Disability, children and youth: UK Disability History Month has commenced

To mark this months UK Disability History Month (UKDHM) charities, councils and other organisations across the UK are looking at how to better support children with disabilities in the future. 

Coming from a past that has been dominated by neglect, harsh punishment and bullying the UKDHM has been set up to change the way children and young people with disabilities are viewed in society.

photo of two man and one woman standing near tree

From the 16th November until 16th December 2023, councils, service providers, education establishments and other organisations are asked to re-examine their approaches to disabled children and youth. If establishments are found to have a negative approach to them, this period is the perfect opportunity to change that.

One example of a welcomed change could come from a media organisation that has perhaps posted a picture of a disabled person that has shown them in a negative light. Going forward, media groups should work to portray disabled people in non-stereotypical ways to ensure they are viewed in the same way as everyone else.

Founded in 2010, UKDHM has managed to unite councils across the UK who have introduced new measures to make their areas more disabled-friendly. This year, Newcastle City Council have outlined that they have been successful in working to remove ‘barriers disabled people face in [the] city’ as they have signed up to a new online platform, known as AccessAble, which informs disabled people of the most accessible areas in and around Newcastle. The council has also said they have a range of services available to support disabled children and young adults up to the age of 25.

‘Disability History Month is a chance to raise awareness and recognise our diverse disabled communities across the city and gives us an opportunity to lead the way in promoting and enabling access and inclusion to both our city and the services we provide,’ Cllr Irim Ali, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for a dynamic city said. ‘By valuing and listening to the lived experiences of our diverse communities, businesses and partners, our vision is to make our great city one of the most inclusive and accessible cities in the world.’

In addition to councils working to make a difference, the NHS Confederation are also supporting UKDHM. The organisation have placed a particular focus on working to ensure the health and care sector is a safe and inclusive place to work.

In April 2019 the NHS Workforce Disability Equality Standard came into force – this is a specific set of measures that enables NHS organisations to compare the experiences of disabled and non-disabled staff. The information is then used by other companies to develop a local action plan and enable them to illustrate progress against the indicators of disability equality.

Joan Saddler OBE, director of partnerships and equality at the NHS Confederation said: ‘The NHS Confederation is proud to support Disability History Month 2023. This comes at a time when we need to recognise, celebrate, and thank staff, carers and experts who strive to make things better for all.’

‘This is a great opportunity to recognise and embrace the inclusion of patients and staff in the NHS,’ Joan added. ‘We believe in the social model of disability, that people are disabled by barriers in society and not by their impairment or difference. By changing environments and attitudes towards disability, we can remove the barriers to healthcare and employment for many.’

According to the latest figures from NHS England, one in five people have a disability and 83% of them are acquired during working life, which makes it more important than ever to ensure organisations are treating people with a disability with the respect they deserve.

Image: Nathan Anderson

More on disabilities:

Students with learning needs have been awarded social care internships

Needs of learning disability patients ‘not consistently met’ when in hospital, report shows


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