Lord Freud suggesting I should be paid less because I have an impairment is what really disables me

I have spinal muscular atrophy, but I have contributed to life here on earth

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The Independent Online

Yesterday, Lord Freud, the Minister responsible for Welfare Reform in the UK, was exposed for stating that people with disabilities are "not worth the full wage" and that he would be looking at what the government can do to facilitate those same individuals working for just £2 an hour. Following public outcry, he has now apologised for his remarks but it still shows a worrying attitude towards disabled people.

I am a young person with a complex and rare condition called spinal muscular atrophy which has left my parents unable to work for many years, and means that I am only really able to think and speak without assistance. I need help to type, scratch an itch, eat, drink and even breathe.

Many people with spinal muscular atrophy are referred to as mobile intensive care units - we need to use life supporting equipment including ventilators, drip feeds directly to our stomachs, and even machines which will cough for us. That is over and above our wheelchairs, which are often complex pieces of kit in themselves. 

I have a very complex and rare condition. But I have contributed to life here on earth. 

I've worked since I was 17 to improve, enhance and find full inclusion for those of us living life with disabilities. I've worked with a range of charities as a volunteer, pushing for better policies for a range of services, tried to give my voice to the cause and I can honestly say that I do feel more included in society today than ever before.

What happened yesterday has damaged our position. Lord Freud has enforced the idea that we are less productive, less valuable and by definition less human than the rest of society.

Michaela Hollywood is a member of Trailblazers, the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s network of young disabled campaigners. www.mdctrailblazers.org

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