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.