Feb 182011
 

Transcript with many heartfelt thanks to Liz for agreeing to speak for disabled people at the People’s Convention.

Thank you… I can only dream of being on the platform.  One day… One day we’ll make it.

Disabled people make up 20 % of the population.  That’s a conservative estimate.  We are hidden impairments, we are visible, we are old, we are gay, we are lesbian, we are black, we are white, we are all sorts of people, that’s who we are.

But what we are not is… We are not victims.  We are not scroungers or frauds.  We are not vulnerable or work shy.  We are not charity cases or burdens or ‘unsustainables’ or useless eaters.

We are fighters, survivors, leaders, comrades, brothers & sisters in arms, campaigners, citizens and equals.

This, like for many of us, is not a new struggle.  Our history is littered with disabled people being scapegoated, demonaised, discriminated against and oppressed.  It is also a history of disabled people fighting back against this.

From the League of the Blind who unionized in the 19th Century to fight for their rights, to the war veterans who marched on Whitehall for the jobs and respect they were due, to disabled people fighting to escape residential care in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s forming the Union of Physically Impaired Against Segregation, to those of us in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s who chained ourselves to buses to secure equality in public transport and in law… We have been here before.

However, we are faced with a horrific onslaught of attacks from all directions.  The cuts that we’re all talking about today, we encounter those cuts too – whether it’s the increase in VAT, privatization of our basic services, of the NHS, of cuts effecting the public sector – we experience them too as disabled people but on top of that we’re having our benefits whipped from us, we’re being assessed by bastards at ATOS, people in care homes are having the mobility component of their DLA (Disability Living Allowance) removed, we’re being charged for the basic right to have a wee, our Independent Living Fund money that allows us to be independent within the community is being removed in 4 years time, Incapacity Benefit is being scrapped and replaced by the unforgiving ESA (Employment Support Allowance), on top of that there is hate crime, limits to housing benefit, Access to Work, to transport and if we want to challenge it, to Legal Aid too.  That’s fucked as well.

Disabled people are living in fear.  We are living in poverty.  We are going to be living in the Dark Ages where they decide between the deserving and the undeserving poor.

But, we will not let this happen.  Because through our history, what we have learnt is that the media, the policy makers and the Government will try to separate us into our different groups.  They will try to weaken us.  They will try and make us compete against each other for whatever crumbs are on offer, fighting amongst ourselves, individualizing this struggle, dividing us so that they may conquer and change the balance  of society in favour of financial capital rather than social capital and equality.  That’s what happening.  We cannot afford to let this happen.

We are fighting for our lives, for our freedom, for our existence.  That’s how important it is to disabled people and for everybody here today.  It is about our basic liberty, our basic right to life.  We will not be hidden away.  We will not be hidden away behind close doors, out of sight out of mind, in our homes or institutions.  We will not settle for charity rather than rights.  We will not be forgotten.  We will not be silenced.

We must mobilise and in doing so not forget those who cannot take to the streets in protest but who can through virtual protesting.

We must politicise.  We must educate ourselves and others in what’s happening in our own and wider campaigns.

We have to radicalise.  This is about revolution not reformation anymore.

We must unite.  As disabled people, as disabled people and allies, as everyone – we must unite.

Together we are stronger.

Thank you.

Feb 132011
 

Organised by Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC), Right to Work, Labour Representation Committee

Over 800 people came together on Saturday 12th in London to talk about the cuts and the way forward for the TUC march on the 26th March. Disabled people were there and the stage sported a big DPAC banner in the middle. The day was videoed and the DPAC workshop was also videoed. The report of the day overall will be elsewhere. Here we look at the great turnout by disabled people and celebrate the central place we had in this day.

Morning

The morning open floor brought great comments from some disabled participants, including, Richard Rieser, Adrian Whyatt and Sasha Callaghan on the effect of the cuts for disabled people, including the human rights abuses and the closure of poverty pimps ATOS offices across Scotland on the national day of protest against cuts.

DPAC Worksho
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The DPAC workshop was held in the afternoon. It was great to see so many people at this with 50 or 60 people, some attendees from as far as Scotland. Speakers on the panel were Richard Rieser, Debbie Jolly, Sue Bott and Kevin Caulfield. The workshop was chaired by Eleanor Lisney. There were many comments and questions at the workshop, these included:

We are being sent back to Victorian times: we should all be involved in local anti-cuts groups, emulate DAN protests, disabled people need to be at front of things and be united

We are incensed by the coverage in newspapers against disabled people

Need to make sure we include Deaf people and those with invisible disabilities, but not impairment based- we cannot go back to arguing about impairments- we must all fight together, must be inclusive

Mental health resistance network couldn’t all get to London today but want to support and be included: facing difficult times being given ‘talking treatment’ but they (the government) concentrate on getting us ‘well’, but they just want to get us into work

Participant remembers Richard speaking at European Social Forum; there are many more people here and comments that Sasha did a brilliant job when speaking this morning about ATOS

We need to come together and find common ground, not just disabled people but across the board. We all need to fully support the campaign and get the trade unions behind this too

There are not many disabled millionaires and certainly none at the convention. This is an attack on working class people. We need to get joint campaigns with all anti-cuts campaigns. Disabled people need to link up, need to unite: Every single local group should make contacts with disability groups in the area

We need to stop people from the Charity sector taking over: Rights not Charity

Issues were raised with the dropping off of people from buses at Wembly for the 26th March TUC London march. Right to Work have sent a statement to Brendan Barber not to drop in Wembley because of access issues and cost of getting to central London for the march. Disabled people need to email too.

John McArdle of Black triangle reminded us of the story of Paul Reekie.

It was noted that sometimes people aren’t getting messages re demos and protests, but also that the police always seem to know where we are going to be.

It was suggested that a boycott of newspapers following the government line and producing rhetoric on disabled people as scroungers are boycotted including the Scottish Mail, Daily Mail and others.

A video of the workshop will be available soon

Afternoon

The afternoon was made up of invited speakers, feedback from the workshops and debate. The highlight of the afternoon was Liz Carr’s speech which received a standing ovation from the audience.

Video of Liz Carr’s speech

A full list of actions proposed by Disabled People against Cuts and accepted by the Peoples’ Convention

The protest on 26th March needs to be fully accessible with disabled people involved in the planning. There needs to be representation of disabled people with and without visible impairments on the platform.

We propose a day of national demonstrations against ATOS.

We propose a month of action over the month of July to coincide with the second anniversary of the signing of the UN Convention.

We propose that every local anti-cuts movement has an autonomous disabled people’s sub group.

We propose support for UKDPC’s day of disabled people’s protest proposed for 11th May.(to be confirmed)

We propose that we speak to our colleagues at Unison about how the cuts are being implemented.

Debbie Jolly

Feb 092011
 
Liz Carr

Liz Carr

We are very happy that Disabled comedian and activist Liz Carr will be speaking at the People’s Convention on Saturday February 12th at the Friend’s Meeting House opposite Euston Station in London.

We are also running a workshop in the afternoon ‘At the Forefront of Resistance’

This workshop’s panel –

Sue Bott, Director of National Centre for Independent Living

A disabled person with visual impairment from birth, Sue has been active in the disability movement in the UK for many years.

Richard Reiser, co ordinator for UK Disability History Month

Richard is an expert disabled international equality trainer, consultant and teacher.

Kevin Caulfield, Chair of Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition Against Community Care Cuts (HAFCAC)

Kevin is an active campaigner for all disabled people’s rights to equality and equal citizenship from a social model perspective at a local, regional and national level.

We would like as many disabled people as possible to come to this to tell us what you think. It starts at 10.30- 5 pm but the afternoon workshop if anyone is unable to come for the whole day should start at 2pm. Please support us.

The venue is Friends Meeting house near Euston Station. You need to book tickets from www.righttowork.org.uk £2 unwaged £5 waged to cover the costs of putting on the conference.

Access of venue – Friends Meeting House is accessible for wheelchair users. Accessible Parking can be found at Euston Station (£25 per day). Frequent buses stop at Euston station.

BSL We have requested for BSL interpreters. tbc.

Easy Read worker will be available at workshop.

Lunch is NOT provided – there is a vegetarian cafe en site at the venue. Eateries and food available at Euston Station including Nandos, Harry Ramsden Fish and Chips, and Marks and Spencers.

Dec 222010
 

Liz Carr

Disabled comedian and activist Liz Carr will be speaking at the People’s Convention on February 12th.

We are also running a workshop in the afternoon ‘At the Forefront of Resistance’

We would like as many disabled people as possible to come to this to tell us what you think. It starts at 10.30- 5 pm but the afternoon workshop if anyone is unable to come for the whole day should start at 2pm. Please support us.

The venue is Friends Meeting House near Euston Station. You need to book tickets from www.righttowork.org.uk £2 unwaged £5 waged to cover the costs of putting on the conference.
We need your help to provide strategy to be visible along the rest of people who are affected by cuts.