Nov 262011

22nd November : A  poignant, funny , political evening in Mander Hall launches UK Disability History Month 2011.

Nina Franklin, NUT President, told the meeting of 60 disabled people and their allies that she identified as a disabled person, how important UKDHM was to raise awareness, to support the  struggle for equality disabled people face and to remind us of the abuses of the past,  which are unfortunately still continuing. Nina told of how privileged she had been to take part in a school trip to Auschwitz where the Nazi killing programme of disabled people was symbolised by the Black Triangle. This has been reclaimed by the UKDHM Logo.

Ellen Goodey, a 29 year actor/poet, musician, trainer and office worker  with Down’s Syndrome told the meeting about her life and said ‘it was only possible because she had attended mainstream nursery, primary, secondary, college and university and been included’.

Richard Rieser (UKDHM Coordinator) told the meeting that we must learn the lessons of the struggles of the past by disabled people, which have led to the current improved position and mobilise to defend what we have got with our allies, now that we are subject to attacks in our livelihood and ideologically in the press and by Government.  More than 50 events and exhibitions were taking place throughout the UK in the month. Barbara Lisicki recounted how the Direct Action Network won struggle for accessible busses.

Maresa Mackeith,  a-non verbal, English graduate, presented her inspiration by C18th disabled women poets like Mary Lepour, Mary Chandler, Marry Scott and Ann Lesley and how she and a group of 9 other non-verbal young people have set up Quiet Revolution to get equality for non-verbal young people.

Ruth Bashall, a lesbian and disability rights activist, talked of the increase in hate crime both domestic and in the street to disabled people highlighted by the recent EHRC Report Hidden in Plain Sight, which clearly was a result of the economic policies leading to a minority of people scapegoating disabled people.

Lucy Mason, who has brittle bones contrasted her  life to her mother who has the same condition. Her mother had not gone to school in 1950’s/1960’s, until she was 14, and then was sent to residential boarding school where she got an education but was not equipped to deal with life. Lucy had gone although inclusive school and was now a youth activist empowerment trainer working all round the world.

Tony Crosby from Heritage Lottery Fund said they had already given grants of £4.5million for groups of disabled people to discover their history and called for more applications.

A letter was read out from Penny Beschizza of British Deaf Association committing the BDA to support UKDHM from 2012.

The evening was rounded up by Laurence Clarke– a ‘stand up’ comedian who operates from his wheelchair who told the audience if they can’t understand him ‘that’s tough’ as he has cerebral palsy. Laurence talked about the embarrassment and ignorance he and his disabled wife had in the NHS as they prepare for their first and now second child and had us in stitches over the ridiculous attitudes that some medical professionals HAVE.

Report by Richard Rieser

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.


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

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


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