At the first meeting of his new (entirely Conservative) Cabinet, David Cameron apparently told the gathered ministers that “true social justice and genuine compassion” would mark their handling of public services (according to the BBC). I sincerely hope that’s the case, and I suppose it remains to be seen what this looks like in practise; I’ve been surprised over the past few weeks by the wildly differing approaches to ‘compassion’ that I’ve come across, especially among Christians. I’ve been challenged that there are different ways to care for vulnerable people and to fix the problems with society, and perhaps this conservative Government will be able to do both of those things.
But the cuts and changes brought about by the previous government have made lots of people anxious about the next five years, and dubious about the role compassion will play as decisions are made. One such person is Tanya Marlow. Tanya is an author, a wife and Mum, and she also has ME which limits her energy levels and mobility. She’s writes a brilliant blog (tanyamarlow.com) where she shares personally about her faith and living with illness. She’s also recently written a book, Coming Back to God When You Feel Empty.
In a recent post on the Archbishop Cranmer blog, Tanya explains how cuts to welfare and other services have impacted disabled people. In an open letter to her Conservative-voting friends she outlines clearly and personally how these cuts have affected her, and lots of other real people. As you’ll see in the comments on the blog post, claims like these are always followed by a chorus of voices highlighting examples of fraudulent or unnecessary claims, and maybe that happens. But for most claimants these allowances are a lifeline, and yet they have been hit disproportionately hard by cuts.
Whoever you voted for, Tanya’s letter is important reading. As our new government lay out how they’re going to keep their election promises, they need to keep in mind the people in our society who really need their help, including disabled people.
To help us to do that, Tanya has also started a website, Compassionate Britain, as a way of highlighting how government policies might affect disabled people, and to actively stand up for the rights of disabled people in the UK. Check it out and sign up to receive updates.