The latest poster campaign by the Poppy Appeal shows a disabled serviceman being pushed by a six-foot figure made up of red poppies as he sits in a wheelchair.
It is a striking image emphasising the tremendous work by the Royal British Legion – a charity without which many injured soldiers and their families would be left destitute or homeless.
I don’t have anything against charities who provide help and support to disabled people: let’s face it, in spite of our human right to independent living and to participating in the economy, many disabled people need all they help they can get. I certainly don’t advocate towards biting the hand that feeds you.
But that photograph once again reinforces the stereotype of helpless, pitiful disabled people, surviving through charity and the good heart of the general public. While disabled people do have needs, this is not equal to lack of independence. The need for support does not equate to a lack of ability to provide for self and family, or a lack of drive to succeed and accomplish.
The fact that many soldiers who are injured are left in need of charity is what should be questioned. Why is this the case for those who, after serving their country, are dependent on charity for their wellbeing? It’s not that I want us disabled people to have our cake and eat it. But it is objectionable that to ‘appeal’ to public generosity disabled people are once again portrayed as pitiful.
Why not make a different appeal and show how donations will be used towards empowering and enabling disabled soldiers? Why not show that a relatively small donation can go a long way by way of technical equipment, training and even the provision of disability equality training to their employers?
An enabling attitude that is free of prejudice and assumptions: that is the greatest donation that as individuals we can make to ourselves and disabled people.
Maria G. Zedda
Director of Training
The latest nationwide poster campaign by the Poppy Appeal shows a disabled serviceman being pushed by a six-foot figure made up of red poppies as he sits in a wheelchair.