Jun 212017
 

Did you know the DWP had a policy which says they can communicate with Disabled people via email, if a person needs this as an access requirement.  We often hear that in reality you have to fight hard to get them to agree to use an email.  We need to change this.

Inclusion London is working with lawyers to challenge the DWP’s failure to communicate with Disabled people in an accessible way.

You can support this challenge by sharing you experience with us.

If you have asked the DWP to send their letters to you via email instead of post, tell us what happened then.  The more people we hear from, the stronger out challenge will be.

Email Svetlana at Svetlana.kotova@inclusionlondon.org.uk

 Posted by at 19:27
Jun 212017
 

The EID STREET PARTY will take place on : Sunday 2nd July Between  5pm and 7pm on Dynevor Road (Outside 93a, N16 0DB) – Opp. Sainbury’s Local

On behalf of Musallaa an-Noor Mosque I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to our EID STREET PARTY, where we plan to celebrate the Eid festival with our neighbours, Faith Leaders, Community representatives and the wider community.

After the success of last year’s event, we are again inviting all local residents & businesses, as well as all Hackney community, social and voluntary organizations and the wider Hackney community to share an enjoyable evening of food, drink and festivity with us.

We aim to display the true characteristics of Islam and of Muslims to all our neighbours who live beside us and to portray the message of love, harmony and peaceful co-existence that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) taught and strived his whole life towards.

We learn from his sayings; “A true believer is not one who sleeps on a full stomach whilst his neighbour is hungry”.
He also said, “Mankind are the household of God Al-Mighty, and the most beloved to God is the one who is most caring of His household” (Prophet Muhammad)

We hope you will accept our invitation and grace us with your presence.

We have on the menu lamb biryani, vegetable curry, naan bread, samosas, dessert & drinks
(All food & drinks are compliments from the Musallaa an-Noor Mosque)

We will also be having a henna table and an Arabic calligraphy stall to showcase Islamic art.

There will also be a bouncy castle, an arts and crafts table and other fun activities for the
kids – and grown ups, if you dare the bouncy castle

The EID STREET PARTY will take place on : Sunday 2nd July Between  5pm and 7pm on Dynevor Road (Outside 93a, N16 0DB) - Opp. Sainbury’s Local

 Posted by at 13:47
Jun 152017
 
Demonstrate:  Justice for Grenfell!
6pm, Friday 16th June
Department for Communities and Local Government
2 Marsham Street, SW1P 4DF
fb event and map
At least 12 people have died in the fire at Grenfell Tower. They deserve justice. We demand answers.
Please let us know if you can make it.

Grenfell House- tenants repeatedly warned this tower block was unsafe. They were told to shut up.
Tenants die when landlords don’t listen

Message from Defend Council Housing:
Tenant groups are horrified and scared after the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in west London last night. The fire has killed and injured many, and is devastating the lives of hundreds.
In sorrow we send our sympathy and offers of practical support. And in anger we demand an end to the murderous disregard and contempt for tenants, by the landlord in Kensington: see Grenfell Action Group warning
Across the country other landlords are ignoring safety warnings from tenants and others – Fire safety report on 4,000 blocks ignored. Government cuts funding for major repairs and maintenance, promotes demolition and describes our homes, estates and communities as ‘brownfield sites’. This is the context of the disastrous failure to act on tenants’ warnings.
Across the country landlords ignore tenants’ warnings, in order to cut costs or avoid works.
We need a full, immediate safety enquiry into Grenfell and every other block. We need full funding for any improvements including sprinkler systems, recommended by fire services. And we need to listen to tenants views on redevelopment and warnings about the risks to homes and lives.

Protests follow terrible fire
Tenants will protest tomorrow, 15 June from 8am outside a Developers’ forum in Berkeley Sq W1J. Kensington and Chelsea council is one of 22 councils paying to attend, along with Lendlease and other developers and companies. Tenants groups are banned from attending.

A housing protest on 24 June to demand action on homes and repeal of the Housing and Planning Act will also demand action on safety: 24 June from 12 noon at Parliament Square SW1P 3AD – see leaflet.

Join us in Southwark
SDCH Saturday Stall

12pm-1pm Saturday 17th June
Rye Lane, Peckham, Outside Boots
SE15 5BS
Map here

March for Homes protest
12pm, Saturday 24 June 

Parliament Square
Control rents
Stop demolishing good homes
Council housing not social cleansing
Secure homes for all

Leaflet here

Solidarity,
Tanya, Chair Southwark Defend Council Housing

Solidarity,
Tanya, Chair Southwark Defend Council Housing

 

 Posted by at 22:03
Jun 152017
 

Save Eastern Avenue Job Centre!

This week from Monday 12th June to Friday 16th June, PCS union members at Eastern Avenue Job Centre are on strike.

Clare Goonan, local PCS rep explained that 78 Job Centres up and down Britain are earmarked for closure:

“Staff at Eastern Avenue have voted with their feet, we’ve had a 96% Yes vote to our strike ballot. Our jobs are safe, staff would be moved elsewhere, the strike is about defending the community from negative impact of the proposed Centre closure.

If we close, service users will have to attend the offices in Sheffield city centre in order to perform job searches and attend mandatory interviews.
For people who live nearby the Centre, this would mean a 6 mile round-trip, however for service users living further out the distance will be even greater.
We’re doing this to support the community and i’m so proud that our members care so much about that.”

Sheffield DPAC were invited to speak at a public meeting at the start of the week along with Unite Community, Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore, PCS reps and PCS union boss Mark Serwotka.

Jennifer Jones of DPAC Sheffield talked about her personal experience of currently going from DLA on to PIP and how distressing the whole experience is, and comparing difference between dealing with ATOS staff over the phone she said “… its a far-cry from dealing with Job Centre staff face to face who know you and know about your illnesses and with who you have built up a relationship.
At Eastern Avenue I can sit in a side room with my advisor, to support my anxiety and mental health and keep me calm, my advisor goes through the information that I need with me, at a pace that I can understand and will ensure that I’m absolutely clear about what I need to do. Without that help I wouldn’t be able to cope…

Stuart P of Unite Community talked about the impact of closure on poverty stricken claimants who would have to make the journey on foot in all weather. The elderly and disabled, as well as people with young children. He referenced I Daniel Blake, we will only see more scenes like those in the film. He added:
…these areas affected, especially the Manor estate in sheffield, are not only the most poverty stricken areas but they have a high amount of elderly population. Alot of support is needed to help these people with job searches, a lot cant use a computer, they aren’t of that generation and simply aren’t going to get the help they need..

PCS Union boss Mark Serwotka praised his staff, he said the Union was so proud of what they are doing:
“When I joined the service (then the DHSS) in 1980 the motto was : do whatever you can to help. fast forward to 2017 and it’s a Tory imposed Draconian service where staff can do less and less to help.
Tories have decided to close 78 Job Centres as a cost cutting exercise.
They don’t care about the effects on staff or the people that use the service.
7 out of the 8 council wards effected in Sheffield have higher benefit claimant rates than the rest of the city.
People are already travelling for 3 times longer than the 20 minutes acceptable travel time that ministers have set out in order to attend Eastern avenue, this is set to increase if closure goes ahead.
It’s clear from this election that people don’t support public sector cuts.
This is the first PCS dispute since the anti trade union laws came in. The Yes result was 96% . Even Theresa May cant argue with that!

Sheffield DPAC are supporting the strike, this is absolutely an accessibility issue that will affect the disabled community greatly.
The claimants living furthest out on the affected areas will have to make a whopping 20 mile round trip in order to go to appointments in town and this isn’t acceptable.

We continue to fight for and end to WCA , to benefit sanctions and for the restoration of DLA , ILF and more but we ask you all to support us by sharing news of this strike and the reasons for it.

We have been told that other Job Centres out of the 78 are currently balloting for strike action so keep out for a picket near you.
Solidarity!

 Posted by at 22:02
Jun 142017
 

Join the protests:

Protest: May Must Go – No Coalition of Chaos and HatredSaturday 17 June, 2-4pm, Whitehall, London, Called by Owen Jones. https://www.facebook.com/events/290268031384019

Protest the Queen’s speech – no to May/DUP racism & bigotry!Monday 19 June, 6pm–8pm, Parliament Square, London, SW1P. Called by Stand Up to Racism. https://www.facebook.com/events/136916370208377

Not One Day More #ToriesOut National Demonstration SATURDAY 1 JULY – NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION.  Not One Day More #ToriesOUT. Assemble 12pm, Saturday 1 July 2017. BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London W1A 1AA. March to Parliament Square


While certain disability charities are trying to hook up with the new government, Disabled People Against Cuts is calling on Deaf and Disabled people and their organisations to boycott engagement with any government involving the DUP. Collusion with an anti-equalities party who openly oppose women’s right to choose and gay marriage while denying climate change is nothing less than shameful. Disabled people must be united in resisting the politics of hate.

Immediately after the election, Disability Rights UK released a statement offering to work with the new government. This bizarre move smacks of an organisation so out of touch that it called the wrong outcome and is now at sea with how to respond. Their “offer” is a desperate attempt to retain influence that not only stands in contempt of the years of suffering Disabled people have endured under the Tories but also disregards the harm and division that any form of alliance with the DUP represents.

The Tories are in chaos and cannot credibly remain in government. Now is the best chance since 2010 to end a government that has carried out a regime of conscious cruelty against Disabled people and systematically and deliberately dismantled our rights. We stand on the bring of social change built from the aspirations of the many not the few. Labour has made firm commitments to the issues that Deaf and Disabled people have been fighting to achieve for years such as enshrining our rights under the CPRD in domestic legislation, working with Disabled people to develop a national system of social care, and scrapping out-sourced benefit assessments.

Instead of helping build the grassroots movement for social justice that has shaken the political establishment in the UK to its core, DR UK would rather get in bed with the Tories and their anti-equalities partners. The demands they now apparently want to work with a hard right wing government on implementing are the same ones they failed to support when they were demanded by Disabled people on the streets and pledged by parties on the left.

DRUK’s position rests on a false notion that disability rights exist in a bubble that floats above Party politics and left and right ideological divisions. This is utter nonsense. The ideological division between left and right is based on a real difference in interests over whether society is better run when in the interests of the many (from which flows a belief in the importance of rights and equalities) or to secure profits for the few. At a time of economic prosperity governments can afford to make concessions in order to reduce opposition, but in a period of economic decline inequality grows as the many are made to shoulder the cost of the crisis.

Inequality has grown sharply since the last financial crash in 2008 and as a result of the austerity measures imposed as the response by Tory led governments since 2010. While still suffering under those impacts the economic outlook for the UK continues to weaken: as economist Michael Roberts notes in his post election analysis1, “In the first quarter of 2017, the UK’s real GDP grew more slowly than any other top (G7) economy”. These are not the economic conditions under which governments make concessions. They are the conditions under which they step up attempts to scapegoat and divide.

Bring in the DUP. A party with a track record of specialism in the politics of hatred and violence. In 1977 founding member Ian Paisley launched a political campaign to prevent the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland called “Save Ulster from Sodomy”. In 2008, DUP MP Iris Robinson stated in Parliament that homosexuality is “viler” than child abuse and the party today continues to oppose equal marriage which is still not legal in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile the 1967 Abortion Act, which established legal abortion, has never applied in Northern Ireland. The law is far stricter and even pregnancy as a result of rape is not a circumstance in which an abortion can be performed legally. The High Court recently ruled that this was incompatible with the human rights of women, but the law can only be changed by legislators. Already an ex-Tory minister has hinted there could be a Commons vote on increasing abortion limits as his party looks to cement its alliance with the DUP.

These issues are not irrelevant to Disabled people who are not only Disabled but also Black, gay and women. We do not stand in isolation from our communities but rather fight against cuts that segregate and separate us.

The DUP’s position on welfare will also be familiar to those who followed the sustained attempt by other parties to block the welfare reform bill in Northern Ireland, despite fines from Westminster of £9.5m per month for non-implementation. Due to devolution of powers, this could only be introduced by passage through the Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont. With a population that experiences greater levels of mental health issues, campaigners were concerned about the impacts welfare reform observed in areas of the UK where cuts had already been rolled out.

The Department for Social Development which oversees benefits in the North admitted that a full 25% of people currently receiving DLA would not receive anything under PIP while a further 33% would receive a reduced award. Nevertheless, DUP social development minister Mervyn Storey put a legislative consent motion to MLAs (members of the Northern Ireland Assembly) which was voted through, transferring power over welfare reform from Stormont to the Tory government in Westminster and paving the way for cuts.

Another DUP MP, Gregory Campbell, made a name for himself claiming that rising levels of DLA claims were due to fraud and pointing specifically to numbers receiving the “taxpayer-funded hand-out” in West Belfast. He claimed that “it would appear from these figures that there are people in some areas who are able to claim DLA long after you would assume they were no longer entitled to it” drawing a distinction from what he called “legitimate claimants”.

As the BBC, in its newest role as DUP apologist, keeps pointing out, DUP demands on the Tories include that the introduction of means testing for Winter Fuel Allowance, pledged in the Conservative manifesto, will not apply in Northern Ireland, as well as extra capital spending and more cash from the UK Treasury for Northern Ireland’s schools and hospitals. We shouldn’t let this fool us into seeing the DUP as a party with social principles. Had they really cared about the impact of cuts, they could have mitigated the effects with the funds that were instead ploughed in to paying businesses to heat empty properties in the “cash for ash” scandal.

Disabled People Against Cuts have led a bitter fight against the Tory cuts for 7 years, our #TrashTheTories campaign helped deliver a serious blow to the Conservatives at the general election. We can’t let this attempt by Theresa May to cling on and do more damage by trading away our rights to secure a deal with the vile bigots of the DUP go unchallenged.

1 https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/uk-election-british-capital-in-disarray/

 Posted by at 16:57
Jun 142017
 

The Secretary of State for Health is addressing the Confed17 NHS Conference. The NHS Confederation is a group which represents some 85% of NHS providers and commissioners.

He is scheduled to speak at 11.45 am although we are told he will appear at 10am (but that may change).

So people from various NHS activist groups, community groups and trade unions will be there to welcome him from 07.30am outside the venue. Others will be at the venue with banners and loud voices from 10.00am. Please come along if you can – if you can’t make it for 7.30 am please come along later at 10.00 am

Why not go along and let him know what you think about our NHS and about his plans for it – meet up outside the Arena!!!

For information the NHS Confederation describes itself as “the only membership body that brings together and speaks on behalf of all organisations that plan, commission and provide NHS services. Members are drawn from every part of the health and care system and join 560+ organisations connected to the NHS Confederation”.

Here is a link to the Conference schedule and description: http://www.nhsconfed.org/ confed17

If you need reminding about Jeremy Hunt and his style of operation read this open letter from Dr Louise Irvine to the new/old secretary of state:

https://nhaswsurrey.wordpress. com/2017/06/12/the-facts-dont- lie-and-nor-do-i-an-open- letter-to-jeremy-hunt-mp/

 Posted by at 12:23
Jun 132017
 

X by X are holding our AGM 2017, our theme this year is Deaf and Disabled* people’s Rights and Responsibilities in 2017. Everyone is welcome but you will need to fill in an X by X membership form to take part in the AGM vote. We have invited significate speakers from Disabled People’s User Led organisations covering topics like;
~ Our Rights in 2017 – Where Deaf and disabled people are at with so many changes
~ Our Responsibilities – What campaigns are coming up and how we can get involved in 2017

Friday 30 June

1.00pm – 4.30 pm

light Lunch Provided

Bromley Civic Centre
Committee Room 1,
Stockwell close, Bromley, BR1 3UH

Deaf and Disabled people’s Rights and Responsibilities in 2017 Event
Speakers from: London People’s Assembly, DPAC,
Inclusion London, ALLFIE, Transport for All and
Stop Changes to Access to Work

Information stalls of Local Deaf and Disabled people’s services

Please contact Justine to book your place, request any access needs or any further info by 23 June justine@xbyxbromley.com or 020 8650 2102

 

*By Disabled People we include people with physical impairments, sensory impairments, mental health survivors, people with learning difficulties or learning disabilities, people with long term health conditions

 Posted by at 22:41
Jun 102017
 

Tory MPs are the only ones in a position to prevent this unholy and possibly illegal (Good Friday Agreement) coalition so please if you are unfortunate enough to have a Tory MP email them and say why you oppose this now.

Here’s a little information if you need it about the DUP

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/dup-hung-parliament-results-policies-manifesto-abortion-gay-marriage-climate-change-who-are-they-a7781656.html

 

You may have to google for a constituency address for your MP if they’re new or parliamentary ones should be fred.blogs.mp@parliament.uk

 

Let’s build on this https://www.buzzfeed.com/jimwaterson/tory-mps-are-really-worried-they-could-be-tarnished-by-the?utm_term=.rlZ8jxnBXV#.xmLrv6L4Wb

 

And remember if Theresa can’t form a government then Jeremy Corbyn may be asked to. Make sure June really is the end of May.

Template letter here

Dear ,

As one of your constituents, I’m writing to you to express my outrage at the suggestion that your party is prepared to cooperate with the DUP in order to remain in government.

Even for the Tories this is reaching an all time low and I am shocked and appalled that the Conservatives are willing to partner with a party that holds such extreme views that are damaging to so many people.

Here is a list of DUP stances, in case you need a reminder:

·  The DUP want to make it legal to discriminate against anyone from the LGBT community

·  The DUP want children to be taught creationism as scientific fact

·  The DUP want no woman to have access to any type of abortion, and furthermore criminalise anyone offering or seeking that service

·  The DUP want to bring back the death penalty

There are many other issues with the DUP, and I am also concerned as to what this alliance would mean for so many Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland citizens (our close allies), especially when entering Brexit negotiations.

Please explain how you intend to oppose such a coalition or alliance, as it is of immediate concern to myself and many of your constituents.

Yours Sincerely,

name and address

 Posted by at 18:31
Jun 092017
 

In spite of all the efforts we’ve made over the past few weeks sadly we haven’t all woken up to a Tory-free Britain but the Tories have sustained considerable damage and if May had any morals she would be resigning.

 

Of course we all know Tories don’t have any morals so she’s not.

 

The only way that the Tories can form a government however is to resort in pure desperation to forming an alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) the Northern Ireland equivalent of the nasty party.

The DUP sound delightful and they are ant-abortion and women’s rights, anti-LBGT rights and like Trump are climate change deniers. Just what any Tory would want as allies.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/who-are-the-dup-10589910

They also seem to have laundered dirty money for the Saudis and been involved in covering up the Kincora child abuse scandal. Mind as they’re all Christians so I’m sure things will be fine.

 

Key Tory ministers are also going, going, gone and in at least 2 of those instances DPAC supporters have been very active and vocal in campaigning to get rid of them. Ben Gummer, Jen Ellison, Simon Kirby and Gavin Barwell have packed their bags and won’t be returning to parliament any time soon. Amber Rudd’s majority has been slashed to a mere 346. Even better news is that in Pembrokeshire Crabb’s majority fell to a mere 314 votes. In Canterbury too a Tory stronghold for over 90 years the Tories were booted out. Their wobbly attempt to seek a larger majority to reinforce their strong and stable governance lies in tatters and there is no doubt at all that they are the laughing stock of Europe.

 

With your help we targeted 50 of the most marginal seats using facebook adverts which we’ll be analysing the use of more fully when time permits. However a quick glance this morning shows that Labour won in Brighton Kemptown, (our Miriam is also chair of the Labour Party there) Croydon Central, Warwick and Leamington, Ipswich, Keighley, Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, Cardiff North, Wrexham and the Fib Dems in Eastbourne. Just a few of the seats we have targeted with our adverts.

 

We are organising a week of action between July 14th– 23rd with final dates to be confirmed. If anyone wants to help with this or has any ideas they’d like to put forward about what we should do please email us as always at mail@dpac.uk.net

 

The Tory-free Britain we all dreamed of may not have happened just yet but we hope that the mass movement for change is something that will keep on growing and nor fizzle out. DPAC will certainly be hoping to help keep this amazing movement growing and hope locally you can all get involved and help to support that.

 

Solidarity everyone and the fight goes on #WeFightOn

 

 Posted by at 12:36
Jun 082017
 

The Around the Toilet project are currently asking for contributions to a zine we’re creating on the topic of toilet accessibility. We wondered if you might consider sharing our call for contributions on your website and social media platforms? We hope it might be of interest to some of your readers and members of your organisation. We’re open to submissions on a range of topics, but we’ve listed disability and accessibility as well as funding cuts and the closure of public toilets as two topics we’re especially interested in. The link to our website and further details about the zine is here.  The deadline for submissions in Friday 14th July.


What can I submit?

Contributions in a range of formats are welcome: personal experiences, creative writing/stories, drawings, poetry, political essays, experimental pieces, or whatever you feel like doing. Contributions can be written anonymously if you prefer.

Please keep submissions to under 1,000 words.

What’s a zine?

A zine is a self-published mini-magazine. They can be collaborative or written individually. We’re making a collaborative zine because we’re hoping to express the wide range of different uses and experiences we have of toilets.

What are the themes?

One of our aims is to raise awareness about the ways that toilets can be unsafe, uncomfortable, and inaccessible for some people. However, we also welcome submissions that reflect on positive toilet experiences, the important role they play in our lives, and the privacy and quietness they can often provide for some of us. Themes may include:

  • Toilets and mental health
  • Disability and accessibility
  • Transphobia and public toilets
  • Racism, Islamophobia and public toilets
  • Intersex, body policing and public toilets
  • Toilets and intersectionality (especially experiences from trans, non-binary, queer and/or disabled people of colour)
  • Fatness and fat phobia in toilet spaces
  • Sex and sex work and public toilets
  • ‘Invisible’ impairments/disabilities and toilet-use
  • Parenting/childcare and public toilet facilities
  • Drug-use and toilets
  • Homelessness and public toilets
  • Funding cuts and the closure of public toilets
  • Periods/menstruation and toilet facilities
  • Importance of gender neutral toilets
  • Toilet door signs/labels
  • Queer and radical potential of toilets
  • Toilets, campaigns and protest
  • Critical ideas about ‘access’

How do I submit?

All zine submissions should be sent by Friday 14th July 2017 to aroundthetoilet@shu.ac.uk or, if you would like to submit your contribution anonymously, then please use our electronic form. You’re welcome to email us an online document, scan or photograph of your contribution, or you can post something through the mail if you’d prefer.

All contributors selected for the zine will be given a small gift of thanks.

Please note: we’re hoping to include a wide range of submissions in the zine but we want to keep the zine readable and easily reproducible, so we can’t guarantee everything we receive will be included in the final publication. We’ll be in touch to let you know either way.

Please get in touch with us via aroundthetoilet@shu.ac.uk if you have any questions or if would like to discuss your ideas with us.

Thank you to the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCPPE) for funding this zine.

Toilet Zine flyer.png

 Posted by at 15:46
Jun 082017
 

With thanks to @RRowanOlive for giving us permission to reblog this important piece, please share it widely

Elections are frightening times for those of us who need the safety net the state is supposed to provide. Everyone is impacted by political decisions, but for those of us who rely on the NHS to keep us alive and on benefits to keep rooves over our heads, elections remind us of our powerlessness and our vulnerability. If you have someone in your life who’s chronically ill or disabled, get in touch with them this week if you can. It’s a good time to be reminding people they’re not alone.

I had a suicidal crisis just after the 2015 election and not long after the Brexit vote, so I’ve been thinking about how I can get ready for Thursday night and Friday morning. I know Labour have been doing better in the polls, but I’m not getting my hopes up – I was blindsided by the results before. This time I can be prepared. I’m going to try to volunteer with my local candidate’s campaign on Thursday evening, if my anxiety allows. I’ve got a plan to go to my art studio on Friday, and I know that a GP I know well is running the duty service that day. I’ve arranged an appointment with my usual GP for the following week. I’ve made plans so that I don’t spend the weekend alone. I’m writing a list of things to remember on election night. I’m sharing it in case anyone else needs it.

1) Whatever the result, nothing in our day to day lives is going to change instantly. We aren’t going to wake up on Friday morning to find the sky rent in two and the horsemen of the apocalypse riding, even if the worst happens and the Tories increase their majority. Nor will we wake up to find our benefits have instantly been removed or that the NHS is instantly ten times more underfunded. This election matters, but it takes time to push through changes, and there are many ways to resist. We will have time to breathe, to gather ourselves, to feel devastated and frightened and then to pass through to the other side of those feelings, and start fighting back.

2) It’s ok if you feel like shit. Curl up in a ball under a blanket. Wait for the dust to settle before you react.

3) The Samaritans are always there. It’s free to phone them. You can also text them on 07725909090, or email jo@samaritans.org

4) Cats are still good.

   
5) Dogs are still good.

 Posted by at 10:54
Jun 082017
 

…via Skype.

This week we lost the beautiful, talented and ever brilliant Sophie Partridge, aka Ruby Pixie on twitter. Words can’t express how much she will be missed or how greatly the loss will be felt in both the art world and in the disabled people’s campaigning community.

So we are simply sharing Soph at her best, carrying on the fight for independent living and getting Russell Brand in on the campaign.

 

 

 Posted by at 01:20
Jun 072017
 

Stop Camden Council cuts to social care

 

·       NO hiking up care & transport charges to older and disabled people

·       NO closing Netherwood dementia centre & others

·       YES to free homecare as in Hammersmith & Fulham

Camden Council meets about these plans on

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Town Hall, Judd Street, London WC1H 9JE *King’s Cross/Euston tube

Charges Netherwood Camden 8 May.jpg

6pm join Save Netherwood Campaign, People’s Centre for Change, WinVisible & Camden Unison accessible transport (CATS) staff outside

7pm in Council Chamber – please come and support, we plan to have deputations who will speak to councillors. Watch webcast.

Yes to free, quality care — we’ve earned it!

No to charging, rationing, profiteering and neglect

More info: Jane Clinton, Save Netherwood 07818 012618

WinVisible 020 7482 2496 win@winvisible.org

Please share  event

Thanks to all who came to Camden Town Hall on 8 May to support our deputations

to the Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee.See Camden New Journal

Watch 8 May online:https://camden.public-i.tv/…/por…/webcast_interactive/285252

http://cnj-production-backend.out.re/app/uploads/2017/05/Netherwood-IMG_4607.jpg

 Posted by at 16:41
Jun 052017
 

DPAC has today launched a series of short films for the final week of the #GE2017 election campaign. The films, generously produced for us by Tough and Rumble media production company, aim to expose the reality of so-called welfare reform and why this election matters so much to Deaf and Disabled People.

The series of four films have been published on the #DPAC Facebook page – please watch and share far and wide.

Here are the four films, please watch then and then share them far and wide:

David’s Story

Jenny Sealey’s Story


Andria’s Story

Jenny Hurst’s Story

You can also watch footage from the film preview Q & A with film-maker Anthony Swords and discussion with disability campaigner Jenny Hurst and DPAC’s Paula Peters which was held last night in the marginal constituency of Croydon Central.

 

Jun 052017
 

 

Louise is  a journalist at BuzzFeed UK and they are doing a series of pieces boosting our focus on disability in July.

 

She says “I’m wondering if you could help me with a possible story I’ve comes across.

 

I spoke to a lady who uses a wheelchair, who told me that she feels unable to move in with her partner (who is not disabled) because if she does, she will lose her ESA benefits.

 

She says that if she moved in to live with her partner, her ESA would be removed, because her partner works more than 24 hours a week at minimum wage, meaning she would be completely dependent on her partner to support both of them. She says this is barely possible, so it means she can never live with a partner without seriously depleting both of their quality of life.”

 

If you are in a similar situation or affected by the earnings rule for income based ESA Louise would like to speak to people for an article to raise awareness of this.

Please contact her directly.

louise.ridley@buzzfeed.com

 

Louise Ridley | BuzzFeed UK | News Editor, Longform and Special Projects

@louiseridley | 020 3829 4712 | 40 Argyll Street, 2nd Floor, London, W1F 7EB

 

 

 Posted by at 12:08
Jun 032017
 

UK Disabled People’s Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance

 

As DPAC has concerns about the Green Party manifesto pledge on social care we have not included an analysis of that at the moment. The reply we had with regard to our query relating to this seems incomprehensible to us at the moment.

https://dpac.uk.net/2017/06/dpac-concerns-social-care-proposals-green-party-manifesto/

reply “I understand that someone has been in touch but just to reiterate that we are in no way suggesting voluntary involvement replacing publicly funded services.

 

We are totally committed to improving opportunities and support for disabled people, and the community led support service in the disability manifesto is a way to try and put communities and disabled people at the centre of support services so their voices are heard, including providing additional investment, training and support where it is required.
The proposal means that care should be more responsive to the needs of the community and gives the community, and disabled people, a greater voice, being led by them, and being a person-centred approach.”

 

Manifesto Comparisons: what the parties are saying about Deaf and disability issues

Political party election manifestos differ in size, in format and in the issues they focus on depending on how a party wants to promote itself and to fit with its election campaign.

To make it easier to directly compare the GE2017 manifestos and what they have to say on Deaf and disability specific issues, we have pulled out relevant pledges and collated them under a number of themes below.

At the end of this document you will also find links to the main party political manifestos and to the accessible formats that different parties have made available.

We urge all London Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations to encourage your members to engage in the 2017 General Election and make sure they have or know how to get information to help them decide how to use their vote.

 

Accessible places and transport

Conservative party

“we will review disabled people’s access and amend regulations if necessary to improve disabled access to licensed premises, parking and housing. We will work with providers of everyday essential services, like energy and telecoms, to reduce the extra costs that disability can incur.”

Green party

“All public transport should be fully accessible and step-free with a phase-in of free local public transport for young people, students, people with disabilities, and older people.”

 

Labour party

“To make sure that autistic people are able to access the whole of their community and to put an end to social isolation, Labour will set the ambition to make our country autism-friendly.”

“On our railways…In public ownership, we will deliver real improvements for passengers… introducing legal duties to improve accessibility for people with disabilities.”

“We will reform the legislation governing taxi and private hire services, introducing national standards to guarantee safety and accessibility.”

“Sporting events must be open and accessible to all. We will push sports authorities to make rapid improvements on access provision for fans with disabilities.”

Liberal Democrat party

“Increase accessibility to public places and transport by making more stations wheelchair accessible, improving the legislative framework governing Blue Badges, setting up a benchmarking standard for accessible cities, and bringing into effect the provisions of the 2010 Equality Act on discrimination by private hire vehicles and taxis.”

 

British Sign Language

Green party

“The Green Party is committed to supporting the BSL (England & Wales) Act to make BSL an officially recognised language.”

Labour party

“Labour will give British Sign Language full recognition as a recognised language.”

 

Disability benefits/social security

Green party

“Redress benefits injustice with a social security system that gives everyone confidence they will get support when they need it, including disabled people.”

Labour party

“Scrap the punitive sanctions regime.”

“The Tories have completely failed on their promise of making work pay and on tackling the barriers to work faced by people with disabilities.”

“Labour will repeal the following cuts in social security support to people with disabilities through a new Social Security Bill published in our first year in office.

We will:

  • increase Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by £30 per week for those in the work-related activity group, and repeal cuts in the UC limited capacity for work element;
  • increase Carer’s Allowance by £11 to the level of Jobseekers’ Allowance;
  • implement the court decision on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) so that there is real parity of esteem between those with physical and mental-health conditions;
  • scrap the Work Capability and Personal Independence Payment assessments and replace them with a personalised, holistic assessment process that provides each individual with a tailored plan, building on their strengths and addressing barriers.
  • Labour will end the privatisation of assessments;
  • end the pointless stress of reassessments for people with severe long-term conditions.”

“We will change the culture of the social security system, from one that demonises people not in work to one that is supportive and enabling. As well as scrapping the Conservatives’ punitive sanctions regime, we will change how Jobcentre Plus staff are performance-managed.”

 

Employment

Conservative party

“We will get 1 million more people with disabilities into employment over the next ten years. We will harness the opportunities of flexible working and the digital economy to generate jobs for those whose disabilities make traditional work difficult.”

“We will transform how mental health is regarded in the workplace. We will amend health and safety regulations so that employers provide appropriate first aid training and needs assessment for mental health, as they currently do for risks to physical health, and extend Equalities Act protections against discrimination to mental health conditions that are episodic and fluctuating. We will consider the findings of the Stevenson-Farmer Review into workplace mental health support, working with employers to encourage new products and incentives to improve the mental health and wellbeing support available to their employees. And, as we did with Dementia Friends, we will train one million members of the public in basic mental health awareness and first aid to break the stigma of mental illness.”

Labour party

“Commission a report into expanding the Access to Work programme.” “Autism covers a wide range of conditions that reflect neurological differences among people. We will work with employers, trade unions and public services to improve awareness of neurodiversity in the workplace and in society.”

“We will change the culture of the social security system, from one that demonises people not in work to one that is supportive and enabling.”

Housing

Conservative party:

“We will fix the dysfunctional housing market so that housing is more affordable and people have the security they need to plan for the future. The key to this is to build enough homes to meet demand. That will slow the rise in housing costs so more ordinary, working families can afford to buy a home and bring the cost of renting down… We will meet our 2015 commitment to deliver a million homes by the end of 2020 and we will deliver half a million more by the end of 2022… We will enter into new Council Housing Deals with ambitious, pro-development, local authorities to help them build more social housing.”

Green party:

“Abolish the cruel and unfair bedroom tax.” “Significantly improve housing choice for D/deaf, disabled and older people by requiring all councils to appropriately plan for their housing needs and significantly increase the numbers of homes built to lifetime home and mobility standards over the next 5 years.”

Labour party:

“We will remove government restrictions that stop councils building homes and begin the biggest council building programme for at least 30 years. We will ditch the Conservatives’ ban on long-term council tenancies to give council tenants security in their homes. We want more people to have a secure tenancy in a home built to high standards. Labour will scrap the punitive bedroom tax, which has caused many people to be evicted from their home and their community.”

Liberal Democrat party

“Reach a housebuilding target of 300,000 homes a year by 2022, including direct building by government.”

 

Mental Health

Conservative party

“It was Conservatives in government that gave parity of esteem to the treatment of mental health in the National Health Service. We have backed this with a significant increase in funding: since 2010 we have increased spending on mental health each year to a record £11.4 billion in 2016/17, with a further investment of £1 billion by 20/21, so that we can deliver the mental health services people deserve. We will now build on this commitment. First, we will address the need for better treatments across the whole spectrum of mental health conditions. We will make the UK the leading research and technology economy in the world for mental health, bringing together public, private and charitable investment. Improving treatment services will not be sufficient, however. We will also reform outdated laws to ensure that those with mental illness are treated fairly and employers fulfil their responsibilities effectively. The current Mental Health Act does not operate as it should: if you are put on a community treatment order it is very difficult to be discharged; sectioning is too often used to detain rather than treat; families’ information about their loved ones is severely curtailed – parents can be the last to learn that their son or daughter has been sectioned. So we will introduce the first new Mental Health Bill for thirty-five years, putting parity of esteem at the heart of treatment.”

Green party

“Bring mental health care in line with physical health care and ensure people experiencing mental health crises are supported close to their home and support networks. Introduce mental health awareness training within the public sector and encourage a more open dialogue on the issue in wider society.”

Labour party

“In order to protect services, we will ring-fence mental health budgets and ensure funding reaches the frontline. We will end the scandal of children being treated on adult mental health wards and stop people being sent across the country, away from their support networks, to secure the treatment they need by bringing forward the ending of out-of-area placements to 2019. Labour will also bring an end to the neglect of children’s mental health. Half of people with mental health problems as adults present with symptoms by the age of 14. Yet, across England only 8 per cent of mental health funding goes to services for children and young people. In recent years, referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services have increased by two-thirds, and the number of young people presenting to A&E units with psychiatric conditions has doubled. Suicide is now the most common cause of death for boys aged between five and 19. Labour will invest in early intervention by increasing the proportion of mental health budgets spent on support for children and young people.  We will ensure that access to a counselling service is available for all children in secondary schools. Giving mental health the same priority as physical health means not only ensuring access to services, but also making improvements, to those services. Choice is important in a modern NHS, and patients who receive their therapy of choice have better outcomes. Labour will therefore ask the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to evaluate the potential for increasing the range of evidence based psychological therapies on offer.”

Liberal Democrat party:

“Make waiting times for mental health care match those for physical health care.”

Rights

Conservative party

“We will build on the proud Conservative record in supporting those with disabilities, including the landmark Disability Discrimination Act of 1995. We want to see attitudes to disability shift as they have for race, gender and sexuality in recent years: it should be completely unacceptable for people with disabilities to be treated negatively.”

Green party

“Defend the Human Rights Act and UK membership of the European Convention on Human Rights, and reinstate funding for the Equality and Human Rights Commission.” “Action to tackle racism and discrimination on the basis of faith or disability, real equality for LGBTIQA+ people, equal rights for mixed gender couples to have a Civil Partnership.”

Labour party

“Labour supports a social model of disability. People may have a condition or an impairment but they are disabled by society. We need to remove the barriers in society that restrict opportunities and choices for people with disabilities. We will build on the previous Labour government’s commitment to people with disabilities in 2009 as signatories to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and incorporate it into UK law.”

“Labour will strengthen access to justice for people with disabilities by enhancing the 2010 Equality Act, enabling discrimination at work to be challenged. We will ensure that under the Istanbul Convention, disability hate crime and violence against women with disabilities is reported annually, with national actions plans to address these issues.”

“Labour will retain the Human Rights Act.”

“We will reintroduce funding for the preparation of judicial review cases. Judicial review is an important way of holding government to account. There are sufficient safeguards         to discourage unmeritorious cases. We will review the legal aid means tests, including the capital test for those on income-related benefits. Labour will consider the reinstatement of other legal aid entitlements after receiving the final recommendations of the Access to Justice Commission led by Lord Bach.”

“We will extend the Freedom of Information Act to private companies that run public services.”

“A Labour government will enhance the powers and functions of [the Equality and Human Rights] commission, making it truly independent, to ensure it can support ordinary working people to effectively challenge any discrimination they may face. A Labour government will reinstate the public sector equality duties and seek to extend them to the private sector, ensuring all citizens benefit from  this Labour legislation.”

“Labour will legislate to make terminal illness a protected characteristic under the Equality Act.”

Liberal Democrat party

“Defend human rights by opposing any attempt to leave the European Convention of Human Rights.”

Social care

Conservative party

“our forthcoming green paper will also address system-wide issues to improve the quality of care and reduce variation in practice. This will ensure the care system works better with the NHS to reduce unnecessary and unhealthy hospital stays and delayed transfers of care, and provide better quality assurance within the care sector. We will reduce loneliness and promote technological solutions to prolong independent living, and invest in dementia research.  As the majority of care is informally provided, mainly by families, we will give workers a new statutory entitlement to carer’s leave, as enjoyed in other countries.”

[To note the Conservative manifesto also made a commitment to changing how much people have to pay for social care but since it came out the leader of the Conservatives Theresa May has done a u-turn. The manifesto says: “the value of the family home will be taken into account along with other assets and income, whether care is provided at home, or in a residential or nursing care home. Second, to ensure this is fair, we will introduce a single capital floor, set at £100,000, more than four times the current means test threshold. This will ensure that, no matter how large the cost of care turns out to be, people will always retain at least £100,000 of their savings and assets, including value in the family home. Third, we will extend the current freedom to defer payments for residential care to those receiving care at home, so no-one will have to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care.” Their position now seems to be that the amount will not be £100,000 but will be set after the election.]

Labour party

“In our first term, Labour will lay the foundations of a National Care Service for England. Our first urgent task will be to address the immediate funding crisis. We will increase the social care budgets by a further £8 billion over the lifetime of the next Parliament, including an additional £1 billion for the first year. This will be enough for providers to pay a real living wage without cutting the quality of care they provide. It will allow implementation of the principles of the Ethical Care Charter, already adopted in 28 council areas, ending 15-minute care visits and providing care workers with paid travel time, access to training and an option to choose regular hours. Labour will also increase the Carer’s Allowance for unpaid full-time carers to align the     benefit with rates of the Jobseeker’s Allowance… Improving the quality of social care is a vital part of providing dignity in older age and independence and support for people who are vulnerable or have a disability or a mental health condition. Labour will build a new National Care Service. We will also set out the funding alternatives clearly and honestly, seeking to implement change through consensus.”

Liberal Democrats

“Save the NHS by putting a penny in the pound on income tax to give the NHS and social care services the cash they need.”

“Our longer-term objective will be to bring together NHS and social care into one seamless service – pooling budgets in every area by 2020 and developing integrated care organisations.”

 

Links to GE2017 political party manifestos

Conservative party: https://www.conservatives.com/manifesto

Green party: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/all-manifestos-alternative-formats.html

Labour party: http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/manifesto2017

Liberal Democrat party: http://www.libdems.org.uk/manifesto

 

Manifesto accessible formats

The Conservative party has not produced any accessible formats.

Green party

Audio: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/gp2017/Green%20Party%20pleges.mp3

 

British Sign Language: the Green party has produced BSL videos for each section of its manifesto

 

Easy read: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/images/greenguarantee/gg-easyread-summary.pdf

Labour party

Audio: http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/manifesto2017/accessible-manifesto#manifesto-Summary

Easy read: http://www.labour.org.uk/page/-/Images/manifesto-2017/LabourManifestoEASYREAD.pdf

Key manifesto pledges in Sign Supported English: http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/manifesto2017/accessible-manifesto

Liberal Democrats

Audio part 1: http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/themes/5909d4366ad575794c000000/attachments/original/1495189781/Lib_Dem_Manifesto_2017_Part_1.zip?1495189781

Audio part 2: http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/themes/5909d4366ad575794c000000/attachments/original/1495189820/Lib_Dem_Manifesto_2017_Part_2.zip?1495189820

British Sign Language: http://www.libdems.org.uk/bsl

Easy read: http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/themes/5909d4366ad575794c000000/attachments/original/1495011810/easy_read_manifesto.pdf?1495011810

 Posted by at 20:41
Jun 032017
 
Trash the Tories Sticker

#TrashTheTories – film preview, Q &A and discussion

with film makers Anthony Swords and Danielle Kummer, disability campaigner Jenny Hurst and DPAC’s Paula Peters

 

Sunday 4 June 4 – 5.30pm – 1 Matthews Yard, Off Surrey Street, Croydon, CR0 1FF

 

As the GE2017 reaches its final week come DPAC invites you to join us to launch the final chapter in our #TrashTheTories election campaign.

While the mainstream media keeps the focus on Brexit and the economy, Deaf and Disabled people have taken to the streets and to social media to tell the public why this election matters so much to us and what the consequences of another five years of Tory misrule will be.

On Monday, 5 June, DPAC will be go live on social media with a set of short films generously produced for us by media production company Tough and Rumble aiming to expose the human cost of cuts and the reality behind the Tory narrative of welfare reform.

Join us this Sunday for a preview of the films followed by a Q and A and discussion. Light refreshments will be provided.

The venue is wheelchair accessible but please note there are cobbles and a steep incline in front of the building. The Matthews Yard website provides information about an alternative approach if needed: http://www.matthewsyard.com/find-us/

 

For other access requests or any questions please text Ellen on 07505144371.

 Posted by at 11:50
Jun 022017
 

2 days ago, on 31st of May, we wrote the following letter to the Green Party co-leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley asking them to respond to our concerns over their social care Manifesto proposals. We’ve not yet had a response, but we will publish any response we receive.


Dear Caroline and Jonathan,

We were very surprised to see, as were a number of our allied campaign groups, in your Disability Manifesto the following statement

“At the heart of the Greens’ disability manifesto is a plan for a community-led Care & Support Service where we will train, support and resource communities to better help each other and the most vulnerable in our society, at the same time saving money by supporting wellbeing and helping communities to identify and meet their needs, alongside councils, the NHS and Government.”

We can only interpret this as meaning that the Green Party are proposing that care in the community is delivered by volunteers who will no doubt disproportionately  be women. We feel it is only right that we ask for clarification of what this policy actually does mean in plain English.

We look forward to a speedy reply.

Disabled People Against Cuts.


 

 Posted by at 10:16
May 312017
 

‘Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time’ host Disability Queer Riot! 15th July 2-pm – Meet in Soho Square – Facebook page here and website here

Queer Tours of London, A mince through timeTo book your place please email queertoursoflondon@gmail.com ASAP as there are very limited spaces. Please include in your email any special requirements you have /support needed. Priority places to wheelchair users. Payment on the day is ‘pay what you feel / can afford’. Please share to all those you think will appreciate!

All requests for involvement / press requests please email queertoursoflondon@gmail.com
How can I be proud of my LGBT+ identity at ‘Pride in London’ if I can’t even get to the bar to celebrate? 
How can I mince, flirt and meet others if there is not even 1 LGBT+ bar or club that is fully accessible to the LGBT+ disabled community? 
How can I be proud of my impairments if i’m discriminated to come on Pride? 

Are you part of the LGBT+ disability community? Are you sick and tired of being ignored and tokenised? Want more action and less talk? 

Well join me – Josh – a ‘Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through time’ guide, trainee lawyer and sexual revolutionary whilst we take to the streetsand in true queer provocative style do an informative and interactive tour of Soho to share the lived realities of the LGBT+ disabled community.

There’s only 20 spaces for the tour so get in there quick – please email queertoursoflondon@gmail.com to register your interest or for any press / volunteer support. Suggested donations £10 or whatever you can afford.

Here’s the plan

2pm – Meeting point – Soho Square
2-3pm Placard making with the scores for each venue and the demands
3-5pm – Queer disabled Riot-tour!
5-6pm – Presentation of our demands in central London venue tbc. Invites are being sent to London’s LGBT+ cultural spaces managers.

Our demands 

Equality over profit – LGBT+ venues just stop pretending you are not under to be accessible – you know you should be – are you doing everything you can?

Access 4 All – we’ll chain ourselves to the steps by September if you don’t make an explicit statement of your intentions

MORE TALK LESS ACTION! LGBT+ FREEDOM FOR ALL!

ABOUT QUEER TOURS OF LONDON – A MINCE THROUGH TIME

 

 Posted by at 16:00
May 292017
 
The Tories have angered the Deaf community by being the only political party not to produce their manifesto in BSL. The have stated that due to time constraints they are unable to produce one but told one Deaf voter “audio, easy read, and Braille formats will soon be available and we can also provide the Manifesto in large format.” (See limping chicken for more on this: http://limpingchicken.com/2017/05/24/conservative-party-tells-deaf-voter-that-manifesto-will-not-be-translated-into-bsl-due-to-time-constraints/).

Deaf BSL users and their supporters have had enough of being ignored and have taken to twitter  and Facebook to post their questions to the Tories in BSL using the hashtag #MyBSLQuestion.

The first video was posted by Zoe McWhinney (@zoeymacey, Sunday 27th May) who made the point that they had time to produce a host of other accessible formats, it only takes a day to get a manifesto translated into BSL, yet they haven’t done it. Others reminded us that it was the Tories who had the most time to plan – given they were the ones who called the snap general election!  Yet again, the Deaf community are being ignored.
If you are a BSL user please create and post your own video using #MyBSLQuestion.
 Posted by at 18:49
May 272017
 

In the vital last 12 days before June 8th we’re asking as many of you as possible to write to your local papers letter page this weekend or this week at the latest.

Most local and national papers will only publish letters of 250-300 words so here are a couple of suggested letters to send/edit. For the most marginal seats we’re also publishing a list of contacts for local papers but for anyone else please also write and you should be able to google your town name and local paper to find details. Mark anything you send Letters to Editor

Template Letter 1 specifically about some disability issues

The legacy of the Conservatives is shocking and we are now shamefully the first country in the world to have been found guilty by the UN for the grave and systematic violation of disabled people’s human rights following a lengthy inquiry.

 It would be impossible in a letter to outline all of the vicious attacks against disabled and older people made by the Conservatives since 2010 but a few of the main cuts include £4.6 billion of cuts from social care funding, 700 disabled people a week losing their entitlement to Personal Independence Payments and access to adapted vehicles, loss of a third of their income for many disabled people from their ESA disability benefits in spite f the additional costs of being disabled. Many disabled people have also lost £14 – £28 from support for their housing costs due to the Bedroom Tax yet are unable to downsize or have homes which have been adapted to meet their needs which makes moving impossible.

Britain’s benefits, including pensions, are already among the least generous in Western Europe. Women born in 1950s have had up to 6 years retirement income stolen from them and now the triple lock on pensions, winter fuel allowances is being threatened by the Conservatives.

 Due to cuts to Disability benefits 2.8 million disabled people are existing in deep poverty – that is they have 50% below the median income.

And even though we’re not yet a third world country shockingly nearly 400 citizens died from malnutrition or hunger in 2015 up 27% since 2010.


Words 258


Template Letter 2 – general about cuts to public services

Public services which we all use at some time in our lives since the Conservatives came to power have been slashed to the bone. On June 8th vote to protect them against another 5 years of Conservative cuts.

Since 2010 Social Care has been cut by £4.6 billion and 440,000 disabled people are no longer entitled to state funded care.

Hospital trusts are on course for a financial deficit of up to £850m at the end of this financial year. A Tory MP Dr Wollaston said “Local clinical commission groups are being forced to hold back £800m to prevent an even bigger black hole at hospitals. Again, this is patient care that is being cut back.”

Mental Health Services have all but disappeared and there has been a £41.3 million reduction in spending to 2015. Devastating cuts mean there are days no crisis beds are available anywhere in the UK..

Our Police service has lost 22,000 police officers and 15,000 support staff. Both security experts plus the Police Federation warned there were not enough police to keep our streets safe. Due to the lack of police we now have armed soldiers patrolling our streets for the first time ever since 1926.

Cuts to our Ambulance and Fire Services have resulted in have resulted in fewer Paramedics and fire fighters, and fire station closures. Response times for both of these life-saving services have lengthened due to this.

Now the Conservatives are coming after Education funding and funding per pupil is reducing in real terms meaning mainstream schools in England must find efficiency savings rising from £1.1 billion in 2016–17 to £3 billion by 2019–20.

These are only a few of the cuts the Conservatives are responsible for all of which affect our safety and our futures.


Words 297

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Hendon, Finchley, Barnet, Potters Bar, Edgware and Mill Hill http://www.times-series.co.uk/

Harrow http://www.harrowtimes.co.uk/contactus/

Tottenham http://www.thetottenhamindependent.co.uk/contactus/getintouch/

Sussex http://www.sussexexpress.co.uk/contact-us

Surrey http://www.surreycomet.co.uk/contactus/

Yorkshire http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/contact-us

Brighton http://www.theargus.co.uk/contactus/

Norwich http://www.eveningnews24.co.uk/home/contact-us

Oxfordshire http://www.heraldseries.co.uk/contactus/

Plymouth http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/contact.html

Richmond and Twickenham http://www.richmondandtwickenhamtimes.co.uk/contactus/

Wirral http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/contactus/

Buckinghamshire http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/contact/

 Posted by at 22:25
May 272017
 

Available for download NOW – tell everyone you know!

Captain Ska’s “Liar, Liar” is officially released today. We have one week to get it in the top 40s, forcing the BBC to play it over the airways!

Click on the following links to download:

ItunesAmazonBand CampSpotify

(Please note Captain Ska previously released a version of Liar Liar in 2010 so don’t download the wrong one! Correct track is called ‘Liar Liar GE2017’)

Still_for_Liar_Liar_.jpg

Band member and song writer Jake said:
“We’ve re-mastered our Liar, Liar song for this General Election because we want to do all we can to expose the horrific effects Tory policy has had on ordinary people. Theresa May lies her way through interview after interview without addressing the real issues.”

“We’re sick of her and her party of millionaires privatising and cutting our public services while it’s poverty and deteriorating living standards for the rest of us. The money is there to improve the lives of the majority but it’s in the hands of the wrong people.”

“We want to do all we can to make sure Theresa May is kicked out of Downing St on 8 June. I’m confident we’ll get into the UK Top 40’s which would mean the BBC will have to play it on their chart show next Sunday.”

All money spent on downloads of the track between 26 May and 8 June 2017 will be split between food banks around the UK and The People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

Get downloading folks!

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity
http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/

 Posted by at 12:42
May 262017
 

This is a follow up of a previous article on the Health and Work Conversation: Claiming ESA under Universal Credit: Nobody is unfit for work anymore. Click here to read the article

During the Health and Work Conversation, claimants will be asked to fill a questionnaire[1].  It is important to know that this questionnaire can be filled at home and not straight away.

This questionnaire asked questions to help claimants to have a better conversation with their work coaches, and to help them find the best support for claimants according to DWP. What follow are the comments of a Consultant clinical psychologist Dr Jay Watts on the unsuitability of this questionnaire for people with mental health conditions:

JW: It is important to read this new demand on claimants with the wider context in mind. This context is one where the DWP is experienced as punitive, willing to sanction claimants at every turn, with little understanding of the nature of mental health problems, and professionals linking the rise of suicides and mental health epidemic with an austerity regime that belittles and scapegoats disabled people. Professionals like me lack confidence in the DWP’s capacity, or interest in, excluding a wide enough proportion of ‘vulnerable adults’ from this process, who may be made suicidal by yet another requirement. This process is to occur before claimants have their WCA and is mandatory. FOIs tell us that the DWP will presume claimants are fit to work before the WCA, though this demand will be damaging to many. It is likely to increase the time claimants are left waiting before their WCA verdict, leaving claimants in a purgatory that is damaging to mental health.

Some thoughts on the form.

This is not a ‘conversation’ because the terms of reference have been predecided.

DWP: “It’s about helping you get into work when you’re able to in the future.”

It should not be ‘when’ it should be ‘if’. To set up a ‘when’ and indeed to insist on this ‘conversation’ is deeply damaging – it sets up failure in comparison to a (newly created neoliberal) norm. There are many people with mental health problems who will never be able to work. This form is yet another method of equating worklessness with worthlessness, and undermining the other ways disabled people contribute to society.

 

DWP: You and your work coach will use simple tools to talk about an action that you want to do, and plan how you can do it.

 

JW: The ‘simple tools’ are not proveably based on positive psychology. But the language of positive psychology runs through every word of this document. One of the core principles of psychology is that intervention should only occur when recipients are able to consent freely. This process is mandatory, and It thus represents a misuse, dare I say it abuse, of power. This is even more problematic in the wider context where many disabled people have been cut off from mental health support and social care. How can it be ethical to deny someone with a history of sexual abuse desperately needed and asked for therapy via the NHS on one hand, whilst insisting they comply with a forced exercise under conditions of extreme stress to return them to work with the other.

 

What if there is no “action” the claimant wants to do, or is capable of. Not dying is a big enough task these days. Work coaches are to have minimal training, with FOIs suggesting courses will run for 1.5 days max. This is inadequate to understand the complex nature of mental health problems.

 

DWP: “There are no right or wrong answers”.

JW: Nonsense. There clearly are. What are the consequences of this? Will a copy of the ‘work conversation’ be shared at JobCentre+? If yes, even if these are explicitly not supposed to be used for sanctioning, not having the ‘right attitude’ during the work conversation will bias people to sanction.

 

DWP:  ‘Do you need to take part? Yes

JW: Why yes to ‘do you need to take part’. For many people work is impossible and the idea they should work can feed in to or trigger mental health deterioration. Having to do this could quite literally produce the conditions that make suicide the only option.

 

DWP: What kinds of things do you like doing in your life and at work?

JW:  The inability to like anything, to enjoy life, to feel pleasure or anything but emptiness, is a core symptom of many mental health problems. This is made worse by people’s material circumstances for example poor housing, and poverty. Shining a light on what people like, or the lack thereof, can therefore be dangerous especially in a context where claimants feel obliged to perform. Claimants tell mental health professionals again and again that they simply do not feel safe enough to complete DWP forms openly. These types of questions situate claimants as performing dogs, a task that can be the final straw for many. Liking anything obviously a distant country when in mental distress/poverty. It is an absurd question and most people will not be able to fill in this form as they actually feel due to being so scared of the DWP taking away means to live. Ditto ‘what are you good at?’

 

DWP: ‘How does your health affect your life and your ability to work?’

JW: This is a very difficult question; people do not have the answer to this easily accessible. Claimants are likely to underestimate the effects of health on life, because guilt fuelled by the ‘striver or skiver’ discourse means people emphasise the good days, leading to inappropriate work plans which will place further pressure on claimants. Work coaches will be under huge pressure to produce encouraging statistics for their supervisors and the DWP, shaping how they ask questions ad hear answers.

 

DWP: ‘What work have you done in the past, if any?

JW: Many mental health and physical disabilities start after a few more functional years of adult life. There has often been a period where activity was possible before breakdown. This question is potentially dangerous in that it asks people to reflect on potentially a lost time that can never be got back, forcing into relief the difference between now and then. This is likely to provoke a mourning, an increased depression, a shame, that causes a deterioration in mental health. It may make claimants feel ‘you are not what you were, you should be, and you are not wanted otherwise’ with devastating effects.

 

DWP: ‘What are some of the things that have made you proud in your life and at work?

JW: It is none of DWP business. Again it could be damaging if nothing comes to mind, or if something special is thought of which then gets connected with the DWP (so basically a good memory and, say, fear get tied together so the good memory gets polluted). This is not a safe conversation for this environment.

 

DWP: ‘Is there anything else in your life that makes it difficult for you to work?’

JW: Claimants could answer: not having treatment for my mental health issues due to NHS cutbacks, unstable housing, being continually threatened with sanctions and having my benefits cut by the DWP, but most people will feel too scared to say it as it is, or won’t have that awareness of quite how much say austerity is a causal factor because of the ongoing governmental agenda to make claimants feel it is they who are failing somehow as work is really a possibility for all.

 

DWP: Tell us how and what you want to do’.

JW: There is no freedom to answer this properly.

 

The stated aims of ‘My 4 steps’are to boost confidence and motivation to work again. This form will not help with this. It is more likely to undermine confidence and worth with potentially devastating consequences.

 

DWP: ‘Step 1 want’.

JW: What people want is often something like being able to leave the flat. This is something that work coaches are simply not qualified to help with. The whole four-step programme is again obviously based on ideas from CBT and Behavioual Therapy though not proveably. These should not be worked on outside a trusting therapeutic relationship, where power dynamics are considered, and when the person feels safe. All these requirements are not possible in a ‘work conversation’ DWP setting.

 

How are these work coaches going to be trained to work with disabled people? What are they going to do when suicidal material comes up? GPs and secondary services no longer have capacity to help when a referral cites suicide risk.

 

How are they going to screen for people who could be made suicidal by this task. Guilt and shame are central to so many mental health problems (and obviously the governmental discourse have made many claimants feel like this). This form will press on those emotions, making live more unbearable and increasing suicide risk. The suggestions in the form that this is not for now will not help. They set up a trajectory of moving to work which is not achievable for many, making people feel they do not have a worth otherwise. This is not only unethical but will end up increasing healthcare costs.

 

Some people want help to return to work. Claimants and professionals have repeatedly told the DWP that this should be made available outside the DWP setting, where informed consent is genuinely possible, and where hindrances can be explored safely. Making these ‘conversations’ mandatory is not only likely to be ineffective and damaging for those for whom work is impossible, but will place additional strain on claimants who already feel persecuted by the increasing number of hoops the DWP demand claimants jump through. Demanding claimants fit adhere with an ideal which is unrealistic for many, and which suggests other ways of living are undesirable and meaningless, will adversely affect the mental health of many claimants, increasing the number of suicides connected with an increasingly brutal governmental regime.

 

 

[1] https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/403431/response/983255/attach/3/1816%20HWC%20Claimant%20Booklet.pdf

 

 Posted by at 13:11
May 252017
 

What you will read may be very distressing for you, but we are looking at the worst-case scenario and identifying measures to help you and other claimants.  It would be good to have some feedback on the Health and Work Conversations from people who have made an ESA claim. More we know about it, and more we can fight this.

What you should not do, is to decide not to claim ESA. That is what DWP wants you to do.

 

Some documents released by the DWP have shown the direction of travel in terms of claiming ESA under UC.

Under the old regime, a person wishing to claim ESA was placed in the ESA assessment phase, attracting the lowest ESA rate (JSA rate), and also no conditionality, and this until a Work Capability Assessment could decide whether the claimant was fit or unfit for work.

The Work and Health Conversation

Under Universal Credit, a person wishing to claim ESA will be first called for a Health and Work Conversation (HWC).  This conversation is basically a Work Focus Interview, and is mandatory, which means that a claimant can be sanctioned for not attending.  Attending does not only mean being physically present at the interview but also fulfilling all the requirements set by DWP for a WFI:

Regulation 57 of the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008:

57.—(1) A claimant is regarded as having taken part in a work-focused interview if the claimant—

(a) attends for the interview at the place and at the date and time notified in accordance with  regulation 56;

(b) provides information, if requested by the Secretary of State, about any or all of the  matters set out in paragraph (2);

(c) participates in discussions to the extent the Secretary of State considers necessary, about  any or all of the matters set out in paragraph (3);

(d) assists the Secretary of State in the completion of an action plan.

 

(2) The matters referred to in paragraph (1)(b) are—

(a) the claimant’s educational qualifications and vocational training;

(b) the claimant’s work history;

(c) the claimant’s aspirations for future work;

(d) the claimant’s skills t

hat are relevant to work;

(e) the claimant’s work-related abilities;

(f) the claimant’s caring or

 childcare responsibilities; and

(g) any paid or unpaid work that the claimant is undertaking.

 

(3) The matters referred to in paragraph (1)(c) are—

(a) any activity the claimant is willing to undertake which may make obtaining or remaining  in work more likely;

(b) any such activity that the claimant may have previously undertaken;

(c) any progress the claimant may have made towards remaining in or obtaining work;

(d) any work-focused health-related assessment the claimant may have taken part in; and

(e) the claimant’s opinion as to the extent to which the ability to remain in or obtain work is restricted by the claimant’s physical or mental condition.

 

So the main difference with the previous regime is that people with a fit note from their GP saying they are not fit for work, will be (are being) called for a mandatory WFI.

They also will be asked to fill a questionnaire which is also mandatory and to undertake an optional exercise called My values.  You can read about the questionnaire here

According to the DWP, some ‘vulnerable’ people will be exempted from this conversation. [1]

The DWP defines vulnerability as “an individual who is identified as having complex needs and/or requires additional support to enable them to access DWP benefits and use our services.” but has not yet released the guidance given to Work Coaches on who will be exempted from the HWC.  As these conversations have already started, this guidance exists and should be released immediately by the DWP.

Unfortunately, based on the DWP ghastly track record, it is likely that pressure to attend will be placed on people unable to attend because of their health conditions. DPAC has already encountered a case of a person with mental capacity issues and a life threatening health condition being requested to attend a HWC.

 

After the Health and Work Conversation

Unlike under the previous regime, when ESA claimants with a GP fit note saying they were unfit to work were not expected to fulfil any work related requirements until a WCA said otherwise, ESA claimants under UC will be by default assumed to be fit for work and expected to fulfil all Work Related Requirements  until their  WCA . [2]

Claimants to whom the All Work Related Requirements apply:

  • claimants who have a fit note and are awaiting a WCA
  • claimants who have been found not to have limited capability for work at the WCA and are appealing against this outcome
  • claimants who have some paid work but are earning below conditionality earnings threshold
  • claimants who do not fall into any other group

 

What All Work Related Requirement means:

 

Claimants in this group must be available for full-time work of any type and look for this within 90 minute travelling time from their home. Restrictions can be applied to looking for work, the type of work and hours of work where it is appropriate due to the claimant’s capability and circumstances.

Claimants must be engaged in work search and work preparation activities for at least the number of hours they are available for work. Claimants must take all reasonable action to obtain paid work. 

Work Coaches must set work search activities for the claimant to search for work for their expected hours (This is the number of hours that the claimant is available for work or 35 hours, whichever is the lower figure) less deductions from this for the allowable time spent undertaking agreed work-preparation activities , voluntary work and paid work. 

 

Only one restriction for people with health conditions is mentioned in the document: claimants who have a fit note will not be required to take up work that they are not capable of doing until their fit note ends

 

Any other derogation to the All Work Related Requirements will be at the discretion of work coaches.  For most claimants, work coaches will not have more medical information than the fit note (the diagnosis) or in some cases, the WCA outcome when they have not be found to have Limited Capability for Work and Work-Related Activity, and they should not be able to ask claimants for this kind of information without breaching the Data Protection Act.  These work coaches are also not medically trained. Any Work Related Requirement will be based on the diagnosis, and on what the claimant would have told them during the HWC conversation and in the questionnaire.  Also based on that, claimants would have to complete an action plan and sign a claimant commitment.  Failure to do so could result in a sanction.

This is deeply worrying because:

1) an extra step is introduced before the WCA which is already stressful enough

2) all claimants assessed by their GP as unfit for work, will be considered by default fit for work by the DWP.

3) work coaches are medically untrained and unable to comprehend whether a work related requirement can have a detrimental effect on the health of a claimant

4) GPs medical judgement is undermined by medically untrained staff.

5) DWP definition of ‘vulnerable’ may be so restrictive that some claimants with very serious health conditions could be requested to attend a  HWC and sanctioned for failing to do so

[1] https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/398247/response/972681/attach/2/1341%20Reply.pdf

 

[2] https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/301588/response/743734/attach/4/FOI%204794%20part%202.pdf

 Posted by at 20:54