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Protect and Nurture



We see potential under threat

We say it’s worth fighting for

 

When we discuss social care budgets it would be naïve to ignore the squeeze being applied to local government finance. Since 2021, six of Britain’s local authorities have declared bankruptcy, with many more facing mounting financial problems. This hasn’t happened overnight. Central government grant funding for councils dropped by 40 per cent in real terms in the decade from 2009-10 and 2019-20 from £46.5 billion to £28 billion. Services under threat include social care for adults and children, including at-home support for people with disabilities, and the provision of temporary accommodation and general support for the homeless.

 

Last month, Bristol Council announced a budget deficit of £17 million for 2024-25, with that figure forecast to double in two years. We sympathise, but we question some of the ways they propose to bridge the gap.

 

Bristol Council has discussed a “cost-effective” approach to at-home funding for people with disabilities. Where they see insufficient evidence that a disabled person’s home care package is delivering “best value”, they could face the prospect of having that package revoked and being ordered to live in a care home.

 

We know that many of you reading this article have seen the positive impact people with disabilities make in the community. We’ve seen it too; in recent years we’ve worked alongside inspiring leaders who refuse to let themselves be defined by their disability. School governors, legal and financial professionals, teachers, project managers, writers and artists whose care packages have given them a platform to be stellar contributors to their economy, their society.

 

When we allow such people to be reduced to a crude label, their lives dismissed with thoughtless box-checking by someone they’ve never met, we’re doing something monstrous not only to them but to ourselves. We’re becoming the enemies of potential. We’re becoming the human equivalent of a non-selective herbicide, a chemical product that stops plants from making the proteins they need to grow. It just sucks the life out.

 

Is that who we are now?

 

Recent People’s Library projects have brought us into contact with partners whose disabilities are no more than a footnote to their stories. Their talent and professionalism enrich the lives of those around them. The idea of these people being institutionalised, their ability squandered, makes our blood boil. But being angry about it won’t stop it. Talking about it won’t stop it either. What will stop it is action.

 

The People’s Library is running a series of community projects which will give our friends and neighbours the opportunity to showcase and develop their skills. We’ll give them the opportunity to gather evidence and demonstrate to anyone who’s interested – to anyone who might have a say in how and where they live their lives – that they are an integral part of their community.

 

If you know people who would benefit from being involved in one of these projects, someone who has a specific set of skills or interests that we could build a project around, please get in touch. Let’s protect and nurture our people’s potential. Not just for their sake, but for ours too.

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