EDS-survivor Kaliya Franklin and co-founder of the "the #spartacusreport Twitter storm" argues:
...it was the internet, blogs and Twitter that enabled disabled people to get their voice heard, unmediated by traditional media. "None of this would have happened without social media. The campaign has been done by people mostly from their beds. We would not have been able to find each other had we not had access to social media."Butler's profile of Franklin and her fellow activists reveals:
Franklin also hosts a successful blog – Benefit Scrounging Scum – where some of her made-for-YouTube videos have become cult viewing (her "shame on you..." message to David Cameron marked the beginning of the Spartacus campaign in October 2010). One clip records her putting the Labour leader Ed Miliband on the spot at last year's Labour party conference, with Franklin's eloquence about politicians' toxic use of "benefit scrounger" rhetoric contrasting with the awkwardness of a surprised Miliband.
....Law graduate Franklin, 36, was not disabled as a child. She had planned to join the army before an accident, while teaching in the US after university, exacerbated existing inherited health problems. At 28, she was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Symptoms include joint hypermobility and arthritis, and she has serious and persistent health and mobility problems. "Since October, I do not think I have been out of my pyjamas for more than a handful of days," she says.
The importance of DLA for Franklin is that it helps her to live independently. Despite her mobility and health difficulties, she is not eligible for social care support, having been assessed as requiring only "moderate" needs. She has been refused an NHS wheelchair, and relies heavily on a support network of friends and neighbours to help her.
One of the problems, she says, is that despite years of underfunding for adult social care, people assume the state's support for disabled and chronically sick people in receipt of DLA is much more comprehensive than it is, and that "we all have a nice bungalow and an adapted car".
Despite their success, the Spartacus campaigners are already counting the personal cost to their health. Some, already ill, have retired exhausted.Our kudos to Patrick Butler and The Guardian for strong coverage of government efforts to balance the UK's budget on the broken backs of its most vulnerable citizens.