Reported in The Mirror, cerebral palsy sufferer Sophie, who took three equestrian golds at London 2012, says conditions like hers vary widely.{jcomments on}

Paralympic golden girl Sophie Christiansen fears she will be a victim of the Coalition’s cruel welfare cuts.

Cerebral palsy sufferer Sophie, who took three equestrian golds at London 2012, worries she will lose benefits in the change from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment.

Disabled people face losing cash if they can walk just 20 metres, down from 50.

Sophie, awarded an OBE this summer, said: “I’m one of the most disabled Paralympians but people don’t get that I need care.

"I need a wheelchair one day but can go to work next day without one.”

Speaking to Disability News Service Sophie, 26, said people must understand that conditions like cerebral palsy vary widely.

Tests like walking a set distance are “not just a yes or no question”, she said.

“I could write a whole essay on whether I could walk 50 metres. It all depends on terrain, what I’m doing afterwards, what I’ve been doing that day, whether I have got someone with me. It’s not that simple.”

Sophie said she feared the Paralympics had given people a misleading idea of what it means to be disabled and that the athletes unintentionally made people with difficulties victims of their success.

She said: “The Paralympics were a glamourous outcome of years of hard work and people haven’t seen what it is like to be disabled behind the scenes.”

Paralympians are “a really small proportion of the community”, she added.

“The general public now automatically think they understand disability. But not every disabled person is a Paralympian.

“I’d like to see more role models created outside sport, in the fields of business and academia, arts and music.”

Disability campaigners seized on her words as more evidence the Government should think again about replacing DLA, which covers extra costs like transport.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of charity Scope, said: “According to Government figures 600,000 disabled people will lose out.

“The Government’s assessment for PIP is deeply flawed. Support won’t be targeted to those who really need it.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “The UK is acknowledged as a world leader in supporting independent living for disabled people.

"Our welfare reforms will make sure the billions spent give more targeted support.”

Thanks to Jim Allison and Pre-Raphaelite Sister for spotting this news article for us.


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