My name is Laura Leeson, I am long time user of the Assisted living service in IWA. I am a leader in the self-directed service.

This service has allowed me to do many great things over the years, gain independence, employment, socialise to name but a few, but today myself and many others like me, wake up with a cloud over our heads as our personal assistants take to the picket lines for better pay conditions, what’s worse for us, the service user, is as well as not knowing if we can go about our day, even worse how long this will go on for.

As I sit here, writing this it’s a weekday morning, the strike action heightens the harsh reality of the dependency, I face every day. I will have to wait 4 hours to get to the bathroom and be assisted by family, I must limit my fluids and I am generally on edge, please show me someone who would be comfortable with this being part of their lives on a regular basis.

I like many others fought for a Personal Assistant service to give me independence and lessen my dependence on family, this strike is putting me right back to before I had a PA service. Hence being fully dependent on family, who work and have their own lives as do I.

I empathise with the reasons for the strike, I want to talk to the personal assistant directly, your job has a much greater impact on our lives than a general office job, in many ways you are an extension of us, and your choice to do this kind of work is greatly appreciated by us the leader.

Historically the medical model of disability presented as a problem of the person, directly caused by trauma, disease, or other health conditions, which required sustained medical care. Little or promoting a different understanding no contact was made between these children and children or peers in their community. As a result of this isolation, it was believed that people with different intellectual and physical abilities had different educational needs and were more socially isolated. Having a Personal Assistant service, takes myself as a service user beyond the medical model of disability.

My life now is good, I use a Powerchair, I have my own accessible van driven by my assistants and I have a good allocation of assistant’s hours, very different to the medical model I mentioned above if this strike continues as planned my world will become very small and isolated.

To the government – as disabled people we face so many barriers in life, access to medical care, access to buildings, even discrimination and opinions, Our Personal Assistants are a positive service that not only supports us daily but allows us to integrate and break down those barriers. I ask you to read articles like this and reach an agreement with IWA Staff to end this strike as soon as possible allowing to continue to live the life we deserve.

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