We’ve been involved in 3 major direct actions, plus several more minor protests this year all of which have been instrumental in raising the profile of the attacks against disabled people: the first was with UKUNCUT when we blocked Regent Street for several hours and the second saw 2 groups of disabled people blocking Trafalgar Square causing a massive backlog of traffic into the centre of London. The most recent joint action with Transport for All didn’t quite work out as planned but was very effective nevertheless and took place opposite parliament.
We protested in leafy Leamington Spa, outside DWP offices and supported the Big 6 Energy Bash with Climate Justice Collective with on-going campaigning against fuel poverty and for an accessible and sustainable public transport system we can all use.
We’re further involved in numerous anti-Olympic events being planned over the summer. These are particularly targeted at many of the less acceptable sponsors of the Olympics such as ATOS, Dow and Rio Tinto Zinc.
Many disabled people joined in with the Great British Street Party organised by UKUNCUT when we all partied outside Nick Clegg’s house. Disabled people from Islington blocked and held the road until other activists could get there.
We’ve continued to campaign against the WCA and ATOS in particular and were given an award earlier this year for nominating ATOS as the least appropriate sponsor of the Olympics by War on Want. We also have a French speaking supporter who now tweets regularly o the French media about ATOS.
Together with Inclusion London, Disability Hate Crime Network and others we made a joint-submission to the Leveson Enquiry about the negative media portrayal of disabled people. This is still being followed up as we want to be able to give oral evidence to the inquiry which is being refused. Most of the hard work for this was done by Inclusion London following on from the research they commissioned fromGlasgowUniversity. Failing this we plan to perform our own version of the Leveson Enquiry.
We collected with Anne Novis signatures from over 400 disabled people and DPOs against the loss of ILF funding. We took this to DWP and asked to see Maria Miller which was refused. We were very pleased to have Jamie Bolling from ENIL join us for this lively protest. Correspondence with Maria Miller has since been on-going over this and we expect the consultation to be launched shortly.
We have prepared two lengthy reports which we’ll be finalising and publishing shortly on the importance of ILF and cuts to care and support funding. We will be using these in our on-going campaigning around these issues.
We’re helping with two pieces of undercover research although can’t say more about that as it’s undercover.
At an international level we’ve been involved with lobbying in the European Parliament and with a working group onEurope, Disabled People and Austerity. We were also part of a European working group on disability hate crime and had the research undertaken by Anne Novis from Disability Hate Crime Network donated to us to disseminate more widely which we’ve done.
We’ve also made links with Danish activists and are helping with a Spanish research project into disability activism. Debbie has also travelled toBulgariato support a direct action against lack of funding for independent living.
We seem to be very much in demand still to speak at a wide range of events both nationally and locally. There are too many to mention each individually but a few in the past few months include having people speak at British Youth Council, PCS, TUC disabled members conference, Right to Work AGM , Sussex LRC and GMB congress fringe meeting on ‘Defend Welfare and Pensions’, and CoR conferences. A few local events include Islington DPAC skills day and Deaf Access Bromley, and in the future SHP residential home for mental health survivors inWestminster, West Midlands Against the Cuts and Birmingham Against the Cuts.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to find anyone to speak at RMT AGM or at an NUT fringe meeting which we were also invited to speak at. Both of these were in Torquay so if anyone in Devon orCornwallcan help in the future please get in touch.
We’ve also done workshops at various events on benefit cuts and particularly on planned changes to Universal Credit. Fortunately the number of people who are willing to speak on DPAC’s behalf has increased as otherwise it would be impossible to respond to all the requests we are getting.
We also had a motion passed against WCA and welfare reform at NUT conference and NUT affiliated to DPAC.
We had a stall to advertise our work at NASWUT disabled members’ conference and have been asked to have another stall at the West Midlands NASWUT regional conference in October. We also shared a stall we were given at TUC disabled workers’ conference with allies from Transport for All and ALLFIE, and were represented at the NUS disabled students conference inManchester. We’ve also been invited to take part in a TUC conference fringe meeting with the Peoples’ Charter.
The number of local DPAC groups continues to expand and we now have 12 local groups around the country. The newest group in theEast Midlandsis being set up with input from the steering group.
We’re working with Inclusion London and NCoDP on the launch of rethinking disability policy, a key national conference on the way forward for disabled people and in the meantime are stimulating debate within the disabled people’s movement, eg interviews with a range of disabled people.
We’ve continued to build links with solicitors and are shortly launching a legal referral service set up with help from Inclusion London and HAFCAC. We have already been involved in supporting a landmark legal ruling on Housing Benefits and size criteria.
We’ve also been actively involved in helping to support Remploy workers whose jobs have been threatened by factory closures, including running a national meeting to build support from among disabled people and our organisations for the Remploy workers, wrote a letter in support of the workers in partnership with Inclusion London which was signed by 50+ organisations and individuals, we set up a Remploy campaign steering group bringing together the unions with the disabled people’s movement, we made a solidarity visit to the Barking factory, we continue to publicise arguments in support of the workers to counter the myths and distortions about the need to close the Remploy factories being put around by government and some disability organisations.
We’re still involved with the Right to Work steering committee, and generally try to ensure that disabled people’s rights are defended in the wider context of the welfare state but also raise awareness of disabled people’s issues within the mainstream cuts movement at every opportunity. We’re also working to ensure disabled people’s access issues are taken on board in building for the forthcoming TUC demonstration in October.
We’ve also planned and made funding applications for a disability, art and protest exhibition and are starting conversations with the disability arts movement about joint working.
Vitally we’re trying to work with people in Worcestershire to oppose the moves of the local council there to slash care and support funding and once again warehouse disabled people in care homes rather then fund independent living.
We’ve also between us written a range of articles and briefing notes available on the website or produced for specific events. We’ve also responded to numerous requests for articles for publication elsewhere.
Dutifully we’ve made submissions to a range of consultations although we are not convinced that the Coalition take much if any notice of the results of these.
One area we want to do much better in but have problems due to lack of financial resources is the inclusion of the Deaf community. We’d like to be able to provide interpreters, and BSL clips on the website. So if anyone has any suggestions about how we can do this more effectively please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
As always we’ve lobbied MPs and Lords, tweeted lots and generally raised the problems people face wherever we can.