Last week, The Equality and Human Right Commission issued their report ‘Being Disabled in Britain – a Journey Less Equal.’ The report sheds an important spotlight on how millions of disabled people are facing barriers in their lives and opportunities.
The report, which covers six key areas of life, finds that disabled people in Britain are experiencing disadvantages in all of them, and sets out vital areas for urgent improvement. Despite significant progress in the laws protecting disabled people’s rights, they are still not being treated as equal citizens and continue to be denied the opportunities and outcomes non-disabled people take for granted.
This includes: a lack of equal opportunities in education and employment; barriers to access to transport, health services and housing; the persistent and widening disability pay gap; deteriorating access to justice; and welfare reforms significantly affecting the already low living standards of disabled people.
The report comments that it is a ‘badge of shame’ on our society that millions of disabled people are still not being treated as equal citizens.
From Livability’s work on the front line, we see first-hand how so many disabled people are struggling with disabling barriers every day. Whether it’s loss of benefits, poor accessibility, lack of vocation and employment prospects, or lack of support – the pressure points are numerous.
As a charity – Livability is particularly concerned at how the barriers to disabled peoples’ participation and inclusion can have a detrimental impact on their health and life outcomes. That’s why our charity’s work is getting increasingly focused on tackling social isolation amongst disabled people.
Every day, through Livability’s disability services and church and community work, we are working to create more joined up opportunities for the people we support to participate in community life. We know that when people are more connected, their health and wellbeing does so much better.
As a charity with a broad Christian ethos, we see the role of local churches and other faith groups as being key in working for this change and inclusion. Often at the heart of their locality, they have an essential part to play in tackling injustices and providing practical ways to overcome disabling barriers in their communities.
We hope that this report will be a stark warning siren and call to action for the Church – and our society as a whole – to make meaningful and inclusive responses.