Tag: Disability awareness

A history of disability rights in the UK.

not every disability is visible

This is a timeline of what I see as important events in disability rights history for both raising awareness of disability and gaining disability rights post world war one to the 2012 London Paralympics

Before and some time after world war one people with disability’s were treated awfully from the lunacy act 1845 to the idiots act 1846. There was so many other nasty little acts.

Post world war one  

  • 1918 – Awareness of physical impairments is heightened as the troops start coming home after the first world war. Many of these troops returned with physical and mental impairments such as, lost limbs, blindness, deafness or suffer severe mental trauma or brain damage due to the four-year conflict.
  • 1919 – The Central Council of Care made up of medical professionals was set up to care for the tens of thousands of injured ex-servicemen returning from the first world war. These medical professionals aim was to cure the ex-servicemen in order to reduce the “burden” on society. (The Central Council of Care later became Disability Rights UK)
  • 1920 – Partly bowing to pressure from a march of blind workers, the government supports the Blind Persons Act 1920, which requires local authorities to register blind people and make arrangements for their welfare. Later that year a national society for lunacy law reform is established that largely consisted of angry former patients. (lunacy law 1885)
  • 1930 – A Mental Treatment Act (1930) brings in the concept of voluntary patients and recommends out-patient clinics and observation wards.
  • 1944 – The Disabled Persons (Employment) Act sets up a quota system requiring employers with 20 or more employees to ensure that at least 3% of their workforce are disabled people. Also in that year the Education Act concedes that mainstream schools are likely to be the most appropriate environment in which to teach disabled children.
  • 1948 – 5 July, the NHS was launched by Aneurin Bevan the then Health Secretary for Labour. So for the first time, hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists were brought together under one umbrella to provide services for free at the point of delivery.

  • 1970 – The Local Authority Social Services Act creates a single social services department in each local authority area in England and Wales. The departments are responsible for providing services such as, residential homes and social care. Also in that year the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, introduced by North West MP for Labour Alf Morris, this was the first in the world to recognise and give rights to disabled people. Local authorities are given the responsibility of providing welfare services, housing, practical assistance for people in their own homes, meals (provided at home or community centres) and adaptations to people’s homes. The Act also gives disabled people the right to equal access to recreational and educational facilities, including help with travel. Councils have a duty to provide educational facilities for children who are both blind and Deaf, later extended to include autism and dyslexia. Buildings open to the public are required to provide parking and toilet facilities for disabled people. Disabled driver badges for cars are introduced with exemptions for parking and other access.
Alf Morris Mp
Alf Morris MP (Labour)

  • 1972 – Alf Morris becomes first disability minister.
  • 1981 – The United Nations designates 1981 as ‘The International Year for Disabled People’. Disabled people do not play a large part in most of its key events. Their response is to challenge the ‘for’ of the Year and insist on the ‘of’ aiming at self-organisation. Disabled People’s International is formed this year and now has consultative status with the United Nations.
The International Year for Disabled People
The International Year for Disabled People 1981
  • 1986 – The Disabled Persons Act strengthens the provisions of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 and requires local authorities to meet the various needs of disabled people.
  • 1992- Disability Living Allowance is introduced (Read history of welfare state in the United Kingdom)
  • 1995 – Protests by disabled people lead to the landmark introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act (1995). This makes it illegal to discriminate against disabled people in connection with employment, the provision of goods, facilities and services or the disposal or management of premises. Service providers must now make reasonable adjustments to enable disabled people to access their service.
  • 1996 – Bowing to pressure from the National Centre for Independent Living and the Independent Living Movement, the government makes direct payments for social care legal in The Community Care (Direct Payments) Act. Direct payments lay the foundations for self-directed support, upon which initiatives such as personal budgets are now building.
  • 2001 – The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act extends anti-discrimination legislation for disabled people to cover education providers.
  • 2004 – The legal requirement to make reasonable adjustments to make buildings accessible comes into effect.
  • 2005 – The Disability Discrimination (Amendment) Act extends protection to land, transport, small employers and private clubs, extends the definition of disability and introduces a duty for public bodies to promote disabled people’s equality and ‘involve’ them in the design of services and policies.
  • 2010 – The UK Government ratifies the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. It applies to the 12 million disabled children and adults in the UK. Also in this year The Equality Act is passed by Parliament days before the general election. It outlaws direct or indirect discrimination and harassment in employment, vocational education and the provision of goods and services, for a total of nine protected characteristics including disability. It also outlaws discrimination because of association with a disabled person or because of the perception that someone is disabled.
  • 2011 – The Welfare Reform Bill proposes the replacement of the Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payments.
  • 2012 –The Olympic Games and Paralympic Games are held in the United Kingdom. Extensive media coverage by Channel 4 portrays disabled people winning medals as elite athletes.

Throughout history people with disabilities have struggled for rights and better recognition In society and world-wide.


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Disability awareness and networking event January 2018

On the 19th January 2018 Disability Medway Network held its first disability Information and Support Fayre. We had fourteen groups ranging from  Medway MS society, Headway Medway, MAGIC,  St A’s Parent Support Group for ADHD,  Medway NHS Foundation Trust, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Medway Neurological Network, Involving Medway, Wilbersway, Step And Learn Kent, Medway Parents and Carers ForumAztec Day Services and Medway Working Age Group 

To find a group in Disability Medway’s Network, please follow the link 

The young founder of what is thought to be Medway’s only online disability network. says he is delighted at the success of the group’s first off-line event, which took place recently at St. Justus Church in Rochester.

Twenty-four-year old Joseph Wastell, who himself has a disability. Set up the Disability Medway Network on Facebook only a year ago. The aim is to encourage people with disabilities in the region to take a more active part in society, by providing a central place for them to find the support they need. He initiated the group following his own experience of finding it difficult to access information.

thirteen groups and charities took part in the event, which was hosted at St. Justus Church – of which Joseph is a member. The aim was to allow people and carers of those with disabilities the opportunity to meet groups and charities from across Medway in person; it also allowed organisations to network with each other too, with some meeting for the first time.

Joseph, who is committed to getting the voice of disabled people heard, said that everyone should have the chance to lead a fulfilling life:

“I believe that the way to improving people’s life chances is to build up their confidence. Many disabled people are missing out, simply because it can be so hard to find out what groups are out there to support them.”

He added: “By bringing information about all the different disability needs groups together in one online place, and by running events like this fayre, I hope that disabled people will find it easier to access the help they need, and that this in turn will allow them to take a more active part in society.”

The event was funded by Involving Medway, an initiative run by Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, designed to encourage people to get involved with and help make decisions about health provision in the area. It aims to help residents lead healthier, happier lives through improved participation in community groups and activities. Rosie Anderson, Project Manager for Involving Medway, said that she had initially been unware that a group like this didn’t already exist:

“I was very surprised. An event like this is therefore so vital, as it brings together the community in Medway who have identified that they have a disability and would like to share information and support each other. This can only be beneficial to improving their health and life outcomes.”

Reverend Helen Burn, vicar of St. Justus Church said:

“As a church family we would always seek to be a welcoming and supportive place for people with disabilities, but just as with wider society, we know there is always more we can do. I am therefore really grateful that we have Joseph to help us learn and challenge us on what we do.

“I’m thrilled to see such a wonderful turn out and can only congratulate him on his commitment to making it happen.”

(Article from the Diocese or Rochester about the event)

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