Letters

Letters: Rishi Sunak needs to educate himself on what it's like to be disabled

Readers' letters argue that the prime minister's proposed welfare reforms for disabled people are misguided and needlessly cruel

Readers say Rishi Sunak is out of touch with the realities of living with a disability. Image: Flickr/Number 10. CC 2.0

Big Issue readers react to Rishi Sunak’s proposed reforms of benefits for disabled people, Israel’s war in Gaza, Earth Day and the urgent need for a general election.

Back to school, Sunak

This prime minister is absolutely misguided [in his proposed welfare reforms] and is on track to finally section and cordon off all disabled people. If he gets his way, before long it will be illegal to be disabled, and the punishment will be to stick them on a plane to Africa, like the immigrants. He would rather attack those who cannot fend for themselves.

I have worked for over 35 years. But following an accident in 1984 I have been slowly losing my health and ability to work. I have retrained several times over the years so I could continue to be employed. But now my health is so deteriorated I no longer can.

But in the eyes of the PM, I would be one of the first to be attacked by his policies. As a disclaimer, I have two broken shoulders, damaged hips and knees and have broken my back twice, and neck. On what planet would anyone employ me in my state? I cannot sit for long, stand for long or walk far.

I cannot support my own weight on my arms and cannot use a wheelchair unless it’s electric. I cannot lift anything above elbow height and suffer regularly from headaches which are caused by spinal fluid being forced into my skull from my spine compressing.

That chap needs to be educated on what it’s like to be disabled, and how it affects your every moment, day and night.

B James, Norwich

Hate crime

The hatred from this government against marginalised groups such as refugees, asylum seekers, trans people and now disabled people should be regarded as a crime against humanity.

Remember this prime minister is unelected and he is still refusing to give the people a general election. He is acting like a dictator.

We need the international community to intervene here and remove this man and his extreme right-wing government from office before he causes a humanitarian disaster.

Isabella Foster, London

Unequal equations

It seems many more of us are struggling in some way or other at the moment. I recently read Between Extremes by Brian Keenan and John McCarthy and Keenan insightfully sums it up by saying: “Surely the problem is really privilege and wealth obscure one’s understanding of the world, just as poverty might.

“Only the poor’s struggle is for survival while the wealthy struggle to maintain their privilege. It’s an unreal equation and has seriously to limit our ability to respond to the worlds we inhabit.”

Shirley, Bristol

Photographic memory

Issue 1611 [15-21 April] of the magazine contained two amazing articles. The first was by Isabella McRae, an incredible piece about a much-troubled singer but great to see that at last there are specific resources for women. Why is it the good die young? Think back to Buddy Holly!

The second was a feature on that wonderful Tim Hetherington who covered the same parts of Africa as I did, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria; al l trouble spots as is everywhere I have been – Lebanon, Israel, and Gaza. I am frightened to go to Hartlepool in case I start World War Three! In my years at Newsweek covering the same area, we never met and then he moved to the other part of the Middle East where he met his untimely death.

Merve, Maidenhead

Military might

I agree with Jeremy Thompson that the Gaza war must cease, but I think a different set of circumstances may allow that to happen. The unconditional military support of Israel provided by countries such as the US and the UK has helped create the situation we are in, where our governments are enabling genocide to be carried out on the Palestinian people. Maybe a cessation of military support for Israel would create conditions more likely to lead to a non-military solution to the conflict.

Whatever the future holds, history surely tells us that trying to bring peace by military means is not a viable option.

Andrew Black, Louth

Fed up

Despite animal agriculture contributing an estimated 16.5% of greenhouse gases and being a leading cause of deforestation and species decline, a 2023 study by Faunalytics showed it being mentioned in only 7% of climate change reporting.

I was disappointed to see the recent Earth Day reports exhibiting the same blind spot. Even when precision fermentation is reported, the suggestion is this could be used to feed animals as a first priority!

The science agrees that there is a better solution. We could dramatically reduce greenhouse emissions, free up an estimated 70% of land for other uses, such as rewilding, and improve public health by moving towards a whole-food plant-based diet.

I’d love to see more reporting that aligns with the science.

Jenny Ross

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about these topics? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy!

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