Thursday, 12 December 2013

Your Choice Barnet week - The Your Choice Barnet One size fits all mentality - Guest blog by Paul Baldwin

By Paul Baldwin,

For me inclusion is not about simply taking groups of disabled people out to do disability related activities in a 'community' setting; these people are still separate from the community. The 'box' may have been made transparent but the 'label' is still there. Inclusion is about disabled people being able to play their part in society on the basis of acceptance and equality. To achieve full inclusion for disabled people it requires the right kind of support; organised on a person centred basis. Everyone will have different ambitions and different support needs. The service that has been commissioned from Your Choice Barnet would appear, on these terms, to be reverting back to the 'one size fits all' mentality.

The BDISC art and pottery groups were always intended to give those people who had been institutionalised under the old medical model of disability the confidence to know themselves well enough to recognise their abilities; and to know what support they would require, as individuals, to be able to make the maximum use of these abilities. This is the whole point of the Personalisation Agenda.

This is a lesson that seems to have been forgotten by many 'professionals', particularly local authority commissioners. They need to talk to the people who are living the experience of disability; they know what they need. And even if they make mistaken decisions they will learn from these, and they will be beginning to be included. Services should be commissioned on a 'value for money' basis; not just on what saves the most money.

For many disabled people, and their families, the present importance of having a building that they can identify with the services they receive is that it gives them a sense of security which mitigates against their worries about the possible problems that they fear might arise in, what for them is the difficult process of, moving from exclusion to inclusion. This will need to be addressed if YCB is to move forward successfully.

But I believe that such a building will also be important into the future as a base, or hub, for YCB services.  This is because, to feel included, people will also need to feel that they belong. Such a building will be more likely to provide this sense of belonging; rather than living a ‘nomadic’ existence whilst having no base to identify with.

The failure of Personalisation now would be a disaster for disabled people; but its introduction cannot be ‘enforced’ overnight.  It must be taken forward step by step; with the consent of those people that it is intended to benefit.
Paul Baldwin is a Barnet Resident. Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye

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