Timothy James Farron is a British politician who became Leader of the Liberal Democrats in July 2015
Q. How can we help the most vulnerable in our society?
This is a task for all of us. As individuals we must be aware of situations where we can help and do so. Through organisations that we are part of or can influence we must make sure that disability rights are embedded and that disability policies are transparent and are genuinely empowering for individuals.
Q. Can religion help?
As a committed Christian I believe that religious organisations have a significant part to play in helping the most vulnerable in society. There are many organisations that have a strong existing presence in this work, such as Christian Aid and the Salvation Army. This work should be in addition to adequate state and local authority provision, not instead of it.
Q. How can government help?
By simplifying benefits for disabled people bringing Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Employment Support Allowances (ESA) into one easily accessible fund.
By ensuring tenants who need an extra bedroom for genuine medical reasons are entitled to one in any assessment of their Housing Benefit needs.
By tackling hate crime by ensuring proper monitoring of incidents by police forces and other public authorities.
By encouraging employers to shortlist any qualified disabled candidate and provide advice about workplace adaption.
Q. Is the big society dead?
The idea of the ‘Big Society’ was never implemented. The principle of having joined up thinking and action to create an integrated society where the disabled are fully supported is what we should work for.
Q. Are we now a less caring society?
At the community level there are numerous examples of help and support being offered. In terms of official statistics, the Institute for Volunteering Research reported that 41% of people volunteered during 2015-2016 with 27% involved in voluntary work at least once a month. This seems to indicate a real willingness to help others.