Eat or Pay Bills – The Struggle is Real

Campaigners in Scotland are highlighting the dire situation faced by disabled individuals who are being forced to make difficult choices between necessities due to rising living costs. A recent report from the Scottish Independent Living Coalition (SILC) has revealed the ‘unrelenting attacks’ on the rights of disabled Scots.

According to the report, some disabled individuals are grappling with the dilemma of whether to allocate their limited resources towards using medical equipment or meeting fundamental needs like food and heating. The rising costs associated with medical equipment and assistive technologies have led to stark choices, including deciding between eating and breathing, thereby jeopardizing their well-being and potentially requiring hospitalization or residential care. This is a tragic situation and one not limited to the UK; as NDIS care providers on the Gold Coast, we know that many people here at home struggle with financial strains.

The Report 

SILC, commissioned by the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC), produced this report, shedding light on the challenges faced by disabled people in Scotland. Jan Savage, SHRC’s chief executive, emphasized that no one should have to make a choice between using essential medical equipment and having proper nutrition.

The SHRC will convene in Geneva to discuss the report along with other evidence documents presented by the United Kingdom Independent Mechanism, a consortium of human rights organizations from across the UK.

Paula Fummey, a wheelchair user and a member of the Glasgow Disability Alliance, shared her personal experience, revealing the financial strain caused by rising electricity costs. She relies on several crucial pieces of medical equipment for her independence and well-being. However, the increasing costs have forced her to make trade-offs, including using a duvet for warmth instead of turning on the heating.

Additionally, the impact of rising living costs extends to social activities. Even simple outings can incur substantial expenses in transportation, making it challenging for disabled individuals to maintain a fulfilling social life.

A Commitment to Change

Both the United Kingdom and Scottish governments have expressed their dedication to enhancing the quality of life for disabled individuals. This commitment, while commendable, is increasingly being met with a demand for more substantial and actionable measures to tackle the urgent challenges that disabled individuals encounter in Scotland and beyond.

While verbal affirmations of commitment are essential, the lived experiences of disabled individuals often reveal a complex landscape of hurdles and obstacles that necessitate comprehensive solutions. The issues faced by the disabled community extend beyond mere acknowledgement and require a multidimensional approach to enact lasting change.

Calls for action are resonating throughout society as the voices of disabled individuals and advocacy groups grow stronger. The need for tangible reforms that directly address the financial burdens, accessibility barriers, and systemic inequalities experienced by disabled individuals is becoming more apparent than ever.

There are lots of different ways that local authorities or national governments could make changes to help people cope with the spiralling cost of living. Choosing between eating and simply affording to live is grim. It really shouldn’t be this way, and more needs to be done. Disabled people face enough pressure daily without having to starve themselves in order to pay bills.

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