Living in the darkness
The Old Testament association of justice with light has resonance in our context. Poverty - always an injustice - is often a reality that remains in the dark, and is hidden in our own communities. Being in the darkness, being unseen, are key ingredients of what it means to be impoverished and marginalised.
Disability pushes many families into the darkness and invisibility of poverty. The costs associated with equipment, transport, and care, combined with often not being able to work, deprives many disabled people and their families of opportunity and choice.
Andrea is a severely disabled lone parent who has no one living nearby who can provide support. She lives with her 10-year-old son Ben, who acts his mother’s primary carer. Andrea often has to pay for taxis to hospital appointments, and to take Ben to school and to his young carers group. On weeks where she has numerous hospital appointments, they have to simply go without, cutting down on food or other basics.
Ben has cared for his mother for most of his life, carrying out a range of household tasks, as well as helping her to get around. His responsibilities by far outweigh his years. The young carers group gives him a space where he can talk and share concerns about his home life.
Andrea has received the severe disability premium, one of the benefits that would be abolished under welfare reform. She is very concerned about how it will impact on her son’s quality of life if this is withdrawn.
We have advocated for the needs of people like Ben and Andrea, speaking out to bring their needs and concerns to light, but also lobbying to keep them from slipping further into the darkness of poverty and marginalisation, and ensuring that they have places where they can be seen and heard.
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