Extract from ‘Caring Activism’:
There cannot be a universal definition to say who is vulnerable and who is not and each of us is entitled to define the word as we wish. I hope you will evaluate the relevance of caring activism to adults and children whom you consider vulnerable and to yourself.
However, to keep a focus for the essay and because of my background and interests, I am defining vulnerable people of any age, from newborn to ninety-year-old, as having a significant illness or disability and then being exposed to a challenging situation. I have in mind such challenging situations as eviction from home, sinking into poverty after loss of job and displacement from neighbourhood or country by war or humanitarian crisis.
This definition is rooted in my mindset of wondering, when I read of rough sleepers in London, teenagers leaving care homes without aftercare, displaced people pouring out of the Middle East and Africa, how many have intellectual disability, autism, cerebral palsy, sensory loss, mental illness or life-threatening disease.
I argue that those of us who work with or campaign on behalf of ill or disabled children and adults should maintain our concern when these people find themselves in crisis situations. This is for two reasons. Firstly, people who are ill and disabled will almost certainly be at increased risk in the face of extreme challenges and, secondly, they may be left at the back of the queue when help arrives.
Caring activism is designed for vulnerable individuals and groups who, without relevant and timely support, can suffer deteriorating mental or physical health, subsist in misery and, going to the extreme, die early and unpleasantly.
I hope you will be able to relate this essay to yourself as a vulnerable person, to vulnerable people you know and to organisations that are, or should be, offering relevant support in your locality. By describing a new concept of care from my base in the UK I hope to offer something of relevance to vulnerable people in other countries.
This is an extract from the introduction in 'Caring Activism – A 21st century concept of care' by Peter Limbrick (2016)