Nov 042012

CONTACT – Disabled People Against Cuts Caerdydd, 07855510534
A disabled person in his 30s will lead a five day hunger strike and vigil outside the ATOS office on St Agnes Road, Gabalfa, Cardiff to protest a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) declaring him fit for work and cutting his benefits.
Christos Palmer, who has both mental and physical health problems, including depression, self-harm and mobility issues, hopes the protest will highlight the suffering of disabled people caused by current government policies.
ATOS, the French IT company that carries out the controversial Work Capability Assessments for the DWP has been the subject of widespread condemnation from disability charities and the British Medical Assocation who call for the assesments to be scrapped completely. The firm has been accused of target chasing for cutting the amount of people found eligible for benefits.

Rob Marsh, a protest spokesperson said,
“Earlier this year a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary revealed the DWP requires ATOS to reject the benefit claims of 7 out of 8 disabled claimants, resulting in immense suffering, homelessness, or death. The mark of a civilised society is how it addresses the needs of its most vulnerable members. Given what is happening to tens of thousands of disabled people in Britain today, we can no longer claim to be a civilized society.

Our campaign is part of a national campaign that goes by the name “Atos Kills”. This is based on well-documented evidence that approximately 32 disabled people a week died last year after their Atos Work Capability Assessments deemed them “fit to work” and stopped benefits. This year the figure has  risen to 73 deaths per week including suicides”
A spokesperson from Disabled People Against Cuts in Cardiff said,

 “While we support the protest aims we are extremely concerned about Christos’s physical and mental wellbeing. He often suffers from extreme fatigue and is housebound on some days. That somebody so unwell has been driven to this shows the desperation that the sick and disabled are being driven to by this government. We are urging him to end his hunger strike”
The protest begins on Monday at 8 am and end on Friday afternoon.
Press are suggested to attend at 12 noon on Monday.
Rob Marsh, Disabled People Against Cuts Caerdydd Spokesperson – 07855510534

The peaceful week long vigil against Atos outside their Gabalfa offices on St. Agnes Road aims to start every day starting at 8am and finishing roughly at 4pm at earliest, from Monday 5 – Friday 9 November, times will vary depending on the weather and other factors. Christos aims to be on hunger strike throughout the protest, supporters are strongly trying to persuade him not to go on hunger strike.
Christos Palmer, a former IT technician has been medically diagnosed with both mental and physical health problems, including depression, self-harm and mobility issues.  He has asked that Rob Marsh of Disabled People Against Cuts Caerdydd to be a press spokesperson for the protest
According to an FOI (Freedom of Information) response publicised by the Daily Mail journalist Sonia Poulton on October 7, the current weekly average Atos/DWP death toll of people found fit for work after an ESA work capability assessment now stands at 73 people per week.
A FOI in April revealed in 2011 an average of 32 dying a week after failing test for new incapacity benefit. More than a thousand ­sickness benefit claimants died last year after being told to get a job.
There have been numerous horror stories in the media of people with terminal illnesses (in one infamous case even someone in a coma) being declared fit for work by ATOS and having their benefits cut.
Recent Stories:
‘A GRIEVING boy of 13 has accused Atos of killing his disabled dad. Kieran McArdle told the Daily Record in a harrowing letter how his father Brian, 57, collapsed and died the day after his disability benefits were stopped. He had been assessed by Atos and deemed “fit for work”’
‘A cancer sufferer, who had her benefits cut by government officials who said she was fit to work, has died’.
‘I sought this debate in order to raise the case of one of my constituents, Colin Traynor, who was epileptic. He was assessed as fit for work, yet died less than four months later’ (Michael Meacher MP)
Website documenting many of the deaths caused by government welfare reform

DPAC want to make it very clear that we do not recommend hunger strikes nor do we agree with them. We respect Christos’ choice and understand his reasons, but would be happier with a different method of protest. However, we support Christos’ aims and those of fellow protesters at the Cardiff Vigil.