Something that I have been interested in since my A-level sociology days began nearly twenty years ago, is how societies treat their most vulnerable and disadvantaged ‘groups’.
It’s a theme that I pursued throughout my studies at university and then into employment.
Often society is judged by how its most vulnerable members are treated and you can read a range of stories, anecdotes, policies, action plans and strategies about how specific groups deemed to be disadvantage have been supported or about plans to improve the support for these groups in the future.
It’s not difficult to find these references and local authorities and well as central government frequently pledge to improve the life chances of key groups of people.
For the last twenty years I’ve heard phrases like “we are committed to tackling poverty and disadvantage for the most vulnerable groups in society” and pledges to “improve the life chances of the most vulnerable”, if you’ve worked in this field for a while, or even just had an interest in social care, you will do doubt have heard the same.
These are great lines, and don’t get me wrong, this is absolutely what needs to happen but why am I still hearing the same things said over and over? Where’s the progression? Where’s the dynamic action plan? Why are people in positions of power and influence not using that power and influence to shake things up a bit, and why are these phrases still being used like they are radical and forward thinking? They aren’t – we know that’s what needs to happen, what we want to know is how!
In the most recent Queen’s Speech a commitment was outlined that the government would tackle “poverty” and “deprivation” to “increase life chances for the most disadvantaged”. Yet it contained no mention of one of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in our society: adults with learning disabilities.
Care providers have faced huge cuts in local government funding, despite wages rising, amounting to40% since 2010. This has meant packages of care have been withdrawn, services have ceased and families’ lives are of course directly affected in a negative way.
These services have been a lifeline to many individuals and their families. Having the right package of care in place to support, encourage and protect can mean the difference between living an exciting and fulfilling life as an active member of a community and simply, well, existing.
No one should have to go through life just existing. That’s simply not enough for anyone.
Now whilst I wouldn’t like to be the one balancing the books and I am acutely aware that giving funding in one area is likely to mean another ‘suffers’, surely the government can address the growing funding gap in social care and ensure there exists a quality pool of care and supported housing that can enable SOME of the UK’s most vulnerable people to live happy and fulfilled lives with the support they require to be active members of their community.
What is happening to Learning Disability services in your area? Have you observed this funding gap first hand? What has been the local impact?