May 172016
 

By Ian

On the 3rd of May I was one of the 300 people who shut down the UK’s largest coal mine; a place called Ffos-y-fran in South Wales. Going on any action can cause its share of trepidations—even if you don’t identify with the ‘disabled’ tag; but the decision to take action against coal, for the local community, and ultimately for the future was actually a joy to take.

Facilitated with the Reclaim the Power network, who had set-up camp on the commons above Merthyr Tydfil, we then proceeded to have five days of action-planning, skilling-up, networking and ultimately connecting with others. I was amazed by the truly multinational scope of the camp, with people from all over Europe, America, India and beyond. The local resistance organisation UVAG (United Valleys Action Group) provided us with support and a vital personal perspective on their ten-year long struggle against the opencast mine.

Walking over the narrow hillpath and down into the mine and seeing the small communities nestled cheek-by-jowl nearby it saddened me how these people were being treated with such callous disregard; unfortunately, a familiar feeling for any who experience long-term health conditions.

A tiny bit of history then: The Ffos-y-Fran ‘Land Reclamation Scheme’ is the UK’s largest coal mine, and proposed to become much bigger if the developing company Miller Argent get their way. Locally and nationally controversial, the Welsh Assembly has already called for a moratorium on opencast coal mining in 2015, but Miller Argent ignored them. They proposed to build another huge mine at the adjacent site of Nant Llesg, and despite being rejected by the County Council, then raised the threat of legal actions should they be refused!

The actions of the day were many; from those of us who could making our way, column-style, down into the mine itself (following a gigantic red-dragon from Wales!), with other affinity groups already locking on to machinery, or blockading the front gates. Despite any reservations we might have had; there was a carnival atmosphere that day, as the space was transformed from a dull and poisonous wound, to the feeling of a spontaneous summer party.

I am aware of how lucky I am of being able to be there. My disability is (mostly?) an invisible one—a mental health condition that has curtailed my activism over the years, during the different seasons of mood that I can go through. Knowing that action-camp life can sometimes be strenuous (especially the come-down after the action) I took the opportunity of going to the Well-Being Tent run by the camp’s Tranquillity Team. This was a quiet, supportive place where people could catch a few hours’ sleep, a cup of tea, or have just simple and supportive conversations should they need it. Unlike the clinical care that I have received in the past, this space felt entirely different: you didn’t have to be mad to go there, just as you didn’t have to be ‘ill’. No judgements were passed you were allowed to sit and read, or zone-out, talk, or whatever you needed to. This actually felt very supportive and self-led care rather than the mainstream ‘top-down’ approach to care. I also took time to speak with GBC (Green and Black Cross, a legal advisory group for activists) about the possibility of being arrested and what to expect as a disabled person, the pros and cons of carrying medicine on me etc — more on that in another action-report.

Sometimes there can be a sense of wariness over disability and activism, as if one might preclude the other. From what I saw at the Reclaim the Power camp (I saw at least one wheelchair user there as well) this view is entirely outdated. Disability rights and access to safer spaces is a vital part of the climate struggle, just as the climate struggle is a key part of disability rights here and abroad. The right to live visibly and with dignity is the right to a safer space for all of us: the right to live on a world which is not being destroyed under our feet and over our heads! Fuel Poverty Action (a campaigning group also represented at the camp) state on their website that as well as polluting our environment, fossil fuels are also increasing in cost.” Unconventional and extreme fossil fuels such as opencast mining, deep-sea drilling and fracking are all driving up the costs of heating our homes, as well as endangering our planet. Academics from the Universities of Leicester and York found back in 2015 that disabled people in the UK [and the world] bear a much higher burden of fuel poverty, and a much higher risk of climate change due to substandard housing, inefficient insulation, and institutionalized economic poverty.

I’m coming to the view that direct action is actually good for the heart, just as acts of civil disobedience are good for civil society (where would we be without the Suffragette movement, without the chartists, the bus-boycotter’s and the peace campaigners?). Despite how my Impairment might define me in some ways, they did not impede me taking action to defend our planet—and being a part of a community taking action was joyous.

 

 

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 Posted by at 17:36
Jul 122015
 

Has your Council taken out or turned off safe street crossings to create a so-called Shared Space? As these are desperately dangerous for people with any and all impairments, Unity Law are now taking action against 5 councils.Please consider joining the action if you have a Shared Space where you live. Unity Law will represent you at absolutely no cost to yourself and the more people and places they have on board the better.

You can contact Chris Fry at Unity Law on 0114 361 0000 or info@unity-law.co.uk

 

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 Posted by at 19:49
Mar 062015
 

After a highly successful Maximus protest,our newest local DPAC, Manchester, will be having an inaugural 

meeting on the 19th March

Thursday 19th March 5:30 – 7:30 at the Manchester Deaf Centre, Crawford House, Booth Street East, M13 9GH

FB event here

https://www.facebook.com/events/441759445982760/441763019315736/

email : manchesterdpac@gmail.com

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 Posted by at 21:10
Feb 262015
 

Who 2 Vote 4 Logo[By Mark Harrison, CEO Equal Lives]

Accessible Britain Challenge a Sick Joke

In September last year Mark Harper, Minister for Disabled People launched the Accessible Britain Challenge.  He did this 4 months after his Department had committed to closing the inaccessible disability assessment centre in Norwich and re-locating to suitable premises.  That centre is still open, still inaccessible and is still turning away disabled people 8 months after the decision to close it was made.

The Department for Work and Pensions publicity states:

The Accessible Britain Challenge encourages communities to be inclusive and accessible. That means working with disabled people to remove the barriers that stop them participating fully in their community.

Far from working with disabled people Mr Harper has ignored us and refused to enter into a dialogue or even answer our letters.

The cheery, welcoming  frontage of the St Mary's inaccessible disability assessment centre in Norwich.

The cheery, welcoming sight that enhances the customer experience of visitors to  Maximus’  inaccessible disability assessment centre in Norwich.

What makes it more perverse is that a new provider Maximus, an American outsourcing firm takes over the multi million pound Work Capability Assessment (WCA) contract from Atos next Monday and will continue to operate from St Mary’s House, 3 years after the DWP was made aware of the access issues.

Disabled campaigners and our supporters will be demonstrating between 12.30 – 1.30pm on Monday 2nd March outside St Mary’s House against this injustice.

Mark Harrison, CEO of Equal Lives said “This shows that the Accessible Britain Challenge is just a publicity stunt.  We have been campaigning for 3 years outside St Mary’s House.  They are even presenting awards in conjunction with the British Institute for Facilities Management and one of the categories is ‘innovative use of buildings, spaces and places’.  The winners are to be announced on 15 March.  I am sure the irony of this is not lost on the thousands of disabled people who have been forced to travel hundreds of miles for their assessments because the DWP won’t lease suitable premises.”

It also demonstrates the contempt this Government has for disabled people.  How can you appoint a new provider for the hated assessments and force them to use an inaccessible building which the DWP leases through another private sector provider Telereal Trillium?  This clearly demonstrated that we are not all in this together.  There is one rule for disabled people and another for the private sector, bankers and Ministers who see themselves as being unaccountable and above the law”.

About Equal Lives

Equal Lives is a user-led human rights organisation supporting all disabled people in Norfolk. It was formed in 1996 by groups of disabled people in Norfolk. The organisation is led by a Board of Trustees all of whom are disabled people and elected by and from its membership.

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 Posted by at 13:06
Jan 232015
 

See Information about the Day of Action on Social Media here

Cartoon Maximus - Same Circus - Different Clowns by Phil Evans

Cartoon: Maximarse – Same Circus – Different Clowns by Phil Evans. You can more of his work on his Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/PhillEvansIllustration

Planning for the Day of Action to Welcome Maximarse to their new role as assessors for the cruel and hateful WCA is taking shape, and we now have actions planned or in planning for:

Aberdeen, Balham, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton, Cardiff, Croydon, Dundee, Ealing, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Inverness, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicester,  Lincoln,  Manchester,  Norwich, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Sheffield, Sunderland, Toronto, Truro, Wrexham and Maximus HQ in central London.

If you can get to one of these protests – great ! You can see details of each event list below. If you would like to contact the organisers of any of the actions beforehand – mail us on mail@dpac.uk.net and we will be able to put you in contact with them.

Keep an eye on this page – we will keep it updated with locations all over the UK where actions are planned, and details of new actions are coming in to DPAC central thick and fast so keep an eye out for updates.

If there isn’t a protest where you live – why not organise one? – we can help you with advice, leaflet designs, placard designs and put you in contact with local groups near to you, if you are interested email us on mail@dpac.uk.net

If you can’t make a protest, we are going to have a social media day of action as well. Details of that will be going up on this website in the near future.

Finally, at the end of this post, we have included an instructional video on how to organise a DPAC protest that we think everyone should see.

We would just like to add that the Day of Action is aimed at the objective of ending the Work Capability Assessments and destroying the credibility of Maximus which should be relatively easy to do given their appalling track record. We do not want these protests to give Maximus or their new employee, Sue Marsh, an opportunity to accuse us of attacking their poor staff as ATOS falsely claimed.

Logos for DPAC, New Approach, Black Triangle and Mental Health Resistance Network** Stop Press **  UKUncut will be joining with us to take part in the Day of Action against Maximus

*** Stop Stop Press ** We have been informed that our friends and allies in Canada, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty will be holding a solidarity action with us against Maximus Offices in Toronto – details of this to follow


MASS DAY OF ACTION AGAINST MAXIMUS! 2ND MARCH 2015.

Protest

Location

Time(s)

Events Page

Aberdeen

Details to be announced

Balham

Irene House, 218 Balham High Road, Balham, London, SW12 9BX

10.30 Am – 12noon

https://facebook.com/events/921882261178305/

Bournemouth

Details to be announced

Bradford

Bradford City Centre, Wool Exchange Buildings, 22 Bank Street, Bradford, BD1 1PR

8.30 am to 10.30 am

https://www.facebook.com/events/1589908967913041/

Brighton

West Lees House, 21-35 Dyke Road, Brighton, BN1 3GD, (North End of the Clock Tower, Next to Old Job Centre.)

1pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/1542104427509/

Cardiff

Run by DAN Cmyru

Block 2, Government Buildings, St Agnes Road, Gabalfa, Cardiff, CF14 4YJ.

1 -4 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/1541199339470550/

Croydon

Stephenson House, 2 Cherry Orchard Road, Croydon, CR0 6BA

10 am – 6pm.

https://www.facebook.com/events/641182419342826/

Dundee

Details to be announced

Ealing

Medical Assessment Centre/Ealing Job Centre, 86-92 Uxbridge Road, West Ealing London W13 8RA

9 am -10.30 am

https://www.facebook.com/events/876381712418630/

Edinburgh

Argyle House, 3 Lady Lawson Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9SJ

1pm-3pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/334127460115256/

Glasgow

Corunna House, 29 Cadogan Street, Glasgow, G2 7RD

12.30 -2 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/1429430507348206/

Hull

Job Centre Plus, Hill Britannia House, 2 Ferensway, Hull HU2 8NF

(Organised by Hull People’s Assembly)

1pm to 2 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/1508382406051019/

Inverness

Details to be announced

Ipswich

Medical Assessment Centre, St. Felix House, Silent Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 1TF.

1 pm onwards.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1513102252288548/

Leeds

Leeds Briggate LS1 6NP (meet near the Bodyshop)

12 noon until 2 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/369677073211238/

Leicester

1st Floor, Rytland Centre, Halford Street, Leicester, LE1 1TQ

https://www.facebook.com/events/522105471264765/

Lincoln

Medical Assessment Centre, Viking House, 98 Newland

1 pm onwards

https://www.facebook.com/events178533808358604/

London Central Maximus HQ

Maximus HQ Level 1, Queen Anne’s Gate, London, SW1H 9BU

1 – 5 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/771842739517758/

Manchester

Albert Bridge House, Bridge Street, Manchester, M60 9AT

12 noon until 4 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/346833825508275/

Norwich

St Mary’s House, Duke St, Norwich. NR3 1QA

1pm

TBA

Portsmouth

Medical Assessment Centre, Wingfield House, 316-334 Commercial Road, Portsmouth PO1 4TA

1 pm until 5 pm

http://www.facebook.com/events/1609767919257826/

Plymouth

Argosy house, longfield road, plympton, plymouth, PL6 8LS

12 noon until 3 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/951081494902471/

Reading

St Mary’s Butts, Reading, RG1 2LG

11 am – 1 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/1404292959867177/

Sheffield

Medical Assessment Centre, 1 Hartshead Square, Sheffield, S1 2FD.

1- 3 pm (meet first at 12.30 pm at City centre)

https://facebook.com/events/1526799147602672/

Sunderland

Sunderland Job Centre, 60-66 John Street, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear SR1 1QT

11 am-1pm

Toronto

Details to be announced

4pm UK time

Truro

Pydar House, Pydar Street, Truro, Cornwall, TR1 2XD (the current WCA Assessment Centre)

After a while spent there protest will move on to  Truro City Centre  outside the JobCentre Plus

12 noon until 2 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/1002956276384446/

Wrexham

Medical Assessment Centre, Ty Maelor, 15-17 Grosvenor Road, Wrexham LL11 1BW

1pm – 3pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/519696384836975/


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 Posted by at 17:38
Jan 032015
 

Different forms of Government Propaganda began and ended the year. We saw delays, backlogs, more cuts, more campaigns and direct actions. We reproduce some of the DPAC actions, research and call outs from 2014. Highlights included the Westminster Abbey Occupation against the closure of ILF as part of the #saveilf campaign, lowlights included the court case that arrived at the decision that Penning had taken appropriate process into account by saying that ILF users could be entitled to less under local authorities. Chaos with the DWP, PIP, ESA was compounded by misinformation, dodgy stats , backlogs and increasing sanctions. The brilliant Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Cuts achieved the abolition of ‘care’ charges by their local authority-proving it can be done. Esther McVey was awarded Scrooge of the year. DPAC was threatened with legal action for our support of the Anthony Kletzander campaign -in response we increased the campaign, and the relationship in the propaganda against disabled people between the DWP and the Mail was finally exposed

News that the UNCRPD Committee had initiated its first ever inquiry into grave and systematic violations of the UN Convention against the UK identified how far our disability rights and independent living had been eroded by the Coalition-although the Mail didnt seem to like it much

Our constant court cases against the DWP continued, and we have more lined up for this year too- yes, we could be talking to you Motability!

We look forward to 2015 and a change in the regime that has seen the poor grow poorer, while the richest grew richer. A year in which we launch Who2vote4? and the DPAC revenge tour. We will continue to fight for #saveilf with an event on 6th Jan at the House of Commons and an online twitter event.

For an excellent review of the fight against cuts from 2010-2014 please download From Cuts to Resistance and if you want a count down to the election , then the DPAC downloadable calender can help

Here’s to a better year in 2015 with thanks to all our members and supporters. Keep up with news in 2015 by subscribing to posts through our website www.dpac.uk.net or follow us on twitter @Dis_ppl_protest

Some selected actions of DPAC in 2014

January saw the posting of a call for those who were waiting for PIP due to backlogs. This post has received over 40,000 views,shares and many comments. The situation has now been described as a backlog that , at the current rate , could take 42 years to clear. For those claiming ‘reforms’ are working have a look to see that they are not: http://dpac.uk.net/2014/01/have-you-waited-months-for-a-pip-assessment/ and let’s not forget the backlog in ESA either-in short complete chaos for disabled people.

In ‘Austerity Street: the real impacts’ we reproduced some of the stories we had received from those left without cash and homes via sanctions, delays and backlogs. This was in response to Love Production’s poverty porn , Benefits Street, part of the media’s continued demonization regime -the campaign incorporated a twitter fest against the format of biased programming. We supported our partners in Canada Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (SCAP) and Ontario Coalition Aginst Poverty (OCAP). In an international campaign against increasing homelessness. Austerity is global. We supported Boycott workfare against CAPITA cashing in on poverty.

Through the excellent work of Nick Dilworth we exposed more BBC media double dealing and the fact that they weren’t publicizing the 88% success rates of those claiming ESA and asked ‘Are the DWP failing apart at every level? When a freedom of information response incorrectly claimed that PIP was subjected to sanctions. In another they claimed that the cap would be cut for those without children, both were incorrect. With Inclusion London we campaigned against the Care Act’s exclusion of ‘independent living’ and DPAC also  joined Hands off London Transport against ticket office closures, as well as regional Rail protests

February We joined  the many direct actions against the removal of legal aid. Raquel Rolnik ‘s report on the bedroom tax is published and recommends immediate suspension of the bedroom tax. The Government’s response is to accuse her of giving sacrifices to Marx and telling her to ‘sort out her own country’. We republish the excellent ‘Why the rise of UKIP is dangerous for disabled people’ and receive the usual abuse from Kippers proving the point. DPAC, Black Triangle and Wow publish a joint statement on Atos exit strategy , calling again for an end to the WCA. We expose how 9 out of 10 sanctions are dismissed when challenged

March More direct actions against proposed cuts in legal aid for judicial review.We publish ‘Punching Holes in Austerity’ an insightful analysis of DPAC and direct actions. DPAC supports #stopchanges2A2W against punitive changes in Access to Work. We publish an update on Anthony Kletzander and questions for HSE in Ireland with ENIL , a story of human rights abuse in Dublin, Ireland, a stand that we would later find invoked a threat of legal action against one of our co-founders.

DPAC joins protests against DWP and ATOS country wide. Protests that were reminiscent of the very first DPAC protests against Atos carried out by DPAC from 2011 onwards, culminating in the 2012 DPAC Atos games that saw Atos tarnished forever. DPAC leads direct actions and online protests against the despised disability Con-fident, leading to the highest number of tweets and retweets ever, exposing the scheme as no more than a Government gloss while they were cutting access to work and removing the means for disabled people to work. We produce a critical analysis of Pennings impact assessment regarding ILF. We reproduce the piece by John Pring asking ‘Where was your MP during the Wow Debate’

April The brilliant Ellen Clifford travels to Canada to embark on a successful speaking tour with raise the rates. We hold a well attended DPAC Grassroots Fightback conference. DPAC, Inclusion London, Equal Lives and the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People promote the #saveilf postcard campaignTop Corrie stars support the postcard campaign to #saveilf.  DPAC supports Lifeworks and protests against cuts to mental health support. DPAC gives its response to Labour on reform of WCA

 May DPAC releases its research documents for download. DPAC and ILF users block the DWP in protest. We learn that disabled students allowances are now under threat of cuts. DPAC publishes a powerful piece by one of our readers that sums up many peoples’ feelings: ‘I’ll never forgive or forget what this Government has done to me and thousands of others‘. We pay homage to the strength of Quiet Riot, celebrate the #dpactour and the success of the Freedom Riders.

June The Independent Living Fund’s Birthday protest happens in June with lots of action outside the DWP. We see JSA benefit sanctions sky rocket under the coalition Government. More actions happen to fight the bedroom tax.

We publish a piece by Angela 28 on how ‘care’ support has been threatened and why that threatens independent living and rights– legal representation was found for many people, but we were aware that this was happening to many more people through emails to dpac mail. Unlike some organisations we attempt to challenge these instances and reject the rhetoric that there is more ‘choice and control’ for disabled people.

At the end of June DPAC with UKUNCUT, and Occupy carry out a daring occupation of Westminster Abbey , after months of planning to highlight the #saveilf campaign. There were 3 police to every protester , and while we had no support from the dear old church , messages of support and publicity poured in

 July We publish a joint statement in response to the Work and Pensions Committee on the WCA from DPAC, Black Triangle, the Mental Health Resistance Network, Pats petition, Wow and New Approach in which we again say the WCA should be scrapped.

An ILF user makes a plea to Disability Rights UK (DRUK) on ILF after he was denied the right to speak at their independent living conference. DRUK did not feel the need to offer any response.  In Disability Rights UK : independent Living or new visions in Neo-Liberalism we ask why the DRUK ‘independent living ‘ conference was sponsored by an organisation running institutions, segregated schooling and ‘hospitals for those with mental health issues. We also launched a highly successful twitter campaign asking the same questions, again DRUK did not feel they owed disabled people any response to this outrage.

DPAC highlights more chaos at the DWP on appeals and sanctions. John McDonnell launches an Early Day Motion to #saveilf. Positive updates and actions on the WCA court case regarding mental health claimants by the Mental Health Resistance Network. We ask that people write to IDS to raise issues happening regarding mental health.

August Rethink calls people with mental health issues a ‘disease burden’ Mental Health Resistance Network respond to the outrage. We call for a stop to discrimination for those transferring from DLA to PIP who do not get backdated paymentsDPAC continues to support anti-fracking protests with Reclaim the power.

We republish the excellent Nick Dilworth’s piece on how the media are ignoring what’s happening to disabled people http://dpac.uk.net/2014/08/a-national-scandal-4-million-people-face-chaos-in-this-country-and-are-ignored-by-the-media/

ILF user John Kelly speaks to BBC on the impacts of the potential loss of ILF. We ask what happens when ILF funds are not ring fenced to local authorities

September sees a national day of Protest against sanctions, bedroom tax and benefit caps.

The fantastic Brian Hilton produces a set of pics for party conference season on #saveilf. DPAC crash the Tory Party Conference via a successful tweet attack and in person. We do the same to Labour.

We publish The Great Farago: UKIP sleight of hand and receive more abuse from Kippers, Richard Howitt Labour MEP quotes the piece and receives even more abuse.

New short film launched with the Daily Mirror on ILF.

The first inkling that the DWP are wrongly asking those in the ESA support group to attend work focused interviews comes to our notice.

DPAC is threatened with legal action for supporting Anthony Kletzander and publicising the abuse of his human rights in Ireland, our response is to publish an interview with Anthony’s parents  on the injustice Anthony and his family have endured.

October We reblog the excellent Johnny Void piece on the boss of Maximus http://dpac.uk.net/2014/10/meet-richard-a-montoni-the-five-million-dollar-maximus-boss-here-to-fleece-the-uks-benefits-system/.

We publish an open letter to Freud who declared that disabled people can work for less than minimum wage. DPAC and Occupy pay another visit to the DWP Caxton House building for ‘Freud must go!’ protest

In Secrets and Lies :maximus the new leader of the inhumans we ask why Disability Rights UK have agreed to a) be part of the Maximus testing process on the WCA and b) why they’ve teamed up with Unum and other insurance companies to develop a TV program showing how much better off disabled people will be if they take out private insurance- with user-led disability organisations like these we dont need enemies.

ILF users return to court to challenge the DWP on ILF. A successful #saveilf vigil happens with road blocks, many messages of support and some great pics.

Welfare assistance fund is next under threat of closure. Campaign to save it is launched.

November The Final Litchfield Review shows that the WCA should be scrapped.

One of our favourite reports of the year : IDS is chased around a building to drown out shouts of murderer at Ipswich- congratulations to the local dpac group for that one!

We ask people to come forward to launch a legal challenge on cuts to the disabled student allowance

£86 million goes missing from Pudsley’s children in need account BBC to blame for mislaying -complainants are actually advised to write to Pudsley via his BBC email

DWP increase attacks on disabled benefit recipients with claims they can harress them off benefits. We put out an urgent call-out http://dpac.uk.net/2014/11/urgent-people-awaiting-wca-assessments-particularly-in-birmingham-please-read/

Work Providers A4E are exposed again in relation to ESA and workfare. The Rev Paul Nicolson wins in court against council tax. Class War’s continuing protests against ‘poor doors’ get to the authorities who make arrests- and Boris is burnt. Meanwhile DPAC discovers Motability’s sneaky backdoor changes to individuals needing to be in work to qualify for support http://dpac.uk.net/2014/11/motability-and-the-deserving-and-undeserving-charity-not-rights/

December ILF users lose court case on ILF but its not over.

DPAC launches an Open letter to Ed, Kate and Rachel on ILF– we’re still waiting for a response

Hammersmith and Fulham abolish home ‘care’ charges, showing it can be done. Congratulations for a great campaign to the excellent Kevin Caulfield and Debbie Domb and all at Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Cuts

Esther McVey is named scrooge of the year, which we though was a little too kind to the creature

Unsurprisingly the Work and Pensions report slammed the Government ‘mismanagament of Access to Work – the stop the changes to Access to Work campaign continues.

Questions are asked on the Government costs in fighting against disabled peoples’equality

The link between the DWP and the Mail propaganda is finally nailed and exposed as the DWP is caught out http://dpac.uk.net/2014/12/dwp-caught-giving-disability-propaganda-to-daily-mail/

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Nov 022014
 
We have had requests to set up 3 local groups and would like to hear from anyone who would be interested in getting involved in any of these.
The places are:
  • Cumbria and North West,
  • Isle of Wight, and
  • Lincoln.

 If you are interested in being in touch with others in these areas either on a face-to-face or internet basis please send us you contact details saying where you’re based to mail@dpac.uk.net. Please put local groups in heading.

 
We also have local groups on other areas so if you would like to get more involved locally to where you live please get in touch on the above email address.

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 Posted by at 16:20
Sep 152014
 

Statement on Bristol Green Group’s motion on the future of the Independent Living Fund 16 September 2014.

 

Bristol Disability Equality Forum (BDEF) support Bristol Green group’s motion on the future of the Independent Living Fund (ILF.)

 

Having led local campaigning and held discussions with representatives across all the major parties within Bristol, we call on our Mayor to support this motion. This is an opportunity for our city to support the rights of it’s Disabled citizens to live independent lives.

 

The ILF has made it possible for thousands of Disabled people with high support needs to live in their own homes, contribute to family and community life and to take part in work and education. The closure of the ILF will have a drastic impact on these Disabled people, their family members and communities.

 

The ILF has supported a diverse group of Disabled people, including people with learning difficulties, and also autistic people.  The ILF has made it possible for people to live at home with their families and with the support of their choice. Bristol is in the shadow of Winterbourne View, so the alternative is never far from our thoughts.

 

The threat of living an isolated existence, or being forced into residential care, is very real for ILF recipients in Bristol, many of whom are Forum members. There are also many other Disabled people who have been denied this vital support, since the ILF was closed to new applicants in 2010.

 

This all has come at a time when Disabled people have already been hit the hardest by welfare reform, cuts to services and combined impact of austerity measures.  It is for these reasons that we view the closure of the ILF as part of a wider agenda that affects all Disabled people.

 

The closure of the ILF will shift responsibility to local councils, placing already cash-strapped authorities under more financial pressure.  This will increase the risk of councils failing to meet their public duties, resulting in legal challenges and further appeals.

 

The ILF has created thousands of jobs and meant that central government  funding is spent and re-invested locally. The ILF is one of the most cost effective public sector schemes1, with just 2% spent on administration much less than local councils. The satisfaction ‘user rate’ for the ILF is over 97%2.

The Government accept that the ILF is more flexible than the services provided by some councils. The government have also stated that most current ILF recipients will face changes to support or reduction in funding.3

 

Closing the ILF is also likely to result in an increase in spending in the long-term, as result of reduced health and wellbeing and increased pressure on more expensive services.

 

Government has claimed that developments such as Direct Payments, Personal Budgets and new duties on councils under the Care Act mean that the ILF is no longer needed. This ignores the evidence of Disabled people and organisations with direct experience of both systems. The Government has not prevented the care and support ‘post-code lottery’. These developments have not reduced the variation and disparity between local councils, both in how direct payments can be used and in the services available.

 

We feel strongly that the success of this Government funded, centrally administered scheme that is ring-fenced for those that need it most, should be built upon. This should happen by re-opening and expanding the ILF, with Disabled people playing a central role in decision making.

However, as proposed in the motion, should the ILF close, ring-fencing of funds from central government and the full involvement of Disabled people in all parts of the process is essential. This is needed to ensure our rights to independence, to live in the community, to choices equal to others and access to a range of services.

As Disabled people we want to do the ordinary things in life that many take for granted, to live and not just exist.

 


References

 

1 & 2. ILF Annual Report and Accounts 2013 – 2014

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/321510/ilf-ara-2013-14.pdf

 

  1. 3.Equality Impact Analysis ‘Closure of the Independent Living Fund with transfer of responsibility and funding to local authorities inEngland and the devolved administrations in Scotland and ’ DWP 2014:

 ‘It is almost certain that closure of the ILF will mean that the majority of users will face changes to the way their support is delivered, including the real possibility of a reduction to the funding they currently receive. This is because the ILF funds some aspects of care that some local authorities do not and may also provide different levels of flexibility in the use of such funding.’

 

Notes

 

Bristol Disability Equality Forum (BDEF) is an organisation of Disabled people, open all that identify as Disabled people, regardless of impairment in Bristol area. We develop projects and campaign to increase Disabled people’s inclusion, influence, equality and access to services.

 

The BDEF ILF Action Group was formed after a conference on the future of the held in Bristol in September 2013. The conference was organised by the BDEF, working alongside West of England Centre for Inclusive Living (WECIL) ILF and Council staff. Disabled people at the conference decided to form their own group, in order to campaign, share information and ensure direct involvement in any developments relating to the ILF.

 

For further information, please contact Laura Welti, BDEF Manager or Mark Williams, BDEF Co-Chair.

 

Bristol Disability Equality Forum Main Office:

 

E-mail:       bristoldef@gmail.com

Tel:             0117 914 0528.

Web:          www.bristoldef.org.uk

 

BDEF ILF Action Group:

 

E-mail:       ilf.bristoldef@gmail.com

Text:           07867 690 422

 

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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

 

 

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Jun 122014
 

Victory! Minister finally promises action over Norwich disabled assessment centre with no disabled access

Mark Harrison, CEO Equal Lives, with other protesters outside the Atos assessment centre at St Mary’s House. Picture: Denise Bradley

Mark Harrison, CEO Equal Lives, with other protesters outside the Atos assessment centre at St Mary’s House. Picture: Denise Bradley

Annabelle Dickson and Kim Briscoe, Political Editor Thursday, June 12, 2014 9:04 AM

A spectacular u-turn which will see a Norwich disability assessment centre with no disabled access finally moved after a two-and-a-half-year campaign has been hailed a victory for common sense.

Disabilities minister Mike Penning has finally admitted the situation is “wholly unacceptable”, and said he would be taking action to leave St Mary’s House in Duke Street as soon as possible.

It marks a complete turn in the uncompromising rhetoric with officials dismissing concerns, claiming that it was meeting its obligations.

The move should put an end to the long journeys being endured by people with debilitating illnesses and severe mobility problems to centres as far afield as Ipswich, King’s Lynn and even Nottingham.

Many people have been forced to travel by taxpayer-funded taxis, or in some cases told to find their own way on public transport, for assessments many miles away.

Minister of State for Disabled People Mike Penning said: “It is wholly unacceptable to be turning claimants away for assessments which is why I’m taking action to exit St Mary’s House as soon as we possibly can. I will be working with my fellow MPs in Norfolk to find an alternative centre that fits our requirements.”

Marion Fallon, who spoke out after she was sent a map and told to find her own way 45 miles to Ipswich despite being in constant pain and only able to walk with a stick, said that she had mixed feelings about the promise.

She said that she was angry that it had taken so long for ministers to listen, but also vindicated.

But she is likely to still have to go to Ipswich as her appointment is later this month.

Until a new building is found claimants with mobility problems will continue to be offered either a home visit or an appointment at an alternative assessment centre.

Mark Harrison, chief executive of Norfolk’s Equal Lives disability campaigning group, said: “It shows that disabled people have won a victory, but it’s just a victory for common sense and why has it taken two-and-a-half years?

“The bigger question that needs to addressed is the failing minister Iain Duncan Smith and the failing DWP.

“The Work Capability Assessments are cruel and degrading and ATOS are still assessing people as fit to work who are dying before they are able to get their benefits.”

Norwich MP Chloe Smith, who met the minister along with fellow Norwich MP Simon Wright and South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon, said: “We explained that this was totally unacceptable for some of our most vulnerable constituents, and it needed to be addressed. It seemed perfectly obvious that sending people to Ipswich by taxi or other means is not sensible.”

Mr Bacon said: “Mike is very sensible and he took one look at it and realised that it was unacceptable and decided that it had to be fixed.”

Today campaigners welcomed the news, but questioned why it had taken the DWP so long to agree to find another venue.

The DWP is tied into a 20-year private finance initiative which is behind all the accommodation used for assessments around the country.

Mr Bacon said that he hoped it would not cost the department too much to find a new building.

But said: “Whoever allowed this to happen should not be involved in government anymore.”

Mr Wright also welcomed the news, adding: “The minister was extremely supportive. Having reviewed the evidence presented to him by the MPs he came to the conclusion that the current arragements were not fit for purpose.”

 

 

Now to on to scrapping the Work Capability Assessments and PIP!

 

Sack Iain Duncan Smith now!

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 Posted by at 12:14
Jun 042014
 

DPAC is delighted to extend an open invitation to celebrate Independent Living Day with us on the 4th of July at the ‘Independent Living Tea Party ‘.

The party will begin at 2pm at the DWP, Caxton House in Tothill Street SW1. There will be fun & games, and entertainment; and of course, some civil disobedience.

We have come a long way since the demand for Independent Living was first made nearly 50 years ago. Then, as now, IL was our solution for how society supports disabled people to take our place as equals. For how society addresses inaccessible institutions, structures and process it created, which do more to disable people than their impairments ever could.

There are many strands of Independent Living, and all are under threat. Cuts to:

  • Support funding – such Social Care, the ILF & Disabled Students Allowance;
  • Education – in areas like the wholesale destruction of SEN Statements and the continued segregation of disabled children into ‘special’ schools;
  • Transport – the withdrawal of Taxi-cards, freedom passes and the halting of planned works to make infrastructure more accessible, amongst a host of other cuts combine to make disabled people second-class citizens in society.

But we have fought this fight before – and won. Our Disabled Peoples Organisations, legal gains and the policy victories we have won previously are testament to the power, know how and skills disabled people have to develop solutions to problems created by society.  We must celebrate these achievements and remind ourselves that each of these successes have had to be earned, no-one ever gave them to us without a struggle.

So celebrate with us, or alternatively create your own party. Get together with friends and supporters, and create the kind of vibrant, positive spaces we have always created. Bring the noise – bells, whistles, drums, pots & pans etc. Bring food to share. Bring your enthusiasm.

if you are planning your own party, here are some suggestions:

1) Choose your target –

focus on the important issues locally; support, education, transport etc – its up to you. Identify what you want to celebrate and who represents the biggest threat to that locally. Is it your local council or Uni? Is it a transport provider? Or is it someone else?

2) Tell everyone –

yes, EVERYONE. Media, campaign networks, activists, local people. DONT FORGET TO TELL DPAC so we can list and support your action!

3) Be heard, be seen –

make your event loud and proud. Bring music, choirs, drum, bells, whistles. Remind everyone out there that we won‘t be separated from society, we are society. We won ‘t go quietly.

4) We’re also holding a Twitter Party on the Hashtag
#IL4JULY so that people at the DWP and at other events round the country
can tweet in pictures of their events and we can all join in. Further
details to follow, watch this space.

The famous Boston teaparty led to a revolution against the British government let’s see where our teaparty leads…..

 

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 Posted by at 18:56
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

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May 162014
 

Emoji  Inspiration for everyone
 
 
From The Guardian. “Power to the people: a happy ending to peaceful protest in South Yorkshire

When transport chiefs in South Yorkshire decided to axe free rail travel for elderly and disabled passengers on 1 April, angry passengers decided to fight back – by turning up en masse for busy services and trying to board trains without paying. Declan Lloyd reports.”


Read the full piece here:
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/the-northerner/2014/may/16/freedom-rides-south-yorkshire-victory
 

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 Posted by at 21:26
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

 

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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

 

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Apr 192014
 

 SAVE THE NHS.

Come and learn about why the NHS is under threat and how you can join the fight to save it.

PUBLIC MEETING.

Tuesday 13th Mary 2014 at 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm

HG Wells Centre.

Off St Mark’s Road (Off Masons Hill/High Street)

BROMLEY

Kent.

BR2 9HG.

Speakers:  Dr Bob Gill General Practitioner Welling.

Linda Kurcher – Expert on US/EU Trade Agreement.

Professor Allyson Pollock – Expert on Private Finance Initiative (PFI)

Transport:

Buses:  61,208, 320, 336, 358, 402.

Nearest Rail Station.  Bromley South ( from central london, Catford, Orpington.  This station is fully accessible with a accessible lift to street level at this station)

 

Greenwich & Bexley, Bromley, Lewisham trades councils present Banner Theatre with Burning Issue commemorating the miners’ strike £10 (£5) 7pm Saturday 10 May http://lewishamtradescouncil.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/come-and-address-burning-issue_22.html or contact tony.reay@gmail.com07903 755 074

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 Posted by at 18:22
Apr 072014
 

DPAC_coloured_Logo_2__biggerWe are very much looking forward to seeing everyone who can come to our national conference on Saturday but it is also important that those of you who can’t get there in person are able to take part. There are a number of ways you can do this:

  • Send messages of support and your ideas for what DPAC should focus on over the next year to mail@dpac.uk.net or @dis_ppl_protest.These will be put up on the graffiti wall at the conference and included in the notes from the day.
  • Watch the conference live on:

http://bambuser.com/channel/OccupyLondon and http://bambuser.com/channel/DPAC

  • Live tweet your questions and contributions to @dis_ppl_protest

  Or email: mail@dpac.uk.net

 The program for the day is at DPAC Conference 2014 Saturday 12th April – Conference Programme

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Apr 042014
 

We’ve had a great response to bookings for the DPAC conference on Sat 12th April in London, but places are now running out. Please email:  dpacfightback@yahoo.co.uk

with your details, number of places needed and any access needs.

12th April 2014 – 11am until 5pm

London Met University, Tower Building, 166 – 220 Holloway Road, London, N7 8DP

Since we started in October 2010 Disabled People Against Cuts has been at the forefront of the fight against austerity. With Atos on the run, and the bedroom tax on the ropes we are seeing the results of hard campaigning. But there is much more to do to ensure disabled people’s rights to live independently and with an adequate income.


The national conference is a chance for DPAC members to come together, to share experiences and discuss your ideas for moving forwards.


DPAC are working hard to bring to conference a surprise guest, a person who, if anyone has, has been the catalyst for the re-emergence of disability activism in the last few years, someone DPAC has enjoyed a close relationship with from visiting him at home to donating underpants to supporting his select committee appearances.


Workshops will look at: –  Where Now for the Independent Living Fund campaign,  – Developing a Social Model of Distress,  – Winning the Argument,  – Disability, Art and Protest,  – Building a National Network of Disabled People’s Organisations and Direct Action practical skills among others.

 Please note places are limited so priority will be given to DPAC members. For information about joining please contact mail@dpac.uk.net

The venue is wheelchair accessible. BSL and a note taker will be provided. For access information go to: http://www.disabledgo.com/access-guide/islington-council/london-metropolitan-university-tower-building

For access queries including booking parking please contact DPACfightback@yahoo.co.uk
To book places or for more information please contact DPACfightback@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

 

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Mar 282014
 

DPAC supports the organisers of phase 2 of demos against ATOS and DWP.

Please see national Face book page for those organising in your area

https://www.facebook.com/ATOSNationalDemo?fref=ts

ATOS may have run away from the WCA contract, but they have plenty more contracts funded by public money from this unelected Government, including the disastrous PIP contract, in which people have been waiting for up to 10-12 months to obtain support. The DWP continue to oversee the round of cuts impacting on disabled people leaving them destitute or dead, sanctions are at an all time high.

Show them we’ve had enough-see you there…..

 

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Mar 252014
 

On Saturday 29th March there will be a march and rally from Eccles to Meadowbrook Hospital to protest against mental health cuts. 

·         Save Mental Health Services in Salford are organising the event on behalf of mental health campaigners in Bolton, Salford and Trafford, where the local NHS trust, Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust, is planning to reduce the number of beds by 20% over the next two years.  The demo is timed to coincide with the end of their consultation on 30th March.  Eccles was chosen as the location because it is equidistant from the three towns.

·         The UK has lost 1700 mental health beds over the last three years; a further reduction locally will make it more likely that admissions will have to be made to units a considerable distance away, and often to private hospitals.  This makes impossible for friends and family to visit, delaying the patient’s recovery.  It also costs the NHS, as private beds can cost up to £4000 a week.  Manchester Mental Health Trust which has already made similar reductions in capacity recently had 38 patients being treated outside of area.

·         The trust claim that by closing wards they can extend cover to support care in the community but this will not be appropriate in many cases and staffing calculations suggest home visits will be of extremely short duration.

·         Since the demonstration was called mental health community care workers employed by Salford City Council have been ear-marked for redundancy as part of a wave of budget cuts.  Service users thus face a double whammy – there will be less support to prevent hospital admissions and if an admission is necessary there will be fewer hospital beds.  Redundancy notices have not yet been issued but if they are employees will be ballotted for industrial action. 

·         There will be a rally at Eccles Cross at 12.30 pm, with speakers from all three areas, including service users, carers, trade unionists and health campaigners.  The march will move off at 1.00 pm and proceed through the pedestrian precinct, along Wellington Road, Gilda Brook Road, and along Eccles Old Road, past Salford Royal Infirmary, and down Stott Lane to a rally at Meadowbrook at approx. 2.15 pm.

·         Organisations supporting the march include:

o   UNISON Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust (Karen Reissman 07972 120451)

o   Salford against Cuts (Kevin Corran 07971 495597)

o   Save Mental Health Services in Salford (Jill Royle 07914 893653)

o   United Service Users Committee (Steve Cullen 07941 400870)

o   Greater Manchester Keep Our NHS Public  (Hugh Caffrey 07769 611320)

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Mar 102014
 

There are many different ways to be involved in the work of DPAC. All are equally valuable. We all have a role to play in campaigning for disabled people’s rights and a fair society, in whatever way we can from taking part in protests to tweeting, from administrative tasks to writing poems, from making banners to conducting research. Every contribution is important, formal or informal. Some ways to get involved are:

 

       Joining as a member. You will receive occasional urgent action and information updates from us and have the right to vote at our general meetings.

 

       Signing up to the website for regular information

 

       updates every time something new is added to our website.

 

       Following DPAC on twitter: @Dis_Ppl_Protest and Facebook or the quieter Facebook page

       Joining or setting up a local group. Local groups need to follow the DPAC constitution. Local activity is really important for raising awareness about the impact of austerity on disabled people and leading the way in the fightback. For a list of local groups see HERE

       Or contact mail@dpac.uk.net

 

       Linking between DPAC and other campaigns and unions, for example Occupy, UK Uncut, the Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation, Reclaim the Power, Fuel Poverty Action, Boycott Workfare, the People’s Assembly, local anti cuts groups, local trades councils and trade unions branches.

 

       Joining or being involved in the running of campaign sub-committees. We currently have sub-committees at different stages of development in the following areas:

o   Atos and the Work Capability Assessment

o   Independent Living Fund

o   Access to Work

o   Reclaiming the Social Model of Disability

o   Disability, Art and Protest

o   Direct action

o   Inclusive Education

o   Communications and social media

o   Research

o   Local groups

o   Working with Disabled People’s Organisations – building a national voice

At the DPAC conference workshops will be held in each of the different campaigns and there will be a chance to sign up if you are not already involved.

       Being on the Steering group. At the conference we need to elect our steering group for the next year. There is more information about this below.

Steering group

One of the roles we have to make sure we run in a way that follows our aims and principles and is accountable to DPAC members is being on the Steering Group.

Being on the Steering Group is a big time commitment and is often a difficult job because there is so much to do.

For this reason in order to stand for nomination to the Steering Group we need people who can sign up to:

·         Minimum of 5 – 10 hours commitment per week

 

·         Corresponding regularly by and checking emails to stay in touch with developments and inputting to the development of DPAC initiatives

 

·         Co-ordinating particular areas of work, involving members widely and working with allies

 

·         Being involved in at least two sub-committees

 

·         Taking responsibility for either co-ordinating or providing an active and supportive link to at least two local groups

 

·         Representing DPAC at meetings, events and conferences sometimes at short notice

 

·         Working collectively and positively within a team of people with contrasting access needs

 

·         Following DPAC principles and values at all times:

o   Social model of disability

o   Rights not Charity

o   Inclusive Education (no ifs no buts)

o   Working within the broad left

o   Equal opportunities and social justice for all regardless of ethnicity, sexuality, gender, disability, age, faith, employment status, resident status. No to scapegoating of any kind.

 

It is important we have a diverse steering group covering a range of impairments, equalities strands and areas of the country. We also recognise that due to fluctuating impairments people may need to step back from activity for temporary periods.

The current DPAC constitution sets the number of steering group members at 8 but the current steering group will be putting forward a motion at the conference for members to vote on enlarging the steering group to 12.

All those wanting to put themselves forward for the steering group must be full DPAC members. If you would like to put yourself forward for the DPAC Steering Group please send a 500-700 word statement to mail@dpac.uk.net

 explaining why you would like to be on the Steering Group, how you are able to meet the commitment and any existing political/group affiliations before the 31st March 2014.

This text will be put on the DPAC web site-you do not need to be able to come to the DPAC conference on the 12th of April to be considered for election to the steering group, but we’d appreciate it if you could.

 

We’d like to say a big thank you to the past DPAC steering group for all their work, and invite them to apply again if they wish to

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Mar 042014
 

Michael Mansfield QC, Baroness Mary Warnock and Blake Morrison, the Lewisham People’s Commission Panel, along with Lord Owen and expert medical specialists make the risks clear in relation to the case of Lewisham Hospital – which the government tried and failed to close in 2013, using the existing Trust Special Administrator (TSA) process. The insertion of Clause 119 – previously 118, into the Care Bill is an action which now puts all hospitals in England at grave risk under a distortion of the same process. Clause 119 is a cuckoo in the nest of the Care Bill which is deliberately loosely written to enable a TSA to be appointed to hospitals which are described as failing (by whatever criteria is selected) – then to be empowered to fast-track the closure of services at any other hospitals, however successful or however far away, but which are deemed to be linked to the hospital trust to which the TSA has been appointed. This potentially puts your own local hospital in danger, along with hundreds more.

Sir Brian Jarman has said that it is better to mend hospitals than to close them. The suggestion that this will be used rarely is not a rationale which works. There is already sufficient legislation in place to attend to rare occurrences and to hospitals in difficulty, either via the existing TSA framework or via Section 8. This is disingenuous, bad, law. For 12 months, successful Lewisham Hospital was under attack by an attempted misuse of the TSA model as outlined in Chapter 5A of the 2009 additions to the 2006 Health Act. Had more than half of this hospital site been demolished and turned over to property developers as the government wanted, this chaotic plan would have had no clinical benefit to the wider community nor indeed any financial benefit overall. Now, that approach having been found entirely unlawful in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal, attempting a change in the law to make these objectives possible in as many hospitals as possible is a risk to the health and wellbeing of every community.

Local consultation is included in the process, but however can be overridden by NHS England. The views of our local GPs, doctors and patients can then be completely ignored. Millions of £s of taxpayers’ money will then be needlessly spent on the legal challenges which will result – money which should be spent on patient care. It is also questionable that fewer hospitals are safer, and denies the fact that many conditions such as acute asthma, pregnancy emergencies, peritonitis, meningitis, oesophageal bleeds or sickle cell crisis need urgent blue light access to an accessibly located A&E. Stroke is a different matter. Clause 119 will put the whole NHS hospital infrastructure in grave danger, potentially leaving large swathes of our community without access to necessary care – including life saving provision.

Jeremy Hunt and Earl Howe must urgently re-think their approach and take Clause 119 out of the Care Bill. Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign website: www.savelewishamhospital.com Contact; Hugh Shrapnel (Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign) email: hugh@shrapnel39.freeserve.co.uk

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Mar 042014
 

In April George Osborne’s mass workfare scheme will begin.  Unemployed people will be sentenced to 780 hours community work simply for being unable to find a job. Not even lone parents with young children are to be exempt from the scheme which will see so-called charities like Groundwork UK and the Salvation Army paid by the tax payer to force people to work for free.  Part time workers and those currently genuinely volunteering will also face being sent on unpaid work.

Collective action can halt this forced labour scheme in its tracks.  A week of action against workfare has been called beginning on the 29th March.  An escalation in the campaign against unpaid work is vital and there is no better chance than this.  It only takes a few people to get the ball rolling, and protests against organisations using workfare have proved to be effective.  Boycott Workfare can offer support with publicity, leaflets and advice. Please help spread the word about the week of action and let’s make this the strongest stand against people being forced to work for free that has been seen so far.

From Boycott Workfare:

Tens of organisations have already quit workfare. The government will not reveal which organisations are still using it for fear the schemes will collapse. Its contractors complain that they have lost hundreds of placements due to public pressure.

But they’re trying it again with a new scheme – “Community Work Placements” – launching on 1 April 2014 which will force claimants to work for six months without pay. Six months – 780 hours – is more than twice the maximum community service sentence. Workfare does not help people find jobs and being unemployed is not a crime.

This new workfare scheme is part of a raft of draconian measures, misleadingly called “Help to Work”, which are designed to increase sanctions (benefit stoppages) and undermine wages still further.

For the workfare schemes to happen, they need places to send people, but tens of large charities have already quit. Oxfam stated that the schemes were incompatible with its goal of reducing poverty in the UK. Liverpool CVS has condemned the scheme in the strongest possible terms.

Our action can stop companies, charities and councils from exploiting forced unpaid work and make sure this new scheme falls flat on its face. Wherever you are, however you can contribute, take action on 29 March-6 April.

Target the charities:

  • Friendly local charity or Volunteer Service? Invite them to commit not to use forced unpaid work by signing our pledge.
  • Big workfare user like RSPCA, YMCA, Salvation Army, The Conservation Volunteers, British Heart Foundation, Barnardos or Cancer Research? Write to them, organise a demo or encourage people you know not to donate until they stop using workfare!
  • Approach workers in the voluntary sector to ask them to pressure their employer not to participate in the scheme. There are often Union branches for voluntary sector workers you could contact.
  • Visit boycottworkfare.org daily during the week to take part in online action!

Target the councils:

  • Find out if we know about workfare in your local council on this spreadsheet.
  • If so, adapt our press release and expose them in your local paper.
  • Contact local Unison, GMB or Unite branches for council workers and encourage them to pass the motion to challenge workfare and to take it up with the council.
  • Find out if any sympathetic local councillors would take a motion to the council for it to boycott workfare. It has been done!

Support each other to get our rights:

  • Order know your rights leaflets to give out at the job centre or around your local community – email info[at]boycottworkfare.org with how many you would like!
  • Thinking about starting a mutual support group? Invite an existing group to help get it going with a workshop or talk.

Want to target the companies involved in workfare as well?
There are currently call outs to target Peacocks, and Grosvenor Casinos. Or there’s our crowd-sourced list of workfare exploiters to whom you may also like to pay a visit.

For more info visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3353 and follow @boycottworkfare for the latest news.

Please join and share the facebook page for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1548766378680842/

Read about the recent inspiring action by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty against workfare exploiters The Salvation Army.

Reposted with thanks from the Void http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/

 Follow on twitter @johnnyvoid

 

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Feb 172014
 

Many disabled people feel that none of the main political parties represent us: while the Condems are inflicting an unprecedented level of attack on disabled people’s rights and entitlements, we remember that it was New Labour who introduced Atos and the Work Capability Assessment and, much as Labour now tries to distance itself from the Blair and Brown years,they are failing to take a strong stand in defence of the welfare state. 

As things become ever more desperate for disabled people pushed into poverty and destitution, with independent living under greater and greater threat, people are searching for a way to escape the onslaught. One thing that is certain in these uncertain times is that UKIP is not the answer.

UKIP have undeniably rattled and inflicted defeats on the government. They have also succeeded in capturing the imagination of substantial sections of the electorate, pulling support away from the Tories. They are however nothing but bad news for disabled people.

UKIP has clearly been linked to racist, homophobic and disabilist attitudes. In December 2013 a UKIP county council candidate was investigated for advocating compulsory abortion of foetuses with spina bifida and Down’s Syndrome. Examples of racist attitudes displayed by UKIP members are too widespread to be disregarded as anomalies. The rise of a party linked so clearly to anti-equalities and intolerance of diversity is not something disabled people can afford to celebrate even when it does weaken the Tories.  

There does appear to have been a concerted effort by UKIP to reach out to disabled people’s groups to offer support and thereby contribute to building its own base. This does not mean that UKIP supports the principles of disability equality and independent living. Its policies are reactive, opportunistic and bigoted. Its focus on immigration is divisive, having the effect of shifting all the main political parties to the right, while diverting attention from the real issues, from the dismantling of the welfare state, the privatisation of the NHS and the attack on workers’ rights. They might succeed in blocking votes for the Condems but they are also holding back the development of a wider political consciousness that would actively fight for disabled people’s rights.

After the raft of benefit changes and cuts brought in from 1st April 2013 we saw real media attention focusing on welfare and a growing awareness among members of the public not yet personally affected by the cuts about the impact on disabled people – in spite of the lies and misrepresentations from Iain Duncan Smith. The rise of UKIP and their success in the elections has distracted the focus away from government attacks on the poorest and disabled members of society. Increasingly the problems caused by austerity are being blamed on government being soft on immigration instead of holding all political parties to account for the consequences of neoliberalism. 

Reposted from May 2013

Please also see Unite against Fascism web http://uaf.org.uk/

Stand up to UKIP http://standuptoukip.org/

Unite against fascism 22nd March event across Europe http://uaf.org.uk/?attachment_id=3472

All of which DPAC fully support

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Feb 132014
 

DPAC support the ATOS demo on Feb 19th. Due to the use of the DPAC logo on some of the posters showing DPAC support we’ve had loads of emails about this. So just to set the record straight- DPAC are not organising the Feb 19th Demos.

We are not responsible for the 8am starts in some areas and accept that these timings will often be difficult for many disabled people. Please contact your local organisers on this, not us.

There may be DPAC speakers, there may be DPAC people at this- and why would we not be there? DPAC along with UKUncut organised the successful ATOS Games across the UK in 2012, so we’re really pleased to see a set of national and local disabled people taking this up again two years on. Big thanks go to Tom Smith and others for mobilising everyone….

The info for all demos is on Facebook along with specific pages for local demos.

https://www.facebook.com/ATOSNationalDemo?fref=ts

Any disabled people wanting to speak about their experiences or to have something read out from them on their behalf should contact a local organiser to arrange this. 

see also

http://ukrebellioncom.ipage.com/atosdemo/

We wish everyone a safe and peaceful action

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