Last year, 15 people grounded a deportation charter flight for ten hours to prevent it taking off. This March, they are going to court charged with a terrorism-related offence. If found guilty, they could serve many years in prison.
Join our demonstration on the first day of their trial on Monday March 14th from 8.30am-10am outside Chelmsford Crown Court (New Street, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1EL) to support the defendants and speak out against deportation charter flights. There will be speakers, songs and spoken word, and food kindly provided by Food not Bombs and Oxford Action Resource Centre. More info about the demo can be found here:
A coach leaves from London at 6.45am on Monday March 14th with return tickets on a sliding scale (£16 waged; £10 unwaged; free for people with experience of the asylum process or immigration.) The coach is wheelchair accessible but you need to let us know if you are/might go so seats can be removed. email@example.com
There are also frequent train services from Liverpool Street to Chelmsford. Tickets for the coach from London can be booked in advance here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/ e/coach-to-chelmsford-crown- court-solidarity-with- stansted-defendants-tickets- 43273231400
You can also support the defendants throughout the 4-6 week trial: sign up to attend the public gallery here:
On Sunday 11 February DPAC members from South London joined a Stand Up to Racism delegation to Calais to deliver donations to Care4Calais and to assist in their work supporting refugees still trapped in Northern France.
Setting off with a car full of items including coats, sleeping bags and cereal bars collected by DPAC members Sabina and Ellen at Brixton’s 336 building, and by South East London Stand Up to Racism at a weekly stall, the delegation was waved off by Paula Peters.
After a smooth journey down the motorway to Dover the DPAC delegation joined others from Stand Up to Racism on board the ferry. Once in France we quickly arrived at the Care4Calais warehouse where we delivered our car full of items before helping to unload the last few vans and cars delivering donations on the day. As well as our DPAC group there were lots of teachers, students, university and college staff, a delegation from a mosque, and a newly elected Labour councillor from Haringey who had come with his local Stand Up to Racism group.
Later in the afternoon we joined a team driving out from the warehouse to deliver aid to a group of refugees from Afghanistan who sleep under a motorway bridge without basic shelter. The area is extremely exposed with a biting icy wind in winter and no clean drinking water. The French police remove tents and sleeping bags so it was great to be able to go out and give them basic provisions for survival. While we were there an elderly local man arrived in a car to take one of the refugees who was sick away for medical treatment. The man is part of a local group of pensioners attached to the Catholic church who are determinedly protecting the refugees and helping save their lives regardless of the vitriol and hatred they are exposed to as a result from the National Front who have control of Calais council. It was clear that many of the refugees are disabled and have mental health support needs, as anyone living under those conditions would. We also heard stories about how their families had been killed by the Taliban and they could not return to Afghanistan.
Keith, a DPAC member, who joined the delegation reports: “At first I was very apprehensive about going to Calais. I did not know what to expect or what I would see. As you can imagine it was not good. We passed the Jungle. It was surrounded by razor wire and fencing which cost £4,000,000. Even though it (the jungle camp) has now been demolished, the size of it took my breath away. When we arrived at the refugee camp I was shocked. At least 30 men, all from Afghanistan, huddled around a little fire trying to keep warm. We had a generator so they could charge their mobile phones and this is their only communication back home. You here people saying refugees can’t be struggling because they have mobile phones, but they were donated and were at least 10 year old phones. As we opened the back of the van to hand out parcels with warm clothing in Wazim who speaks the best English told them all to form a queue. They did without fuss. When Wazim approached he noticed my hat, which if you know me is my favourite one. Something in that instant happened. I gave him it; he immediately hugged me like I had given him a million pounds. Twice he tried to give it back, but I would not accept. Once we finished handing out parcels we were urged to talk to the refugees. The stories were just horrendous, the police don’t leave them alone. Spray CS gas on sleeping bags. Put out their fires. I will never forget this trip. I will never forget Wazim. Look at the photo, I look content. Wazim is a Calais refugee, but he is also a survivor. Thank you Care4Calais for all you do. Solidarity 4 ever.”
The day ended with a reception where volunteers and refugees gathered. We heard from Clare Moseley from Care4Calais who talked about how the British government had been complicit in perpetuating the suffering of the refugees. Mark from our delegation handed over a collection of over £600 raised by South East London Stand Up to Racism.
Refugees at the event told us their stories and their hopes for the future. This was followed by a showing of the award winning film by Sue Clayton “Calais Children: A case to answer” that looks at the experience of unaccompanied children who have been left trapped by the government’s failure to implement the Dubs amendment.
We returned to Britain determined both to spread the word about the conditions facing refugees and to return to Calais with more donations and a larger delegation.
If you would be interested in joining the next DPAC delegation to Calais or organising a collection for it please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Please note – due to conditions in Calais it may not be possible for people with some impairments to join the delegation. We are looking at accessibility solutions to allow as many people as possible who want to go to join future trips. Please get in touch to discuss your support needs if you would like to go but are unsure about anything.)
For more info on Stand Up To Racism and Care4Calais visit:
It’s difficult if not impossible to adequately define the outcomes of Brexit for anyone living in the UK let alone for disabled people. The result where a small minority of the electorate voted to leave the EU has so far caused massive political turmoil but no concrete proposals as the new unelected Prime Minister, Teresa May, thrashes around wildly clutching at straws.
What is certain is that the promise of an extra £350 million a week for our National Health Service has not and will not be forthcoming. In fact this promise promoted widely by the Leave campaigners in the Tory Party and a reason why many UK citizens were conned into voting to leave turns out to have been an outright lie.
Many of the more deluded disabled people who also voted to leave did so simply because they wanted to punish David Cameron the then Tory Prime Minister who was stupid enough to call a referendum in the first place. Having resigned first as Prime Minister and then a little later as a Member of Parliament I’m sure the multi-millionaire Cameron is indeed ‘suffering’. What is certain that disabled people will.
As soon as the outcome of the referendum was known Cameron together with a whole host of Leave politicians turned their backs on guiding the UK through the Brexit process – no doubt so they don’t get blamed for the ensuing disaster.
The devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not want to leave the EU and in the case of Northern Ireland the Good Friday agreement and peace process means that there must be a parliamentary vote if Northern Ireland is to leave the EU. There is also a legal challenge to seek a parliamentary vote on Brexit as the outcome of the referendum is advisory only. So chaos reigns as the UK population dangle precipitously in limbo.
As well as months spent focussed on the referendum campaign, the immediate aftermath was an election for a new Tory Party Leader and a second internal party election to try to remove the previously democratically elected Labour Party leader. During these many months of political bat and ball and trips around the country by various politicians the rights of disabled people have largely been forgotten especially by the media. Serious campaigning has been put back months as the political focus has been firmly placed elsewhere.
On a plus point the fascist party UKIP which very much led the Brexit campaign on an anti-immigration stance have also fallen into disarray and appear on the verge of oblivion. There have already been several elections for a new leader with none of them being successful in finding someone who stayed more than a couple of weeks. As the old British saying goes “every cloud has a silver lining”
What is certain for the UK is that Brexit has led to a massive increase in race-related hate crime and there is no doubt those who perpetrate these crimes feel their actions are vindicated by the vote to leave. Xenophobia is rampant in parts of the country fuelled by some of the media as well as the Brexit campaign rhetoric. Disability hate crime has been rising year on year since 2010 in part thanks once again to the media-fuelled ‘useless eater’ and scrounger propaganda. For disabled people as well as those perceived to not be British hatred and abuse is only likely to increase in the post-Brexit frenzy that currently pervades the country.
Since Brexit as well the value of the pound has slumped which has already led to an increase in price for even essential daily items including for some the #Marmitegate tragedy where the price of Marmite has already risen in some cases by 12.5 % in shops.
Price increases for food and other essential items is likely to pose a particular problems for disabled people and others in receipt of UK Social Security payments as there is an austerity-led freeze on the amount of benefits which will be paid until at least 2020. The UK already has some of the lowest rates for out-of-work benefit payments in the EU so starting from a very low base rate the value of payments will fall even further as exchange rates fall.
On top of this fall in the value of the pound and freeze on increases in social security payments early in November an austerity-led cap on the total overall amount of benefit payments per household will result in massive reductions of £3,000 less per annum being paid to claimants. Many of those affected by this drastic cut will be disabled although other disabled people will be exempt from this cut.
From next April 2017 disabled people who make a new claim for Employment and Support Allowance and who are found not to be fit for work but able to undertake Work Related Activity which involved forcibly being made to jump though inappropriate and unacceptable hoops to continue being entitled to payments will also see their weekly income cut drastically by one-third. All of these changes will as already said be taking place at the same time the value of the pound falls against other currencies. Needless to say fuel prices are also continuing to rise and the number of UK residents on low incomes who have to choose between eating and heating because they can’t afford both continues to rise.
As disabled people and others wait for the mythical 35 million a day that we’re apparently saving by leaving the EU to be redeployed to help fund our National Health Service as promised we find our Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt putting in place plans to drastically reduce both the number of hospitals – down from 9 to 5 in London – and health service funding elsewhere in the UK through the implementation of Sustainability and Transformation Plans. This is very definitely not what Brexit promised for our health service. Hunt has also further undermined our NHS by stating that we want British only doctors in the near future in spite of the fact that around one-third of doctors currently are from other EU countries.
For disabled people who need personal assistance to live and take part in society Brexit is also bad news. Many people employ care workers/personal assistants from EU countries and now not only does the fall in the value of the pound affect the exchange value of wages paid but on a longer term basis no-one, neither the employers or the employees, have any idea about a future right to work here when the UK leaves the EU. It could of course be years before any more is known.
Workers rights generally are very much an unknown quantity at the moment as well. Teresa May has said the Conservatives want to protect those in place yet many people are on insecure zero hours contracts with no legal protections. The introduction of fees for Employment Tribunal hearings has also negatively affected worker’s rights to challenge unfair dismissals. All of these issues regarding employment rights continue to disproportionately affect disabled workers and the fear that once EU constraints on our employment laws are removed is causing major concerns for those disabled people who are in work.
For disabled people not in work the ending of Workfare and Work Choice schemes funded by the European Social Fund can really only be seen as positive. Neither of these schemes worked well in finding disabled people suitable or sustainable employment opportunities.
Workfare schemes in particular have been likened to unpaid slave labour which they were since claimants were forced to work for no pay under threat of having their benefits removed if they did not. Having said that there were a number of locally EU funded schemes to help disabled and other people into work which have worked well and for which there will now be no further EU funding available.
In other areas of life shared by disabled and non-disabled people the loss of European funding from the Social Fund, from the Common Agricultural Policy and from Regional Development grants will nevertheless be grossly detrimental to the overall standards of living and is likely to have a further negative trickle down impact on food prices. The idea that these funding streams will be replaced by our own government’s spending is laughable given their ongoing austerity agenda and determination to replace Trident nuclear weapons.
Following the receipt of several requests for support from people which included phrases such as “my benefits have been cut because we give too much money to immigrants” or “if we didn’t waste so much money on food aid our benefits wouldn’t be cut” this is just a quick reminder to everyone that DPAC campaign from a non-racist, non-homophobic, non-sexist position.
We do not agree with hate fuelled rhetoric against any group of people, pedalled by the likes of the Daily Mail and Express, and do not support the divisions into ‘them’ and ‘us’ which allow the government to weaken any joint fight back against attacks to claimants and others.
Neither do we support the scapegoating of migrants and refugees
If you do hold a racist, homophobic, ageist, or sexist viewpoint please seek support elsewhere. We’re sure your local UKIP branch would be happy to welcome you.
Well attended by a diverse section of the community as well as the local council leaders , MPs, trade unions, CAMPAIGN groups such as DPAC, Palestine solidarity, asylum seekers, GLBT committee and multi faith leaders.
The event was organised by UAF and One Sheffield many cultures- over 250 people attended.
It was a wonderful, emotional day and very humbling.
Here are some pictures.
And here is a great speech by Jen from Sheffield DPAC as a Quicktime movie at link https://www.dropbox.com/s/i46whiuky9jc360/jen.speech2%20%283%29.mp4?dl=0