your response, thank you for taking the time to reply in such detail. I will read the blog posts you linked to

    ATW have assigned me a case worker for this question and they will hopefully be in touch soon. I have (or will have soon) a contract for this work, so that should help with detailing the support for taxis.

    The support worker I think is going to be harder to justify – esp as it is so variable from month to month…. I will put some thought into it and see if I can document it on paper!

    thanks again, it is such a minefield and so hard to fight through

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