Disabled people have explained why they travelled from across England to take part in a mass lobby of parliament calling for fundamental reform of the social care system.
More than 1, 000 disabled and older people attended the lobby, organised by the Care and Support Alliance, so they could speak to their MPs about the need to “end the care crisis”.
Campaigners who took part managed to lobby more than two-thirds of English MPs about the need for a properly-funded system of care and support.
The alliance – a coalition of more than 60 disability, carers’ and older people’s charities – argues that “chronic underfunding of social care combined with rapidly growing demand for care and cuts to local government budgets have left the system in crisis”.
Samantha Ellson-Allen, from Braintree, Essex, who took part in the lobby, said: “If you have a social worker, nine times out of 10 after six months you are taken off the list again.
“I have had a social worker twice now and they have both been taken away from me. Even my psychiatrist didn’t know about this the first time it happened.
“I feel that we are not being heard. We are not being helped. We are being left with virtually nothing.”
Another campaigner, Deb Smith, from Warwickshire, said: “I am concerned about the cut-backs that the government has been making. People are very frightened and concerned.
“By cutting back on current services it is going to cost more in the long-term because people will need more acute care.”
Carol Shaw, who lives in a care home in Lincolnshire, said she had attended the lobby because she wants to leave the home and move in with her brother and his wife.
But she has been told her council will not fund the work to adapt her brother’s home, even though her residential care is costing the local authority £1,000 a week.
She said: “I am fed up with living in a care home. I am fed up with being looked after by [paid care workers] when my family is offering to look after me. It should be my choice. I will speak up and I don’t care if they like it or not.”
Antonio Brown, who lives with 24-hour support in the grounds of the same care home, said he would be telling his MP to “not make so many harsh cutbacks”.
He said he feared he would be moved by his council to a new home in the community with reduced support.
He said: “Without the support I get I would not be able to live the independent life that I lead now.”
Alan Rutland, from Braintree, a wheelchair-user whose wife has a mental health condition, said he was concerned about cuts to disability benefits.
He said: “My wife is very worried that she may have her employment and support allowance taken away. It is causing her a lot of stress.”
Carol Goldman, from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, said she was told on leaving hospital in January that she needed three hours of care a day for at least six weeks. But because it would cost her £17 an hour, she couldn’t afford it and had to cope on her own.
Some disabled activists who attended the lobby said the alliance should go further in its demands and push the government for the right to free, high quality social care.
Claire Glasman, from the disabled women’s organisation WinVisible, said: “There has been a great response today. A lot of people are saying it should be free, like the NHS.
“If the corporations pay their tax millions, there would be plenty of money to go round for all the things that people need.”
She added: “People are really desperate. The state of care at the moment is terrible. We know a lot of women who have dropped out [of the care system] because they cannot afford charges. A lot of people do not have friends and family they can call on.”
7 March 2012