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Welfare changes hit Paralympic legacy
8:00am Wednesday 4th September 2013 in News
THE chairman of the Warrington Disability Partnership is disappointed that the efforts of the Paralympics have been cast in the shadows by the welfare reforms.
Dave Thompson, who launched Disability Awareness Day 22 years ago, said: “The whole awareness of the able-bodied people verses disabled was enormous and that’s all thanks to the Paralympics.
“So much so that when I was going out to work you would hear conversations about disabilities.
“It brought it to the forefront of people’s minds and they weren’t afraid to talk about it.”
A recent survey by disability charity Vitalise has found that the feel-good factor is flagging and urgent work is needed to sustain the legacy of the games.
Six out of 10 people with disabilities say there has been no perceptible change to their lives one year on from the games.
The survey also revealed that seven out of 10 respondents believe the general public does not have a better understanding of the day to day lives of people with disabilities.
Dave, who now uses a wheel chair following an accident playing American football, said: “The Paralympics was about what we can do not what we can’t do but the down side is that it was short-lived.
“Its longevity has been overshadowed by the welfare reforms by putting this cloud of sensitivity around it.
“I remember once someone asked me how many days I would have off from work. I’m not sick, I have a disability - there’s a difference.”
Changes in the UK welfare system has seen people who are on disability benefits thrust into the spot light and many have been negative, claims Dave.
“It has smashed it to pieces by painting people as scroungers.”
But despite the negative perception, Dave is quick to point out that there are many positive role models in Warrington with disabilities.
“Just look at John Stubbs and Adrian Derbyshire - they are living proof of the incredible success you can have.”
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