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'To see ourselves as others see us': It is hard to stand on a platform when you can't even stand - but the social media are giving disabled people a stronger voice and a chance to take the spotlight, rather than the sidelines.

‘To see ourselves as others see us’: It is hard to stand on a platform when you can’t even stand – but the social media are giving disabled people a stronger voice and a chance to take the spotlight, rather than the sidelines.

I can’t directly reblog this but I think you should all read Sue Marsh’s article on her experience with Channel 5’s recent entry into the world of benefit porn.

Originally set to be a member of the panel on The Big Benefits Row (was that really what it was called?), Sue was ‘bumped’ at short notice and ended up being just an invited member of the audience, having to endure the rented opinions of people like the motormouth Alan Sugar had the good sense not to hire and the former Tory minister who was unlucky with eggs when they turned out not to be responsible for food poisoning and lucky with them when hers weren’t fertilised by then-PM John Major.

The most interesting parts of the piece are those relating to the attitude of the government to the benefits debate, as revealed by various TV producers: “They were shocked that invariably the DWP refused to take part unless the stories were edited their way. Iain Duncan-Smith has written repeatedly and furiously to the BBC about their lack of balance in reporting welfare issues. Anyone who follows the debate with even a flutter of fleeting interest will know just how ironic that is. If ever there has been an issue so poorly reported, with so much ignorance and so many lies, the current ‘welfare’ debate must be it.”

For myself, as someone who has to look after a disabled person every day, the way the production company treated Sue was simply unacceptable – and symptomatic of our society’s poor understanding of the misery suffered by people with chronic conditions.

Not only was she bumped from the panel at a moment’s notice, but she and other people with disabilities were treated poorly by studio managers (who’s “them”, for goodness sake?).

The article relates how she had been in London for an appointment and was physically drained afterwards, but had made the effort to stay active and alert for the recording – feeding on adrenaline. To be passed over in that circumstance – and have to watch while opportunities to state the problems faced by the disabled were themselves passed over by programme makers and panellists – was a metaphorical kick in the teeth.

Leaving the studio, Sue tweeted that she’d been given the bum’s rush by the show’s producers, and it is a credit to her online friends that she was trending very highly on Twitter soon afterwards.

But it is always as she states: “Yet again my friends, we shall have to make our own news… show producers of shows like the Big Benefits Row that we do have a voice, we do matter.”

So please visit Diary of a Benefit Scrounger, read the article and share it – along with your own opinion, if you take a strong enough view.

The social media give disabled people a voice that can’t be silenced or sidelined.

You can help ram that point home.

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