Debbie

Jul 202014
 

Rob prepared this statement for the recent Disability Rights UK conference (18th July) He was not allowed to give his statement- we publish it here so people can understand why all voices should be heard and listened to.

The Fight for Our Lives

 My name is Robert Punton I am a disabled person and an Independent Living Fund (ILF) recipient I come here today to oppose Disability Rights UK stance on the closing of the ILF.

I have been a disabled activist for over 30 years both in a paid and unpaid capacity.  The money I have received through ILF funding has in no small part enabled me to achieve this, I have employed the same two guys as my Personal Assistants Mike Orme and Darren Harrison for over 25 years and now I am employing their son Daryl Harrison-Orme in the same capacity.  If the closure goes ahead this puts our partnership (family) in serious jeopardy.

I make no bones about the fact that as a person with high support needs without this extra funding I would be languishing in a Scope home or one run by some other likeminded establishment.  In saying this I am not in anyway denigrating the lives of anyone living there but I much prefer my lifestyle and will fight to my last breathe to save it.  Make no mistake everyone using ILF is in the same boat and none of us want to sink.

I am a member of DPAC and Co Director in Community Navigator Services with Clenton Farquharson MBE and Jack Nicholas it is a Community Interest Company we all identify as disabled; we aim to build capacity within communities to allow them to participate within society to their fullest n need or want.  We all agree the closure of ILF will severely destroy the advances that disabled people that achieved in last 3 decades.

Disability Rights UK and Simon Stevens advocate that when they close ILF it will make it a level plain field when they pass on funds to local authorities and everyone will be treated equally, equality only works when you use the highest possible denominator, in other words no one wants to be treated like their neighbour if they are being treated badly.  The term we like to use now is fighting for social justice for all, hence wanting the best standard of living (in this case support plans) for everyone.

Simon Stevens and his supports say that the ILF has made users of their scheme elitists in their communities.  I can’t argue that this may be perceived in that light. However, I would argue this two-tier system in society cannot be blamed on the independent living fund or its users; it was the Conservative government who closed the ILF in 2010 under the guidance of Maria (Killer) Miller, and in doing so cut off thousands of possible or probable new users of ILF, Con-Demning them to the level of substandard support given by most Local Authorities.

This substandard support shows the priority most local governments, and therefore National Government accord to people requiring high support – they are more than willing to leaving wallowing in our own shit!

Anyone following the campaign to SAVE the ILF led by DPAC and Inclusion London must know that we the major goal is to reopen the ILF to all people who fit their criteria.  In doing so raising the standard of those people’s support.  We believe this is the only solution not butchering the funding  of the so called “lucky” ones it in all honesty won’t help anyone.

I would love to know where the advocates of this Don’t Save ILF think the monies to raise everyone’ standards of support will come from. The money release from ILF we be swallowed up by incompetent politicians looking after their powerful votes, not us the people they view as worth less. In Authorities like Birmingham who have amassed debts of £600m you think the money given up by ILF will not even make a drip in their ocean of debt.

While I disagree with Simon’s argument I support his right to voice his opinion.  However, it is an understatement to say I am flabbergasted to hear Disability Rights UK supports this argument.  I thought you represented disabled people not the establishment!

What really exasperates me though is that we never learn from our mistakes.  Once more we are doing the governments work for them fighting between ourselves while they sit back laughing at us.  We must stop fighting and work together to defeat the Con-Dem coalition

I will finish with message to the camp supporting shut ILF.  If you can’t support don’t fight us.

Today we fight for our lives, if we lose today there will be no Tomorrow just an eternity of marginalisation and isolation either trapped our own homes or corralled in Care(less) Homes run by unscrupulous privateers only interested in profit not people

 

Thank you for listening  I hope you hear me!

 

see also: http://dpac.uk.net/2014/07/disability-rights-uk-independent-living-or-new-visions-in-neo-liberalism/

 

Jul 172014
 

DPAC have had an odd kind of non-relationship with DRUK. We’ve disagreed about many things. For example, DPAC is for saving ILF, DRUK’s Sue Bott suggests this is something we should probably forget about, and that ‘Whilst the ILF has benefited many disabled people, claims that it has been at the forefront of independent living are a little exaggerated’[1]. This is not the view of ILF users. See their stories, their lives, their experiences  It is amazing that anyone can believe that passing ILF to local authorities who already say that without ring-fenced funding many ILF users will lose support and/or be institutionalised is something we need to accept while we all get together to talk about ‘new visions’.

 

The DRUK conference dedicated to a ‘new vision’ for independent living is also a confusing affair, not only are they embracing Simon Steven’s approach[2] ( He who accused DPAC of murdering disabled people and was dropped from Leonard Cheshire’s sponsor program because of his outright abuse to other disabled people[3]), but one of their advertised partners for this conference are Craegmoor .

 

Craegmoor are part of the Priory Group owned by Avent International which is a US Equity Company- changing times you may say-and you’re right. Maybe that’s what these new visions are about: capitalising on the market, private equity companies taking public money, and disability organisations getting in on the act- maybe neo-liberalism rather than disabled peoples’ rights and equality now make up ‘new visions’ of independent living

 

Craegmoor ‘s target market are those labelled with autism, learning difficulties and mental health issues. They take 85% of their funds from public funds[4]. Craegmoor’s  web site boasts of its residential homes:

We provide understanding and support for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health problems in a variety of settings based on the individual’s abilities and needs. Our nationwide residential care services support people to develop the skills they need to live as independently as possible’.

 

Wait, since when were residential homes part of independent living? Weren’t these the very oppressions that early activists fought to get out of, and current activists (and ILF users) are fighting to stay out of?

 

Their brochure[5] goes further:

Craegmoor is part of the Priory Group of Companies. From education to hospitals, care homes and secure facilities, the Priory Group of Companies offers individually tailored, multidisciplinary treatment programmes for those with complex educational needs or requiring acute, long-term and respite mental healthcare’.

 

Treatment programs? Not sounding very independent living or social model. As well as residential homes, secure ‘hospitals’ and segregated schools. It all sounds very daunting.

 

But there’s much more on the Priory group of companies too which is even less palatable concerning cover-ups and abuse. Until July 2013 Phillip Scott was Chief Executive if the name isnt familiar, he was also the Chief Executive for Southern Cross. Itself a subject of inquiry on institutional abuse and 19 unexplained deaths[6] Craegmor say they transform lives, but in what way?

 

In May 2013 there was Melling Acres, ‘where inspectors reported major concerns about the care and welfare of its seven residents – care plans were poor, with scant information about physical health needs, there were limited activities and a lack of advocacy to enable people to express concerns about their care’. In September 2012 ‘following an anonymous tip, inspectors found residents at risk of abuse in Lammas Lodge, a home for young adults. There were not enough staff and what staff there were, inspectors found, were not properly trained to meet residents’ complex needs. There were six major areas of concern, including care and welfare, medication and safeguarding. The home, which was warned it must improve or face closure, has since been given a clean bill of health by the regulators’. Both homes were registered under Parkcare Homes’ so neither Priory or Craegmoor got the fall-out despite ownership[7].

 

This was not the case in 2012 when concerned relatives hid CCTV cameras in the room of Highbank hospital in Bury Manchester to reveal abuse by staff[8], not so with the Bentley Court home in Wolverhampton suspended by the council for what it called ‘safeguarding issues’ in 2010, a council that stopped sending those with dementia to Bentley Court[9], and not so in 2012 when what was described as the ‘Priory mental hospital’ in Windes on Bennet Lane was closed due to not meeting 10 standards of Government quality and safety including: Patients not being fully protected from the risk of abuse and their privacy, dignity and independence not being respected, staff not receiving necessary training, a lack of systems to assess and monitor the quality of the service provided, care plans did not always cover patients’ needs. There were also reports of patients attempting to escape during supervised visits into Widnes town centre[10].

 

So as said definitely NOT independent living.

 

In 2004 the then CEO of the Priory group Chai Patel said ‘My view is, if there is ever a conflict that involves choosing between care and profit, then we should not be involved in that environment,’[11] Given the examples above it seems profit is the defining factor.

 

It didn’t take long to find this information, it didn’t take long to realise that these are not the partners who should be with any organisation claiming to support independent living, even ‘new visions’. So maybe the question that needs to be asked is what exactly do DRUK support?

 

There are a few clues, in a recent blog piece by DRUK (dated 16th July) mentioning a very good Guardian piece by independent living activist John Evans[12], an ILF user, the last paragraph says: ‘Sue Bott, Director of Policy and Development at Disability Rights UK, has written a new blog which also discusses the role of the ILF but proposes that disabled people should concentrate their campaigning towards achieving a single integrated system that assesses people’s needs and allocates assistance and support based on the outcomes people could achieve in their communities and contribute to society’.

 

John Evans says everything we need to know-we have a vision for independent living and we already have a model forged by international independent living activists. There is nothing wrong with that model. There is no reason to stop fighting for it, abandon it or develop ‘visions’ or hallucinations of lesser systems in which we divide disabled people by perceived contributions to society-all disabled people are of value, all deserve to be supported. It is the ILF model that needs to be built upon and expanded to all-something that promotes real independent living.

 

The fact that a so-called user led organisation is putting forward anything different with the spectra of institutionalisation added to the mix is a tragic condemnation of all that disability activists have ever worked and fought for. We are appalled that DRUK are willing to sacrifice disabled people’s futures in this way and sadly can only assume this is to ensure on-going funding from the government.

follow @dis_ppl_protest for more

If you want to email DRUK you can do so by emailing:  liz.sayce@disabilityrightsuk.org

 

[1] http://disabilityrightsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/we-need-new-vision-for-independent.html

[2] http://disabilityrightsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/we-need-new-vision-for-independent.html

 

[3] http://davidg-flatout.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/inclusion-forgotten-ambition-lost-i.html?spref=tw

[4] http://www.craegmoor.co.uk/library/files/Craegmoor%20Locations%20&%20Services%20Brochure(1).pdf

[5] http://www.craegmoor.co.uk/library/files/Craegmoor%20Locations%20&%20Services%20Brochure(1).pdf

[6] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24581693

[7] http://beastrabban.wordpress.com/2013/07/20/private-eye-on-failure-of-care-at-more-care-hospitals-owned-by-american-private-equity-firms/

 

[8] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2227229/Nurses-quizzed-police-abusing-patient-Priory-Hospital-concerned-family-hid-secret-camera-room.html

 

[9] http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2010/01/15/elderly-will-no-longer-be-sent-to-care-home/

 

[10] http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/news/health/failed-priory-mental-hospital-widnes-5875608

 

[11] http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/news/432103/Man-Priory/?DCMP=ILC-SEARCH

 

[12] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/16/independent-living-fund-closure-disabled-people-residential-care

Jul 112014
 

Disability activists! For New Statesman, I’m looking at the ups and the downs of using social media – Twitter, Facebook, personal blogs – for disability (and long-term sick) campaigns.

How useful have you found social media in furthering your campaigns? In what ways?

What are the downsides? Have you ever been criticised for being an ‘armchair activist’ or received “If you can tweet/blog, you can work” type accusations?

 Disabled and long-term sick campaigners have used social networks to great ends. I would love to put together something that genuinely reflects your experiences. You can get me on francesryan.journalism@gmail.com.

Thank you.

Jun 282014
 

The leadership of the Church of England showed themselves to have the morals of sewer rats today after hundreds of police were drafted in to prevent a peaceful protest by disabled campaigners.

westminister2download westminsterabbey-protest2

A protest was taking place in the grounds of Westminster Abbey, where Disabled People Against Cuts, backed by Occupy and UK Uncut, intended to establish a camp for independent living to highlight the shameful decision by the current Government to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF).  Whilst many people were able to enter the grounds of the Abbey, with several disabled activists taking control of the gates, they were soon joined by hundreds of police.

Whilst the protest was being established a letter was presented to the church explaining the reason for the disruption.  This was completely ignored by the Dean of Westminster, John Hall, who instead of meeting with the protesters, or even giving a statement, cowered inside and allowed the police to carry out his dirty work.  At the time I left two people had been arrested, for reasons which are currently unclear.  Over 200 police kettled the 60 or so protesters, which included many severely disabled people who use the ILF themselves.  Police refused to allow any food or drink for those inside the Abbey grounds, and even prevented a severely disabled person’s personal assistant from entering the kettle.

At one point, so desperate were the police to arrest someone for nothing,  they charged into the crowd causing people to fall onto several wheelchair users.  Such was the sudden aggression of police it is a miracle no-one was severely injured although unconfirmed reports suggest one disabled person did have to receive treatment after this assault.  Police also attempted to remove access ramps for wheelchairs users to prevent them from being able to peacefully protest in the Abbey grounds.  Equipment was damaged and police prevented the planned disabled toilet and other infra-structures to be created which would have led to a safe event.  Throughout the afternoon all those inside the grounds remained at risk of violent arrest, and in fact, as you read this, that might be happening.

The protest was held on private property, meaning that the church leadership were happy for all of this to take place.  At any point the Dean of Westminster could have ordered police to stand down, yet he chose to allow this abuse to continue unchecked throughout  the afternoon.  Hundreds of people contacted him on twitter demanding the protest be allowed to continue without this police harassment.  The Dean ignored all of them.

Throughout the afternoon all attempts at negotiation with the church leadership were rebuffed.  Instead the Dean of Westminster let the boots and fists of the ever willing London Met do his talking for him.

Whilst no-one expects anything less from the police, who have a history of attacking and injuring disabled protesters, the action, or inaction of the church leadership is a fucking disgrace.  The Dean of Westminster would rather disabled people are abused, kettled, assaulted and kept without food or water than allow a creative protest against vicious cuts which are likely to lead to some people being forced to live in institutions.

The latest news is that those inside the Abbey grounds are currently meeting to decide what to do next.  With no word from the Church then staying could mean mass arrests in the ground of the Abbey.  Whatever the occupiers decide you can show support by telling Westminster Abbey @wabbey and the Dean of Westminster @deanwestminster exactly what you think.  After today’s shameful behaviour he must be hoping that the existence of hell really is just something liars use to scare children with.

 

Then come and join next Friday’s Independence Day demonstration outside the DWP and make it the biggest protest yet to show that no-one is going to be frightened away from fighting to save the ILF.

For the latest news follow @Dis_PPL_Protest on twitter or visit their website at:  http://dpac.uk.net/

Read the statement from DPAC on the reason for the protest:http://www.independentliving-fightback.uk/online/

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

 

Reposted from Johnny Void with thanks the protesters had no option but to leave the site-more soon-many thanks to the Abbey for protecting their interests and their income from tourists, over arguing in solidarity for justice for disabled people #saveilf  

Jun 262014
 

Join Sheffield #DPAC outside courts on 7th July

sheffielddpac

A peaceful direct action by disabled people and older people at Sheffield train station against South Yorkshire Transport for revoking free travel from March 31st has been marred once more by aggressive police actions. There have been peaceful direct actions since April.

Sixty protesters took part on 23rd June two were arrested and a blind freedom rider was knocked about falling on top of an activist in a wheelchair. George and Tony who were arrested are in court in Sheffield on 7th July.

Jen Dunstan, of Sheffield Disabled People Against the Cuts, told the Star: “Dozens of elderly and disabled people have been left with bruising. Some have cuts where their skin has broken from being pushed and shoved.

“A placid and calm gentleman was roughly manhandled. I am angry and shocked. The police are meant to protect elderly people.”

A Sheffield Star reporter was also warned to stop filming or he would be arrested under ‘anti terrorism laws’ by railway staff.

The Protesters have the full support of DPAC

Temporary pay pal account for the freedom ride campaign fund. 
Please donate suggested donation of £ 2 if you wish to support and * only * if you can afford it HERE

Support Sheffield DPAC on Facebook HERE

contact: dpacsheffield@gmail.com

See video and you decide what form of justice is being used….

Jun 242014
 

A peaceful direct action by disabled people and older people at Sheffield train station against South Yorkshire Transport for revoking free travel from March 31st has been marred once more by aggressive police actions.  There have been peaceful direct actions since April.

Sixty protesters took part yesterday (23rd June) two were arrested and a blind freedom rider was knocked about falling on top of an activist in a wheelchair.  George and Tony who were arrested are in court in Sheffield on 7th July.

David Kirkham (UKUncut Sheffield) said in April:

“SYPTE say they can no longer afford concessionary travel for disabled people and older people on South Yorkshire trains. These concessions are a lifeline for people in South Yorkshire, one of the most deprived areas of the country with the lowest average income. People rely on the concessions to get to work, reach medical appointments and to travel to places of education. The claim that concessions are unaffordable on trains in South Yorkshire sits ill with the fact that the chief operator of trains in South Yorkshire, Northern Rail, made £40.1m profit on the back of inflation busting fare rises, according to latest available figures (4) Northern Rail are also part owned by Serco and Dutch national rail operator Abellio; Serco received billions in public subsidy each year (5) for government contracts and have also been accused of defrauding the taxpayer over their prison contracts. A company that already makes huge profits on the back of profiteering from the tax payer and shifting profits out of the country to The Netherlands, which refuses to disclose how much public money goes into the pockets of shareholders and directors has a hard time convincing people it cannot afford to allow people for whom its trains are a vital lifeline to travel on them for free.”

People from across South Yorkshire have been taking direct action to overturn the decision by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive to remove the right to free travel for all concession holders on South Yorkshire trains; the legality of this decision is currently being challenged in the courts.

DPAC sends solidarity to the protesters and to George Arthur and Tony Nuttall. There will be a locally based fund raiser for any fines. Please see video where five police in explicitly hold down one protester despite his lack of resistance.

Jun 232014
 

We want to congratulate the Peoples Assembly and all who joined the successful demo in London on the 21st June.

Over the weekend various accounts have surfaced on social media in relation to DPAC and the event. We would like to clarify that the DPAC steering group have not released any prior statements nor spoken to any bloggers on this issue

 We are posting below the key points of a statement sent by the DPAC steering group to Peoples Assembly organisers on the 9th June in which we raised particular issues -to date we have not received a response or acknowledgement.

“Whilst we welcome the calling of a demonstration bringing
together anti-austerity campaigns with union members, DPAC is unable to support with fundraising for access. We are at full
capacity fundraising for our own activities-   We are disappointed that access has still not been mainstreamed within the Peoples’ Assembly infrastructure.

We do not consider it appropriate that access should be sidelined and delegated out  to DPAC rather than mainstreamed with the Peoples’ Assembly. The equipment needed to ensure inclusion is neither an optional consumer choice nor a charity need.

With regard to the participation of DPAC members in the themed  block, ‘Welfare not Warfare’ (or Housing and Social Security) our position is that as a grassroots campaign not a top-down bureaucratic organisation, we cannot tell our members where to march. Some of us feel it recreates the
segregation and containment of disabled people of which there
is a long and painful history. It also denies the productive
contribution many of our members undertake despite many
barriers, which viciously impact our work roles and pay
levels.

For all our members who do wish to march in the Welfare-themed block they may find their non-disabled friends and allies drawn away to the other sections, reducing the social-ness of this occasion. Whilst everyone will to some extent be faced with the same decision of where to march, for disabled people  this kind of division and exclusion from social participation is painfully routine.

The rationale that the blocks graphically depict the different
sections of society / areas of social life affected by
austerity has not been thought through from the perspective of disabled people. If a signal is to be sent that all sections
of society oppose austerity and are prepared to organize in a
disciplined way shoulder to shoulder then attention must be paid to making solidarity with disabled peoples’ struggle against victimization and exclusion a reality, and not just pay lip service to it or treat us as objects. Nobody would dream of proposing a block of Black and Minority Ethnic  people flanked by white blocks, so why are disabled people to be herded together?

(DPAC Steering Group sent to Peoples Assembly organisers 9th June)

 We had decided to keep this statement a private matter between DPAC and the Peoples Assembly. However due to the continuing comments and misinterpretations on social media we have no option but to go public with this to counter some of the unhelpful assumptions that are being made.

 We look forward to working constructively with the Peoples Assembly in the future and appreciate that some limited attempt at access was provided on the 21st.

 However, until the costs of meeting access needs are recognised as a vital and non-negotiable cost by all event organisers disabled people will remain marginalised and excluded. The key issue for all events including the 21st June is that access should be mainstreamed from the beginning – not added as an afterthought

 

 

Jun 192014
 

The ILF has transformed People’s lives.  The Independent Living Fund does what it says on the tin – it liberates people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to, to live independently.  It lets them make choices about how they live – things we often take for granted: when to get up or go to bed, what and when to eat.  It allows them to work, to be active in the community and to live in their own homes.

 

I challenge the Minister today to guarantee that those currently in receipt of ILF won’t become less independent as a result of his decision to close it in June 2015. Because that’s what people fear.  That’s what they are frightened of.  They fear losing their jobs, losing those staff they employ to support them and losing their independence.  They fear being forced out of their homes and into institutions.

 

The Minister may say he’s passing the monies and responsibility to Local Authorities but this will not ease their fear.  And he is rather naïve if he thinks that absolves him from his responsibilities for this decision.  I’m afraid he can’t get away with devolving responsibility and blame for the consequences of his decision to others.  That’s why I ask him for these guarantees today.  For a start Disabled People Against Cuts calculate the current annual cost of support at around £288 million yet the government only identified £262 million to transfer to local authorities.   And it gives no reassurances that this money will be ring fenced to be spent only on supporting disabled people to live independently rather than absorbed into broader council budgets.

 

According to SCOPE £2.68 billion has been cut from adult social care budgets in the last 3 years alone, equating to 20 per cent of net spending.  This is happening at a time when the numbers of working-age disabled people needing care is projected to rise by 9.2% from 2010 to 2020.  In a recent survey 40% of disabled people reported that social care services already fail to meet their basic needs like washing, dressing or getting out of the house.  And 47% of respondents said that the services they receive do not enable them to take part in community life.

 

So it’s not surprising that people are desperately worried about their future.

The worry is that continued underfunding of social care will mean the care system will simply not be able to support disabled people to live independently.  The lack of reference to ‘independent living’ under the definition of the ‘well-being principle’ in the Care Bill which local authorities will need to take into account when providing care further fuels this anxiety.

 

And it’s not just people in receipt of ILF who are worried – it’s their friends, their carers and their families too.  The cases of two of my constituents illustrate this well.

 

 

Ashley Harrison is a Scunthorpe United fan like me cheering on the Iron at Glanford Park. At 10 months old he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  He will turn 30 this year.  Ashley has lived in his own bungalow since 2006.  The ILF allows him to employ his own team of carers.  Ashley is an inspirational man, a fighter but he is worried that the control over his future is being taken away from him.

 

His mother says:

 

‘The closure of the ILF would be nothing less than devastating for us as a family. Since Ashley was awarded his ILF allowance the whole family’s lives have changed for the better. ILF understands Ashley’s needs and always do everything they can to constantly improve Ashley’s life and enable him to live independently.

As a family naturally all we have ever wanted is the best for Ashley, which the ILF has helped us achieve. The ILF has always seemed to be the leading and positive force at meetings ensuring that social services match and meet Ashley’s needs. Without the ILF we all face a very uncertain future. The uncertainty that Ashley faced in his early years prior to receiving his ILF award have been daunting, frustrating and of course a constant battle with social services.

The alleged “smooth transfer” over to social services is already proving to be nothing of the sort.  Each and every meeting we hold (which are incredibly frequent) leave us having to justify Ashley’s needs as a disabled person.  The assessments they ask us to complete are totally unsuitable for the severely disabled.

All of the disabled people living independently with the help of ILF are living their lives to the full. The fear is that if ILF closes these people will lose their human rights and dignity to live their lives as they should.

As a mother who’s fought the last 30 years for Ashley to have the life he wants and of course deserves, I dread to think what the next generation of disabled people will have to endure without the positive support of the ILF.

I beg you to listen to myself as a mother of a disabled son and also listen to all those disabled voices who deserve to be heard.

Give each and every person the ability to live and achieve their dreams just as you and I can.

The Paralympics just proves how amazing disabled people can be!!!’

 

 

Jon Clayton is also in receipt of ILF.  Like Ashley he has carers whom he employs who understand his disability.  His sister writes

 

‘My brother Jon is quadriplegic having been involved in an accident which was not his fault at the age of 18. He is now 54. 

He is one of life’s truly inspirational people; an accomplished mouth artist – a gift he only knew he had after his life changing accident-  living independently in his own home. He freely gives his time mentoring other disabled persons, helping them come to terms with another life. A life without limbs. A life without walking.


He has always sought to live as normal a life as possible. Having gone through marriage, divorce, being a step father, losing a partner.

He is both ordinary and extraordinary.

He relies heavily on his full time carers. Carers who he personally has ensured are trained to an appropriate and exceptional level to look after a person with specific and defined needs. One false move and he could (and has) spent 18 months bed bound with a pressure sore at the expense of some ill trained nurse.


His carers are trusted to ensure and give a high level of care, entrusted with the most personal of tasks from catheter changing, toileting, dressing etc.  This has been part of Jon’s life since his accident. Something he has taken on with humour and dignity.

If the ILF is removed Jon will be unable to live independently. Being able to engage in what you and I would consider a normal life. He will be unable to travel, have holidays, visit family, visit friends. 

The ILF has enabled independence. Given life, where life seemed over.

I would therefore urge you to do all you can to prevent this life enabling function – the ILF – from being eroded’

 

A fundamental concern for Jon, Ashley and others is whether they will be able to employ their specialist staff in the future.  North Lincolnshire Council’s responded to this question on 9th June 2014:

 

‘We appreciate this situation may cause you concern as an existing Independent Living Fund customer and would wish to reduce any worry or anxiety you may have.

 

Allocation of future monies will be based on your updated assessment and support plan and on future Local Authority funding so at this stage we cannot give any specific guidance on the amount of monies that you may receive from us or cannot give guarantees on the future employment status of any Personal Assistants you may currently employ.’

 

As you can imagine such ‘reassurance’ only serves to heighten anxieties and build mistrust!

 

So I return to my central question – will the government guarantee that Ashley Jon and all those currently in receipt of ILF will not lose their independence as a result of their decision to close it.  A decision I believe is aimed at saving money but might end up costing more in other budget areas such as health.  A better way forward would be for government to engage with ILF recipients learn from their experience and find ways of shaping future services that are cost effective but continue to deliver true independence.

 

As Disabled People Against Cuts points out for the 17,500 people in receipt of ILF ‘the closure of the Fund will have a devastating impact on the lives on these individuals and their families.  It also has a much wider significance because at the heart of this is the fundamental question of disabled people’s place in society: do we want a society that keeps its disabled citizens out of sight, prisoners in their own homes or locked away in institutions, surviving not living or do we want a society that enables disabled people to participate, contribute and enjoy the opportunities, choice and control that non-disabled people take for granted?’

Or in Mahatma Ghandi’s words “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”

 

People like Jon and Ashley are not weak but strong.  The ILF gives them independence and liberates their strengths. Now is the opportunity for the Minister to guarantee their future independence will not be compromised by the closure of the ILF.

 

http://www.nicdakin.com/ilfspeech.html

 

DPAC would like to thank Nic and all the supportive MPs at the adjournment debate on ILF on 18th June 2014

 

See the ILF debate at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/house-of-commons-27884690

 

 

Jun 182014
 

Derbyshire Anti Cuts campaigners witnessed the Disgraceful move by Labour-controlled Derbyshire County Council Cabinet yesterday voting through cuts and charges to adult social care services that Derbyshire disabled people rely on.

 

Derbyshire Anti Cuts campaigners were at Derbyshire County Council headquarters, County Hall, Matlock yesterday June 17th 2014 supporting disabled people from Derbyshire Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC).

 

Their spokesman, the brilliant Gary Matthews,  other disabled people and allies challenged council leader Cllr Anne Western, Cllr Andy Botham and Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Cllr Clare Neill on the steps leading in to County Hall yesterday and then submitted questions in the Cabinet meeting itself raising the alarm that if these cuts and charges were voted through today, then councillors would in effect be complicit in the victimisation and persecution of Derbyshire’s disabled people and their families.

 

Good luck to Derbyshire DPAC in sorting out a legal challenge to this victimisation and persecution.

 

We say SHAME on Labour controlled Derbyshire County Council for being complicit accomplices to the Con Dem robbery of Derbyshire people’s rightful money and to the victimisation and persecution of disabled people and those with long term health issues.

 

Gary Matthews from DPAC handed out leaflets with the following text on to all councillors and people who attended the protest and the council meeting:

 

“Think before you vote!”

 

The report to the Derbyshire County Council Cabinet being voted on this morning is a very depressing document. We believe that the three recommendations are an attack on disabled people across Derbyshire.

 

Increasing the eligibility threshold for those who need support will impact seriously on the daily lives of disabled people.

 

We are talking about not just cuts, but life and death issues.

The report admits that there will be more accidents at home and people will no longer be safe if their care is cut.It also predicts worsening personal health for those deprived of care in the future.

 

The proposals on co-funding (paying for care) and on charging £5 for transport trips will drive hundreds of disabled people into poverty.

30% of disabled people already live in poverty and this will just add to it.

The report does not have a proper equality impact report and the consultation process was highly defective.

 

We attended a two hour meeting yesterday (June 16th 2014) with Cllr Clare Neill where we put our concerns.

We told her in straight terms what the effects on our disabled community would be.

We asked her to advise the Labour cabinet to delay these cuts for 12 months and lead a campaign against the Coalition cuts together with trade unions and disabled peoples groups.

 

We are fed up with hearing the Labour mantra and excuse that there is no alternative.

 

We have now given the Labour cabinet a clear alternative.If they ignore this, they will only have themselves to blame.

Will they act as agents to Eric Pickles and force through these cuts, or will they stand alongside disabled people and oppose all cuts.

 

“We believe that cuts in welfare benefits and in essential adult care services amount to nothing more than crimes against humanity”.

 

Gary Matthews

Email: matthews354@btinternet.com

 

Where injustice becomes the law, resistance becomes necessary.

 

An injustice to one is an injustice to all.

 

They say cut back, we say FIGHT BACK

 

Liz Potter on behalf of Derbyshire Anti Cuts Campaign in solidarity with Derbyshire Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC).

 

http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/Disabled-campaigners-stage-protest-cuts-adult/story-21248190-detail/story.html

 

 

Jun 172014
 

DWP ministers said only 9% of ESA decisions were wrong.  Our research reveals the DWP have been quoting from figures which state 151,800 appeals have succeeded.  Our evidence shows the true figure to be at least 567,634 – casting serious doubt over 43% of 1,302,200 ‘fit for work’ decisions. 
 

ilegal Press Release – 16th June 2013


DWP’s internal figures reveal a much higher number of successful ESA appeals than have been made publicly available.

article-2520639-19FD00E400000578-512_634x330

DWP reply on 13 June 2014 to a Freedom of Information Act request made as part of an investigation in to DWP figures relating to the controversial Work Capability Assessment by ilegal.org.uk has revealed that of 1,287,323 ESA appeals, at least 567,634 claimants have had the original DWP decision overturned in their favour.

Government’s key defence of the assessments has been that around 9% of all decisions are incorrect.  The most controversial of which are those where a claimant is found fit for work.  DWP figures (for new claims) show that betweenOctober 2008 and September 2013 a total of 1,306,200 fit for work decisions have been made.

It is with considerable disappointment noted that the DWP’s latest publicly available statistics confirm that only 151,800 successful appeals have been recorded out of a total of 410,400 appeals (for new claimants only).  Our investigations reveal evidence of three times as many appeals being ‘internally recorded’ of which
567,634 have been successful.  The DWP have revealed to us figures which show nearly quarter of a million internal reconsiderations have led to decisions on new ESA claims being overturned in favour of the claimant; we have added these to figures from HMCTS tribunals which provides us with a much higher figure than the DWP seems to be prepared to admit to in their publicly available figures.

Our intensive research into the assessment of claimants for the DWP’s Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) has, following a freedom of information request to the DWP, provided one of the final pieces of the jigsaw needed to unpick the Department’s overly complicated statistics. We now have the final clue which has enabled us to identify that no less than 567,634 ESA claimants have in fact had their initial ESA refusals overturned in their favour.

It is a startling revelation that the government department has apparently been keeping a lid on a set of statistics that clearly shows between May 2010 and June 2013 no less than 820,356 decisions were looked at again by the DWP after claimants had been assessed by the controversial private contractors Atos Healthcare. These ‘internal’ statistics show that a very substantial 232,782 (28.5%) decisions were then subsequently overturned in the claimant’s favour.

What makes this all the worse is that these reconsideration statistics come on top of separate figures that show us that of those claimants who did not have the decisions overturned in their favour by the DWP, 817,102 went on to appeal to tribunals arranged by Her Majesties’ Courts & Tribunals Service where a further 332,607 were then overturned in the claimant’s favour by the tribunal.

These figures completely negate all of the DWP’s claims that it is getting the majority of its decisions right

These figures completely negate all of the DWP’s claims that it is getting the majority of its decisions right. Government ministers in conjunction with the DWP’s Press office have been telling us that a million claimants have been found fit for work whereas these figures show that in reality this is only a small part of the true story and that huge numbers have gone on to successfully appeal decisions which were wrong.

These new figures highlight the dubious practice of using the unchallenged assessment results, which only encourage media sensationalisation, with headlines such as those appearing in the Daily Express in July 2011 stating that ’75% on sickness benefits were faking’. The same article goes on to say that out of ‘…2.6 million on the sick, 1.9 million could work’ before receiving an endorsement from the Prime Minister with an assurance that his government was “producing a much better system where we put people through their paces and say that if you can work, you should work”.

DWP and Ministers know the truth, they just aren’t telling anyone

These figures have been available to the DWP and its ministers since April 2010 from their ‘Decision Making & Appeals Case Recorder (DMACR) – ESA Management Information Statistics’. The DWP confirms this to be unpublished information which is for internal department information only, yet our research notes that the Right Hon Chris Grayling was using the same information in answer to Parliamentary questions on the 10th January 2012. 

We question then why the DWP has consistently ‘over promoted’ only the results of Work Capability Assessments relating to ‘initial’ decisions (including the opinions of Atos Healthcare in the absence of a statutory DWP decision) when it could instead have come clean and declared how hundreds of thousands of their incorrect decisions have since been overturned in favour of the person appealing.

These revelations seriously undermine the DWP’s contention that the initial Work Capability Assessment outcomes are a valid measure of the claimant’s ability to work. The DWP has consistently defended its assessments by giving an impression that only a relatively low number of decisions have been overturned whereas the reality is that well over half a million have resulted in a successful outcome for the claimant.

And this DOES NOT include the 712,000 people awaiting assessments BEFORE they can appeal

This news must have come as cause for grave concern when considered in the light of a recent revelation by DWP Minister Mike Penning which revealed that in addition to the figures we have highlighted, a further 712,000 Employment & Support Allowance claimants are awaiting assessments without which they cannot yet appeal.

This hugely unacceptable backlog of cases means people with disabling medical conditions are left hanging for months and months on a basic allowance way below what they are entitled to. This is leaving hundreds of thousands deprived of the support they require and means having to scrape by on money which is wholly insufficient to meet their needs due to disability and illness. It also means many claimants affected by severe and complex mental health conditions are facing prolonged torment as they wait month upon month for their decision to be overturned before they can even lodge an appeal.

Face up to reality: it doesn’t work. Scrap the WCA

These findings add considerably to the pleas of disabled groups all over the country to scrap the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and to find a better way to assess their needs.

It is simply appalling that the DWP, along with Ministers and other government spokespeople appear to be feeding the media with misleading statistics that are unrepresentative of the real story and instead encourage headlines vilifying the disabled and the genuinely ill. These figures clearly show the DWP has evidence in their possession which shows how in far too many cases the decisions it is making are dead wrong and they know they’re dead wrong.

Editorial notes

Please contact the author of this article Nick Dilworth for verification of any of the figures quoted.  We welcome sharing our findings on social media and allow this information to be produced providing credit is given to the
i-legal website with links to the article produced.

We apologise for the slight delay in publishing this release.  This was due to a need to align the figures to ones recently produced by the DWP in their Work Capability Assessment figures released on the 12th June 2014 which relate to the most recent statistics up to September 2013.

A full supporting explanatory memorandum will be published very shortly.

The Reconsideration statistics relate to new ESA claimants only (excluding incapacity benefit to ESA conversion cases) whereas HMCTS figures refer to all ESA claimants.  It is our contention that had the DWP supplied all of the information we had requested, the figures for reconsiderations would have been considerably higher.

We acknowledge that not all appeals will be against fit for work findings for new claimants but given the DWP’s emphasis on this claimant cohort and the lack of information to the contrary we are of the contention that other appeals relating to claimants being moved from the Work Related Activity Group to Support Group are likely to be of a much lower volume and more likely to be contained within the cohort relating to incapacity benefit/ESA assessment.

We would like to express our thanks to Anita Bellows an i-legal member for her cooperation and for making the freedom of information request upon our guidance and our thanks extend to the DPAC organisation with whom Anita is also a member.

http://ilegal.org.uk/thread/8640/release-staggering-numbers-overturned-secrecy?page=1&scrollTo=21759

with thanks as ever to Nick  @Mylegalforum

May 252014
 

From the Independent newspaper 9th April 1995 with thanks to Steve G- A lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same:

Disabled people aren’t going to take it any more: for today’s new militants, patient progress is not enough. They chain wheelchairs to buses, court arrest, scorn their gradualist brethren as “Tiny Tims” – and “piss on pity”

On a freezing morning two weeks ago, 20 or 30 disabled people met outside Parliament to protest. One man was blind, most of the others used wheelchairs. They spoke to Japanese television reporters and were photographed by teenage tourists from France and Germany. And they explained their unswerving opposition to the Government’s Disability Discrimination Bill – which was that day starting its Report Stage in the House of Commons. With the wind rushing across Westminster Bridge, the protesters made their way from Parliament Square to Downing Street, where the ambition was to present John Major with the means to provide a ramp to his residence: cement, a cement mixer, a shovel. Or rather, the ambition was to have these items photographed by the press. A demonstration organiser – a wheelchair user – kept in touch with his office and with the media by mobile telephone, but also kept up the cry: “What do we want? Civil rights! When do we want them? Now!”

Stuck into the cement mixer was a life-size, floppy model of John Major. And on its lapel was a badge that might have been taken wrongly by the shivering spectators – it might have been thought a satirical prcis of Mr Major’s position on disability. But the badge carried one of the rallying cries of the organisation that had set up this demonstration: the badge said, “Piss On Pity”.

Things are happening in the world of disability that never used to happen. There used to be charities called the Royal this and the Royal that, and there used to be Jimmy Savile, and bring-and-buys, and hard-won concessions from British Rail or Parliament – a ramp here, a statute there. Now, although the old system is still partly in place, and still bringing improvements to people’s lives, it has to seek an accommodation with a new, modern, radical politics: press stunts, mobile telephones, Piss On Pity badges, anger. (If you want to check the radicals’ progress against other liberation movements, it is useful to note that the word “crip” – like “nigger” and “queer” before it – is already being put to work by at least some of those once oppressed by it.)

But any accommodation – between the old and the new, between the organisations “for” disabled people, and those clearly “of” – has not yet been made, which leaves room for conflict. Today, inside the politics of disabled people (not – it is generally agreed – “the disabled”, not “people with disabilities”, not “the differently-abled”) there are bitter interdenominational battles, there are left and right wings, vanguards and rear-guards. Today, a conversation with a person who works at the political end of disability issues is likely to feature quick and robust abuse of a man or woman in the same business – someone is an “Uncle Tom” – or, better, a “Tiny Tim” – or “a sound bite expert” – or just “an arsehole”. Disabled politics are in something of a heightened state, and this is because the question has not yet been settled: which will work best – patience or impatience?

ALAN HOLDSWORTH, who is impatient, is a leading light – if not exactly the leader – of the Disabled People’s Direct Action Network (DAN). DAN is the most radical, visible, publicity-accruing part of Britain’s disability movement, and it was DAN that was responsible for the event at Westminster.

Holdsworth lives in a comfortable, cluttered suburban house in Wood Green, north London. Although he uses a wheelchair over longer distances and during demonstrations, he walks to open his own door: a big, muscly, long- haired, youngish man. He unclicks a leg brace after he has sat down. He will not tell me the nature of his disability – the cause of his impairment – because, he says, that would then get stuck to his name in my article: and that would be no less unsound, he says, than attaching a woman’s name to the colour of her hair. “So no comment. We’re trying to move the press off that. It would be `Alan Holdsworth, polio victim’. They’d know that before they knew anything else.”

Holdsworth speaks with the well-practised passion – turbo-charged, now and then, with hyperbole – of any other single-issue campaigner. (“What’s the difference between the treatment of disabled people in Britain, and apartheid?” he asks me. He sees none.) His slogans are “Piss On Pity”, and “We Will Ride” and “Rights Not Charity”; Jimmy Savile is a “patronising old git”. Other campaigns will follow, but DAN’s immediate stated ambition is to end the discrimination represented by inaccessible transport – DAN has a banner that reads: “To boldly go where all others have gone before”. If you ask Holdsworth what he wants, he says: “All new buses accessible by law by a certain date, all buses under 15 years old accessible by the next refit, all national coaches and buses accessible within seven years … the Tube within 15 years…” Critics have alleged that the “disabled lobby” is in an impossible hurry. But even Alan Holdsworth is not absurdly unrealistic: he is impatient to see change, but he seems more impatient to see change started; for this is he would be willing to go to prison.

And here disability politics divides. Holdsworth has no time for the old “for” organisations that have seemed willing to wait. Indeed, Holdsworth sells a T-shirt that is specifically scornful of the long-established and relatively conservative umbrella group Radar (the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation). The T-shirt reads “Rights Not Radar”. Holdsworth says: “I got a letter from Bert Massie [director of Radar], saying, `I thought we were working together, is this thing really helpful?’ I haven’t written back, it’s not a priority for me, but when I do I’ll say, `Dear Bert, it sold 40 shirts; and that means that two people can get to one of our actions. If he wants to put `Fuck Alan Holdsworth’ on a T-shirt and it gets two people to an action, I don’t mind.”

In his living-room, Holdsworth gently interrupts his young daughter’s Pingu video to play a compilation tape of news coverage of DAN actions: the demonstrations at Parliament, the chainings to buses, the giant letter delivered to Downing Street last summer – the gestures that have suddenly become a part of the British political landscape. Now and then he corrects the screen – “Victoria Scott wasn’t a `protest leader’!” – or he remembers: “That was a slick demo, that was great fun…” Holdsworth’s daughter echoes the marchers on the tape. “What do we want?” she says. “Civil rights! When do we want them? Now!” Then her concentration wanders: “What do we want?” she says, “Pingu!”

It depends a little on definitions, but it seems that the history of disabled direct action goes back no further than the late Eighties. There were demonstrations before then, but no concerted efforts to break the law – and none of today’s focused, flamboyant, therapeutic, photogenic gestures. In 1989, Holdsworth and others protested in Chesterfield against the decision to pedestrianise the town centre without making allowance for cars with disabled orange badges. In that action, disabled people parked, were given tickets, and refused to pay the fines. Either this event, or one of the actions carried out at around the same time by the Campaign for Accessible Transport (CAT) can probably be regarded as the start of disabled direct action in this country.

In 1990, Holdsworth and colleagues targeted the ITV Telethon, by then a decade old. “It was showing disabled people leading horrible lives,” he says, “very tragic – `Isn’t it a shame?’, all that – getting the public to pity us rather than feel angry, with us, for the situation we were in.” Holdsworth started ringing disabled friends, proposing some sort of demonstration, and he was taken aback by the vehemence of the response. “I thought, well, this is going to work, people are so angry about it. That was the explosion in direct action terms.” Five hundred people turned up to demonstrate at the LWT studios on the South Bank. “That was the Great Leap Forward,” says another disabled man on the demonstration, Michael Oliver. “It was a street party, but we won all the arguments.” The next Telethon, which drew 2,000 demonstrators, was the last.

The direct action movement now had momentum. DAN was officially formed, and, since then, has made its presence felt at the Christchurch by-election in 1993, at the Tate Gallery in London, at Kenneth Clarke’s surgery, at Harrods… Last spring, DAN held an action at Leeds City railway station. “The local authority had spent £40,000 on disabled people. But what they’d done is build a garden at the end of the platform, which was being opened by Jimmy Savile, who is one of the most hated figures in the movement. A hated figure. He drew at least half the people to the demo – because it was him who was opening the garden. So we all went down there, a little farty garden. We camped on it. We just covered it with wheelchair-users.”

In his office in his front room, Holdsworth laughs, and flicks a cigarette butt out of the window. His daughter comes in with a small globe and asks where we are.

DISABLED direct action – and “Piss on Pity” – are part of a broader British disability “movement” that has still not come of age. It is a movement whose history is written differently depending on what position you take in the current debate – the debate between “ofs” and “fors”; most ofs would not regard the fors as any part of their history. Michael Oliver, quoted above, is a radical, the Professor of Disability Studies at Greenwich University; he passes over the histories of the grand old “for” institutions, “the dead hand of charity”, and concentrates instead on such milestones as members of the National League of the Blind and Disabled taking their place in the Jarrow March.

But, as Oliver acknowledges, much of this history is unwritten, unclaimed. The modern disability movement is too young to have done what other liberation movements have done – restore lost heroes, find Mary Wollstonecrafts and Nat Turners. And besides its youth, the movement has a problem those other movements never had: “Not that long ago,” says one activist, “if you had spina bifida you died two hours after birth; it’s hard to get much of a reputation in two hours.”

In Oliver’s view, the modern disability movement grew out the prosperity of the Sixties, and the failure of disabled people, among other disadvantaged groups, to share in that prosperity. In the Seventies and Eighties, as feminism, anti-racism, gay rights, animal rights began to find a place in national politics, disabled people started to understand their plight in political terms. Disabled people began to “come out”: this is a metaphor used fairly commonly in the movement. Oliver’s own experience is a useful guide: son of working-class parents, he broke his neck in a holiday camp swimming-pool as a teenager; he spent a year at Stoke Mandeville. In 1972, now a wheelchair user, he started a sociology degree at the University of Kent. “I became involved in student politics and other radical left organisations. But I hadn’t become part of disability politics. I thought the Socialist revolution was going to solve everybody’s problems.”

As a postgraduate, Oliver started to consider how hopelessly flawed most thinking and writing on disability was – it was produced by able-bodied academics working on the assumption that illness and disability were the same thing. Oliver “came out” academically. It dawned on him that there was a sociology of disability to be constructed; he could study himself. Twenty years on, Oliver can take much credit for setting the academic agenda. His great contribution to disability studies has been in getting the “social model” of disability understood as a serious challenge to the medical model. That is to say: in the medical model, a man in a wheelchair cannot get where he wants to get because his body is not up to it. The social model acknowledges that the man has an “impairment”, but sees the obstacle as the cause of disablement. “The fact that I have polio,” one disabled man told me, in classic social model fashion, “is nothing to do with the fact that there are 17 steps to the Town Hall. It’s the 17 steps to the Town Hall that I see as the problem.” This does not mean – except, perhaps, in the minds of those who are stratospherically extreme – that Ben Nevis should be wheelchair-accessible, but it does aim to put the ball back in the court of those whose job it is to organise the world – and its buildings and its transport.

It was against this background – and the examples of other single-issue political movements and of America’s disability politics – that the disability movement began to take shape in Britain. Institutions were established; individuals came out.

For example: Adam Thomas is a young man – dark glasses and headscarf, a former interior designer – who has to use a wheelchair following a motorcycle accident 15 years ago. Right up until last year, he was in a state that might be called denial. “I denied that I was being segregated. I blocked the fact that I couldn’t get into certain buildings.” The turning point was the kindness of his best friend, who told Thomas that, obviously, he wouldn’t move into anything but a ground-floor flat. Thomas, while touched, was struck for the first time how other friends had not done the same. And last year, for the first time, Thomas became aware of the “movement”. As soon as he was aware of it, he became a part of it. This is now his life.

Another example: Eddy Hardy is 29, a Liverpool-born artist with a fashion- beard. He uses a wheelchair, and is now active in DAN. “I’ve had my impairment from birth. It was only about six years ago that I came to accept my identity as a disabled person. I didn’t particularly like disabled people. But one day I was watching the TV news, and it was these militant crips in the road in the USA. I thought, yeah, I can have some of that.”

A DECADE ahead of DAN’s direct action, the first real institutional sign of the disability movement’s arrival in Britain was the setting up of an umbrella organisation – the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People (BCODP) – in 1981. It was democratic, it was run by disabled people, it subscribed to the social model. It started with six affiliate members, and it is a sign of widespread individual comings out that it now has more than 100 affiliates – mostly local coalitions of disabled people. BCODP regards itself as having very little in common with, say, Radar, Mind, Mencap, RNIB, Cheshire Homes. “There is a degree of antagonism,” says Richard Wood, Executive Director of BCODP. “There is bound to be, isn’t there? Because traditional power bases are now being threatened by disabled people.”

To some in the old guard, BCODP unfairly underestimates the changes that are now taking place and that have already taken place in the traditional organisations. (The RNID has just appointed its first-ever deaf chief executive, for example, and the Spastics Society, under pressure from disabled people, has changed its name to Scope.) And more conservative disabled campaigners argue that the radical position unfairly underplays those institutions and techniques that – in a process that may now look painfully gradual – have so improved the lives of disabled people since the Sixties. “Improved by 100 per cent – improved attitudes, awareness,” says Sir Peter Large, an influential disabled man of an earlier generation, who has sat on many committees, helped draft legislation, argued with MPs. He talks of mobility allowance, attendance allowance: “These have benefited millions… BCODP have done very little in practical terms.” According to Sir Peter, the radicals are wrong to neglect the significance of, say, Alf Morris’s Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act of 1970: “He put disabled people on the map. He really started the whole move to improve things.” Piss on Pity? “I know exactly what they mean, but if you go up to an MP with that on I don’t think he’s or she’s likely to be warm to you – if they’re not already interested. But I know exactly what they mean.”

Bert Massie, who runs Radar, and is a wheelchair user, is a bte noir of the radicals. You get the impression of a man who accepted a job as a charity worker but who has found himself, suddenly, a politician. “In the past,” he says, “there was a greater acceptance of an incremental approach. People never rowed about disability.” The effect of the “fundamentalists”, he accepts, has been partly good. “I don’t know,” he says, “how Radar would have evolved if there hadn’t been fundamentalist pressure…” But he says that Radar cannot run too far ahead of its constituents. While the stereotype of a disabled person is probably a middle-aged man in a wheelchair, the most representative type, in truth, would be a elderly woman with arthritis, who might feel – along with many other of Britain’s 6.5 million disabled people – that she has little in common with, say, the members of DAN. There are disabled people, says Massie, who don’t regard themselves as disabled; there are disabled people who are Conservatives: “I’ve had people in here saying, wouldn’t it be better if you abolished social security, and had disabled people sponsored by private companies.”

Thanks to his position at the head of a fairly well-funded “for” organisation, and thanks to his support for incremental methods, and thanks to his recent claim to see some (flawed) virtue in the Government’s Disability Discrimination Bill, Massie is regarded with great hostility by many “fundamentalists”. Rachel Hurst, a radical with a sharp political sense, says, “Our voice has been shut out by the established charities. Some staff at Radar I’ve got more time for than I can say. [But] I wouldn’t mind shooting the man at the top. He is an Uncle Tom, Mr Massie… He actually doesn’t care a toss about the rights of disabled people.”

THIS, today, is the kind of observation one disability worker tends to make of another. But in this newly complex and sometimes hostile world of disabled politics, there is a miraculous and rather precarious piece of common ground – it’s a coalition called Rights Now! At Rights Now!, weapons are left at the door, and most of the important disabled organisations – both “of” and “for” – meet to promote civil rights legislation. Last year – another Great Leap Forward – the civil rights argument was won. At some point, legislation may follow.

The battle has been for legislation that, like its racial and sexual equivalents, would outlaw discrimination against disabled people (in employment, education, transport). The cost of implementing such a law has always been at the heart of resistance to it, but the Government’s figure of £17bn over five years has been widely disputed, and it has been shown how similar legislation in the USA has not, in fact, been as alarming to small businesses as was feared. The conversion of disabled people into employees and into more promiscuous consumers has had its economic benefits.

In May 1994, however, a private member’s bill, the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, was killed messily by the Government, and the minister for disabled people, Nicholas Scott, eventually had to resign. But before his resignation in July, it became known that Scott had a daughter called Victoria Scott – young, non-disabled – who works for Radar. And, to the delight of the media, she was happy to give interviews on the subject of her father’s political shortcomings. To a great extent, it was due to this well-reported Antigone sub-plot that discrimination against disabled people became something of a hot media issue last year – the subject, for example, of a supportive Sun editorial. And because the press was now interested, demonstrations held by disabled people were widely reported. “I’d been trying get some coverage,” says one campaigner, “I was ringing the TV – the Big Breakfast, whatever – they weren’t interested. When the Vicky Scott story broke, they were ringing us.”

The penny seemed to drop. “People saw it,” says Rachel Hurst, “as a civil rights movement. Not just those poor sods can’t get on the bus.” Thanks to the failure of a bill about civil rights, the idea of disabled civil rights seemed to take hold. You could feel an earlier model of pity and passivity slipping away. MPs began to get many more letters and have disabled issues raised more frequently at surgeries. Consciousnesses were raised, not only among able-bodied people (“people with abilities” as one disabled radical has mockingly put it) but among sceptical disabled people who had remained politically “in” ; demonstrations swelled in numbers; individual (rather than institutional) membership of Rights Now! increased eight- fold in one year. And it was a mark of what had happened that articles scornful of “the disabled lobby” started to appear in national newspapers and magazines: as most campaigners would want it, sympathy – pity – had been removed from the equation.

THE FRIDAY night before last, DAN’s “Piss on Pity” mugs were selling fast in a rather overlit bar in the centre of Cardiff. After two days of a three-day series of actions in the city, DAN members had hired a room to have a drink, to contemplate the previous days’ events (an action each day, six arrests, the first ever actual charges, some fairly thorough TV coverage), and to consider the Big Action the next day, when they were hitting the bus station.

By 9pm the bar was filled with disabled people, full of solidarity and good humour and Carling Black Label. Inevitably, perhaps, DAN members are disproportionately young, articulate, mobile; although one regular protester, Sharon Mace, lies on a kind of horizontal wheelchair. (It is one of the brakes on the direct action movement that many people cannot get to actions, and once there, they cannot just sleep on someone’s floor – as they would have done, say, on a CND demonstration; the accessible hotel in a town is likely to be the most expensive.) In the bar, there was talk of “hip crips” and “crips with chips”. There were several radical- left cropped hair cuts (worn with the standard, tipped-back wool hats), there were copies of Militant on the tables (DAN’s treasurer, among others, is a Militant member). People who had never met before this week were testing new friendships by the use of exaggerated abuse, or hands left on shoulders. There was something of a chair-jam at the bar. A woman who imports the handcuffs that DAN members use to attach themselves to buses and trains was describing the problems she has with HM Customs and Excise. This is disabled politics at its most uncompromising, its most underground and – although this is not quite the point – at its grooviest.

As much as anger, the bar in Cardiff seemed full of people’s extraordinary sense of their own place at the start of a political process; people seemed light-headed not only with lager, but with the thought of making history. A DAN action – there have been about 60 – has an effect on several levels: it draws press attention to a particular, local issue; it keeps disabled civil rights on the agenda; it projects, through the media, images of disabled people looking rather less than pitiful or vulnerable; and for those on the action, it can be an experience of almost overwhelming personal empowerment. “There are disabled people,” says Eddy Hardy, “who watch us on TV and think [with disapproval]: `Oh God.’ But for every five or six of them, there’s one going, `Yes!’, thinking about it for the first time, coming out.” Once out, once on the street, “The feeling of pride and power is unbelievable. We’re told we’re weak; but today we stopped the traffic. We had an effect. It’s amazing… Today, I was lifted by the police, and everybody, all the others, were waiting for me. And cheering. And for a moment you’re a hero of the movement.” He checks himself. “But we’re all heroes. All heroes.”

In the bar in Cardiff, there was a lot of talk about pride (“We have our own culture”), a commodity which has been at the heart of other liberation movements, but you might have thought it was less accessible to disabled people. How far can you take the idea of disability pride if you would not wish your child, say, to have the same impairment as yourself? In more conservative disabled circles, people tend to say that a disabled child “would be no tragedy at all”. But in DAN, there are those who go the whole way: “If I have any kids,” says Hardy, “I hope they’re disabled. Then they’ll be militant bastards like me. If they’re crips, they’re going to learn what handcuffs are…”

The next day, shortly before he was arrested for his part in blocking Cardiff’s bus station, and inconveniencing its many passengers, Eddy Hardy joined the chant of 100 disabled people: “We’re DAN, you’re trapped, get used to it.” !

Link: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/spitting-on-charity-1614885.html

Where are they now?

Alan Holdsworth aka Johnny Crescendo still active in the US

Sharon Mace changed her name to Rowen Jade became chair of Equality 2025 rumoured to have helped in the DANing of Equality 2025, died in 2010

Richard Wood now an uncompromising disability consultant last we heard

Rachel Hurst founded Disability Awareness in Action and also worked to make significant changes with DPI and the UN,  retired

Mike Oliver retired, spoke at last Disability History month on independent living, writes for Disability Now 

RADAR-Now part of Disability Rights UK ( DRUK) merged with National Centre for Independent Living and Disability Alliance in 2012, thanks to NCIL promotes itself as an ‘of’ disabled people organisation. It also runs the All Parliamentary Party Group (APPG) and Disability Action Alliance an off shoot from the Disability Strategy

Bert Massey previously chair of the Disability Rights Committee, most recently chair of Labour’s Disability Taskforce commissioned by Liam Byrne MP. The taskforce also included Roger Berry, Neil Crowther, Agnes Fletcher, Kaliya Franklin and Ian Greaves

BCODP became UKDPC

Disability Discrimination Act replaced by the Equality Act (2010) became more diluted when the Condems removed Economic and Social impacts. Condems failed to have it removed as what they called  ‘red tape’

Mind, Mencap, RNIB, Cheshire Homes and SCOPE still going and still speaking for us

“Rights Not Charity” more relevant now than ever

Jimmy Saville- we all know what happened there

Let us know the ones we’ve missed

 

May 182014
 

Disabled people have long been oppressed by professionals saying they’re acting in our ‘best interests’ as an excuse to maintain their own interests. One of the latest is their ‘take’ on facilitated communication, used by many across the world to express their voice if they do not have speech. FC is the use of a keyboard on which the user types what they want to say see the great piece written by the brilliant Quiet Riot

FC device being used to buy ice cream

communication board in hand doing ordinary things like buying an ice cream. This does not require a “transition plan” or “a service delivery audit” Or a specialist training programme to create a team of ” Whippy Therapist”

Some claim FC is incorrect and shouldn’t be used. DPAC fundamentally disagrees and fully supports FC. But, of course keeping people voiceless is much more profitable for ‘professionals’, charities and other groups whose livelihoods and/or donations often depend on our oppression and on keeping us powerless and silent. This has been evident throughout disabled peoples’ history.

Imagine the loss of contracts, work they get to psycho – analyse us. The lesser need for speech therapists, researchers, psychologists, service providers and academics,and the drop in donations to pay top salaries to their charity directors if we develop our own challenging voices-of course its in their interests to deny any method that empowers our voice if it renders them obsolete!

All those denying our voices through which ever means we chose to express them are violating our human rights as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons (UNCRPD) which argues we have a right to use any method we chose for communication including FC and that this should be respected and accepted. But in the so called disability business (i.e those who make money from us and from maintaining our oppression) profit speaks louder than human rights.

Please see below to find out how this can happen when the vested interests of ‘professional power attempts to overturn human rights…….

The ISAAC attack on the Communication used by Increasing numbers of Disabled People.

The International Society of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) released a “Position Statement” on facilitated communication (FC) on 23rd April 2014 to its international membership.

Along with theposition statement on FC, ISAAC finally issued the identities of the ad hoc committee, who were selected to deliver the statement. The majority of the committee had publicly condemned FC prior to joining the committee. Therefore, the condemnation of FC following their deliberations was the expected outcome.

The ISAAC ad hoc committee used flawed methodologies, collected biased data to support an unexplained hypothesis and cited highly selective references to create a spurious position statement on FC.

However, most significantly the committee refused to consult with disabled people who use FC. ISAAC had identified just one disabled person who was a member of this committee but this person did not use FC.

The remainder of the committee were Speech Therapists, Researchers, Psychologists, and Academics. There was no representation of people using the communication they were writing a “position statement” on. Such oppressive practice has no place in an organisation established supposedly to support a persons right to communication.

Rosemary Crossley (the founder of FC) alongside many disabled people using FC, had made many, well received presentations to large audiences at ISAAC events. Now following the work of the ad hoc committee FC, as a method of communication for increasing numbers of disabled people, has been dismissed as invalid.

This outcome appears to have been contrived to protect the power of professionals and academics whilst ignoring the rights of communication for disabled people using FC .

ISAAC have not established committees to create position statements on other alternative means of communication accepted within ISAAC ; Picture Exchange Communication System.(PECS), Rapid Prompt Method (RPM). This is another indication of the deliberate attempt to isolate and devalue FC by a group of professionals and academics whose status and “expertise” is seriously challenged by the authentic voice of disabled people.

Such an approach by ISAAC management requires the subjugation and acquiescence of disabled people and is an abuse of professional power.

This abuse of power and from professionals is being seriously challenged by large numbers of disabled people and their allies. Similar resistance to protect academic vested interests was used to stop the introduction of sign language and Braille and it took major struggle from Deaf and Blind people with their allies to overcome such oppressive practice.

ISAAC and it’s associated chapters state that:

The International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) works to improve the lives of children and adults who use AAC. (Augmentative and Alternative Communication). ISAACs vision is that AAC will be ! recognized, valued and used throughout the world. ISAACs mission is to promote the best possible communication for people with complex communication needs.

 By dismissing a valued means of communication ISAAC management are devaluing hundreds of their members and in doing so fundamentally undermine the ISAAC  mission statement.

This position statement has given a licence to “hate speech” about FC which cannot go unchallenged. The ISAAC committee have excluded a section of their own membership because they use FC. I invite members of ISAAC to demonstrate their protest at such an abuse of power and an abuse of thousands of disabled people around the world.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing” Edmund Burke.

 Adam Barrett

BA (Hons), PGCE, MEd, FC Trainer.

 

May 182014
 

ocap_logo_biggerDPAC_coloured_Logo_2__normal

If you’ve been following this on twitter and face book, you’ll know what a great success the first international #dpactour has been. The excellent Ellen Clifford of DPAC travelled to Canada at the invitation of John Clarke of Ontario Coalition against Poverty (OCAP).

John and OCAP have been great allies to DPAC, supporting us since 2012 ATOS Games protests, and DPAC was happy to return that support. We want to thank all for inviting us to share the knowledge of #dpac campaigns and actions, and the history of the unelected coalition Government’s appalling treatment and stripping of rights from disabled people.

The terrifying model of the coalition is spreading with punitive, harmful and potentially murderous regimes being taken up by other Tories at international and European levels. Canada have an election coming up and already plans similar to those carried out in Britain are starting to take shape. The Canadian people wanted to hear from #dpac on how they could increase campaigns and what was happening here to disabled people. Ellen and John did a tour letting people know what could be done, what has been done and how to fight it.

Remember: #internationalsolidarity, ‘fight to win’, ‘austerity is global so is our resistance’

With thanks to everyone involved we reproduce below some pictures from the #dpactour- more on the #dpactour to come..so watch this space

 

johnBm_SC6NCMAAhiZDBnEZ0Z8IEAApL5gBnKNjYeIcAASqw3BnjRGT0IIAAGlRKBnjSpx8IAAA8DE1BnjWpUlIQAA3AdPBnoVYa7IgAAIGtMBnrPXbnCMAAeNw8

May 162014
 

We are asking all local council candidates to pledge their support for developing inclusive education practice if elected onto the council.

For DPAC members not standing, we want your local council candidates to pledge their support for inclusive education practice.

We would like to have a photo of candidate with his or her party rosette, name, borough and ward and a sentence or two on why she or he is supporting ALLFIE’s manifesto demands.

We would like to aim for every candidate to offer his or her support for inclusion.

Please follow link: http://www.allfie.org.uk/pages/work/manifesto.html

Send photos to simone.aspis@allfie.org.uk

 

May 142014
 

More and more terrible evidence is emerging of what is really happening under the guise of Belgium’s euthanasia law. So we are calling on the Belgian Parliament to suspend its law permitting euthanasia and to conduct a full and transparent review of the practices carried out in its name.

If you agree that Belgium should suspend the practice of euthanasia until more information is available about what is really going on please sign our petition to the Belgian Parliament.

Background information

Belgium’s euthanasia law has now been extended to children of any age. Children under the age of eight barely have a concept of death and many teenagers especially if they are in a typically ‘rebellious’ frame of mind might not have a real grasp of the consequences of their actions.

Evidence now shows that older people with dementia are being euthanized in Belgium even though there can be no question of someone with dementia giving full and informed consent to their deaths.

 

There are other illegal practices happening in Belgium such as nurses performing euthanasia – and massive failure to report by doctors carrying out euthanasia (in 47% of cases). The leading euthanasia doctor in Belgium is also the president of the commission which is supposed to regulate the practice of euthanasia. This is a clear conflict of interest. He has had a complaint against him after he euthanized a depressed mother with no other illness.

Belgium saw a five-fold increase from 235 in 2003 (the first full year) to 1,432 in 2012.

The country is increasingly known not just for the steady annual rises in deaths, but also for the increasing proportion of deaths not prompted by terminal illness, including the notable 2013 cases of deaf-blind, transgender and depressed people being euthanized.

We are calling on the Belgian Parliament to suspend its law permitting euthanasia and to conduct a full and transparent review of the practices carried out in its name.

The link to the petition run by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Europe is HERE 

Given that the assisted suicide Bill is soon to return for another reading at Westminster we urge all to make your feelings known about the impact of unlawful killing by any name in this country, and in others.

follow EPCE on twitter:

twitter: @epceurope

May 082014
 

As on many past occasions (Hillsborough, Orgreave) police in South Yorkshire have once again worked against the human rights of UK citizens today (7th May). Over 100 people who were joining the 6th ‘The Freedom Ride’ (1) were prevented from entering Barnsley railway station and exercising their Article 11 human right to peaceful protest, instead being turned away from what is supposed to be a public facility by police and station staff. People from across South Yorkshire have been taking direct action to overturn the decision by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive to remove the right to free travel for all concession holders on South Yorkshire trains(2); the legality of this decision is currently being challenged in the courts (3).

Action takers from Sheffield and Doncaster later travelled by train, refusing to pay or show their passes in protest at the decision by councillors in South Yorkshire to axe their right to free train travel, and joined the peaceful action outside Barnsley train station.

uku shefiield

Although South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive point to a £300,000 budget cut for their narrow vote to remove concessionary travel on South Yorkshire trains, David Kirkham (UKUncut Sheffield) said:

“SYPTE say they can no longer afford concessionary travel for disabled people and older people on South Yorkshire trains. These concessions are a lifeline for people in South Yorkshire, one of the most deprived areas of the country with the lowest average income. People rely on the concessions to get to work, reach medical appointments and to travel to places of education. The claim that concessions are unaffordable on trains in South Yorkshire sits ill with the fact that the chief operator of trains in South Yorkshire, Northern Rail, made £40.1m profit on the back of inflation busting fare rises, according to latest available figures (4) Northern Rail are also part owned by Serco and Dutch national rail operator Abellio; Serco received billions in public subsidy each year (5) for government contracts and have also been accused of defrauding the taxpayer over their prison contracts. A company that already makes huge profits on the back of profiteering from the tax payer and shifting profits out of the country to The Netherlands, which refuses to disclose how much public money goes into the pockets of shareholders and directors has a hard time convincing people it cannot afford to allow people for whom its trains are a vital lifeline to travel on them for free.”

Email: Sheffield.uncut@hotmail.co.uk
Mobile: 07936 589 443

ENDS

(1) The Freedom Ride 6 https://www.facebook.com/events/284100701751065/?fref=ts

(2) Axe set to fall on free train travel for old folk across South Yorkshire. http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/business/axe-set-to-fall-on-free-train-travel-for-old-folk-across-south-yorkshire-1-6416945

(3) South Yorkshire Legal Challenge to SYPTE http://www.bing.com/search?q=south+yorkshirew++legal+challenge+to+SYPTE&qs=n&form=QBRE&pq=south+yorkshirew+legal+challenge+to+sypte&sc=0-0&sp=-1&sk=&cvid=9de6400f2ca24739a9450b3a6f050e6d

(4) Northern Rail, which this week introduced inflation-busting fare rises for passengers, saw annual profits surge by 34 per cent last year, most recent accounts reveal. http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/business/business-news/northern_rail_puts_profits_up_by_34_per_cent_1_4114849

(5) Sick of Serco? Join the protest with We Own It on 8 May http://falseeconomy.org.uk/blog/sick-of-serco-join-the-protest-with-we-own-it-on-8-may

May 082014
 

“An Inclusive Education and a Fulfilling Life” Conference Saturday 7th June 2014 10am until 3.30pm
Email: afulfillinglife2012@gmail.com
Accessible Venue Kahawa Café 163 New Union Street
Coventry CV1 2PL

Purpose: This conference sets out to bring together disabled people, the parents of disabled children and those with SEN, and their non-disabled allies to explore common ground, opportunities and choice with regard to independent living and enjoying an education alongside their peers.

The conference will:
• Be respectful and accessible
• Be informative and participatory
• Use cooperative learning approaches
• Give examples of where things are working
• Discuss why life is getting harder for disabled people.

Refreshments: Lunch provided

The charge will be: £2.00 disabled people and family members
£4.00 for allies (professionals etc)
This in a not-for-profit event; all proceeds are to cover the cost of the conference. Please pay on the day but we do need a definite commitment that you are coming so we can make arrangements.

Interested in attending or want more information?

Please book a place: Email: afulfillinglife2012@gmail.com
Organisers: Elaine Hill, Rob Punton, Keith Venables, Caroline & Maresa MacKeith
Advisors: Katie Clarke, Steve Cooper & Tara Flood
Text or call: 0780 587 8729

For more information about ALLFIE: http://www.allfie.org.uk

 

May 082014
 

Dear Sir,
I received the attached leaflet yesterday and my wife a similar (smaller) one today, both unsolicited. We demand an explanation as to where and from whom you obtained our personal data as I believe that you have mis-used it and may even have obtained it unfairly or unlawfully.

We require this within fourteen days or I shall make a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office. I shall do so in any event, should said explanation not be satisfactory. Furthermore, we require you cease any processing and to delete our personal information – however obtained – and never contact us again.

In any case, given that I regard the Conservative Party as only minimally above the British National and UK Independence Parties in the food chain of malignant bigotry, I find the leaflet to be offensive as well a tissue of lies and misrepresentation.

For example:

• You claim to have created or promise to create ‘a stronger economy at home’. For whom exactly? The much-trumpeted job creation schemes have been proven to be riddled with fraud and incompetence – by government and providers – and to have created fewer than 30,000 jobs – most of them of the lowest paid class? You appear bent on creating, effectively, a slave economy in all but name.

• You claim to have created or promise to create ‘renewed respect abroad’? Almost certainly only from governments such as the United States to which you are proven sycophants (see e.g. the reaction to Edward Snowden’s revelations, Russia, Ukraine, et al). The previous administration’s tenure in regard to the so-called ‘special relationship’ can be summed up, somewhat crudely as Bend Over For Bush, but the Conservatives have turned that into a fine art.

• You claim to have wrought or want ‘real change in Europe’. How exactly? You scream like stuck pigs every time a decision or negotiation goes against you and have no apparent clue as to the founding ethos behind the European Union, or European Coal & Steel Community as it originally was. Remind me, who took us into Europe? Might it have been a Conservative government?

• ‘Cut the deficit by a third’? Really? Apparently only by (1) increasing concessions to those who contribute least to the Exchequer (i.e. bankers and tax-dodging businesses) as well as a malignant and persistent attack on justice – overseen by a Minister who knows nothing of the justice system and couldn’t care less. Your party – by way of its odious coalition with the Liberal Democrats – have made access to justice little more than a sick joke. (2) By attacking the most vulnerable in society, among which I count myself.

• ‘Create more jobs’? See above.

• ‘Cut tax’? Again, for whom? Principally for those who do everything they can to avoid paying it at all, presumably.

• ‘Control immigration’? How? Your history – particularly recent history – would suggest that you intend to achieve this by racist attacks, particularly in the press and via equally racist and unlawful publicity as well as racist stop-and-search campaigns instigated by a Minister forced to resign when it was revealed that he himself employed an illegal immigrant!

• ‘Cut the costs of Europe’? The greatest savings could arguably be made by the government/party complying with their legal obligations and not fighting every decision simply because it doesn’t serve Conservative rather than British or European interests. Furthermore, your projected savings in this regard of £8.15bn are also misleading, perhaps fraudulent, given that the Chancellor changed the tax regime for the largest corporations – at a projected cost to the exchequer of between £5bn and £10bn a year over the next six years. The Institute for Public Policy Research also showed that a tax on financial transactions of a mere 0.01% would raise at least £25bn a year. Perhaps that was ignored because that would impact party funding by losing you the support of such people?

Perhaps you could also explain why the British Government has thus far failed or refused to ratify the recent European convention on violence against women.

• ‘Defend Britain’s interests’? See earlier comment on the founding ethos of the EU and then read some recent European history!

• ‘Keeping our border controls and cracking down on benefit tourism’. To use an American expression: What a crock! This is pure saloon bar politics, as are previous claims by the Conservatives with regard to so-called ‘health service tourism’ which has been proven to benefit, rather than detract from the national and local economies. Your claims regarding ‘benefit tourism’ are also equally misleading and fraudulent given that several bodies have found UK benefits to be manifestly inadequate in any case.

• ‘Securing more trade but not an ‘ever closer union’ ‘. Fraudulent twaddle, given that the two will ultimately be mutually exclusive where European trade is concerned.

• ‘Getting a better deal for British Taxpayers’. Which taxpayers exactly? Perhaps you might explain why, for example, Rinat Akhmetov pays less Council Tax on two flats in Hyde Park purchased for £136.4m than does the owner of a house in Blackburn, Lancashire valued at £115,939 – on which they probably have a mortgage? By the way, Rinat Akhmetov is an immigrant, but I have yet to read any racist Conservative rhetoric directed against him and his ilk.

Perhaps you might also explain why, while poor people are being forced out of their homes due to government cuts, the government is increasing the subsidy it provides for grouse moors (owned by roughly 1% of the so-called 1%) from £30 per hectare to £56?

• ‘Capping welfare and reducing immigration’? It is typical of the Conservatives to conflate two classes of people in this regard that they continue to denigrate as ‘scroungers’ – both by implication (by repeatedly and fraudulently referring to ‘hard-working people’) and directly. Since the very second it entered office the coalition has mounted a malignant, vicious and discriminatory war on the sick and disabled to the extent that it is directly responsible for hundreds of deaths – led by a Minister who is not only manifestly incompetent, but (repeatedly) a proven liar and failed party leader. Your politician’s continued and blatant lying pronouncements with regard to food banks are also about as despicable as it comes. You might also explain – with regard to the disabled (of whom I am one) – why, despite funding for ‘Access for All’ having been cut by roughly half (or eliminated), the government appears to be allocating what spending there is for rail improvements to predominantly coalition areas?

You might also explain something else: Despite introducing a completely vindictive benefit cap (£26,000) – the rationale for which is, short of the Conservative brand of malignant bigotry – completely evidence-free. The government instigated this while fighting desperately in Europe against a proposed cap of ten times that on the subsidies which agriculture can legally claim. The largest 170-odd landowners in Britain now collectively claim £120m. Who was profligate with the budget there Mr. Mabbutt? It was the coalition – predominantly made up of Conservatives – who fought that cap. Might that be because a significant number of your members are landowners?

The party and government’s pronouncements on immigration are also fraudulent and discriminatory given that a significant proportion of immigrants start businesses which go on to actually employ people! This is a claim that cannot truthfully be made of most government schemes during the current or previous Conservative governments. The Conservatives also either gloss over the contributions that immigrants have made to this country – Sir Alec Issigonis as one example, Dame Doreen Lawrence for another – or ignore them altogether, airbrushing them out of British history.

• ‘Delivering the best schools and skills for young people’. Utter rubbish! Education funding is more under attack now than it ever has been, with overworked teachers, fewer or non-existent resources and attacks on wages and conditions for all staff, let alone teachers. Standards are falling under a clueless Minister and a government interested in political advantage rather than meaningful change. My own granddaughter was also the victim of this fraud. She was following a so-called ‘apprenticeship’ on slave wages of £2.10 per hour and, just prior to the projected end of this modern-day slavery, was the victim of a trumped-up disciplinary offence and dismissed despite having out-performed even most of her supervisors. Thanks to government ‘reforms’ she cannot afford to seek redress through an Employment Tribunal. She also has significant talents in signing for hearing impaired people but cannot obtain employment in that field as she cannot afford to attend university to obtain the requisite qualifications.

Higher education has become increasingly elitist – giving the further lie to your claims regarding education. I was fortunate enough, when I became disabled, to be able to attend university as a mature student (1995-1999 and 2005-2008) via grants, student loans and Disabled Student Awards in an effort to make myself employable. I sincerely doubt that would be possible today – particularly given the cuts to support for disabled students.

This was, however, ultimately futile (other than the education itself) as I went into teaching in Further Education and – thanks to changes wrought in this area by the previous Conservative government(s) – was forced to work via an agency at £5-6 per hour less than my full-time, directly-employed, colleagues. Ultimately, my teaching hours were almost the equivalent of three full-time posts. Consequently I became seriously ill as a result and will almost certainly never work again.

You now class myself and people like me as scroungers to be hounded by your creatures Atos and their ilk, driven even further into poverty and ultimately an early grave.

Thanks Tories!

Yours, etc.

John Lockett

CC:
Retained.

Information Commissioner’s Office.

Data Controller, Conservative Party.

Disabled People Against Cuts.

DPAC says: we were going to add a picture of the leaflet, but decided to spare everyone

 

May 042014
 

People who don’t use the spoken word have a great deal to say about communication. People who do use the spoken word have a great deal to learn about communication from people who don’t.

Quiet Riot is a group of young adults who don’t use the spoken word. Quiet Riot had their first meeting four years ago. They meet in Manchester but come from around the UK, with members in Holland and Ireland.
They are:

Paul-Thomas Allen
Judathan Allen
Raphael Allen
Danian Allen (1984-2005)
Heathar Barrett
Nadia Clark
Gareth Donnellon
Thiandi Grooff
Josh Harris
Anthony Kletzander
Maresa MacKeith
Dan Stanton
The communication used by many members of Quiet Riot is known as Facilitated Communication Training (FCT) a strategy introduced into the UK by Marion Stanton, who is currently lead UK Assessor and trainer:

,http://www.candleaac.com/staff.htm

Marion invited Rosemary Crossley, from Australia to meet with families in the UK almost fifteen years ago, who in turn introduced many of the Quiet Riot members to FCT.

http://www.annemcdonaldcentre.org.au

FCT is now used very effectively as a primary means of communication by many people around the UK. Using a key board on which to type, a trusted assistant (facilitator) supports the person to manage their body’s motor movements, which can be impaired as a result of sensory overloads/invasions as well as a wide diversity of other body motor issues.

FCT has fundamentally changed the opportunities for members of Quiet Riot:
” I am a man with no speech. I am a user of the pointing method of communication. I listen well and understand what is said… I am operating a perfectly weird body. I am wonderfully made..”

Raphael Allen
” I’m wondering if using Facilitated Communication will help to understand me better and give me some respect. I wish more people were given the chance to use facilitated communication it is great to be given a voice”

Anthony Kletzander.

“Having no voice is not great but at least I can type good things. Being in good company like kids who talk. Talking with me makes me happy.”

Heathar Barrett

http://www.heatharashley.co.uk/Home.html

“Trust your belief in your child. FC opens doors for those of us whose voices deny us use. People have to listen to our voices in the wilderness of disability. I can do things you elevate your expectation to. Look beneath the surface of appearance and see the qualities that are within”

Josh Harris.
I think FC is such a part of me that its difficult to think of it as an entity in it’s own right. I feel very lucky to have been surrounded by people who respected my communication giving me a limited experience of negativity around FC. I do however know that there are those who dismiss FC, I see this in their faces and reactions. My concerns are for those young disabled people who, for whatever reason, are affected by such situations.

Blake Williamson
Too bad I was seen as dumb of mind as well of mouth. Words offer all the possibilities of fine choices switching from a non-being to educated in the eyes of the world. The route to my intellect is now open”

Paul-Thomas Allen.
” in the end the funny woman from Australia ( Rosemary Crossley) gave direct explanations, we ran away as slow as could be. Facilitation was a map just to find out about going A.W.O.L. I was not seen as a thinker with reason until I used typing. I type to talk differently. It is very good being able to communicate.”

Judathan Allen
” I am aware that you don’t realise how I am able to type. I go to university. Perhaps one day I will have a part on T.V. And you will have the opportunity to read my fan’s praises.”

Danian Allen (1984-2005)
“To be able to express myself as full as possible, without the correct method my answers are limited ” and “To be recognised as intelligent enabling me to live an independent life in my own home ”

http://www.contactcandle.co.uk/about_dan_stanton.htm

Dan Stanton
“(FC ) allows me to communicate ,to have a voice.
Way in which it changed my life
I gave my opinion on my medical treatment
I Am Real
I am Real
Not a malfunctioning person with a confused mind
Just a normal thinking person
Who laughs, complains, shows sadness and happiness.

I am real”

Gareth Donnellon.

Funding, Quiet Riot and the ODI
Quiet Riot campaigned for three years with no funding. Members financed their own attendance at the meetings in Manchester. They were brought together by a commitment, to talk with each other in a safe place, to plan campaigns and enjoy their Right to Communication: a right for every human being. The long term aims of Quiet Riot are to change the ways in which society welcomes and values people who do not use the spoken word.

Quiet Riot has been hosted and given hospitality by Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP), since the first meeting. ACE North, have also provided a venue for larger gatherings, again free of charge.

In our fourth year the The Edge Fund, a creative and democratic funding body, offered funding to Quiet Riot* which is being used to enable Quiet Riot to develop a customised website where they can reach out to local and global connections giving more people an understanding of FCT and an opportunity for the many people around the world who are needlessly denied their voice.

Funding for groups, at the “cutting edge” in societies, like Quiet Riot, is an important political issue. Given that the very existence of Quiet Riot provides a powerful reflection of people who have been failed within their own society. Quiet Riot has emerged despite statutory organisations who have failed to serve their legitimate support requirements.

The name of Quiet Riot appears to be a challenge for some, which was illustrated when Quiet Riot considered making a funding application to Office for Disability Issues (ODI), a government, established body to orchestrate the voice of disabled people in the UK. Quiet Riot was invited to change the name, to one less controversial ! – perhaps F— O– might be more appropriate! We have no funding from any government agency, which allows a freedom to critically question and challenge government and it’s agents, which has to be an essential feature of any campaigning group.

Quiet Riot members now in their twenties and thirties have each had the powerful support from their families, to have their voice heard, often against significant opposition from schooling authorities. An important lesson for schooling services to learn is that labels attached to any individual cannot convey anything of value about an individual. Such labels lead teachers into a cul-de-sac about an individual, requiring a great deal of time trying to find a way out.

Meaningful appreciations of another person’s skills, contributions and qualities will emerge via a mutual and respectful relationship. Such relationships can start with mutually respectful communication. The early schooling experience for many QR members was in segregated settings and very far from respectful :

Segregated Education

“Special education is a cruel solution to educate people like me. I had the label (PMLD ) evil! I asked real people if they are aware of atrocities in school. Ask and ask again was anyone aware how awful it was doing stuff in special school. Emphasise it. The school system was a a vert (lawn) where seeds of alarm flew away. No one sussed what a serious affaire was swept away under the alters of Abraham . I was a walled prisoner in my own world dying slowly. When I returned from school each hour I sat thinking- give me a tool to communicate”

Judathan Allen.
“Special school you think is bad. It is the nondescript way they teach is dull. They only had lots of detritus to share.”

Paul-Thomas Allen.
The health service starts the process of diagnosis and categorisation of disabled people by creating labels that the schooling system uses to segregate and devalue disabled people. Authorities engage in convoluted assessments, measuring and testing the “capacity” of individuals. The disabled person is incidental to this process: it is an institutional response to legitimise prejudice and discrimination against a disabled person.

“I have no sex no gender apparently I only have this alleged affliction. reports and labels are the sum of my parts. There was never a label beyond disabled.i am just punk I am just an allocation of resources.”

Paul Thomas Allen
Institutions continue to segregate and devalue the human being as they have done for many decades.
” I have sorrow in my heart for you not learning the proper inclusion of me.”

Heathar Barrett
Segregation at school age will tend to lead to more segregation in adult life – feeding the “services” that exist for the maintenance and protection of the institution and its processes.

Labels of “deficit” are attached to the individual and reflect the approach of an institution. We need to shift these labels away from the individual to the institution. Therefore, the constant need for institutions to measure and categorise people could be described as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Some Schools, Colleges and Universities have Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD) because they have failed to welcome and learn from people they continue to reject and exclude based upon the negative differences the institutions have determined and cultivated. This is particularly true of people who do not use the spoken word for their communication.
“In my pupil days at home I learned children whose bodies operated differently were not welcome really anywhere in the high schools in the myopic time we lived in. I thought then real choice was just for those talking people”

Raphael Allen
“Being alone I feel Dead”

Heathar Barrett
It is soul destroying to continually have your contributions and efforts for participation thwarted by systematic indifference, ignorance and rejection. Such an approach to people is abusive and a total denial of their human rights. There continues to be a disturbing amount of confusion around the language and practice of inclusive education. We cannot give people inclusion, people have to Feel included.
” I invite experts to ask how we feel and our opinions. Autism really offers the world a fine lesson in humanities We require understanding, respect trust and love. In return we test the worlds ability to accept differences that exist between people ”

Josh Harris.

http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2008/01/16/josh-harris-autism-and-the-ambition-to-become-a-rabbi/#

qr pic 1

We know inclusion is working up and down the country in schools, colleges and universities for people with the diversity of impairments. We know people are included when we change the way we offer support in response to an individual’s particular requirements and when there is a welcome of difference and different voices for people to participate and contribute to the learning environment they are an integral part of.
” I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for your accommodating and satisfying subject in question. There was very much calm and confident re-assurance surrounding me when in your real lecture of thought and wisdom. For me acceptance is from within a massive heart. Please have diversity bring you good joy in real life. With very fond and great thoughts for life – To Lesley Groom University Tutor from Heathar Barrett.

Hope and acceptance are a luxury I do enjoy. I feel very immense greatness about the university of my love and life in the making of a good great free future. We are moving forward.

Heathar Barrett.

My School
By

Maresa MacKeith
“Taking The Time”
www.inclusive-solutions.com

http://www.one-for-all.org.uk/

The thought of starting was ecstatic,
I wanted to learn so much.
To me the building was magic,
With life in its crumbling husk.

The thought of being ordinary,
Filled me with a joy I can’t tell.
Still the thought of that building keeps memory,
For me of pure water: a well.
It was because I had ordinary teachers, who recognised that I had skills, that I am where I am now, doing English at university. The special education system did not do that for me; it endlessly measured my incompetence.

Maresa MacKeith

 

However, when a school refuses to change, to welcome and accept different ways of learning, it cannot be overstated just how oppressive it is to be seen as different, when your difference is devalued by the organisation that claims to be a place of learning!
“It should be perpetuated that I have no differences. I just need really cool people to understand my ways. I am in my difference the despoiler of your pattern”

Paul Thomas Allen.

“I’m really tired of being different”

Anthony Kletzander
For people who do not use the spoken word there can be a continual and exhausting struggle to have your voice heard. For many people with the label of autism who use FCT, there can be a massive amount of time and energy required to overcome or manage their bodies’ sensory changes in order to type each and every word.

ice cream
I am finding it very hard to be a free fast user of FC when I am not focused on feeling anxiety free”

Heathar Barrett-
communication board in hand doing ordinary things like buying an ice cream. This does not require a “transition plan” or “a service delivery audit” Or a specialist training programme to create a team of ” Whippy Therapist”

QR fell walking
Heathar using her communication aide on a walk across the moors.
Again no “specialist service” getting in her path.
“I am an individual with my own wants. Sometimes my neurons do screw up and it takes time to fix them.”

Paul Thomas Allen
” being autistic causes sensory problems like bright lights which makes me feel dizzy and they burn my eyes. I also have problems with loud noises. They really scare me and make me feel really nervous”

Anthony Kletzander.
“People inspire me all the time. It’s the easy things I envy like people who are pain free”

Josh Harris

The only way we can get near to understanding what is required for an individual to type whilst having to manage the permutations of sensory invasions, which could relate to all the senses and more within any given learning environment, is by being respectful and responsive to the individual. Having a mutually respectful communication is essential.
As for what we can do to encourage change in Universities, I think there is a wider issue here. If FC is not accepted as a means of communication during examinations, as it was when I did my GCSE’s and A levels, then the next generation of disabled academics are thwarted in accessing university through such academic routes. The universities are poorer places for not having a fair representation of all students in their Halls and of course where we are never seen we are never easily accepted nor understood

Blake Williamson.
Professionals have a responsibility to shift their lack of understanding or toleration of ignorance about different ways of communication and recognise that the denial of a person’s communication is not simply the denial of a learning experience but the consequences can be life threatening.

Anthony Kletzander from independent living to institutionalization

Anthony Kletzander, one of the founder members of Quiet Riot lived independently in Dublin in his own flat, with his own 24hr support. Because people, uninvited came into his life and chose to deny his FC, he was forced into an institution after he had experienced a full life living independently, with his own support staff. Within days he was given antipsychotic medication against his wishes, this resulted in emergency hospital treatment. Anthony’s voice continues to be denied at the institution.
“Tell them to stop giving me medication. I have no choice it makes my head feel strange”

“I would love to be in independent living. It is much better than residential.”

“Really trying to be accepted into society is very difficult and I am really saddened by this”

This is the clip about university. Nua Health Care in Ireland refuse to accept Anthony’s communication. They have also refused his right to independent living. Anthony was hospitalised twice from this institution over a period of three weeks. Anthony’s struggle continues made more difficult by Nua Health Care continuing to deny Anthony’s voice.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/oxh98ewgf54qthq/MVI_0121.MOV

 

qr anthony typing
Anthony Kletzander. Typing with Marion Stanton just half hour after meeting with her. Nua Health Care refused her offer of support.
Fear

A poem
by
Maresa MacKeith

He watches, and you are scared.
Mute and Flalling
If he could talk he would tell.
So you silence him.

 

qr grad pic

Maresa uses facilitated communication on her graduation day at Nottingham Trent University.
People who are prepared to deny a person’s communication when they don’t offer a meaningful alternative are abusing a person’s Human Rights.

It is an abuse of the power and authority of a psychologist or therapist to * deny a person’s means of communication, then have the effrontery to accept, a large fee, to carry out an “assessment” and make judgments and recommendations about the person’s life with whom they insist they cannot communicate!

” I have spent every day since birth when people think my head is bad like my body. Top physicians from all over came to inspect the Allen family, every one of them you imagine a certified genius. They ran me through their tests prosecuting me with steal augers. Pain like real despicable pain. Played with and investigated all facts collated their only conclusion was to find I was guilty. I was dense and better as a doorstop. I inhabited my own head just watching, I had to live the isolated life. I had to wait …. It did not occur to the world I am not retarded and a vicious anger I was cultivating. In my egg I stayed. In my soft manner to wither, it was sometimes insanity”

Paul -Thomas Allen.
I am unable to pronounce what thoughts are in my mind. When I use facilitation I am able to let others know how I feel. This is undoubtedly beneficial for my peace. Past appearances of the disabled are wrong. What people pronounce does not show how clever they are. I think it is because writing allows people to say exactly what they want. People make assumptions

Damian Allen ( 1984-2005)

Quiet Riot, DPAC and challenges powers and practices
Quiet Riot is an organisation that offers a much more powerful future for the person who does not use speech but insists that their voice is heard.
There is also a growing new network of organisations of disabled people in the UK and internationally who are challenging the oppressive practices and asserting the human rights of disabled people. It is co-ordinated by Disabled People against the Cuts (DPAC) This New Democratic and transparent approach is not seeking to justify the participation of disabled people around the UK but fundamentally challenging the powers and practices that seek to prevent their contribution and participation.

Facilitated Communication has enabled members of Quiet Riot to challenge the powers and practices that seek to silence people that do not use the spoken word.

http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/who-we-are/fellows/nadia-clarke.html

Nadia Clarke
Quiet Riot are engaged in subjects like: Biology, English literature, Creative Writing, Poetry, Philosophy, Jewish Religious Studies, Music, Geology, Ethics and Human Rights at Universities around the UK, Ireland and Holland. Thiandi Grooff a member of Quiet Riot and uses FC is in her final year of undergraduate study at a University in Amsterdam. She has been been engaged in a detailed qualitative study into group identity.

This study shows that a safe place for discussions is very important: the participants are welcomed, without threat by opponents who reject their way of communicating or the State, and every effort is made to overcome barriers to speaking. In this study the benefits of the collective identity for the members of the group ( Quiet Riot) were clear: a more powerful personal identity and self-esteem that led to more courage to speak up and to engage in relations and actions outside the group.”
Thiandi Grooff
FCT is used by increasing numbers of people around the world and with whom there is a growing connection via the internet. A powerful collective voice is emerging and demanding their space to be heard. It is a voice to reckoned with

Joe Whittaker April 2014

With many, many thanks to the great guys at Quiet Riot for putting this together and to Joe-DPAC fully support Quiet Riot and FCT.

This piece has been put together for the European Independent Living Day May 5th created by ENIL to celebrate independent living and to highlight the impact of cuts on independent living- we want to add that those who reject FCT also reject independent living –please add your support

For donations and support for Quiet Riot, FCT or any of the issues mentioned in this piece please contact: whittakerjoe5@gmail.com

For those fighting for inclusive education please contact the Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) http://www.allfie.org.uk/

 

May 042014
 

I’m at rock bottom right now and unable to go through writing it again. I have an appointment to see my MP tomorrow. I have copied and pasted an email I sent to his secretary earlier today. Dear Mary, I was going to write a brief summary of the main issues I’m facing right now and send them to you to save some time tomorrow, but it looks like all my benefits have just been stopped. I was due a DLA payment yesterday (Thursday 27th March) but it’s not been paid into my bank account. I signed on at the Job Centre in Stevenage on Tuesday, but the staff (My Adviser/Coach) doubt that I’m fit for work and think I should be on ESA.
I’ve done everything they’ve asked, searched for work everyday, applied for Jobs, even worked on a business plan to start my own business from home, I don’t know what more I could have done. DWP arranged an appointment for me with PLUSS a few weeks ago and after going there I felt quite optimistic, but when I went to sign on following that, their feedback was that they couldn’t help me because my health problems are too severe. I went to DAS (Depression and Anxiety Service) on 16th March, they can’t help with my Mental Health problems because they are too severe and complex.
Unless I say “I’m going to kill myself” I can’t get any help because local Mental resources are too underfunded and their caseload is too big. I DO NOT WANT TO GO INTO HOSPITAL and I would be extremely uncooperative if I was forced!!! Do you think this is Fair or Just??? What am I supposed to do??? My health problems are hard enough to deal with, without all this!!! I went from mid July last year up until a few weeks ago with nothing other than my £40 a week DLA to live on. I had £500 savings and a good credit rating before then, and a £950 overdraft which I never used until I lost my ESA at Tribunal. I got a statement from my bank this afternoon, I’m £921.12 overdrawn with an available balance of £6.20 (I don’t know how they do their maths?) I have £96 of overdraft charges being taken out of my account on 1st of April. I had come to an arrangement with housing people to pay back the outstanding rent arrears I owed when I started to receive JSA a few weeks ago and had promised a payment of £70 by tomorrow (28th March). DNRS have already tried to send the Bailiffs to my flat to take possessions for outstanding council tax arrears.
I’ve been to CAB numerous times recently. If this is how my life is going to be then what’s the point??? I can’t sleep at night because I’m so stressed out all the time, my health mental and physical are getting worse by the day. Everybody I’ve seen, my Job Centre Coach, CAB, My COPD Nurse and the Doctor I last saw (Dr Roper), PLUSS, DAS and my family ALL SAY I SHOULD BE ON ESA. I have an appointment tomorrow morning with my GP. I need immediate help, no more forms, no more appointments, NO MORE BULLSHIT!!! I refuse to live like this any longer, I can’t take anymore of the daily stress and injustice!!! I SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN IN THIS SITUATION FROM THE START!!! I’ve always been a fighter, I’ve had to survive but I’m totally exhausted now, mentally and physically… I HAVE TAKEN AS MUCH AS I CAN –
My appointment with my MP went well. I was already so angry to begin with made sure I made the most of my 15 minutes. I had written my main issues before hand so that I did not forget anything. To be fair I came away feeling he had listened to me and understood my situation. I was fluent in my arguments and never had any denial from him that what this government are doing to the most vulnerable people in this country is totally wrong. Since then I have applied for ESA again, all done over the phone this time, with help from my local CAB. My MP has also liaised with my GP so that I get to see the same doctor each time.

I have been to my local surgery twice since my meeting and the way I have been treated is 100% better. DWP asked me to get a letter from my GP to inform them of how many hours a week I was capable of working while claiming JSA. My COPD and mental health conditions have worsened considerably over the past few months and my GP signed me off sick saying in his opinion I wasn’t well enough to work, hence the claim for ESA. It’s like a merry go round and so frustrating and stressful it just makes my health and life in general suffer as a result. I stated strongly to my MP that I should never have been in this situation, and far from what Iain Duncan Smith claims to be doing. that he is helping people. My MP agreed.
I am due to receive my first ESA payment this coming Tuesday and looking forward to being able to eat properly again.

If I could give any advice to someone in a situation like mine it would be to get mad, make yourself heard with the right people. I am a fighter but fighting battles everyday to survive is tiring and wears you down. It either that or give in, I wasn’t prepared to give in with the injustices I had to face and wasn’t going to go without a fight.

Update: I received a letter this week from the DWP saying they were investigating my case. We will see what comes of it. I am still angry because of all the debt all this has got me into just trying to survive.
I will never forgive nor forget what this government has done to me and tens of thousands of others.

This is an edited version of a set of emails received by DPAC- all names and places have been changed and the author has given DPAC permission to use this to publicise the inhumane situations many are finding themselves in under the Condem regime

 

May 012014
 

Save the Independent Living Fund
“Nursing Homes Stink, They’re Worse than You Think.
We’d Rather Go to Jail Than Die in a Nursing Home”

jailnursing home ilf

Join us to protest against the closure of ILF on Monday, May 12th 3pm-5pm outside DWP head quarters, Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H 9WA.

Nearest accessible tube –Westminster.

Click for Face Book Event Page

Bring things to make lots of noise. We have asked Mike Penning Minister for disabled people to join us but in case he doesn’t we need to make sure he knows we’re there.
————————————————————————————-
Dear Mike Penning,
We understand that you have stated publicly that you feel closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) will not have any adverse effect on the ability of disabled people to live independently in the community, to be able to access education or to continue to be employed.

Disabled people who are ILF recipients do not agree with your view and are gathering to voice their fears for their futures on May 12th from 3-5pm outside Caxton House.

They would very much appreciate the opportunity to speak to you about their very valid concerns so although we know you must be a very busy person we hope you can join us to hear what disabled people are saying.

In the meantime we are attaching a small selection of case studies for your attention.

On behalf of DPAC ILF recipient support group
————————————————————————————————————————————-
What is the Independent Living Fund?
The Independent Living Fund (ILF) is a ring-fenced pot of funding to provide funding to help 18,000 disabled people with high support needs live an independent life in the community rather than in residential care.

Closure of ILF: In March 2014 government decided to close the ILF in June 2015 in spite of a court ruling that said their previous decision to close ILF was in breach of the Equality Act. As usual DWP blatantly ignored the court.

Recommendations: Deaf and disabled people’s organisations and disabled people believe the ILF should be kept open and re-opened to new applicants for two key reasons:
- The ILF is a cost effective model of funding that successfully supports the independent living of those with the highest support needs.
- In stark contrast many Local Authorities only provide funding for basic a clean and feed model of care which ends independent living and inclusion in the community. This will leave many ILF users with a choice between inadequate care at home or an inactive, isolated life in a residential home.

 

 

 

 

 

May 012014
 

Disabled people in Norwich are being forced to make 88 mile trips for their Atos assessment-why? Because the centre in Norwich is not accessible for wheelchair users.

If that wasn’t bad enough,  the taxpayer is footing another additional bill because of private companies and DWP combined inefficiency, yet again.

EDP24 reports: Taxpayers are footing the bill to ferry disabled people on an 88-mile round trip to Ipswich or King’s Lynn by taxi to decide if they are fit to work because the Norwich centre has no wheelchair access.
In an uncompromising letter, welfare minister Mike Penning has told MPs there are no plans to introduce a new assessment centre in Norwich and the
inadequate St Mary’s House, on Duke Street, will continue to be used for the work capability assessments. It comes as Norwich MP Simon Wright highlighted the case of a constituent who had been sent to Ipswich by taxi, with other MPs also citing similar stories.

One Norwich woman who is unable to use stairs easily, who did not want to be named, was sent by taxi to King’s Lynn weeks after her appointment was cancelled because of the fire risk.
She said it had made an already stressful situation even more difficult.
It has emerged under a Freedom of Information request that the DWP has no direct control over the lease on St Mary’s House.
It is managed by the private firm Telereal Trillium as part of a 20 year private finance initiative contract, which ends in March 2018.
Telereal Trillium would not provide details of the terms of its leave citing it as “commercially sensitive”.
Mark Harrison, chief executive of  Equal Lives, said: “How can this coalition government lease buildings that are not fit for purpose and have no control over the access requirements for disabled customers?”
He said the centre was yet another example of the government putting the needs of private sector companies and their profits before the welfare of its disabled citizens.

Read the story in full here

Apr 272014
 

Please support Obi and team to continue live-streaming direct actions and events for #dpac, #ukuncut and others. Live-streaming is important for disabled people that cannot always get to events and protests because none of us should be left out of our fight for our rights

It is also important in these times ruled by the right-wing press to get a record of our news and events-its time to fight back and ensure that our voices and protests are heard, recorded, documented and visualised -live-streaming does that- lets support it to continue the  real and uncensored news is seen and heard! Please donate if you can at http://www.gofundme.com/8nzi68

see some of the events live streamed for DPAC

JohnMcDonnell MP Praises DPAC at DPAC conference April 2014

August 5, 2012 Akira: update on ATOS. Paralympics sponsor

August 29, 2012 #ATOS #REMPLOY #ParaOlympics #2012 #Protest by previous gold medal winners

August 31, 2012 #ONN #OLSX covering anti #ATOS #ATOSkills #dpac event at Triton Square, Camden

October 28, 2012 Akira and experiencing Public Transport for a Wheelchair user.

September 3, 2013 DPAC AND BLACK TRIANGLE DIRECT ACTION. BBC PORTLAND PLACE, LONDON

September 5, 2013 DPAC FREEDOM DRIVE.

June 4, 2013 DPAC Bromley Benefit Justice second Meeting

September 26, 2013 10,000 Cuts and Counting

October 5, 2013 SOLIDARITY ACTION WITH UKUNCUT AND DPAC #ROADBLOCKS4JUSTICE

Oct 20, 2013 The DPAC action in Marble Arch . TUC March 2012.

September 28, 2013 DPAC DIRECT ACTION: 10,000 CUTS AND COUNTING. SCRAP ATOS

@Obi_Live
@OccupyNN

https://twitter.com/Obi_Live

https://twitter.com/OccupyTTIP

occupylondon@lists.riseup.net

 

Apr 212014
 

DPAC would like to thank everyone for making last week’s (April 12 2014) National Conference such a huge success. There was a huge turnout with over 150 disabled activists from all over the UK including many new DPAC members attending, but just as important there were hundreds of members and supporters beyond the venue taking part through social media – watching the video live-stream, tweeting and sharing comments, views and sending messages of support. This was fantastic work by everyone and a truly inspiring collective effort.

DSC_1030 con

Here’s a brief outline of how it went.

Programme
The day was timetabled into sections beginning with practical reports and voting on policy motions. This was followed by two workshop sessions and then a closing session for everyone to feedback on the day. Four workshops were available to choose from in each Workshop session. Detailed reports on these will follow later.

John McDonnell MP, a longstanding friend and supporter of DPAC, gave a rousing opening speech to encourage everyone and remind us of the victories achieved so far. He congratulated disabled people and DPAC for fighting back, along with our sister organisation Black Triangle and WoW Petition initiators

As he finished he mentioned his own recent health condition which he said he felt brought him closer to our movement. Ellen reacted quickly by giving him a DPAC t-shirt and declaring him a full DPAC member to instant applause and cheers.

photo1jm tshirt

Finances
The Finance Report showed a healthy state of affairs for the time being thanks to individual donations, t-shirt and badge sales plus grants from the Edge Fund, the Network for Social Change, Trust for London  and the Andrew Wainwright Trust. More fund-raising is necessary going forward.

Motions
1. Government Honours
This proposed that any future candidates for the DPAC Steering Group could thwart the network and collective ethos of DPAC if they had received a national honour like an OBE or MBE. The ‘BE’ refers to the imperialist British Empire which is still celebrated despite what we know of the suffering and oppression this caused. The motion conversations also suggested that any media attention would be focused on those with honours and titles, rather than on the collective network ethos that DPAC ascribes to. The motion was put forward as a rejecting of this possibility and that of the honours system more generally. This was defeated.

2. Discrimination
This motion stated DPAC opposition to discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexuality, age, faith, disability, ethnicity or status. It also empowered the Steering Group to terminate the membership of anyone who supported a party which holds discriminatory policies, like UKIP. This motion passed based on an appeals process being put in place

3. Steering Group Size
This motion sought to expand the Steering Group from 8 members to 12 in order to respond to increased activity and maintain a broad, diverse and inclusive profile. This was passed.

Steering Group
There were 11 nominees for the Steering Group. Conference took a vote on whether to vote for accepting all 11 nominees, or vote for them one by one. Conference voted to accept all 11 nominees. The new steering group are currently reviewing co-opted places and will get back to the additional people that applied past the deadline as soon as possible

Steering Group:
Andy Greene
Bob Ellard
Ciara Doyle
Conan Doyle
Debbie Jolly
Eleanor Firman
Ellen Clifford
Linda Burnip
Paula Peters
Roger Lewis
Sabina Lahur

It was highlighted that the working groups are important in taking DPAC forward. The co-chair said she hoped those who did not stand for the Steering Group but were still interested in getting involved would join these as soon as possible.

Finally, a big thank you to the Conference Organising group and Workshop leaders who worked so hard to make this wonderful event a reality.

Links to videos from the day are here with thanks to Occupy for live streaming on the day to make the conference inclusive to all are here

Links to pictures can be found on DPAC flicker here
Thanks to Pete Riches, Szucs Gabriella and Rob Peters

The powerpoint on highlights of the last year can be found DPAC Report
A link to 2013 and some of the things DPAC did is here

See you on the streets!

DPAC www.dpac.uk.net
Twitter: Dis_ppl_protest
Also find us on Facebook with a group and open page under ‘Disabled People against Cuts’

contact: mail@dpac.uk.net

 

Apr 182014
 

Tribunal – Law Courts, Cathays Park, Cardiff, April 23, 2014 at 10am

Incapacity benefits – deaths of claimants

A tribunal will decide whether the Department for Work and Pensions
should be ordered to release its statistics on the number of people who
have died while claiming Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support
Allowance, at a hearing next week.

The First-Tier Tribunal (formerly the Information Tribunal) will be
hearing an appeal by Vox Political blogger Mike Sivier, against a
decision by the Information Commissioner and the DWP to refuse a Freedom
of Information request on the subject.”

http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/information-tribunal-on-deaths-of-ibesa-claimants-next-week/

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