Nov 222015

[Reblogged from Doug Paulley’s Blog, with thanks]

And when we want your opinion, we’ll tell you what it is!

And when we want your opinion, we’ll tell you what it is!

Clare Pelham, Leonard Cheshire’s Chief Executive Officer, was interviewed by Peter White today on Radio 4 “You and Yours” about disabled peoples’ difficulties in accessing buses. This is because their survey of 179 wheelchair users found “over nine out of ten (92%) wheelchair users had been refused a space on a bus” and “three in five (61%) people identified buggies in the wheelchair space as the biggest problem they faced. This was way ahead of other problems faced by those using wheelchairs“.

Peter White asked her specifically if she thought that the Paulley vs Firstbus case would find in my favour at Supreme Court.

Peter White: “So this case, that is still going to the Supreme Court, are you expecting that to be restored? Mr Paulley‘s right to get on the bus?”

Clare Pelham: “I don’t think I would even presume to guess what Supreme Court judges would find. But actually, I think this shouldn’t be a case for the law. This should be a case for the people, the people to do what’s right, whether they are bus drivers or passengers, we all want to have public transport that enables all of the public to travel.”

That obviously works well, doesn’t it. People with pushchairs, other passengers, drivers, they all know and understand that if the wheelchair space isn’t made available, a wheelchair user can’t travel. Yet by her own figures, 61% of wheelchair users identify buggies in the wheelchair space as the biggest problem they face. Just how does she think the few people with pushchairs, other passengers and drivers who currently prevent wheelchair users traveling are suddenly going to realise the error of their ways? How, precisely, is she going to instill this magnanimity into the British populace? Through simpering on Radio 4?

Leonard Cheshire try to claim to be the voice of disabled people, a campaigning force to be reckoned with. That’s why they spend £735,000 per year on “campaigning”, and why they have posh offices in Vauxhaul – ostensibly so they can toddle round the corner to lobby Parliament. (They grew too big for their previous offices in Millbank.) Yet they don’t have any legitimacy. They don’t have a constituency, and politically active disabled people despise them. They also don’t walk the walk for the talk they talk, as demonstrated by Northumbria University’s research – an apposite quote below.

“One of the problems it (user involvement) causes is when residents become more empowered and aware of the opportunities of life they’re likely to ask for more. In asking for more, it usually involves staff, and resources are already very scarce and limited, and centred mainly in providing basic daily care in washing, dressing, eating and they occupy an awful lot of time. Empowerment creates problems of staff support. And if the choice of empowerment involves travel then that’s a further added burden. Not necessarily to pay the cost of travelling but to have the opportunity with limited transport or escort.” – A resident in a Leonard Cheshire care home.

Yet even Leonard Cheshire recognise that the Firstbus case is an important fight. Andy Cole (Minister for Administrative Aff – sorry, Director of Corporate Affairs) told BBC News that Leonard Cheshire was disappointed with the Appeal Court judgement as it did not provide “clarity and certainty for disabled bus passengers that the space they need will definitely be made available“, and further that if the case moved to the Supreme Court he hoped any judgement would provide that certainty. (He even gave me a back-handed compliment; “The case shows the immense impact that individual campaigners can have“).

One wonders what planet Clare Pelham is on. Out of touch with service users, disabled people, her own care-workers and even her own campaign team (or at least her Ashley Maddison rep – sorry, “Director of Corporate Affairs”.)

Non-disabled and on £150,000 per year plus private medical treatment and other benefits – surely Clare Pelham should shut up or carry on her disempowering self-serving greasy-pole-climbing elsewhere?

With thanks as ever to the wonderful Dave Lupton / Crippen for his excellent cartoon.


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 Posted by at 16:27

  2 Responses to “Clare Pelham, Leonard Cheshire’s CEO, doesn’t support legal action for disabled peoples’ rights”

  1. I like the helpful information you supply to your articles.
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  2. I worked for LCD for almost 7 years after being conned into believing that LCD was to improve the way that they engage with disabled people. I was LCD’s Local Campaigns Co-ordinator for Scotland and established groups of disabled people all over Scotland and supported them to campaign for their rights. I only joined LCD because I was assured that I would be working face-to-face every day with other disabled people.

    However, after about 3 years the commitment to this direct engagement with disabled people began to falter and slowly collapse. The final nail in the coffin was LCD employing a new Campaigns and Engagement Director (yet another non-disabled person receiving a huge salary for doing something she knew very little about). With little or no experience of disability issues or knowledge of how disabled people wish to be engaged, included and their desire for full participation she dismantled the system whereby we worked face-to- face with disabled people every day. Instead with all of 3 months experience of working for LCD she installed a new system of supporting disabled people by phone, email and by letter.

    As far as disabled people in Scotland were concerned, LCD fully implemented her plan and withdrew all support for the groups that I had established. That left numerous disabled people without support to campaign. However, I could not so easily abandon these people, many of whom were by now close friends, and i continue to provide what support I can – at my own expense.

    The lack of knowledge about disability issues and the hopes, dreams and ambitions of disabled people shown by senior management at LCD during my 7 years with them was quite staggering to behold. What is truly a disgrace for the organisation claiming to be the largest disability organisation in the UK is the pitifully low percentage of disabled people that they employ. They even have the nerve to denigrate other companies and organisations for their poor record of employing disabled people – what utter hypocrisy.

    Their were many issues that were almost unbelievable with LCD but possibly the most outrageous took place at a meeting of Corporate Affairs that I attended at the LCD HQ in Vauxhall. At that meeting they stated that LCD was to become a DPO within 5 years. I almost fell off my chair with the shock. I asked if they really knew what it would take for LCD to become a DPO and told them that I could not EVER foresee this ever happening and that the disability movement would NEVER accept LCD as any form remotely linked to a DPO. Needless to say, it is now nearly 5 years since LCD made that outrageous statement and since that date I have heard not one further word about LCD becoming a DPO. This is just another example of the ignorance shown by senior management at LCD about disabled people and their lives.

    I could go on forever about LCD and its claims to represent the views of disabled people but Doug Paulley and others who have had the misfortune to have direct experience of living under their regimen have more valid tales to tell.

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