Hey everyone. I had planned to attend Sophia Walker’s show much sooner than I eventually did. Circumstances however contributed to getting in the way of my plans until destiny decided that it would be the first show of the final Saturday of Edinburgh 2014.
The show Can’t Care Don’t Care is based on Ms Walker’s experiences of working as care worker and trust me the tales she told revealed more than a few home truths about the UK government’s attitude to those who they consider to be the most vulnerable in society.
This was more just a quality piece of entertainment this was a wake up as to why this system needs a radical overhaul and it needs it now. In this highly thought provoking show both entertains and educates the audience with tales so disgusting you would hope they had been taken from a 1970’s horror movie rather than the care system of an allegedly caring and compassionate country as the UK claims to be.
The drama is set in a court room as Sophia is charged with crimes with crimes against bureaucracy. This offence is at least in the eyes of the arrogant a crime so grave that she is charged with breaking codes, rules and regulations and endangering the social care system. Well thank god somebody had the guts to take them on. There are times as the defendant proved during her trial the truth of the saying that rules are made to be broken.
For the purpose of this blog I shall now speak as her defence council. Yes Sophia who
needs Elle Woods when you’ve got someone who learned her legal skills from watching Legally Blonde half a million times.
So as the defence council for the accused I say as my first duty to you dear reader, that had Ms Walker not broken some really outdated rules and regulations which put unnecessary restrictions on her doing her job to the best of her considerable ability there is no doubt lives would have been put in very serious peril.
As the primary care giver for five yes five severely disabled people Ms Walker often had to work very difficult shifts on her own or very little assistance. This one has to say considering one’s own background in disability equality training is completely unacceptable. This is especially true as no one person can be in two places at once as Ms Walker often unfairly expected to be. Well could you imagine being responsible for preparing and cooking meals and supporting a wheelchair user or someone with limited mobility to get to the dinner table at the same time? No, I thought not. Now ok that was a rhetorical question and I kind of knew the answer before your gasps of amazement. However Sophia Walker had no choice not only imagine this scenario but to undertake it and make it happen because you see this was her job and she knew it was more than one person could handle. This is why she stressed the importance of having a second carer to assist with certain practical duties.
The importance of a second carer on hand to assist the lead carer was ably demonstrated by Ms Walker when she said that when one of those disabled people in her care turned blue after seizuring the action she took in calling the emergency services probably saved his life. Now if that’s called breaking rules then I say break them. The importance and indeed the sanctity of preserving human life is in my opinion far more important than any paragraph or sub section in a care commission rule book.
It should be noted however that this was not the only example given by Ms Walker in her defence. With each charge presented by a clearly Conservative judge Ms Walker provided more than enough evidence to decimate it in to a thousand pieces. Whether is was making sure that the disabled people she was caring for were appropriately supported by someone trained in moving and assisting training or in the preparation of particular diets like for example the diet for one service user who would only eat food beginning with the letter C or another who needed all their food to be pureed. Ms Walker was I put to you a dedicated and diligent worker who was highly skilled at her job.
In a tense court room the judge cited the caring attitude of the current government’s attitude to social care as compassionate and caring based on the personal experiences of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The Right Honourable David Cameron and his colleague Iain Duncan Smith whose drive and determination to get people in to employment would it was claimed get people back in to work. Now I know this government may very well have cut the welfare bill but it has led to disabled people committing suicide.
As Ms Walker said she had seen some of the letters telling people who were clearly unfit for work that they were in fact fit for employment. This would be I think be laughable it wasn’t so obscene. The fact that it we live in a country where the bankers grow richer whilst disabled people are neglected and discarded like yesterday’s newspapers or a pair of torn tights is an insult to everyone who believes in the dignity of life.
As Ms Walker correctly said she had taken actions which may have breached a few rules but she was told that had she done so people would have died. To underline her case she stated that four of the five people had various degrees of epilepsy and one was non verbal in their communication and all needed round the clock care. To care for and support people with such complex difficulties needs people who are committed to and talented at the job they do.
These workers cannot afford to be hidebound by bureaucratic restrictions which disempower them and dehumanise the people they are supporting.
As she firmly but politely told the judge the every time the government cut the numbers of carers disabled people bleed.
No matter how much some people may protest against this statement. The fact it is Sophia Walker has stated an uncomfortable truth which no matter how hard they try run from it, they cannot hide from their shameful and disgusting actions. Ms Walker will no doubt be seen as a dangerous radical to many but not to me. To me Sophia Walker is a fighter for equality, justice and the right of all people to live as independently as is possible with appropriate support. I back my statement by saying that this was who when she was lumbered with an assistant who was not qualified in food and hygiene training and who as a trainee would not be allowed to prepare food and also lacked
the essential moving and assisting training which should be a pre requisite before being allowed to support any disabled people in need of this level of support.
As a result of this a young untrained worker had to assist a disabled person to the dining table. The result of that was the person fell and started bleeding. Sophia Walker then knowing that as the man concerned was a non verbal communicator and could not be taken in an ambulance of his own, phoned her boss. The phone call was taken by his wife who didn’t seem to care that someone could be at risk of dying only that their evening meal had been disturbed. It is this level of arrogance and pomposity that Sophia Walker will always fight against with every bone in her body.
In the event her manager refused to come to her aid and having been left with no choice she had to the let the young man travel in the ambulance himself. The young man frightened and alone need not have died but he did and he died not because of any actions taken by Sophia Walker but because of that lethal combination of arrogance, bureaucracy, and pomposity so often in middle management types who if we are being completely honest are often promoted way about their level of competence. Therefore ladies and gentleman of the jury I say to you that you have no other rational choice but to acquit the defendant of all charges made against her. Unless of course you believe that giving a damn about society is a crime. Fortunately however, you would be wrong to do this as the Tories haven’t made a crime yet.
I have to say that I had mixed emotions watching this show. On one hand I have never felt so angry watching any show in all my years on earth. On the other hand I have never felt so proud of the woman performing it or the fact she’s my friend. This and make no mistake about it, was the best show at the fringe this year and in a year when there were many fantastic shows that is no mean achievement. This show also has another unique distinction, In all my years of attending theatrical events this was first with ever made me cry and when the tears came it was like a river of rage. On hearing this when we chatted at the end of the performance Sophia apologised if the show had caused me any distress. I told her it hadn’t but she had put across a very powerful message about how society treats disabled people which made me a wee bit emotional. To me this show challenges the deeply disturbing view of disabled people presented in certain sections in the right wing press which encourages society to see disabled people in this negative way.
Trust me I speak from a very personal perspective on this issue, not only as a disabled person but as a disabled person who is also as a self identified transsexual woman. God alone knows how the Tory party would cope with that. I mean It has enough problems coping with disabled people and our various support needs but imagining that some of us may also be transsexual may be a leap of faith that Etonians may not quite be able to make.
So it may have taken me until the final Saturday to see this show but I am so glad I did. As for Sophia Walker I just hope she is as proud of her show as her friends are of her because I for one am very proud of her. This is a woman who is powerful passionate and gifted who speaks from the heart no matter what the issue. Believe me the world will see a lot more of her talent in the coming years and I for one can’t wait to see what she may be up to next.
Love And Best Wishes