Oct 312011
 

Gerry Hart

First of all I’d like to thank you all for coming. To put in context what I am about to say I’d like to tell you as to how I became involved in the anti cuts movement. From about the age of three I have had an educational statement as a result of being diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. I was sent to a mainstream primary school, where I wasn’t treated any worse, but in retrospect I think I was treated differently. When choosing which secondary school I should attend, my parents were presented with the choice of another mainstream school or a mainstream school but with an autism provision, which they chose. Since going to that secondary school I have been able obtained 11 GCSE’s and a made many friends, both autistic and ‘normal’, simply by being able to have a mainstream education with the provision as a safety net. Now I am in the second year of my A Levels and am aiming to study History and Politics at York University.  I also became politically motivated when I was roughly 14 years of age, which was only fuelled through events such as the 2010 general election but particularly the threefold hike in tuition fees. As a result of this, and family connections with local disability organisation Darlington Association on Disability, I joined the ‘Young Leaders Project’, which was created to build up leadership skills in young disabled people, but I see it as a platform for promoting the social equality of young disabled people and to an extent young people in general.

To the point, I had opportunities open to me that most disabled children now do not have, and it will be incredibly hard I believe to get young people involved in the DPAC movement. This is partly because after the previous government curtailed their numbers, the coalition have announced plans to eradicate entirely educational statements in the Green Paper ‘support and aspiration’, which will significantly reduce the standards of education for children who have additional educational needs. Instead, the money will go directly to the school and local authorities will have reduced powers as to regulate how the money is spent, further worsened by the fact that the vast majority of schools are now to become privately owned academies. So as such this educational equality may mean that not as many young disabled people are even in a position to take part in DPAC. It may also be the case that some young disabled people may not be able to travel or could simply be put off from travelling, due to a perceived hostility towards disabled people (which I know from experience with my visually impaired father does certainly exist). These of course are concerns that should be addressed as you cannot live fearing to use the public transport which until this government came along was entitled to everyone, but nevertheless it will be significant enough to discourage some people from attending DPAC events such as this one. Also projects such as the Young Leaders project through which I became involved with DPAC don’t exist in every local authority. Young Leaders was lucky in that it stemmed from the well established Darlington Association on Disability, and it received a substantial amount of funding from DISLIB, which has recently run out. Many local authorities either don’t have programmes such as this or they flounder, and as such many young disabled people simply may not even be aware of DPAC. Finally another issue that I believe has to be overcome is the fact that young disabled people, rather like the vast majority of young people in general either do not understand the cuts facing them or do not care. The margin that don’t care will of course be significantly reduced following the hike in tuition fees and the abolition of EMA but nevertheless its prevalent. And even though many young people are now hostile to the coalition government, as I have seen with many people I have spoken to they still do not understand the nature of the cuts that are facing them. This will not doubt be worsened by the fact that many young disabled people regrettably live in isolation from their peers. In the long term this must change I agree but it is still a barrier to involving young disabled people in DPAC.

So as you can see, we do have some fairly sizeable obstacles to overcome in order to involve young disabled people, and I can’t say I know the solution but I do have some ideas. Firstly, in your local authorities if you know of any organisations similar to Young Leaders, or if you are involved in one then ensure that they are aware of DPAC and its objectives. Secondly as has been shown with the ‘Occupy’ movement and the Arab Spring, a well orchestrated social networking campaign is vital. I know DPAC has a Facebook page, which I am a fan of but as far as I am aware its membership is fairly low. To that end it may be worth attempting to advertise it on other larger likeminded pages, such as ‘Nobody Likes a Tory’ which for those of you with Facebook I’m sure you are aware of, and the pages associated with the ‘Occupy’ movement in the UK, because its time that the anti austerity movement and the ‘Occupy’ movement were brought closer together. Also with regards media, try to get celebrities to promote DPAC. These will be fairly low key but could be vital. Examples I can think of are Matt Fraser and the comedian Mark Thomas. If you know any young disabled people who are vaguely interested, ensure that they know exactly the measure of cuts facing them. Also it may be worth allowing people to voice their grievances. Also try to go along with other grievances young disabled people may have. That will most likely be the increase in tuition fees or the abolition of EMA. It may also be worth advertising in schools, sixth for colleges or universities. But in all honesty I don’t think it will be possible to recruit young disabled people en masse, but instead on an individual level it would likely have an impact. So if you know any young disabled people or know how to get in touch with any organisations based around young disabled people then I would urge you to at least ensure that they are informed of DPAC and its objectives. Thank you.

Oct 302011
 

This is not a definitive list – there was a call for people at the conference who wanted to volunteer their services. Please put your name forward if you have the time and commitment to help DPAC specifying your skills or area in which you wish to/can help.

ANDY GREENE

 I am a disabled resident of Islington for the past 20+ years and a member of Islington Disabled People Against Cuts.

I have been involved in disabled people’s rights for the last 15 years, through the local DPO, which I now work for. I have also worked for the local authority and charities. I have some experience of fundraising but my main skills are around organisation and logistics.

The reason I want to be on the Steering Group is that I have ideas for how DPAC can run, be effective in its campaigning and make the best use of the energy and enthusiasm we have at the moment in order to progress.

 ELLEN CLIFFORD

I am a mental health service user who has been active in disabled people’s rights for the past 12 years in both voluntary and paid capacities. I was a Trustee for WISH, a national user led women’s mental health organisation, for 5 years and earlier this year was co-opted onto the national DPAC steering group.

I have experience of working with and supporting people with learning difficulties and on the autism spectrum with many different types of communication and while working for People First (Self Advocacy) was responsible for putting many government documents and meeting papers into easy read format including the Improving Life Chances of Disabled People Report (2005).

One of the main skills I bring from my work within Disabled People’s Organisations is experience of trust fundraising. I also have experience of setting, managing and monitoring budgets, line managing staff, writing reports and papers, developing and delivering training and presentations and project management.

I am fully committed to the social model of disability and the philosophy of independent living and have recently been asked to represent the European Network of Independent Living on mental health, for whom I co-authored a chapter on the disability support system in France and the influence of personalisation earlier this year.

I believe that DPAC has an important role to play in protesting against the cuts from a social model perspective. I welcome the opportunity to re-ignite disabled people’s activism and to work to influence the left wing and trade unions to understand and support the rights of disabled people in a way they never have before.

LINDA BURNIP

As one of the co-founders of DPAC I’m a disabled person with a hidden and fluctuating impairment and also the mother of a young disabled man who needs 24 hour support. I also have a daughter who managed to survive the pressures from a consultant that I must have a termination as I didn’t want to risk having a second disabled child. Between us we have a great deal of lived experience of disability and disablism.

My activism began initially as a shop steward in a very militant trade union branch during the late 1970s and 1980s fighting against Margaret Thatcher and all the Tories stood for. I also supported many other campaigns that existed around that time such as CND, ANC in exile, plus campaigns against US involvement in South America.

There was then a bit of a lul in my activities due to being a mother although I set up or was involved in numerous pressure groups which campaigned on a wide range of issues from lack of adequate staffing of local services to education during these years. More recently I was successful in getting some legislative changes made to Local Housing Allowance as campaign co-ordinator of the Local Housing Allowance Reform Group.

The current Condem government have continued the attacks against disabled people and other benefit claimants that were started by New Labour and if these cuts go ahead the disabled people’s movement will lose any advances that have been made towards independent living and inclusive education over the last 30 years. Increasing numbers of disabled people have been driven to commit suicide as a result of the cuts they face to their benefits and services. I am not prepared to sit back and let the gains made by the disabled people’s movement be lost, nor allow people being driven to kill themselves through fear happen without trying to stop it.I’m fully committed to both independent living and inclusive education.

As well as being a co-founder of DPAC I’ve been involved with Disabled People’s Direct Action Network (DAN) and am part of the Defend Welfare Network. Until recently when I resigned due to personal commitments I was a trustee and Executive Health and Safety Officer for Warwickshire and Coventry CDP for about 6 years, and am also an individual member of NCIL.

Earlier this year I took part in a photographic project about unlikely activists  which was intended to show other people that activists come from all walks of life and also lead ‘normal’ lives otherwise.

http://www.weareactivists.com/linda-burnip-2/

Surprisingly people who know me have been rather rude about the picture of me ironing in this.

My political views as far as I’m concerned are rational, although I know other people might describe them as left wing, however it isn’t rational to me that eg.America spends massive amounts on Defence (a debatable term) while having one of the worst levels of maternal death in the Western world, or that bankers get multi-million pound bonuses while others in the UK can’t afford food and heating and face having 100% of their benefits taken away and being left in destitution if they fail to meet the requirements of workfare slave labour.

Patrick Lynch

I was a social worker for 14 years working with young people at Centrepoint supporting them to access education, employment and training. Two years ago I became ill and had to give up my job. I am now studying law and am involved in Islington Hands off Our Public Services and Islington Disabled People Against Cuts.

I am standing for election to the DPAC Steering group because I want to make a change for disabled people. Disabled people are getting a really bad deal at the moment, which I am publicising and raising awareness of as much as I can through for example my blog: The recent example of disabled people in Croydon being expected either to climb 14 flights of stairs or to travel 14 miles out of their way for their Work Capability Assessments is just one example of how badly disabled people are routinely treated.

I have a wide range of experience in all benefits, which includes Housing Benefit and up to date with the changes that are going to take place in April 2012.

As a member of the Labour party I have strong contacts with local Councillers, along with the MPs Jeremy Colburn and Emily Thornbury, I am very committed to the rights of disabled people living in Islington, if changes can come about in Islington then with all honesty it will change through the country. As disability officer with IHOOPS hands off our public services With the help and knowledge of other members we can all go right out for a change for the good of all.

 

 

 

Richard Rieser

I am a disabled person and wheelchair user and am a member of DPAC. I am a trainer and consultant on Inclusive Education and Disability Equality. Through my involvement with my Union the NUT(33 years) and as Chair of Alliance for Inclusive Education for 12 years I have a lot of experience of organising events and campaigns to include disabled people with the full range of impairments.

I have skills and experience and experience in the following areas:

  • campaigning and organising actions;
  • Public Relations and media including press releases;
  • public speaking;
  • fundraising;
  • communications including preparing information sheets and editing newsletters; research and monitoring;
  • accounts and book-keeping.

SARAH MINGAY

My name is Sarah Mingay and I am 30 years old. I have Spina Bifida and so have experienced disability from birth and all that goes with this (including growing up under the Thatcher Government). I want to be part of the DPAC steering group because I am fed up of the constant attack on disabled people by the government and want to be part of a group of people who also feel that the treatment of disabled people is unfair and who want to make a difference through a collective voice.

Locally I am involved in anti-cuts campaigns where I have attended meetings as well as been part of the publicity team which has involved designing posters as well as press releases. I have also been part of the steering group for UK Disability month, taking control of advertising through social networking sites Twitter and Facebook. I also use Twitter in a personal capacity as well as for Bedford Against the Cuts and have found it an extremely useful tool not just for promoting events but also as a way of learning and sharing ideas with other people.  I appreciate the importance of the use of social media in providing a voice for people with a disability as it also allows them to feel that they are not alone with how they are feeling.

I have also gained experience of blogging and through this I have improved my writing style and the content that I write about which can be seen by the increase in numbers of people who visit my blog. Blogging has also helped me to find my voice and I get great satisfaction out of feeling as though I have helped and empowered other people.

I have liaised with local trades councils to promote awareness of disabled people and the cuts that they are facing. Much of the information that I have gained is through my own research mostly through internet searches as well as news articles and directly from organisations and representatives that are being affected by the cuts. Through the different campaigning and activities that I am involved in I have built up a network of contacts locally that I can call on to help organise events locally as the opportunity arises.

I am keen to get involved and look forward to being able to encourage new activists in our plight against the con-dem government.

STEPHEN LEE HODGKINS

A creative leader with a track record in delivering successful community programmes. A champion for inclusion, human rights and the empowerment of marginalised groups; with a personal experience of, and interest in, poverty, disability, health and inclusion.  An experienced lecturer and researcher in social and critical psychology. A innovative and critical thinker, who can drive ideas through to implementation, negotiating and overcoming obstacles to change and leading teams and communities to deliver tangible results.

Key skills and experiences include:

●          Research and analysis: designed and ran consultations and profiling exercises, community and academic research studies. Delivered papers at international conferences and presented at public meetings and information events. PhD thesis on disability identity published in abridged form in an international textbook.

●          Community leadership: developed and led community empowerment initiatives focused on disabled peoples’ equality and participation. Formulated strategy, policy, developed responses and implemented social change actions. Directed and managed independent living services that empower disabled people, and  enhanced the business skills and effectiveness of Deaf and Disabled Peoples Organisations.

●          Training and teaching: designed and delivered courses in community, employment and university settings. Ran adaptive technology assessment and training programme. Tutored psychology students in critical psychology and disability studies.

●          Programme management: delivered large scale and complex projects to budget and timescales. Liaised with providers and partners, managed risk and quality systems. Monitored performance and compliance with legislation and contractual agreements, ensuring outcomes are delivered.

●          People management and development: led diverse and mixed teams of employees and volunteers to deliver successful services and project outcomes. Motivated teams to deliver under pressure and in conflict situations. Supported individuals using formal and informal HR processes.

●          Inclusion and advocacy: commitment to the equality, participation and recognition of all marginalised groups in society. Succesfully challenged discriminatory practices in services. Advocated for social change and led disability equality campaigning activities.  Expereinced in inclusive enviromental design to facilitate community involvement and citizen participation.

THOMAS BUTLER

I’m Thomas, 22 ….soon to be 23. I was born with conditions called Aspergers Syndrome, Attenion Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) & Dyspraxia. I’ve also since becoming an adult been through many bouts of Depression.

Disability is something that governs my life – my relationships with other people, my routines, habits, disposition, mood, ability to perform different tasks, my self esteem, Mental Health and the struggle to achieve the things I want to attain in life. But disability is also what makes me ….me. It’s who I am – and I’m very proud of that. Cognitive disorders such as Aspergers Syndrome run heavily through a person’s personality, it sometimes doesn’t make getting on easy and can confuse and irritate other people but I wouldn’t change who I am or what I have for the world. It is a sad fact that throughout this present Government’s poor attitude they are cutting and smearing disabled people to vicious effect.

I have a fuelled determination and confidence to work within the Disabled Community, a process I’ve recently undertaken during last summer when I took on a Volunteer role at Mencap Liverpool on the Campaigns Team and I’m also attempting to get elected as Regional Disabled Officer for Labour’s Under 26’s at Conference in November

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vote-Thomas-Butler-for-NWYL-Disabled-Officer/118808834892635

as well as contributing potentially to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Disabled issues.

I feel I have much desire, knowledge, passion, expertise, energy, empathy and personal experience and most of all dedication to give to the Steering group.

We didn’t cause this mess, and we certainly won’t accept having to take the brunt of the financial burden for it either. In cutting us savagely down to size the Government have shown how much they fear and little they value us as a group of people – that we’ll be easy targets. But the members of DPAC and its steering group will show just what a terrible underestimation of us that is as we fight for what’s right.

Rob Murthwaite

I have been registered as ‘Blind’ since around 1983.  I first became involved in disability politics when working as a welfare rights advisor for a disabled person’s organisation, Islington Disability Association, in the early 80s.  I am a lecturer in the law faculty of London Metropolitan University, my specialism is anti-discrimination law. I am an active member of the lecturer’s union, UCU and a long standing member of the UCU Disabled Members Standing Committee. I am also an active member of both London and Islington DPAC as well as being involved in Islington Hands Off Our Public Services (IHOOPS) a group dedicated to opposition to all cuts in the public sector.

Oct 302011
 
Mike Higgins

Mike Higgins

What is this struggle of DPAC all about?

It is not about charities keeping their funding. Why, when the Disabled People’s Movement was at its strongest and most vibrant during the 1980s, was its central demand ‘Rights not Charity’?

It is surely not ok for Disabled People to have to go to charity ‘cap in hand’ to have our needs met. We should not have to beg or be grateful for:

  • Enough money to live and make ends meet
  • Accessible information
  • Wheelchairs or other equipment to live independently
  • Human support
  • Accessible transport
  • Decent housing to live in

We should certainly not have to beg for the maintenance of segregated or so-called ‘special’ (i.e. inferior) services. Equal access to jobs and services ought to be our right. The Con-Dems are ushering in a revival of the notions of the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor.

Charity, by definition, makes us compete with other ‘deserving’ or ‘less deserving’ causes for public sympathy and scarce resources. We do not have common cause or common interest with those who need to perpetuate our oppression. We do not have common cause with those who beg on our behalf without our permission.

The struggle of DPAC is not about fighting to keep funds for the big charities. It is not about us saying that we are affected more or worse than others who are also under attack from the Con-Dems and New Labour. Such a ‘divide and rule’ approach plays directly into the hands of the Con-Dems.

We do have common cause with:

  • Trades unionists facing the sack because of privatisation and service cuts
  • Trades unionists fighting for better pensions for all
  • Trades unionists fighting against ATOS, which is now also being used by the Government to discipline and sack public sector employees on so-called ‘ill health’ grounds
  • People having to wait for NHS treatment and those whose GPs say that their needs are too expensive
  • Social and private housing tenants being evicted due to cuts in housing benefit
  • People who desperately need more and better social housing
  • People who cannot afford inflated fuel prices
  • People who need legal aid to fight injustice
  • People who cannot get advice or advocacy because of service cuts
  • A million young people looking for work
  • People unable to afford the ‘privilege’ of higher education

DPAC should be justly proud. In the UK at least, it is the first mainstream campaign against injustice led entirely by Disabled People.

We (Disabled People) are in all of the groups affected by the Coalition attacks. Many will try to divide or weaken our campaigns. Our opponents will try every possible tactic of ‘divide and rule’, even perhaps within DPAC itself!

Cameron says “we are all in it together”. Well we – pensioners, trades unionists, tenants, jobless, students, asylum seekers, refugees and Disabled People – are all in it together and must work together to defeat these attacks.

These are our services; our benefits; our taxes. These are our hard-won rights that they are trying to take away. We must struggle alongside all others facing these attacks as this is the only way we can win.

Oct 302011
 

First report from Louise Whittle @HarpyMarx, many thanks for letting us repost.

Mike Higgins, Linda Burnip, Debbie Jolly, John McArdle (morning speakers)

Mike Higgins, Linda Burnip, Debbie Jolly, John McArdle (morning speakers)

I attended the DPAC first conference yesterday. Here are some pictures and video to give a flavour of the day. Workshops were held to discuss the priorities for DPAC work and this will be written up put on the website. My favourite demand was, “Get rid of capitalism” as it makes people ill. Too true!

Thomas Butler

There were speakers, I just about caught the end of Mike Higgins talk (I was late to conference). John McArdle’s (Black Triangle) talk I videoed. I enjoyed Mik Scarlet’s talk about the challenges ahead, lots of humour added and especially his anecdote about a certain presenter of a certain dance show parking his Rolls Royce in a disabled only space and claiming he had every right to park there as he’s a “star”…….

John McArdle (Black Triangle)

John McArdle (Black Triangle)

Finally, John McDonnell MP was the final speaker (I videoed his talk too). Overall, the day was about, for me, hearing about the experiences of disabled people being constantly demonised and vilified by this government and previously, NL. Individuals spoke about their terrible experiences at the hands of Atos and the dreaded assessments. As one speaker correctly said, “If you have a pulse you are fit for work as far as Atos is concerned”.

Patrick Lynch (in white teeshirt) and Andy Greene (seated next to him)

Patrick Lynch (in white teeshirt) and Andy Greene (seated next to him)

There were discussion about demands and the way forward. One area is dispelling the lies and myths circulated by the ConDems and Ed Miliband aided and abetted by a media who is only too happy print to reiterate the rubbish. Example, Panorama has a programme coming up about benefit scoungers.

delegates

delegates

John McDonnell is correct when he said we need to make alliances and work together in challenging and fighting against the lies about disabled people but also uniting with others makes up stronger.

Lianna Etkind of Transport for All

Lianna Etkind of Transport for All

Finally, I would like to say thanks and solidarity to committed activist Eleanor Lisney, who I first saw at a Women Against the Cuts at an International Women’s Day event, and met her in cyberspace via Twitter when I came across DPAC. She is standing down from DPAC National Steering Committee.

Debbie Jolly, Eleanor Lisney and Linda Burnip

Debbie Jolly, Eleanor Lisney and Linda Burnip

Mik Scarlett

Mik Scarlett: speaker

John McDonell MP
Lani Parker, Svetlana Kotova with John McDonnell

Lani Parker, Svetlana Kotova with John McDonnell

Oct 242011
 

Address – 6 Market Road
London
N7 9PW
England
UK

The nearest tube landmark is Caledonian Road. If you were outside the Caledonian Road Underground tube station, turn right, and at the first set of traffic lights (after the tube station), turn right into Market Road.

You may be able to park along Caledonian Road. Alternatively, turn left at the Market Road crossroads into Mackenzie Road. The first road on the right is Roman Road and you can usually find a parking space down there or in one of the surrounding streets.

By Train – Kings Cross can be reached by GNER, WAGN and THAMESLINK mainline train services, Piccadilly, Victoria, Northern (City Branch), Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and Circle Line tube services, and numerous bus routes.

By Bus – From Kings Cross, take a 17, 91 or 259 bus along Caledonian Road to HMP Pentonville. Buses can be caught outside Kings Cross station on York Way (easiest place), halfway along Wharfdale Road,or further along Caledonian Road.

Oct 232011
 
At Disability Capital Conference

At Disability Capital Conference

The sham that was Disability Capital 2011 (20th October at London Excel) reinforced the Government’s determination to set disability policy without any reference to disabled people ourselves and the reality of our day to day lives. Disabled People’s Organisations were markedly absent from the organisation and running of the event and those that did consider it worth attending went to protest. The aim of the day seemed to be to exclude and silence disabled people and to avoid those topics that we did want to hear about and question. Enough was however said to make it plainly obvious that the politicians responsible for setting current government policy are completely out of touch with the realities of disabled people’s existence.

The most basic details of the event reveal a lack of consideration for disabled people’s attendance. People First Director Andrew Lee said

“we told the GLA if they had the conference at the Excel disabled people wouldn’t be able to get there but they didn’t listen”.

Not only was the conference venue difficult to get to, the conference opened at 9am to start at 10am, leaving disabled people with a Freedom Pass just half an hour to travel across the capital in the post peak-time rush to get there for the keynote speeches. Moreover the main mode of transport to get to the venue, the DLR, was disrupted by non-operational lifts at many of the stations serving it. Worst of all, there was no lunch provided, leaving attendees to fend for themselves at the over-priced outlets in the Excel. It certainly appeared as if the GLA wanted to hold a Disability event without any disabled people being there.

Islington DPAC banner

Islington DPAC banner

Those disabled people who did attend were restrained from asking difficult questions or getting our points of view across. Security made Islington Disabled People Against Cuts take our banners down, and when we draped them across the empty chairs we were informed there were 1000 people booked to attend and all the seats were needed. Not even half that number showed up. Then there were the questions, hand-picked from ones submitted in advance.

Both Transport for All and Inclusion London pre-publicised the range of pertinent questions they put forward to ask but the majority went unanswered. Not content to be silenced in this way, protestors heckled the Mayor of London and Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller during their keynote speeches. This provided the entertainment for the day as politicians put on the spot revealed their levels of ignorance and prejudice.

Mayor Boris Johnson showed himself completely out of touch with the concerns of disabled people. He thought we should be celebrating the 2012 Games, after all, some tickets are priced so extremely reasonably at under one hundred pounds. He told us that not only do disabled Londoners have the Games to look forward to, we also have the prospect of the South Bank, a veritable “party zone”, as he described it, bring made accessible. In future disabled people will theoretically be able to party freely in the Southbank. If only we had the income, the support and the transport to get there.

Disabled members of the audience called out and heckled the Mayor about something called Atos.

“Well, there’s clearly a lot of concern about Atos sponsoring the Paralympics” he conceded, “Why is Atos sponsoring the Paralympics? I don’t know”, he told us. “I’ll have to go and discover that from some learned quarter”.

He promised that if people stopped heckling and let him finish, he would come back to questions from the floor, mainly about Atos, at the end. He didn’t of course. By the time the hand-picked advance questions had been covered, it was too late and he had to leave, although not before he enlightened us on such burning topics as “What bit of the Paralympics is the Mayor most looking forward to?”, and “What does the Mayor know about sickle cell” (cue patronising sympathy and a recited Wikipedia entry).

So no, we never really got to the heart of the Mayor’s understanding of his government’s vicious erosion of disabled people’s rights. Maybe because he doesn’t have one or maybe because that’s what he would rather we believed. However he did promise that if we write in to City Hall after the conference with any questions that did not get answered he would receive a reply.

Killer Miller poster for Maria MillerMP

Killer Miller poster for Maria MillerMP

After Mayor Boris came Maria Miller MP. She was vehement in her defence of the right of Deaf members of the audience to follow the conference and that meant all hecklers had to be quiet. Never has a politician cared so much about the rights of the Deaf community as Ms Miller appeared to that morning. Suits in the audience felt emboldened to tell protesters to “shut up” so they could hear our venerable Minister speak as she painfully regurgitated the social model of disability and independent living philosophy as a justification for cutting services. Undaunted, the few disabled people in the audience called out “Lies, lies”.

Finally, a hard-hitting question, about the target of reducing DLA claimants by 20%, was allowed through. Maria Miller MP responded by telling the room that the majority of people on DLA do not have life-long conditions. She claimed it is in the interests of people with fluctuating conditions and those with learning disabilities, to be regularly reassessed. She never said why, or mentioned the cost of continuous review and reassessment, or explained how people with learning difficulties will be able to engage in the review process when their support packages are being slashed. And then it was time for her too to go.

The Atos question was resurrected again in a subsequent session about the 2012 Games as a disabled member of the floor insisted that a question be posed about Atos sponsorship. (Of course this question had not been chosen from those sent in in advance as sufficiently interesting to be covered).

Baronness Tanni Grey -Thompson explained that as the Welfare Reform Bill is currently at Committee stage it would be inappropriate for her to comment and would damage her credibility among her peers (pun intended). However only about 25 people had actually contacted her to raise concerns about Atos sponsorship of the Paralympic Games and if there are more people out there who are worried about it, by all means they should contact her and let her know.

So in light of this invitation I would urge all DPAC members to contact Grey-Thompson and make sure that whether she supports our objections to Atos or not, she cannot continue to say that only 25 people in the country have an issue with Atos sponsoring the Paralympics Games. Contact her at http://www.tanni.co.uk/contact/

Oct 212011
 

A terminally ill man has been living off 12p a day for food after being refused benefits.

Peter Duut, a Dutch national who lives in Haverhill, has worked long hours as a carpenter in the UK for the past two-and-a-half years.

When he became term-inally ill with cancer in April he tried to claim benefits, only to be told that he does not qualify.

Peter and his wife Laurel have since been unable to afford enough food, and are battling with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to give them enough money to live off.

Read the rest at Haverhill Weekly News

 

Black Triangle have been informed that Peter passed away on October13th, before this article was published and that Laurel, his widow is having difficulties being accepted for a funeral grant and claiming benefits herself, with it looking like she may loose the house they shared.

Many thanks to all who donated to help Laurel at the time.

From Black Triangle

Oct 192011
 

Wheelchair users have to climb a flight of stairs to prove they are disabled enough to get benefits at a centre in Croydon.

Although there are lifts in the disability benefits assessment centre, anyone in a wheelchair or who cannot climb stairs is banned from using them due to health and safety regulations.

Anyone who cannot tackle the 46 step staircase is instead forced to make a 14 mile round trip to Balham because the centre in Cherry Orchard Road is not disabled friendly.

The Atos Healthcare’s Assessment Centre is on the first floor of Stephenson House and is the only place in the borough disabled people can undertake a compulsory workplace capability assessments (WCA) to determine if those suffering illness or incapacity are claiming legitimately.

Croydon Disability Forum (CDF) called the situation “ludicrous”.

Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell has written to Chris Grayling MP, minister for work and pensions, expressing his concerns.

He said: “We need to find a way to make that place fully accessible or find a new place.

“It works as a stop gap but not in the long term. We need a solution. It is ridiculous.”

Read the rest with comments from Your Local Guardian at Croydon

Oct 182011
 

Many thanks to Tony Kay who allowed us to publish his letter to show the concern with Scope  shutting down of Dial UK

Dear all,

I must say that when we first heard about the DIAL UK merger with Scope back in 2008 we did have reservations because we did know that Scopes remit was focussed only on those people with Cerebral Palsy whereas DIAL UK had a disability wide remit. However we accepted that DIALUK were in a very tricky situation and that they were running on their reserves and that the merger whilst not the best solution to the problem was perhaps the only way they could continue. I am sure that DIAL UK were given assurances at that time that it was a merger and not what now appears to be happening which is a takeover and the loss of the DIAL UK brand.

We have been affiliated to DIAL UK for over 20 years and throughout this time we have received invaluable support including a paid consultancy to develop a Business plan. This was over 12 years ago and the relationship we built up with the designated Consultant has continued ever since mainly on a ‘pro bono’ basis and this support has been crucial to us. We have also accessed training received lots of useful information via the monthly information packs and been able to call on DIAL UK staff when required. This has only been possible due to the expertise of the DIAL UK staff and their knowledge and understanding of all things disability related.

We have no real affinity with Scope and at this time I do not feel it would be appropriate to be part of a Scope Network. Also I do not want the organisation information and statistics we send to DIAL UK to be made available to Scope as I have reservations that this could be used to help Scope to compete against our Organisation when trying to secure new and existing  funding.

I was recently doing a Google search of DART more out of curiosity than anything and came across a funding bid by the Local Scope service for the creation of a local Calderdale Brokerage Service for disabled adults and children, plus their families. Within this bid it states that Scope were ‘in the process of exploring working in conjunction with one of our DIAL groups Calderdale DART’ The bid was submitted in February of this year and whilst I do not know if it was successful or not, the fact is that no one from Scope has been in touch with me at any time. Is this how it is going to be in the future?

Our affiliation has always been with DIAL UK and if this is to be lost due to the enforced restructuring, then I feel we may need to look elsewhere for support as we do not feel it would be appropriate to be affiliated to Scope given their current remit and how they have let down the staff of DIAL UK who have provided an excellent service for 30 years and who have now been let down by an Organisation who have renegade on the merger arrangement agreed in 2008, knowing full well that DIAL UK cannot fight back because that merger turned into a full blown takeover.
Tony Kay

Manager

Calderdale D.A.R.T.

Read also Scope to shut down DIAL UK, make all staff redundant

from Indymedia

Scope a National charity plan to shut down a smaller charity DIAL UK and make the DIAL UK staff redundant following a recent merger. This will impact on Disabled People’s Advice Services.
West Yorkshire Solidarity federation has been passed the following information which directly affects one of the locals members.

News has just come in that Scope (essentially a national non advice giving organisation) is going to shut down DIAL UK following an earlier merger. This will affect disabled people’s advice services at a time when the need is greater. Added to this experienced staff are being dumped. Scope will claim that it has no option following cuts in funding, but they are still managing to pay their chief exec thousands.

We have been told the following:

“If – as seems likely now – none of the current staff get positions in the new structure the main sources of knowledge and intelligence about the network will be lost when it is most needed. Understanding the network and its operation and working on its behalf is the essential uniqueness of DIAL UK.

In this new structure there is no focus on the DIAL brand, name or work of the network. It seems it will become the Scope Network, with no specialist dedicated support for current and potential new members.

Scope are not an Information and Advice provider, they are not a disabled people’s organisation (DPO) or a user led organisation (ULO) so do not understand the mechanisms of running a network or the issues faced by individual member groups.

Dial UK currently receives over 20,000 calls every year from disabled people in addition to the thousands dealt with by each of the hundred plus Dial groups – where will these calls go?

If, as we fear, Dial UK ceases to exist, disabled peoples’ organisations will be abandoned by their main source of advice, support and information – where will they get this support? From Scope’s new people whose Job Descriptions don’t mention or the essential element of understanding pan disability issues and the problems disabled people face”.

Oct 162011
 
Last week I received a letter from my local Jobcentre Plus advising me of the opportunity to attend a Work Focused Interview. These are meetings for those on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) where the idea of returning to work is discussed and what help someone needs to do this, including training, employment advice and condition management support.
 
ESA claimants are divided into two groups, a Work-Related Activity Group and a Support Group. Claimants in the first group are expected to attend Work Focused Interviews. They can receive sanctions such as having their benefit stopped if they don’t.
 
There is a growing awareness that the obnoxious Work Capability Assessment which determines whether somebody is entitled to ESA or is shunted straight onto Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) has had its bar set so low that only those with the most complex physical or learning impairments or debilitating mental health conditions qualify for ESA. A fact that hundreds of thousands of incapacity benefit claimants are finding out now to their cost as they are reassessed and find themselves on JSA.
 
Those of us in the Support Group represent a layer of disabled people whose needs are so complex even compared to our peers in the Work-Related Activity Group that we are deemed to be incapable of work. But the fact that we are being sent letters about Work Focused Interviews illustrates the day may come when we are expected to consider the prospect of preparing for work, however unfeasible this may be.
 
Currently, claimants in the Work-Related Activity Group provide a cushion for those in the Support Group to the most draconian aspects of the benefits system associated with the sanctions regime of JSA. But tens of thousands in the former group have been sent letters warning them that if the Con-Dem’s welfare reform bill is passed then in April they will be transferred onto JSA because ESA will be time-limited to one year for those with a history of employment. The unthinkable for Support Group claimants could soon be one step closer.
 Posted by at 16:27
Oct 142011
 

Please note provisional direct action training sessions from Disabled People’s Direct Action Network (DAN)

1.

National Union of Students Activism Day: 19th November, London.

DANners to attend and run workshop about organising grassroots protests as disabled people AND how we as disabled people join in with protests run by others.

2.

Disabled Students Campaign Training day : 1st December, Leeds.

DANners to attend and run a workshop about organising and doing street protests as disabled people.

3.

Disabled Students Campaign training day : 7th December, London.

DANners to attend and run a workshop about organising and doing street protests as disabled people.

Oct 142011
 

Mike Higgins kindly allowed us to re post his letter here – first published on the DISABILITY-RESEARCH@JISCMAIL.AC.UK listserv.

An anonymous and perhaps facetious call out today was made for DIAL staff across the UK to attend the Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) annual conference at the end of October and, as the old comedy series had it: “take it from here”. For a less cryptic clue, e-mail me off-list.

Cynics like me will of course say “I told you so”. Spookily enough, SCOPE (yet again) appears to have hoodwinked a section of our movement controlled by Disabled People, stolen its clothes, money, reputation, good will and status (or as SCOPE would have it: it’s ‘branding’). Lock, stock and both barrels, SCOPE hijacked the DIAL network a couple of years ago, subsuming it within SCOPE’s monopoly. This meant that  with a couple of chews, a gulp,  swallow and suppressed burp, SCOPE could enhance its pretension to be part of the Disabled People’s Movement.

In-line with its providing space for window dressing (such as the project led by Andy Rickell and others) and the subsequent office space it gave to Disability LIB, SCOPE has ended its short-term whoring with DIAL. Having slept with DIAL, it is now administering the morning after pill to the DIAL network. Closing down DIAL’s national office and sacking all of DIAL’s nationally employed staff as of next month, November 2011, is just one of the ways in which SCOPE is ensuring that any established expertise in network support for Disabled Peoples’ Organisations is expunged.

SCOPE has abolished the national trustee body for DIAL and is instead imposing a SCOPE-appointed (i.e. unelected) steering group with responsibility for SCOPE dis-information services. As part of its declared ‘regionalisation’, SCOPE nationally is appointing a top-heavy management structure with an emphasis upon recruiting people with backgrounds in health and social care services (rather than in the Disabled People’s Movement). Staff at a national level within DIAL, including many disabled staff, are apparently surplus to requirements. The new ‘regionalised’ version of SCOPE will in reality compete directly with DIAL groups for funding. As we know from all too bitter experience, SCOPE has the power and resources to play dirty and win contracts away from local Disabled People’s Organisations. It seems to me at least extremely likely that this will happen as part of the latest moves by SCOPE  – thinly veiled as ‘restructuring’ – to silence and suppress the only self-organised groups to be associated with it.

Just in case you’re thinking, is this about money? The answer from SCOPE is ‘no’. Of course it is! It is about taking money from Disabled People’s Organisations. It is not however about a cash shortage within SCOPE, according to their own official propaganda about this ‘change’.

Please circulate this information to anyone you know who is involved with a DIAL group so that their network can discuss openly how to respond to this predictable attack upon its integrity and viability. I personally am not involved with DIAL UK (or SCOPE) but would hope that as a minimum the DIAL network will decide to dissociate itself from SCOPE and refuse to lend it any further credibility, publicising this decision as widely as possible. Whilst DIAL UK national staff are under strict instructions from their erstwhile employer not to share information about the attempted back door abolition by SCOPE of the DIAL UK network, I am under no such restrictions or constraints. The National DIAL office has also made it clear that whilst SCOPE is attempting to tie their hands, they will not avoid answering direct questions put to them by interested parties. Those who want the inside track on these developments could therefore call the national office directly to discuss strategy for resisting these attacks on telephone:             01302 310 123      .

This is also perhaps a chance for a timely reminder to those in bed with SCOPE, through for example such networks as the Disability Benefits Consortium and other public campaigns, that the hardest hit appear to include SCOPE’s disabled staff, a number of whom are being made redundant. In passing, didn’t something similar happen to Leonard Cheshire’s latest pretend network of User-Led forra about a year ago when they also sacked a swathe of Disabled People?

I would say that Disabled People’s Organisations need (again) publicly to dissociate themselves from SCOPE and the latest in its long and chequered series of attacks on our Movement. SCOPE continues to pretend to be a friend of Disabled People’s Organisations as part of its long-term cynical endeavour to plan the decimation of organisations run and controlled by Disabled People and their replacement with a consortium of unaccountable charity businesses in their own image, like Sue Ryder and Leonard Cheshire et al.

I will leave it to others to formulate demands and a strategy as regards dealing with the immediate fallout from this latest debacle, as I am proudly ignorant of the internal workings, structures and mechanisms for putting pressure onto SCOPE. Suffice to say, from my perspective as an activist, this latest news simply reinforces the vital need to rebuild our Movement from the grass roots up (for the avoidance of doubt, I mean the Disabled Peoples’ Movement of organisations run and controlled by Disabled People) perhaps starting with the excellent example being set by DPAC.

Best wishes,

Mike Higgins (in a personal capacity)

Oct 092011
 

 A key purpose of the conference on 29th October is for DPAC members to vote in an accountable and elected national steering group to drive DPAC forward and carry out the work that is needed to run an active and responsive campaigning movement.

There are 8 places for election. We are looking for people who are passionate about our campaigns, are able to give their time and ready to take responsibility. We are looking for people who can help DPAC establish links with disabled people and their organisations in different regions. The steering group will need members who have skills and experience in one or more of the following areas:

• campaigning and organising actions

• Public Relations and media including press releases

• public speaking

 • networking with other anti-cuts groups to help promote disability awareness and pool resources etc

 • website moderation

 • social networking including using twitter to spread information

• fundraising

 • communications including preparing information sheets and editing newsletters

 • accessible communications, including communicating with members who do not have the internet and putting information into easy read

 • maintaining records and databases

 • research and monitoring

 • accounts and book-keeping

In order to be nominated you have to be a disabled person and DPAC member. You can nominate yourself or nominate someone, provided they agree to be nominated. Members will need information about each candidiate in order to decide who to vote for.

We are asking that candidates send us the following information:

• Short biography.

• Why do you want to become DPAC steering group member?

• What skills and experience can you contribute to DPAC?

Please send nominations and information to mail@dpac.uk.net before 21st October 2011.

 Posted by at 20:45
Oct 032011
 

coachTransport for this Sunday

read the reason for this action

The government is just weeks away from destroying the NHS forever. This is an emergency. On Sunday October 9th, join UK Uncut on Westminster Bridge and help block the bill.

REGION: Leeds
COACH COMPANY: Ross Travel Group,             01977 791738
COACH ROUTE AND TIMINGS: Leaving at 8am from the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds dropping off at Victoria Embankment and returning from London at 4.30pm with disabled access

REGION: Glasgow & Edinburgh

 

COACH COMPANY: Fairline Coaches Ltd,             0141 553 1313      COACH ROUTE AND TIMINGS: Pick-up on 8th October from Glasgow at 9pm, then on to Edinburgh and London. Returning 9th October 8pm, dropping Edinburgh then Glasgow

*REGION: Margate and Westgate on Sea *
Coach company: Britannia Coaches Tel:             01304 228111
Contact Name and number:
ROUTE AND TIMINGS: leave Cecil Square in Margate at 9am with a pickup at the Walmer Castle pub, Westgate-on-Sea at 915am going to Waterloo for Midday and returning at 6pm from Waterloo for the same journey and drop off on the way back
12 seater

  • REGION: LIVERPOOOOOOOOOOL *
  • Coach Company: Happy Al’s (based in Birkenhead)
    Contact Name and Number:
    Route: departing Hardman St, Liverpool city centre (time unknown!) Return 5.30pm
  • REGION: EDINBURGH *
    Coach company: Edinburgh Coach Lines Ltd Tel:             0131 554 5413
    Contact Name and number: 07427605354
    ROUTE AND TIMINGS: we will be departing from outside the University Medical School on Teviot Place at 11.30pm on Saturday 8th, returning the following evening after the protest.
  • REGION: Shropshire*
    Coach company: Elcock Reisen Tel No             01952 585712
    Contact Name and number: Jayne McDermot shropsfightback@virginmedia.com
    ROUTE AND TIMINGS:
    Quot: £695, or 16 seater £475 Both plus any parking charges in London.(around £16)

REGION: OXFORD *
Company: Blunsdons Coach Travel             01993 811320
Contact name and number for the quote:
Route: Pick-up: Southern end of St Giles (outside the Taylor Institute bit.ly/nCWGoP). Meet 9:45am to leave at 10am. Drop off: Charing Cross 12pm Return: same places, leaving London at 5pm

REGION: Torquay and Exeter
COACH COMPANY: Abbot coach travel, Drayford UnitQuay Road, NEWTON ABBOT, Devon TQ12 2BU Telephone             01626 204010
COACH ROUTE AND TIMINGS: Torbay Bus Station 6AM; Newton Abbot Train Station 6:30AM; Exeter, Paris Street (outside council offices) 7AM

REGION: BRIGHTONTWO COACHES
COACH COMPANY: Momentum Coach Hire,             0800 987 8055
COACH ROUTE AND TIMINGS: The coach will depart Pool Valley coach station, Old Steine, Brighton at 10am to arrive at Westminster Bridge for 12.30 Pick up will be at Westminster Bridge at 5pm

REGION: Nottingham
COACH COMPANY: Silverdale coaches,             0115 9121000
COACH ROUTE AND TIMINGS: Pick up at 9am from the royal centre in Nottingham to arrive at belvedere road (waterloo) at 12 noon. Return time around 6pm

REGION: Poole & Bournemouth
COACH COMPANY: Dolphin Coaches,             01202 883134
COACH ROUTE AND TIMINGS: Coach departs 9am from Poole Civic Centre (next to Poole Park) Pick up point 9.10am Bournemouth Train Station, Holdenhurst Road
Discussed with coach company to be dropped off and collected from same place at Waterloo Train Station. Leave London at 7pm.

REGION: Sheffield
COACH COMPANY: Momentum Coach Hire Ltd,             0800 987 8053
COACH ROUTE & TIMINGS:
Pickup Date & Time: Sunday 09 October 2011 08:00 AM
Pickup Point: Sheffield South Yorkshire Destination: London
Return Date & Time: Sunday 09 October 2011 18:00 PM

REGION: Birmingham
COACH COMPANY: aziz coaches,             0121 4402015
COACH ROUTE & TIMINGS:
pick up 10am in carrs lane, birmingham
drop off 12:30 waterloo station
return
pick up 6pm waterloo station
drop off 8:30 carrs lane, birmingham

REGION: Manchester – TWO COACHES
COACH COMPANY: Momentum,             0800 206 1432
COACH ROUTE & TIMINGS: The coaches will pick people up at 7am at Steve Biko Building, Oxford Road and drop off at Russell Square in London with an 8pm return time.

Oct 032011
 

1pm, Wed 19th October 2011 outside the annual Welfare to Work Conference at the Business Design Centre, Upper Street, Islington, N1 0HQ

This year’s Welfare to Work Conference will bring together politicians and private companies making millions from the welfare to work industry. The agenda reads like a who’s who of welfare abolition.

We’re not fooled by “Welfare to Work”: It means people forced to do unpaid work for multi-million pound companies such as Asda and Poundland. People risk losing the meagre £67 a week Jobseeker’s Allowance if they do not work for such companies without pay.

Conference speakers will include James Purnell, who introduced the idea of workfare under Labour, and the Tory peer Lord Freud, multi millionaire ex-banker and self styled ‘welfare expert’. This is a convention for those promoting the idea of an unpaid workforce, whilst making millions from it.
Join us as we make sure the conference doesn’t go as smoothly as planned!

From http://www.boycottworkfare.org/

Oct 032011
 

More from Nottingham Indymedia

People in Nottingham, joined a National Day of Action against ATOS Healthcare and the government’s attack on benefits for people with disability and illness through the ‘Work Capability Test’ and Welfare Reform Bill.

Protesters assembled in Hockley, Nottingham city centre, to head over to protest at the ATOS assessment centre on Stoney Street.

This organisation has the government contract to re-assess claimants for the disability allowances.  But folks claim that all they are doing is shifting people from this benefit to other lesser benefits like Job Seekers Allowance. Irrespective of the claimants abilities.

On arrival at the office, people gathered arround the entrance, displaying banners and handing out leaflets. Protestors, including many in wheelchairs and some partially-sighted then entered the office. Claimants and supporters then exchanged stories of what assesment by Atos had meant to them.

Police and protestors

After about 30mins, 4 police cars containing 7 or 8 police officers arrived at the building. After talking to Atos management, then proceeded to read out the section of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, concerning ‘aggravated tresspass’.   This included the bit about obstructing or disrupting a lawful activity and workers there feeling intimidated by all these folks in wheelchairs in the outer office!  As you would expect, this was greeted with a certain amount of credulity!! Anyway the threat was clear.  Leave within minutes or all would be arrested.
++++++

Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1994/33/section/69

69 Powers to remove persons committing or participating in aggravated trespass.

(1)If the senior police officer present at the scene reasonably believes—

(a)that a person is committing, has committed or intends to commit the offence of aggravated trespass on land [F1…in the open air]… ; or

(b)that two or more persons are trespassing on land [F2…in the open air]… and are present there with the common purpose of intimidating persons so as to deter them from engaging in a lawful activity or of obstructing or disrupting a lawful activity,

he may direct that person or (as the case may be) those persons (or any of them) to leave the land.

(2)A direction under subsection (1) above, if not communicated to the persons referred to in subsection (1) by the police officer giving the direction, may be communicated to them by any constable at the scene.

(3)If a person knowing that a direction under subsection (1) above has been given which applies to him—

(a)fails to leave the land as soon as practicable, or

(b)having left again enters the land as a trespasser within the period of three months beginning with the day on which the direction was given,

he commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale, or both

Note:

[F1…in the open air] [F2…in the open air]

these words removed by the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 sect 59 …… Hence now, anywhere!

++++++

Most then leave, but one man in a wheelchair and another, did remain and where then arrested.  One was then lead off in handcuffs to the Bridwell Police Station for processing. I was expecting the man in the wheelchair might have been dragged out in handcuffs and manhandled about [Joddy McIntyre style], but seeing my photo-opportunity they might have created, ‘street bailed’ the individual and he was allowed to leave un-molested.

Atos being true to form [with police assistance] thus showed themselves to be the bullying organisation, many of the most vulnerable people amongst us already knew………

Atos Origin have £300 million contract with the Con-dem Government to continue carrying out ‘work capability assessments’. It is claimed assessments are to test what people can do rather than what they can’t. The real purpose is to strip benefits from as many people as possible. This testing system has already led to people with terminal illnesses and severe medical conditions being declared fit for work and having benefits cut. GP’s are ignored in favour of decisions made by Atos Origin’s computer. Plans announced for the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance have also revealed that this intrusive testing is likely to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit. To date around 40% of appeals against Atos Origin’s decisions have been successful.

Atos have now extended their harassment of sick and disabled by using legal threats to silence websites which have been critical of them, see the Benefit Claimants Fightback website below for more details. http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/

JCP and Atos Origin superglued shut

http://nottingham.indymedia.org/articles/1893

Superglue Atos: The glue in question 🙂

http://nottingham.indymedia.org/tumbles/1895

Oct 022011
 
DPAC banner

DPAC part of the March

DPAC  went to Manchester for the TUC march on the Tory Conference. There were reports of more than 35 000 marchers by the BBC.

There was some uncertainty as to where disabled people should be but we stayed together and was near the top of the march. It was very noisy, ‘they say cut back, we say fight back’ the crowd chanted. The police presence was very obvious and snipers were spotted by some when we approached the Manchester Central Convention Centre. But it was mostly peaceful.

Mounted police as well

After the main rally, Linda Burnip was one among others to speak at the Right to Work meeting

More at DPAC photos at flickr

Right to Work Report

Video from Right to Work

Oct 012011
 

I haven’t been able to get the full story yet but it seems that around 30 protesters occupied the Nottingham Atos medical assessment centre shortly after 12pm today in protest at the company’s role in forcing people with medical conditions into work. Two people were arrested for aggravated trespass including one person in a wheelchair that the police were unable to fit into their van. He was charged on the spot and bailed whilst the other was taken to the Bridewell police station. A solidarity protest was held outside which was swelled in the evening by 30 cyclists from the Nottingham critical mass. Just as we arrived at around 6.30 the arrestee was released to much bell ringing and applause!

Prisoner freed!

Today’s critical mass was well attended with 2 sound systems and we had a good old tour around town before heading to the Sumac for a special post-CM people’s kitchen. Drivers’ tempers were a little bit more frayed than usual thanks to the hot day but the mass was good humoured and fun. Our show of solidarity to the anti-Atos people was definitely a highlight – especially as we were there to see the man released.

From Nottingham indymedia

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