Disabled Bristol artist’s national campaign

Posted: 18/02/2011 by Eddie Unity in Welfare and Public Services

Original Article


A BRISTOL woman is helping to design a logo for a charity’s nationwide campaign to stop disabled people being shoved back to the bad old days.
Amy Hart is adding her creative stamp to Advance’s call for a government rethink, because she thinks everyone should have the chance to transform their lives with independent living, just as she has.
“Having my own home has dramatically changed my life, and is already having a beneficial impact on my health,” says Amy, 46, who moved into her flat in the centre of the city last summer.
“I have suffered from mental illness for many years and there is no way I could have got into the housing market without the support of Advance’s shared ownership scheme for people with disabilities.
“With the greater housing security, I can anticipate making a success of self employment and I am already working on starting my own business, My self esteem has been hugely improved and I am confident that success is possible, in a way I never anticipated before.
“In the past, I expected to be readmitted to hospital every two or three years. Now I am optimistic that I need never return again.
“Everyone should have the opportunity of finding a way to be independent. That’s why I entirely support the campaign and think the Government’s cuts could be disastrous for other disabled people.”
Amy’s open door logo will be used on all publicity material and on Advance’s HOLD ON campaign website www.advancehousing.org.uk/HOLDcampaign
The campaign is calling for a government rethink on measures that threaten to destroy the independence of thousands of disabled people.
Supporters, including legal experts and social care professionals as well as shared home owners themselves, are flocking to sign up to the campaign.
They are also lobbying their MPs to reverse the two apparently insignificant changes wrought in the Spending Review, which the National Housing Federation estimates will put over 64,000 people at risk of plunging into arrears and losing their homes.
“We’re not just talking about bricks and mortar, but about quality of life: about people with long term disabilities achieving independence, and their parents or guardians knowing that they will be secure for life,” says Mark Adams, Director of Advance Housing, which has helped hundreds of people move into their own homes.
Advance says the cut in the Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI), to 3.63% from the previously frozen rate of 6.08% and the Financial Service Authority (FSA) 100% mortgage ruling are a double dip disaster for people with long term disabilities.
“They could have to contribute between £92 and £264 a month to make up the shortfall caused by the SMI cut, and that has to come from the benefits that are supposed to cover the cost of specialist support or care,” adds Mark.
“But what will save the Government a few million in the short term, will cost the country a great deal more in real terms, as people with long term disabilities have to move back into the state’s care and the human cost is incalculable.
“It will be virtually impossible for people with long term disabilities to become shared owners through the Government’s Home Ownership for People with Long Term Disabilities (HOLD).
“Once again, it is the less well off and the vulnerable who will suffer the most and we risk pushing disabled people backwards into the bad old days, before they were able to live their own lives the way they want, as members of the community.”
Two years ago, Amy was in hospital and her future seemed bleak. She is impressively qualified – including an Economics and Social Science degree, a Masters in HR, an MBA and a teaching certificate – and has worked for most of her life. But she had to keep restarting her career, and finding new rented accommodation, after bouts of hospitalisation.
Now she is more settled in her own home and happier than she has been in a long time,. She is launching a new career selling artworks, portraits and graphic design, and she has done her first job – the Advance campaign logo – for free, because she wants to give something back to a scheme that has changed her life.
“Getting my own flat was the start of a new life for me because it provides the stability that I needed to find my feet,” explains Amy.
“I don’t want to rely on the state to support me. I want to work, and have worked and paid my way most of my life so far. This life-changing scheme will help me launch my own business and hopefully to come off benefits altogether.
“I am now more positive about my future than at any time in my past.”



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