Jun 272011
 
June 30th placard

June 30th placard

In Birmingham

(with Birmingham Against the Cuts)

Assemble at 12 noon in Victoria Square for a rally and march.. This will be a regional demonstration with anti-cuts groups from around the region, and striking workers will be coming to the city centre from picket lines to demonstrate.

Confirmed Speakers:

Kevin Courtney (Deputy General Secratary of the NUT),

Hugh Lanning (Deputy General Secretary of PCS)

Michael McNeil (UCU Head of HE)

Local UNISON Branch speaker

DPAC speaker

+More speakers from Unions to be confirmed

Whilst for the unions this can only be about the specific cut they are striking about, for everyone else this can be about the cuts in general. DPAC will be supporting to show solidarity with the workers going on strike and to show resistance to the ConDem administrations both locally and nationally

We will join the rally at 12 noon at Victoria Square, and hope that people will be able to come on their lunch break or even better book annual leave for that day. If you can’t make it, then show support in whatever way you can.

In London

Unite the Fights June 30th

Unite the Fights June 30th

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – Right to Work is looking for activists who can volunteer between now & the 30th June to help with stalls, campaigning, placard & banner making. We will be running campaign stalls at major demos across the country, see the battle map for protests & contact us on 07961 337 640 or 07749 481 600 to volunteer or be put in touch with the Right to Work group in your area.

Event

JOINT RALLY AND MARCH IN CENTRAL LONDON 30 Jun 2011 11:00 Assemble in Lincoln’s Inn Fields (Holborn Tube) at 11 am and march down Whitehall to joint union rally in Central Hall, Westminster.

Have a look at the  map of protest rallies in the rest of the country –

Jun 272011
 

Programme for Day of Action June 29th 2011

(Times are approximate)

11am         Gather at South End of Westminster Bridge outside St Thomas’s Hospital

11.45         Start the Noisy March for Inclusion round Westminster Square

12.45         Big Balloon Escape outside Westminster Abbey

1.00            Continue Noisy March to DCSF, Sanctuary Buildings, Gt.Smith Street, SW1P.  Hand in Campaign Demands and personal responses to the Green Paper. Sit down on steps/pavement.     Make more noise.

(some may like a break at this point for food/drinks/toilets.  Abbey Café nearby)

2.00-3.30  Press/MPs/Lords briefing in room C, 1 Parliament Street (for 6 of us only)

Handing in demands to 10 Downing Street.

3.15          Concert for Inclusion and further leafleting, outside Westminster Abbey

4.00           End of organised events

More information at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_204861262889124&ap=1

Jun 272011
 
Save the NHS march

Save the NHS march, May © 2011 Pete Riches

This march was initiated by health workers in Unite the Union, who felt that the savage attacks on the NHS needed a stronger response than the media event planned for the NHS 63rd birthday.

The ‘listening exercise’ on the Health and Social Care Bill was a PR job, and has resulted only in minor cosmetic changes. The clear intention is a corporate takeover of our NHS, and the end of a comprehensive and universal healthcare system. The combination of this legislation and £20 billion ‘efficiency savings’ is an utter disaster.

The legislation is now being rushed through, with little time remaining to organise in defence of the NHS. This demonstration is an incredibly important one for health workers, to build our confidence and help us organise and fight against the coming onslaught. It’s an important demonstration, too, for all of us – to build practical unity between NHS workers and the wider community, and to send a clear message to Cameron and his chums that we will fight them every inch of the way.

Our health workers in Unite would welcome anything you can do to publicise this march, and to encourage your supporters to attend.

The demonstration assembles at 5.30 pm on 5th July at Savoy Street, Strand, London, and marches to Old Palace Yard (opposite Parliament).

Jun 262011
 

Thursday, June 30 · 8:30am – 11:00am

Euston Tower, then Triton Square, Euston Road, London, NW1

Benefit claimants, disabled people and supporters will be joining the PCS picket line at HMRC, Euston Tower from 8.30am*.

We  will be standing in solidarity with all striking workers on the day, and in
particular public sector workers who know only too well what the result of this
government’s savage welfare policies will be.

Join  us at Euston Tower, where speeches will begin at 9am.  At 10am we will be
paying a short visit to notorious poverty pimps Atos Origin, the IT  company
responsible for carrying out the disastrous Work Capability  Assessments which
have driven sick and disabled claimants to suicide.

Many  of us then will make our way to the Trade Union march and Striker’s
Assembly, both being held in central London.  For full details of all  events,
pickets and actions taking place in London on the day please  visit:
http://www.j30strike.org/location/london/

*the PCS picket line will begin at 7am so please come earlier if you can.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=157149237689219&;

Jun 252011
 

DPAC condemns the outrageous comments made by Phillip Davies Conservative MP for Shipley, Yorkshire.  Davies announced that disabled people should be paid less than minimum wage. He claimed disabled people are considered less productive than non disabled people. Davies was condemned by Disability organizations, MPs and others for his thoughtless comments.

His comments come at a time of rising unemployment, a time when disabled people through the Work Capability Assessment are being moved from Incapacity Benefit to being declared ‘fit for work’ by the maligned Atos group. Atos has already been subject to several investigations on its practices. Davies who has made previous comments suggesting disabled people are ‘scroungers’ now claims that disabled people should be paid less than £5.93 per hour. From scroungers to slave labour!

For years disabled people have argued that employers’ attitudes that perceive disabled people as less productive, regardless of qualification level or previous experience are issues that need tackling through education. The recent changes to Access to Work and the increased levels in the contributions from employers for adjustments have also had a knock-on effect on disabled people getting work. Disabled people are those most likely to be long-term unemployed NOT due to impairment but to ignorance of the very kind an elected MP feels no qualms about displaying. Even our enemy media outlet the Daily Mail condemns Davies.

Davies’ comments set disabled peoples’ opportunities back 20 years. It is the type of prejudice that we would expect from MPs given the raft of misunderstandings around disability that we have endured since the coalition came to power. The irony is that disabled people regardless of qualification are often paid less than their non-disabled colleagues. This is not because of productivity but because employers feel they can get away with it. In 2009 disabled people were paid a gross average of £11.08 compared to £12.30 for non disabled employees (Labour Force Survey 2009). DPAC suspects the differences are wider. These are the issues MPs should be discussing NOT reducing disabled workers wages further.

Davies fails to recognise that disabled people have the right to be paid a living wage, a fair wage, and a wage appropriate to skills and qualifications – and it seems all MPs fail to recognise the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities– a convention setting up disabled peoples’ rights as equal to those of non-disabled people. No one should be considered a second class citizen because they happen to be disabled, nor should they be paid less for the same work.

Tell Davies what you think of his idea by signing the petition at the link below

Take action link: http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/AgjLO/zlRm/CxM4

—————Debbie Jolly

Debbie Jolly

Debbie Jolly

Jun 242011
 

Anne Novis asks for your help:

Hi everyone I need your help.

I have been an advisor to the EHRC disability harassment inquiry.

They have asked me for any evidence of any hostility directly related to government comments, speeches, news releases etc

There has to be a direct link so say someone says something that is the same as what MP etc has said

Or newspaper article comments which indicate hostility related to info in article about disabled people, benefit fraud, motability, work shy etc etc

I know the info is out there but trawling through all forums etc beyond me I will collate all links and info and send to EHRC

please send to Linda Burnip linda_burnip@yahoo.co.uk or comment here.

Jun 242011
 

Unite the Fights June 30th

Unite the Fights June 30th

Right to Work – Volunteers needed!


Over 800,000 trade unionists are set to strike next Thursday in the biggest confrontation with the government so far.
The country will be awash with picket lines and protests, see the battle map on the Right to Work website for more information. We are urging all our supporters to visit picket lines in solidarity, take breakfast, take banners, etc.
We are looking for activists who can volunteer between now & the 30th June to help with stalls, campaigning, placard & banner making. If you are able to offer your time please get in touch. We will be running campaign stalls at major demos across the country, see the battle map for protests & contact us on 07961 337 640 or 07749 481 600 to volunteer or be put in touch with the Right to Work group in your area.
Text us for 30 June strikes/materials/volunteers – Text on 07961 337 640 or 07749 481 600
Materials available to order for local protests:
Badges – Right to Work – Fight the Cuts
Placards – Unite the Fights – click here to view
Bulletin – ‘Carnival of Resistance’ – click here to view
Broadsheet – 30 June Strikes – coming soon
All other materials are available to download from our website  www.righttowork.org.uk
30th June Battle Map
We have over 50 rallies and demonstrations on the Battle Map now. Please send in any action you are taking.
Other news about 30th June
Reporting the 30th June
Pictures
We will have a slideshow of pictures from the pickets, rallies and demonstrations on our front page.
Please email, from your computer or phone, pictures to
put a title in the subject line and then “tags:30june” – this will drop it automatically into the slideshow on the website.
Eg subject line – Birmingham rally tags:30june
Reports
Please send reports from your picket lines, protests etc to reports@righttowork.org.uk and we will add then as fast as we can!
Unite the Resistance Rallies
Kevin Courtney Deputy General Secretary of the NUT, John McDonnell MP, and PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka were the headline speakers.
Striking lecturers, disability campaigners, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, young teachers and anti cuts activists spoke at a 850 strong rally in the Friends Meeting House in Central London on Wednesday.
The event had an electric atmosphere.
Estelle Cooch from Right to Work spoke at the meeting. See her speech here

March to defend the NHS from cuts and privatisation 5th July

On 5th July it will be 63 years since the NHS was founded. It’s even more important to mark the birthday of Britain’s most popular institution this year, as we face the potential dismantling of the NHS in the form of Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill.

The NHS is working: Public satisfaction with the NHS is at an all-time high. Doctors, nurses, midwives, support staff, patients groups and more have all spoken out about the dangers of these changes.
Tuesday 5th July
Assemble: 5.30pm, Savoy St, Strand, WC2E
March to: Old Palace Yard, opposite Parliament
called by UNITE the Union and Socialist Health Association
Hound the ConDems
Right to Work calls on all anti cuts campaigners to make sure that wherever the ConDems go they are hounded.
Hound Nick Clegg – Birmingham – 29 June see here for details
Hound Andrew Lansley  –  Manchester  – 7 July see here for details
Click here for more info Hound the Con-Dems
Other News and events
Affiliate to Right to Work
The latest national union to affiliate to Right to Work is the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.
To affiliate your organisation to Right to Work click here
Please send coming events and reports to reports@righttowork.org.uk
Jun 242011
 

Government cutbacks increasingly threaten disabled people’s right to work. It is now more difficult to qualify for resources from Access to Work; in addition, those with agreed packages are now being systematically examined irrespective of routine review dates with a view to reducing support.

Access to Work is a government programme set up to support people who face barriers to employment as a result of their health or impairment through provision of advice and support with extra costs to both disabled people and their employers.  The programme is critical in upholding the right of disabled people to access mainstream employment and it actually makes a profit for the government: the amount invested in the programme is exceeded by the amount brought in through the taxes of working disabled people and through savings made in benefit payments, social care support and care, and medical costs. The Sayce report into supported employment: “Getting In, Staying In and Getting On” (June 2011) found that for every £1 spent on support through Access to Work, the government recoups £1.48. The Department for Work and Pensions nevertheless has a budget to cut and at a meeting in March 2011 the head of the Access to Work team, Steve Lismore, confirmed that the direction of travel for Access to Work is to reduce resources.

The personal experience of disabled people shows that Access to Work advisors are, in line with this strategy, adopting an attitude as guardians of public money more preciously than ever before. The onus is on the disabled person to prove beyond question the genuineness of their support needs. This is not only intimidating for the disabled person but also counter-productive for the supposed government agenda of getting disabled people off benefits and into work. Many people rely on Access to Work support and without any guarantee of receiving that support would be unable to take up employment offers, however you cannot apply to Access to Work without a guaranteed job and start date. For many disabled people the programme is therefore irrelevant.

For some disabled people Access to Work has traditionally been one of the most supportive and accessible support streams. The programme takes an approach in line with the social model of disability where individual applications are considered on a case-by-case basis and there is an avoidance of policy statements that treat disabled people in groups according to impairment. Members of the Newham Action Hub reported that they received a better service from their Access to Work advisors than from their care managers. For other disabled people, particularly those with more complex support needs, the programme fails to meet their needs. Moreover, as resources are being reduced the wider experience is already less positive, for example, with people being told that Access to Work might possibly not be providing equipment such as wheelchairs in the future. There is a revised list of equipment that has been included in the Access to Work guidance in order to assist advisers in making operational decisions. The effectiveness of the programme is only going to be further compromised under current conditions.

Individuals with impairments with which advisors are not familiar have less chance of being able to make a case for support that is accepted; people with learning difficulties or mental health support needs are frequently told by individual advisors that they are not eligible for ongoing support costs, rendering them unable to stay in or take up employment. In one example a woman was told that people with mental health support needs could not get support costs from Access to Work but could only “be referred to Mind for counselling to get better”. In another example a young man with a learning difficulty was told that Access to Work cannot provide full-time support costs and that he would not be able to get more than 6 hours support per week past the first 6 weeks of his employment, irrespective of any evidence of genuine support need. Experience suggests that current Access to Work policy disadvantages applicants with mental health support needs or learning difficulties. The DWP continues to deny this link but failure to recognise the importance of being seen to be able to provide ongoing support costs means that this under-representation will continue.

As part of a tightening up of resources, Access to Work are contacting all those currently in receipt of support through the programme and reviewing their packages with a view to identifying possible reductions. This is un-nerving for disabled people as, for many, any reduction would mean having to leave their job. People with learning difficulties had to fight to be accepted as eligible for the programme in the first place and advisors have continued to struggle to understand how a person with a learning difficulty can be capable of doing their own job and have support needs at the same time. Pressure to identify reduction therefore brings with it much anxiety. In one example a man’s support worker was contacted without his knowledge to find out from her a task list of things he “can do on his own”. There are very few people with learning difficulties in paid employment – the Office for Disability Issues calculates 6.4% of people labelled moderate to severe. The figure for those who have meaningful jobs with real wages will be lower still. It should be a right of disabled people to work, moreover it is in the taxpayer’s interest to raise the employment aspirations and expectations of disabled people. For Access to Work to risk the few ground-breaking jobs there are for people with learning difficulties in meaningful employment is irresponsible.

The Sayce Report acknowledges the value of the Access to Work and calls for further investment. Let’s hope the government responds to this and uses the programme to effectively support disabled people into work instead of focusing on squeezing support off disabled people to the detriment of the economy.

———-Ellen Clifford

Ellen Clifford

Ellen Clifford

Jun 232011
 

A protest group which occupied a government building said that disabled people were being labelled as “scroungers” during the cuts to public services.

The 16-strong group entered the public advice centre at an HM Revenue and Customs building in Glasgow and held up placards, shouting “No to the rich”.

Protesters gathered in George Square in the city centre before walking to the HMRC offices in Cochrane Street.

Peter Lockhart, 51, from Cowdenbeath in Fife, said:

“Disabled people are really suffering under this government. The disability allowance has been abolished.

“There are also all of these stories calling us scroungers. We are being used as scapegoats.

“The big corporations and the really wealthy are not paying their fair portion in taxes.

“They are putting their money in offshore accounts and tax havens. If the government went after them that would tackle the deficit.”

Mr Lockhart has been using a wheelchair since a car accident ten years ago. Around four people also stood outside the entrance to the building.

Protesters ended their occupation after around 40 minutes when police arrived and spoke with them.

John McArdle, from the Black Triangle anti-defamation campaign in defence of disability rights and who also joined the demonstration, said:

“Disabled people have been used as scapegoats in the mass media and labelled as workshy and scroungers. That is based on no empirical facts.

“We believe that these cuts are ideological. We reject the false narrative of there is no alternative.

“Disabled people are having their homecare cut, are being left without care to sit in their own excrement. They have fundamental human rights.”

Mr McArdle said the cuts breach the human rights of disabled people under the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

He continued:

“We are protesting about a £120bn tax gap owed by corporations and private individuals.

“Why should disabled people suffer for a crisis that was caused by systemic flaws in the financial system?”

More info at STV

Jun 232011
 
Steven Sumpter

Steven Sumpter

DPAC is happy that Steven Sumpter did us  an expanded version of a post that originally appeared on his own blog.

Last Sunday the Sunday Times ran a front page story under the headline “State hands out BMWs to ‘disabled’”. It was factually incorrect in both the headline and in several points made in the article. Although the headline attacked the very concept of people that receive disability benefits daring to own a high end car, the bulk of the story went on to talk about relatives and carers using the cars without the disabled person present. The same story appeared in numerous national and local newspapers. The story in most of the local papers was actually word-for-word the same – just google “Flash cars leased to disabled people” to find many examples of it.

I don’t think I can put this any more simply: the government does not hand out cars to disabled people.  What actually happens is that the most severely affected sick or disabled people can claim Disability Living Allowance, which includes a mobility component. Those people receive money to spend as they choose, perhaps to buy a wheelchair or to go towards taxi fares.  Many choose to sign over all of the mobility part of their DLA to the Motability scheme, a scheme which is not government run, and in return for their money they receive a car, a wheelchair or a scooter. They can also choose to pay an extra fee to upgrade to one of the more expensive cars available through the scheme. In the case of a BMW, that would be at least an extra one thousand four hundred pounds, paid upfront, out of the customers own pocket. A Motability car can be used by another person on behalf of the sick or disabled person without them being present, for example going shopping for them, or perhaps transporting an item across town for them. If a Motability car is used by someone else for their own purposes, that is a breach of the rules of the Motability Scheme and potentially raises issues because the car is exempt from vehicle tax and was not subject to VAT. Such use does not involve benefit fraud since the DLA would have been paid to the sick or disabled person, whether they had a car or not. Relatives or carers getting a so called “free car” and using it for their own purposes are doing so at the expense of the sick or disabled person, not through benefit fraud.

These stories about relatives getting “free cars” and about people receiving BMWs through Motability are worrying because they seem to originate from the government. The Sunday Times article does not mention it, but the story that was duplicated in lots of local papers quotes “a Whitehall source” who would seem to be the only reason that this is a story at all. The quotes from this source are anecdotal in nature, with lines such as “my neighbours have got this car and it’s for their granny, but they ride in it” and the emphasis seems heavily weighted towards attacking the Motability scheme and smearing the reputation of those that use it.

This is not the first time that anonymous government sources have provided stories to newspapers sympathetic to government policies. (And only newspapers sympathetic to government policies.) In a previous attack, government ministers released a select list of the most outrageous excuses for benefit fraud Of course, the excuses were bizarre and most of these cases really were fraud, but no mention was made of the incredibly low rate of benefit fraud, below 1%, and how few cases such excuses represent. The papers also took the opportunity to belittle addiction and “bad backs” as disabilities, despite them often being crippling and life-destroying. The commonly quoted back pain, for example, can cover many problems such as degenerative spine conditions, botched surgery causing nerve damage, and curved spine.

At the start of the month another attack aimed at the rise in numbers claiming DLA and again belittling “back pain” as well as mental health and addiction, several mainstream newspapers quoted a “source close to the reforms.” We are not told who exactly this information came from, and yet it appeared in several newspapers at the same time. I have been unable to find a press release that correlates to this information, and so I must assume that the figures have been leaked to preferred newspapers by someone in government.

Then we have government ministers giving out inaccurate or just plain wrong statistics. Last month minister for the disabled Maria Miller announced on live television news that more people receive benefits for drug and alcohol addiction than for blindness. Actually, official figures show that 69,000 people receiving benefits list blindness as their primary condition, against 22,800 who list alcohol and drug addiction. Apart from the error, this is an example of a government minister distinguishing the deserving from the undeserving, something that David Cameron seems anxious to deny even while perpetuating the idea. Earlier this year employment minister Chris Grayling stated to the press that 75% of people claiming Employment and Support Allowance were found fit to work, however, that included 39% who withdrew their claim before it was complete for reasons unknown and 16% who were placed in the work related activity group to receive support towards eventually going back to work. Still, the Daily Mail enjoyed it.

Ian Duncan-Smith recently stated during an interview on Newsnight that people on benefits are “putting nothing back into the community” which if not an attack at least shows a disturbing lack of  knowledge about how such people live. Certainly in all the places that I have lived in many not in paid employment have put the most back into their communities through volunteering and caring. Even the opposition seems to be getting in on the act, with Ed Miliband talking about going after the “take what you can culture” and branding benefit claimants as lazy shirkers and cheats. Presumably this is seen as the way to attract votes and popularity these days.

A visitor to my blog suggested an explanation to the mysterious sources quoted in so many newspaper stories recently. He said:

“A Whitehall source” normally means Departmental special advisers (SPADS), party hacks who are paid out of public funds to work as political advisers in Government departments. As a relatively senior ex-Civil Servant I have no doubt that this campaign is being orchestrated by a combination of SPADS and Conservative Central Office with the tacit approval of Ministers. I’ve seen it before, although not a campaign as nasty and squalid as this.

This explanation does seem plausible, although I am not sure how anyone would go about proving it. Wherever they come from, these attacks add up to something very disturbing. The government is rushing through welfare reform with only an occasional speed bump when people raise specific issues – such as cancer patients that won’t have enough time to recover if their ESA is limited to just one year. It is worth noting that when Ed Miliband highlighted these 7,000 cancer patients, he didn’t mention the other 700,000 seriously sick or disabled people that will be affected by the same time limit rules.) The pace of savage cuts and reforms justified by rhetoric and propaganda is terrifying and seems to be taking us towards a society that no longer cares for those who are sick or disabled.


Jun 202011
 

We marched together- Now why disabled people should support the June 30th strikes…

Unite the Fights June 30th

Unite the Fights June 30th

The millionaire wreckers now in government are determined to continue the wholesale destruction of our National Health Service and welfare state both of which most of us rely on. The National Health Service and the welfare state were fought for through generations of poverty and misery by working class people, likewise disability rights came because of the strength of those disabled people who would not accept less then their human rights. Everything worked for is being destroyed in the biggest onslaught on social justice in our life-times.

DPAC believes in the united strength of disabled people to fight these savage ideological attacks. We also believe that supporting and joining in with the June 30th public sector strikes is an important part of our fight. On June 30th over 700,000 public sector workers will strike. Disabled people must be an important part of shaping the resistance to these cuts on June 30th.

This strike is not just about public sector pensions, the proposed changes to public sector pensions is only a very small part of how the welfare state has already been dismantled in other countries such as US, Canada, Australia. It is vital that we join together to protect hardwon services and rights for working class and disabled people and tell the millionaire politicians who have no need of these services that they were never elected to destroy them.

Added to all of that we have now witnessed the appalling ignorance and prejudice of Conservative MP for Shipley, Philip Davies, who publicly stated that disabled people should be willing to work for less then the minimum wage as employers may then be more willing to employ them. This type of outdated attitude helps to show the importance to disabled people in employment of strong unions both in the public and private sectors.

That’s why we’re asking our supporters to join in with any strike action in your area. If you’re unable to attend in person please send emails or telephone to

Andrew Lansley (architect of the destruction of our National Health Service)

lansleya@parliament.uk

constituency office 01954 211 625

Department of Health 0207 210 4850

Miller the Killer (alias Maria Miller monster ‘against’ disabled people)

Either- ministers@dwp.gsi.gov.uk or maria.miller.mp@parliament.uk

Westminster office 020 7219 5749

Ian Duncan Smith (man who tells disabled and unemployed people they are all ‘scroungers’) either ministers@dwp.gsi.gov.uk or alambridgesl@parliament.uk

Westminster office 0207 2191210

Nick Clegg (a man who said his party would abolish H.E. tuition fees and then agreed to treble them)

Google him either in parliament or his constituency and there is an email form to fill in with your message

Write to him at Deputy Prime minister’s office, 70, Whitehall, SW1A 2AS

Constituency office 0114 230 9002

David Cameron (A multimillionaire who smiles as he takes away peoples’ income and presides over tougher WCA tests)

http://www.number10.gov.uk/footer/contact-us

http://www.facebook.com/DavidCameron

Ed Miliband (Red Ed leading the ‘opposition’) milibande@parliament.uk

Constituency office 01302 875 462

Philip Davies daviesp@parliament.uk

Constituency office 01274 592248

Westminster office 020 72198264

Jun 152011
 
Linda Burnip

Linda Burnip

Linda Burnip (DPAC co founder) reports:

About 60-70 people both disabled and non-disabled gathered once again for over 2 hours in Triton Square, London outside the head office of ATOS orgin who were attempting to hold a recruitment fair.

We were accompanied by a camera crew from one of the main French TV channels who are making a documentary about cuts faced by disabled people, workers, and others which will be based mainly on the cuts being faced by people in Birmingham

I don’t know about anyone else but I definitely wouldn’t want to work for a firm where I had to be sneaked in and out of back doors to gain entry to the recruitment fair being held and where there was a police cordon and a crowd of angry and very vocal protesters standing around the main entrance to the offices. We saw very few people going into the recruitment fair and many passes which had obviously been prepared beforehand were left untouched at the main reception area.

Throughout the protest we gave out over 400 leaflets mainly to other staff who work in the same building as ATOS. They seemed very interested in finding out more about their neighbour’s activities.

We’d also like to say thank you to the police who were very helpful, and even agreed to get ATOS staff to clear away the left over and unwanted placards and posters from the protest that we left outside ATOS’s front entrance. This was a welcome change from our first protest in January when we were all kettled behind metal barriers.

Atos dont give a toss banner

Atos dont give a toss

More also from Benefit Claimants fight back

More photos from Peter Marshall Demotix

Great pictures from Pete Riches

Jun 152011
 
Claire and the police

Please do not block...

Today saw another demonstration by disability activists against Atos Origin.
The company won a £300 million contract to re asses people on benefits which activists say is no more than cuts and are forcing many hundreds of thousands of genuinely sick and disabled people off benefits altogether.
As one activist commented: Atos is a ‘professional healthcare’ company. It’s motives are profit driven and they are more concerned with the health of their bank balance than that of the claimants. The testing is a tick box system and you don’t need any medical knowledge to tick a box. The use of such a private so-called ‘healthcare’ company is being used by the Coalition to give them some sort of unwarranted credibility to justify their despicable policies of attacking those who can least defend themselves.
At one point tensions were raised when the police removed demonstrators from the entrance to the building.

Demotix Report and photos from Howard Jones

More photos from DPAC flickr

TV camera crew interviewing Adam

French TV camera crew interviewing Adam

Jun 132011
 

Today · 5:00pm – 8:00pm

Details also at http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/

Placard with words 'Atos does not give a toss'

Placard with words 'Atos does not give a toss'

Atos Origin, 4 Triton Square, London, NW1 3HG

Bring bandages, fake blood, banners, placards, CVs, the noise.

Benefit claimants, disabled people and supporters will be attending Atos Healthcare’s Recruitment Day on June 14th at 5pm and have called on people to join them.

In the spirit of actively seeking work we will be demanding that if we are all ‘fit for work’ then Atos, notorious for a lack of disabled access in their premises, should consider us for employment directly.

Atos Healthcare, a subsidiary of French IT firm Atos Origin, have signed off thousands of sick and disabled people as ‘fit for work, despite the opinions of the claimants own doctors and other medical professionals.

Atos’ computer based testing, described by one expert as unfit for purpose, has led to people with terminal illnesses, conditions such as advanced MS, or people with mental health conditions being stripped of health benefits. Several claimants have taken their own lives as a result of these decisions.

This testing is now being extended to everyone on Incapacity Benefit and looks like being rolled out to test people claiming Disability Living Allowance. Atos are recruiting ‘healthcare’ professionals around the country to carry out these tests.

We’ll be attending the recruitment event at their plush Central London Headquarters today from 5pm.

Come and join us help warn potential Atos employees exactly what their new role might entail. We will be highlighting the devastating consequences for people’s health these tests have inflicted, directly opposing the fundamental medical principal of ‘first do no harm’.

We will also be asking for a job. This may count as legitimate activity as part of your Job Seekers Agreement. But it probably won’t.

For a list of other Atos Recruitment Events visit:

http://www.atoshealthcarejobs.co.uk/events.html

Jun 132011
 

Please note these dates in your diaries –

June 23rd –   7pm open planning meeting for Rage against the Lib Dems on September 18th UNISON offices, 19th floor McClaren Tower, B4 7LS opposite Argos, and Priory Court shopping centre.

June 29th Nick Clegg, Eric Pickles, and the delightful Baroness Warsi amongst others will be at ICC on Broad Street.

June 30th noon, Victoria Square, – mass march and rally in support of striking workers. This will be a family friendly event as most schools will be closed for the day. Ed Milliband will be invited to speak.

Final details about these 2 events will be on Birmingham Against the Cuts website.

July 5th at  5pm – meet in Victoria Square – Disabled people and allies will lobby the council meeting about cuts to care funding and privatisation of the assessment and management of adult care. Birmingham City Council is due to start a new consultation to try once more to change eligibility criteria for care

July 19th or 20th (TBC) a public meeting around care and support provision in Birmingham. Details to be confirmed.

September 18th Rage Against The Lib Dems, who have their conference in Birmingham. Meet noon Moor Street.

Jun 132011
 
claire glassman

claire glassman

Speech at London SlutWalk rally in Trafalgar Square

Sat 11 June 2011

Claire Glasman, WinVisible

“I want to speak about the cuts we face — because they are violence, and because they make us vulnerable to violence. The poorer we are, the more we are expected to be at the disposal of violent men, and the less we can escape.

As disabled people, as children, we are vulnerable to violence from people we know, in the family and in institutions. We are not supposed to have a sex life, but we are often sexually exploited by the men around us. Did we provoke it? Did we dress like sluts?

We’ve all heard about children and older women being raped or starved to death by care workers. They thought they would get away with it because we’re supposed to die, and because the authorities would believe them not us. And — because they are paid NOT to care, but to make profits for the care home owners. Castlebeck, which runs the private hospital where Simone aged 18 and other people with learning disabilities were tortured, charges £3,500 per person per week. What did she do wrong, to be locked up?

As women with disabilities, as single mothers, we have fought to have an independent income – so that we are not at the mercy of partners and family for our survival.

That is being taken away from us. We are being driven back into dependence by the cuts in benefits, housing and services.

Single mothers and other carers used to get Income Support because caring is vital work. Not any more. What is to happen to the children and the adults who need care? Who will be there for us when our carers are out looking for a job that doesn’t pay enough to support everyone, or doesn’t exist?

Even women fleeing domestic violence are losing their benefits. Only three months for mother and children to recover from trauma and get housing. Then out onto the job market – sink or swim. Many will sink — never leave their violent partners or quickly go back. More will be killed. Who is to blame? The government who deprived us of the money to escape. And the police who were too late to save us from being murdered!

Women with terminal cancer, mental distress, survivors of genocide and war, are being denied disability benefits by Atos, the private company carrying out assessments. Some have committed suicide. Who is to blame? Atos and their friends in government.

Without benefits and a roof over our head, we’ll be back to begging, shoplifting and prison, mental breakdown, being sectioned in hospital, where women still don’t have women-only wards because the staff are men, even where the patients are all women.

Cameron has attacked multi-culturalism. And now he is putting it into practice by cutting Housing Benefit. He wants to drive people of colour and other ‘undesirables’ out of city centres and have rich, white-only areas.

But we won’t go! The student movement, including wheelchair users roughed up by the police “for our own protection” [reference to Jody McIntyre http://www.channel4.com/news/police-handling-of-wheelchair-using-protestor-lawful] made a way for all of us. Whoever we are, wherever we come from, we’re determined to stay put and to live our lives how we want!”

slut walkers

leading the protest (photo courtesy from Howard Jones)

Photos at DPAC flickr

video and photos from Howard Jones at demotix

Jun 102011
 

Message from London Autistic Rights Movement (LARM)

LARM banner

LARM banner

The Autistic Rights Movement UK, alongside London Autistic Rights Movement, have been invited to take part in the Autism Show, which takes place at Canary Wharf on Fri 25th and Sat 26th June. We have been given two days worth of forums on our perspective about autism for which we will provide speakers. This promises to be a hugely informative event, with forums on employment, living well, communication, equality and how to redesign the man made environment, among many other things.

Unfortunately, there is an entry fee. However, volunteers get in free. And we need at least 25 volunteers to help man an official LARM/ ARM UK stand during the two days for which we are there. So I am making a call out for people to come forward to do a shift on the stall in return for free entry to this exciting event.

Each shift is three hours long, and your role will simply be to be present at the stall, give out the selection of leaflets, badges etc we will have on the stall and take donations. There will always be at least 2 people on the stall so don’t worry about being stuck there on your own! I am going to construct a rota and would like people to tell me what their preferred shift is. Essentially there are 6 shifts – Friday morning, afternoon and early evening, and Saturday morning, afternoon and early evening.
It shouldn’t be a stressful activity  – it will simply be two or three volunteers sitting down behind the stall – and LARM will make sure you are fully supported. The only point of difficulty I should warn you about is that the stand will be in an indoor fair which could be quite hectic and noisy so those with strong sensitivity to noise should take note.
As I said, we need at least 25 volunteers so as well as volunteering yourself I’d like you to spread this message far and wide to all the lists you are a member of. To repeat, volunteering gets you free entry to the event.If you are interested in this opportunity please contact larm2008@gmail.com or phone us on
07594 578152 .
Please respond to this as soon as possible!
Jun 092011
 

An invite from Winvisible

Slutwalk London poster

Slutwalk London poster

Dear friends,

We invite you to join London SlutWalk with us, this Saturday 11 June.  The organisers want it to be inclusive (all welcome, access info and meeting point below) and they have booked sign language interpreting.  We are are taking part because:

  • Disabled women are more vulnerable to violence and abuse, as adults or as children, from someone we know, in the family and in institutional care.  But the criminal justice, compensation and care standards authorities discriminate against us.
  • Cuts in benefits and services, Council rationing and care charges, are forcing us into dependence on partners and family – a recipe for relationship breakdown and abuse.
  • Cuts are violence against older women, the majority who rely on care services and getting out to day centres.
  • Older women are being raped and even killed in hospitals and care homes.
  • We’re fed up with being asked by strangers in the street, “What’s wrong with you?” Respect our different bodies!
  • We’re not sexless, we’re not lesser beings, we are women like other women.
  • Private companies profit from our neglect.  Castlebeck, the company which runs Winterbourne View, where women and men with learning disabilities were tortured, charges £3,500 per person per week.

Add your comments to Facebook:  SlutWalkLondonUK

http://slutmeansspeakup.org.uk/ We are meeting near the Hard Rock café, Piccadilly (Hyde Park Corner end) at 1pm to stroll, roll, holler or stomp to Trafalgar Square for a lively rally.  Look for WinVisible’s green banner.  Everyone is welcome.  Bring your placards, banners, slogans and chants.

ACCESS INFO

Slutwalk route

Slutwalk route

March Starts: 1pm at the Top of Piccadilly near the Hard Rock Cafe

March Ends: 2-2.30pm at Trafalgar Square; anyone who cannot make the march can meet us there for the rally!

Rally Ends: Everything will definitely be finished by 5pm when we have to leave the square; anyone booking coaches should keep this time in mind as while the rally is likely to be over by 3.30-4pm, we can’t predict everything!

Estimated Marching Time: 1-1 and a half hours.

March Length: 0.8 miles

Toilets: Public toilets at Green Park Tube Station, in Green Park, in Piccadilly Circus tube station and in Trafalgar Square. Only the Trafalgar Square toilets have wheelchair access.

Accessibility: There are no steps on the route, however it goes uphill at Piccadilly and downhill at Haymarket. There is a lift at Trafalgar Square which is suitable for wheelchairs.

Parking: Please note: due to the Queen’s birthday celebrations and Naked Bike Ride, many parts of central London will be closed and there will be limited vehicle access to Trafalgar Square and the route area. We cannot guarantee nearby parking even for those with blue badges.

Seating: There will be seating areas at the sides of the stage.

Jun 072011
 

London DPAC

90-92 Upper Street, London N1 0NP
Saturday 9th July 11.00am to 2pm

Disabled People Against Cuts

Invite you to a meeting at
**Disability Action in Islington**
90-92 Upper Street, London N1 0NP
Saturday 9th July 11.00am to 2pm

As we know the Con-Dem government is cutting our welfare state and services we rely on to live independent lives. There are many good things going on to try and stop this including the creation of Disabled People Against Cuts groups in local areas. This meeting aims to bring together disabled people to talk about:

· What’s been happening

· How we can grow in strength

· If we want to focus on particular campaigns

· If and how we want to be involved in a wider anti-cuts movement

All welcome, please let me know if you’re aiming to come so I have an idea of numbers. Please bring food to share.

Contact londondpac@gmail.com or telephone 07876742600

The venue is wheelchair accessible. If you have any other access requirements please get in touch. We don’t currently have money for a Sign Language interpreter, if you do need one, please get in touch and we can work something out.

Jun 072011
 

From The Crutch Collective

Over a period of 2 1/2 hours on Monday 6th June around 50 people joined the picket, called by the Crutch Collective and Black Triangle, of the Atos Recruitment Evening in Glasgow. Some had travelled from Edinburgh and as far away as Berwick. Some officials of the PCS union were able to attend at the start and took away some leaflets. The admin. staff at Atos are members of PCS.

Atos picket at Glasgow

Atos picket at Glasgow

The police were present from early on and stopped people from blocking the doors. With a couple of exceptions most of the 20 or so doctors and nurses going into the Recruitment Evening ignored the request not to take jobs with Atos. This was despite being told of the people with cancer and terminal illnesses having their benefits cut by Atos and the suicides caused by the stress of the relentless and constant reassessment by Atos. They were also given leaflets detailing the fatal consequences of benefit changes as documented by several mental health charities. The leaflet also quoted a former Atos employee in Scotland who quit, because the medical assessments are designed to catch out disabled people.
A nurse heckled those inside through a megaphone. The leaflet was read out through the megaphone to the doctors and nurses waiting in the lobby and at the presentation.
Black Triangle

Black Triangle

John McArdle of Black Triangle spoke to the crowd of the need to keep the campaign going until the medical assessments are carried out by a public body again. Plans were made for the next demo. A representative from Citizens United, another direct action orientated anti-cuts group in Glasgow expressed their desire to work with us in the future.
We got a clearer idea of the future some of us face as we chatted to some homeless people waiting for the Salvation Army food van who had also had their disability benefits cut despite having serious physical and mental health problems.
A handful of the doctors and nurses who attended the Recruitment Evening were escorted by the police through the crowd when they left by the main entrance. Debates were held about whether we should call them scabs or not. The rest had to sneak out via the staff exit like rats. No one was arrested and we were able to make our presence felt for the whole of the event. We are getting substantially bigger. We see the picket as a victory. Atos now know that any future recruitment evenings will need extra security and the presence of the police. The doctors and nurses who chose to forget their medical ethics and any social conscience had to endure the most unpleasant environment possible. The myth of the Atos PR about the ease and convenience of the Atos professional employee lifestyle has been destroyed.
Thanks again to everyone who attended and helped promote the picket.
Jun 032011
 
Dear All,
This is an urgent request for support for disabled young people whose rights to inclusive education are under a severe threat.  As you know the Government have pledged to ‘Reverse the Bias Towards Inclusion’ (Ha!) and have made proposals in the new Green Paper on Special Education which would push back 30 years of progress.

We are organising a campaign to ‘Reverse the Bias Towards Segregation’ and it starts with a demonstration on June 29th in Westminster (the last day of the consultation period).

Please come and bring as many other people as possible.
Also, could you spread the word through your networks, and let any press contacts you have know about the event.
A prepared statement supporting the campaign from any organisations you represent would be really useful.

The Panorama programme about the abuse in a private Care Home was a harrowing reminder of the vulnerability of anyone locked out of sight in any institution including ‘Special’ schools.  Those of us still on the outside must make a lot of noise to protect those now and in the future who will be put ‘Out of Sight’.

For people who are up for an ‘action’ on the day, we are having a special planning meeting on June 7th, 7.30pm at the Royal Festival Hall Cafe (first floor). Please come to that if you can.

All the best,
Micheline and Richard
Jun 032011
 

Indications of shock and disbelief came from all quarters of social media from watching the Panorama program Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed. While I had to force myself to watch, it was sadly not news for me. Like the whistle blower, disabled people have long been voicing our misgivings about how people with learning difficulties[i] bear the brunt of disability hate crime. It is not so long ago that Fiona Pilkington committed suicide [ii] because she could no longer bear the abuse; she contacted the police no less than 13 times in the year of her death.

When a case such as the Panorama program highlights these real occurrences, there are knee jerk reactions and  righteous noises about the support workers – and rightly so, some of them were arrested. But these abuses are, sadly, not rare and it also misses the crux of the issues.

These support workers were working in an environment (and society) which has no respect or regard for disabled people. They see them as ‘patients’ to be restrained and vent their boredom in bullying and abusing the people in their charge to pass their time. There was no supervision, no managerial support. It’s all very well to vilify them but there are some bright ideas afloat that unemployed people should be sent ‘to serve the community and take care of disabled people’. Disabled people are held hostage by the label as the ‘most vulnerable’, as subjects to be ‘taken care of’ and also, in this scenario, as punishment. Support workers are badly paid and as we can see in the program, scarcely trained. I am fortunate enough to know many support workers who care about the people they support in the community but these sterile ghettos/ care institutions where people with learning difficulties are kept locked up are not the type of places they would chose to work given a choice. These ‘inmates’, because that’s what they are effectively are rather than patients,  are not for all intents and purposes, ill. They are disabled people. Moreover the  treatment meted out to them by being kept in such institutions causes additional mental health issues.

Clare Wrightman, Director of Grapevine, Coventry, a charity that helps people with learning disabilities to grow their lives tells us:

‘As an advocacy organisation we know that people with a learning disability are on the receiving end of abuse and ignorance, especially in the new institutions. In the Panorama expose independent advocates were completely absent. Our workers are a vital part of safeguarding the most vulnerable.
Why did we close long stay institutions run by the State as part of government policy only for local government to commission new ones from the private sector? People can be supported to live in their communities close to the people who really care about them’

Ellen Clifford, who has worked within the People First movement said:

One point I do think needs to be made is how traditionally there is such a risk averse approach to support for people with learning difficulties, favouring segregated institutional based care. This programme shows  the extent of the dangers that are faced by people placed in exactly those type of settings that are purported to be safer for them as opposed to being supported to live independently in the community.

She continues:

the Quality Care Commission (QCC)  clearly failed when it was given evidence of abuse on a plate which it ignored. There needed to be improvements in its systems. However as Panorama rightly identified, the core issue is that locked institutions should not be allowed to exist. The programme at times described people as “not being able to look after themselves” and as having the mental age of children, however that approach fails to recognize the abilities, talents and contributions which all people with learning difficulties have; as one of the programme experts said at the end, there is no reason why any of those people could not live better in the community with support.

The privatisation of care homes must be seen as a factor contributing to the existing abuse at places such as Winterbourne. Private companies are seeking to make a profit from an industry which is already severely underfunded, the outcome can only be inadequate quality of support with the subsequent incidences of abuse. Supporting people with challenging behaviour is a complex and difficult job which requires intelligence (high levels of both IQ and EQ), understanding and training. You do not get support workers with that mix of skills and attributes for the kind of wages that the the so-called care sector pays. Not when you consider the executive salaries which are also paid out to the Directors.

The coalition government is pushing for a Big Society but without state intervention and regulation to ensure people get the support they need, there is every danger, as the Panorama programme provided evidence, of cultures of abuse becoming more widespread and accepted.

The programme highlights the key value of user led organisations: one of the experts described how the staff cannot have viewed the patients as “human beings just like them” in order to have engaged in the treatment they did. Where disabled people are visibly part of service commissioning and provision we can provide a constant reminder that we are indeed people just like them. If we don’t want people in our society to be abused as seen on Panorama then society needs to invest in our organisations.

Jim Mansell from the Tizard Centre, Kent University was one of the experts in the programme. What is highlighted on the Panorama programme is already detailed in a chilling report by him and his colleagues.[iii]

What we want to know is when is this austerity driven government going to see that this privatised, institutionalised care is not cheaper but that it costs disabled people and their families dear in depriving them of their human rights to live independently with support in the communities that includes them.

—-Eleanor Lisney


[i] Disability hate crime needs to be tackled  http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jun/01/disability-hate-crime-keith-philpott

[ii] Fiona Pilkington case: police face misconduct proceedings http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/may/24/fiona-pilkington-police-misconduct-proceedings

[iii] Exploring the incidence, risk factors, nature and monitoring of adult protection alerts, Jim Mansell et al.

https://shareweb.kent.gov.uk/Documents/adult-Social-Services/adult-protection/tizard-report.pdf

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