Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Guest Blog - Disabled residents of Barnet striving to survive by Janet Leifer

By Janet Leifer,

I am writing this after accompanying my husband to attend the AGM of DABB, the Disabled Association Borough of Barnet, a voluntary organisation providing a range of accessible services for disabled people living or working in the London Borough of Barnet., ensuring that disabled people take part in the planning and management of its work.  I would like to make it clear that I am not a member of DABB, the views I express are my own and that DABB is not aware that I am writing this.

In the 40th year of its existence I was saddened and shocked to see that for the financial year 2011 and 2012 DABB had a £30,000 deficit.  This was explained in part by receiving funding in the previous financial year and spending it in 2011/12, but it was whispered that funding had been cut.  The Skylark Counselling and Psychotherapy service run by DABB ceased at the end of March 2012, despite being an oversubscribed service, because NHS Barnet indicated that funding would not continue.  The Directors seemed resigned to the fact that funding would continue to be cut and they would have to strive to struggle on. 

The ACCESS committee whose members all have a physical disability , supported by DABB, was celebrating the 25th year of its existence and of its determination to inspect plans, roads, parks  and buildings throughout the borough to make sure they were accessible to all.  The meagre funding they had received has now ceased and they need more members, but they are still striving to make the borough more accessible for the physically disabled.

DABB now works closely with BCIL, Barnet Centre for Independent Living, a user-led organisation that promotes accessibility for disabled people by breaking down barriers to employment and social inclusion whose members are community organisations, service users and carers.  As Barnet outsources its services it is responsible for providing for its disabled residents, BCIL is the social agency responsible for ensuring the delivery of those services and handing out diminishing funds that it receives from Barnet Council to organisations like DABB.  BCIL and all the organisations linked with it are striving to provide services with shrinking funds.
I felt outraged by what I heard at the meeting and shocked that no one felt able to condemn the present situation and speak up for the plight of disabled residents, all striving to look after themselves. 

There are many things that have made the residents of Barnet angry – parking charges, closure of libraries, environmental issues – but I hope that that there are residents out there who are ready to show their disgust at the way that disabled residents are being treated. 
All these issues are part of Barnet Council’s One Barnet Programme of Privatisation. Who is striving to make a legal challenge to One Barnet, a challenge that is in the interests of all of us? Two disabled residents, Susan Sullivan, and Maria Nash are doing this.  Should we not show our support for what they are striving to do for all of us?  Should not we all join with disabled residents in striving to ensure that they receive the support they deserve and are entitled to?  Let’s not shirk this issue.

Janet Leifer
Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye. Janet Leifer is a Barnet resident and carer for her husband. 

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