Feb 282012
 

Serco Research is asking for Disabled Peoples Organisations’ (DPO’s) and disabled individual’s thoughts on PIP through an online questionnaire.

Questions include where the PIP examinations should take place, at what time and whether disabled individuals or DPO’s would be interested in feeding back on the process.

Have Serco got the contract? Are our views being taken into account? Who knows? But what we do need to know is that Dr Stephen Duckworth OBE, director of the Serco Institute for research, has other connections.  He is a disabled man using an electric wheelchair-so we’ll be OK yes? Well no….

Dr Stephen may be disabled, he also supports euthanasia and is  a member of the ‘assisted dying’ committee to get the law changed for euthanasia to become legal in the UK. He  has advised the government on the misery that is welfare reform, has been involved in insurance companies on disability ( no names mentioned but may begin with the letter ‘U’), has been involved in ‘the work program’ ( an euphemism for workfare’ and other programs) netting £3 bn for his company and has also been involved with a contract earning 100 million a year to help long term unemployed people return to work that was outsourced by the DWP, now didn’t Atos get 100 million a year from DWP contract to do just that? As ‘Fitness to work’ is described as one of his areas of ‘expertise’ it’s all possible. See: http://www.expertsearch.co.uk/cgi-bin/find_expert?5669

And just in case you think we would dare to make this stuff up see links below and scroll down for the original email on PIP

Committee on Assisted Dying

http://www.commissiononassisteddying.co.uk/dr-stephen-duckworth

The link tells us:

Dr Duckworth OBE is the founder and Chief Executive of Disability Matters Limited. He is a board member on the Olympic Delivery Authority, Board Champion for Equality and Diversity and Chair of the Health, Safety and Environment Committee. He also sits on the board for the Employers Forum on Disability and the National Quality Board.

Dr Duckworth was an adviser to Ministers for Welfare Reform and for Disabled People on the provision of disability benefits. He has also been very involved in the work of a group of FSA regulated companies that provide ethical finance and insurance to disabled customers. He was also a member of the Council of the University of Southampton”.

In 2009 the Mail described the ‘assisted dying’ committee set up and bankrolled by Terry Pratchett as:

This private Commission was set up by Charlie Falconer, an outspoken supporter of euthanasia, after three failed attempts in Parliament to change the law on ‘assisted dying’”. Further…
The Commission has made considerable noise about the disabled person amongst their number. While all the major disability rights organisations in the UK (RADAR, UKDPC, NCIL, SCOPE, Not Dead Yet) oppose a change in the law, Stephen Duckworth, Chief Executive of ‘Disability Matters Limited’, actually backs a change to legalisation.

‘Disability Matters Limited’ sounds grandiose but it is in reality it was just a private business – which according to the Companies House website was dissolved in the summer of 2010. So who does Mr Duckworth represent?

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2082255/Lord-Falconer-sham-Commission-lead-13-000-deaths-year.html#ixzz1ni0G00C6

On Linkedin Dr Stephen describes past work as:

I previously worked as the Strategic Development Director working to secure contracts from the UK government under the £3Bn per annum Work Programme.

Previously I was leading a £100 million contract to help the long-term unemployed people return to work that has been outsourced by the DWP.

So before reading the email do bear these things in mind:

Classification: Serco Public

Please find below, an email from Dr Stephen Duckworth OBE, Director of the Serco Institute for Research.

Serco is very aware that many disabled people’s organisations have expressed concerns about the government’s intentions in relation to Welfare Reform. It appears the Coalition Government is intent on making these changes and as such, it seems inevitable that they will be letting new contracts to introduce reforms such as the Personal Independence Payment in the near future. More information can be found here: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/disability/personal-independence-payment/

To achieve their objectives, the government is establishing a Framework Agreement through the Department of Work and Pensions, inviting organisations to bid to deliver health and disability assessments that will enable individuals to access certain benefits and services.

At Serco, we believe passionately in effective public service delivery. It is important to us to put the citizen at the heart of our solution so that individuals and organisations who argue that “Nothing should be done about us without us” are provided with the opportunity to influence the design and shaping of future services that are affected by the benefit reform process.

As an electric wheelchair user myself and with a medical background, I’m very conscious that the views of those with long-term health conditions and disabled people need to be incorporated in the design and delivery of these assessments.

Would you as an individual or your organisation be interested in contributing to Serco’s ambition of involving as many disabled people as possible in developing the solution to all future assessments for disabled people?

If your answer is yes, then please click on the link below to express your interest by completing a short survey about health & disability assessments.

 http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FCK2B8B

 We look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

Dr Stephen Duckworth OBE, Director Serco Institute

 

Feb 262012
 

Many thanks to Dario Kenner for allowing us to repost his blog here. We salute   disabled protestors in Bolivia! Solidarity!

24 February 2012

After 100 days and nearly 1,600 km around 100 disabled people arrived in La Paz yesterday demanding social benefits from the Bolivian state. They endured tropical heat, heavy rains and hailstorms on their march from the Amazonian city of Trinidad, via Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, to La Paz in the western highlands (map).

The Plurinational Assembly (Congress and Senate) is in the process of approving a Preferential Treatment Law that will give disabled people a social benefit of 1,000 Bolivianos a year (about US$146 / £93). The marchers have repeatedly said this is not enough and should be 3,000 Bolivianos a year (about US$437 / £278). However, not all disabled people agree with the demands of the march and in the city of Oruro they have accepted the figure of 1,000 Bolivianos which the government says will benefit 13,000 disabled people this year.

Yesterday afternoon the marchers tried to force their way into the main square in La Paz, location of the government palace. A government spokesperson condemned the violence and claimed there were groups present who provoked the clashes leaving 20 police injured. Bolivian media reports the police used tear gas and pepper spray. At least 10 people with disabilities were injured. The Ombudsman office said the marcher´s rights were abused and there was evidence they had been injured.

Last night the marchers had setup a vigil outside the main square (Plaza Murillo) and say they will go on hunger strike until their proposal for a law is approved.

Photos of the march arriving and clashes with police http://www.flickr.com/photos/49277734@N05/sets/72157629079961756

More information in Spanish: La Razón, Página Siete, Agencia Boliviana de Información.

Background information in English: The Guardian 11 January 2012.

[Below is an interview I did with one of the leaders of the march. Whilst this interview gives the point of view of the marchers it hopefully gives an insight into why there was a march and what it is like to be a disabled person in Bolivia  – Dario Kenner]

Interview: José Luis Lupa, Coordinator Disabled People of Cochabamba

Why did you march?

Police block disabled people from entering Plaza Murillo (credit: Dario Kenner)

Police block disabled people from entering Plaza Murillo (credit: Dario Kenner)

The march began on 15 November 2011. I have been marching since 10 January from Villa Tunari. Before that I was at the vigil in Cochabamba. The march began with 17 people and 128 have arrived in La Paz.

Originally we were demanding 3,000 Bolivianos a year. But now we have lost patience we are demanding for those in a really bad condition 5,000 Bolivianos, then in a bad condition 4,000 Bolivianos and for those in moderate condition 3,000 Bolivianos. But this is still to be discussed with the government.

For this year President Morales has said there will be 1,000 Bolivianos for those in a really bad or bad condition. You know that in your country disabled people have many social benefits. What we are demanding here is nothing if you think about costs like a wheelchair, transport, medicine, therapy. This does not factor in food, housing etc.

In our proposal for a law we are demanding that we receive our pension early because many people with disabilities do not live long enough to receive it. We should get it at 40 years for a women and 45 for a man instead of at 60.

We want social security for all disabled people, to not give it to all would be discriminatory. We want the government to guarantee we will all receive it from 2013 but President Morales has not done this so we carried on marching. The government started paying 1,000 Bolivianos on Wednesday to try and get people to leave our march.

What were the conditions like? How did you and your fellow marchers make it all the way to La Paz?

The 17 who started thought the government would not let them march more than three days. But after three, four, five days, two weeks there was still nothing from the government. We depended on the people. Sometimes when we passed through place the people had nothing but they shared their only glass of water with tears in their eyes. Or people gave us things as they passed us in their cars. Sometimes there was not enough food, we just had water and biscuits. But some people didn´t give us anything, they said this march is political, but it has never been like that. Where did we get the strength from? We have waited for four years for this government to act.

Representatives from the United Nations, the Ombudsmen and human rights organisations came to visit us. We sent them back. Why? Because instead of visiting us with their donations we told them they should be lobbying the Bolivian government to resolve our situation. The Ombudsmen promised us Plaza Murillo (main square in La Paz) would not be closed for when we arrived.

When we got closer to La Paz and started getting to the highlands some communities shouted at us, people who are more allied with the MAS (ruling Movement Towards Socialism party). We were furious when we got to one community after going through heavy rains, hailstorms and frosts and they rejected us. We got to El Alto at 2am in the morning, it was freezing. On our way down into La Paz many people welcomed us.

March by disabled people gets to La Paz (credit: Dario Kenner)

March by disabled people gets to La Paz (credit: Dario Kenner)

What happened today when you arrived? What did you see?

When we were half a kilometre from the Plaza Murillo our main leaders said to everyone “hold on, we are going to be peaceful and not violent, we are just people who want to go around the square and say we do not want the law because it will not help disabled people, we want our law that guarantees the social security for 2013, that´s it.” Then we were going to go somewhere else and rest. That was our mission, for our law, not the governments law, to be approved.

Yesterday the Vice President and the Ombudsmen said the square would be open. We were four blocks away. We wanted to enter. Then the clash started. Us against them. Them against us. We got through the first police cordon but could not get through the second because there were a lot more police. For me the main question is: Why are they scared? Why do they block the square? Is Morales spending the money on himself that is meant to be for us? (video of clashes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=T44cpuS2spM)

Articles 70,71 and 72 of the Bolivian Constitution set out that the state must give direct benefits to disabled people. Also there is the International Convention of Disabled People, Law 1678, and Supreme Decree 2487. There are many norms that benefit disabled people but none have been applied, they are just bits of paper.

The government says we are unproductive and are no use to the country. But why do they do not give us the opportunity to show if we have a value or not? In Europe, as you know, disabled people are great engineers and have great potential. Why can´t we do that here? We just want the chance to study and do training. But we don´t have that opportunity in Bolivia.

Source : http://boliviadiary.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/march-by-disabled-people-gets-to-la-paz/

Feb 242012
 
Right to Work has called for protests at McDonalds on Saturday 25th February to drive home the campaign.
Assemble 10.30am, Outside McDonald’s, 291b Oxford Street, London, W1C 2DT

Emergency Demonstration: Stop McWorkfare slave Labour – Grayling must go!

Posters and leaflets for protests Smash Workfare – real jobs now placard and McWorkfare poster
On Saturday 3rd March Boycott Workfare have called protests around the country.

see previous post

 Posted by at 16:14
Feb 242012
 

So far protests are planned in the following towns

In solidarity with Liverpool Uncut’s action against workfare on Saturday 3rd March, Boycott Workfare has called a national day of action against workfare. There’s already actions planned in Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Leeds, Sheffield and Tunbridge Wells (with Glasgow, Lincoln, Notts and others planning!)

* Birmingham – 11.30am outside Poundland on Union Street.
https://www.facebook.com/events/326635227382652/

* Brighton – Brighton Benefits Campaign are picketing Tesco in Jubilee Street
(opposite Jubilee Square) from 12 noon.
https://www.facebook.com/events/252223388191094/

* Brighton Youth Fight for Jobs & Education are picketing Tesco in St James’s
Street Kemp Town from 11.30am.
https://www.facebook.com/events/192768120824784/

* Bristol – 12 noon at College Green.
https://www.facebook.com/events/131728820283870/

* Cardiff – 2pm Outside Poundland on Queen Street.
https://www.facebook.com/events/182605755176124/

* Edinburgh – Join ECAP to plan on Monday 27th! Details tbc for the 3rd.
http://t.co/B2FHuyWH

* Glasgow – 1pm, March 3rd, Top Shop 229 Buchanan Street.
https://www.facebook.com/events/163269033789710/

* Leeds – 12 noon until 3pm. Location tbc.
https://www.facebook.com/events/232189563537172/

* Lincoln – Picket, protest, occupy. Meeting 12 noon on High Street.
More details to come.

* Liverpool – Take action with UK Uncut, 1pm until 4pm. Meet Next to
Nowhere Social Centre, Bold Street, Liverpool.
https://www.facebook.com/events/236875173062726/

* London, Brixton – 12 noon, Acre Lane Tesco.
* London, Oxford Street – Meet outside BHS on Oxford Street, 11:30am.
https://www.facebook.com/events/168924943221854/

* London, Hackney –
https://www.facebook.com/events/390444520970494/

* London, Lewisham – Join UK Uncut at 1pm, Lewisham High Street
http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/actions/823

* Newcastle – 12pm outside Eldon Square.
https://www.facebook.com/events/260108214067789/

* Nottingham – 12pm outside Wilkinsons, Parliament Street
https://www.facebook.com/events/397292173620646/

* Oxford – Join Solidarity Federation in a Thames Valley action. Assemble 12
noon at Carfax Tower before moving on to selected target(s).
http://solfed.org.uk/?q=boycott-workfare-doa-sat-3312

* Sheffield – Meet Devonshire Green, Sheffield, 1pm. We will meet at 1pm
and decide on a target.
https://www.facebook.com/events/131471910308951/

* Tunbridge Wells – Meet at the Millennium clock in Tunbridge Wells at 12
noon.

* York – Meet at 1pm, Parliament Street Fountain…

 Posted by at 13:03
Feb 232012
 

Defend The Welfare State! Defend the 99%!

 

Emergency Organising Meeting

Against Implementation of

NHS & Welfare Reforms

 

Thursday, 1 March 4-5pm

Committee Room 15, House of Commons,

St Stephen’s entrance,

Westminster, London SW1A 0AA

Hosted by John McDonnell MP

 

All welcome

 

Speakers confirmed so far:

Akira, Boycott Workfare, Disabled People Against Cuts, Housing Justice, Mad Pride, Sue Marsh (Spartacus), Medical Practitioners’ Union – Unite, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, Social Work Action Network, Taxpayers Against Poverty, UK Uncut, Where’s the Benefit, WinVisible, Zacchaeus 2000

Messages of support: Bishop of Ripon & Leeds

(Allow about  20 mins to get through House of Commons security)

Access: fully wheelchair accessible

For more info: Single Mothers’ Self-Defence smsd@allwomencount.net

WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities) winvisible@winvisible.org

Global Women’s Strike gws@globalwomenstrike.net 020 7482 2496

Please sign Pat’s Petition http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20968

 

 Posted by at 19:04
Feb 232012
 

Dear Amnesty

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) understand that you have booked Jimmy Carr to appear at the Secret Policeman’s Ball which seems extremely inappropriate for your organisation.

Mr Carr makes offensive remarks about women, gang rape, disabled people and children and is also racist. Aren’t Amnesty supposed to support women who have been gang raped yet you are willing to allow someone to appear on your behalf who thinks it is amusing?
“What do nine out of 10 people enjoy? / Gang rape.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/sep/10/rape-jokes-in-comedy
When called to account for this last year, Carr responded by naming
his next show Rapier Wit.

“Why are they called Sunshine Variety coaches when all the kids on
them look the ****ing same?”
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2065573/Jimmy-Carr-blasted-sick-Downs-syndrome-joke.html

“Say what you like about those servicemen amputees from Iraq and
Afghanistan, but we’re going to have a fucking good Paralympic team in
2012.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2009/nov/05/jimmy-carr-paralympics-joke

“The male gypsy moth can smell the female gyspy moth up to seven miles
away – and that fact also works if you remove the word ‘moth’.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2006/jan/05/raceintheuk.bbc
Channel 4 may have a remit to experiment and take ‘risks’ but Amnesty is supposedto “protect the human” not promote the over-paid careers of those who effectively make a mockery of your work.

Disabled People Against Cuts believe that if you allow Jimmy Carr to perform for Amnesty then this will irreversibly damage your reputation and credibility amongst many groups which is I am sure something you would wish to avoid.

 

Linda Burnip

DPAC steering group

 Posted by at 10:51
Feb 222012
 
38 Degrees Logo
This Wednesday, there’s a crunch NHS vote in Parliament. MPs will vote on whether to demand the publication of a secret government report into the risks facing the NHS. That could be another nail in the coffin of Andrew Lansley’s plans – so let’s pile the pressure on our MPs to vote the right way.Right now, Andrew Lansley is in a tricky position to defend. He wants MPs and Lords to back his plans for the NHS. But he’s refusing to let them find out what the risks are. If we work together to put our MPs under pressure, there’s a decent chance they’ll refuse to do Lansley’s dirty work for him.This vote could go either way – send your MP an email asking them to back publishing the secret report – it takes two minutes:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-risk-report

The vote will take place on Wednesday afternoon. That means we’ve got just over 48 hours to convince enough MPs to vote to publish the secret report. The more of us that email our MPs right now, the more likely we are to succeed.

38 Degrees members, doctors, nurses and academics have all been warning for ages that Lansley’s plans put our health service at risk. We know there’s a secret report that could prove that we’re right – so let’s work together to get this report published before it’s too late.

Write to your MP and tell them to vote the right way at the risk report debate on Wednesday:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-risk-report

 Posted by at 10:07
Feb 212012
 

Channel 4 has now announced that Jimmy Carr is joining the line up for Amnesty International’s Secret Policeman’s Ball.
http://www.channel4.com/info/press/news/jimmy-carr-joins-amnesty-international-s-the-secret-policemans-ball

Given that Amnesty’s reason for existence is precisely to defend victims of prejudice and injustice, it is unbelievable that Carr has been seen as a fit person to appear at an event like this. He has a record of ‘jokes’ based on the most disgusting racism and sexism, and has also defended others targetting disabled people. Here are a few examples of the kind of jokes Jimmy Carr has made – and has defended:

“What do nine out of 10 people enjoy? / Gang rape.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/sep/10/rape-jokes-in-comedy
When called to account for this last year, Carr responded by naming his next show Rapier Wit.

“Why are they called Sunshine Variety coaches when all the kids on them look the ****ing same?”
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2065573/Jimmy-Carr-blasted-sick-Downs-syndrome-joke.html

“Say what you like about those servicemen amputees from Iraq and Afghanistan, but we’re going to have a fucking good Paralympic team in 2012.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2009/nov/05/jimmy-carr-paralympics-joke

“The male gypsy moth can smell the female gyspy moth up to seven miles away – and that fact also works if you remove the word ‘moth’.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2006/jan/05/raceintheuk.bbc

We need to pile the pressure on Channel 4 and Amnesty to pull the plug on Carr’s appearance.

Please complain to Channel 4 at http://www.channel4.com/4viewers/contact-us

Please complain to Amnesty by e-mail at sct@amnesty.org.uk

 Posted by at 17:02
Feb 202012
 
Merry Cross writes:
I’m appalled that effectively, ATOS is picking us off, one by one and I believe we need to amass good evidence of how they are destroying our contribution to society.  I’m hoping to show what contributions we can make when we have the necessary assistance and also the cost to society, ultimately, of refusing it.  If I can do this with at least 20 ‘case studies’ as it were, I believe I could produce a powerful report.  I will not use anyone’s full name in the report, just initials, and the region you live in (e.g. South West) but I will need your name and a contact address.  This could be the address of an advice agency, for example, if you want to keep your own address private.
In order to compile a report, it would be brilliant if you could answer the following questions.  Please feel free to do so in whatever way suits you.  You may prefer to answer each question in a sort of list, or you may prefer to write your story, making sure that the answers to the questions are to be found in your story.
In relation to ATOS assessments for ESA
·        What benefits were you receiving before the ATOS assessment?  Please explain why you needed this/these.
·        What has been stopped and what has been the impact on you? (Please include any emotional impact as well as any practical, medical or financial ones).
·        Were you doing any permitted work or voluntary work before your assessment and have you been able to continue with this?
·        Do you have any particular comments you want to make about how the ATOS interview was conducted?
If you have lost Disability Living Allowance after a re-assessment
·        Were you working?  If so, what were you doing and how long had you done it for?  Were you receiving any help from Access to Work? (Financial; equipment; PA?) Please say also if you were doing anything on a voluntary basis.
·        Have you been able to carry on working?
·        What other effect has the loss of this benefit had on your life?
Please send your information either direct to me at merryw@talktalk.net or to mail@dpac.uk.netmarked ‘For Merry’.
 Posted by at 16:12
Feb 182012
 
Many thanks to Johnny Void for this repost

Several major UK charities now found themselves being in the unfortunate position of being less ethical organisations than corporate bastards Tesco due to their continued participation in the government’s workfare schemes.

Hot on the heels of Tesco announcing they  “will not be taking part in any mandatory (workfare) scheme set by the Government”, Oxfam and Marie Curie have also said they will no longer use workfare workers.  Housing charity Shelter confirmed that they stopped using the scheme last year after concerns that it was not in the interests of potential volunteers.

However several major UK charities, including Age UK, Cancer Research, the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Barnados and the PDSA have so far remained quiet on their use of forced labour.  Chef Executive of the BHF, Peter Hollins, earned a whopping £153,000 in 2008, and the average salary of the top 100 charities Chef Execs is now over £166,000.  These vast sums don’t appear to have trickled down though and the chances are that the person serving you in a British Heart Foundation shop is a workfare slave, paid nothing other than the pittance available on Job Seekers Allowance.

Charities have always used volunteers, and no-one has objected to that.  What the hundreds, if not thousands of people, who have contacted Tesco this work are concerned about is the punitive measures now being used to recruit these so called ‘volunteers’.  Workfare staff, as well as being unpaid, have no workplace rights.  If they are dismissed for any reason they face having their benefits sanctioned, leaving them destitute and possibly homeless.  Increasingly people who are sick and disabled are being bullied onto workfare schemes, and plans revealed in the Guardian show that they could be forced into permanent unpaid positions with charities and businesses alike.

Many workfare workers have complained of no longer having the time to look for paid work properly due to workfare schemes.  Some, like Cait Reilly, who is currently taking legal action after being forced to work in Poundland, were already volunteering and on the way to gaining a career.  Benefit levels are so low that many workfare staff go without lunch.

This isn’t a few hours a week doing good deeds or helping organise a local church fete.  Charities are using workfare staff full time, in what were often previously paid positions. As many charities now have gained contracts to carry out public services, something Cameron claims to want more of, then this could depress wages across the public sector.

And whilst charities are feeling the pinch just as much as every else, with Chief Execs living lives of luxury, then any justification charities need to use slave labour to survive ring somewhat hollow.

Unfortunately, for some charities, their involvement with this scheme goes even deeper than merely exploiting workfare staff.  Over 300 voluntary organisations have been listed as sub-contracters to administer the government’s Work Programme scheme including household names such as Mencap and the Prince’s Trust.  Many of them, some who already use workfare staff themselves, will be some of the key organisations responsible for helping to implement the scheme.  In other words they may be directly responsible for pushing vulnerable people into workfare whilst the DWP hovers in the background threatening benefit sanctions for non-compliance.  Under Work Programme claimants can be forced to work 30 hours a week with no pay for up to six months, something far more draconian than the Tesco workfare position which caused public outrage.  Astonishingly these charities have signed contracts which gag them from even being critical of the DWP and the workfare scheme.

So far it hasn’t quite been plain sailing however and many charities are already raising concerns that workfare isn’t turning out to be quite the gravy train they hoped for.

That charities should be quite happy to be actively involved in press-ganging vulnerable people into forced labour, and only really raise concerns that they aren’t making enough money out of it, reveals an astonishing gulf between charity bosses and the people they claim to be there to help.

At the forefront of this has been the Disability Works Consortium, an alliance of charities working together to maximise income from workfare,  and which includes MIND, SCOPE (who’s shops are riddled with workfare staff), The Leonard Chesire  Foundation, Action for Blind People and Mencap.

It’s not that these organisations have been unaware of the problems of the workfare schemes and the distress they have brought to some people’s live.  Disabled People’s Organisations, claimants groups, and perhaps most importantly their own users, have told them time and time again that workfare is exploitative, demeaning and damaging to wages and conditions for everyone.  But these charities have chosen not to listen, instead jumping through ever more complex moral and intellectual hoops in order to justify the hundreds of thousands of pounds they’ve been raking in.  Just like free market ideologues and bankers, charities have taken the position that what ever makes them the most cash just happens to also be the morally correct thing to do.

Everyone agrees that disabled people should have the right to work, and access to  support and training.  No-one disputes that for young people volunteering can be a way to gain valuable experience.  The problem is that consent has been removed from the system and  the threat of starvation and homelessness has been used to bully people into unpaid labour.  It’s really not a difficult concept and now the public have been made fully aware of what’s going on they have rightly shown their contempt for the whole shoddy operation.

Participating charities should hang their heads in shame for colluding in (and profiting from) this abuse of the most vulnerable in society.

The road the charities have taken has given soft cover to some of the most brutal welfare policies in the Western world.  Policies that have failed everywhere they have been implemented.  Policies which are now leading to a situation where someone with terminal cancer could be forced to work night-shifts stacking shelves at Tesco, or day shifts stacking shelves in a charity shop, all for no pay.

These charities are just as vulnerable to commercial pressures as the likes of Tesco, Matalan, Sainsbury’s and TK Maxx who have all now pulled out of mandatory workfare.  A threat to withdraw donations and boycott the  shops of MIND (@mindcharity), SCOPE (@scope), and Mencap (@mencap_charity) may well help focus their minds.  As resistance to workfare spreads, not for the first time, the likes of SCOPE could see angry mobs of disabled people and claimants outside their shops and offices.  It’s time they pull out of these schemes completely, tear up the contracts and issue a clear condemnation of any scheme that uses threats of benefit sanctions to force people to work for no pay.

The collapse of workfare is near complete as the corporate sector runs for the hills in the face of public fury.  All that’s left propping it up now is these charities, who depend so much on the support of the public for their very existence.  We should not be squeamish in holding them to account for their actions every bit as fiercely as we have done to the likes of Tesco and Poundland.

UPDATE!!! SCOPE have just announced on Twitter that they are ending their involvement with workfare with immediate effect.  Whether this just applies to workfare staff in SCOPE’s shops or whether they will be pulling out as workfare sub-contracters remains to be seen.  They say a statement is coming on their website: http://www.scope.org.uk/

Feb 182012
 

Emergency Meeting:

Organising Against

the Welfare Reform Bill

 

Monday 20 Feb  5pm-6.30pm

Tent City University , Occupy London, St Paul ’s

  London EC4M 8AD 

All welcome

 

Buses 4, 11, 15, 23, 25, 26, 100, 242

Tube: St Paul ’s, Central Line

Overground: City Thameslink

 

This is outdoors, so dress warm. 

Hot drinks available and accessible loos nearby.

 

For more info: Global Women’s Strike gws@globalwomenstrike.net

            020 7482 2496      ,             07904 255 145      

 

 Posted by at 13:33
Feb 162012
 

please support this protest against Tesco if you can. DWP plan to make disabled people face unlimited period sof time doing slave labour for charities, corporations and other firms. Read Guardian article below.

Disabled people face unlimited unpaid work or cuts in benefitwww.guardian.co.uk

Stuff your workfare!
Stop Tesco cashing in on unpaid labour

Protest at Tesco, next to Portcullis House, near Westminster tube station
10am, Saturday 18 February with placards, banners and innovative protest.

Supermarket giant Tesco must know no shame. As unemployment blights the
lives of millions, Britain’s biggest private sector employer is taking on
staff — for free.

This is part of the scandal of “workfare” — making people work unpaid or
face being thrown off benefits.

Tesco reports that over the past four months some 1,400 people have worked
for them without pay. Only 300 got a job with the company.

The Tory government is slashing jobs and then punishing the jobless. And
to add insult to injury, they are forcing people to work for free to boost
profits for big business.

That’s why this Saturday we will be demanding that workfare be scrapped
immediately.

Protest at Tesco, 311 Oxford Street, London W1C 2HP

10am, Saturday 18 February

RIGHT TO WORK
www.righttowork.org.uk — phone: 07961 337640 or 07973 640057 —
info@righttowork.org.uk

 Posted by at 19:05
Feb 162012
 

 

Lib Dems Conference Protest

Saturday, 10th March, 2012

 

The Liberal Democrat Spring Conference is due to take place in The Sage, Gateshead, from the 9th to the 11th of March.  The Public Services Alliance are organising a protest against this coalition government partner.  A leaflet for wider distribution is in production, in the meantime, the details are:

 

Assemble 11-11.30,Wesley Square,NewcastleQuayside

March – either over theSwingBridgeor theMillenniumBridge(may be closed due to repairs!)

Rally – 12.30,Baltic Square,Gateshead

 

Please start to raise awareness now to ensure that we have a good attendance on the day.

 

Right to Work Annual General Meeting

The ConDem government is 2 years into their brutal assault on the welfare state. They are driving through the privatisation of the NHS and our schools, attempting to smash public sector pensions and make the poorest pay for the crisis.

This assault has generated some of the largest resistance seen in this country for years.

Right to Work has played a key part in the campaigns and strikes over the past year.

We initiated the demonstrations at the Tory and Lib Demo conferences that were then taken up by the TUC and saw 40,000 march on the Tory Conference in Manchester.

We worked flat out to help build and support the TUC March 26th demonstrationwhich saw 750,000 take to the streets.

We have been involved in the pensions campaign, producing leaflets and placards, organising and helping build meetings around the country.

We have been involved with the Sparks campaign since it began.

We initiated the ‘Day X for the NHS‘ demonstration and have been involved in numerous demonstrations against the attacks on the NHS.

The Right to Work Hound has been a popular feature of demonstrations against the ConDem government up and down the country.

Our website has reported nearly 100 meetings, demonstrations and protests in the last year, providing a crucial link for campaigners to follow each other’s struggles.

The Right to Work AGM will be an important opportunity to review this work, and to look to the future. As the ConDems continue their attacks Right to Work will continue to help organise the resistance.

12am – 4pm, Sunday 11thMarch

Canterburyand Hughes Parry Halls, 12-26CartwrightGardens,LondonWC1H.

Entry £2 / £5

 

 

 Posted by at 17:37
Feb 162012
 

Leeds Against the Cuts supported by Leeds Trades Council and local trade unions

Pickles Protest

The Tories are Coming to Leeds

The Tory Local Government Conference is being held in Queen’s Hotel, Leeds.  Eric Pickles is speaking on Saturday 25th February. He will be planning the next round of savage cuts to Local Government spending with his Tory cronies. Come and join us on our March and Rally against the Tories. We will also be planning how to resist these cuts at our own Counter Conference.

Saturday 25th February

Rally and March

Assemble Woodhouse Moor

10.30am to March to City Square    

Also Join the Counter Conference and help organise the resistance to the cuts. For more info ring Steve 07900324479. or  Tel             (0113) 234 9920       Leeds TUC, 88, North Street, Leeds LS2 7PN

 Posted by at 17:36
Feb 162012
 

Yesterday’s unemployment figures showed yet another

steep rise in the numbers of people without work in

the UK. We now have the highest rates of

unemployment for over 17 years but even this is only

the official figure and the true numbers of unemployed

are much closer to 6.7 million. A shocking 1.4 million

of those are young people between 18-25 years of age.

Women and disabled people are particularly affected

by unemployment.

Added to this many people classed as working and not

included in these figures are in part-time, casual and

insecure jobs. These trends have grown with

globalisation as firms shift their production processes

to the cheapest available countries and work is off-

shored.

Against this backdrop of deepening despair benefit

changes and workfare schemes are further attacking

the unemployed, single parents, and disabled people’s

rights to be paid in exchange for ‘working.’ Workfare

benefits rich corporations by providing free labour,

whilst threatening claimants by taking away benefits if

people refuse to work without a minimum wage.

Disabled people and other targeted claimant groups

are being forced to work for 30 hours a week for £2.25

an hour in benefits  and if they do not jump through

these hoops they face their benefits being cut off for up

to 13 weeks and possibly up to 3 years if Ian Duncan

Smith has his way, leaving them in dire poverty and

destitution.

It was therefore with some disbelief that campaigners

woke this morning to the news that TESCO’s was

offering a permanent night shift position unpaid and in

exchange for Job Seekers Allowance plus expenses.

Since then Tesco have apologised and said there was a

mistake as the ‘job’ is not permanent.

It is a disgrace that when there is such high

unemployment vacancies are being filled by unpaid

claimants. Contact Tesco to let them know what you

think of them.

CEO – Philip Clarke  philip.clarke@uk.tesco.com or tweet to him @clarkepatesco

Join the national day of action against workfare on March 3rd

www.boycottworkfare.org

UK-wide day of action against workfare – Saturday 3rd March

In solidarity with Liverpool Uncut’s action against workfare on Saturday 3rd March, Boycott Workfare has called a national day of action against workfare. We’re planning a Boycott Workfare action in Central London on this day and encourage people all over theUK to take action on their high streets.

So many high street stores are involved in taking on forced unpaid labour that there is plenty of choice – Tescos, Asda, Holland & Barrett, Primark, HMV, TK Maxx and Topshop to name but a few. Get a group together, make a plan, and head to the streets.
Workfare means that those on benefits are forced into unpaid work for multi-million pound companies. Instead of the living wage – they receive £2.25 an hour in benefits for 30 hours of work.

Workfare means those in paid positions may see their jobs replaced by this unpaid labour. Why would a company pay for people to do these jobs when they can get free labour from the Job Centre?

We can put a stop to this forced unpaid labour – Waterstones and Sainsburys recently announced that they would no longer take unpaid placements – the other companies just need a bit more encouragement to stop this exploitation.

We demand an end to this exploitation and call for welfare rights and living wages for all!
If you continue to exploit us we WILL shut you down!

Details of actions:

  • Take action with UK Uncut in Liverpool! Saturday, March 3rd 2012. 1pm until 4pm. Meet Next to Nowhere Social Centre, Bold Street, Liverpool. More info.
  • Further details of the London action will be announced shortly – put the date in your diary and check back here for more info soon!

 

 Posted by at 14:30
Feb 142012
 

CALLING ALL DISABLED PEOPLE IN AND AROUND CHESTER …  EMERGENCY PUBLIC MEETING … JOIN THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST CUTS IN BENEFITS AND SERVICES FOR DISABLED PEOPLE … MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD!

The government’s Welfare Reform Bill will soon be passed. Disabled people will face the means testing of Incapacity Benefit after 12 months and the abolition of Disability Living Allowance. About 8 billion pounds a year will be cut from  benefits for disabled people. Cuts to the NHS and local authority budgets, and the threatened abolition of the Independent Living Fund are further examples of how disabled people are paying for a crisis we did not create.

Disabled people have campaigned long and hard against these cut backs. The ‘Spartacus’ Report, prepared by disabled people themselves, destroyed the government’s arguments for welfare reform. Disabled People Against Cuts in London have blocked off Oxford Circus. And there have been regular protests at the offices of ATOS, the government’s contractor for cutting disability benefits through fake ‘medicals’.

These protests are making a difference. More people are passing the ATOS medicals. Minor changes have been agreed to the Welfare Reform Bill. And the campaign of hatred in some of the press against benefit ‘scroungers’ has been slightly toned down.

But we need more. Chester MP Stephen Moseley has said he wants to know about any disabled people affected by the cuts – we need to tell him, in numbers and in public. We need local protests against press hate campaigns. We need campaigns to support local disabled people affected by the cuts.

Above all disabled people themselves must speak out against all cuts to their benefits and services whenever and wherever they have an effect. We must not suffer in silence.

Disabled People Against the Cuts is a national campaign set up by disabled people to make sure our voices are heard. Come and join us at our Chester public meeting

WEDNESDAY 29TH FEBRUARY, 12.30 pm – 3.00 pm

QUAKER MEETING HOUSE, FRODSHAM ST, CHESTER.

Refreshments available. All disabled people and carers welcome.

Feb 142012
 

The Welfare Reform Bill is not ping-ponging back to the Commons yet, as MPs are on their half-term break.  As soon as we know the next date, we’ll organise another Vigil and let you know.  It’s likely to be the week of 20th Feb.

You can watch today’s Lords debate online at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=10091

Some of us will be joining unemployed members of the Right to Work campaign tomorrow Wed 15 Feb at the Dept for Work and Pensions, protesting about unemployed people being harassed when there are no jobs — the DWP is announcing the latest unemployment figures tomorrow.

From 9am at: DWP, Caxton House, Tothill Street, London SW1H 9DA.

More info: http://righttowork.org.uk/2012/02/protest-set-to-challenge-soaring-unemployment/

 

Single Mothers’ Self-Defence smsd@allwomencount.net 
WinVisible win@winvisible.org 
Tel: 020 7482 2496

 Posted by at 17:58
Feb 122012
 

LABELS-save ilf  for download (Word doc for envelope label size L7160)

Monday 13th Feb Come and join us in delivering Maria Miller (Minister of Disabled People) our protest letter opposing the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).

Where: Caxton House, 6-12 Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9DA

 

When: Monday February 13th 2012

 

Time: Assemble: 2pm next to Caxton House

We really need your support to challenge the fact that funding through the fund, for over 20,000 disabled people with significant support needs are at risk.

 

This decision disregards disabled people’s human rights potentially removing us from the community to the care home. We were not even consulted.

 

Bring people, banners and noise! Invite media friends!

 

For further details contact DPAC: mail@dpac.uk.net or call Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition against Community Care Cuts (HAFCAC) on 07899 752877

Feb 122012
 

Cross posted from Disabled People Fight Back with thanks!

dignity not death

Disabled people: the first to go. Understand why & how to prevent the current backslide which threatens all groups who are discriminated against. RESISTANCE: a crucial & inspirational exhibition in Manchester til 3 Know this history to help fight current misinformation and hatred centered around the same ideals, spreading the idea that disabled people are unworthy and our state cannot afford us. Very similar propaganda is how the holocaust began – allowing it to happen led to the deaths of millions of other people too. Liz Crow tells us how the resistance of disabled people and our allies was central to bringing this to an end, as it still is now.

RESISTANCE ON TOUR

I had the opportunity on Friday to visit and participate on a panel discussion at Liz Crow’s hard hitting and inspirational installation “Resistance”  which I believe to be one of the most important projects about disabled people I have ever seen. It covers some of the hardest issues to cover in a radical and sensitive way and leaves people thinking about what we can all do to make sure nothing like a holocaust ever happens again. I found the discussion very inspiring and learned lots from the other (frankly, awesome) participants.

Then I finally went to see the installation RESISTANCE, which I have been waiting to see for years now, featuring some of my very favourite actors such as Jamie Beddard, Lindsay Carter, Mat Fraser and Ali Briggs.

It left me breathless.

I watched half of it with my head dropped in defeat on my friend Becca’s arm, soaking her sleeve. I felt grief stricken and angry. I felt euphoric seeing some fight back.

I felt confused at seeing highly skilled kickboxer Mat Fraser getting shoved into the death bus.. nothing like the man we know, no kicks in the face to his assailant, just the fear and confusion our people faced before the fightback started, before they knew what was happening. I wanted to scream KICK HIM MATT!

It sounds like I am mentioning this through frivolity but this is a perfect example of how people capable of so much more were institutionalised unwittingly slaughtered like lambs when taken for a ‘day out’. (If someone tried and do this to the real Matt.. I don’t think they’d live long..)

I felt afraid at how current beliefs are now so very close to the beliefs which led to the deaths of almost all identifiable disabled people in Germany, not so very long ago. I felt overwhelmed that the public accepted this and that their acceptance of such hatred against disabled people then also led to the deaths of millions of Jewish people, LGBT people, Roma people and others.

I felt determined I would continue to fight and advocate for our equal right to exist. My brain was exploding with the question WHAT MUST WE DO? What can I do that I am not already doing?

The first thing I’m doing is talking about Liz Crow’s installation and I am asking you come and experience it and / or to tell others about it too – share this blog, blog about it yourself, tell other people, ask people to support us in our current fight against fatal prejudices.

The fundamental MODERN belief that disabled peoples’ lives are of different value to others underpins ALL the prejudice we currently face – especially the dehumanisation we currently face in some areas of media and public opinion. The same beliefs which led to the holocaust now lead to cuts against every service which affects our lives, including those which keep us alive, hatred, attacks and murders, leaving disabled people destitute, locking 340,000 people in institutions in the UK, the killings of unborn disabled babies any time until birth, the do not resucitate procedures and withdrawal of treatment from disabled people of all ages, and the focus on ‘helping’ us to die by setting up special death centres to administer lethal drugs (‘assisted suicide’ centres).

Liz’s project is a crucial installation for all of us to see, disabled people and everyone else. Not just because it exposes our hidden history which is ignored by so many (because they just don’t mind) but because it also draws attention to how current government propaganda is leaning very close to that which was spread before the killing started. And most of all because Liz tells us how disabled people began to resist, inspiring us all to resist, continue to resist and resist harder.

Many people do not realise the Nazi holoucaust began with the extermination of disabled people and having perfected techniques of mass killing on our people, the Nazis went on to exterminate millions of Jewish people, travellers and queers. Disabled people were the testing ground – would the methods work? Would the public accept the annihilation of their fellow citizens? The answer was yes and then the creep began, into every community the Nazis believed did not fit their ideal of humanity.

This part of history must never be forgotten so we never allow it to happen again and Liz Crow questions what we will ALL do to make sure it does not.

It is crucial to understand disabled peoples’ history to understand how we got where we are today. It is esential to recognise that the politics of the past continues to affect contemporary strategies – which, having thrived uninterrupted are now on a steep increase in these ‘Times of Austerity’ – while government is intent on convincing the population that disabled people are a burden on the other citizens of this country which we cannot afford and we are worth less than others.

I reaffirm my foundational belief that while our lives continue to carry unequal status to the lives of others, most importantly our very right to exist in the first place and to continue to exist, we remain at great risk and the symptomatic discrimination we face is to be expected.

We must fight back on those core beliefs and not shy away from them as so many do, we do have a right to fight these beliefs, to fight for our very lives, to encourage disabled people, our families and our allies to fight back and to never ever stop. Not even just a right – we have a responsibility.

Please support Liz’s installation by visiting it during it’s time in Manchester at Zion Arts in Hulme. Please share this blog. Please talk about the issues it raises. Please keep fighting deadly prejudice.

Miss Dennis Queen (was Clair Lewis)

Feb 122012
 
  LARM logo

You are invited to a public discussion on the future of autistic people
organised by
The London Autistic Rights Movement (LARM)
Thursday, February 23rd
7 p.m.
Voluntary Action Camden, 293-299 Kentish Town Road, NW5 2TJ
The Autism Act 2009 promises
“a strategy for meeting the needs of adults in England with autistic spectrum conditions by improving the provision of relevant services”
from Local Authorities and the NHS
and in March, 2010 the Department of Health published
The Strategy for Adults with Autism in England; Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives
But what will this mean in practice?
How will it affect the lives of autistic people and their families?
And how can YOU affect what happens where you live?
 
The meeting includes a presentation by
Tom Purser of the National Autistic Society
(London and South East Regional Team)
on the implementation of the Strategy in Greater London so far
 
Find out how the London Autistic Rights Movement is becoming involved in implementing the Strategy
and how we might influence the government and the Autism Programme Board the body tasked with monitoring the implementation of the strategy and reviewing it next year
This event is free of charge but you must book a place in advance
If you would like to attend please contact LARM on 0774 234 7384
Doors open 6.30 p.m. Tea and coffee available
Voluntary Action Camden (VAC) is near Kentish Town Underground Station (Northern Line, High Barnet branch). Turn left on exiting the station and cross the road. The VAC entrance is between Snappy Snaps and Iceland. Ring bell 6 Training Room.
Feb 112012
 

Vigil & Lobby of Parliament re Welfare reform 1-3pm Tues 14 Feb

Vigil & Lobby of Parliament

As the Welfare Reform Bill returns to the House of Lords.

1-3pm Tues 14 Feb

Old Palace Yard, Abingdon St SW1.

When the Bill ping-pongs back to the Commons on Wed 15 Feb we will also be there from 1-3pm.

Single Mothers’ Self-Defence smsd@allwomencount.net 
WinVisible win@winvisible.org 
Tel: 020 7482 2496

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