Friday, 17 May 2013

Soul-destroying



"Teenager learning to use a sewing machine"

  
I often describe here how having a healthy soul is essential for us all to live active, motivated lives. I describe how through conductive living conductors help their clients to achieve this for themselves.

Here is an example of just the opposite. An example of what can happen to the soul when that active lifestyle is taken away. Not taken away because of a sudden illness, a stroke, an accident or a progressive neurological disease, but by other people and circumstances. In the case those people are the British Government and circumstances you can hear about in a discussion on BBC Radio Four's Face the Facts.

Listen to this – perhaps not a nice-listen, but interesting and I think an essential-listen for anyone working with adults with disability –


Remploy has been something that I have known about from the start of my young working life in England, probably even part of my growing-up years, I honestly do not remember. As teachers we  knew about the Remploy workers because, as one speaker explained when describing the pride that Remploy employees had in their work, over half the schools in Britain have furniture made by Remploy employees.

Among other products Remploy factories also produced wheelchairs and protective clothing for the Armed Services. All of this pride, and production, and of feeling belonging to the community has now gone, or is all but gone. Remploy factories are closing very quickly, but what has happened to those thousands of people who worked in them with pride, with self-esteem and healthy souls? Over two thirds are still un-employed, many have lost their independence and one man describes in this short radio programme how soul-destroying this can be.

Perhaps from listening to this some considerations can be made, perhaps a few ideas may pop up all over the country where these factories once were, about how jobs can be offered to some of these thousands of skilled workers who were made redundant. Or perhaps a louder voice in protest at the closures will be heard.

Something surely must happen to stop destroying people's souls and to provide work places for the disabled adults of the future. Many of those adults of the future are our clients now.

2 comments:

Andrew said...

Susie,

Thank you for this depressing tale.

I have been vaguely aware of the discontinuation of Remploy, and what ending it costs in human terms. Am I right in recalling that this has been in part at least justified on the basis of Remploys' being exclusive, with its workers' being better served by finding work 'in the community'?

If so, what a sad and cynical perversion of the ideals of inclusion – not of course the first.

This posting of yours seemed to parallel very closely a posting of Norman Perrin's put up on the very same day:

http://paces.typepad.com/paces/2013/05/shes-leaving-home-cuts-mortality-and-independent-living.html

Though superficially of quite different content, for me anyway they struck the same deep chord. Maybe you and Norman might like to comment on this, and suggest what that common deep theme might be...

Andrew.

Susie Mallett said...

I think that the defining common theme is the removal of hope from these worker’s lives.

Remploy has always been a respected part of the working community, perhaps because these factories were originally established in 1946 to provide working opportunities for injured soldiers returning after the Second World War. For many years I had no idea that these were “institutions for people with disability” because actually they were not. One of my school friend’s parents, who was deaf, worked at a Remploy factory and I had no idea that this person was disabled, in the eyes of us children she was not, so I had also no idea that all the workforce at the factory were disabled, it was just a place of work.

Remploy has been part of the country’s workforce, places where the employees felt included not excluded!

Included in the economic life of the country and supporting their families as well as they could just like the rest of the community. They had hope in their lives and self-respect.
It depends does it not how you describe exclusion and inclusion?
In these Remploy factories the workers helped each other, could empathise and quickly react and help a quick, much welcomed helping hand to colleagues. I suggest this would not always be the case if one disabled person worked as part of an otherwise non-disabled workforce.

But they definitely felt included in the overall economic working of life.

I wonder who asked them how they felt about inclusion and exclusion. And I wonder whether any thought was given to offering work at Remploy to non-disabled unemployed people.