Change is a tough thing to bring about. Not so much in influencing people’s point of view – which can be quite strenuous in itself – but in making sure it is being done correctly. So when myself, Alex George, Emma Southern, Mark Frisby attended a meeting with the LECG that dealt with that very issue of change, we were conscious that change had to be done right. History could be made here today. If the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed, we could be looking back on this decades from now at how we were there when the next great chapter of support began in that room.
Either that or looking back on what a great chinwag we had while sprinkling our memories with melodrama.
We arrived at County Hall for a meeting with the Leicester Equalities Challenge Group, heading into a meeting room that felt like sitting on a Jedi Council… albeit without holograms. We were informed of a proposal for a Whole Life Disability strategy, which would unite all of the support services throughout Leicestershire and provide support to anyone who would need it, whether they have hidden conditions, part of the LGBT community or retired… essentially anyone falling under the Equalities Act 2010. I could list all the beneficiaries, but I don’t think I could bear the repeat trips to Wikipedia.
And we were called to this meeting because the individual responsible for outlining this strategy – for the sake of confidentially, we shall call him Mr. X – wanted to consult us in our infinite wisdom – or in my case, something resembling infinite wisdom – as we all came from various organizations equipped to offer support and ensure that the strategy would take all of these issues into account.
The ambitiousness of the strategy was certainly not lost on any of us. Mr. X noted that there had been a similar strategy utilized in Manchester which had had a positive impact to the extent that it had affected the transport system. And if he wanted to, he could simply lift it from them – personally, I’m a fan of anything that cuts down on the traffic horde. However, he acknowledged that Leicestershire had its own services and its own infrastructure that the strategy needed to work around.
Hearing the proposal myself, it was like music to my ears… even if Linkin Park wasn’t playing in the background. Mr. X made a number of good points, however, I was conscious by the scale of the idea. Bringing all these groups together was no easy feat. Everyone needs to be consulted, no stone left unturned. Mr. X announced his intention to set up a series of focus groups that would go into more detail.
Of course, no proposed movement would be complete without its fair share of skeptics. There were a few queries about the classification and expectancy of people who would benefit from this act. Some of which fell under the disability radar. Many people with disabilities are unable to access the support systems on account that they don’t match some non-existent criteria. For some people, if you’re not a complete, out-and-out invalid, you might as well be the picture of perfection in their eyes. And it was in the interests of everyone present to ensure that they could get that support.
For some people, another big barrier that boggled the brains was transportation. Even if people’s geography was up-to-speed, in various cases, they did not have the means to get to the relevant locations. So, unless we’re expected to grow a set of wheels, this is going to be a problem.
Anyone and everyone is going to need to be consulted on this. The NHS, medical facilities, retirement homes, community centres, schools and colleges etc. This proposal is a colossal cake that EVERYONE should get a slice of.
This is where I turn to you, Fine Reader. Imagine if you or someone you know stood to be affected by this strategy – ideally in a positive way – what do you feel you would need? Transportation support? A designated aide? A local support network? Whatever fascinating thought crosses your mind, please list your suggestions in the comments section. We want to make sure that the Whole-Life Strategy is fool-proof – a gamble, considering my involvement – and your opinion counts. Your opinion could go a long way to touching upon an issue none of us may have even considered.
Any suggestions would be welcome and would enrich the final result… unless you’re thinking of robot butlers. I’d like them too, but we don’t have the budget.
What’s happening here is quite daunting, almost larger than life in terms of what it’s promising. But if it is done right, it could benefit the lives of a lot of people.