On the 10th of March, David Askew a man with learning difficulties collapsed and died after years of abuse from youths. Terrible news. The BBC followed this up with this piece on Broadcasting House which you can hear here (it starts 7 minutes in but be quick because the podcast will be withdrawn soon) foregrounding the experience of one disabled man living with harassment, home invasion and violence. He ended up sleeping rough. The Department of Health’s Co-Directors for Learning Disabilities describe such experiences as shocking but not unsurprising.
Tom Shakespeare, one of the leading thinkers and writers about disability, wrote a column in the Guardian where he describes his own struggles to recognise these acts for what they really are. Referring to others like Askew, vulnerable and disabled, exploited, humiliated, and finally killed, he describes these acts as a very British problem and not something to be dismissed as bullying. See it for what it is: disability hate crime.
While watching the Channel Four documentary ‘Sticks and Stones’ with my kids (watch it here) my 7 year old daughter observed: ‘if you have a disability, you should have someone living with you all the time’. Interesting idea this. Care and support aside, having a disability may mean that you need a bodyguard simply to live a life free of threat.