Changing Times

Curious transition times for many people right now, I suspect… a new Government bedding in with lots of changes being introduced – or at least, being paraded – and some of them will potentially have huge impact on the work of Changing Faces.

We are keen to engage with the Coalition on many issues. For example, on the NHS – will the new funding arrangements properly allow for the vital psycho-social services which people with disfigurements so value and need?… and in Education – will the new free schools and academies have to create fully inclusive settings for children and young people with disfigurements? The new Select Committees are also about to flex their muscles – which should ensure better scrutiny than has happened in recent years.

Two very positive developments too: first, the employment provisions of the new Equality Act will be operational from October which will give increased protection, we believe, to people with disfigurements. We look forward to the publication of the Codes of Practice which will hopefully give many examples of how employers can demonstrate good practice – and avoid bad.

Secondly, there have been interesting comments by Lynne Featherstone, the new Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister. She was quoted in The Sunday Times last weekend as being very concerned about the pressures on women – and men – from the cultural pressures to look perfect. She put particular stress on air-brushing arguing that the constant bombardment of retouched images pose a “significant risk to the physical and mental health of young people” and can even lead to anorexia and bulimia.

She is to hold autumn discussions with key players in the fashion industry and I shall be looking to make sure that Changing Faces makes its points about the pressures on people living with disfigurements – which run parallel to these. Everyone is vulnerable to feeling inadequate by such unrealistic stereotypes.

Altogether it’s been a busy few weeks – not least, in admiring the steady stream of people who have ‘come out’ after their partial face transplants, all showing their courage and their likely need for ongoing psycho-social support and empowerment… and yesterday in sending off my good friend Max Burt on his second ‘everything is possible in life’ cycle ride from Aberdeen to London – you can follow his progress and even join him on the ride on his blog.

Everything – even change that nobody thought possible – is indeed possible!