By Saba Salman
Essays on success, by high-achieving people with learning disabilities.
Tuesday, 19 December 2017
Made Possible: looking ahead to 2018
I'd like to kick off this month's update, the last of 2017, with some special thanks to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for so generously gifting Made Possible (already such a timely book) with even more relevance.
In case you missed it, Phillip Hammond was roundly condemned earlier this month for implying that Britain's sluggish economy was the result of having more disabled people in work ("very high levels of engagement in the workforce, for example of disabled people – something we should be extremely proud of – may have had an impact on overall productivity measurements.")
I like to think of Made Possible as a literary two fingered response to Hammond's comments.
Or as I put it on Twitter (excuse the anger-induced typo which made the word "one" crash onto the keyboard as "onr"):
As a related aside to the issue of disability and employment, it's worth stressing that the majority of learning disabled people aren't in paid employment - but many of them want to be. The employment rate for people with learning disabilities is 5.8% (compared to 74% of non-disabled people), but around 65% of people want to work (I mentioned these figures and others relating to the inequalities experienced by learning disabled people in this Guardian piece about Made Possible).
In the month since my last update, Made Possible's contributors and I have been getting productive (sorry, couldn't resist...) with the early stages - planning and researching the essays. This book is being driven by their enthusiasm, energy and experience and we're all looking ahead to spending much of next year writing and editing.
During one conversation about why Made Possible is important and how its essays will change attitudes towards learning disability, one of the book's contributors told me: "You've got to have ambition and vision and a dream. You don’t want people to rubbish your dream. It doesn’t matter that somebody will say 'this is unachievable'. I am ambitious - be ambitious."
These words are a powerful and much needed counter-narrative to the kind of stuff recently spouted by Hammond. Thanks to all of you who have supported the bid to get Made Possible published, they are words that will reach a wider audience.
Season's greetings everyone, hope you have a good Christmas - and a very productive New Year,
PS: If you've recently joined Made Possible and pre-ordered your copy of the book (thank you!) you can find #MadePossible on social media and link up if you'd like to on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn