The annoyingly nameless decade that is rapidly drawing to a close has been a time of desperate struggle for many sick and disabled people living, or trying to, in these bleak times of austerity.
The Conservative – Lib Dem coalition was unleashed on the great British public back in May 2010. They immediately announced that they would be making severe cuts to the benefits system, and public services in order to balance the books. This political choice would target the poor and vulnerable, as they were held responsible for the global financial crash.
I don’t have the time to go through the last decade month by month, but suffice to say that these austere policies set the mood for the entire decade. I remember watching the TV news with a feeling of dread, as I knew what would follow would damage our society in ways that we hadn’t even dreamt of.
I had just escaped from an unhappy marriage, and had moved in to my new bachelor pad where I was to employ a team of personal assistants to help me to live independently. Unfortunately, I was in and out of hospital during 2010, as I suffered a nasty bout of pneumonia as well as having three operations to remove kidney stones.
This wasn’t going to be an easy decade, that much was obvious. I had a decision to make – do I give in and accept my position as a worthless member of society, or do I stand up for myself and fight back against the establishment? – I decided on the latter option…
I was forced in to politics as an activist, by my repressors and they have created a monster that will not rest until social justice is served to each and every one of us. It all began when the coalition government introduced the bedroom tax, and WCBC targeted me as someone who should be paying for having more than one bedroom. I wasn’t standing for that, and decided to make a piece of art in protest, that appeared in the Daily Mirror and had the desired impact. Combining art and activism was something I would continue to do with success throughout the decade.
Fortunately, I seem to have blossomed with my back against the wall. This is particularly evident through the success of the #SaveWILG campaign, through which I have made numerous friends, enjoyed trips to Cardiff and Westminster and built political connections on a cross-party basis. We have held an art exhibition to promote the campaign and even had a awareness day in Wrexham, that saw musicians, poets and comedians show their solidarity. The postcard campaign that we ran, also saw the campaign gather support from acclaimed film director Ken Loach, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and even Jeremy Corbyn.
There is still some work to be done to finalise everything with regard to independent living for former ILF recipients in Wales, but sincere thanks must go to everyone who has helped make this campaign a success.
The fact that I have also managed to publish two books and receive an Honorary Fellowship from Glyndwr University within this period, is something that I am very proud of. It seems that I can be productive with the right levels of support. It also helps not having to put up with a significant other and her three noisy children. Married life is just not something I am cut out for. Of course, I get lonely at times, but I do not think that a conventional relationship is the answer for me. The need to remain focused is more important at this moment in time. I wrote a blog about my personal situation earlier this year. You can read it by clicking here.
Whilst enjoying the company of three great friends at the pub yesterday, I was comparing my situation with the one I found myself in at the dawn of the previous decade. There is no doubt that the work I have done over the past ten years has put me in a stronger position for the difficult years ahead. Let no one be in any doubt that the Johnson regime will lead to considerable difficulties for many of us, but it is no good just moaning and worrying about it all. The time to act is now, and we all have a part to play in creating a society that works for the many, not the few.
I have a few exciting projects lined up for 2020 and beyond, such as developing my poetry, working on my third book and creating art exhibitions to try to reach the politically confused.
Whatever I end up doing, it is sure to be a bumpy ride. Buckle up…