Disabled being ‘let down’

BARRIERS: Facilities should be designed with all in mind; and (left) Mandy Sanghera
BARRIERS: Facilities should be designed with all in mind; and (left) Mandy Sanghera

A task force is needed to tackle the government “failings” towards the disabled ethnic minority community and their families, experts have urged.

The charity Include Me Too, which works with 1,500 families a year, has launched a campaign calling on ministers to examine its strategy on Black Minority Ethnic (BME) Britons with a disability over the past decade.

It has hit out at the low numbers of vulnerable BME people accessing services, the lack of diversity in public bodies and funding for community groups being slashed.

It is estimated that there are one million disabled people from minority communities, according to the Equalities National Council. Research by Lancaster University found that between 2011 and 2030, 25 per cent of new entrants to adult social care with learning disabilities would be people from an ethnic minority.

Saghir Alam, a disability committee member at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, warned that the issue is more serious due to the ageing disabled population.

He told Eastern Eye: “I have concerns as well regarding BME children and families accessing provisions.

“In the past, there were cultural and faith-based services; with the cuts we are facing… for local authorities, it’s a double challenge.”

“A lot of people are suffering in isolation. The UK is signed up to the UN Convention so we have a legal obligation, we need to set up a taskforce to look at the challenges.”

“BME groups are not being engaged by services. We need more BME people at senior level regarding policies. They are leaving them, their careers and families behind.”

“The government needs to support organisations like Include Me Too to reach out to communities that others can’t. Funding isn’t there anymore, I have seen a lot of regression rather than progression.”

This comes after the government was accused last week of “evading” disability rights by ignoring the recommendations of a United Nations committee.

Groups from across the country have accused ministers of ignoring questions put earlier this year by the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, leaving disabled people to face “serious discrimination” in educational, employment and social opportunities.

The poor supply of accessible housing, the rise in the number of children educated in special schools and cuts to health and social care services leave the UK in breach of the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, according to evidence submitted to the committee.

Mandy Sanghera, a human rights activist and government adviser on disability issues, believes budget cuts are hampering services.

She told Eastern Eye: “Local authorities try to offer a person-centred approach when planning support services. However, due to financial constraints, they often look at best value and meeting basic needs such as personal care and cultural needs isn’t always a priority

“It also comes down to commissioning more providers who can meet the needs of BME people.

“We need families to be involved in support planning. I think all disabled people are struggling to access appropriate services.

“Due to government cuts in funding to local councils, only the most in need are supported by councils.”

Schools watchdog Ofsted is responsible for focusing on the experiences of BME children from all backgrounds as part of its inspections.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have made fundamental changes to the support available for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), making sure that families are at the heart of the process and care plans are tailored to individuals.

“As part of this we are giving over £222 million to councils over four years to help them implement these reforms.

“We believe the views of all parents and carers are important, including those from minority ethnic groups. That is why we encourage the local parent carer forums, which are funded by government, to ensure they are fully representative.”