HELEN BURTON: Trump, disability and the Tressell Trust

Helen Burton
Helen Burton
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Well, its Wednesday morning and I’ve just woken up to the news that Donald Trump is likely to be the next president of the United States. I think most of us have a reasonable expectation that racism and sexism have no place in politics. Clearly half of American voters disagree. Shocking, and it just shows how much power money can buy you.

Meanwhile in the UK, shockingly, our own government have been criticised by the UN for human rights abuses. The UN’s investigation was based on the effects of the welfare reforms that the government have made as part of their austerity policy. The report has found that their policies violate international conventions and that the reforms have no regard to the rights of disabled people. The UN have stated that the welfare reforms ‘had a more negative impact on households with persons with disabilities’. It also states that the government have helped to create a negative public perception of disabled people, portraying them as ‘living out of benefits, committing fraud as benefit claimants, being lazy and putting a burden on taxpayers’. It should be noted also that Home Office figures show that hate crimes against the disabled have risen 40% in the last year.

The report is a shocking indictment of our government’s austerity policies, but it is not just disabled people that are suffering.

The Tressell Trust, who operate the UK’s Foodbanks, have just released figures which show that the number of people they are helping has risen again. Half a million emergency food parcels were given out in six months. That is half a million people in this country who are unable to afford to feed themselves, including 188,500 children. Just stop for a moment to actually think about that. Half a million people in our country who cannot afford to eat. The major causes of this problem are benefit changes and delays, but 24.94% of the reason for referral for help was low income. 5.67% of referrals were because of homelessness.

If this all sounds terribly depressing it is because it is, but rather than just shake your head, if you can help, do! There are some great local organisations that you can support.

Firstly, you can donate food and money to your local Foodbank. They also need clothes which they give away for free, so donate whatever you are not using. Blankets etc are also useful. www.eastbourne.foodbank.org.uk

The Now! Charity Group does amazing work locally, helping local residents facing disadvantage through poverty, lack of qualifications or health issues. They take donations of all types, including furniture, white goods and office supplies which they resell and also offer training to help people gain confidence, skills and get work. www.nowcharity.org.uk

If you want to campaign against austerity then the People’s Assembly are doing a great job of raising the issues locally and are a cross-party group that just want to ensure equality for all. www.eastbournepeoplesassembly.wordpress.com

My natural optimism has taken a bashing over the last year, but I still believe that if we try we can make things better…