Help us spread the word that disabled people deserve equal, accessible employment opportunities.

We believe that everyone is worth more than £2. If you do too, show your support by posting a selfie on Twitter tagging @shapearts with our hashtag #2fingersto2pounds, and donating £2 here or by texting WAGE22 £2 to 70070.

A #2fingersto2pounds selfie

Lord Freud's suggestion that some disabled workers are "not worth" the minimum wage is offensive and demeaning to a potential workforce of well over 6 million people. Whilst many have argued that this comment has been taken out of context, his words can be seen as a metaphor for an attitude, prevalent amongst some sectors of society, that considers disabled people as less worthy and less capable than non-disabled people.

Government austerity measures have continued to put great pressure on disabled people with the welfare reform increasing the barriers that disabled people are facing. Changes to Disability Living Allowance, and the proposal to scrap the Independent Living Fund are only the beginning.

Over the last year Shape has seen increasing problems with Access to Work (ATW) claims with a number of artists reporting delays or problems getting access to the support they should be entitled to. Many artists have reported frustrations at having to speak to a different member of staff each time they contact the service. Furthermore, freelancers and those with fluctuating levels of employment have reported that the scheme has not been very flexible and suited towards people who work standardised hours.

We appreciate that ATW have an extremely heavy workload. In fact, in order to improve the service, they have been training a considerable number of new staff, but in the meantime it continues to cause frustration and create barriers for disabled people accessing work opportunities. Addressing problems like this should be a priority, and comments questioning the worth of disabled people are an offensive, unhelpful and unnecessary tangent.

Shape recognises all too well the issues that disabled people have in accessing employment opportunities. We provide important interventions to improve pathways to sustainable employment for disabled people. We offer an extensive programme of creative workshops, providing young disabled people with the opportunity to develop new skills, experience, confidence and self-esteem, and provide mentoring, where they can receive advice and guidance to help them pursue their chosen careers.

A #2fingersto2pounds selfie

Speaking to employers themselves, we have also been able to explore their concerns around working with disabled people. We have found that organisations require further support around access and knowledge of Access to Work, accessible recruitment, disability equality training for staff, and support in developing inclusive internships and apprenticeships.

Over the next few years we want to help more disabled people to realise employment opportunities in the arts and are building strong connections with a wide range of arts and cultural organisations to help do this - providing the necessary training, guidance and support. In the current economic and political climate our work is more crucial than ever.

Lord Freud's comments are regressive and contradicting the great progress that we are making through our work and partnerships with employers in the arts and cultural sector.

Show your support today, and if you are able to, please donate £2 here or by texting WAGE22 £2 to 70070.