It must be a big shock to suddenly lose all support and healthcare when you turn 18, but this is the reality for adults with Cerebral Palsy.
As March is Cerebral Palsy Month, Adult Cerebral Palsy Hub, has unveiled a set of mock ‘Second Class Stamps’ featuring famous famous with the condition, to highlight the lack of support given to adults with CP across the UK which means they are treated as, the charity says ‘Second Class Citizens’.
The campaign features actor James Moore, comedians Rosie Jones and Francesca Martinez, Britain’s Got Talent winner ‘Lost Voice Guy’ Lee Ridley, Paralympian David Smith MBE and para-Dressage rider Tegan Vincent-Cooke – with the stamps designed by illustrator Eve Lacey who also hasCP.
The stamps, effectively the world’s smallest petition, are calling on the government to ‘stamp out’ the gap in healthcare provisions for those with CP as they turn 18.
I spoke to James Moore to find out more about the campaign, among other things.
So why is the campaign important to you?
Because I have Cerebral Palsy, a lifelong condition that affects movement and co-ordination to varying degrees. In the UK there are approximately 130,000 people with this disability, many of which require lifelong medical treatment and care in the form of physiotherapy and other speciality services which they are not currently obliged to receive under UK law, which we feel needs to change.
Can you explain a little about what happens when people with CP when they turn 18?
Adults with Cerebral Palsy are struggling to access fundamental necessities such as medical treatment and physiotherapy, as well as adaptations to living environments, transportation, and other services to improve their standard of living because of a care gap in the system. Unlike other lifelong conditions, the care provisions for Cerebral Palsy cut off at 18 – adulthood.
This disparity in care is being scrutinised as part of a campaign by the charity Adult CP Hub, called Stamp Out The Gap, which addresses the government in hopes of recognising this anomaly and adopting recommended guidelines into law.
What is the one thing you want people to know about CP?
Cerebral Palsy is not a condition that affects everyone equally across the board. It contains within it a diverse range of different abilities and requirements. Some may have as much as partial or complete paralysis, where others are only affected in one specific limb. So I would argue that it is important when we are talking about people with Cerebral Palsy and their healthcare that we recognise that this covers a broad range of needs and abilities.
What would the change in policy mean to you and your community?
I don’t think I would be too affected personally by the change in policy – simply because I haven’t required any long-term healthcare post-adulthood.
However, I participate and advocate for this campaign for the many disabled people that have been left behind and abandoned by the current system, and their struggles – not for myself – and that would mean improving their quality of life, their ability to live and work independently, and boost the economy by an estimated £422 million. So, frankly – there seems that there is no reason not to enact the guidelines for healthcare for people with Cerebral Palsy.
Do you have an opinion on the covid vaccine situation?
I think it’s great. I’m hopeful. I’ve had my first vaccine, and I’m feeling better for it – mentally, of course – because it feels like we could be close to a way out of this weird, uncertain reality. I’m confident in the vaccine and I think it’s great that it’s finally making its way to the population. I think people who are skeptical about a vaccine generally seem to have a tendency for conspiratorial thinking, and while I don’t always trust the government, I trust the scientists who are approving it, and the science seems to bear out here.
What did you think of your stamp?
I think they’re great! Eve Lacey is a really talented artist, and she’s done great likenesses of all of us. But it’s also a great tactic for promotion and spreading the message. I feel like it’s always useful for a campaign to have a ‘thing’ to represent it, something tangible that people can see or use and be reminded of the message.
A stamp is a great way to do that. But also, it’s worth mentioning that they are not real substitutes for an actual stamp. So if you did decide to write to your MP about the gap in care parity for people with Cerebral Palsy (which is definitely something you should do), then just remember you’ll need a regular stamp to go with it too!
What’s the first thing you’d do if you were prime minister?
Well I think the thing that is the most pressing currently is the COVID situation, and the threat of easily transmittable disease combined with an underfunded healthcare system is a real problem. But I think that some money could be brought back into the system by raising taxes for big businesses and corporations, and cracking down on offshore tax havens and pumping the revenue back into the NHS. So when you see Conservatives saying ‘but where’s the money coming from?’ – that’s what you tell them.
That’s probably an incredibly different answer to what you expected, but I’m a pretty big advocate for left wing and socialist policies, and it infuriates me when I see people misrepresenting our ideology.
You can find out more about the campaign at the Adult CP Hub and tweet your support using #StampOutTheGap.
If you’d like to help, you can sign the petition to ask the government to conduct a review into the care of adults with CP.