Sunday, 29 April 2018

Tweet for Disabled People, my two day Twitter storm.

Clive Lewis MP was the first to respond

On Thursday I got an email from a carer who had reapplied for her profoundly disabled son's Blue Badge discovered that under the new rules he no longer qualified. He had had the badge since 2004.

This woman was understandable devastated. She explained how precious this Badge was for her son's safety in accessing public spaces and how the loss of it would turn him into a prisoner in his own home.
She had no idea how she was going to cope. She had seen my Blue Badge Campaign blog on Brent Council's website. The only council, including my own, who had posted the campaign and petition.

I asked her if she had contacted her MP. She said she didn't know who her MP was.

After helping her to identify her MP, Dawn Butler, I realised that for many people caught up in the day to day business of being disabled in the UK today, or consumed with caring for those they love with disabilities, politics is the last issue on their list.

Yet politics is vital in shaping the lives we lead. I wondered what the issues are that MP's are contacted over and also wondered if disabled people and carers know that MP's do place their needs on the agenda.

So I set myself a task. I decided to contact every MP on twitter and ask them to tweet about the issues which disabled constituents and carers, bring to their MP's for help with. I used the fact that the local elections are imminent and this seemed to some to be a confusing platform.

I was very pleased with the responses, from Labour, Lib Dems and Tory MP's and from disabled people, carers and activists using the hashtag as a place to tweet about disability issues.

I hope I managed to thank all the MP's who contributed because I'm very grateful that they did.

In the end I tweeted 505 MP's over a two day period.

I was particularly delighted to see people contacting their MP's and arranging to meet with them for help.

As yet no party leader has tweeted their constituents concerns.
38 Labour MP's replied
12 Tory MP's replied
4 LibDem MP's replied
No Cabinet Ministers replied
3 Shadow Cabinet ministers replied - Both Debbie Abrahams And Andrew Gwynne tweeted and Dawn Butler said she was going to tweet.

I was surprised not to see a tweet from Caroline Lucas who is both party leader and the only Green Party MP. I think she might have missed it.

There were hundreds of responses from disabled people and for a while #TweetForDisabledPeople was trending.

There are 13,000,000 disabled people in the UK.

I feel the campaign was an opportunity to show disabled people aren't completely forgotten by all the people who decide the policy which shapes so many lives. I'm incredibly grateful to all MP's who engaged with the campaign. My life as an autistic woman has been shaped by policy. The lives of my two children who are autistic and Emily who is learning disabled are affected everyday by the policies made in the House of Commons.

Whether its issues around health, education, disability benefits or a Blue Parking Badge, its vital that our politicians understand the difference they make. x