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October 31, 2018

50% of disabled people feel excluded from British society


A report written by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) one year ago and presented to the United Nations (UN) gave damning evidence that suggests that the lives of many disabled people in Britain are far worse than those of non-disabled people.


The report stated that “more and more disabled people are finding it difficult to live independently and be included, and participate, in their communities on an equal basis”


The UN made recommendations to the British government based on the report but one year on there has been little change.


Image Indicating ‘No Wheelchair Users Permitted’


In an article by Robert Booth David Isaac, chairman of the EHRC,  is cited as saying “A year on, we have sadly seen little action or commitment to address the UN’s recommendations … Changes to our social security system and health and social care budgets make disabled people feel like second-class citizens and their rights to live independently have been impacted. Everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living and the rights of disabled people must be made a priority if we are to have a fair and equal society.”


The article cites research by Scope: ‘More disabled people live in poverty than non-disabled people, and more are bullied in schools … 40% of disabled people do not feel valued by society … half feel excluded and only 42% feel the UK is a good place for disabled people to live.’


Scope is cited as estimating ‘that disabled people spend £570 a month more the average Briton, but the EHRC says they are harder hit by welfare reforms, experience increasing barriers to finding work and are paid less when they do find work.’


The article also gives disability statistics: ‘Almost half of all people of pensionable age in the UK are disabled, as are one in five working-age adults.’


This means that there are likely to be many disabled people working, or wanting to work, here at SHU. We therefore need to ensure that our recruitment processes are fair, and that we properly support disabled employees. We need to make sure that disabled people feel safe to disclose when they apply for roles. If a person discloses that they are disabled on their application form, and meets the essential criteria for the role, they need to feel confident that they are being interviewed not just because they have to be.  If there is any doubt at all about this in the disabled person’s mind during the recruitment process this could very well impact on their desire to make future applications, or to disclose when they do.


As an employer we can’t solve all of the complex economic issues that contribute to the exclusion of disabled people from society, but as a sizeable organisation we can fairly recruit and properly support disabled employees.


We can do this by educating ourselves about disability and continually questioning our assumptions: forcing unconscious biases about disability to become conscious ones, and then telling those biases that they’ve probably got it wrong.


If you’re a disabled member of staff and are worried about disclosure this article made me feel rather good.


Lucy Davies


Co-Chair of Spark!