Crippen looks at what charities are really doing for us / 26 October 2009
Contrary to public understanding, we Crips spend more time overcoming the negative effects we get from the various charities that claim to represent us, than we do benefiting from the services that they are supposed to provide.
“But where would you be without them?” I hear some of you ask.
Well, for a start we wouldn’t be seen as a pathetic, needy, homogeneous group of people, to be treated with either pity or contempt. We wouldn’t be made to jump through the many hoops that these organisations have set up for us, nor would we have to perform as grateful crips in front of an audience set up to applaud the achievements of the said organisations.
The damage caused to Disabled people by most of the bigger charities over the whole of the past century is incalculable. From locking us away in institutions and away from the mainstream society, to diagnosing our physical impairments as a ‘mental handicap’ and therefore denying us the right to an education, these organisations have a lot to answer for. Representatives of charities have also caused us to suffer sexual and physical abuse as well as instigating a programme of control which sole purpose was to disempower us and make us even more dependent upon them.
This ‘abuse’ still continues, albeit in a more subtle way than in the past. Each year an example of this ‘charitable model’ concept of disability is given hundreds of hours of air time on national radio and television as celebrities compete with each other to see who can perform the most embarrassing stunts in the name of Disabled children. The children are then trotted out and made to show how grateful they are.
Little wonder that one of the more popular groups amongst Disabled people on Facebook is the ‘I shot Pudsey Bear’ campaign. Admittedly some of the bigger charities are slowly starting to get their houses in order and have begun to recruit Disabled people to positions of influence on their management teams. Scope is one example of this.
However, others, having hijacked a lot of ‘our’ language from the Social model understanding of disability and presenting a more enlightened image, are still controlling the Disabled people that they claim to represent.
The old slogan ‘Rights, not charity’ is still as valid today as it ever was.
Keywords: charities,direct action network (dan),disabled people's movement,learning disability,social model,young disabled people,