Jun 232014

We want to congratulate the Peoples Assembly and all who joined the successful demo in London on the 21st June.

Over the weekend various accounts have surfaced on social media in relation to DPAC and the event. We would like to clarify that the DPAC steering group have not released any prior statements nor spoken to any bloggers on this issue

 We are posting below the key points of a statement sent by the DPAC steering group to Peoples Assembly organisers on the 9th June in which we raised particular issues -to date we have not received a response or acknowledgement.

“Whilst we welcome the calling of a demonstration bringing
together anti-austerity campaigns with union members, DPAC is unable to support with fundraising for access. We are at full
capacity fundraising for our own activities-   We are disappointed that access has still not been mainstreamed within the Peoples’ Assembly infrastructure.

We do not consider it appropriate that access should be sidelined and delegated out  to DPAC rather than mainstreamed with the Peoples’ Assembly. The equipment needed to ensure inclusion is neither an optional consumer choice nor a charity need.

With regard to the participation of DPAC members in the themed  block, ‘Welfare not Warfare’ (or Housing and Social Security) our position is that as a grassroots campaign not a top-down bureaucratic organisation, we cannot tell our members where to march. Some of us feel it recreates the
segregation and containment of disabled people of which there
is a long and painful history. It also denies the productive
contribution many of our members undertake despite many
barriers, which viciously impact our work roles and pay

For all our members who do wish to march in the Welfare-themed block they may find their non-disabled friends and allies drawn away to the other sections, reducing the social-ness of this occasion. Whilst everyone will to some extent be faced with the same decision of where to march, for disabled people  this kind of division and exclusion from social participation is painfully routine.

The rationale that the blocks graphically depict the different
sections of society / areas of social life affected by
austerity has not been thought through from the perspective of disabled people. If a signal is to be sent that all sections
of society oppose austerity and are prepared to organize in a
disciplined way shoulder to shoulder then attention must be paid to making solidarity with disabled peoples’ struggle against victimization and exclusion a reality, and not just pay lip service to it or treat us as objects. Nobody would dream of proposing a block of Black and Minority Ethnic  people flanked by white blocks, so why are disabled people to be herded together?

(DPAC Steering Group sent to Peoples Assembly organisers 9th June)

 We had decided to keep this statement a private matter between DPAC and the Peoples Assembly. However due to the continuing comments and misinterpretations on social media we have no option but to go public with this to counter some of the unhelpful assumptions that are being made.

 We look forward to working constructively with the Peoples Assembly in the future and appreciate that some limited attempt at access was provided on the 21st.

 However, until the costs of meeting access needs are recognised as a vital and non-negotiable cost by all event organisers disabled people will remain marginalised and excluded. The key issue for all events including the 21st June is that access should be mainstreamed from the beginning – not added as an afterthought



Dec 132012

Cross posted and with thanks to Kate Belgrave

Ever since disabled man Geoff Meeghan was trapped in an Atos assessment centre a week or so ago when a fire alarm went off at the centre there’s been much discussion about the accessibility – or otherwise – of the buildings that Atos is using to hold work capability assessments for the employment and support allowance. ESA is a disability allowance, so it follows that a lot of people who must attend work capability assessments are wheelchair users and/or people who have mobility problems. You’d think that at the very least, buildings would be properly adapted to make entering and leaving those buildings as easy as possible for everyone.

Au contraire.

I took the video below in September when I accompanied DPAC campaigner Patrick Lynch and his carer Stephen to the assessment centre in Archway where Patrick’s WCA was to be held. I’ve uploaded it here to give you an idea of the rubbish which passes for accessibility in some of these centres.

As you’ll see in the video, the front doors at the centre wouldn’t open. A woman who was smoking a cigarette out the front came over to show us how to open the doors – she pulled them open with her bare hands. The “lift” was a single platform squeezed into the right-hand side of the groundfloor entrance. To call the lift, we had to hold the call button down and keep it held down. The door into the cupboard (which it was, literally) which housed this platform opened outwards, into the path of the wheelchair. Once inside, the platform only started moving when the call button was held down. It certainly took more than one person to operate everything.

I don’t know what would have happened if there had been a fire. Using this lift for escape purposes would have been challenging, all right, especially if you tried to fit more than one wheelchair in it. There may have been a brilliant, if not brilliantly obvious, escape route out back, of course, but if there was, nobody told us about it. Would we have had to find it ourselves?

Kate Belgrave

See also: DPAC Survey responses on WCA: Atos and DWP Exposed

Feb 202011

protest poster
We now have some access details for the 26th March –

heres the map with the assembly point for disabled people.

Arrangements for disabled people who:

  • wish to join the march at the main assembly point
  • wish to join the last part of the march for a shorter route to the rally
  • wish to go straight to Hyde Park.

Details below can be found at March for the Alternative website

Remember to let Peter Purton ppurton@tuc.org.uk know by March 14th if you need access permission.

There is a Buddies for rallies page here if you need help and want to send out a message.

Also UNITE are providing free transport for non-union members: contact your local UNITE office about this.

At Victoria Embankment assembly point

  • There will be a special assembly point in Savoy St at the start of the March for people in wheelchairs and disabled people  who wish to join the demonstration in a group. There are accessible toilets within reasonable distance of the assembly point. This will be separately stewarded and marchers will be slotted in towards the front of the march.  Savoy Street is now shown on the assembly point map. We understand of course that many people with disabilities will want to join their union or other groups in the rest of the march.
  • The size of the event means that there will be major road closures throughout central London all day on March 26th starting quite early.
  • Roads at the assembly point will be closed from around 9am and drop off times before then will be limited to 10 minutes. But it will be possible for taxis/dial-a-ride/minibus vehicles, though not coaches, to drop near Savoy St up to 11am (but not park). We will need to gather requests for such access (and we also need to arrange pick-up access after the event at Hyde Park). We will be issuing permits for this, and without them access may not be possible. Email Peter Purton at ppurton@tuc.org.uk by March 14th.

Short march assembly point

  • For those who wish to join the march for a shorter distance there is a further assembly point in St James St (off Piccadilly). It is now on the route map. There are accessible toilets that we have arranged within reasonable distance of this assembly point. This will allow people to join the march for the final stretch into Hyde Park. We would want people formed up there by 12:45, but if you are being dropped off in a vehicle it is likely that all nearby roads will be closed from 11am. We cannot arrange exceptions for this as access roads will be completely closed and other roads by this time will be heavily congested.  We will also need to know in advance about anyone coming who needs vehicle access to the short march assembly point so that we can discuss arrangements, particularly for pick-up. Email Peter Purton at ppurton@tuc.org.uk by March 14th.
  • Of course people can join or leave the march at any point along the route, and as the march will be huge it is likely to be moving along Piccadilly from 1pm to probably at least 3:30pm, so if people wish to arrive later by tube they can. Piccadilly, Green Park and Hyde Park Corner are all on the final stretch of the march.

In the march

  • We are expecting that there will be St Johns Ambulance ambulances at the front and rear of the march and there will be trained first aiders distributed along the route.
  • It will not be possible for other vehicles to join the march.
  • Stewards will be briefed on disability issues, particularly those stewarding the assembly points in Savoy St and St James St.

Coach Parking arrangements

  • As there are so many coaches coming we are allocating coach drop off and parking places in advance, and people will make the rest of their journey by public transport or under their own steam.  A number of tube stations close to the assembly point are accessible and we will allocate coaches to drop off points near to accessible stations if we know about special needs in advance.
  • All coaches need to be registered with the TUC in advance. Coach organisers should  include any access issues when they do this, or tell us later if they only become apparent later. This should be done through the contact page.
  • We are not yet in a position to allocate coach drop-off and parking points as we are still trying to gather as many options as possible. There are rumours that all coaches are going to Wembley. This is not true, although we will be using the Wembley coach park as one of a number of locations. We will be using a range of different drop-off points and parking arrangements around London for coaches. One reason for this is to make it easier for access for vehicles delivering and picking up people with disabilities to get to the march – and more importantly pick-up points.

In Hyde Park

  • There will be a signer on the giant screen(s).
  • There will be a further St John Ambulance facility, which will be joined by the ambulance at the front of the march when it arrives.
  • There will be a hard surface area accessible via hard paths that are suitable for wheelchairs.
  • There will be disabled access toilets.
  • For those who wish only to go to Hyde Park there will be some limited vehicle access taxi/dial-a-ride and minibus style vehicles either within Hyde Park (though space is very limited) or nearby. This will only be by pre-arrangement and with a permit issued by the TUC. Contact Peter Purton in advance ppurton@tuc.org.uk by March 14th.

Pick up points

  • We will be able to arrange pick-up points for taxi/dial-a-ride and minibus style vehicles either within Hyde Park (though space is very limited) or nearby. This will only be by pre-arrangement and with a permit issued by the TUC. Again you need to contact Peter Purton in advance ppurton@tuc.org.uk by March 14th.