Today, the Disabled Children’s Partnership, a coalition of more than 35 charities, have joined forces, working closely in partnership with parents, to campaign for improved health and social care for disabled children, young people and their families.
Their campaign Secret Life of Us seeks to increase public awareness of the lives of disabled children, young people and their families and remove the stigma that many face on a daily basis. There are around a million disabled children across England and 97% of parents with a disabled child say the public do not understand the challenges they face.
As the Disabled Children’s Partnership asks: What is the simplest task you do in your day-to-day life? Getting on the bus to school or work? Going to the local shops? Visiting the park?
For the majority of families caring for a child or young person with a disability, these run-of-the-mill activities could be the most challenging tasks they face in their daily lives. It can take weeks to plan, need specialist equipment and transportation, and require additional support. This is made harder because the right support is simply not in place.
With increased awareness and public support a real difference can be made to the lives of disabled children, young people and their families. The Secret Life of Us campaign shows the day-to-day lives of disabled children, young people and their families, the similarities they share with everyone in the things they love and enjoy, but importantly, the unacceptable struggles they face on a daily basis, in living a life that we all take for granted. It will reveal parts of their lives that most people simply do not see.
In my region of the North West more than 4 in 5 parents of a disabled child face problems accessing the services they need; with over half believing this has a negative impact on their child’s health and wellbeing. Regionally, more than three quarters of parents have experienced mental health issues, compared to 1 in 6 in the general population and 83% of parents believe the needs of their disabled child wouldn’t be met if they could no longer care for them.
I am pleased to add my support as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary and MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth to the Secret Life of Us campaign to help highlight the stories, challenges, hopes and opportunities of disabled children and their families across the country and in my constituency of Oldham East and Saddleworth.
The campaign provides us all with the opportunity help make a real difference to the lives of disabled children, young people and their families. I know from both my national and local work the challenges young disabled people and their families face on a daily basis, be that in the difficulty in accessing public transport for a trip to the park to ongoing battles with the social security and health and social care systems to receive support to which they are entitled.
I am committed to supporting the campaign to raise awareness of the challenges that disabled children, young people and their families face but also to find solutions to them, including providing a joined up network of support.
You can read individual stories from disabled children, young people and their families here.