The primary aim of The Creative Crip is to chronicle my thoughts and experiences as an entrepreneur trying to successfully grow a business despite the limitations of disability and severe clinical depression. I firmly believe, based on personal experience, that disabled *scroungers* DO want gainful employment – but the problem lies with the lack of genuine support and resources from government programmes.
Though it’s true that “our deepest need is for the joy that comes with knowing we are of genuine use to others”, society doesn’t make it easy. From the man-in-the-street to the media to government – people with physical disabilities and/or invisible illness are subject to hatemongering on a daily basis. The institutions meant to help and support us seem to do all that they can to do the exact opposite and with the public’s willing complicity.
For me it is especially precarious: I am a Native American domiciled in the UK at a time when anti-immigration, benefit “scrounger”, disablist rhetoric is at a vitriolic peak. I became disabled only a few years ago, just as I was embarking on a new beginning after one of the more harrowing periods of my life. At every turn I am subject to an immigration interview when it is not needed or required; GPs, shop staff, online customer service reps, neighbours, on-line networking, government employees and even charities. The list is endless.
I know from other friends with Resident status that they too, are experiencing the same in abundance. It does not matter to many that we have lived and worked here for years. They overlook the reality that we have paid high taxes, including National Insurance for accessing the NHS. We have also mentored disadvantaged children and young adults in some of Britain’s most deprived areas and become involved in our local communities where it is possible. Most important for those of us who are politically active, we have stood side-by-side with the citizens of this great nation in calling for more effective representation of all parties but especially those in power. It is no stretch to say that someone who is “only” Resident is most definitely putting themselves at risk for their outspokenness. I have personally had heavy doses of criticism and entreaties along the lines of “eff off home” online and off.
Ironically, part of my ancestral roots are here and in Northern England. I was also surrounded by Welsh where I grew up in Pennsylvania. Though the romantic views of the UK in my youth have been tempered by real-world experience, it is still “home” to me and I love it enough to want to make a positive difference.
I hope to one day look back on this newest beginning with pride that I achieved all that I set out to do – for the benefit of myself and my adopted homeland.
Lisa J. Ellwood