When PLMR was established in 2006 part of the vision for the company was a strong commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In the six years that we have been trading this commitment is now a firm part of our business model. At the times when our work feels sweaty, the days long, the news and political cycle relentless, I hope we take heart from having an ongoing commitment to genuinely trying to do business differently.
In 2009 my father suffered a stroke and he is now registered disabled although fortunately with a very high level of functionality. I have friends very close to me who have shown inspirational parenting to a disabled child. I have seen first-hand the life-changing support from various sources including Guys and St Thomas’s Hospital and Lambeth Council in particular and such experiences open your eyes to how others overcome challenges that make the anxieties, that so often preoccupy one’s daily life, meaningless.
Having first advised Scope back in the late 1990s, I followed with interest the advent of Disability Rights UK, a charity which is led, run and operated by disabled people, with disabled people making up at least three-quarters of its Board Members. The charity focuses on promoting meaningful independent living for disabled people, promoting leadership and control and helping to break the link between disability and poverty.
PLMR’s Alexis Darby and Kevin Craig with Cllr Neil Coyle, Head of Policy at Disability Rights UK
So in 2012 one of the things that gave us immense pleasure was when PLMR sponsored DRUK’s Extraordinary General Meeting and Debate ‘Are disabled people powerless? The panel included former MP Roger Berry, who had co-chaired the All-party Parliamentary Group on Disability, Linda Burnip from Disabled People against the Cuts, Stephen Brookes, Co-ordinator of the National Hate Crime Network and Neil Crowther, formerly Director of Human Rights at the Equality and Human Rights Commission. My colleague Alexis Darby spent the whole day there and came back very energised.
Roger Berry began the debate arguing that disabled people are not powerless and can influence government policy. Roger outlined that 80% of Government spending cuts have yet to come into place and when they do, in his view, more disabled people will be driven into poverty. Roger focused on the media’s depiction of disabled people as scroungers and ‘living off benefits’ – a problem that PLMR will return to publicly in May 2012. The best way to respond to the challenges disabled people face is to engage with Government says Roger and challenge discrimination wherever it occurs.
Linda Burnip, Stephen Brookes and Neil Crowther all passionately echoed Roger’s sentiments. Neil explained that he feels society is moving away from the idea of a deserving disabled and increasingly disabled people are viewed in stereotypical ways as vulnerable, poor and helpless. He believes this needs to be reframed and disabled people need to make a declaration of their rights.
Members of Disability Rights UK then put some interesting questions to the panel about the challenges disabled people face in the UK today.
PLMR is proud to work for and support organisations that change lives and the work of DRUK is a lifeline for many people. I’m delighted PLMR can help to make a difference albeit a small one. As the austerity era really starts to bite, DRUK’s voice has never been more important.