Wednesday, 17 April 2013
Parkinson's and Perceptions
Dispiriting to read in the papers the research carried out by the great charity Parkinson's UK.
A survey of 2,000 people with the condition reveals some shocking numbers. 1 in 5 have been mistaken for being drunk. 1 in 10 have been verbally abused or experienced hostility in public because of their condition. 60% feel uncomfortable or nervous in public. One man was even arrested during the Olympics because police thought he looked suspicious.
As Steve Ford, chief executive at Parkinson's UK, said: "Life with Parkinson's can be challenging enough, but when that is coupled with feeling scared to even go out in public for fear of freezing in a busy queue and being tutted or stared at, life can feel incredibly cruel”
And yet what ACEVO members tell me is that this kind of public hostility to people with disabilities or conditions like Parkinson's is exacerbated by the “debate” on welfare that we are currently being subjected to. Ministerial talk about strivers and benefit scroungers encourages this view that there are people faking or exaggerating their disability or health condition in order to live the life of Riley on benefits.
The research from Parkinson's UK is a timely reminder of why we should be acting to improve public perception of long-term conditions and disabilities, not exacerbating the public hostility people already face far too often.