May 012014
 

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

jailnursing home ilf

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

Nearest accessible tube –Westminster.

Click for Face Book Event Page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 092014
 

Monday morning at County Hall against the £190m cut imposed by the Coalition Government on Norfolk.  The proposed cuts to social care will devastate disabled and older people’s lives and leave many ‘prisoners in their own homes’.  No return to institutionalisation!  Defend our right to independent living!

norfolkdpacProtest Against the Cuts to Adult Social Care and Children’s Services

 

Monday 17 February

 

County Hall,

Norwich

  

Protest from 8.00am

Lobby from 9am

  

Assemble outside County Hall and bring your banners!

 

 

 

Dec 022013
 

ALLFIE WILL BE VISITING THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION on the 10th DECEMBER TO DEMAND THE GOVERNMENT BANISHES THE GHOSTS OF SEGREGATION PAST BY WARNING ABOUT THE NEW GHOSTS OF SEGREGATION FUTURE !

WHERE & WHEN:
Date: 10th December @ 1 pm
Meeting place: the Café in Abbey Centre, 34 Great Smith Street, Westminster London SW1P 3BU
Contact: Simone/Tara at ALLFIE – 0207-737-6030 simone.aspis@allfie.org.uk / tara.flood@allfie.org.uk / www.allfie.org.uk

THE FACTS:
Since 2010 the numbers of disabled children and young people being forced into segregated education is on the increase, despite the Government’s UNCPD Article 24 (Right to Inclusive Education) obligations to develop a fully inclusive mainstream education system. This year the Government is pushing through SEN reforms that will increase, even further, the numbers of disabled children and young people being forced into segregated education – this is despite David Cameron, in 2010, promising parents of disabled children he would do all that he could to support their choice of inclusive education.
Time and time again, the Government have refused to listen to disabled people and our allies about the damaging impact the SEN reforms will have on the rights for disabled students and pupils to be included in mainstream education –
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!
We must ACT NOW to tell Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Education) and the Coalition Government that there must be no return to segregation!!
Today we are presenting the following DEMANDS to Michael Gove and the Coalition Government:
• Disabled children and young people MUST have a right to be included in mainstream education.

• Disabled children and young people MUST have a right to receive support to participate in mainstream education in accessible buildings.

• The Local Offer of services MUST support disabled children and young peoples’ access to mainstream education.

• Local Authorities MUST continue to have a strategic duty to promote and develop the capacity of mainstream schools to deliver inclusive education practice as set out in the Inclusive Schooling Guidance.

Join ALLFIE’s “EDUCATE DON’T SEGREGATE” Campaign now!

 

View the petition

Jul 162013
 

DPAC Logo 3 amendment 1 (Small)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 any hope for our futures or our children’s futures.

 

DPAC say this is not fair, not acceptable and we must fight back against the continuing attacks. We will be having a week of actions nationally and virtually from August 29th and culminating on September 4th with  mass events and actions in London.

 

Thursday 29th August – launch on anniversary of coffin delivery to Atos, make Crossrail fully accessible protest, plus more….

 

Friday 30th August – local protests –go to local MPs, Atos offices, schools and colleges that are creating barriers to inclusion..plus more…

 

Saturday 31st August – disability, art and protest exhibition and gig

 

Sunday 1st September –
The Social Model In The 21st Century – Why Is It Still relevant?

 

Monday 2nd September – Media direct actions, picking up the pace as we come to the end of the week of action, despite everything we do it is getting more and more difficult to get media space to present the facts whereas there is plenty of space given to misrepresentation of stats and government lies

 

Tuesday 3rd September – ‘I Dare’ day – to reinforce that we want Rights not Charity and a society where we are able to operate on our own terms as disabled people.

Approximate time 1pm -2.30pm

 

Wednesday 4th September – Grand Finale events in London and public launch of the Manifesto ‘Reclaiming our Futures’

noon- 4pm followed by lobby of parliament 5-6pm

 

We want to get disabled people from around the UK out resisting, based on their experiences, creating disabled people’s space, raising awareness of what we are all about. But there is plenty of social media stuff too- everyone can be an ‘extremist’!

 

The Anti Atos message last year was very clear and very successful. This year we want the messaging to be broader and to be about what we want and expect from any future government including all aspects of inclusion.

 

At the Rethinking Disability Policy event last September a network of Disabled People’s Organisations agreed to develop a manifesto of demands. The manifesto is nearly ready for consultation and sign up. Let us know if you’d like a copy.

 

The Reclaiming Our Futures week will launch the manifesto and say what we want to protect our futures.

 

Last year’s ATOS GAMES protests had at least 33 separate local protests in different locations in England, Scotland and Wales over the course of the week.

 

While the Atos Games focused on demonstrating and closing things down, this year’s week of action will retain that anger and include direct action but it will also be a celebration of disability pride.

 

DPAC has some funding for the week of action and we have worked out what we have the capacity to do. We are asking other groups to think about what they can put on and contribute to the week. This needs all of us!

 

We are asking people around the UK to do things as well – debates, forums, art exhibitions, protests, to link in with this. Let us know what you’re planning and we’ll publicise it!

 

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.

more to come…….

Jun 042013
 

Last Saturday saw thousands on the streets again against the Bedroom Tax. Reports and photos are still coming in – see http://antibedroomtax.org.uk/ and Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation on facebook

 

Reminder:

This Saturday 8 June, 12.30-2.30pm
is the first Steering Group meeting for the Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation
at Somerstown Community Centre 150 Ossulston St London NW1 1EE (beside St Pancras and Kings Cross rail and Underground station and very near Euston station)

All Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice groups, and other campaigns fighting benefit cuts, plus supporting trade unions and organisations, are invited to send reps.  Get in touch for details or directions.

 

Hull is the latest Council considering tenants’ demands not to evict due to Bedroom Tax. Councils agreeing not to evict is a big boost to campaign confidence. Even when they continue to threaten eviction, this promise helps to galvanise resistance and keep up the pressure.

Barnsley are already threatening court action and campaigners are preparing protests at court hearings.

 

Other Dates
15 June Birmingham protest march – No more deaths from Bedroom Tax. March has support of Stephanie Bottrill’s family, and all local groups are asked to come with a banner/placards.
25 June Manchester – Lobby the Housing Providers 12-1pm CIH conference http://www.cih.org/housing2013

May 292013
 

“The government have managed to get away with causing misery…and there hasn’t been an outcry because they’ve wrapped it up in all this language of reform”

Ahead of the national day of protest against welfare reforms this Saturday, we caught up with Ellen Clifford – one of the organisers of the Benefit Justice Campaign. In this first part of the interview, we talk about the Campaign, divisive tactics and the need for unity.

Ellen Clifford - Benefit Justice Campaign/DPAC

Ellen Clifford – Benefit Justice Campaign/DPAC

For those that don’t know, could you tell us a bit more about the Benefit Justice Campaign, how it came about and why now? 

The Benefit Justice Campaign was set up by three campaigns, DPAC – Disabled People Against Cuts, Defend Council Housing and the Right To Work Campaign. We came together in January of this year because the people that we represent were being hit on all sides by cut after cut after cut from this government and we wanted to unite together to form a campaign. So rather than disabled people campaigning on our own, we want to be with council house tenants who were going to be hit by the bedroom tax, and with unemployed workers, and we also wanted to unite with workers through the trade unions because the government has been using a lot of divisive rhetoric about benefit scroungers and the difference between strivers and skivers, and we wanted to come together and overcome a lot of those myths, that a lot of people who are being hit by the benefit cuts are actually in work. And what the government is doing affects people in work and out of work – so to provide a combined campaign to oppose it.

Why have the government been pushing this striver vs. skiver debate? 

Well it was very effective and it has been very effective over the last couple of years. People have actually thought we really need to reform the welfare state. A lot of people talk about the need to stop all these people having a lifestyle on benefits. So actually the government rhetoric has been really effective, and what they’ve managed to do is they’ve managed to get away with causing misery and pushing many, many thousands of disabled people – the poorest members of society, into poverty. That’s what they’ve been effectively doing, but they’ve got away with it and there hasn’t been an outcry because they’ve wrapped it up in all this language of reform and saying that these people are taking all the taxpayers’ money, and trying to point the finger at people that don’t really exist. There aren’t people choosing to live a lifestyle on benefits because it’s ‘such a wonderful life’.

A lot of people would say we’ve got this national debt, so there has to be cuts. ‘Everyones feeling the pinch’, so what would you say to them?

Yeah, not everyone’s feeling the pinch. There’s a certain section of society that really isn’t being affected by it. Meanwhile, there are sections of society that are being hit over and over again. So research that came out recently from the Campaign For a Fair Society, showed that the poorest members of society are being hit harder than anyone else. But they also showed that disabled people with the highest level of support needs, people with complex and severe disabilities, are being hit 19 times harder than the average person so there’s no way ‘we’re all in it together’. There are some sections of society who are being deliberately targeted harder than anyone else.

“Austerity is lining the pockets of certain sections of society.”

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times Rich List in April showed that the 1000 wealthiest UK residents increased their wealth by £35bn last year. So some people are getting richer out of this actually. Austerity is lining the pockets of certain sections of society.

So why aren’t we attacking rich people more?

I think some sections of the population are, but we mainly do that through social media, through our own blogs, or through the left wing media maybe. Certain elements of the right wing media certainly have fallen in with the government and they will reproduce the government statistics which are shown to be misrepresented most of the time.

A Previous Defend Council Housing Protest in London Image: demotix.com

A Previous Defend Council Housing Protest in London Image: demotix.com

You already have a lot of support for the campaign, but how do you get to the people who are a little more shut off? There must be people who would maybe stand with you and support you, but they aren’t aware of what is going on. How do you get to them, and how do you get them to act?  

And it’s the isolated people who are more likely to be in trouble because they’ve got no support so it’s about reaching those people. I think through social media DPAC has got quite an online presence. We’re very involved in Facebook and Twitter and social media, and people find us through that because people are looking because they don’t know where else they can turn to. So that’s one way, but of course people don’t all have access to social media and the internet, and what we’re seeing increasing is local campaigns being set up and just going around, like I was doing on Sunday, just knocking on doors in estates where people are affected – so actually meeting people in person.

At the Benefit Justice Summit a couple of weeks ago in Westminster, you had many organisations coming together for different struggles – around 37 from around the country including DPAC, Hands Off Our Homes, Manchester vs. Bedroom Tax and so on. There was a lot of talk about unity, and coming together – why is that such a strong message right now?

I think people are feeling that because we’ve been attacked for the last couple of years and we haven’t managed to change it yet. The government have done some small U-turns – for example the bedroom tax exempting children with severe disabilities. But, we’ve never got them reverse the direction of welfare reform so I think people want to come together en masse to try and mobilise, to try and fight against the bigger things that are happening – essentially to get the government out and that’s only going to happen if everyone campaigns together.

Find out more about the Benefit Justice Campaign here.

Join us for the second part of the interview on Thursday.

Follow us on Twitter/Like us on Facebook

With thanks to Real Fare please follow this excellent blog

http://realfare.wordpress.com/

 

 

Jan 262013
 

Protest against the planned £10 million cuts to Adult Social Care in Croydon

Monday 28 January, 5.30pm

Croydon Town Hall

 

Croydon Council are in the process of agreeing their budget setting which includes a proposed set of cuts to services across Adult Social Care, that amount to £10million being taken out of the budget.

 

The Council carried out a consultation that was inaccessible to disabled people and included no detailed information about the cuts proposed to vital support services that the most disadvantaged members of the community depend upon.

 

We are very concerned that on top of year on year reductions by Croydon, and the huge central government cuts to disability-related benefits and entitlements, these cuts represent a further attack on the quality of life of disabled people. The cuts are adding injury to injury, and mean yet morepainfordisabledpeopleinCroydon.

 

Disabledpeopleshouldnothavetochoosebetweeneatingandheating!

Sep 012012
 

Reposted from Kate Belgrave with thanks

Protestors clash with police at the department for work and pensions.

Have a lot of video to upload from today – here’s the start.

This protest was called by UK Uncut and Disabled People Against Cuts as the closing ceremony to the Atos Games week – five days of events and demonstrations against Atos’ involvement in the fiasco that is work capability assessments for people on employment and support allowance.

These first videos were taken inside the protest outside the Department for Work and Pensions in the afternoon. It’s shaky, because I was pushed over a few times, but it rights itself here and there. There were fiery scenes, all right, and the police were pretty free with their hands:

 

More pushing from the police:

The protest began in Triton Square at Atos headquarters, then moved across town to the DWP’s Wesminster offices after a couple of hours. That’s where things began to kick off. There were hundreds of people present and things got pretty unpleasant. The lack of mainstream reporting of this protest seems extraordinary – as someone who was in the middle of it all day, I can tell you that it was well-attended and pretty full-on.

Outside the DWP, DPAC’s Adam Lotun tells protestors that people have entered the building with a list of demands for Maria Miller. He also announces his candidacy for the upcoming Corby byelection. That should be interesting – particularly for Labour:

This video is from earlier in the day outside Atos’ headquarters where people started yelling at police, security and a guy in a red tie who refused to answer questions about the company’s WCA record:

Aug 282012
 

This is reposted from The Void with thanks.

A well attended ceremony took place yesterday evening outside City Hall, London to make the opening of the Atos Games.

Disabled people and supporters held speeches and a mock medal ceremony to launch the Week of Action Against Atos timed to coincide with the Paralympic Games.

Atos are paid £100 million a year to carry out the brutal and demeaning Work Capability Assessments on behalf of the Government.  This short computer based health assessment has led to tens of thousands of sick and disabled people being stripped of vital benefits.

Atos have recently won the contract to assess all those claiming Disability Living Allowance, a process which has the stated aim of removing financial support from a fifth of disabled people.  Astonishingly Atos are also sponsors of the Olympics Games.

At the mock ceremony last night, Paralympic Gold medal winner, Tara Flood was stripped of her medals as she was declared no longer disabled by Atos assessors.  Speakers from Disabled People Against Cuts and Transport For All, who both helped organise the event, spoke of their experiences at the hands of the company and their fury at Atos attempting to gain positive publicity on the back of the Paralympic Games.

Those assembled were warned that Paralympian Athletes will also soon face assessment by the company who have shown no mercy to even those with life threatening conditions.  A recent investigation found that 32 people a week die after being judged ‘fit for work’ by the company.

Atos were warned that we are coming for them – in the Courts, in Parliament, in the Courts and most importantly on the streets.

Protests will take place around the UK outside Atos offices today as part of the Week of Action.  A Mass Die In will take place in Cardiff on Wednesday whilst a Memorial Service will be held outside their London Headquarters on the same day.

 

More photos from Pete Riches can be seen from  Flickr  –
DPAC holds mock ATOS Games medal ceremony at City Hall

‘Seven medals but now the Tories want my benefits’

http://socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=29451

Aug 262012
 

Share your fightback. Send pictures, stories and links to mail@dpac.uk.net

 

 

On Saturday NORTHAMPTON DPAC held a stall in Abington Street, Northampton
Included in the many that put their name to our petition was deaf and blind medal-winning paralympic swimmer Janice Tillett, from Crofters Close, East Hunsbury,Northampton, who represented Great Britain in the pool at the Barcelona Paralympics in 1992, winning two relay silver medals. She also won four European Championships golds for her country.
Janice as been recorded in the local press:
We hope that Janice will join us at Atos on the 28 Aug.
Anti-Atos images sent in by Fred Peachum:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Jul 222012
 

Right to Ride, disabled activists block traffic outside Westminster

DPAC is pleased that London’s 28,000 bus drivers who threatened strike action on 5 and 24 July have won their right to receive an Olympic bonus which other transport workers have been offered in recognition of the extra strain the Games will put on their working conditions. The deal follows the first capital-wide bus strike in decades and six days of negotiations. It has been signed by all 20 bus operators amid fears the network could be brought to a standstill, heaping embarrassment on the London as it staged the Games.

DPAC calls for a fully accessible public transport system that provides disabled passengers with the same opportunities to travel as anyone else. We recognise that an important part of a fully functioning system entails respect and fair terms and conditions for transport staff in order to enable them to do their jobs fairly. DPAC supports the bus drivers in any action they feel they need to take in order to get their voices heard.

Last month DPAC and Transport for All staged a successful direct action with activists blocking the path of an 87 bus outside Westminster for more than two hours. The action which was featured on a Channel Four news debate drew attention to the barriers that disabled people face in accessing London buses ahead of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games when campaigners fear that poor disability access will make London a laughing stock. http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/06/right-to-ride-report/

In speaking out against the daily discrimination and frustration disabled people experience trying to access bus transport DPAC does not blame the bus drivers themselves. Drivers are held back from delivering a fair service to disabled passengers by cutbacks which have seen conductors removed from buses whilst drivers are not allowed to leave their cabs for safety reason, by strict regulation of timetables that do not give drivers adequate time to meet the needs of disabled people and by a lack of investment in fully user led disability equality training that could be delivered around drivers’ shift patterns.

DPAC encourages our members to show solidarity to bus drivers in any further actions.

 

Apr 132012
 

Protest at Grayling


“Policy Exchange is hosting a major full day conference looking at the future of the labour market and welfare and skills policy in the UK. The key theme will be how the employment and skills agendas could be coordinated to ensure that unemployment is reduced and that the labour market meets the needs of business in the future. The day will be a great opportunity to hear the views of expert speakers and for businesses, policy makers, politicians and academics to get together to discuss these vital issues.”
Keynote speakers include Minister for Workfare Chris Grayling.
This is on the day the latest unemployment figures are released. It is estimated that over the summer 100,000 public sector will lose their jobs.
Protest at the Policy Exchange conference
9am, Wednesday 18th April, Microsoft, 80-100 Victoria Street, Westminster, London, SW1E 5JL

DPAC protest

Action will be around benefit cuts, care funding and Loss of Remploy jobs.
April 18th meet for 1.30 pm McDonalds Leicester Square.

Remploy Not For Sale

After previous rounds of closures at Remploy, which provides work for thousands of disabled people, the Tories plan to finish the job. Of the 54 remaining workplaces 36 have already received 90 days notice of closure on Monday 19 March.

 Norwich demonstration
GMB and Unite, the unions for Remploy workers, will hold a demonstration in Norwich on Saturday 14th April.
 10am to 1pm, Saturday 14th April
Hay Hill, Opposite Primark, 7-9 Haymarket Norwich,Norfolk NR2 1QD
 

Public Meeting – Fight the Remploy Closures
Thursday 19 April – 7.30pm
The Venue, ULU, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY

Speakers include:
John McDonnell MP – Chair Right to Work campaign; Gail Cartmail – Unite Assistant General Secretary; Les Woodward – GMB National Convenor of Remploy; Rob Murthwaite – Disabled People Against Cuts
Download the meeting leaflet .

Fight Remploy Closures meeting – April 19

 National Demonstration – Friday 20 April 2012

Lobby the DWP in Sheffield – The campaign to save Remploy factories continues
Assemble 12.30 for a 1pm start outside the Department of Work and Pensions office in Sheffield (Steel City House) at the junction of West Street, Church Street and Tripit Lane.
Rally and March to the Town Hall

Called by UNITE

Petition
Sign the petition to save Remploy factories and send cheques payable to ‘The Remploy Fighting Fund’ to: Phil Davies, Manufacturing Section, GMB National Office, 22-24 Worple Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 4DD

Tell Richard Branson … Keep Virgin profiteering out of our NHS!

London Keep Our NHS Public groups are targeting Virgin stores and gyms for a weekend of protests on 21st / 22nd April
 
 

London May Day March

Tuesday 1st May, 11am
Clerkenwell Green, EC1R 0DU
March to Trafalgar Square

Join the Caravan for Climate Jobs: 12th – 25th May 2012

  •    Fighting for a million new jobs
  •   Fighting the threat of catastrophic climate change
The CLIMATE JOBS CARAVAN – backed by a number of national unions and campaign groups – is a 2000 mile campaign tour of towns and cities to promote the ONE MILLION CLIMATE JOBS REPORT and raise public discussion of how jobs lost in your locality can be replaced through the creation of the new industries and services that we need to ensure an environmentally sustainable future.
The Caravan goes on the road on 12 May. It will be greeted by meetings and other public events in dozens of localities where jobs are currently being shed. Join it when it arrives near you.
May 23rd advance warning Lord Freud at National Housing Federation event explaining the need for Welfare abolition. 

Apr 112012
 

by Holmey

via social warriors

In view of the welfare reforms that the ConDem’s have forced through parliament, reforms that are forcing many sick and disabled people deep into poverty and misery, it’s time to tell the DWP what we feel, where we think they are driving society, with you being invited to download and complete the DWP Euthanasia Assistance Form below and asked to post it off to –

 

Euthanasia Assistance Scheme

The Ministers

Department of Works and Pensions

Caxton House

Tothill Street

London

SW1H 9DA

Next Tuesday or Wednesday, (17th/18th April), so that they get deluged with them on Thursday & Friday, perhaps having to work over the weekend to clear the mail backlog – Hopefully get to the attention of the decision makers.

A couple more websites I know are also hosting this campaign, and if you’re seeing it for the first time and have a website, please feel free to copy it. I’ll notify what media contacts I have, if everybody else makes a noise out of it, it may get some much needed publicity for what’s going on.

Also, on the Friday, (21st), perhaps you would like to emulate Stuart on his excellent recording (on social warriors’ web site)

Let’s shout out loud, give them all something to think about over the weekend.

Copy and paste this URL into your browser to get form and info:
http://socialwarriors.co.uk/2012/04/atos-dwp-disability-euthanasia-assistance-scheme-protest/

Mar 202012
 

Today,  Labour have forced a Commons debate on whether MPs can consider planned NHS changes for a final time before an assessment of the potential risks to the health service is published. And opponents are trying to mobilise support behind a last-ditch attempt to try and delay the bill.

Lord Owen lost his amendment this afternoon by 213 to 328 votes with the enemies of open government resorting to increasingly ridiculous arguments to defend the government’s refusal to release the risk register. Andy Burnham has made a last-minute request which will lead to a brief debate on the risk register, this time in the Commons, to be held tomorrow as first item of public business. It’s hard to see it having any effect.

Read Tim Hardy’s analysis at Beyond Clicktivism.

If you need some background, watch The Professional Case for Withdrawing The Health and Social Care Bill from Daniel Saul on Vimeo.

There is much protest which is not being reported by the main stream media.

Many thanks to Steven Sumpter for letting us repost some of this blog (from March 17th). Read the rest about how Heavy handed police threaten NHS protest and follow the links at his blog.

Several hundred people gathered today in front of the Ministry of Health to protest against the Health and Social Care bill and what it will do to the NHS. During the course of the protest riot police intimidated and grabbed at protesters, held them against their will, and broke up the protest into small groups that petered out. This was suppression of protest, something that I have written about many times before. As yet the mainstream media outlets have been silent about the protest and about the policing of it. Read on for some images, videos and tweets from the day. For a detailed personal account with many pictures and videos please read This blog post by Cai Wingfield, and see the links at the end of this post for more.

Video taken by Kate Belgrave

“Outside the department of health!” – photo by @thinktyler
"protest in Whitehall" - photo by @COPDdoc

"protest in Whitehall" - photo by @COPDdoc

————————————————————————————————————-

 

Jan 302012
 

Many thanks to Emma (@pseudodeviant) for letting us repost this.

This morning I got up very early and (with help from my wonderful partner & carer) got dressed, drugged and ready to catch a train to London.

After the normal mess around with trains and alike we made it to Euston station in a fairly bright mood. We decided to save some money and roll down to the DPAC meeting point (MacDonalds on Regent Street at 11.30am) which took a while. Luckily for me, the first face I saw was that of blogger Latent Existence which was a lovely surprise, especially when it transpired we had actually met at an action in Birmingham ages ago. There was a bit of milling about whilst the plan was explained to us;

  1. Collect a D-Lock and keys.
  2. Get into place at Oxford Circus (where Oxford Street & Regent Street cross).
  3. When the lights change UK Uncut activist would run across with a chain which would have each end attached to a lamppost.
  4. Wheelchairs were to roll over to the crossing and line up along the chain.
  5. Lock the wheelchair to the chain and start protesting!

Whilst waiting for it to begin I spoke to a few journalists that had found us and explained my reasons for being there;

I wanted to protest against the both the Welfare Reform Bill and the cruel way it effects disabled people & children as well as the associated vilification of the disabled, poor and vulnerable. The government has decided to combat a fraud rate of 0.5% that they will take 20% off Disability Living Allowance by re-branding and reforming it into Personal Independence Payments (PIP). In doing so they are removing the assistance from DLA/PIP from 199 genuinely disabled people for every 1 ‘fraudster’* they catch. So they can remove so many they have made the criteria for PIP even more stringent than with DLA and they are including regular repeat assessments – regardless of whether your disability can ever improve or not. I wrote about how important my DLA is to me and the struggles I had obtaining it recently. The Responsible Reform Report (dubbed the Spartacus Report) details many areas of key concern better than I could here and it makes interesting reading if you fancy it.
The Conservative led government has done what it always does when they want to cut benefits to the poor and the vulnerable. First they leak press stories vilifying the targets, then when public opinion is on their side they strike with cruel reforms & cuts. We’ve been watching over the last couple of years as more and more horrid and twisted headlines about fake disabled people, scroungers and those seeking an easy life on ‘lavish’ benefits have filled up our press. I’ve popped some examples of recent press headlines on the right. All of these are real and all of them have helped shape public opinion. We’ve seen disability hate crime soar up by 75% and most I’ve spoken to have noticed it. I blogged this December about my experiences at the local Christmas market and I’ve been stopped in the street by strangers who ask me “Do you really need that wheelchair or are you just pretending?”. It’s both annoying and painful but still, I’m lucky that I’ve not been on the end of some of the violent abuse that many others cite having experienced.

To make it all the more poignant, yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day. A day during which we remembered those who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazi party. The party wished for racial purity and in 1933 began forcibly sterilising disabled people under the “Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring”. By 1939 they began “euthanising” children born with severe defects and within months the criteria for eligibility for “euthanasia” was both relaxed and extended to older children, adolescents, and adults. But before this started happening the Nazi propaganda mill tried to make sure that the public were on side with gems like this poster:

A German propaganda poster from 1938″60000 Riechmarks, this is what this person suffering from hereditary defects costs the Community of Germans during his lifetime. Fellow Citizen, that is your money, too.” It’s so similar to last years tabloid headlines it chills my blood looking at it.



That’s why I joined the protest. That’s why I and many others chained ourselves in our wheelchairs across Oxford Circus. We see what is happening, how our rights are being eroded away and how thoughtless government propaganda is ruining our right to live free from fear and intimidation. We see all this and we are angry. We won’t go down without a fight. Even if it near kills us.

The protest itself was brilliant. No sooner had we done up our D-locks and settled into a chorus of “No ifs, no buts, no disability cuts!” than the sound of sirens filled the air. The police & some people that I assume were fancy shop security (given the odd beefeater meets bellhop uniforms) surrounded us quite quickly but did nothing. The atmosphere was great, angry yet positive, vulnerable yet strong as steel. We had a wonderful time and met some fantastic people. I spoke to journalists, independent media and radio crews and watched as some amazing people got filmed by the BBC & Sky. We had initially thought we would get an hour at the most before the bolt-cutters cam out and we were either arrested or dispersed. I think that because of the amount of media attention we had the police were loathe to act and risk bad publicity. They also would have had a big job trying to arrest all of the wheelchair users as I don’t think their vans are particularly accessible. Still, by 12.45 the police were telling us that we could either move over and just block one side of the road (the street behind us was strewn with abandoned buses) or we could stay and they would take ‘appropriate action’. Many of those chained up expressed a wish to stay and risk arrest simply to show how serious they were about protesting the Welfare Reform Bill. Sadly we had to leave before the end as we had a train to catch but twitter informed me that everything broke up peacefully at around 2pm with no arrests or trouble.

To finish on a brighter note are some pictures from today’s demo;

The wheelchair line getting into place.


Me and my partner fashionably sporting chains and a Green Party flag.

(Picture via @HeardInLondon)

DPAC protesters – not all of us use wheelchairs (Picture via @HeardInLondon)

Legal Observers – the person in orange was from Green and Black Cross, the person at the back with a camcorder works for the Met.

* let us remember that this term also includes disabled people that aren’t technically ‘disabled enough’ to receive DLA.

Media Links (edited to add more as they arrive):

 

Jan 292012
 

Disabled activists from as far away as Edinburgh and Cornwall descended on central London yesterday afternoon determined to make a space for their voices and concerns to be heard.
With the utmost ease 20 wheelchair users were chained up across the road near Oxford Circus bringing the traffic in Regent Street to a total halt. The wheelchair users were supported by many more disabled activists with invisible impairments and supporters from UKUNCUT and Right to Work.
A coach driver who was trying to take passengers to the theatre said he stopped at the traffic lights and then suddenly the coach was trapped and unable to move anywhere. Busses were backed up all along Regent Street for over 2 hours.
It remains wrong that when tax evasion by the wealthy runs at £25 billion and neither the government or opposition parties make any attempt to collect this money disabled people, single parents and unemployed people are being made the scapegoats for the Condems savage and unnecessary austerity cuts.
Disabled people heartened by the success of  yesterday’s actions say this is only the beginning of renewed efforts on their part to have the Welfare Reform Bill overturned, and that even if this is passed their battle against it will continue.
Maria a DPAC supporter said ” we’ve shown today that we aren’t invisible and it’s now time that politicians stop viewing us as vulnerable. We’re not vulnerable and together we can wreak havoc to the streets of London”
More links to press coverage are at https://www.facebook.com/groups/DPAC2011/ and www.dpac.uk.net

 

What needs to be done NOW

More information about the Welfare Reform Bill and how it will push many people including those working on low incomes into destitution and further poverty can be found on DPAC’s website together with a template letter which we are asking people to send to their MPs now asking them to vote against the Welfare Reform Bill in its current form.
On Wednesday February 1st Condem MPs are planning to overturn democracy and vote to ignore amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill passed in the Lords. Please tell your MP this is wrong.

Jan 212012
 

Welfare Reform Bill — no going back to Dickensian days

Next Vigils & Lobbies: 1pm-3pm, MONDAY 23 JAN, WEDNESDAY 25 JAN, TUESDAY 31 JAN.

* Defend Child Benefit for all * Oppose all benefit caps and sanctions  
*Cap greedy landlords, not low-income people!

 

called by

Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, WinVisible, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust

 

Meet opposite Parliament – Lords’ entrance

Old Palace Yard, Abingdon St SW1 – Westminster tube

All welcome

 

We have had two very successful vigils attended by over 30 people – people with disabilities, single mothers, claimants and other activists. The Royal College of Nursing joined the vigil last Tuesday. Alex Callaghan, who leads their policy work on the social determinants of health, had photos taken for Nursing Times

 

Baroness Hollis and Lord Ramsbotham will raise amendments proposed by Zacchaeus 2000, protecting people forced to repay overpayments made in error, and consideration of claimants’ circumstances before sanctions.

 

  • Wednesday 25 January,  last day of Report stage.

 

  • Tuesday 31st January, 3rd reading of the Bill where it will be passed or not as a whole by Lords.

 

Government defeats so far:

 

  • no cut to Housing Benefit for having a spare room.
  •  to keep benefit entitlement for young people who are severely disabled, so they have financial independence coming into adulthood;
  • increasing to two years the one-year time limit on National Insurance-based sickness benefit for people who are recovering;
  • entitlement for terminally-ill people – the government wanted to force people who have longer than six months to live, to attend work-focussed interviews to get benefit.

Please join us again, and publicise it on Facebook, Twitter and email lists.  If you can’t come, you can ring and write to the Lords (0207 219 3000, fax 020 7219 5979).  More info and email addresses are here.

 

Press coverage:

Morning Star reports from 17 January Vigil

Guardian video and report – watch here.

Guardian blog

 BBC interview with Baroness Meacher explaining the three votes

The Commissioner for Children says the Bill contravenes the UN Convention

The Londonist report
Photos

 

THINGS YOU CAN DO

Come and raise your concerns on the Vigils ♦ Bring placards with your organisation’s name and issues you are concerned about ♦ Lobby the Lords – support amendments to keep Child Benefit out of the benefit cap, extend concessions for women fleeing domestic violence, ensure immediate benefit payments for people coming out of prison, and Zacchaeus 2000 amendments to protect claimants from unliveable benefit repayments, sanctions and bailiffs ♦ Lobby your MP; contact them to make an appointment or write to them about your personal situation – find your MP here. If you are unable to come on the day, ring them or write, for Lords’ addresses see here; and sign the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust e-petition against the benefit caps here.

More info:

smsd@allwomencount.net  0207 482 2496  PaulNicolson@z2k.org  07961177889

win@winvisible.org

 

PRESS NOTICE.                                                                          

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.

 

Rev Paul  Nicolson, Chair, Zacchaeus 2000.

020 83765455

07961 177889

 

Welfare Reform Bill

The Ramsbotham and Hollins amendments.

On Monday the 23rd January Peers will consider two amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill  which are vital to the mental wellbeing of the poorest citizens of the UK because they provide safeguards against the damage done to mental health when debts are enforced against poverty incomes.   The Royal College of Psychiatrists, Mind, the major Christian Churches, CAB and Liberty are among the 20 NGOs supporting;  

  1. Lord Ramsbotham’s amendment 62A, which will ensure that jobcentre and local authority officials do not punish welfare claimants with sanctions and penalties,  nor enforce overpayments made in error by officials, when they know there is good reason not to, by requiring officials to examine the facts and circumstances of each case,  and
  2. Baroness Hollins’s amendment 62ZC, which will retain the current legal prohibition on enforcing overpayments of welfare against claimants which are made in error by officials.

Both amendments were proposed by Zacchaeus 2000, a Christian Trust that works with vulnerable and impoverished debtors.

 

The Rev Paul Nicolson, Chair Zacchaeus 2000, comments.

“The Department of Work and Pensions has been advised by the Royal College of Psychiatrists that poverty is trigger factor for poor mental health, a factor in maintaining poor health and part of the experience of those with poor mental health.

We know from our experience of serving welfare claimants in debt to the State how seriously depressed they are: it hurts their families too.

Welfare incomes are already set at poverty levels to act as an incentive to look for work; but the Welfare Reform Bill,  coupled with cuts and caps on one hand and rising prices of food and fuel on the other, is creating debts without the necessary safeguards for welfare claimants or poor people in work.

The Centre for Mental Health has shown that mental health problems already cost the economy in England £105 billion in 2010/11; the Bill will increase that cost”.

 

Please sign our e-petition on

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/25438

Stop the housing benefit and universal credit caps.

 

Rev Paul Nicolson

Chair, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust

34 Grosvenor Gardens

London SW1

paulnicolson@z2k.org

0207 259 0801

0207 259 0701 fax

0208 376 5455 home

07961 177889 mobile

www.z2k.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 122012
 

Baroness Meacher, an independent crossbencher, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The British public do not accept the idea that the banks screw up and very disabled people pay the bill.”
The Lords vote see the Government defeated by 234 to 186, a majority of 48, over a plan to limit to one year the time people can claim Employment Support Allowance.
Peers agreed a move to replace the one-year cap with the ability for the Government to specify a limit of no less than two years.
Lord Patel, an independent crossbench peer, said: “I am sympathetic to cutting the deficit, but I am highly sympathetic to sick and vulnerable people not being subjected to something that will make their lives even more miserable.”
The Government was also defeated when peers voted by 222 to 166, majority 56, to accept another amendment by Lord Patel removing the time limit on contributory ESA payments from people receiving treatment for cancer.
Employment minister Chris Grayling said the welfare state should be focused on supporting those with the most need quotes the BBC –DPAC agrees that it should too but we think Grayling is a bit confused over whose those might be – fortunately the Lords are not.

Labour said the coalition was defeated for trying to “cross the basic line of British decency”.

DPAC networks should congratulate themselves for the long months of protests and lobbying on Atos, WCA and on ESA since 2010- but the battle is not over yet. As responsible groups we know that the lobbying must continue when the amendments go to the House of Commons.

Pictures of Tuesday’s protest can be found here

http://www.demotix.com/news/999151/welfare-rights-vigil-opposite-houses-parliament-london

and

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/video/2012/jan/11/welfare-protest-lords-video

Jan 072012
 

 

 
 
No going back to Dickensian days – defend benefit rights, stop evictions
 
Vigil & lobby of Parliament
 
1pm Wed 11 January
Oppose the Welfare Reform Bill & benefit caps.  
Cap greedy landlords, not low-income people!
 
Meet opposite Parliament – Lords’ entrance Abingdon St SW1
 
All Welcome
 
On 11 January, the Lords’ debate on the Welfare Reform Bill continues.  The Bill threatens basic entitlement to housing and other benefits – a roof over our heads. 
  • Benefit cap of £500 a week including rent: larger families including those with informally-fostered children, single mother families, households with disabled people, families of colour more likely to be on lower incomes – face eviction from central London and other cities if the cap goes through.  For more see here.
  • The housing benefit capis already forcing people to go without food and heating to pay the rent, or into unbearable overcrowding. Like in the US , people will end up homeless, destitute, begging and on the street.
  • The Social Fundrelied on to furnish a new home or cope with emergencies – children coming back from care, women fleeing domestic violence, people coming out of hospital and prison – is being abolished.  People won’t be able to start a new life or escape a violent relationship; they’ll be at the mercy of loan sharks.
  • Disabled children and adultsface all-round cuts: to disability benefits, benefit additions and concessions – a return to hardship and charity.
  • Child Benefit– which all mothers earn and all children need – will be taken from the poorest families by the benefit cap.
  • Income Support, which recognises the contribution of mothers and other carers, is being abolished and replaced with back-to-work conditions as soon as the child turns one.
Protest forced the government to drop plans to cut mobility money for people living in residential homes.  But other cuts to disabled children and adults are still in the Bill.  On 14 December, after lobbying and testimony from people affected, the Lords defeated government moves to cut housing benefit by £12-22 a week for Council tenants who have a spare room.
Come and raise your concerns on 11 January  Bring placards with your organisation’s name and issues you are concerned about    Lobby the Lords – support amendments to keep Child Benefit out of the benefit cap, extend concessions for women fleeing domestic violence, ensure immediate benefit payments for people coming out of prison, and Zacchaeus 2000 amendments to protect claimants from unliveable benefit repayments, sanctions and bailiffs  –  Lobby your MP; contact them to make an appointment or write to them about your personal situation – find your MP here.  If you are unable to come on the day, ring them or write, for Lords’ addresses see here; and sign the epetition here.

For more info about the day, contact SMSD and the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust
smsd@allwomencount.net  0207 482 2496  PaulNicolson@z2k.org 07961177889
 

Dec 172011
 

URGENT: Less than ‎48 hours to stop betrayal of the united pensions struggle and fight for our welfare state

On Thursday, 15th December, the TUC’s Public Sector Liaison Group (PSLG) met for the first time since the 30th November public sector strike which DPAC and many of our disabled supporters took part in. Some of us are personally affected by the  disgraceful public sector pensions changes which the coalition government are trying to railroad through. Others quite rightly see this as the only legitimate action trade unions can take to try to defend our welfare state and much needed public services from the Condems.

Reports from some of those attending this meeting, say  Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC, argued that all of the trade unions should sign up to the government’s latest ‘heads of agreement’ on pensions.  This would then allow Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude to announce before Christmas that the dispute has been settled. This was met with outrage by most of the public sector trade unions present.

Not one of the central demands of public sector workers has been met.  All public sector workers are still being told to work longer, pay more and get less.  The teaching unions NUT and NASUWT reported that they had been offered no serious concessions by the government, as did the civil servants’ union PCS, the Fire Brigades Union and representatives of workers in the NHS.

In local government the only concession is to delay the attacks on pensions until 2014, provided that local government unions promise to accept this without a fight when it comes in. Apparently Dave Prentis – General Secretary of Unison – the biggest union in health and local government –  is allegedly arguing for accepting this sell out.  Speaking as a UNISON retired member and in a personal capacity I find this disgraceful.

Now the TUC has recalled the PSLG for 3pm on Monday, 19th December to try and force through acceptance of the Government’s plans. Trade union groups, have called a lobby of this  next TUC meeting from  2 pm at Congress House.

Online petitions have been set up  http://bit.ly/uTV8cR (Socialist party petition) and http://righttowork.org.uk/2011/12/dont-give-up-the-pensions-fight-sign-this-statement/ (Right to Work petition)

Please let anyone who lives in or near London know about this lobby and the on-line petitions.

Dec 142011
 
As part of the National Month of Festive Action Against Atos we are calling for a rolling mass telephone complaint to poverty pimps Atos in the run up to Christmas.

Beginning on Monday 12th December and running up until Christmas benefit claimants, disabled people and supporters will be ringing both local and national Atos Offices to complain about their obscene treatment of sick and disabled people.

How To Get Involved

We urgently need as many towns, cities, groups and individuals to commit to a morning or afternoon shift in the upcoming days and get as many people as possible to ring Atos and complain about their involvement in the Work Capability Assessment.

To maximise the protest we will aim to have as many groups as possible calling Atos at different times in the run up to Christmas.  We’ll maintain a list here and on facebook to try and help co-ordinate times/dates and see if we can keep the phonelines buzzing daily in the run up to Christmas.  Please contact us by leaving details in the comments, on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/events/281777128534663/  or emailing us at: notowelfarecuts@yahoo.co.uk

If you aren’t part of a local group, or even if you are, support the other protests by calling Atos along with them.

Either ring your local Atos Offices, or their corporate headquarters, or why not both!  Atos’s main numbers (including a handy freephone number) are:

+44 (0)20 7830 4444 (Tel)
+44 (o)20 7830 4233 (Tel)
+44 (0)800 783 3040 (Freephone)
+44 (0)20 7830 4445 (Fax)

Atos ‘Healthcare’ who run the Work Capability Assessment have a main number at: +44 (0) 113 230 9175

Whilst it’s well worth trying to speak to a manager or senior individual if possible please bear in mind most people taking calls will be low paid receptionist/admin staff so we call on people to be be business-like and non-confrontational.  Be aware that is an offence to make telephone calls which are threatening, indecent or offensive.  Keep it fluffy.  Why not sing them a carol?

Anyone who manages to get through to Atos CEO Keith Wilman will win the customary prize of a free Crisis Loan*

Some calls may be recorded for the purposes of taking the piss.

Brighton DPAC who will be phoning Atos on the mornings of Monday 12th and Monday 19th of December have produced a script/template which can be read out, or emailed/faxed to Atos.  Visit their fb event page (below) for details.

Join in online!

You can also contact Atos via email.  Their Head of PR can be reached at: caroline.crouch@atos.net and general enquiries can be sent to: ukwebenquiries@atos.ne.  Atos ‘Healthcare’ can be reached at: customer-relations@atoshealthcare.com or to ask for a job go to: jobs@sjbmedical.com

Atos have new facebook groups and pages springing up all the time.  Search for Atos on facebook to find them.  You can also tweet using the hashtags #atos, we’ll be monitoring twitter for any other hashtags Atos use.

Action planned so far

Monday 12th and Monday 19th December from 9am

Brighton DPAC:  For details visit: http://www.facebook.com/events/132910660153707/

Please organise and contact us to be added to the list!

If you are planning on braving the cold and holding a protest as part of the month of action please send details asap to: notowelfare@yahoo.co.uk or leave details in the comments.

The main facebook page for the Month of Action can be found at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=122853381158514

Come to the Triton Square Christmas Party and Picnic  outside Atos’ Headquarters on December 16th from 2pm: http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/a-real-victorian-christmas-party-and-picnic-at-triton-square-friday-16th-december/

*actually we still can’t give out Crisis Loans as prizes.  The DWP are bastards like that.

Atos are the French IT firm responsible for carrying out the government’s Work Capability Assessment which has led to tens of thousands of sick and disabled people being forced into poverty after being stripped of essential benefits.  Despite the process being dubbed unfit for purpose and an increasing number of suicides due to the stressful and vicious health testing regime, this form of assessment is to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit.

 

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