Monday, 23 December 2019

the social model of work

When I started writing this, it was a year to the day that I was chatting with Kathy from FUMS about the fact that she was looking for a new podcast editor. I asked what it might entail, she let me have a go, and the rest is (fairly-uninteresting) history.

However, what is fascinating to me is that at this point last year I didn't really know that a Podcast Editor was even a thing, let alone MY THING.

dignity through work

By the way I make no apologies for talking about work in the majority of my recent posts. I think that work CAN bring a feeling of worth and a sense of dignity.

Personally, when I had my MS diagnosis, I didn't really want to think of myself as being over the hill. And I was lucky enough to be able to work in predominantly full-time positions for over 10 years.

work culture has to change

I know only too well that some people don't have the choice of whether they work or not. But for those that do have a choice, I think that the world of work and employment has to change to accomodate what disabled people and those with chronic health conditions can do.

It goes back a long way to something I learnt a long time ago about the different models of disability. In brief:
The Medical or Individual Model of Disability suggests that the disabled person is the problem


The Social Model of Disability shows that the societal barriers are the problem
And to my mind this applies to the way in which people traditionally view work.

what a way to make a living

The thing is, I don't think traditional work (9 to 5, five days a week, office-based) is physically and/or mentally possible for me anymore. Especially because all my work history has been in the arts where 9 to 5 actually means, "37.5 hours a week, plus weekends, evenings and additional hours are expected, for which no overtime will be payable".

And that's even without the endless flipping meetings! I may even have to hand in my CULTURAL ELITE membership card. #sadface

As I've mentioned before,  this appears to be changing in the US, where some employers have "made [the] hiring of people with disabilities the next front in the effort to diversify workplaces".

Even when I was working freelance on the photography festival earlier this year, any remote working that I did was deemed to not be quite "proper".

Being able to work from home should be more accepted in this day and age, don'tcha think? Especially for those of us with bonus awesome health conditions.
Personally I think working from home allows me to get more done. FULL DISCLOSURE: sometimes I'm even in danger of working more hours than I should.

The big thing for the New Year is cracking being able to fit in some proper consistent exercise, to go along with making my first million.

No biggie!

Thursday, 12 December 2019

the boy in the bubble

Earlier this week marked the third anniversary since I left my previous job. It's pretty mad that it has been so long!

After only a short time I felt that I wouldn't be returning to full-time traditional employment.
It hasn't been easy - as regular visitors to this blog will know. I had to spend quite a long time navigating the benefits system and applying for jobs, on top of applying for PIP (twice) and having the mother all relapses.

It has been pretty trying - to put it mildly. And not just for me but my wider family, especially Mrs & Little Ms D.

However I really do feel that I've turned a corner. I'm working a lot at present and I hope it'll continue!

Obviously there's a really important election taking place today. The last ten years of democracy have been hugely disappointing for me. The Conservative and Lib Dem coalition. A narrow general election win for the Tories. Ten years of austerity. Brexit. Trump.

This might be the most important one yet. For the future of the NHS in particular.

Previously I've been suckered in by what I have seen on social media. I am well aware of the fact that we live in our own echo chambers.

My feeds are filled with people who think the same as me, the same as your own. But I'm trying not to let myself be tricked again.

A friend of mine from university has worked as a corporate lawyer and is a successful businesswoman. She has been clear about her intentions for this election which has been incredibly heartening to see. Just because you are well off doesn't mean you have to stop thinking about other people. And left-of-centre values are not necessarily anti-wealth.

She has been trying to engage with the opinions of others and recently asked the Tory voters on her feed if they could explain to her why they would be voting that way this time. It was a noble idea but people questioned her intention to understand the other sides' motives and got pretty defensive. And people started on about benefit scroungers, magic money trees and the like.

So after biting my tongue for a while I done wrote a thing:
Soapbox alert. I've been following various parts of this thread with great interest and increasing respect for Suzanne in trying to raise the level of debate on this issue.

I'm not interested in niceties or understanding the other side's point of view. I'm a supporter of the policies and values which are aligned with the Labour Party. I'll be voting for them.

I'm a self employed person with a disability. Being disabled is not a lifestyle choice, it's expensive. I've got first hand experience of negotiating the labyrinthine Kafka-esque nightmare of the austerity-era benefit system.

Ever tried applying for PIP? It's demoralising and utterly depressing. Being questioned and doubted in my own home, and being turned down for this benefit after previously having a lifetime award for DLA (SPOILER ALERT: It's a chronic illness, I'm not getting better) almost drove me to suicide.

And I'm one of the lucky ones who has a support network and whose first language is English. People who vote for the Conservative party are effectively saying that they do not care about me or the security of my family, or for anyone else in a similar position.

It's inhuman to assume that Labour policies will encourage people to sponge off the state. And it's arrogant beyond belief.

I was not born disabled, I was diagnosed with MS at the age of 32. This could happen to any of us.

I have continued to work and pay into the system which benefits us all. There but for the grace of god and all that. Look outside your window sometime.
My preference is clear but I don't really care who you vote for. This version of democracy is the only one we've got and I stand by it.

And party allegiances aside, I hope that whoever gets in can do something to stop the UK being so utterly divided.

See you on the other side!