Allan Cullen at the Regent Park Farmers Market and Film Festival. Photo by Sean Howard, 2016

Allan Cullen

Allan is disabled and will lose what few benefits he has left when he turns 65.

“A society can and should be judged by how it takes care of its most vulnerable: the crippled, the maimed and the disabled.”

Allan is a street photographer who has struggled to keep four walls and a roof over his head. His work documents what it is like to be forgotten and abandoned by society – to have no recourse and nowhere to turn.

Allan selects an image from his book.

He has shown his work at galleries and travels with some of his photos in an old backpack.

He approaches strangers to talk about what it’s like to be a disabled, elderly white dude with no “box to check” in order to get assistance. He knows no-one will truly understand or care, thinking themselves safe from such an existence.

There is much I did not know.

That in Ontario it is quite difficult to get on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

Or that you lose aspects of your coverage when you turn 65.

Or that making any money means it is just clawed out of your benefits, often leaving you worse off than before.

Copyright 2016, Allan Cullen

“These social justice photos symbolize the spirit of determined men who are destined to live on the streets of our cities waiting for disability and social and medical assistance they are entitled to but rarely receive in full.”

Copyright 2016, Allan Cullen

It saddens me to see people stuck in a system that seems more intent on crushing all hope than actually helping those who most need assistance.

Any of us could find ourselves disabled. One accident is all it takes.

Perhaps we need to spend more time talking to people like Allan and judging our society not on our aspirations and dreams but on how it treats those most in need.

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