Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Disability Activist Karen Sherlock Dies

In Britain, a disability campaigner and member of the Spartacus group fighting so hard against the current round of cuts in disability supports, has died.  Her name was Karen Sherlock.

Rest in Peace, Karen Sherlock

Diabetic since childhood, Karen Sherlock's health had deteriorated in the last few years to the point where she was basically housebound. She had serious kidney disease, and was in constant pain. She was also no longer control her bowels, and often suffered bouts of uncontrollable vomiting. Only partially sighted due to the diabetes, she had stopped using the stairs out of fear of falling, and greatly curtailed her activities in kitchen out of fear of hurting herself on the stove or with a knife.  Asthma, a heart condition, vitamin B12 deficiency, anaemia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol,high blood pressure, and an underactive thyroid combined with her other conditions to leave her constantly fatigued. On June 8, it's suspected that Karen Sherlock had a heart attack, and the activist so beloved to the Spartacus community died.

To have to live in such pain and discomfort for the last few years of one's life would be bad enough. Karen Sherlock had significant stress added to her life by worries that, even though she was declared unable to work in 2008, she'd eventually lose her Employment and Support allowance. You can read about these worries in Karen Sherlock's own words, in this blog:

Sue Marsh explains why losing a support like the Employment and Support Allowance is something that so many people in Britain with disabilities in Britain are fearing right now:

Karen Sherlock fought hard to keep her support, and was told that a ruling had been made in her favour on May 31st...just a little over a week before she died.

Many things jumped out at me as I read her words about her situation, but this was one of the things that jumped out the most:

"So, what happens next is anyone’s guess, but none of us are devoid of disability striking us at any age or walk in life. A sudden accident that takes away our sight, or our ability to walk, talk or use our arms and legs. An incurable disease that will cause our health to deteriorate so that we cannot function. If this happened to any of the government members, what would they do if they were told, “you’ve got to have an ATOS medical.” Or, “off down the JobCentre you go because you can still work of course, ATOS said so?” How would that change their lives and the impact it has on everything they do every single second of their living lives?

The trouble is the government do not seem to be able to see this in their blinkered lives and opinions."

My condolences to all who knew and loved Karen Sherlock. May she rest in peace.

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