Aug 132013
 

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Reclaiming Our Futures UK

 

Join this year’s week of action to protest against austerity, fight for our rights and celebrate disabled people

 

From 29th August – 4th September DPAC and other campaigns will offer a range of activities you can get involved in. These events will bring together our anger at what is happening now, and celebrate our victories won, both in the past and to come.

 

 

Our rights are being stripped away day by day, by the neo-liberal policies being imposed on us all by the Condems, leaving us without much hope for our futures – or our children’s.

 

We have been here before. Our history is littered with examples of how our community has come together when under attack to fight – and win. From the early campaigns of NLBDP (National League of Blind and Disabled People) through to the founding and manifesto of UPIAS (Union of

 

the Physically Impaired Against Segregation) and on to DAN (Direct Action Network)- Now we have DPAC leading direct action and a host of other key grass root campaigns working towards reclaiming our rights and futures.

 

We have fought our corner over 3 centuries. And those fights have brought victories; the Independent Living Movement, our early CILs (Centres for Independent Living) and early active DPO’s (Disabled Peoples Organisations) and the significant rights for disabled people (which are now under attack). They represent big victories, brought about by mobilizing in our communities around our common cause – and having the will and determination to see our demands met without compromising our rights. We have consistently united in anger and celebration.

  

Download easy read information about the week here:

DPAC easy read (2)

 

DPAC Reclaiming our Futures Action

 

This autumn, we are asking our community to come together in anger, and celebration again – and to unite around our demands

 

We will be launching the UK Disabled People’s Manifesto setting out our vision of how the resources, structures and institutions of our society today can be re-designed to empower disabled people to take part in life on our terms. Disabled people are, and always will be, the experts on our lives and our self-determination. It will be a vision and practical plan that we can take forward in our communities, workplaces and lives to reclaim our futures.

 

In the build up to the manifesto launch, DPAC is leading The ‘Reclaiming Our Futures’, seven days of action to protest against the targeting of disabled people by austerity measures, to fight for our rights for inclusion and independence as equal citizens and to celebrate the value, pride and self determination of disabled people.

 

From 29th August – 4th September DPAC and other campaigns will offer a range of activities you can get involved in. These events will bring together our anger at what is happening now, and celebrate our victories won, both in the past and to come.

 

The plan below is only half the story. We want YOU, your Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisation, your campaign group, your community, your friends to put on events and get involved too. Can’t get to our exhibition? – then put on your own. Can’t get to our direct action? – then do your own. Barbecues, debates, quiz nights, family days, picnics – whatever! ACT – in celebration or in anger! (PS don’t forget to let us know what you’re doing).

 

 

Day by Day: 29th August-4th September

 

 

Thursday 29th August – YOU launch our 7 days of action

 

A range of resources will be available for your use as we ask all supporters to start our week of action with an online blitz. You will be the ones creating the buzz and the hype sending letters and twitter messages to targets of your choice ranging from MPs to disability charities to the media. We will be producing twibbons and memes but make and circulate your own. If you haven’t got a Social Media account (such as Facebook & Twitter) set one up now, link to DPAC ( twitter: @Dis_PPL_Protest) and let’s create a cyber wave. #dpacrof

 

The launch will coincide with Transport for All’s Day of Action to make CrossRail accessible: http://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/day-of-action-to-make-crossrail-fully-accessible-thursday-29th-august-2013/

 

 

 

Friday 30th August – Local Protests

 

Last year during the ATOS Games over 30 local actions took place around the UK Local actions mean you get to choose the target of your choice. You could take the Reclaiming Our Futures manifesto to present at your local MP’s constituency office, spread it through social media, protest on the streets against segregated education, the proposed ILF closure or show solidarity at your local Remploy site (for those few factories in their last weeks of operation). Alternatively, you might want to lobby your local Council on the Bedroom Tax and cuts to local services/support. Oh, and as we know ATOS offices are still around too….we’re sure you have other great ideas to add… Remember to let us know what you are doing so we can promote your actions. We will be producing local action resource packs but any materials you develop please send us copies to share with other protests and online.

 

 

Saturday 31st – Disability, Art & Protest Exhibition and Fundraising Gig

 

An exhibition and sharing of work exploring disability, art and protest followed by a ticketed fundraising gig run in partnership with Madpride and Tottenham Chances. Come during the day and join in our banner making workshop to prepare for the big Freedom Drive on the 4th September. If you would like to nominate an artist, collective and/or piece of work please let us know (including any links) and we will try to get them involved. If you want to do a local, street or online art protest too-this could be the day to do it.

 

Venue: Tottenham Chances, 399 High Road, London, N17 6QN Times:

 

12 – 7pm Exhibition: disability, art and protest

1 – 3.30pm Banner and placard making workshop

 

4 – 6pm Work Sharing

7.30pm till late Gig

 

 

Sunday 1st September – Reclaiming the Social Model: the social model in the 21st Century

 

Anne Rae: former UPIAS and current chair of the Greater

Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP),

 

Colin Barnes: Professor of Disability Studies at Leeds Centre for Disability Studies

 

 

As government and the private sector increasingly use a so-called ‘modern understanding of disability’ to redefine who is and who isn’t disabled it is more important than ever that we understand, defend and promote the social model of disability. This isn’t helped when the social model is not fully supported within our movement. This event will be a chance to hear from a range of speakers and to discuss why the social model is still relevant today to our lives and our futures and to map out what we need to do to fight for it. The event will be live-streamed with the opportunity for people to participate in the discussion virtually. We will also be promoting a range of resources around the social model.

 

Venue

UNITE House, 128 Theobald’s Road, Holborn, WC1X 8TN

Time: 12.30 – 4.30pm

 

 

Monday 2nd September – Direct Action

 

Despite the huge efforts of thousands of disabled people throughout the country, it is increasingly difficult to find spaces where lies, inaccuracies and mis-use of statistics can be challenged. DPAC recently released a study into how the DWP uses all of these to vilify and demonize disabled people.

 

See more at: http://dpac.uk.net/2013/06/lies-damn-ids-and-statistics/#sthash.MAk5nTiU.dpuf

 

But why is this down to us? People should be presented with both sides of the story and this isn’t happening. Disabled people are having to find ways to make sure our truths will be heard. Watch this space…

 

 

Tuesday 3rd September – ‘I Dare’ day

 

A day of online action to reinforce that we want ‘Rights not Charity’, and a society where we are able to operate on our own terms as disabled people. Dare to ask for Rights not Charity. Dare to be an activist. Dare to ask more of ‘our’ organisations. We aren’t asking for Care, we want Power: Power to write the script for our own lives, and not to be written out or written off by others. A range of actions and captions will be available for you to capture in an image and circulate online.

 

 

Wednesday 4th September – UK FREEDOM DRIVE

 

A final-day march and events in and around Parliament. Four

 

themed ‘blocks’ will meet at 4 Government departments, central to the lives of disabled people. After handing over our demands, blocks will then move towards Parliament for a lobby where we will formally launch the UK Disabled People’s Manifesto and present our demands to our

 

elected representatives.

 

Choose your ‘block’ and meet at 12.45pm at one of:

 

·        Department for Education to oppose government attacks on inclusive education and a return to segregation (Sanctuary Buildings, 20 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BT)

 

·        Department of Energy and Climate Change if you’re angry about the numbers of disabled people living in fuel poverty while the energy companies rake in ever growing profits (3 Whitehall Pl, City of Westminster, SW1A 2AW)

 

·        Department for Transport to challenge inaccessible transport, the opening of new inaccessible stations for Crossrail and proposed cuts to rail staff further reducing customer assistance (Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Rd, London SW1P 4DR)

 

·        Department of Health to defend our NHS and demand our right to levels of social care support enabling choice, control, dignity and independence (Richmond House, 79 Whitehall, London SW1A 2NS)

 

Lobby of Parliament: 5 – 6pm – launch of the UK Disabled People’s

Manifesto

 

WE WANT EVERYBODY TO JOIN US FOR THE FREEDOM DRIVE ideally in person, but also online-this is for everyone everywhere. There will be accessible transport from a variety of towns and cities throughout the country (details to follow) and there is some funding available for transport but we will need your co-operation and patience to make this work for everybody, so please bear with us and note that while DPAC members will be given priority we want to support as many people as we can. If you can’t get there send a photo or your name and you can march with us.

 

This week of action is yours. Please take part at whatever level suits you – BUT MAKE SURE YOU TAKE PART. Share our events, resources and actions as far and wide as you can.

 

 

 

Let’s Reclaim Our Futures, together!

 

 

DPAC web site: www.dpac.uk.net

 

DPAC facebook:

 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/DPAC-Disabled-People-Against-Cuts/213545112011414?fref=ts(Open Community group- including allupdates from DPAC)

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DPAC2011/?fref=ts(original open groupDPAC page- faster paced and more opinion driven than community group )

 

DPAC Twitter: @Dis_PPL_Protest 

 

DPAC email: mail@dpac.uk.net

 

 

Remember if you need help with funding to get to London (4th Sept) email us at mail@dpac.uk.net with details. DPAC members will get first priority but we’re hoping to be able to contribute to all that want to come along. If you are unable to come but would like your picture carried send us a photo or message. Please get in touch with any other queries as well and we’ll try to help.

Download this as a PDF Doc: http://dpac.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Reclaiming-Our-Futures-call-out-long-w-logos-v2.pdf

 Download this as a Word Doc: http://dpac.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Reclaiming-Our-Futures-call-out-long-w-logos-v2-1.doc

 

 Reclaiming our Futures is supported by The Edge Fund, Andrew Wainwright Reform Trust, Network for Social Change, Black Triangle, Mental Health resistance network, Wow Petition, Fuel Poverty Action, Occupy London, TUC, UK UNCUT, Boycott Workfare, Right to Work, Just Fair, Unite Disabled Workers, BFAAWU, European Network on Independent Living, Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefits Justice Federation, and more…..

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Aug 062013
 

Edge is the most radical and socially responsible funding group built on principles we all share. Edge is leading the way in acting on the crucial issue of how funds should get to those working at the grass roots who may, or usually are considered too radical and political to gain funds from elsewhere- these are the groups that set the future and provide real and active critiques to force change-Edge has to count as one of them too-we salute Edge and all involved in developing this great process. But Edge can’t work if we don’t-we all need to support Edge, join as members and be a part of the continuing development of the radical and challenging-we need to help it grow and support Edge the way that Edge is supporting us. See Edge website to donate, get involved as an advisory member, join as an Edge member or keep up to date with the timing of the next funding round, but preferably all of the above http://edgefund.org.uk/

DPAC and Black Triangle joined the Edge fund on the 20th July to take part in the meeting where a set of leading grass roots groups and Edge met and distributed funding. We want to thank Edge not just for funds which will go towards our 7 days of action http://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/reclaiming-our-futures-7-days-of-action/ but for giving us the opportunity to be part of something amazing and giving us the opportunity to meet up with other great groups too. See post re-blogged from Edge below

30,000 pounds and 600 chickpeas

August 6, 2013

Round 2 of Edge funding came to a close 20 July during a meeting where 37 people came together to distribute £30,000 between 15 groups. Participants included applicants, Edge members and recipients of small grants from this round.

We met at the Stockwell Community Centre, which has a lovely hall with glass doors opening onto a courtyard garden. As is often the way on a Saturday morning, people arrived slowly from 10.30 onwards and the day started later than the 11.00 start we hoped for. After brief introductions and agreeing groundrules our facilitator started the day with an exercise which aimed to identify who’s in the room so that everyone can understand the different backgrounds, cultures, beliefs and other factors which they may need to take into account during the day. It also aims to highlight what people have in common as well as celebrating our differences. The exercise had a mixed response, some welcomed the opportunity to learn about each other as individuals and others found it uncomfortable or questioned its relevance.

We then shared a little of the feedback on applications from assessments submitted before the meeting. We explained that after lunch we would be breaking into Group A and Group B; applicants in Group A would set up a ‘stall’ for their group while Group B and Edge members would visit the stalls to find out more about their work and their application. Then they’d swap. Lunch was an opportunity to talk to those in the same Group as you, who you would not otherwise get a chance to speak with. An amazing spread of Indian food was served by one of our members who had got up at 5am that morning to prepare it, accompanied by an Iraqi dish from another member – it was delicious and very much appreciated!

As last time, the stalls brought the room to life with passionate discussions about issues facing communities in the UK. Groups unable to attend on the day joined us via phone or Skype. In the garden, groups of people huddled around laptops and mobile phones on loud speaker, finding shade under the trees. It was difficult to bring the discussions to an end, with a clear sense that people could have spent all day making new connections and learning about each other’s work.

Once Group A and B swapped around, we came back together in a circle. Our voting systems are still evolving, and after some discussion about the voting system for this round it was decided that 30 chickpeas should be given to each member and each applicant group to distribute between the 15 groups. The maximum number of chickpeas you could allocate to one group was 5 and you could not vote for yourself.  These votes were then combined with the scores submitted prior to the meeting (any duplicate scores were removed).

Each group was allocated £1,500 as a minimum, and the 5 groups receiving the highest scores were given an additional £1,500, bringing their total to £3,000.

£3,000 went to:

  • Disabled People Against Cuts
  • Why Refugee Women
  • Tottenham Rights
  • Independent Workers Union of Great Britain
  • Black Triangle Campaign

£1,500 went to:

  • Residents Action on Flyde Fracking
  • Space Hijackers
  • International Federation of Iraqi Refugees
  • Shafted?! HIV Army
  • Feminist Webs
  • Hands off our Homes
  • Quiet Riot
  • Alliance for Choice Belfast
  • Border Forum
  • CoResist

You can find out more about the groups here: http://edgefund.org.uk/what-we-fund/round-2-supported-projects/

The day finished with a go-round, where each person shared their thoughts about the day to the group. The comments were more outspoken than last time and sometimes quite critical, but what was reassuring was that people seemed to understand and appreciate that we are still very much in our early stages – learning and evolving as we go. Several people from applicant groups have now also joined us as members, which we are always very happy about!

Improvements from last time

There were a few things we wanted to correct from the Round 1 meeting. Firstly, we wanted a more diverse group of people. The group was much more diverse than last time, mostly because more groups run by and for communities facing injustice applied and were short-listed in this round. However, as pointed out by a member in the online survey, representatives from Edge Fund were “still mostly white, middle class”. This should continue to improve over time, so long as we can be aware of, and respond to, the factors that affect who joins us.

Applicants who took part in the last meeting said they wanted to know more about the groups ahead of time, so we sent out all the applications three weeks before the meeting to both applicants and Edge members. We also gave people more information about what would happen on the day, including referring people to the notes on the previous meeting on our website. We also asked people about people’s requirements in good time, including any cost reimbursements needed.

The scoring system changed from Round 1. In the last round, as it turned out, the highest grant was only £500 more than the lowest and people commented that this didn’t seem right considering the amount of time spent on assessing and scoring. Before the meeting we had agreed a system which translated the scores into a percentage of the amount requested in the application. However, this was quite a complex calculation and we felt it was important everyone understood how the grants were worked out. Therefore, this time we proposed that each group receive a minimum of £1,500, with the top 5 scored applications receiving an additional £1,500. People seemed to much prefer this system than the one used at the last meeting.

The venue we chose last time was not as accessible as it could have been in terms of central location, public transport options and proximity to the nearest station. This time we chose the Stockwell Community Centre, which is just around the back of the Stockwell tube station, which is well serviced by the Victoria line and several buses. The Stockwell Community Centre also has wi-fi, allowing people to join us via Skype (although the signal was not reliable inside). We ensured cups and plates were provided this time, instead of asking people to bring them along. Again, one of our members cooked lunch.

Areas to improve

One major point from the last meeting was that there wasn’t enough time to talk with each applicant on a one-to-one or small group basis. Sharing applications ahead of time was an attempt to ensure that time spent at the meeting was more meaningful as people would already know who all the groups are. However, people again said that they would have liked more time to talk to other groups, particularly the few who did not have time to read the applications beforehand, and some felt uncomfortable making a judgement with the amount of information they had. Many people suggested that the day start with presentations, which we have been reluctant to do before now since it can be very intimidating to present to a large group, but we will need to reconsider this.

Whilst we had done our best to ensure all groups were able to participate in the day, including letting people know the date two months in advance and covering travel costs, four groups were not able to be with us in person. One of the groups could not even join us remotely and we noted that this affected their score; the scores they received based on their written application before the meeting were higher than the scores submitted on the day.

We need to get the balance right between asking people to be part of a decision-making process, which requires some critical thinking about other groups and their work, and trying to build community and connections as individuals. The two aims seem to be slightly at odds with each other. In this meeting, many people felt strongly the focus should be about the groups, not who we are as people, whereas others wanted to make more personal connections.

It seemed this time that people felt less able to participate compared to last time. This may be a reflection of the greater diversity in the room or perhaps the style of facilitation. Also, last time we paired applicants up with members well ahead of the meeting so they had a main contact person and support to complete the full application. This time we made this optional, so that groups were only paired up if requested. Only one group asked for support from a member and this may have had an impact on how comfortable people felt when they arrived. That said, the comments at the end suggested people were comfortable enough to air some of their honest thoughts.

As a fund with limited resources and many applicants, it is difficult to overcome the sense of competition. This was uncomfortable for some people on the day. There is no obvious solution to this as we will never have enough funds for everyone, but we are exploring other ways of helping groups so that more applicants can benefit from the process even if they don’t receive funding.

We’re very lucky that everyone who took part gave us honest and useful feedback on the day and we’ve already got a clear idea on how the next meeting should be structured. We’re also gathering further feedback ahead of our next members’ meeting to help us address some of these issues.

Feedback shared at the end of the day 

Considering this is a work in progress the day went outstandingly well. The intent and the heart of Edge Fund is very clear. Everything is done with sensitivity. It was a positive experience.

We repeated some of the same mistakes as last time. We ended up discussing how to use the scores again. There are always drawbacks whatever you choose to do, it’s hard to please everyone. It would be great if everyone could take responsibility for moving Edge forward.

I would like for everyone to be able to speak for a few minutes to the group as I was not able to meet everyone.

I enjoyed the morning’s exercise. I want to know who the people are behind the organisations otherwise I don’t feel connected. Hiding behind an organisation can be a way of distancing ourselves and that defeats the object of Edge Fund. I agree with the comments about the short presentations and stalls. We should have one voting system at a time. I enjoyed meeting people today.

The morning exercise didn’t work. Each group should have had 2-3 minutes at the beginning to present to everyone. We stumbled a bit at the voting stage and shouldn’t try to change the system on the day. Small groups worked really well. The afternoon was much better.

I enjoyed every moment. I learned a lot from the morning session, it helps you to know who you’re talking to.

I didn’t like the morning exercise. People need time to recover from emotional experiences like that.

I liked the morning, it helped to build trust and allowed us to get to know each other. It was quite moving.

I liked the morning too. I will use it with my group. I felt comfortable talking about my experiences. I liked the voting with chickpeas.

I have mixed feelings about the day. I am not sure how useful the morning was. Activities should be more connected to the aims of Edge – did it help meet the goals of creating change

I am always so impressed by the people I meet through Edge. I wonder, does it take too much time to come along to a day like this? I hope you will join us as members. Regarding the morning, I am not against inner work but it should be a distinct exercise for Edge as a radical organisation.

The morning was good. The projects this time were even better than last time and the voting system was better too.

The afternoon was flawed because you couldn’t talk to everyone. We need to have presentations.

The day was very positive on the whole. The beginning was helpful, as people arrived divided but it made people see what they had in common with others. But the questions need to be carefully considered. It feels like Edge is moving in the right direction.

It’s great to be able to talk about more controversial stuff and to celebrate ‘edginess’! The food was delicious. Perhaps groups could make posters next time, to communicate about their work. I was pleased with the outcome of the scoring, I can see why the top 5 were in the top 5.

I would like to give thanks, Edge is fantastic and refreshing. It is brilliant what Edge is trying to do. The scoring process was enhanced by being here but it could have been better. The structure was poor. I made connections today that immediately justified my time being here. Edge is so young, it’s a wonderful process to be part of.

I was not a massive fan of the morning, it went on for too long. There was not enough time for discussion and we needed more printed copies of applications. The £1,500/ £3,000 split worked really well. I agree we need short presentations.

I love meeting people in person at Edge meetings. I feel very energised. I like the process.

It’s good to have an introductory exercise but it needs to be shorter.

I have seen big companies run less effective meetings! Let’s remember – A lonely whisper, together we shout. Let’s support each other. This is just the start.

The morning session was not necessary. In the application it didn’t ask about our identity. It’s about the organisation, not the individual. The funding process was very good.

Very interesting to meet many people in the flesh who I had not met before. I was not happy about the first session. Individuals are not important, human rights are universal. So happy to see different groups together. Groups need the opportunity for shared experiences.

It’s amazing that Edge exists. I also prefer to have presentations. Maybe people could bring pictures and photos? It is different hearing in person than reading an application. I didn’t like the morning exercise, it made me see our differences. The voting system was good. I met interesting people.

I didn’t mind the morning – I quite liked it. But it needs to be shorter. I like the idea of posters. I would like to hear groups’ visions. What we are for, not just what we’re against. Should we score against set criteria?

It was a beautiful day. Opportunity to meet people. I would definitely like to hear 5-10 minute presentations. I still want to know more, would be nice to listen more. Excited about how Edge can go further. For the morning exercise there should have been a section with questions relating to groups.

I had a great day, feel reaffirmed. People were sensitive even when giving criticisms. Can people who like presentations support others who are less confident? We also need more help in the engine room of Edge.

We should focus on groups not individuals, with more information at the beginning about the campaigns. We missed a trick; should have made time to find ways of helping each other. The voting system was better than last time. Edge is radical. Fantastic organisation.

 

Aug 052013
 

Hoban-Expenses-235x300

Last month (12 June), Mark Hoban said this during a debate on people’s right to ask for a recording of their employment and support allowance face-to-face assessments: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130612/debtext/130612-0004.htm#13061288000001

 

“The Department and Atos are in the process of amending written communications to claimants by updating the WCA AL1C form. The document is sent to claimants when they need to arrange a face-to-face assessment and will provide more information on how to arrange an audio-recorded assessment. We expect the revised form to be sent out to claimants by the end of next month, once the necessary changes have been made and the form has been cleared for use.” 

In other words – the DWP was finally going to change the documents it sends to ESA claimants to let them know that they can ask to have their Atos face-to-face assessments recorded. It’s vital that people know they have that right, because with a recording, they are able to demonstrate beyond doubt what was said and what happened at their assessments.

By “the end of next month,” Hoban surely meant the end of July – and we’ve just gone past that deadline.

 

Jayne Linney, DPAC, Black Triangle, False Economy and Public Interest Lawyers  (who, with disabled man Patrick Lynch, took a legal action against the DWP last year on people’s right to record their assessments http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/dec/13/disabled-man-government-court-benefit-test ) are publishing this blog and asking you to reblog and share it to find out if the DWP has changed the documents it sends out to ESA claimants and if people have noted that. Earlier this month, the DWP sent Public Interest Lawyers this document as an example of the leaflet that claimants should receive about their face-to-face assessments. This document includes information which advises people of their right to ask for a recording. We want to know whether people are getting that document and if word is spreading that people can make that request.

 

This is important for a number of reasons. The first is, of course, that people need to know they have this right and that they can request a recording when they are called to an Atos ESA face-to-face assessment. The second is that Hoban claims that he is evaluating the demand for recordings and that he’ll be doing so until the end of summer 2013. (It will be important for people to respond to these blogs as soon as possible – by the end of August 2013 at the very latest – that being the case). http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130612/debtext/130612-0004.htm#13061288000001

 Hoban continues to argue that the demand for recordings is not high. Campaigners have argued, rightly, that their surveys http://dpac.uk.net/2012/11/dpac-survey-responses-on-wca-what-harrington-didnt-ask/

 and calls for information show that people do want recordings – and that demand may well increase if people actually know that they can ask for a recording. Unfortunately – or intentionally – Hoban says that the evaluation of demand will finish at the end of summer. That isn’t far away and doesn’t give anybody much time to find out if the amended documentation (presuming that people are receiving it) is having an effect. The third reason that this is important is that the DWP says it has based its decision NOT to offer recordings for Personal Independence Payment assessments on the ESA experience: “the DWP has not seen evidence from other disability assessments that this would improve the quality of assessments,” Esther McVey told parliament this year. So evidence of the demand for ESA recordings is very relevant to the PIP debate. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130418/text/130418w0003.htm#13041838000125  The department’s whole approach to recording PIP assessments is a mess – Capita, which has a contract to carry out some of the PIP assessments, originally said it would offer recordings. McVey put a stop to that and said that it wouldn’t. Meanwhile, the DWP was telling journalists that recordings would be offered for PIP assessments.  http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/07/secret-cuts-part-four-personal-independence-payments They’re making it up as they go along, so pressure needs to be applied.

 

The aim should be to get rid of the work capability assessment altogether – but while it’s there, safeguards like recordings of assessments need to be in place. Claimants and campaigners have fought hard for the right to record their face-to-face assessments. As we’ve said, people need to be able to demonstrate beyond doubt what is said at assessments. Atos is notorious for returning fit-for-work reports which ignore a claimant’s true circumstances and the details shared in face-to-face assessments. The ever-increasing number of ESA appeals  http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/esa-appeals-more-than-double-and-decisions-in-the-claimants-favour-are-increasing/ prove Atos’ problems with accuracy.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/dec/13/disabled-man-government-court-benefit-test

Campaigners have won some concessions through their hard work. These include a commitment from the DWP to offer ESA assessment recordings (on “official” dual-CD recording equipment – people still can’t bring their own recording equipment unless it can dual-produce a CD or cassette). The changed paperwork was another concession. Let’s see if they’ve done it and if people are aware of it.

Download DWP Notes Sheet on assessment

http://dpac.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/WCAAL1C_0713-21.pdf

 

 

 

 

Aug 032013
 

DPAC and Black Triangle condemn the misguided, insensitive and inflammatory comments of Dr Phil Peverley. We also want to condemn the pitch and severity of the pieces in the Mail and Telegraph (2nd August) framing Peverley’s comments, as a further outrageous abuse of the facts and issues affecting disabled people and those with diagnosed long term health issues.

 

Peverley’s words are an insult to all those that suffer the misery and anxiety of Atos within the regime designed to remove support from disabled people. His words are an insult to those that have died shortly after being declared ‘fit for work’ or before an appeal which found that, once again, Atos were wrong-something that happens with increasing regularly in a system that is chaotic and unworkable.

 

Those people may also have been within the so-called ‘proportion of punters’ that Peverley claims ‘are hell-bent on trying to prove they’re really ill, and need us [GPS] to confirm it’ or maybe they were some of the perceived ‘disgruntled unworking well’ who are ‘full of indignation at being considered reasonably healthy.’ The Department of Works and Pensions DWP own figures show deaths within 6 weeks of tests were at over 10,000. The DWP are refusing to publish up –to date statistics, so we would guess that these figures have risen significantly.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Black Triangle on the 28th June 2012 the British Medical Association (BMA) supported a call to demand that the WCA should be ended ‘with immediate effect and be replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause unavoidable harm.’ Peverley on the other hand thinks Atos are doing a great job -despite new evidence everyday that they clearly are not, despite MPs, journalists, and the public accounts committee condemnation of their conduct and the multi-million Atos contract. (See Dr McCartney’s piece in the British Medical Journal and Black Triangles’ 2013 letter of support from Drs and MPS)

 

Remarkably, Peverley declared that he considered putting a picture of Stephen Hawkings in his surgery with the caption: ‘This bloke is not on the sick!’ The comparison of Hawkings to every single disabled person is beyond bizarre. This is a man with the funds to ensure a network of P.A. support, home adaptations and technical aids- something far out of the reach of the majority of disabled people –where even a basic level of support is becoming increasingly unlikely in the current slash and burn climate. Hawkings won’t miss his ILF payments if the appeal hearing against the DWP doesn’t produce the correct verdict. Hawkings won’t need to worry about local authority cuts or the tsunami of other cuts, caps, punitive costs, sanctions and penalties being imposed on disabled people and other low income people by this Government.

 In Sept 2012 the BMA also said that GPs workloads had massively increased due to the chaotic system of the WCA and increasing numbers of appeals. Peverley also says: ‘’These fitness-to-work assessments – under Atos, and under anyone who takes the role for that matter – generate a massive amount of work in general practice’ in his column in the Pulse. However, neither the Mail nor the Telegraph wanted to pick up on the increased workloads the Atos/WCA system is causing for GPs.  None wanted to mention that people can now be charged up to 200 pounds for GP reports, to support them in an assessment, or that GPs increasingly refuse to supply reports either.- a further hurdle for disabled people and those with debilitating long term health issues in the attempt to gain the support they need in the punitive assessment process.

 The Mail and Telegraph both carried the comments of Peverley. True- they’re both right wing newspapers and tools of Tory propaganda. Yet, the pitch and severity of both pieces in framing Peverley’s comments was a clear abuse of the facts and issues facing disabled people; as are Peverly’s inflammatory comments.

The Telegraph carried the headline: ‘A GP incensed at his surgeries being full of the “disgruntled unworking well” has said he considered displaying a poster of Professor Stephen Hawking along with the caption: “This bloke is not on the sick”’.

While the Mail went that bit further with the more loaded headline:  ‘THIS bloke is not on the sick! Angry GP cites Hawking to shame hordes of patients asking him to sign them off’.

Peverley’s original Pulse piece fits the welfare ‘reform’ agenda perfectly. An agenda that incorporates the right wing media and Governments constant demonising of disabled people as feckless/workshy/scroungers  - Peverley’s original rallying cry in the Pulse was that he did not want to sign ‘sick notes. The piece headlined: ‘Save me from the unworking wellwas posted on the 29th July. Neither the Mail nor the Telegraph showed the same eagerness to publish his jaunty column of 25th April ‘A Curious Case of Missing Sick Notes’ which talks about the constant losing of sick notes by the DWP. But why would they?

Peverley has played into their hands, not only does he appear to support the discredited bio -psychosocial model, beloved of Aylward and Freud, that removes GPs and replaces them with private companies paid with huge amounts of public money- he has given them the final piece of the puzzle –privatise the sick note and remove it from any element of medical evidence. Let’s have 100% ‘fit to work’ even if a 100% drop dead in the process. Those that can afford it, like Hawkings can buy their own private back-up plan’.

In the meantime Peverley has been reported to the GMC. Twitter @gmcuk

There is a facebook campaign group at facebook.com/permalink.php?…

Peverley is on twitter @PhilPeverley

His surgery address for letters is at the link below-please do not use the surgery telephone lines!

Dr Phil Peverley 

Old Forge Surgery
Pallion Park
Pallion
Sunderland, SR4 6QE

 To Protest against this and the other attacks on disabled people join DPAC’s 7 days of Action http://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/reclaiming-our-futures-7-days-of-action/

DPAC twitter: @dis_ppl_protest

Black Triangle twitter: @blacktriangle1

 

Jun 192013
 

While recognizing that there is a real need and desire for a movement which mobilizes activists , unions and communities onto the streets together, we are disappointed that the People’s Assembly looks unlikely to bring it about…
at least while it has an entry fee and a cursory nod to inclusion and accessibility. 

Any attempt at bringing together all those sickened by this Governments shameful and harmful policies to fightback, should include those who have been fighting this fight in the streets, not just in the broadsheets. Those who have led the resistance have earned the right to be part of any movement worthy of the name.

An assembly of this nature can only work if it’s :
Brought about by a collective of workers, activists, communities together:
With a shared vision of what we are trying to achieve:
Working in an inclusive way:
Using every possible means at our disposal:
In a strategic attack on Governments ability to carry out its work,
And bring about its end.

Members attending will not be offered an opportunity to achieve any of these aims. Without grassroots street activists being part of driving this initiative from the outset, any decisions or outcomes are likely to be repeats of tried and tested failures of the past. Without the risk of radical action, the Government is unlikely to be concerned by another march, petition or one day strike. 


DPAC/Black Triangle members will attend the event in an individual capacity to engage with attendees, and encourage others to join us in our call for sustained mass, widespread civil disobedience from every section of society until this Government falls. 

DPAC SG
Johnny Void
Taxpayers against Poverty
Black Triangle
Beat on the Street

DPAC wishes to add that despite trying to feed in to ensure adequate access for the event we have not been listened to by the organizers

May 222013
 

Three judges today confirmed what DPAC and other campaigners have been saying since 2010– the benefits test used to decide whether people are fit for work, actively discriminates against disabled people and those with mental health issues

 Mental health Resistance network (MHRN) have won the judicial review case against the DWP on the clear inadequacy of the Work Capability Assessments. They supported two users who took a case against the DWP for the harm these tests do to those with mental health issues. The WCA has been severely criticised since the Condems took over the reins from the New Labour WCA inception, making the tests more and more difficult and more and more humiliating for all concerned.

 Last week Dr Greg Wood resigned claiming the tests were biased, there have been a number of high profile resignations from nurses resigning and claiming that not only were the tests unfair they were degrading. This is a subject disabled people know all too well, from the millions lavished on Atos for tests and the millions for appeals.

 The  judicial review focussed on specific issues for those with mental health issues – that of gathering supporting evidence. Under the current system, individuals are responsible for gathering their own medical evidence and sending it to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). If anyone fails to do this, it simply won’t be looked at, and in many cases if you do do this your papers will be brushed aside (see DPACs survey responses on the WCA HERE).

Reporting the victory DPAC’s sister group,  Black Triangle Campaign wrote:

“The judgment that the DWP is in breach of the Equality Act is a huge victory for everyone affected by severe mental illness, but it’s sad that it took a court case to force the DWP to take action”.

DPAC wants to congratulate the two people that took the case, MHRN and all others that supported this. We hope this is another step towards outlawing these tests and stopping them for the damage they are causing all disabled people as called for by the BMA and the RCN.

We note that the big Disability charities have , as usual, chosen to take the credit for this success and we say again that this success is due to MHRN a small group that chose to do something. It is due to the two people that took the case and the solicitors involved. This case was not initiated by any of the big disability charities-despite them joining in later to save face.

 The charities sat back and did nothing, but they are fast to take the credit for something that they didn’t even contribute too. We hope that the success of the MHRN actions leads to an end to this inhuman process for all and we congratulate them for their tenacity and their actions in getting someone done- to the charities we say: we know the difference between the real heroes and those that try to bask in reflected glory-if you had made the move that MHRN had or acted more vigorously we might applaud you, as it is we are, once more unimpressed by your actions.

 see also:

http://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/esa-regulations-25-and-31-campaign-black-triangle-to-meet-with-scottish-parliament-welfare-reform-committee-chief-this-thursday/

http://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/where-are-the-mental-function-champions-at-atos-and-other-atos-type-things/

http://dpac.uk.net/2013/01/dpac-press-release-wca-descriptors-fail-dwp-fails-atos-fails/

http://dpac.uk.net/2012/10/joint-statement-on-work-capability-assessment-wca-by-dpac-and-black-triangle/

http://dpac.uk.net/2012/11/dpac-survey-responses-on-wca-what-harrington-didnt-ask/

 

 

 

 

May 192013
 

By John McArdle Black Triangle Campaign
Sunday 19th May 2013

As our members and supporters know, Black Triangle has been at the forefront of lobbying members of the medical profession to help us bring an end to the DWP-Atos Work Capability Assessment régime at the earliest possible time.
We began locally when our campaign member and Medical Adviser Dr Stephen Carty submitted a motion through the Lothian Local Medical Committee (LMC) to the Scottish Conference of LMCs (Scottish GPs associations) at Clydebank last year.
The motion calling for the WCA to end “with immediate effect” was carried almost unanimously. We quickly submitted it to the UK LMCs conference in Liverpool, where it gained the overwhelming support of UK GPs before making its way to the British Medical Association’s Annual Representative Meeting where doctors from every discipline carried it almost unanimously on 24th June.
Sadly, as John Pring of Disability News Service has reported, the BMA’s leadership have so far failed to give any meaningful effect to the motion.
In November we launched our ESA ‘Substantial Risk’ Regulations 25 and 31 Campaign asking GPs to apply the law to discharge their ethical duty of care to act where policies and systems are causing avoidable harm to patients.
Where GPs have done this the campaign has been a great success.
We have distributed the information throughout the NHS locally in Scotland and 26 magnificent doctors from Scotland and the rest of the UK at the coalface of have joined with us in lobbying the BMA leadership to disseminate knowledge of the Regulations to GP practices everywhere.
The Scottish media has done its bit with coverage in The Scotsman, The Herald and the Edinburgh Evening News. We are deeply grateful to them for this act of socially aware and responsible journalism. However, we have been completely stonewalled by the UK London-based national media such as the BBC and sadly, even by ‘friendly’ publications such as The Guardian who, shocklngly (and not for the first time) do not seem to have found our campaign work meritorious enough to warrant a mention in their esteemed title.
As the environmental movement say: ‘Think Globally, Act Locally’.
This has been our tactic from the outset and in that spirit we have arranged to meet with the Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee, Michael MacMahon MSP, this coming Thursday to present our case to him advocating that the Scottish Parliament now intervene on our behalf in support of our ESA Regulations Campaign.
As Sir Nicky Winton whose 104th birthday it is today has said:
“I think there is nothing that can’t be done if it is fundamentally reasonable.”
We are confident that our ESA Regulations campaign is fundamentally reasonable in every respect.
Further still, we are confident that once it receives the close attention it truly merits, it will prove to be the single most effective weapon we have as a civil and civilised society in fighting back to protect all our sick and/or disabled citizens from the most wicked, unconscionable and ruthless attack on the civil rights of disabled people in living memory.
If we in Scotland are successful in enjoining the support and backing of the Scottish Parliament in ensuring that all Scottish GPs know how to apply the regulations, we are confident that GPs in England and Wales will also rapidly follow suit.
Wish us luck and when we go there, we go there for you.
All of you.
It’s all we can do.
Solidarity!

reposted with thanks from

http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2013/05/19/esa-regulations-25-and-31-campaign-black-triangle-to-meet-with-scottish-parliament-welfare-reform-committee-chief-this-thursday/

 

May 052013
 

Herald View

THE misery that the UK welfare reforms have caused disabled people has been highlighted often by this paper.

But that makes the cases cited by doctors today in the Sunday Herald no less shocking. They are proof this system has failed.

There is the patient with schizophrenia who believed he was the Messiah, yet was declared fit to work. There is the man who suffered a stroke and had lung cancer but was too scared to go to hospital in case he missed a benefits appointment, fearing he would be at risk of losing his money.

There are examples of patients with mental health problems left so distraught at being told they are fit to work they have become suicidal.

This is not a system, this is a cruel disgrace. These examples hardly fit with the picture painted by the Westminster government of the “workshy” living it up at the taxpayer’s expense.

While Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith preaches of tackling welfare dependency, it is doctors who are witnessing the impact of his “reforms”.

This is placing a burden on the NHS – a situation which is expected to get worse as more welfare changes are introduced.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Alex Neil have warned there is an “intolerable strain” on care services and urged Duncan Smith to ensure there is a “fair, equitable” process that gets decisions right first time. This must be introduced to ensure benefit claimants and the NHS do not continue to be the victims of a flawed system.

The Herald Scotland

See also

Leading doctors protest at ‘cruel’ disability assessments ~ Letter Posted on May 5, 2013 

Leading doctors protest at ‘cruel’ disability tribunals Posted on May 5, 2013

Welfare reforms not fit to work ~ Leading doctors protest at ‘cruel’ disability tests Posted on May 5, 2013

with thanks to Black Triangle

 

Oct 302012
 

We do not believe that any individual or group who claims to represent the disabled people’s protest movement should engage with DWP/Atos/Capita without insisting upon an end to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) with immediate effect as a prerequisite to any discussion.

 We regard any such engagement with DWP/Atos /Capita without this insistence on the above as a prerequisite to be nothing less than collusion in policies and systems that have been irrefutably shown to be harmful and, in many cases, lethal to the sick and/or disabled person being ‘assessed’.

 The WCA has no empirical, scientific medical evidence-base and the process has never been risk assessed.

 There remains no feedback or reporting mechanism.

 The discharge of both a statutory and ethical duty of care – owed by professionals, citizens and public authorities – to others in a vulnerable situation depends upon the existence of a reporting mechanism whereby any potential or actual risk to the life and well-being of a patient or to those around them may be reported and adequately addressed.

 This is precisely why the entire British medical profession has demanded that WCA end ‘with immediate effect to be replaced by a rigorous and safe system whereby avoidable harm’ may be prevented.

 That the General Medical Council (GMC) continues to accredit Atos assessment centres with ‘approved medical environment’ status is an utter disgrace.

 The Work Capability Assessment has caused death, suicide, homelessness, and left people without income dependent on family and friends. The WCA also causes an increase in mental health issues and a worsening of impairments. The latest figures show 73 deaths and suicides per week amongst those subject to this brutal process.

 The WCA is based on the discredited UNUM manufactured bio-psychosocial model. The   Centre for Psychosocial & Disability Research at Cardiff University literature has provided the academic foundation for the increasingly notorious WCA administered by Atos Healthcare in the UK, and without it is unlikely that the WCA would exist in its present form. The volume of incriminating evidence against the WCA has grown phenomenally, as people with serious, incapacitating illnesses continue to be found ‘fit for work’.

 When Freud set out his vision of welfare reform for disabled people he used a number of references to back up the plans for reforms.  No less than 170 of these references came from a group of academics based at or connected to the Cardiff University Department:. This centre originally led by ex Chief medical Officer at the Department for Work and Pensions Sir Mansel Alyward was funded by Unum to the tune of 1.6 million pounds from 2004 to 2009 to add academic credibility to the bio-psychosocial model: a model used by Atos to identify that if someone can press a button they are ‘fit for work’ and ineligible for any disability support.

 The connection between the WCA and the Cardiff Centre are only too obvious. The latter seeks to locate the source of incapacity in the individual’s psyche/attitude, promoting a form of ‘positive thinking’ as being curative, while the WCA claims to focus on what sick/disabled people can do as an argument that they have even the merest work capacity. But there is a more important connection. The Centre’s funder, Unum Insurance, employed tactics of ‘disability denial’ in the U.S. to avoid paying out on legitimate health claims. And since founding the CPDR Unum have sought to promote their ‘Income Protection’ product, marketing it upon the fact that the British public can no longer rely upon the state to support them if they become sick or disabled. Are we really to believe this is a coincidence?

 For more see: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/09/14/private-firms-role-in-creation-of-disability-assessment-regime-black-triangles-letter-published-in-the-guardian/

 DPAC and BT want to state categorically:

 1. We reject all ideas that ‘tinkering’ with WCA descriptors will serve any positive purpose. We call for the complete removal of the WCA with immediate effect and we have remained unwavering and constant on that position.

 2. We reject the bio-psychosocial model as having any purpose but to cut state support and replace it with private insurance and other company profits.

 3.We work from the social model philosophy and this means a pan impairment approach with no hierarchy of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ groups or individuals; this is in complete contrast to this government, or any set of groups intent on taking us back to medical model terminologies or helpless victim approaches

 4. We will work with any group who we believe genuinely opposes the government’s attacks on disabled people. However we are seriously concerned with those organisations who believe that they can work with the government to lessen the effects of these attacks. We believe that there is no alternative to outright opposition to the government if we are to stop the impoverishment and destruction of the lives of millions of disabled people in the UK. We are particularly disturbed that some of the large disability charities seem willing to work with the government effectively giving cover to their attacks on disabled people. We call on all disability charities and other groups to immediately withdraw from any work that lends credibility to the government’s so called welfare reforms.

 5. We do not support in any shape or form what this government is doing to disabled people: we classify disabled people as those who have to endure the negative attitudes of others, and those disabled by the ways this so called society treats us as less deserving than non-disabled people. We support an assessment that truely establishes a person’s ability to assess their capability to work, not based on a tick box approach.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 072012
 

TUC rally 20th October speakers DPAC and Black Triangle

Dear Mr Barber

Both DPAC and Black Triangle have the largest supporter base of any grass root groups of disabled people and have worked tirelessely to raise the issues that this government have been responsible for – we have also made it clear that we support union actions and have supported these through tireless promotion and speakers at major and local union events .

 We were therefore dissapointed and surprised at not to being asked to speak at the TUC Rally on the critical issues that face disabled people.
 
This is something we know a lot about with a combined supporter base of thousands with Black Triangle’s blog rated 3rd on ebuzzing politics ( bigger than Labour’s List) and 4th of all UK blogs for October. DPAC is also in the top 20 for politics and has been at number 1 of UK health blogs for some time
 
However, we understand how difficult it is to organise such an event so assume this may be an oversight.
 
We look forward to hearing from you on this issue.  
 
DPAC and Black Triangle
 
We will be posting this email and the response on our web sites
 
 
 

Aug 272012
 

In spite of implicit claims in the Brindle article1 that there is no ‘fight back’ disabled people have stopped traffic in Oxford Street 2, Trafalgar Square 3, protested against and closed the offices of Atos, protested online through blogs and social media, provided briefing notes and researched and gained significant victories in publicising exactly what is happening -both DPAC and Black Triangle hope they have been an impetus, along with the growing network of allies, user-led disabled peoples’ organisations and key anti-cuts groups across the UK and in Europe –all of us recognise the severe harm that the ‘cuts’ are doing to large groups of ordinary people.

 In the very first DPAC protest on 3rd October 2010 disabled people came together to lead the march against the cuts proposed by this Government, liaised with unions and other anti-cuts groups- it poured with rain, but DPAC were the first to have a synchronised online protest too. Disabled people saw a need for early action at a time when many formal disabled peoples’ organisations (DPOs) made few public statements on spending reviews or cuts and when the big disability charities remained silent. From the 100 or so original October 2010 protesters and campaigners –there are now thousands, overall numbers are growing at rapid rate- contra Brindle, disabled leaders are emerging in their hundreds trained by anger and despair at what is happening to their lives and the lives of others under this Government.

 The reality of the impact of the cuts on the lives of disabled people are much worse than any of us imagined on that rainy day in October: framed by an apparent media campaign in some sections to demonise disabled people as ‘scroungers (despite administrative error and fraud at 0.04 and 0.5% for disability support) 4, we have seen a rising level of disability hate crime, increasing suicides amongst disabled people 5, more and more disabled people relying on handouts from family and friends because they are being left without any income, disabled people losing their homes, disabled people with paid jobs seeing those jobs removed in a clear ‘cuts agenda’ 6, basic support from local authorities being cut to the bone, a move back to the threat of institutionalisation and away from independent living[7], and a move away from inclusive education for disabled children[8]

 The UK was once a European example of how disabled people’s inclusion, support and equality could be applied. It’s now an example of how fast these basic human rights can be reversed. In two years we have witnessed: the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) to new applicants[9], disability living allowance (DLA) to pay for the additional costs of disability being stripped from individuals, DLA to be replaced by an expensive and unnecessary round of reassessments for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) with a pre-assessment criteria that 500,000 people will lose all support[10], cut backs and a steep fall in Access to Work applicants[11] with a tightening of criteria and more costs being passed to employers. We see that some individuals pronounced as ‘fit for work’ by Atos are dying days after leaving their assessment centres[12], while those with terminal illness and less than 12 months to live
are being told to seek work, and having income stopped[13].

 This regime is not about supporting disabled people nor is it about supporting disabled people into work – it’s about cuts. It’s about erasing the years that individuals have worked and paid national insurance for welfare support. It’s not about saying the social model has failed- it hasn’t, if anything it’s been made stronger. It’s about recognising the imposition of a bio-psycho social model- a model
that the Government and its partner companies use to provide a bizarre focus on denying disability, impairment and ill-health each of which are being reconstructed as individual failings brought about by individuals adopting the wrong attitude-thinking yourself ‘well’[14] is cheap-it’s also impossible.

 The recent Dispatches[15] and Panorama[16] television programmes on the work capability assessment (WCA) and the regime used by Atos exposed what many of us have known for too long to a wider audience: a system designed to remove over a million disabled people from welfare support that has caused misery, anxiety and the premature deaths and suicides of an estimated 32 people a week[17]. The WCA – a revolving door of Atos assessment, appeal, tribunal, and reassessment has produced horror stories of inhuman proportions. In one of the programs an Atos ‘assessor’ asked someone who had taken several overdoses why they weren’t dead yet. There are stories of people being forced to walk until they collapse and being declared ‘fit for work’ and those that Atos has signed off as unfit for work on employee schemes being declared ‘fit to work’ on the state schemes of cuts under the WCA. Atos have recently been awarded the PIP contract[18] and are official sponsors of the Olympics[19]. These are additional reasons why the Atos games: a week of activities for people to raise the issues of the inhumanity of these ‘tests’ and the callous removal of vital supports is happening.

 The use of Tom Shakespeare’s quote in the Brindle piece that ‘… the politics of disability seem to have run out of steam.’ is grossly misleading: disabled people are fighting back in every way we can: Black Triangles’ tireless campaign to secure a total condemnation of the WCA by the British Medical Association resulting in the call for ‘the WCA to end with immediate effect’[20], the Mental Health Resistance Network’s successful case for a judicial review of the WCA[21], the exposure of the ‘tampering’ with the Ministry of Justice’s You Tube video to help people through appeals against
Atos decisions’ by Government, the continuing evidence and fight back for Atos assessments to be scrapped[22], the continuing legal challenges, the use of social media to spread information, undercover work with and by researchers, Freedom of Information requests and gains from empathetic media, lawyers, and MPs are all part of the ‘steam’-This is not being led by well paid Charity directors, nor as Macrae suggests by those who see themselves as victims but by disabled people without any funds fuelled by a raging sense of injustice and the will to fight back.

 John McDonnell’s words from the opposition day debate on disability benefits and
social care in which he stated his support for DPAC, Black Triangle and the Remploy
workers warned:

…the Government should not think that this issue or these people are going
to go away because they are not: these people are mobilising. We now have
a disability movement of which we have not seen the equal of before…these
people are not going to go away. They will be in our face-and rightly so’[23] 

 The Atos games are an opportunity for all to show their anger at the disproportionate cuts being imposed on disabled people. They are an opportunity to mobilise against the carnage the cuts administered by this Government are causing.

 Details and resources including local actions pack and a minute menu of protest
activities on DPAC dpac.uk.net

 We want to thank the Guardian for publishing ‘The Atos Games will showcase disabled peoples anger at the Paralympic sponsers’ and all those that helped get the CiF piece online here

See you on the streets and online

 


 

Jul 212012
 

by Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC), Black Triangle and Social Welfare Union (SWU) 

In an answer to a parliamentary question on Atos from Frank Field (lab) Chris Grayling said:

“Based on the results of a trial during 2011, we have not implemented universal recording for claimants going through the work capability assessment (WCA).
We have asked Atos Healthcare to accommodate requests for audio recording, where a claimant makes a request in advance of their assessment.
This approach began in late 2011 and we will monitor take up during 2012 before making a decision on the requirement for recording assessments, taking into account factors such as value for money and the value it adds to the WCA process. As part of this process we are also reviewing Atos capacity to provide recordings for those claimants who currently request one”.

We at Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC), Black Triangle and Social Welfare Union (SWU) want to make sure that we gather the REAL facts on what people are experiencing. We suspect that the government will try to pull the option for recordings of WCA completely due to what they will say is a lack of demand, so we have put together a short survey to gather information on the demand for recordings and on other issues on the WCA.

Please pass this survey on to as many people as possible. If you know someone who would like a printed paper copy of this survey please send their details to mail@dpac.net.uk

 Go to survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FGKJBSQ

 

Jun 232011
 

A protest group which occupied a government building said that disabled people were being labelled as “scroungers” during the cuts to public services.

The 16-strong group entered the public advice centre at an HM Revenue and Customs building in Glasgow and held up placards, shouting “No to the rich”.

Protesters gathered in George Square in the city centre before walking to the HMRC offices in Cochrane Street.

Peter Lockhart, 51, from Cowdenbeath in Fife, said:

“Disabled people are really suffering under this government. The disability allowance has been abolished.

“There are also all of these stories calling us scroungers. We are being used as scapegoats.

“The big corporations and the really wealthy are not paying their fair portion in taxes.

“They are putting their money in offshore accounts and tax havens. If the government went after them that would tackle the deficit.”

Mr Lockhart has been using a wheelchair since a car accident ten years ago. Around four people also stood outside the entrance to the building.

Protesters ended their occupation after around 40 minutes when police arrived and spoke with them.

John McArdle, from the Black Triangle anti-defamation campaign in defence of disability rights and who also joined the demonstration, said:

“Disabled people have been used as scapegoats in the mass media and labelled as workshy and scroungers. That is based on no empirical facts.

“We believe that these cuts are ideological. We reject the false narrative of there is no alternative.

“Disabled people are having their homecare cut, are being left without care to sit in their own excrement. They have fundamental human rights.”

Mr McArdle said the cuts breach the human rights of disabled people under the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

He continued:

“We are protesting about a £120bn tax gap owed by corporations and private individuals.

“Why should disabled people suffer for a crisis that was caused by systemic flaws in the financial system?”

More info at STV

Jun 072011
 

From The Crutch Collective

Over a period of 2 1/2 hours on Monday 6th June around 50 people joined the picket, called by the Crutch Collective and Black Triangle, of the Atos Recruitment Evening in Glasgow. Some had travelled from Edinburgh and as far away as Berwick. Some officials of the PCS union were able to attend at the start and took away some leaflets. The admin. staff at Atos are members of PCS.

Atos picket at Glasgow

Atos picket at Glasgow

The police were present from early on and stopped people from blocking the doors. With a couple of exceptions most of the 20 or so doctors and nurses going into the Recruitment Evening ignored the request not to take jobs with Atos. This was despite being told of the people with cancer and terminal illnesses having their benefits cut by Atos and the suicides caused by the stress of the relentless and constant reassessment by Atos. They were also given leaflets detailing the fatal consequences of benefit changes as documented by several mental health charities. The leaflet also quoted a former Atos employee in Scotland who quit, because the medical assessments are designed to catch out disabled people.
A nurse heckled those inside through a megaphone. The leaflet was read out through the megaphone to the doctors and nurses waiting in the lobby and at the presentation.
Black Triangle

Black Triangle

John McArdle of Black Triangle spoke to the crowd of the need to keep the campaign going until the medical assessments are carried out by a public body again. Plans were made for the next demo. A representative from Citizens United, another direct action orientated anti-cuts group in Glasgow expressed their desire to work with us in the future.
We got a clearer idea of the future some of us face as we chatted to some homeless people waiting for the Salvation Army food van who had also had their disability benefits cut despite having serious physical and mental health problems.
A handful of the doctors and nurses who attended the Recruitment Evening were escorted by the police through the crowd when they left by the main entrance. Debates were held about whether we should call them scabs or not. The rest had to sneak out via the staff exit like rats. No one was arrested and we were able to make our presence felt for the whole of the event. We are getting substantially bigger. We see the picket as a victory. Atos now know that any future recruitment evenings will need extra security and the presence of the police. The doctors and nurses who chose to forget their medical ethics and any social conscience had to endure the most unpleasant environment possible. The myth of the Atos PR about the ease and convenience of the Atos professional employee lifestyle has been destroyed.
Thanks again to everyone who attended and helped promote the picket.

Mar 082011
 

I was invited by Women Against the Cuts to join their demo on International Women’s Day to speak about disabled women and the cuts for DPAC. The event was at Trafalagar Square. There was a good number of women already there and I was happy to spot my good friend Sabrina Qureshi from Million Women Rise – a great event with a march of about +5000 from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Sq last Saturday.

Zita Holbourne was there speaking for Black Activists Against Cuts and she did a poem too, and Pragna Patel from Southall Black Sisters. I was happy to see Sasha Callaghan from Black Triangle in the crowd and I asked her to speak alongside me for disabled women.

I did not realise we were videoed but HarpyMarx posted videos of us in her blog. Thank you!

For a transcript of my speech.

Photos of Million Women Rise on 5th March

Photos of today’s WAC event

Mar 012011
 

Message from our close ally, Black Triangle

The Black Triangle campaign has been set up to help defend ALL disabled people from the constant media and government portrayal of disabled people as “scroungers” and thieves for claiming benefits that they are not entitled to. This despite the fact that benefit fraud for those claiming Disability Living Allowance one of the main benefits that can keep disabled people independent and in work is currently only 1%. The wide spread lie that a huge amount of those currently claiming health related benefits are frauds, combined with the pretty badly discredited assessment criteria that see the majority of claimants fail despite having high levels of care and support needs cannot be anything other than an attempt to put disability rights back to a time where most people with disabilities were kept hidden away from society.

Despite having the legal right enshrined by European law and United Nation convention, individuals with disabilities will have no access to homes, jobs public transport, family life, or dignity. Why will all these be lost, because they need resources, and this Con-Dem government seem to be saying that the British people “can’t pay won’t pay”. Blaming the economic crises on the disabled by constantly saying how high  the welfare bill is, or how much extra services like “Access to Work” or “The Independent Living fund” cost so they are closed down to save money, is basically untrue and at odds with the much trumpeted “fairness” agenda the government constantly talk about.

The Black Triangle campaign is a small group of local activists who have already been active in direct action protests. We held protest actions, taken part in public forums, joined with the TUC, and STUC in joint action. We have organised FREE accessible transport to the STUC “Better way campaign” rally in Perth this coming Saturday. We will also be working with the organisers of the huge national rally in London on the 26th of March to provide FREE accessible transport.

All we need is people to use this transport, we need anyone who wants to go, even if all you want to do is show that you think disabled people deserve respect, then please come. Use the transport and show the government that you are a human being and deserve to be given the courtesy of being treated like one.

Go to the page that the Link below leads to and register, or go to Face Book and search for BLACK TRIANGLE. Or email me your interest in attending and I will pass your details on. Take the time to look at the main Black Triangle pages and see if any of the messages or posts give you a sense of what the campaign is all about. If you can please just register with the page, we are only asking for your support not your money.

Lastly please will you all have a careful think about all the people that you know. Work, family, neighbours, friends whatever, who ever, please think if this information could be of interest or use to anyone else. Let them know and give them the opportunity to make up their own minds if they wish to be involved or not.

—George Lamb

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