As always we are so grateful to you all for the various types of support we’ve had this year from you. Without that support none of the things we do would be possible. We’ve seconded four extra people to the Steering Group this year and are very happy to welcome their input. We also always need help with the more boring admin tasks that are nevertheless so vital so if anyone has any time or energy to spare please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also too I hope nothing vital is missed out of this round up but with around 15 pages of notes it is difficult to make sure everything and everyone is included.
This year saw yet another General Election and that together with the Brexit catastrophe we seem to be facing has made it difficult to raise our issues with politicians although we’ve succeeded in making ourselves very visible to them several times this year.
The unprecedented UN inquiry which we instigated found that the Tories (and indeed the Lib Dems and Sir Nick Clegg) were guilty of both the grave and systematic violation of our rights.
DPAC together with ROFA and Black Triangle Campaign have also been to Geneva in March and August to present further evidence to support these violations to the UN Disability Committee.This year as well as continuing to work on the Inquiry the Committee carried out the normal periodic review of the UK’s implementation of UNCRPD. This involved submitting two further detailed reports proving the regression and abuse disabled people face in the UK .
The UN report from this review was again very damning and Chair of the Committee, Teresia Derenger described what has happened to disabled people under the Tories rule as a “human catastrophe.”
We await the government’s response to that report which will no doubt be yet another barrage of lies and deceits as they thrash around trying to justify their horrendous treatment of disabled people. Meanwhile the research team continue to work closely with the UN to gather further detailed evidence of the atrocities faced on a daily basis.
Protests – both local and national
January started off with a protest at the High Court supporting Doug Paulley in his discrimination case against First Bus company.
We also protested against underhand changes to PIP regulations which were sneaked in and which have now been legally challenged.
The judgement for the legal challenge is due any day now and we have been actively involved in supporting this including in November a vigil once again at the High Court with Mental Health Resistance Network and Winvisible.
We continue to work closely with the free psychotherapy network made up of MH survivors and professionals plus a smattering of others and had a lively early morning protest outside the Savoy Conference Centre with them.
We joined in with UNITE’s National Day of Action against Benefit sanctions as did many local DPAC groups at the end of March.
March and April saw a lot of joint actions with RMT over the plans to introduce Driver Only Operated trains which for disabled people will be a disaster further reducing our ability to travel when and where we want. Further protests with RMT have continued throughout the year in London, Yorkshire, Ipswich and Brighton in particular.
April and May also saw us very busy both visibly and invisibly fighting to #TrashtheTories as part of our #NotthefuckingTories election campaigning. We held our week of action from April 14th-21st.
We held a Tories Out protest at parliament and tried to get into Tory party HQ although surprisingly they didn’t let us in and barricaded themselves behind locked doors.
As part of #TrashtheTories we joined activists from Berkshire DPAC in Maidenhead (Theresa’s constituency) on June 2nd and also on the same day activists in Windsor to get our message about her and Theresa’s team out to the electorate. We had earlier considered visiting the village she lives in, Sonning, but the many heavily armed guards and lack of accessible toilets made it an undesirable target. What it is to be so popular you have to be protected by dozens of armed police.
We also invested a lot of money, time and effort into facebook adverts during the election campaign which allowed us to reach over half a million voters in the most marginal constituencies with a series of messages. Not all of the responses we got back to the adverts were positive as some of those we reached were Tory or UKIP voters. In London we had an active and successful campaign in Croydon to get rid of the sitting Tory MP and held hustings in several places as well as enrolling disabled voters.
Given the election and the loss of time for serious lobbying we thought in July just before MPs went off for the summer recess that they needed to be reminded we’re still here so we blocked the lobby entrance in parliament getting much needed media attention from that action. Later this year we were shortlisted for a Liberty Human Rights prize for this.
We also joined a number of other protests the Budget Day Protest, various NHS protests both against STPs and calling for a Scrap to the Cap on pay, Anti-Atos protest in July, and a National Day of Action against Universal Credit about which we are calling for #StopandScrap and not merely #PauseandFix as we do not believe UC can be fixed as it is like the WCA essentially flawed based as it is on conditionality.
Manchester DPAC also planned and hosted the protest at the Tory Party Conference there organising a wall of noise to disrupt Theresa’s speech.
Local groups have also been involved in many local campaigns and protests against STPs, Atos, Maximus and DWP assessments, Housing Benefit cuts, against loss of local services, and against closures of Job Centres and women’s refuges to name but a few.
Speaking and other activities
DPAC activists have spoken at events and meetings around the country far too many to mention them all but some events DPAC speakers spoke at include Bridges without Walls, RMT rallies, International Women’s Day, Norwich May Day rally, National Pensioners Party Conference, Marxism, CWU disabled workers conference, Reb Law, South West UNITE Bristol history seminar, Bristol Austerity March, Pembrokeshire demo to unseat Stephen Crabb, Weston General Hospital save A&E department, anti DUP rally called by Owen Jones, NEU disabled workers’ conference, LRC fringe at PCS conference, and speech sent to UCU Equalities Conference.
At the Labour Party Conference Paula spoke as a CLP delegate and raised the attacks against disabled people and Ellen spoke at the PCS meeting on transforming social security, at Momentum’s a World Transformed festival and was also on a panel with Dawn Butler and Owen Jones. Roger also spoke at a fringe meeting.
We also had a number of successful local direct action workshops through our Lock Up Your Wheelchairs tour.
Last February we also exhibited various art installations at the LUSH summit which lasted for 2 days and had over 2,000 visitors.
We’ve also with help from some of you been interviewed for numerous programmes both for viewing in the UK and abroad, written articles for publication both here and abroad and generally kept spreading the word whenever possible. As well as this we’ve had various research interviews for projects and helped with film work especially for the election campaign.
More recently a DPAC steering group member was involved in co-ordinating the National Disabled People’s Summit including 14 workshops to look at how we can more effectively co-ordinate our resistance to the Tories and bringing together ROFA and TUC disabled members. We also funded and organised with support from ROFA an Independent Living Campaign Conference and have been working closely with Fuel Poverty Action group against restrictions on the cap on energy Bills which at the moment will exclude many people who should get this help.
We have also supported disabled and anti-racism campaigners in Bristol to respond to the murder of disabled asylum seeker Kamil Ahmed and plan a national event for next year.
Next year we also plan a major campaign to #StopandScrap Universal Credit and will continue as always to fight for disabled people’s right to live independently with the right levels of support.