Debbie

Aug 282015
 

The Rob Marris MP’s Assisted Dying No.2 Bill

Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) Statement, August 2015

 

The Marris assisted dying bill is due have its second reading in parliament on 11 September 2015. It is appropriate that the MHRN declares our position on this bill as it has significant implications for disabled people and for those of us who live with mental distress. We are here making observations that are specific to mental health.

The bill proposes that a doctor can provide a person with the necessary guidance and drugs to end their own life if it has been determined that s/he has less than six months to live. Unlike in other parts of Europe, in this bill the drug must be self-administered, a doctor cannot administer it.

The safeguards in the bill are that the person’s request must have the approval of two doctors who can confirm that s/he is of sound mind and has less than six months to live. This refers to six months without treatment. Even if the person could live longer with treatment, that person will still be deemed as having just six months to live. Following the approval of two doctors, the case passes to a judge who can determine that the patient can end their life with drugs provided and prepared by a doctor. So, three people, in addition to the patient, would be involved in the decision.

Some of the high profile cases that we have seen in the media would not be covered by this bill as a person would have to be capable of administering the drug without assistance. So, for example, someone who cannot move or is otherwise unable to inject the drug unaided could not benefit from any change in the law. In addition, someone experiencing intolerable suffering over a period longer than six months would also not be able to access such a law.

The language that we often hear used when people speak of assisted suicide refers to a right to die with dignity, to avoid undue suffering and to exercise choice in how and when to die. We want to look more closely at these three ideas: dignity, suffering and choice.

Dignity

We have a number of concerns over what we understand by the use of the word “dignity”. Firstly, if this law is put in place and people have a choice to end their lives in a way that we describe as “dignified”, are we then to conceptualise the choice not to take advantage of this law as “choosing” to die without dignity? What would this mean for those who choose an “undignified” death? Would this be a dishonourable thing to do?

Lack of dignity is often seen as relying on others to provide care of a personal nature. Many people see this reliance on care from others as part of what constitutes suffering but this may be an issue with how we perceive and deal with dependency. This has particular meaning for disabled people who may have higher dependency needs throughout their lives than people who are not disabled but such disabled people are certainly not lacking dignity.

The loss of perceived independence may be difficult to come to terms with yet interdependency is essential to the very existence of civilisation. We believe that dependency has nothing to do with dignity although we recognise that becoming increasingly dependent can be distressing. Distress can be contained and managed if there is a collective will to enable this to happen.

Suffering

We tend to think of suffering as being physical pain but most physical pain can be relieved with drugs or ameliorated with sedation. At any rate, physical pain is not the main reason people give when they ask for assisted suicide in the countries where it is available. These are to do with loss of independence and the ability to be active along with social factors such as being a burden to others. People with physical disabilities have shown that it is perfectly possible to adjust and live with all of these things and still find a reason to live. Of course, this may not be the case if someone has only a limited time left to adjust to their condition.

We want to turn our attention to one of the other causes of suffering that is not often referred to directly when talking about assisted suicide: mental distress. This is the psychological pain caused by loss of independence, the ability to be active and, ultimately, the reduced likelihood of a future. It is also a pain that many people who are not terminally ill live with for years for different reasons. This is our issue. We at the MHRN live daily with mental distress and many of us end our lives because the suffering is unbearable. Without treatment many more people with mental health problems might end their lives. In a sense we can say that mental distress can be terminal and, even conceivably, be subject to a future assisted suicide bill. Let us not forget that suicide is not illegal in this country, it is only assisting a suicide that is illegal.

One can imagine that depression often accompanies serious illness and that terminal illness would involve a level of sadness that could be difficult to cope with. Yet there is the safeguard in place that a person has to be of sound mind to be granted assisted suicide. How is soundness of mind determined? That the person is not psychotic at the time? That they are not depressed or overly emotional perhaps suggesting a diagnosis of personality disorder? If we have enduring mental health problems, would we be excluded from accessing assisted suicide when we are nearing death from physical illness? Or are we thought to have moments of lucidity when we can make this decision? Mental health problems are notoriously difficult to diagnose with diagnoses often changing over time. Given that most doctors have no training in mental health, which doctors will be making the assessment on a person’s soundness of mind?

In Belgium people with mental health problems who are not physically ill can have assisted suicide to end the suffering of their mental distress, most notably depression. It is unclear what role depression plays in people who are physically ill wanting to access assisted suicide. If a person was determined to end their life, would they admit to depression if it could result in them being deemed not to be of sound mind and therefore denied assisted suicide?

There are many paradoxes in this debate for us. When we are suicidal in Britain we can be sectioned and forcibly detained in hospital. We can be accompanied at all times on a hospital ward on close observation and physically restrained if we attempt to end our lives. We can be drugged by force in a bid to change or distance us from our low mood. Existing laws allow for all of this yet suicide is not illegal.

Feelings of guilt and social pressure are also forms of suffering. (Guilt, incidentally, often accompanies depression). Many people with mental health problems have difficulty coping with social interactions. Perhaps we are even difficult to live with at times. Will we be more difficult to live with when we are terminally ill and made aware that we are problematic to others? There is also the risk of lingering guilt for carers who may think they have put subtle pressure on someone to access assisted suicide because the carer simply couldn’t cope. Support for carers is inadequate in Britain at present.

Choice

We live in a society that rations most things including care. It is therefore no surprise that one of the main reasons that people choose assisted suicide is because they believe they are a burden to others. As care provision is being decimated and care workers scandalously undervalued, assisted suicide might seem a preferable option for people who are dependent on family members or have no one to depend on at all as social care is being withdrawn on an industrial scale.

At the MHRN we are only too aware of the lack of adequate treatment for mental distress. We are also aware of the shortcomings of physical healthcare for people with mental health problems. We have much shorter life expectancy than the wider population and this is only in part due to suicide but also because we experience worse physical health. In addition we believe that people with mental health problems receive poorer physical healthcare than the wider population, we can see attitudes towards us change when healthcare professionals discover we have mental health problems. In short, we are singled out for neglect. How are we cared for when we are dying?

We know that mental distress is not adequately treated for a number of reasons, including stigma and the fact that many of us are unemployed and therefore undervalued, and this never more so than now. But there is an elephant in the room, and that is the overwhelming reliance on the medical model of mental distress in the choice of treatment, so closing down other avenues of care. The pharmaceutical industry controls psychiatry, there is little room for long term treatment of any other kind and this is more so now than in the past. Yet for many of us medication doesn’t work or we cannot gain access to it due to diminishing services.

Increased access to superficial, short term talking therapies was only introduced when there was an imperative to prevent us from accessing disability benefits and not with the aim of relieving our suffering. We know that the care available to us is more about controlling our behaviour than the relief of our suffering although there are many well intentioned psychiatrists and nurses in practice. Interventions designed to change our behaviour, particularly in relation to work, have significantly worsened our suffering. What hope is there for mental healthcare at the end of life?

Mindful of how little choice there is in the care available to us as we live with mental distress we wonder if this distress will be any better managed when we are terminally ill. We fear that assisted suicide has the potential to become the treatment of choice and act as a disincentive to provide proper palliative care for mental distress at the end of life. If we are socially isolated, as many of us with mental health problems are, what is to prevent us from being neglected at the time of our deaths? Without support, what then would be our choices?

The important issue of pressure from others to end our lives has to be considered from a mental health perspective. Where people live with mental health problems sometimes family relationships can be strained; sometimes it is because of these relationships that the mental health problem exists in the first instance. Sometimes there are no family relationships and the person lives in a state of loneliness. We do not feel that we can be adequately protected from pressures from a variety of sources and situations to end our lives early if this bill becomes law.

Our choice would be to receive care during our lives that is not driven by profit motives but is well funded, that we are free from stigma, that we are able to find meaning and joy in life with the full support of our communities, that we are not devalued because we are unable to work and are free from the constant threat of financial destitution. Currently we have none of these choices. Seen in this way, talk of choice is nonsense for us.

It is clear that we have very few choices in our lives and it is understandable that some of us might feel that assisted suicide would be better that the other choices available for what remains of our lives when we are terminally ill. That is not true choice. Assisted suicide is only a choice if all other options are explored and made available.

There may be a time when assisted suicide becomes a true choice but other options are yet to be put in place, tested and developed. There is currently no political will to make alternatives available to us. In fact we are currently moving away from providing care for those who need it and from seeking to find a deeper dignity in life. We are moving towards assisted suicide and away from assisted living.

We do not accept that this is the time to be considering making this bill law as care and services are being widely withdrawn and the quality of mental healthcare remains inadequate and underfunded. The bill is poorly thought through for people with mental health problems and is not an addition to a wide range of choices available but risks becoming the only real choice for many.

A final point of concern is that this might be the thin end of a wedge, that assisted suicide could come to cover wider circumstances than those outlined in this bill. We fear it might come to be seen as a solution to the failure of the poor quality treatment that too often is all that is made available to us. We would want to see significant improvements in palliative care for mental distress during serious illness before there is any consideration of assisted suicide being introduced. The MHRN opposes this bill.

Aug 282015
 

Since the publication of the Sayce Report (2011), employment support for Deaf and Disabled people and in particular, Access to Work, has been under attack. The last coalition government and the current Tory government, seem determined to change Access to Work from being one of this countries “best kept secret”, to a scheme that no longer meets need, is discriminatory to those with high support needs and causes misery to Deaf and disabled people’s lives. Our lives. Rather than support us into work, the scheme has become a barrier and has resulted in both job losses and demotion.

 

Iain Duncan Smith recently announced that he wants to “get disabled people back into work”, yet the support that we need is being cut.

 

Just last week yet another person was forced out of work by the changes to the Access to Work programme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxtYrCB7OJc

 

We’ve had enough!

 

Join us on Saturday the 26th September and march for Access to Work. We will be meeting at Old Palace Yard at 12pm and marching to Number 10 Downing Street, where we will deliver our petition. Please help us by signing and sharing this as widely as possible.

 

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-changes-to-access-to-work

 

For more information about the march see: http://stopchanges2atw.com/march-with-us/

 

Aug 272015
 

DWP has at last published the mortality statistics for the ESA group. It will take time to analyse them, but what they show is that the WCA is not fit for purpose.  2500 people have died after being found fit for work. Another 7,200 people died after being placed in the WRAG, the group for disabled people who can do ‘some work’, another 7540 died waiting to be assessed

But these figures do not tell the whole story. They ignore the suffering of disabled people who survived, being found fit for work but unable to claim JSA because they cannot meet the conditionality of the benefit. The suffering of 3000 disabled people sanctioned every month, and who cannot compensate for their loss of income, because they were found unfit to work, and they are.

The suffering and the humiliation of disabled people who have to prove their impairment/long term health issues over and over again to DWP staff who don’t believe them. The suffering of disabled people being portrayed as scroungers by the media. This suffering cannot be captured by statistics.

Under the last Labour government, the aim was to force 1 million disabled people out of benefits and into work. Almost 10 years later, the aim is the same, while in a meantime a Coalition minister recognised that people on disability benefits were ‘sicker’ than they thought.

And those in the middle group, who would expect before too long to be mandated to the Work Programme, have proved to be sicker and further from the workplace than we expected. So it will take far more time than we predicted for them to be ready to make a return to work

This has not changed. Some people will never get better and need long term support. To pretend that they can do ‘some work’ is disingenuous, as no employer is prepared to offer ‘some work’ to disabled people.

People died because of the welfare reforms, but others suffered and still suffer. Let’s not forget any of them


The figures released by the DWP will need to be looked at carefully before any further conclusions can be drawn from them, and we will be doing just that, and will report back when we have done that. You can see the release of data for yourself here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/mortality-statistics-esa-ib-and-sda-claimants

Aug 262015
 

Duncan Smith claimed he didn’t know the difference between right wing and left wing when evidence proved he was working with some far right wing groups and individuals. He knew perfectly well, of course.

So if we think of Jeremy Corbyn as left wing, or the recent media accusation of ‘hard left’ -a man for social justice, redistribution, equality, human rights, and anti-austerity-we get the idea that the opposite of this: social injustice, greater wealth for the elite, inequality, removal of human rights, and punitive austerity would be right wing or ‘hard right’ even-but extremist far right is different again.

We can be forgiven for any confusion caused by the supposed left wing Labour Party’s apparent right wing purge on left wing Corbyn voters in the Labour leadership election. This is apparently named ‘operation ice-pick’-because an ice pick was used to murder left wing Trotsky in Mexico by left wing Stalinists (there are also different unhelpful shades and fractions of this left and right wing thing).

If we add misinformation and misdirection by media and politicians we can also be forgiven for moving on to something else like thinking the multinationals and global bankers do inhuman things and own nation states along with IMF and the World Bank anyway.

And speaking of those who do inhuman things let’s get back to IDS and his activities. We’ve seen them in the past few days as it has risen to start preaching its vile lies once more. These issues are well documented on the DPAC website and elsewhere.

We now need to add DWP policies that instruct DWP call centre workers to hold up a coloured card if they’re on the phone with someone who they suspect might be suicidal because of murderous DWP policies, removal of one third of Employment and Support Allowance from those in the Work Related Activity group from April 2017, increase in ESA sanctions by 30%, continuous harassment of those on ESA by Job Centres, deaths of x number of innocent people due to DWP policies, unexplained hysterical laughter and reactions in debates on the punitive bedroom tax and increases in homelessness, growth of foodbanks and increases in starvation levels, and most recently the bizarre behaviour in Osbourne’s emergency budget-the list goes on and on.

We thought it was time to reproduce another list-an evidence list of IDS’ far right extremist affiliations –this does go back to a time when he clearly had less control of the media, but given his murderous actions over the past years who can doubt that he has done anything but got worse?

With thanks to http://the-klaxon.blogspot.co.uk/

In 1995,  Duncan Smith was one of a few Tory MPs who met with senior figures of the racist and anti-semitic French National Front in Westminster. Le Pen’s deputy, Bruno Gollnisch MEP, later said Duncan Smith and other Tory MPs they met were “sympathetic” to their views:

“I came to meet members of the Conservative Party sympathetic to our views… I met Duncan Smith and others in their offices and later we got together for less formal talks in a bar somewhere in the Parliament building.“

The vice-president of Duncan Smith’s leadership campaign team in Wales was Edgar Griffin – the father of then BNP leader Nick Griffin. Edgar later said the reason he was not a member of the BNP was because it was “too moderate” for him – unlike the Tory Party. And unlike Duncan Smith too presumably.

A Tory Party far-right wing fringe organisation called the Swinton Circle also supported Duncan Smith in his successful bid to lead the Tory Party. The Swinton Circle is led by former National Front activist Alan Harvey and has close ties to pro-apartheid far-right South African groups such as the Springbok Club.

“Iain Duncan Smith’s historic links to the far-right”, by Tom Pride,  13 June 2014

https://tompride.wordpress.com/2014/06/13/iain-duncan-smiths-historic-links-to-the-far-right/

“Duncan Smith denies ‘right wing’ tag”,  BBC News, 30 August 2001

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/1515305.stm

Iain Duncan Smith campaign aide Edgar Griffin lifted the phone – and damned himself in five brief words.

“British National Party,” he told The Mirror. “Good afternoon.”

It was confirmation that the man listed as a vice president in hardliner Mr Duncan Smith’s campaign for the Tory leadership was an activist for the extreme group.

Even worse, he is father of BNP leader and convicted racist Nick Griffin. His wife, Jean, is a BNP secretary and stood for the group in the general election.

In his talk with The Mirror Mr Griffin agreed that Mr Duncan Smith was an “extreme right winger” and claimed Tories were ready to join the BNP “in droves” if rival Ken Clarke won the leadership contest.

Above is from a record of a Mirror article which is no longer available on the Mirror website – “Duncan Smith and the Far Right: British National Party.. Good afternoon”, Oonagh Blackman, 24 August 2001

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Duncan+Smith+and+the+Far+Right%3A+British+National+Party..+Good…-a077473038

At the following link the far-right South African Springbok group backs IDS’s leadership bid.

Springbok Cyber Newsletter, August 2001 edition, 12 August 2001

http://springbokcybernewsletter.blogspot.co.uk/2001_08_01_archive.html

And if anyone thinks the Tories now manage their affiliations better, or the media better see: ‘senior Conservatives in spotlight over speeches to vile right wing fringe group’ from last year

For IDS the continuing loss of innocent lives due to his punitive policies and tougher standards in the WCA speak for themselves: IDS is Dangerous, Murderous and Wrong!

Aug 252015
 

Re-posted from johnny void with thanks

Incapacity Benefit for new claimants will go, replaced by Employment and Support Allowance with the emphasis on what a person with a physical or mental health condition can do, rather than what they can’t.

 

Peter Hain, Labour Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2007

 

We need a system focussed on what a claimant can do and the support they’ll need – and not just on what they can’t do.

 

Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2015

 

It’s just the same old shit, over and over again, whichever bunch of bastards is in charge.  The above two comments were made almost a decade apart and in that period the number of people claiming out of work sickness benefits has barely changed.  And why would it?  In any society there will be some people who cannot work due to illness or disability and as the pension age gets ever higher then that number as a percentage of the workforce will grow.

 

There is nothing unusual or unexpected about this.  Whoever you are reading this, one day you will get sick and then you will die.  If you are lucky this will not happen until you have reached retirement.  If not then you will be helped on your way to an early grave by politicians desperate to cover up for their failure to provide enough jobs by blaming unemployed, sick and disabled people for unemployment.

 

Iain Duncan Smith’s speech yesterday was a masterclass in this deception, but everything he said has been said before.  So out of ideas is the Secretary of State that he is now misrepresenting the entire process for claiming sickness benefits – pretending it is a binary system which “decides that you are either capable of work or you are not”.  This is simply an outright lie and he knows it.  Currently claimants are assessed as being fit for work, unable to work, or placed in the Work Related Activity Group which means capable of some work, or of being able to work in the future.  In the recent budget George Osborne declared that this group is to be scrapped, creating precisely the binary system that Iain Duncan Smith says he opposes.  Perhaps he hopes we won’t notice.  Perhaps even he hasn’t noticed.

 

The UK does not spend significantly more on out of work sickness and disability benefits than other comparable economies.  According to the OECD we spend a fraction more than Poland as a percentage of GDP on ‘incapacity’ – and less than Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Israel, Belgium. Luxembourg, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands.  It is true as Iain Duncan Smith said yesterday that the UK spends more than France, Germany and Japan.  In humane society this would be a source of pride.  Or at least it would be until you found out that Germany spends over three times as much on unemployment benefits whilst France and Japan – where the retirement age is lower – both spend almost double what the UK spends on pensions.  And the incapacity spending figures by the way come from 2011, before most of Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit cuts had been implemented.

 

Only an astonishing degree of self-delusion could explain Iain Duncan Smith’s latest belief that more workfare, more assessments, and more benefit cuts will magically cure those unable to work because of illness.  But then he is deluded.  That’s why he could claim yesterday that  “The Work Programme is … the most successful back to work programme we’ve ever seen.”  That’s the Work Programme that has seen less sick and disabled people enter employment than it was estimated would have done if the scheme hadn’t existed.  Hundreds of millions of pounds spent on making things worse.  This is what Iain Duncan Smith calls a success.

 

Rarely, if ever, has such a fucking idiot been given so much power over so many people’s futures.   If the human cost were not so great then the best response would be to point and laugh.  But we can’t do that, not as millions of lives are destroyed.  If society means anything at all it means looking after each other and that means driving Iain Duncan Smith back into the sewer he crawled from before he can do anymore damage.  No-one should stand idly by now.  We need to be relentless as he is, to wake up every day with one thought on our minds – to destroy Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms before they destroy us.

 

Follow JV on twitter @johnnyvoid

See more at: https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/

 

 

Aug 182015
 

Assisted Dying Bills are pitched as humane but instead highlight disabled people’s lack of choice, writes ELLEN CLIFFORD

This summer Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) will be taking on our most controversial campaign yet as we fight the Assisted Dying Bills going through Parliament. We will highlight the severe dangers that the legalisation of assisted suicide poses.

This time the fight against legalisation of assisted suicide is even more complicated by the emotive nature of the subject and the fact that many of our natural allies tend to assume they are in favour. We aim through our campaign to bust the myths and show how legalising will remove, rather than give, choice and add to disabled people’s oppression.

Three-quarters of GPs oppose assisted suicide with reasons given including fears that a change in the law will result in less focus on investment in palliative care and the dangers of patients feeling pressured into choosing death.

What doesn’t exist for ill and disabled people is a right to independent living and to the support we need to take part in society with the same life chances as other people. Before we give disabled people assistance to kill ourselves, we want the assistance to live.

In 1912, Russian revolutionary Yevgeni Preobrazhensky wrote: “It seems to me that all suicides in circumstances of hunger and need have the undoubted character of murder… The question of a right to suicide will only make sense in a future society where no material motives for suicide will exist. Only in a society that has guaranteed to all its members the means of existence will the question be appropriate.” This remains as true today as it was then.

Disabled people want dignity not death

Read the full article by Ellen at http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-8865-We-should-be-offering-assisted-living#.VdNyabJVikp

 

Aug 032015
 

– Urgent Action for DDPOs and Disabled Rights Campaigners to oppose the legalisation of Assisted Suicide

Book NOW for Assisted Dying bill briefing session and media training -13 August

The Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance is calling on Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) and individual Disabled Rights campaigners and supporters to join Not Dead Yet UK in speaking out about the dangers that the legalisation of assisted suicide poses to Disabled people.

There are currently two bills to legalise assisted suicide before Parliament. Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying bill had its First Reading in the House of Lords on 4 June and Rob Marris’ Assisted Dying No.2 Bill had its first reading in the House of Commons on 24 June. Marris’ bill will have its Second Reading debate in the House of Commons on 11 September when Parliament returns from its Summer recess. For the first time in years MPs will get to vote on this highly controversial subject.

There are many different ways you can be involved but one important ask is for DDPOs to sign up to the ROFA statement opposing legalisation.

Inclusion London is also running an Assisted Dying bill  briefing session and media training workshop facilitated by Liz Carr from the Not Dead Yet campaign on Thursday 13th August at 336 Brixton Road, SW9 7AA.

The day is open to representatives and members from national as well as London Disabled People’s Organisations and campaigns. For more information visit the Inclusion London website  or contactellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk.

To read more about the Assisted Dying bills, the issues surrounding the legalisation of assisted suicide and ways you can be involved in the campaign see the Inclusion London (www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/Campaigns) and DPAC (www.dpac.uk.net) websites.

 

 

Aug 012015
 

We have all been disappointed over the last few days by the case of the disappearing DWP ESA Sanctions leaflet-first it was there, then it was gone.  The DWP link tells us that the leaflet is coming soon, but what happened to the original?

A few of us had seen the leaflet before it was removed and noted that the DWP were using photos and examples, apparently in an effort to appear humane ( stop laughing).

One of the examples: Sarah’s story, happily tells of her being sanctioned for two weeks because she didn’t see the value of completing her CV as ordered by the DWP Job Centre goons. Sarah is almost in raptures as she recounts how she’s learned her lesson and recognises the error of her wilful ways-she’s grateful for losing 2 weeks of her ESA and for being sanctioned- the moral is: its good to be punished and put on the right path by potential starvation when you’ve already been told you’re not fit for work after a dehumanising assessment by Maximus .  See excerpt from original leaflet below

sarah's story

But there was a problem which the DWP seems to have recognised- no, not that ESA is about being unfit for work-but that smiling Sarah with her remarkable tale of the kindly people at the job centre probably doesn’t exist other than as a stock photo. Here she is again, this time as a cover girl for the despised Universal Credit ‘standing out from the crowd’ at http://dailyjobseeker.tumblr.com/post/101666827899/standing-out-from-the-crowd

We are quite used to this kind of behaviour from the Daily Mail who use actors to pose as ‘benefit scroungers’ for their readers

but then there isn’t that much difference between the lies of the Mail and the lies of the DWP is there? See DPAC’s DWP caught giving disability propaganda to Daily Mail

Naturally DPAC has the original DWP ESA Sanctions leaflet which also features the story of Zac. It can be downloaded at the link employment-and-support-allowance-sanctions

We’d appreciate word of any sightings of Zac in TV ads, magazines or other DWP propaganda in the meantime you might like to follow Steven Preece’s Freedom of Information request on this.

..and remember DWP we’re watching you….

 

 

With thanks to Anita Bellows, Rik B and Steven Preece

Jul 282015
 

We are seeing continuous cuts to local authorities affecting social ‘care’ and everyone’s independence. Today we look at whats been happening in Derby by reblogging pieces sent to us by DPAC Derby.

A council that is cutting funding to adult social care is “complicit in murder” and could face a legal challenge, campaigners said.

Derbyshire County Council has to shave £11m this year from the £206m it spends on services to older, vulnerable and people with disabilities.

It includes changing who is eligible for care, increasing contributions and charging for transport.

Campaigners said they are looking into the possibility of a judicial review.

The Labour-led council’s cabinet approved the plans at a meeting on Tuesday, blaming the reduced grant from government.

Disability campaigners, who said councillors refused to look them in the eye, claimed a small victory when the council opted to investigate if reserves could be used to delay some of the changes

The changes will include:

  • Raising the threshold for who can receive care, meaning only people who have “substantial needs” will be eligible
  • Increasing the financial contribution made towards care and support, including users with more than £50,000 capital paying 100%
  • Introducing a £5 daily fee for transport to day care and other activities

Councillor Clare Neill, cabinet member for adult social care, said: “For adult social care, my share of [the cuts] is £65m over three to four years.

“This year, I’ve got to cut £11m from my budget – clearly I can only spend the money I’ve got.”

Poverty line

But campaigners said it disproportionately affected people with disabilities and that the consultation was flawed, which they said potentially gave them grounds for a judicial review.

Gary Matthews, Derbyshire representative of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “The council’s own report says people will be unsafe at home, there will be more accidents at home because of a lack of care and people’s health will deteriorate.

“This will put an extra stress on the NHS. Some people believe the council is complicit in murder.”

He added that the introduction of charges will force many disabled people in to poverty.

Campaigners have 12 weeks to apply for a judicial review.

( BBC 18th June 2015)

See also http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-30906966

on £45 million cuts from budget

Jul 132015
 
My name is Gregory White and I’m a doctoral researcher in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York. I’m looking for participants to be involved in my research project on protest groups.
As part of the project, I’d like to invite you to  a one-to-one interview. The interview itself should last no longer than an hour. I am very flexible as to how the interview is conducted, although it is preferred that we meet in person. The interviews for this project are to take place over the next few months. I’m ideally looking to speak to people who have taken an active role in organising with DPAC either at a national or local level.
If you are interested in being involved in the research then I’d be happy to discuss this further. I can be contacted personally via e-mail: gregory.white@york.ac.uk

Jul 072015
 

Well attended by a diverse section of the community as well as the local council leaders , MPs, trade unions, CAMPAIGN groups such as DPAC, Palestine solidarity, asylum seekers, GLBT committee and  multi faith leaders.

 

The event was organised by UAF and One Sheffield many cultures- over 250 people  attended.

It was a wonderful, emotional day and very humbling.

Here are some pictures.

And here is a great speech by Jen from Sheffield DPAC as a Quicktime movie at link  https://www.dropbox.com/s/i46whiuky9jc360/jen.speech2%20%283%29.mp4?dl=0

Jul 052015
 

In 2012, thanks to an award from The Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, disabled actor and activist Liz Carr travelled to the then five countries where assisted suicide and/or euthanasia are legal ie Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg and in the USA, Oregon and Washington State.  (Assisted suicide is now also legal in the US state of Vermont and in Canada).

 

Liz is opposed to the legalisation of assisted suicide and wanted to discover for herself how these laws work in practice and how, if at all, their existence changes the culture of a country.  She shares her discoveries in a two-part BBC World Service radio documentary entitled, “When Assisted Death is Legal” and which is available to listen to here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p014dkq5

 

In under an hour of listening time, these programmes provide important new information and perspectives on this most difficult of topics.  For example:

 

* In Luxembourg, Jean Huss and Lydie Err, who co-sponsored the Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Bill 2012, admitted they were disappointed in the law because they said it failed to include children and those with dementia.  When I asked why these groups were not included in their law, they said that they knew it was easier to pass the law initially for terminally ill people only and then, once passed, to increase the law’s application.

 

* In Oregon, where the law is the blueprint for the Assisted Dying Bill currently before you in the House of Lords, the 2013 statistics reveal that pain is infact not one of the main concerns of people requesting assisted suicide.  Instead, the three main reasons are loss of autonomy (93%), decreasing ability to participate in activities that make life enjoyable (88.7%) and loss of dignity (73.2%).  By comparison, inadequate pain control or concern about it was one of the least important concerns at 28.2%.

 

*  Since this documentary was produced, Washington State’s 2013 annual report has shown that 61% of all those who were supplied lethal drugs in order to commit suicide listed the feeling of being a burden on family, friends or caregivers as one of their main reasons for their request.

 

* In Switzerland, assisted suicide has been legal since the late 1800’s and one of its most stringent safeguards is that each case is investigated by the police

 

* The Netherlands are currently debating something called ‘Completed Life’ which would legalise assisted suicide for those 70+ who are tired of life

 

* In the first 10 years since the Belgium Euthanasia law was enacted, there has not been one case of abuse reported.  Is this because there have been no abuses (the BMJ reported in 2010 that only half of all euthanasia cases are properly reported) or because, as in most other countries, reporting and monitoring are self-regulatory?

 

Liz’s personal conclusion is that the risks to the safety and wellbeing of the majority should continue to outweigh the individual needs of those who want an assisted suicide.  She hopes you agree and will vote ‘no’ to the Assisted Dying Bill.

Jul 052015
 

Wolverhampton South MP Rob Marris’s Assisted Dying Bill is going to be debated and voted upon in what’s known as it’s Second Reading in the House of Commons on September 11th.  This is the first time in 18 years that MPs will have had the chance to vote on an assisted suicide (AS) law.

 

We want to make sure that MPs vote ‘NO’ and kill the bill on September 11th. see also info about the lobby on 14th July

 

We need to talk to our MPs about our fears and concerns about such a bill, to find whether they’re for or against it and if the latter, we desperately need them to attend on 11th September to vote against this bill.

 

This information sheet is the legal one.  It details the current legal situation and looks at the details of these assisted dying bills.

 

The current situation

 

Those of us who oppose a change in the law, believe the current situation is adequate.  Under the 1961 Suicide Act, killing yourself is not illegal but encouraging or assisting another person’s suicide is and can lead to up to 14 years imprisonment.  The current law acts a deterrent to malicious or manipulative assistance with suicide.

 

But the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) also has a discretion not to prosecute if, for example, it is clear that assistance has been given reluctantly / after serious soul-searching or for ‘wholly compassionate’ reasons to ill or disabled people.  It is this discretion that has allowed the high profile assisted suicide cases to avoid prosecution.

 

There are a list of factors considered when deciding if the law has been broken but in reality, if a person has made it clear that they want to end their life by an assisted suicide for health / impairment reasons and a friend or family member aids them (as opposed to a medical professional) then whilst they may be investigated, it is unlikely that they will be prosecuted.  Infact less than 20 cases a year throughout the whole of England and Wales cross the desk of the DPP and few of them call for prosecution.  And yet apparently this law isn’t working?

 

But laws send out messages – when something is legalised, it acquires the stamp of social approval.  An assisted suicide law says, in effect, that if you are terminally ill, ending your life is an option that it is appropriate to consider.

And by putting assisted suicide into the hands of the medical profession, it’s feared it could become a treatment option.

 

Critics of the current law say that it’s unfair for families and friends to have to help an ill or disabled person to end their lives and not know in advance whether or not they’ll be investigated and charged.  We say the illegatlity of the assisted suicide acts as a deterrent and ensures it is not the easy option.

 

Supporters say that because it’s not currently legal for a Dr to assist, that people have to kill themselves with amateur means which may fail.  We say that everyone has the means to commit suicide and why should ill / disabled people be given a 100% successful method when over 90% of suicides for everyone else actually fail?

 

They say that dying people may have no choice but to take themselves off to somewhere like Dignitas before they’re ready to die but while the person is still well enough to travel – and that travelling to Dignitas is costly and difficult for those involved.  We say that rather bringing assisted suicide to the masses and make it an easy option,  that there should be improvements to end of life care for all people to ensure everyone can have a peaceful and pain free end to their life.

 

Supporters say they want the right to die.  We believe the right to die already exists for each and every one of us. What those wanting a change in the law are actually asking for is the right for someone else to kill them.

 

Instead of a discretionary power where very few assisted suicides are ever prosecuted, supporters of a change in the law want to lay down in advance, the situations when it is okay for a Dr to assist a person to end their life.  We say the law as it is enables the choice of a few whilst protecting the many.

 

What’s in the Assisted Dying Bill?

 

At the time of writing the text of the Marris bill is unknown but it’s likely that it will be very similar to the Lord Falconer Assisted Dying Bill that Not Dead Yet UK protested against in the previous Parliament. (Lord Falconer has also re-introduced his Assisted Dying Bill into the House of Lords so even if we defeat the Marris Bill in the Commons, we will still have to contend with Falconer at some point in the future!).  Firstly they’re calling it an assisted dying and not an assisted suicide bill.  They say it’s because it’s only for those who are actually dying but we say it’s to make the term more palatable, after all, the current campaigning group Dignity in Dying used to be called the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.

 

If passed, the ‘assisted dying bill’ would license doctors to supply lethal drugs to:

  • terminally ill patients with less than 6 months to live and who have,
  • a settled intent to end his or her life
  • the capacity to make such a decision and
  • are making the request voluntarily, on an informed basis and without pressure or duress

 

Two doctors are required to certify that these criteria have been met and their decision is to be referred to a judge of the High Court for confirmation.  There is no requirement for a psychological assessment to assess capacity.  The doctors do not have to be your regular doctors.  If approved, the person would be supplied with the lethal drugs to enable them to commit suicide.

A medical professional (but not necessarily a doctor) would remain with the person until they died but they cannot help them to take the drugs – to do so would cross the line between assisted suicide and euthanasia.

 

Many people who support this bill believe it is to assist those who cannot kill themselves to have the same opportunity as everyone else but in fact, if someone cannot physically ingest or do the final act themselves would not technically come under this bill.

 

The proposed law – unsafe to change

 

Critics of the bill are meant to be reassured by ‘safeguards’ to protect ‘the vulnerable’ from abuse – and ultimately murder.  So what safeguards exist to protect someone from being killed without their fully informed consent?

 

The proposals list a number of qualifying criteria for assisted suicide – such as settled intent, capacity to make the decision and freedom from pressure – but they do not translate these criteria into concrete safeguards.  Instead, they

propose that these issues should be dealt with by the Secretary of State in codes of practice AFTER Parliament has agreed to change the law.  SO MPs don’t even know the full extent of what they’d be voting for on September 11th. In effect, the issue of safeguarding has been side-stepped and Parliament is being asked to sign a blank cheque.

 

After concern about lack of safeguards was raised when the House of Lords debated the Assisted Dying Bill, Lord Falconer added a proposal that when a doctor assessing a request for assisted suicide considers that it meets the designated criteria, the decision should then be referred to a judge of the High Court for confirmation.  The bill does not, however, require the Court to undertake any investigations of its own and as such, the role envisaged for the Court is little more than that of a rubber stamp.  It is expected this will also be included in the Marris Bill.

 

Many aspects of a request for assistance with suicide go beyond a doctor’s professional competence.  It may be fair to ask a doctor to confirm that a patient is terminally ill, to offer a prognosis and to advise on possible treatments.  But most doctors are in no position to judge whether a request for assistance with suicide derives from a settled wish or whether there are any pressures operating in the background that could be influencing the request.  In today’s world of busy multi-partner GP practices and declining home visits doctors often know little of their patients beyond what they pick up in the consulting room and they do not have the time or resources to set about investigating such matters.

 

The Oregon Experience

 

The Oregon Death with Dignity Act has been the blue print for the Falconer Bill and will be no doubt for the Marris Bill too.  Here are some of the problems with the Oregon law:

 

  • Individuals seeking assisted suicide can resort to doctor shopping- visiting doctor after doctor until one agrees to write the lethal prescription.

 

  • Patients are often misdiagnosed as terminally ill with less than 6months to live when in fact they live for months and even years beyond what was originally expected.

 

  • Individuals with a new illness or disability are often faced with depression, which requires more than Oregon’s 15 day waiting period to be treated.

 

  • Many patients experience outside pressure to commit assisted suicide, which often goes unnoticed and unpunished.

 

  • Individuals are often portrayed as a burden on their families and are made to feel that their life is not as valuable.

 

  • In 2007, none of the individuals that requested assisted suicide in Oregon were referred for a mental health evaluation.

 

  • Under Oregon law, depressed or mentally ill individuals can still be considered “competent” to request assisted suicide.

 

  • Under Oregon law, doctors that fail to report or file incomplete or inaccurate reports face no penalties.

 

  • All records are sealed and all underlying data is destroyed after the annual report is published.

 

  • The 2013 Oregon statistics reveal that the three main reasons given for requesting an assisted suicide are loss of autonomy (93%), decreasing ability to participate in activities that make life enjoyable (88.7%) and loss of dignity (73.2%).  By comparison, inadequate pain control or concern about it was one of the least important concerns at 28.2%.

 

  • Assisted suicide is also legal in Washington State. The 2013 annual report has shown that 61% of all those who were supplied lethal drugs in order to commit suicide listed the feeling of being a burden on family, friends or caregivers as one of their main reasons for their request.

 

  • 64 year old Barbara Wagner was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. Her oncologist prescribed chemotherapy to slow cancer growth, reduce symptoms, and extend her life.  The Oregon Health Plan however would not cover the costs for her chemotherapy prescription, but sent her a letter saying they would instead pay for assisted suicide drugs.

 

 

Jun 302015
 

 With thanks to Kate B Published on Jun 30, 2015

TRANSCRIPT

00.00 – 00.19

Today is a very, very sad and tragic day and I think some of us are starting to cry up the front here, because this has been a long campaign and it has been so important to so many people because it means so much, but this isn’t the end and I think what last Wednesday showed is that disabled people are strong when we unite with our allies, we fight back and we give them hell.

00.20

Save the ILF!

00.32

Whoa boy, Whoa.
I come in peace with my horse to save the ILF. We are fighting for independent living for disabled people in the UK in 2015. Can you believe that?

No.

We have had enough. The Independent Living Fund closes tomorrow and we are not going away. We are going to fight on.

1.05

The ILF has given me freedom. It has given me indpendence, to live my life the way I choose without being reliant on friends or family. Without being stuck to a regimented regime of getting up in the morning when it suits other people, to go to bed at 9 o’clock, I was 22 and I had to go to bed at nine o’clock, can you imagine. I was told when I could go to the toilet, once a day at one o’clock, if I wasn’t there on time then tough, I’d have to wait until a later call that evening. It’s just not just me, it’s thousands of people out there who are subjected to this.

1.39

This is from Leanne. Hi all, I wish I could be with you all today but unfortunately, I can’t but please know that I am with you all in spirit, this is not the end, it is just the beginning.

1.54

SINGING

2.07

There used to be a time when governments, particularly when the ILF came in when they were able to at least talk about independent living with a straight face and now when they do it’s very much with a forked tongue. When the ILF closes today, it is more than just the closure of a fund. I think it signifies very much the end of an idea and that idea was that society was very much prepared to meet its responsibilities to make sure that equality of opportunity was something more than words. And we took tangible steps like the Independent Living Fund which got people real lives beyond looking out the window and watching the world pass them by.

Jun 302015
 

It is often said that the Queen is special because she has two birthdays. But in fact, there are another 18,000 people who have two birthdays: the day they were born, and the day they received their first ILF payment.

My first ILF birthday was in 1988, when the Independent Living Fund was introduced. For people with high support needs, it was a great birthday, changing our lives overnight: we became part of our communities, went to college, got jobs, made friends, and generally did the things that non-disabled people take for granted. I met Mike and Darren who have become not only my personal assistants but also life-long friends.

ILF was a springboard for a new life, whereas Direct Payments are a safety net. Direct payments help you out of bed in the morning. ILF gave you a reason to do so. My fear is that we are going back to the days without hope or purpose.

In 1964, I became disabled. Not by being involved in an accident or being ill. I became disabled with one simple sentence from a consultant: “Mr and Mrs Punton, I am sorry to have to tell you but your child has got cerebral palsy.” From that moment, society believed that I had no purpose or future and prescribed special school followed by a life sentence in an institution. My parents disagreed, and I remember my Dad saying, “well, it is not rocket science that you shouldn’t let other people govern what you do.” And my Dad should know, because he was a rocket scientist!

But even so, I was still forced to live the life that society prescribed.

Then, in 1988, three things happened. Thirdly, I got my first job. Secondly, I moved into my first flat. Firstly, and probably most importantly, I applied and was accepted for ILF.

Without the first, I am sure the other two would not have been achievable. The ILF changed my life. It gave me access to the wider community of Birmingham and beyond. It allowed me to meet fellow like-minded people who taught me how to see myself in a different light and introduced me to the concept of social justice. It allowed me to work, start my own community interest company, and empower other people. I even stood as a candidate for parliament at the last election. Fortunately, the wisdom of the people prevailed! But because of ILF and the British democratic process, it is possible for me to sit here and speak to you. The question is, will Robert Punton the younger be able to do the same?

ILF has changed our lives, and how we see life. I am desperately sad that the decision of 2010 meant that an opportunity open to all was suddenly closed, which has led to it being labelled elitist. That was not the original intent or purpose.

On the 19th June 2015, we received our final instalments of ILF.  My concern, and the concern of thousands like me, is that come the first of August, the restrictions of the new definition of community care, will not allow me to continue to participate in my community and I will find myself returning to the lifestyle of pre-1988. If you will allow me a bit of poetic licence, I do not wish to return to the shadows of society but want to help light my community.

I would like to finish with a quote from Antoine De Saint-Exupery “The notion of looking on at life has always been hateful to me. What am I if I am not a participant? In order to be, I must participate.”

Please allow me and many like me the opportunity to participate.

 

 

 

Jun 302015
 

Reposted  from www.frameworkinclusion.uk with thanks

Today (30th June 2015) the Independent Living Fund is officially closed at midnight by a heartless Conservative Government –the working concept of independent living is effectively silenced. A fine campaign was, and will continue to be fought by ILF users and Disabled People against Cuts. On the 24th June ILF users and DPAC stormed the parliament in scenes previously unwitnessed in the British Parliament, but the fight began a long time before that day.  The fight for independent living for disabled people has been ongoing for decades; the fight to #saveilf began in 2010 when DPAC asked those affected by the closure to new users to come forward for a court case against the Government.

Disabled people have always had to fight for their human rights and equality. People marvel at the number of demos and direct actions that have been carried out, but its what disabled people have always needed to do. The ILF campaign has been a huge success in alerting the public, the press and TV nationally and internationally to the intense cruelty of a Government who declare they will support those in greatest need and simultaneously close the very efficient ILF which was doing just that. The closure makes no economic sense ILF had running costs of 2% while cash starved local authorities have an average of 16% running costs. On the same day as the closure a #disability confident event was being run in Swansea –this is beyond ironic and highlights the theatre of duplicity that this Government engage in. While ILF users face cuts in support, sometimes of up to 70% or face the fear of being institutionalised, while they face the loss of jobs, staff, PAs, education and life-our Government preaches #disabilityconfident .

We want to pay homage to all those that protested on the streets and online to #saveILF, as many others have said – this is not over- we go on fighting!  We will take back independent living on our terms so that it can never taken from us again- that work begins now.

It is a sad day today, but it also one of pride for the dignity, force and dedication disabled people and our allies have shown in the fight for ILF- the fight for independent living will continue, the continued exposure of what the Conservative Government have done to disabled people will be shouted loud and clear as we join with more and more allies in solidarity against the evil that is being done to us under the myth of austerity -our rage like our strength will grow till the human rights we deserve are ours.

Downing Street, London, UK. 30th June, 2015.  On the day the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closes and organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), ILF recipients, campaigners and sympathisers meet outside Downing Street to hand over petitions calling on the Prime Minister to protect disabled people’s right to independent living. Over 25,000 signatures have been collected online supported by videos made by actors of Coronation Street and also during the Graeae Theatre Company’s 2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera. After laying a wreath for the ILF, Schimmel, the battle horse of the Threepenny Opera led a march to the Houses of Parliament to continue the fight for dignity and equality. Last week, DPAC activists clashed with police inside the Houses of Parliament. Pictured:  A RIP ILF wreath was laid outside Downing Street. // Lee Thomas, Flat 47a Park East Building, Bow Quarter, London, E3 2UT. Tel. 07784142973. Email: leepthomas@gmail.com. www.leept.co.uk (0000635435)

Downing Street, London, UK. 30th June, 2015. On the day the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closes and organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), ILF recipients, campaigners and sympathisers meet outside Downing Street to hand over petitions calling on the Prime Minister to protect disabled people’s right to independent living. Over 25,000 signatures have been collected online supported by videos made by actors of Coronation Street and also during the Graeae Theatre Company’s 2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera. After laying a wreath for the ILF, Schimmel, the battle horse of the Threepenny Opera led a march to the Houses of Parliament to continue the fight for dignity and equality. Last week, DPAC activists clashed with police inside the Houses of Parliament. Pictured: A RIP ILF wreath was laid outside Downing Street. // Lee Thomas, Flat 47a Park East Building, Bow Quarter, London, E3 2UT. Tel. 07784142973. Email: leepthomas@gmail.com. www.leept.co.uk (0000635435)

Jun 272015
 

We were passed a letter anonymously last week. Atos the company responsible for misery and premature death now wants to help disabled people. Atos still do PIP assessments, and are in part responsible for the long delays, declared unlawful in the courts that have left people without income, food and at risk of losing their homes. This is something they share with Capita.

Yet, Atos will always be remembered for the Work Capability Assessment and ESA travesty. Their staff were filmed admitting that there were targets and saying that the job of assessing was toxic. But Atos were still laughing all the way to bank- After a prolonged campaign by DPAC and others Atos left the WCA contact early and were replaced by Maximus who seem no better.

We thought we’d publish the Atos letter in full , so that those people we receive emails  from who have no money for food, who are being threatened with eviction and whose families have broken up due to the inhumanity of welfare ‘reform’ might apply

No surprise that Atos has sent out its letter as a PDF which is inaccessible for some screen readers , so we copy the main parts here

As you are well aware Atos Healthcare is contracted to assess claimants on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit.

We assess some of our society’s most vulnerable people on a daily basis; and we recognise their hardships and struggles. The environment we work in means that our staff frequently undertake charitable activities for a wide range of causes. In support of this effort Atos Healthcare usually matches their collections. As a result there is a fund available for charitable donation and we are looking at how best to use that to make a positive contribution to supporting and improving the day to day living of vulnerable people.

We would like to support a different selected charity for each six month period. Naturally, as the PIP benefit is intended to support people with long term conditions or disabilities we feel that a disability or condition based charity would be appropriate.

We are aware that you have strong relationships and key contacts within many charities and we would value your opinion and expertise on selecting appropriate charities.

This work is being coordinated by Saleem Jawaid who is passionate about these activities and he would welcome your views on the most effective mechanisms for doing this and any issues that you think we might face. Contact details for Saleem are given at the end of this letter.

Yours Faithfully

For anyone who’d like their ‘hardships and struggles’ recognised by Atos the number is Tel: 0118 914 9500 Ext: 18296 or if you prefer email then its : Saleem.jawaid.external@atos.net

For any disability charity taking money from Atos – we’ll find out and expose you

Rights not Charity!

Atos Open Letter – charity

 

 

Jun 272015
 

Anyone in Suffolk/Norfolk who’s in receipt of ILF, would you be willing to talk about your concerns on the closure of the ILF (Independent Living Fund)

 

I’ve been contacted by Linda Walker Broadcast Journalist from BBC Suffolk who has informed me that :-

“She’s putting together some research ahead of the ILF changes going through on Tuesday.
She’s keen to hear from any of you who have real concerns about the change and how it might impact on you personally. If anyone would be willing to share their story people do contact me on
linda.walker@bbc.co.uk or 01473 340 707.”

 

Solidarity

Martin

Suffolk DPAC

Jun 222015
 

(NB. Those supporting the Bill use terms such as assisted dying and death with dignity to make killing someone / assisting a suicide more palatable.  Those of us opposed to legalizing assisted suicide think it’s important to call it what it is and so we use the term assisted suicide.)

The Assisted Dying Bill is doing the rounds again.  This time Rob Marris, MP for Wolverhampton South is bringing this private members bill to the Commons for a full debate on Friday September 11 2015.  This will be the first time in over 18 years that Commons rather than the Lords have had the chance to vote on this subject so it’s essential that we let our MPs know that we oppose legalising AS.

The best way to do this is to pay your MP a visit before they finish for the summer on the 21st July.  Use this opportunity tell your MP that you oppose this Bill, to find out how they’re going to vote and most importantly, to tell your MP to attend the debate on September 11th  –  and hopefully to vote against it.

An actual meeting with your MP will have the most impact. MPs will see you at a ‘surgery’ (meeting) in their constituency (the area that your MP represents).  Sometimes you have to make an appointment and some MPs will hold drop in sessions.  If there’s a few of you in the same constituency from NDYUK, you could always go together?   Your MP should also be able to make a house call if visiting them would be difficult.

 

If you need to find out who your MP is, just put your postcode into www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/  The parliament.uk website will also help you find your MP’s webpage detailing when they hold constituency surgeries and how to make an appointment to see them.

Remember, an MP has a duty to see their constituents and an MP is meant to represent a constituent’s interests even if they disagree.

NDYUK will have an information sheet available with key points for you to print out and leave with your MP.  Your personal reasons for opposing the legalisation of assisted suicide however, will have the most impact – after all, your local MP is more likely to be concerned about issues that directly affect their constituents.  If your MP is also opposed to the Bill then you could ask them to help with our campaign, to debate against it in the Commons and to publicly speak out against the Bill in the media.

 

Most importantly, whether or not your MP shares your view, ask them to attend the debate and vote on September 11th.

 

Please make an appointment to see your MP before July 21st and if you really cannot visit them, write a letter or at least email them before July 21st.

 

Let us know how it goes, how your MP intends to vote & if you need any more information.  Thanks and good luck!

Jun 192015
 

12.30 – 3.30pm

RMT Head Office at Unity House, 39 Charlton St; London NW1 1JD

 

This meeting will be a chance for local London DPAC groups and members to share information, catch up on current key national DPAC campaigns and agree priorities for our activity over the Summer.

 

The venue is wheelchair accessible and the meeting will be BSL interpreted. Please specify other access needs when booking.

 

Space is limited so please book if you planning to come by emailing: ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk

 

 

Agenda

12.30 – 12.45pm Sign in

12.45 – 1pm Welcome and introduction

1 – 2pm Feedback from local DPAC groups and campaigns

2 – 2.30pm Break

2.30 – 3.30pm Priorities and actions

Jun 172015
 

Conference

Tuesday 14 July 2015,

11-4pm,

Hotel Novotel Sheffield Centre,

50 Arundel Gate,

Sheffield, S1 2PR

Now more than ever Disabled people and our organisations and networks need to work together to protect & defend our rights and develop our own voice and policy ideas.

This conference organised by the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA) is inviting representatives from Disabled Peoples Organisations(DPO’s) and networks from across England to meet together to:

  •   Take stock following the election and explore likely implications of new Government policy for disabled people.
  •  Identify our disability equality campaigning priorities for the next year.
  •  Identify the policy issues our movement needs to explore and progress.
  •  Build and strengthen ROFA as a really effective network of grassroots DPOs.

 

The conference will include a keynote speech from Jenny Morris, plenty of time for small group discussion & Networking plus free lunch and refreshments.

To book a place at the conference:

Please email andrew.crooks@disabilitysheffield.org.uk

Or

Phone Andrew tel: 0114 2536752

The venue is fully wheelchair accessible. If you require

BSL interpreters, e note-taker, audio-loop or any other

access arrangements you must email: andrew.crooks@ disabilitysheffield.org.uk

or phone Andrew tel:0114 2536752

by 5pm on Monday 15th June 2015 as we may not be able to meet your access needs after this date

More information about the event, together with an agenda and travel information about getting to the venue will be sent once your booking has been confirmed

Jun 142015
 

While the Labour party still scrambles among the election debris searching for its identity and running focus groups to find out if it should be circa 1990s Bluritte retro Tory in shocking pink, or a Tuesday-an unpleasant creature seems to have emerged from the Wolverhampton dust…

Rob Marris Labour MP for Wolverhampton South West is a bit of an Indiana Jones: ex lumber jack, ex truck driver, traveller, sociologist and solicitor.  He also has a distaste for parked vans. In 2008 he caused £350 worth of damage to a van parked by a bus stop when he jumped on the bonnet because he didn’t like the way it was parked. While other people walked around the van, Rob chose to jump on the bonnet.

Colin Molloy, the district CPS prosecutor, said: “There were two vehicles parked in front of a bus stop with a small gap between them.” Others had walked through the gap but Mr Marris chose not to, Mr Molloy said. “The van was not parked to his liking,” he added. Marris admitted it was an ‘unconventional’ act and accepted a conditional caution. Unconventional is one term: contemptuous violent disregard for others property and person is another.

On the 31st July Rob Marris is hosting The Silence of Suicide. The event blurb says: ‘Strange title you may think … but it is the silence that precedes the ultimate act of those who tragically decide to end their lives’.

So it’s even stranger then, that this is the same Rob Marris who has resurrected the “assisted suicide” or “assisted dying” Bill via some archaic competition in which he was the MP who got to choose a Bill.  By this process, and choice, Marris is the man responsible for reopening the door of Falconer’s state sanctioned killing proposal.  The idea being that a doctor can leave you a lethal cocktail which you can take when he/she leaves the room, or have forced down you when he/she leaves the room-actually there are no safeguards on that unless your home is fully fitted with CCTV. Were there any other Bills he could have sponsored? Yes there were..

LBBill

Marris is a self confessed patron of Wolverhampton Mencap (Rights not Charity by the way Rob) but we’d still imagine he’d spare a thought for the LBBill  (see https://lbbill.wordpress.com/ ). A Bill intended to prevent the abuse, neglect and deaths of people with learning difficulties locked away in institutions often many miles from their families. Marris’ constituents wrote to him asking him to support the important Bill and presented the reasons why he should. But Marris replied that he had his own ideas.

 I already have a couple of ideas, and I’m sorry to disappoint you but the interesting-sounding Bill you suggest is not one of them.

I am a patron of Wolverhampton Mencap, and I can only hope that the problems you delineate are not present at New Cross (no we didn’t understand what that meant either).

Rob Marris

His idea was not to save countless lives, prevent misery and abuse of human rights, but to resurrect the call for death-A call that the majority of Doctors and the BMA rejects.

It’s the van all over again: A contemptuous violent disregard for others property, person and life. Not only will refusing to back the LBbill cost lives, but the dragging back of the assisted killing bill shows a complete contempt for disabled people. A complete ignorance of the circumstances we find ourselves in with social ‘care’ at breaking point, the loss of the ILF, £12.5bn more cuts to come, newspapers screaming scrounger, the rise of hate crime and the collapse of welfare support.

There couldn’t be a more dangerous time to bring back the Bill. But maybe that’s the idea, with little between Labour and the Tories, the shrinking of the state along with the culling of more disabled people through the assisted dying/suicide/killing Bill- it couldn’t be better timed. Why try to right the wrongs in long term hospitals, prevent deaths in long stay institutions, attempt to recognise human rights when people are tied down against their will or force fed psychotic drugs in long stay institutions-they needn’t bother with any of it.

Marris also needn’t bother with the hundreds of disabled adults in Wolverhampton who are Independent Living Fund (ILF) users. Wolverhampton ILF users are set to lose £784,000 when the ILF closes on June 30th and monies transfer to the local authority. At the time of writing Wolverhampton social services have refused to tell the 300 ILF users in Wolverhampton what’s going to happen to their support. Marris doesn’t seem particularly bothered either.

Marris doesn’t care about ILF users, he doesn’t care about the human rights abuses happening in long stay hospitals and institutions. He cares about the horrors of suicide while simultaneously imposing state sanctioned suicide on disabled people.

Ann Whitehurst sums it up

Rob Marris, Labour MP, was number 1 MP on the PMB ballot list and was therefore in a position to save countless disabled people’s lives and prevent thousands from abusive neglect. A number of requests were made for Rob Marris to present the Disabled Peoples Community Inclusion bill, known as LBbill, including one from Bob Williams-Findlay who lives in Marris’ constituency but he declined to sponsor the bill preferring to use his position of being in line-up for ‘private members bill’ to sponsor killing us rather than including us in life.

When have any of these Labour MPs who want us dead ever put forward Assisted Living bill? How many fought for the ILF? How many support people to get decent Care Packages from their social services? Labour fascism”.

Rob Marris we’re bringing a van to Wolverhampton very soon and we don’t think you’re going to like where we’ll be parking it.

Rob is on twitter @WSW_Labour why not let him know what you think

 

 

 

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/2076906/Labour-MP-Rob-Marris-cautioned-for-damaging-van.html

https://lbbill.wordpress.com/

http://www.changepeople.org/blog-and-news/justice-for-laughing-boy-a-new-bill-for-parliament/

http://www.robmarris.net/the_silence_of_suicide

http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2015/06/10/fears-over-780000-disability-benefits-in-wolverhampton-council-change/

 

 

 

Jun 132015
 

Ref: ESA50 forms

13.06.15

Dear Maximus,

DPAC has become aware of a number of serious issues in relation to the ESA50 form.  In fact, the evidence received seems so extreme as to be almost unbelievable but a pattern has started to emerge.

For example, this month, a benefit claimant has been refused ESA (and a mandatory reconsideration upheld the decision), based on an assessment, but also based on an ESA50 form which 2 years earlier contributed to the same decision. But 2 years ago, the ESA decision was found to be flawed and overturned by a tribunal. Still, the same ESA50 form was used again this time by Maximus and the claimant has for a second time appealed the decision. But of course, this time, he has had to wait for the Mandatory Reconsideration outcome on no income before being allowed to lodge an appeal.

Another claimant was awarded ESA 2 years ago on the basis of the ESA50 he submitted, and was not required to undergo a face to face Work Capability Assesssment. But this month he has been asked to attend a WCA with Maximus without having to submit a new ESA50.  So assuming that Maximus is again using the same earlier ESA50 form to assess his capability for work, it should lead to the same conclusion that a face to face WCA is not needed to decide that he is entitled to ESA.

This does not make sense, and disabled people deserve much better than this.

While Maximus has shown itself to be fairly accomodating and prepared to accept more recent ESA50s and a reasonable deadline for completing the form when requested by claimants, that is just not good enough. Claimants should not have to argue their individual case in order that Maximus fulfill their contractual requirement for the issuing of ESA50 forms, nor should they have to negotiate a deadline for completing and submitting the form when DWP has decided that 4 weeks are necessary to do so.

The WCA is desperately flawed and badly failing many claimants, as shown by the recent story of a woman who was found fit for work although she has Parkinsons disease and a brain tumour, http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woman-parkinsons-brain-tumour-ruled-5822041, which is why DPAC has repeatedly called for it to be scrapped, but in the meantime claimants deserve to be treated fairly, consistently and lawfully in their dealings with Maximus.

DWP’s argument for reassessing claimants endlessly is that medical conditions can vary, which makes the re-use of a 2 year old form unjustifiable, and this has been criticised by tribunals which have had to decide on these cases.  Likewise, claimants who are given less than 4 weeks to complete their ESA50 forms are placed at a substantial disavantage compared to claimants who benefited from 4 weeks to do so.

DPAC is demanding that Maximus and DWP ensure that every claimant is issued with an ESA50 before each WCA and is given 4 weeks to submit it. DPAC is also demanding that Maximus require claimants to attend a face to face Work Capability Assessment only after consideration of a recent or up-to-date ESA50

Anything less would be unacceptable and probably unlawful.

We look forward to your comments,

Yours sincerely

Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC)

Jun 102015
 

Update we’re asking people to bring incontinence pads with them if they can tomoro-you’ll find out why on the day

Organised by the People’s Assembly

 

DPAC, Deaf campaigners and NUBSLI (National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters) will be marching together on 20th June. We want to make our block as colourful and lively as possible to get across the message loud and clear that we will fight the attacks against us being carried out in the name of austerity loudly and proudly. We are not going away! Disabled activist Liz Carr will also be speaking on the platform at the end of the march.

 

For anyone wishing to join the DPAC block for the long march, this block will meet on Walbrook which is opposite Cannon Street station. Meet from noon for start of march at 1.30pm.

 

There will also be a static protest opposite Downing Street which will feed into the DPAC block as it passes for a short march to Parliament Square.

 

Access information for the 20th can be found here:http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/access_info_20jun