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

Nov 162011
 

Join us (DPAC, Benefit Claimants Fightback, and many others) in December for a month of protests, actions and demonstrations against poverty pimps Atos and the Condem government’s Welfare Reform Bill.

With thousands to face homelessness in the New Year due to housing benefit cuts, the harassment and further impoverishment of hundreds of thousands of disabled people due to punitive ‘assessments’, the continued persecution of people on sickness benefits, soaring unemployment and forced labour in the name of Workfare, a truly Victorian Christmas is on the cards for millions of us.

Whilst Atos CEO and disability denier Keith Wilman tucks into his organic Christmas turkey or multi-millionaire poverty pimp Emma Harrison of A4e hangs tinsel in her tax payer funded stately home, millions of disabled, low paid, unemployed or sick people are facing a future of poverty, worsening health and homelessness.

Parents will be spending Christmas terrified that the new demands of conditionally for benefits, such as forcing single mothers into workfare schemes, will leave them unable to properly care for their children. People will life threatening conditions or mental health problems will be terrified that their upcoming Atos assessment, notoriously flawed as it is, will further strip them of vital and life saving benefits. Tens of thousands of low waged families are about to be socially cleansed from city centres due to housing benefit cuts whilst unemployed people face the prospect of being forced to work full time and still survive on just a few pounds a day.

The Welfare Reform Bill will see millions of disabled people forced into a similar, if not identical, testing regime for the new Personal Independence Payment that has tragically led to suicides amongst people already forced to undertake Atos’ Work Capability Assessments

For the last year disabled people, claimant activists and supporters have been protesting against the inhumane treatment being inflicted on already vulnerable people. Scores of protests have been held outside (and sometimes inside) the offices of Atos ‘Healthcare’, the largest ever march of disabled people and supporters has taken place, protests have been held outside the Daily Mail, A4e offices and other workfare providers and online activity about benefit issues has exploded.

Still the Tory Government pushes ahead, with their Lib Dem lap dogs never far ahead. We need more than ever to increase the pressure and fight these attacks on our most basic needs and very survival. Organise and help spread the word now, please list all local actions, protests at comments on http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/
and we will do our best to help promote and support all events as well as list them here.

Alternatively why not gather up your friends and turn up to spread seasonal cheer at your local Atos unannounced and then tell us about it afterwards. Everyone loves a surprise guest at Christmas!

We will not stop until they kill us.

A list of Atos corporate offices can be found at: http://uk.atos.net/en-uk/about_us/locations/

A PDF of all Atos Assessment Centres is available at: http://www.atoshealthcare.com/UserFiles/File/fact-sheets/2011/Assessment%20Centre%20Location%20List_July%202011.pdf

http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/