Why did you start the campaign?

I started the campaign with one aim, to end fake claiming. I became Disabled at the age of 19, and over the past 7 years have experienced countless incidents of Invisible Disability Harassment. These incidents have caused me to feel scared and unsafe leaving my house, caused me to miss out on doing the things I want to do and in many cases have put me in unsafe situations.

I have attempted in the past to have these situations rectified by putting in formal complaints or going to the press, but other than receiving an apology nothing actually changes. I realised things need to change on a systemic level. Starting with the stereotype of what Disability looks like.

A few years ago I did an inpatient program on the NHS with a group of other disabled people, I spent three weeks with them and learned so much about what it means to be a young Disabled person. We spent one evening recounting stories of Fake Claiming we had endured and I quickly learned how widespread the problem is. Every single person had numerous stories to tell, from being screamed at by strangers, spat at and being filmed standing whilst using a wheelchair and ridiculed online. I am fighting not just for myself, and for these people, but for everyone in the UK who is Disabled.

Why use the term 'Fake Claim'?

When I decided to begin the campaign there was not a simple phrase to refer to the Harassment of people with Invisible Disabilities that was short, snappy and would fit on a T-shirt! However I soon discovered the term 'Fake Claiming' was being used within the personality disorder community to refer to people who claimed that people with personality disorders fake their symptoms for "attention". I realised that this was a perfect term to describe the harassment that most disabled people face on a regular basis. I also like the idea of reclaiming a term as a community, because 'fake claim' has connetations of benefits 'claiming' which is a point often used to harass disabled people.

So, what’s wrong with you?

I get asked this a lot, there’s nothing wrong with me (except perhaps the fact that I enjoy pineapple on pizza) nor is there anything ‘wrong’ with any Disabled person. I do however have a Connective Tissue Disorder which causes chronic pain and a circulation condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome which causes me to faint many times per day. I can walk and dance (badly) but I sometimes use a wheelchair when I’m in a place where I cannot faint safely.

What are the goals of the campaign?

The overall goal is to End Fake Claiming through changing the way society views Disability. We need to achieve these through two arenas. Firstly social - spreading awareness until every person in Britain has heard of the term Fake Claim and understands what it means. Secondly political - we must lobby the government to change the laws and policy surrounding disability to ensure that people with Invisible conditions are no longer ignored.

If Fake Claiming is already illegal, why change the law?

The current law isn’t working. Disability Harassment is illegal and considered a Hate Crime however there is nothing specifically written into the policy about harassing people who you believe are faking their disability, so while it is technically illegal most people are not aware of this. Therefore the policy needs updating to  make it clear that Fake Claiming is a type of Disability Harassment and as such is against the law.

What is an Ally?

An ally is someone who is not disabled themselves but supports the campaign to end harassment for disabled people. You may have disabled friends and family or just be a good person. We encourage everyone to be an ally, and show support by signing the petition, wearing our merchandise and spreading the word.

What about people who are actually faking their disabilities? Shouldn’t we harass them for using services that real disabled people need?

If you believe this then you miss the point entirely. It is simply not possible to tell if someone is disabled by looking at them, unless maybe you are the persons Doctor and you have access to their medical history, blood test results, x-rays and physical and psychiatric exams.

Assuming that you don’t. Then you are simply harassing a person you believe to be faking their disability. Since most disabled people have Invisible Conditions the most likely scenario is that you are the one who is committing a crime, not them.

Secondly, there are already stringent laws in place to prevent people from faking disabilities and it is actually extremely difficult to do so. If someone has a blue badge or receives PIP then they will have had to present medical evidence, not just from a GP, but numerous hospital consultants and have regular face-to-face assessments with a government disability assessor. If they fake any of this paper work they face going to prison. If they are willing to risk a custodial sentence, then you shouting at them in the street probably isn’t going to worry them too much. What it is going to do is make actual disabled people scared to leave their homes.

I’ve been a victim of Fake Claiming in the past, what can I do?

I’m sorry you had to experience that. This campaign is for you. We urge to  get involved with the campaign, it is only together that we can create meaningful change. Please visit the What Can I do page to learn the ways to get involved.

In addition:

  • Many victims of Fake Claiming develop anxiety or PTSD as a result of the harassment, if you feel you have symptoms please reach out to your GP as soon as possible and ask for support
  • Disability Harassment is illegal so you can report the crime to the police, victim support can help you do this as well as support you through the process
  • If you have been denied access by an institution or organisation you can also take legal action against them, you may need advice from an ombudsman or lawyer.

If I am a victim of Fake Claiming in the Future what should I do?

  • Don't approach the harasser or try to argue with them, they may become violent.
  • Record the incident on your phone if possible.
  • Once in a safe place, you may report the incident to the Police.
  • You can hand the harasser one of our 'Fake Claim Campaign' Cards (only if it is safe to do so) to make them aware that their behaviour is illegal and also to give you a sense of control over the situation – Fake Claiming can be very upsetting and sometimes having a way to respond helps.

Why add the Letter A as a symbol of disability alongside the wheelchair symbol and not remove the wheelchair altogether?

The image of the wheelchair is part of disability rights history and should not be erased. People who use wheelchairs are an important part of the disabled community and we do not wish to exclude them, however by adding the letter A to the National Symbol of Disability sends a clear message that wheelchair users are not the only disabled people.

I have Fake Claimed in the past, what can I do?

Awareness of your actions is the key to change. Now that you aware of the harms of Fake Claiming we hope that in future you will act with the knowledge that not all disabilities are visible. To be an ally of the campaign, please purchase our products and sign and share the petition. Growing as a person is part of life and we would love to see you wearing our merchandise. If you have ever Fake Claimed a loved one, it’s not to late to reach out to apologize and find out if you can recitify the harm caused. Visit our How can I help page to find out more.