Letters

Letters: The politicians who deserve power are the ones speaking on real issues

A reader's brush with the law led him to ponder the true intent behind government public information campaigns and politicians in power

Careful how you cycle down the street or you might get an unexpected visit. Image: Tolu Akinyemi on Unsplash

Big Issue readers have their say on special educational needs (SEN) funding, surviving domestic abuse, our Learning Disabilities Week special edition and politicians.

Government distractions 

I wonder if the ‘See it. Say it. Sorted’ campaign is another example of [then-Tory] government manipulation to distract attention from issues like the lack of affordable housing. Here in Oxford there are a large number of people living on the streets and clear social deprivation in many areas. I see little going on to redress that. 

Meanwhile, terrorist watching and refugee bashing gets headlines. The fostering of public hyper-vigilance can go badly wrong. I recently had a squad of 10 armed police officers come to my home. I had a taser pointed at me, was handcuffed and temporarily arrested. 

Someone, probably from the nearby school, had reported that there was a man waving an axe in the street. Actually, I am not a Viking. Given my cultural background it would be surprising if I were (though there is a film about it; The 13th Warrior). 

I’d bought a long-handled wood-scraper from Wickes and was holding it in my hand as I cycled home. There seems to be hysteria in Britain at present. 

In my opinion, the politicians that deserve power are those who do not hop on the bandwagon. They are the ones who keep speaking on and dealing with real issues like housing, the environment, racism, Islamophobia, sexism, pay disparity… in ways that can effect genuine change. 

David Al-Fahmi, Oxford

RE: SEN funding shortage

I have a son, five years old, recently diagnosed with autism and ADHD. We have finally had an education, health and care (EHC) plan granted but the council took so long that we lost our place in the specialised school around the corner from us, and are now having to look hours away from the area for any school that will take my son. 

On top of this, his school has permanently excluded him for punching a teacher on the stomach. Bear in mind he is only five and hasn’t got the power to break a twig let alone hurt an adult. I am now struggling with working from home while caring for my son as I’m an only parent after my wife died of brain cancer last year. I am now at the mercy of the council finding a school for my son before I lose my job. 

Rudi Ries, Polegate 

The (previous) government signed a contract with Newton Europe to cut new EHC plans by 20%, keep children with SEN in mainstream school, and reduce specialist school placements. The safety valve programme started in 2021 where local authorities signed to receive bailouts, which meant cuts to SEN support. They talk about early intervention but there are so many issues with accessing assessments for children with SEN. 

There’s been a rise in children’s EHC plans being ceased, a rise in EHC plan requests automatically declined. A continuing decline in services, an increase in school avoidance, mental health issues, school age suicides, family breakdown. Often blamed on austerity, poverty, bad parenting but research shows that its professional involvement, lack of commissioned services. 

Georgina Robertson, Nottingham 

Survivor stories 

In response to the story of the male domestic abuse survivor, what a very strong man! Well done Max. My three children and I were victims of domestic abuse by my ex-husband. Where he says he ‘felt like giving up’ I understand that fully. I felt like I was in a dark tunnel with no way out and it was horrendous. I got custody of my children (as they were then) and a court order for life against my ex. I put up with the abuse for 17, almost 18 years, but my son said something that shook me by the shoulders. “Either he goes or I do.” 

I contacted the police and Women’s Aid. I had kept the abuse quiet as I had nowhere to go, no money and was worried about nobody believing me.

I’d been too scared to go to the police for fears that they’d have my children taken away. That wasn’t my outcome at all. I had an amazing support network of professionals from the GP to an IDVA [Independent Domestic Violence Advocate] and an incredibly supportive police friend. 

It’s taken me 12 years to rebuild my life, I’m still not where I need to be but little by little I am getting there. 

Lissia Morris, Southwold 

Big issue, big thanks

I’ve been buying The Big Issue for quite a few years now, and I found the Learning Disabilities Week special absolutely compelling. I thought that it was the best issue I’d ever read. 

All my life there has been someone in my family with a disability whether physical or intellectual. Most people notice the disability and don’t see the person – times without number I’ve been out and about with one of other of my disabled family members, only to see them patronised or ignored. Well done, Big Issue, for putting people with intellectual disabilities front and centre. 

Kate

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about SEN funding, government campaigns or any other topic? Get in touch and tell us moreBig Issue exists to give homeless and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy of the magazine or get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

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