An Asian Christian woman living in London blogging about the everyday issues of religion

Monday, 27 August 2012

Life In A Charity for the Disabled

 The Powerhouse members

Every once in a while something comes along which gives one a rare opportunity to celebrate. It may seem as if the celebrations have stopped now that the Olympics is over but I feel that there is more, far more, to come. When the Paralympics begin on 29 August there will be greater reason to applaud because disability will finally be showcased in a favourable light and  presented in terms of ability.

You see, people with disabilities have it harder. They have greater odds to overcome and society does not make it an easy for them. This is why I cannot wait for the games to begin. It is time to present the positive reality after the bad publicity that the disabled have received this year through being portrayed as benefit scroungers during the welfare reform debate.

I have a social investment in raising the profile and awareness of disability issues because I am CEO of a charity called Powerhouse.  It is a charity for women with learning disabilities and was the first of its' kind to be set up in England.  I joined it because I was motivated by wanting 'to give something back'  and specifically wanted to work with  women.  Little did I know or realise how much I would learn from the experience and I have only been with Powerhouse for a year.

The Powerhouse women are courageous and aspirational. The charity is a lifeline for them because it provides a safe space from the so-called mainstream world where disability hate crime is on the rise. Disabled women as a subset group of disabled people suffer the most amount of abuse. They face inferior access to education, employment, health information and public services. They also face a higher risk of sexual and physical abuse. In fact, many women at Powerhouse have stories to tell that range from incidents occurring in everyday situations to crimes being committed against them in their own homes.

As examples, one lady had her hair snipped off while walking on a main street because a bunch of teenagers thought it would be fun to do so. Another was facing a forced marriage by her parents. The police were called in both instances.

What angers me the most is that disabled women are often excluded from the discourse around issues that affect ALL women such as sexual health, domestic violence, education and feminism. The feminist issues of work life balance, fighting the porn industry and discussing whether plastic surgery is part of a modern woman's life is irrelevant to the women of Powerhouse. As a result, the visibility of their existence is diminished.

Charities such as Powerhouse are crucial in terms of advocating for disabled women and injecting their interests into debates so that they are recognised as individuals with individual needs who exist within the larger society. There are 3.2 milion disabled women of working age in the UK. There is much work that needs to be done and the austerity cuts have made this task harder.

In a capitalist society where a return on money given is expected to be a monetary one it is a challenge to prove that capacity building of humans sometimes does need a financial investment but without a return of money profit. We need funds to be able to open the centre for more than 2 days a week as we do at present (Mon and Weds). More than anything else though we need to build at micro level a group of women who feel confident  and positive about their lives and the world that they inhabit.

The Paralympics will be a wonderful showcase of strength and endurance. It will also show the world that disabled people are as diverse and varied as anyone else.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Is the hate of the far right over?

Anders Breivik, the evil man who shot dead 77 people in Norway last year, has been jailed for 21 years. The chances of him being freed are slim. It didn't look as if he cared yesterday though when sentenced. He was bored and opportunistic, only coming to life when he gave his Nazi salute and when the Judge declared him sane. These were his two moments of triumph. If he had been deemed insane then his actions would have been put down to acts driven by madness, rather than as a result of cold hard hate for the tenets of Liberalism which respects equality and fairness (i.e other cultures and people). However,his imprisonment makes me doubt that the door is closed on race hatred despite the extensive condemnation of his ideology. While Muslim bashing goes on, while non-white people are killed for having brown/black skin, while immigrants are blamed for the economic downfalls of countries and while politicians play the anti- race card for votes then the far right will continue to propagate. 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Prince Harry and THAT Pic

I find it totally repugnant that someone has not only taken a picture of Prince Harry naked but has then gone on to sell it for a profit. There is no doubt that Prince Harry will not get sympathy from all of the people. Some will offer the 'what does he expect' justification meaning that if he stripped off then he should only expect and deserve a negative outcome. Some will say 'he asked for it'. Too often if there's sex or nudity involved and it is accompanied by furtive or criminal behaviour (secret filming, sexual crime) the victim gets the blame. What we are seeing with the Prince Harry incident is a microcosm of the wider humiliation that is suffered by victims.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

How poor are the poor in America?

The prediction is that 66 MILLION Americans will be living below the poverty line rate at 125% which equates to a family of 4 living on $28,000 per annum. This is the 99% in rapid decline.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Is Paul Ryan really a Catholic?

My question is not meant as a cynical observation of Paul Ryan's Catholic faith. I am, instead, perplexed by the man's apparently successful attempts at positioning Ayn Rand's world famous works based on selfishness within his good Catholic beliefs. The tangible outcome is his budget blueprint titled 'The Path To Prosperity' which has secured his nomination as the Republican  vice president candidate.

It is a budget that is designed to rearrange America's governing system to foster a conducive environment that will become even more business oriented. In other words, the rich will benefit and the poor will have the privilege of watching them enjoy the fruits of Ryan's budget while paying for it all. So, where does the teaching of the bible come into this?

I am no theologian but there is something blatantly wrong about calling oneself Catholic and then extolling the virtues of a non-distributive system. In fact, American Catholics (some, not all) have argued that Ryan is manipulating scripture to support his ideology of a small government. One of the main tenets of small government is a reduced welfare state. He proposes cutting food stamps and healthcare for children and the disabled. Some Catholic nuns even undertook bus tours around the country warning people of the consequences of this budget.  You don't mess with Catholic nuns I say.

Ryan hit back by accusing ''some Catholics who for a long time have thought they had a monopoly of sorts...not exactly on heaven, but on the social teachings of our church.' Can we then expect a blueprint of a Paul Ryan scripture which has Jesus going into slum areas and ghettos and smashing these places up or a rewrite of our scriptures but without the Jesus compassion bit?