Sep 112014
 

SERTUC disability workers open meeting –

“How will Labour improve the lives of disabled people?”

Speakers:

Kate Green MP, Shadow Minister for Disabled People

Paula Peters, Disabled People Against Cuts. (DPAC)


 

Date: Thursday, 30th October 2014

Time: 6.30-8.30 pm

Venue: TUC Congress House, 23-28 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B  3LS.

Please e mail sertuc@tuc.org.uk to register a place


 

 Posted by at 11:13
May 182014
 

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If you’ve been following this on twitter and face book, you’ll know what a great success the first international #dpactour has been. The excellent Ellen Clifford of DPAC travelled to Canada at the invitation of John Clarke of Ontario Coalition against Poverty (OCAP).

John and OCAP have been great allies to DPAC, supporting us since 2012 ATOS Games protests, and DPAC was happy to return that support. We want to thank all for inviting us to share the knowledge of #dpac campaigns and actions, and the history of the unelected coalition Government’s appalling treatment and stripping of rights from disabled people.

The terrifying model of the coalition is spreading with punitive, harmful and potentially murderous regimes being taken up by other Tories at international and European levels. Canada have an election coming up and already plans similar to those carried out in Britain are starting to take shape. The Canadian people wanted to hear from #dpac on how they could increase campaigns and what was happening here to disabled people. Ellen and John did a tour letting people know what could be done, what has been done and how to fight it.

Remember: #internationalsolidarity, ‘fight to win’, ‘austerity is global so is our resistance’

With thanks to everyone involved we reproduce below some pictures from the #dpactour- more on the #dpactour to come..so watch this space

 

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Apr 272014
 

Please support Obi and team to continue live-streaming direct actions and events for #dpac, #ukuncut and others. Live-streaming is important for disabled people that cannot always get to events and protests because none of us should be left out of our fight for our rights

It is also important in these times ruled by the right-wing press to get a record of our news and events-its time to fight back and ensure that our voices and protests are heard, recorded, documented and visualised -live-streaming does that- lets support it to continue the  real and uncensored news is seen and heard! Please donate if you can at http://www.gofundme.com/8nzi68

see some of the events live streamed for DPAC

JohnMcDonnell MP Praises DPAC at DPAC conference April 2014

August 5, 2012 Akira: update on ATOS. Paralympics sponsor

August 29, 2012 #ATOS #REMPLOY #ParaOlympics #2012 #Protest by previous gold medal winners

August 31, 2012 #ONN #OLSX covering anti #ATOS #ATOSkills #dpac event at Triton Square, Camden

October 28, 2012 Akira and experiencing Public Transport for a Wheelchair user.

September 3, 2013 DPAC AND BLACK TRIANGLE DIRECT ACTION. BBC PORTLAND PLACE, LONDON

September 5, 2013 DPAC FREEDOM DRIVE.

June 4, 2013 DPAC Bromley Benefit Justice second Meeting

September 26, 2013 10,000 Cuts and Counting

October 5, 2013 SOLIDARITY ACTION WITH UKUNCUT AND DPAC #ROADBLOCKS4JUSTICE

Oct 20, 2013 The DPAC action in Marble Arch . TUC March 2012.

September 28, 2013 DPAC DIRECT ACTION: 10,000 CUTS AND COUNTING. SCRAP ATOS

@Obi_Live
@OccupyNN

https://twitter.com/Obi_Live
https://twitter.com/OccupyTTIP
occupylondon@lists.riseup.net

 

Apr 212014
 

DPAC would like to thank everyone for making last week’s (April 12 2014) National Conference such a huge success. There was a huge turnout with over 150 disabled activists from all over the UK including many new DPAC members attending, but just as important there were hundreds of members and supporters beyond the venue taking part through social media – watching the video live-stream, tweeting and sharing comments, views and sending messages of support. This was fantastic work by everyone and a truly inspiring collective effort.

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Here’s a brief outline of how it went.

Programme
The day was timetabled into sections beginning with practical reports and voting on policy motions. This was followed by two workshop sessions and then a closing session for everyone to feedback on the day. Four workshops were available to choose from in each Workshop session. Detailed reports on these will follow later.

John McDonnell MP, a longstanding friend and supporter of DPAC, gave a rousing opening speech to encourage everyone and remind us of the victories achieved so far. He congratulated disabled people and DPAC for fighting back, along with our sister organisation Black Triangle and WoW Petition initiators

As he finished he mentioned his own recent health condition which he said he felt brought him closer to our movement. Ellen reacted quickly by giving him a DPAC t-shirt and declaring him a full DPAC member to instant applause and cheers.

photo1jm tshirt

Finances
The Finance Report showed a healthy state of affairs for the time being thanks to individual donations, t-shirt and badge sales plus grants from the Edge Fund, the Network for Social Change, Trust for London  and the Andrew Wainwright Trust. More fund-raising is necessary going forward.

Motions
1. Government Honours
This proposed that any future candidates for the DPAC Steering Group could thwart the network and collective ethos of DPAC if they had received a national honour like an OBE or MBE. The ‘BE’ refers to the imperialist British Empire which is still celebrated despite what we know of the suffering and oppression this caused. The motion conversations also suggested that any media attention would be focused on those with honours and titles, rather than on the collective network ethos that DPAC ascribes to. The motion was put forward as a rejecting of this possibility and that of the honours system more generally. This was defeated.

2. Discrimination
This motion stated DPAC opposition to discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexuality, age, faith, disability, ethnicity or status. It also empowered the Steering Group to terminate the membership of anyone who supported a party which holds discriminatory policies, like UKIP. This motion passed based on an appeals process being put in place

3. Steering Group Size
This motion sought to expand the Steering Group from 8 members to 12 in order to respond to increased activity and maintain a broad, diverse and inclusive profile. This was passed.

Steering Group
There were 11 nominees for the Steering Group. Conference took a vote on whether to vote for accepting all 11 nominees, or vote for them one by one. Conference voted to accept all 11 nominees. The new steering group are currently reviewing co-opted places and will get back to the additional people that applied past the deadline as soon as possible

Steering Group:
Andy Greene
Bob Ellard
Ciara Doyle
Conan Doyle
Debbie Jolly
Eleanor Firman
Ellen Clifford
Linda Burnip
Paula Peters
Roger Lewis
Sabina Lahur

It was highlighted that the working groups are important in taking DPAC forward. The co-chair said she hoped those who did not stand for the Steering Group but were still interested in getting involved would join these as soon as possible.

Finally, a big thank you to the Conference Organising group and Workshop leaders who worked so hard to make this wonderful event a reality.

Links to videos from the day are here with thanks to Occupy for live streaming on the day to make the conference inclusive to all are here

Links to pictures can be found on DPAC flicker here
Thanks to Pete Riches, Szucs Gabriella and Rob Peters

The powerpoint on highlights of the last year can be found DPAC Report
A link to 2013 and some of the things DPAC did is here

See you on the streets!

DPAC www.dpac.uk.net
Twitter: Dis_ppl_protest
Also find us on Facebook with a group and open page under ‘Disabled People against Cuts’

contact: mail@dpac.uk.net

 

Apr 072014
 

DPAC_coloured_Logo_2__biggerWe are very much looking forward to seeing everyone who can come to our national conference on Saturday but it is also important that those of you who can’t get there in person are able to take part. There are a number of ways you can do this:

  • Send messages of support and your ideas for what DPAC should focus on over the next year to mail@dpac.uk.net or @dis_ppl_protest.These will be put up on the graffiti wall at the conference and included in the notes from the day.
  • Watch the conference live on:

http://bambuser.com/channel/OccupyLondon and http://bambuser.com/channel/DPAC

  • Live tweet your questions and contributions to @dis_ppl_protest

  Or email: mail@dpac.uk.net

 The program for the day is at DPAC Conference 2014 Saturday 12th April – Conference Programme

Apr 042014
 

We’ve had a great response to bookings for the DPAC conference on Sat 12th April in London, but places are now running out. Please email:  dpacfightback@yahoo.co.uk

with your details, number of places needed and any access needs.

12th April 2014 – 11am until 5pm

London Met University, Tower Building, 166 – 220 Holloway Road, London, N7 8DP

Since we started in October 2010 Disabled People Against Cuts has been at the forefront of the fight against austerity. With Atos on the run, and the bedroom tax on the ropes we are seeing the results of hard campaigning. But there is much more to do to ensure disabled people’s rights to live independently and with an adequate income.


The national conference is a chance for DPAC members to come together, to share experiences and discuss your ideas for moving forwards.


DPAC are working hard to bring to conference a surprise guest, a person who, if anyone has, has been the catalyst for the re-emergence of disability activism in the last few years, someone DPAC has enjoyed a close relationship with from visiting him at home to donating underpants to supporting his select committee appearances.


Workshops will look at: –  Where Now for the Independent Living Fund campaign,  – Developing a Social Model of Distress,  – Winning the Argument,  – Disability, Art and Protest,  – Building a National Network of Disabled People’s Organisations and Direct Action practical skills among others.

 Please note places are limited so priority will be given to DPAC members. For information about joining please contact mail@dpac.uk.net

The venue is wheelchair accessible. BSL and a note taker will be provided. For access information go to: http://www.disabledgo.com/access-guide/islington-council/london-metropolitan-university-tower-building

For access queries including booking parking please contact DPACfightback@yahoo.co.uk
To book places or for more information please contact DPACfightback@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

 

Mar 142014
 

Jenny Sealey has agreed to become the spokesperson and face of the Stop Changes to Access to Work campaign.

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STOP CHANGES TO ACCESS TO WORK

#stopchanges2atw

Jenny is the Artistic Director of the Graeae Theatre and co-directed the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony. Having such a high profile job, and with the government still making reference to the Paralympic legacy, you might expect that she would have escaped the 30 hour guidance. This is not the case. Jenny, like every other Access to Work user, is having to fight for the support she needs to do her job.

 You can expect to see and hear a lot more from Jenny and our campaign very soon!


Video transcript:

I just want to talk about Access to Work without that provision, I couldn’t do my job, it’s fundamental to being Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre. Access to Work is amazing, it’s so brilliant to have that, when we were doing the Paralympics, I had a team of 14 or 15 fully highly qualified interpreters working amongst, I think there were 10 deaf people, plus me, and I had my own core team of three. Without that skill, that knowledge and everything, we would never, ever have been able to do such a glorious Paralympics and for all those deaf people to have full and equal access.

What I need in my job is so varied, I go from rehearsals, to budget meetings, to board meetings, to networking, working in schools, it’s so varied so I’m very, very aware, I carefully pick which interpreters I need for which jobs and to be forced to have one interpreter, just in the office… That’s giving me just one voice, one interpretation, all the way through my working life… That’s not going to work for someone like me, and there’s many, many other deaf people that I know, that same style will not work for them either. My interpreters need to be cast, I suppose, in the same way that I cast my plays… So I have the right person for my budget meetings, you know, an interpreter that knows and understands finance… I have the right interpreter when I’m working in schools that understands the school environment… I want, I need, and have to be allowed choice, and that is the same for other deaf people. Also, we need to have fully qualified high spec interpreters, not, you know, a baby CSW… Because… That’s wrong, and that means we’re not getting full and equal access, so… please, please, we have to have choice, skill, and qualified interpreters… We need that.

For more see: http://stopchanges2atw.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/announcing-our-spokesperson-and-face-of-the-campaign/

Sign petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-changes-to-access-to-work

 

 

 

Nov 282013
 

It’s been a busy few days for DPAC gathering evidence on the cumulative impact of cuts on disabled people, and on the crisis in independent living.  On the 25th we heard moving and powerful testimonies of how the Government are ruining lives through their austerity regime. Disabled people are faced with a range of cuts and so called ‘reforms’ which are contravening our basic human rights. We are faced with stark choices between eating or heating while having our dignity stripped by a range of psychological attacks at the same time as having support removed.

 Testimonies will be sent to the UN rapporteur on disability-thanks to everybody who came to London to tell their stories and to those that submitted their experiences through email. This event was originally arranged by Just Fair, however due to the rapporteur being unable to come to the UK due to illness DPAC and Inclusion London stepped in to run this at the last minute, so we could get these important stories out to the UN.

On the 26th the morning saw a hugely successful protest on fuel poverty organised by DPAC, Fuel Poverty Action, the Greater London Pensioners and UKUncut: ‘Bring down the Big Six – Fuel Poverty Kills!’ against the increase in fuel poverty deaths and increasing profits and prices of the big 6. Supporting groups included No Dash for Gas, Campaign Against Climate Change, Climate Revolution, Young Friends of the Earth, Frack Off London, Power for the People, Barnet Alliance for Public Services, Lewes Against the Cuts, SOAS Energy & Climate Change Society and Southwest Against Nuclear. There were also protests in Oxford, Lewes and Bristol.

In the afternoon of the 26th the Emergency meeting on the crisis in independent living took place at parliament hosted by DPAC and Inclusion London.  An event originally planned by Just Fair to launch their report to the UN rapporteur which DPAC and Inclusion London stepped in to run with a new focus on the crisis in independent living.  This was in response to the successful appeal outcome at the courts on the Independent Living Fund-and the continuing awareness of the crisis for ILF users, those trying to access local authority support and the Government’s apparent non-compliance with article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The afternoon launched DPAC’s report on the crisis in independent living and cumulative impacts of the cuts, one of many that DPAC is working on, as well as the film by Mary Laver an ILF user. The afternoon was complimented by speeches from John Evans and reflection on the past battles for independent living.  We heard from the brilliant Louise Whitfield (one of the solicitors in the ILF case) and were treated to an excellent DPAC theatre performance which brought to life the reality of impacts on disabled people and the different barriers we face.

Despite extremely short notice the event was well attended by MPs and those from the Lords. Kate Green , Hywell Williams, Katy Clarke, Anne Begg, John McDonnell, Jim Shannon, Andy Slaughter, Baroness  Campbell, Baroness Wilkins  and a host of others including Mary Laver’s MP.  Apologies were sent from Anne McGuire, Caroline Lucas, Lucy Powell, Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa Pierce

Mike Penning ‘our’ new minister for disability was invited but did not respond or send apologies!

Many thanks to all that attended, supported and worked so hard towards the afternoon-especially the many DPAC members and supporters that wrote to their MPs and publicised this. Some may ask why English national formal disability organisations with much more money and resources than us aren’t putting their energies into these types of activities all the time- we don’t have any answers or understanding on that.

We will have a more detailed report on the Emergency meeting on the Crisis in Independent Living event in Parliament with film and photos soon

Download DPAC report Crisis in Disabled People’s Independent Living 

See Mary Laver’s film on ILF View the movie

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Nov 212013
 

Reflections on Doing Disability Research: An audience with Colin Barnes: Wednesday 4th December

At the University of Leeds: 5-7pm Western Lecture Theatre (no. 18 on the campus map) with a drinks reception from 4-5pm in the Liberty Building atrium (no. 16 on the campus map). http://www.leeds.ac.uk/site/custom_scripts/campus_map.php

As you are probably aware, Colin Barnes, founder of the Centre for Disability Studies, is due to retire at the end of this year. This presentation will provide an insight into the circumstances and influences that led to his involvement with the Disabled People’s Movement, the development of Disability Studies here at Leeds and his thoughts regarding its future.

This is a free event and everyone is welcome, but please can you let us know if you intend to come just so we have an idea of numbers. Please email M.Wilkinson@Leeds.ac.uk

This extra-special CDS event promises to be a highlight of our programme for UK Disability History Month!

See event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1429375020611446/

CB

Sep 292013
 

Video from Reel News – they will have a regular film night at The Grosvenor pub in Stockwell on the third Thrusday of every month…this month it’s on October 17th, the evening of the teachers strike, so they’d be doing an anti-cuts special and show films from the various strikes going on and  the DPAC actions – and have a discussion about how we can do more to link struggles together. “Obviously DPAC are at the forefront of all this, so would a few of you fancy coming down to take part? It’s relatively informal, but we usually get at least 20-30 people and often more, and stuff does get sorted out over a pint – it’s also wheelchair accessible.”

(there is a caption and transcript option (next to the clock icon) on the video)

​ATOS Healthcare carries out disability assessments on behalf of the Cameron government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).  Currently, ATOS is being investigated by the National Audit Office (NAO) in a in a a major “value for money study”.  Meanwhile, since the inception of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), 10,600 people have died within six weeks of being deemed ‘fit for work’ by ATOS healthcare professionals.

Human Cost documents ‘10,000 Cuts & Counting’, held on the 28th of September, 2013 at Parliament Square,  a ceremony of remembrance and solidarity for those who have had their lives devastated by Cameron’s austerity programmes

​Human Cost – #10kCuts #Atos from You and I Films on Vimeo.

Stay in touch with the campaign at http://www.10kcuts.org

Wow Petition http://wowpetition.com

Follow our work on Twitter @youandifilms

Please help support our work by donating to Our Vimeo Tip Jar.

 

Sep 272013
 

Below is the full presentation given by Alison Wilde at the Accentuate conference, earlier this year.  It’s about the paralympian legacy, that thing that McVey can’t pass a journalist without cooing about how wonderful everything is now for disabled people. That thing that we might remember as DPAC ‘s Atos games where we shifted the view of Atos and watched  their shares tumble, while the negative media coverage of the damage of the WCA exploded see:http://www.internaldpac.org.uk/DPACClone/2013/09/dpac-report-work-capability-assessment/

Maybe this legacy is also about Gideon Osborne being booed by the entire stadium http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqM0Ube0oLs

For us Alison makes some crucial points that set this ‘legacy’ issue in the framework of the real threats and oppression that disabled people face . …

I was delighted when I was invited to take part in today’s event, but have to admit my first thought was to decline the invitation because I know next to nothing about the Paralympics and, if I’m honest, had little interest in the television and media coverage of it, apart from the possibility that we might see new cultural representations of disabled people – something I AM very interested in.

However, my identity as a disabled person makes me very interested in disabled athletes – but I want them all to do well generally, especially as my ideas of belonging are more tied up with disabled people rather than my national identity and team GB. Even so, I have such an aversion to sport that I subconsciously avoided most of the television coverage but it was impossible to escape the news coverage of the event and the lionisation of particular athletes, so I find myself knowing more than I’d like to.

So, unsurprisingly I thought I wasn’t a suitable person to speak today until I got to thinking that my responses to sport were actually central to some of the debates about legacy. Although we use all use the word ‘legacy ’I am sure that we don’t all mean the same thing. Before the games, official statements of legacy promised improvements in sports venues, new homes, transport links and the regeneration of communities. Over time, this seems to have changed somewhat, in line with a more individualistic political focus which emphasises people’s health habits and ways of living.  Beyond this, the word legacy seems to have taken on other meanings.  Having trawled though a number of articles, and putting to one side the idea that discussions of legacy are promoted to provide a justification for massive expenditure on public events when the welfare state is being demolished (another reason I chose to avoid the games), the notion of legacy seems to be interpreted in two main ways, both of which could be seen as positive.

The first understanding of legacy seems to relate to the effects of the Paralympics on public attitudes to disabled people (and disabled people’s belief in themselves).  For example, Lord Coe spoke of the legacy of the Paralympics in terms of ‘a seismic effect in shifting public attitudes’ which would have lasting benefits. The second main way that legacy seems to be interpreted is in discussions of how we can provide better opportunities for disabled people to take up, or become more interested in sport.

Before I go on to talk a little more about legacy I just want to say that I don’t feel qualified to say anything about the gains made for disabled athletes per se and that questions such as this and how we map new territory for potential future athletes and paralympians are best answered by those who are involved, an area which is clearly outside my knowledge.

2. Legacy.

 My own lack of interest in sport of any kind is a position which seems to resonate with one of these central themes; such uninterest or beliefs that we are unsuited for sports, can be closely related to an array of cultural discourses which are persuasive in making people think sport and achievement is ‘not for them’ (from media representations, to PE teachers’ attitudes and public attitudes about the normal or ideal body). If the need to persuade more disabled people to take up sports is the major theme in legacy debates then part of the solution becomes one of how to build people’s ideas of their own personal value and to provide encouragement and facilities to seek higher forms of achievement, through better education leisure services and the media for example.  I am also ambivalent about ideas of achievement which can reinforce prescriptive ideas of social valued roles and lifestyles and am not convinced that disabled people are not inspired and motivated in the first place. In fact, I firmly believe that many disabled and ill people are being forced into such untenable circumstances that getting through the day can and should be seen in itself as an achievement against unsurmountable odds.

Media has a central role to play in this and much of the coverage I saw of the paralympians seemed to shift away from less pity-orientated representations towards images of disabled people as super-human. The Channel 4 campaign was actually named ‘meet the superhumans’,   reinforced by the title of Public Enemy’s song ‘Harder than you think’.  This advertisement, asking us to forget everything we previously thought, was arguably a preferable image to previous coverage of the Paralympics, in that it at least echoed the treatment given to non-disabled Olympic athletes, reflecting similar images of strength and invincibility. Statistics on audiences might indicate that these portrayals worked well with record-breaking audience figures; two thirds of people surveyed in a Channel 4 survey said that the coverage had a good impact on their perceptions of disabled people, and most viewers considered disabled people to be equally talented as non- disabled athletes (Channel 4 survey, BDRC continental and YouGov).

However, as positive as raising people’s aspirations to be superhuman may sound, I think it is crucial to examine how such concepts of achievement are ideologically loaded, how they feed the cult of celebrity culture and serve to maintain, or exacerbate, social hierarchies and cultural stereotypes which reinforce negative public attitudes and legitimate cuts in income and services etc, especially in this climate.

 Despite the dim view I am taking of legacy here, I do think that anyone who has high ambitions should be supported and get opportunities to pursue their goals but I think we should be wary of the way we use portrayals of success and that we should take a critical view of what we mean by legacy, particularly as this often seems to be a deficit-led concept, when used in discussions of the Paralympics and Olympics. I think this can work to distract us away from any real investments in our collective futures (such deficit led images were exemplified in a recent pro-sport advert I saw on the underground which was premised on the idea of channeling young, working class men’s tendencies towards violence into sporting achievements).

So, I believe that even the battle for defining legacy, on our terms, is going to be tough, framed as it is in individualistic terms of our lack, our need for motivation and the huge chasm between portrayals of elite athletes and images of ordinary disabled people, both of which are anchored in the emerging bio-psycho-social model of disability being promoted by the likes of UNUM and Atos (a major Paralympic sponsor). Debbie Jolly and others involved with DPAC have warned us of the dangers of the Americanised ‘can do’ ethos and the ‘new paralympian politics of the welfare state’ (i.e. the manufacturing of scarcity, the psychologising and demonization of disabled people and others amongst the poorest in society). Although I’m guessing that most of us are aware of this increasingly influential model of disability, for anyone who doesn’t, this new model is defined by UNUM in these terms:

‘Illness, Sickness and Incapacity are Psychosocial rather than medical problems. More and better healthcare is not the answer.’

Reflecting Cameron’s statement that the paralympics would ‘teach people what they can do, rather than what they can’t do’ it is obvious that the legacy of the Paralympics will be approached the same way in terms of sports provision; that it is up to us to improve our attitudes and slay all our barriers, that we should buy our opportunities rather than expect better provision for education, sports and cultural facilities.

On a slightly more positive note, in terms of legacy, I do feel that the Paralympics have provided an important site for contesting disabling imagery and attitudes, not least because they received such a wide audience but also because analysis of Paralympics coverage exposes some of the dilemmas of cultural imagery and public attitudes which have proved difficult to resolve. This event is one such opportunity and hopefully this will contribute to further change, especially in highlighting and challenging the dualistic ways in which media tends to work; in this case going from patronising portrayals of us as abject to images of superhumans, doing little to acknowledge the multiple realities of living with disability and impairment.

 

3. Before I finish I want to say something about segregation. There is another important issue I think we must grapple with; the continuing separation of disabled people from non-disabled people in sport (and elsewhere), and of course, the further separation of disabled people into the Paralympics and the Special Olympics.

 

An academic article, ‘Crippling Paralympics?: Media, Disability and Olympism’ (Goggin, Gerard; Newell, Christopher) argues that the paralympics fits well within the established power relations which oppress people with disability in society.

They say:

‘While there have been some changes and improvements, we contend that overwhelmingly, the separation between the Paralympics and Olympics is not questioned and that if the Paralympics are reported at all disabling media representations still very much persist’.

 

I understand that this is not a simple matter and understand some of the complexity for finding solutions to these dilemmas. I also want to mention here that this paralympian category of ‘disabled people’ is not inclusive due to the absence and the exclusion of people with learning difficulties who, as we all know, are further segregated in the special Olympics and importantly here from discussions of legacy.

Concluding comments

As you can see, I believe that the concept of legacy of the Paralympics and Olympics in overwhelmingly a political one. Sadly, it is my belief that any gains which may have been made in terms of the representations of disabled people and challenges towards public attitudes are marginal when considered against the kind of news coverage of disabled people found by Nick Watson’s study[i]. If Lord Coe was right in his analysis of the positive change in public attitudes, it is clear that there is much to be done in building on any gains made, and that we will need to fight to get a real legacy for all of us – starting with key areas such as employment, media representations, hate crimes, welfare which helps us live our lives, education, housing, public building and transport.

The Chief executive of the British Paralympic Association, Tim Hollingsworth said that the paralympics was successful in making people realise that disability is not the issue and that is the ‘quality of the individual’ and ‘their ability to do things that matter.’  Although this is clearly true for competitive sport it cannot be transferred to disabled people as a group without selling out to the bio-psycho-social model which poses a threat to so many of us.

Jul 162013
 

DPAC Logo 3 amendment 1 (Small)Our rights are being stripped away day by day by the neo-liberal policies being imposed on us all by the Condems leaving us without any hope for our futures or our children’s futures.

 

DPAC say this is not fair, not acceptable and we must fight back against the continuing attacks. We will be having a week of actions nationally and virtually from August 29th and culminating on September 4th with  mass events and actions in London.

 

Thursday 29th August – launch on anniversary of coffin delivery to Atos, make Crossrail fully accessible protest, plus more….

 

Friday 30th August – local protests –go to local MPs, Atos offices, schools and colleges that are creating barriers to inclusion..plus more…

 

Saturday 31st August – disability, art and protest exhibition and gig

 

Sunday 1st September –
The Social Model In The 21st Century – Why Is It Still relevant?

 

Monday 2nd September – Media direct actions, picking up the pace as we come to the end of the week of action, despite everything we do it is getting more and more difficult to get media space to present the facts whereas there is plenty of space given to misrepresentation of stats and government lies

 

Tuesday 3rd September – ‘I Dare’ day – to reinforce that we want Rights not Charity and a society where we are able to operate on our own terms as disabled people.

Approximate time 1pm -2.30pm

 

Wednesday 4th September – Grand Finale events in London and public launch of the Manifesto ‘Reclaiming our Futures’

noon- 4pm followed by lobby of parliament 5-6pm

 

We want to get disabled people from around the UK out resisting, based on their experiences, creating disabled people’s space, raising awareness of what we are all about. But there is plenty of social media stuff too- everyone can be an ‘extremist’!

 

The Anti Atos message last year was very clear and very successful. This year we want the messaging to be broader and to be about what we want and expect from any future government including all aspects of inclusion.

 

At the Rethinking Disability Policy event last September a network of Disabled People’s Organisations agreed to develop a manifesto of demands. The manifesto is nearly ready for consultation and sign up. Let us know if you’d like a copy.

 

The Reclaiming Our Futures week will launch the manifesto and say what we want to protect our futures.

 

Last year’s ATOS GAMES protests had at least 33 separate local protests in different locations in England, Scotland and Wales over the course of the week.

 

While the Atos Games focused on demonstrating and closing things down, this year’s week of action will retain that anger and include direct action but it will also be a celebration of disability pride.

 

DPAC has some funding for the week of action and we have worked out what we have the capacity to do. We are asking other groups to think about what they can put on and contribute to the week. This needs all of us!

 

We are asking people around the UK to do things as well – debates, forums, art exhibitions, protests, to link in with this. Let us know what you’re planning and we’ll publicise it!

 

If you need help with funding to get to London (4th Sept) email us at mail@dpac.uk.net with details. DPAC members will get first priority but we’re hoping to be able to contribute to all that want to come along. If you are unable to come but would like your picture carried send us a photo or message. Please get in touch with any other queries as well and we’ll try to help.

more to come…….

Mar 112013
 

 

DPAC Logo 3 amendment 1 (Small) IL logo

 

VIGIL TO SAVE THE INDEPENDENT LIVING FUND

AND OUR RIGHT TO INDEPENDENT LIVING

March 13th 2013 – from 12.30pm

Outside front entrance Royal Courts of Justice, the Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Speakers: Linda Burnip (DPAC co-founder), Tracey Lazard, (CEO Inclusion London)

Writers/performers Sophie Partridge and Penny Pepper to read from their new script highlighting the impact of the ILF closure

Six disabled people who receive support funded by the Independent Living Fund (ILF) will take on the DWP in the High Court on 13th and 14th March to challenge the government consultation which proposed to close it.

The ILF was set up in 1988 to support disabled people with the highest levels of support need to live in the community. Since then it has helped thousands to live active and full lives.

The government decision to close the Independent Living Fund and instead devolve responsibility to local authorities follows a consultation that disabled people claim is unlawful.

Whereas support received through the ILF has transformed thousands of lives, local authorities are not able to provide the same level or range of support through their current systems. With central funding to local authorities being cut this can only get worse.

Join us to show support and solidarity to those disabled people taking the legal challenge on an issue that is importance to everyone who cares about social justice and the rights of disabled people to live independently, equally and with dignity.

Speakers will include Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, Tracey Lazard, Chief executive of Inclusion London and many disabled people who are personally affected by the closure of the Independent Living Fund. Writer/performers and ILF users Sophie Partridge and Penny Pepper will read from their new script developed to highlight the importance of the Fund.

You can listen to how this vicious attack will affect disabled people at these links:

http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/02/a-nasty-cut-people-affected-by-the-closure-of-the-independent-l5142/

For more information about the vigil contact: mail@dpac.uk.net

Attached information about the location of the High Courts and about accessible toilets in the area.

 Map courts

 Royal Courts of Justice

Strand,

London WC2A 2LL

 Travel: the tube stations around the Royal Courts are not accessible (nearest accessible tubes are Westminster and London Bridge and both are a bus journey away).

Please check www.tfl.gov.uk for more travel information

 Accessible toilets around the royal courts:

–         There is an accessible toilet outside Embankment tube station and inside Charing Cross station.

–         There are toilets opposite the Royal Courts but these are not accessible

–         There are also accessible toilets inside the Royal Courts themselves – see page 10 of this booklet: http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/courts/rcj/facilities-and-access/Facilitiesservicesleaflet2011.pdf

Oct 062012
 

A successful conference held in London on the 27th September called for a new UK network to challenge the attacks on disability rights in the UK. The conference supported by DPAC, Inclusion London, ALLFIE, Norfolk Coalition of Disabled people and the Joseph Rowntree Trust brought together leading Disabled Peoples Organisations and leading disability activists.

Key speaker Jenny Morris said that the ‘disability movement’ was more vibrant than ever, and that this Government had launched a number of attacks on disabled people and their rights. However others suggested that there may not be a disability movement anymore, but pockets of activity. What was clear was that challenges by disabled people and disabled peoples’ organisations (DPOs) must increase. Speakers also raised issues of how ‘the movement’ could be more inclusive in the speakers ‘from the frontline’ slots.

DPAC was there to add commentary and information on what was happening to disabled people under the regime of Atos and the ESA processes as well as the everyday crisis disabled people were facing under this Government. The whole day was brilliantly co-chaired by Tracey Lazard ( CEO of Inclusion London ) and Tara Flood ( director of the Alliance of Inclusive Education) . Speakers included Jenny Morris, Andrew Lee, Eleanor Lisney, Chris Edwards, Debbie Jolly, Linda Burnip and Geraldine O’Halloran, yet, there was also plenty of time for discussion.

Catch up on conference and presentations with the livestream (with BSL)

Catch up on all presentations and discussions through live stream and see Stephen Lee Hodgkin’s brilliant time-line at http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/

Read the excellent John Pring’s ( Disability News Service) account of the day at

 http://www.thefedonline.org.uk/federation-news/item/1828-new-network-aims-to-unite-disability-movement.html

Another option to keep up with what’s happening and have a chance to dicuss your views is to tune into Make Yourself Heard on Tuesdays 2-4p.m with Merry Cross  www.Reading4u.co.uk 

Join up to the new UK network: be part of the increasing outcry on our injustices!

Send an email to mail@dpac.uk.net with subject line ‘UK Network’ to be kept in the loop on this exciting and much needed new network of DPOs and activists.

We can also put you in touch with any local DPAC groups in your area or help you set up your own local DPAC group. We now have 26 DPACs across the UK and along with our sister organisation Black Triangle in Scotland we have made sure that disabled peoples’ issues are vibrant and will continue to be-never again must we allow our ‘movement’ to get sleepy- join the challenge!

 

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
 
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.

Jul 012011
 

Steven Sumpter‘s speech for DPAC at the Birmingham rally:

Disabled People Against Cuts stands today in unity with public sector workers and their unions against discriminatory cuts to our education, care and support services.

With such savage, rapid and all-encompassing cutbacks taking place, disabled people’s rights are being pushed back decades.  In education, disabled children will be pushed towards segregated special schools as funding for inclusive education is cut and more Academies set up with their tendency to discriminate against disabled pupils, with the effect that disabled people will not have educational opportunities and will remain marginalised and disempowered. And disabled people also face job losses through cuts to the public sector which employs hundreds of thousands of disabled people across the country.

Here in Birmingham, the Council plans to cut £33.2 million from its care and support budget. 5000 disabled and older people will lose vital services as charges for personal care go up, skilled support workers are made redundant and social work services are privatised. The latest proposal to raise the eligibility threshold still further has been temporarily stopped by a court case but the Council is planning to start its consultation process all over again and to continue to push through changes which will see a further 4000 disabled and older people lose services. Many will have their support provided by the lowest bidder as the Council plans to privatise all jobs in adult care.  Organisations which once defended the rights of disabled people in Birmingham have been reduced –there were once 3 main disabled people’s organisations ,  only one is left with reduced capacity and funding. Cuts to disabled people are felt across the local economy. Cut hours to paid support workers  means wider job cuts and losses to family income.

Birmingham City Council says that its new service offer “is based on the idea that the vast majority of people can use their own resources and skills to care for themselves.”  But independent living is not about disabled people doing things for ourselves, it is about receiving the support we need in order to have the same life chances as other people and to take part in life equally and with dignity. What they are getting at by this “use their own resources”, what they really mean, what they want disabled people to do, is to use our emotional resources to come to accept what they want us to believe is our lot in life, to accept that although there is money for wars and weapons, there is money to make the rich even richer, there is money for chief executive and directors salaries, there is no money for us, no money for as many incontinence pads as we need in a day, no money for personal assistance for us to shower or go out, no money for support to stop us going into crisis; we are meant to accept our lot in life that is to sit in our own piss and shit and dirt for hours and days on end, our lot to stay trapped indoors, isolated and alone, or our lot to lose our homes altogether. It is patronising, offensive and plain wrong to assume that if you take away our support services we will suddenly “make an effort” and find we could have been doing things for ourselves all along.

DPAC will be lobbying the full Council meeting on July 5th at 5pm and having a public meeting on July 20th at the UNITE office on Broad Street to which anyone concerned about cuts to care services is invited.

More photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/disabledpeopleprotest/sets/72157626962085905/
Report and photos at the Birmingham Post http://www.birminghampost.net/news/west-midlands-news/2011/06/30/5-000-striking-public-sector-workers-gather-for-rally-in-birmingham-65233-28973270/

Jun 132011
 
claire glassman

claire glassman

Speech at London SlutWalk rally in Trafalgar Square

Sat 11 June 2011

Claire Glasman, WinVisible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

slut walkers

leading the protest (photo courtesy from Howard Jones)

Photos at DPAC flickr

video and photos from Howard Jones at demotix

Apr 302011
 
May Day march Birmingham

May Day march in Birmingham

Today there was a demonstration called by Birmingham Trades Union Council to celebrate May Day— International Workers Day.

May Day celebrates International Workers Day and is marked traditionally when the Trade Union Movement gathers with the community to celebrate our achievements and to commit ourselves to achieving economic and social justice for all.

Birmingham TUC worked together with Birmingham Against the Cuts and invited trades unionists, students and the public to join this demonstration to stop the cuts and fight for an alternative based on our needs, not bankers greed!

DPAC was there with our stall and banner at the start at St Philips Cathedral – we were to march through part of the city centre to Victoria Sq where there were speeches. I joined Matt, Linda and Paul there to hand out leaflets and chat to the people there. It was a lively crowd and people seemed genuinely interested to stop and chat and to take up handouts. There was a UKuncut group dressed up in white body suits with black tipped markings – they said the body stockings were what the UKuncut people (Fortnum and Mason Solidarity Bloc) had to wear after the Fortnum and Mason event in London, 26th march. Next to our stall was the Confronting Anti Muslim Hatred stall. There was also an anti war stall.

Soon after 12 noon we set out on the rally – it was a rather good natured crowd and we hardly saw any police. A bit of noise but not much chanting with a few kids. All in all, there was a rough estimate of 200 perhaps. The UKuncut group stopped outside Primark to protest about non payment of taxes I think. I wound my way through the marchers with Linda and Paul holding the banner taking photos and handing out leaflets about DPAC. Linda told me later that someone asked her if she was taking care of me and if I had enough battery in my chair to last out the march! I had an older gentleman tell me he was buying me an ice cream but it never materialise!

Some of the people there were from the general public and quite a few of the older people there spoke of their own fears to me. I would have liked to be able to chat more except I had to keep up with the crowd.  They were quite a few open to chatting – it might be due to the weather!

We had the speeches about the cuts in Birmingham and how it affects the workers and service users in Birmingham and the recent legal case won against the council. I also read out the DPAC speech prepared for the day.

We did some networking and packed up at about 3 pm. I was not aware till later that the UKuncut group took some rough treatment at the Bull Ring shopping centre where they demonstrated against the non payment of taxes against Phil Green. (Fortnum and Mason Solidarity Bloc off Birmingham Mayday demo organised by Birmingham against the cuts  after the demo the bloc went to topshop in the bullring to raise awareness about the £300 million pound tax dodge by Philip Green) Photos of this event is at http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2011/04/478508.html

May Day Photos are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/disabledpeopleprotest/sets/72157626615066674/

—Eleanor Lisney

Eleanor Lisney speaking

Eleanor Lisney

Speech at the rally

Disabled people continue to face a multitude of attacks against their ability to live independently in the community and to take a full and active part in society along with their non-disabled peers.

These cuts include the abolition of Disability Living Allowance, a benefit awarded to meet the extra costs of being disabled, where even before further  testing of disabled people starts the Coalition government have said they will remove  20% of disabled people from entitlement to it and that we are financially unsustainable. This benefit in  particular allows many disabled people to work and therefore pay taxes.

1 million disabled people – not fraudsters as many newspapers would have people believe, are also being thrown off Incapacity Benefit and forced to seek non-existent jobs. But rather than removing the barriers to work for disabled people the coalition government have put even more obstacles to employment in place and with changes to Access to Work funding, a reduction to the Health and Safety Executive and the massive reduction of public sector jobs which provides employment for far more disabled people then the private sector.

Planned changes to social housing tenure and changes to housing benefits will also affect disabled people very badly and are likely to lead to an increasing number of homeless disabled people as well as pushing many into further poverty.

At a local level disabled people are already losing funding for care and support and together with the closure of day centres many are becoming isolated in their own homes. Social care is not free for the majority of disabled people either and locally in parts of the West Midlands people living on already meagre incomes are being expected to pay up to £50-£60 a week towards their care.

Mental Health services are also being drastically reduced in many areas due to cuts in NHS jobs and funding.

While many of you here today may think that what happens to disabled people is of little interest to you it’s important for everyone to realise that most disabled people have acquired an impairment  due to illness, accident, or old age., so helping us to fight for our rights and not be reliant on charity could help you or someone you care about in the future.

What I believe we all share in common however is that we are all being attacked by this millionaire government and that we have to fight for our futures together.

So what have DPAC done over the last 6 months?

All around the country together with others we’ve made it impossible for Condem politicians to leave the safety of Westminster and go out to visit places. Here in Birmingham MPs either were forced to use the back door on several occaisons or didn’t turn up. In London Boris Johnson was seen to cycle away from a group of protesters. We need to keep this up and make sure when they venture out into the community they can’t use the front door anywhere.

Secondly in Birmingham the council have been stopped from removing 11.000 disabled people  from receiving care by changing the eligibility criteria, This has been partly through pressure and partly through some disabled people winning a recent legal case. Other disabled supporters of DPAC  also have a Judicial Review pending against the heavily criticised Work capability Assessment for Employment and Support Allowance. A further case about Housing Benefit case is going to the Court of Appeal also.

We also now have several local DPAC groups around the country as well  and our campaigns against ATOS the private firm raking in millions of pounds for testing disabled people’s fitness to work are supported by politicians, union branches, and over 55 local claimant and anti-cuts groups. This campaign has so far involved three national days of action which resulted in ATOS offices all over the country, from Dundee to Truro, being closed down for the day.

We have been involved in organising an International week of protest against ATOS starting on May 9th again aimed to close down their offices all around the country. We have also and will continue to picket their recruitment fares when they try to recruit vaguely medical staff to carry out their tick box computer assessments. Of those tested by ATOS and found fit for work 70% who have representation and 40 % without any representation have the decision overturned on appeal, although it can take up to 12 months to reach a tribunal hearing because there are so many cases wrongly assessed.

We have also protested against the scandalous lies printed in the Daily Mail and are now involved in further campaigning against them. Its only in unity that we can achieve some success so we salute solidarity! in working together in the future.

Mar 292011
 

Many thanks to Sean for allowing us to publish the speech he gave on behalf of disabled people at the 26th March TUC rally at Hyde Park.

Sean McGovern

Sean McGovern

“HELLO WEMBLEY!!!

WHOOPS – SORRY WRONG GIG!

Hello Comrades, I’m Sean McGovern, a disabled trade union activist; and, I’m honoured to be here today part of this anti-cuts movement. Which is growing daily!

Comrades, disabled people are fighting for the most basic of human rights.

• The right to work;
• the right to a living income for those who can’t work;
• the right to sustenance;
• the right to decent care support;
• the right to live without hate crime; and
• the right to dignity!

May I congratulate some of our popular media? Well done the Daily Heil, the Sun and Express, you purveyors of disablist propaganda. Along with the rubbish-end of TV and attention seeking politicians you’ve managed to demonise disabled people.

In times of recession and economic downturn governments and their media hounds need a scapegoat; history has shown us this; today it’s the turn of disabled people – who’s next?

No wonder hate crime against disabled people is on the rise.

While the bankers caused this economic crisis disabled people’s support and benefits are being blamed.

So much so that we are feeling the brunt of the ConDem ideological cuts.

They say these cuts aren’t ideological – liars!

• Replacing Disability Living Allowance with a Personal Independence Payment, with predicted savings of 20% – naked ideology!

• Introducing a draconian set of Work Capability Assessments – viciously ideological!

• Migrating disabled people from Incapacity Benefit to poverty level JobSeekers Allowance – driven by ideology!

• Removing hundreds of items from Access to Work; a scheme that earns 20% for every pound spent! – stupid ideology!

• Supported employment schemes such as Remploy under threat; thus adding to an ever-increasing unemployment queue and benefits bill – misguided ideology!

Not content with attacking our jobs and benefits they’re bent on depriving us of life enhancing resources. And calling it the BIG SOCIETY!

Day centres are closing. Council care is being cut. Direct Payments bills slashed as eligibility criteria are squeezed to critical only.

Comrades, every day disabled people are dying due to ConDem ideologically driven policies. They must go!

Today the struggle shifts up a gear! From here we must return to our cities, towns and villages to organise everyone against this ConDem regime; these enemies of disabled people, these enemies of the people – our class!!”

Mar 082011
 

I was invited by Women Against the Cuts to join their demo on International Women’s Day to speak about disabled women and the cuts for DPAC. The event was at Trafalagar Square. There was a good number of women already there and I was happy to spot my good friend Sabrina Qureshi from Million Women Rise – a great event with a march of about +5000 from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Sq last Saturday.

Zita Holbourne was there speaking for Black Activists Against Cuts and she did a poem too, and Pragna Patel from Southall Black Sisters. I was happy to see Sasha Callaghan from Black Triangle in the crowd and I asked her to speak alongside me for disabled women.

I did not realise we were videoed but HarpyMarx posted videos of us in her blog. Thank you!

For a transcript of my speech.

Photos of Million Women Rise on 5th March

Photos of today’s WAC event

Mar 022011
 

DPAC is happy that James Elder-Woodward gave us permission to publish his speech given at the Welfare Reform: Who Benefits?  A major conference by Inclusion Scotland – Friday 4th February 2011, Glasgow

Welfare Reform Conference 4th February, 2011
By James Elder-Woodward

James Elder-WoodwardNow listen up – Disabled people are under attack

The forthcoming cuts to our welfare will devastate our quality of life and deny our human rights as never before. For the past twenty years or so, we’ve continually had welfare reforms – but they’ve always meant the same thing; cuts to our quality of life and further restrictions on our equality of life opportunities.

But this will be the biggest and deepest cut of all
By 2015
• The ILF will be no more
• DLA will be no more
• Incapacity Benefit will be no more
• £18b will have been taken out of the welfare system
• 3.5m disabled people will have lost over £9.2b of critical support
• Moving disabled people from Incapacity Benefit onto Job Seekers Allowance will account for half (£4.87 billion) of these losses.
• This represents a loss of £9k for each person moving onto JSA
• Only ‘severe and critical’ need will be meet by local authority social services,
• Which means our right to independent living, to family life and all our other rights under various UN Conventions will be seriously curtailed
• And probably countless other support programmes will have been cut or substantially reduced
• Including, more than likely, our own disabled people’s organisation; be it some social club, educational group, user-led service, or campaigning organisation
Never in the history of welfare reform will the lives of so many in need be so ravaged by so much, to meet the political agenda of so few in power

Because this is motivated by a utilitarian government who say, in order to make people work, you must make their lives hell; make them as poor as the proverbial door-mouse; poorer than the poorest peasant working in the field

Don’t get me wrong – we all accept the need for welfare reform

My God it’s a monstrous beast; complicated; dysfunctional; incomprehensible; illogical – you name it, it’s that.

Don’t get me wrong, either – we all agree it’s been abused

You’ve just got to watch “Still Game” on television to see how Winston abuses the system to get a home help or a disability benefit. Yes it’s comical, but it also mimics the very DNA of many in society that those on benefits are lazy layabout scroungers who need a good kick up the backside to find work

So programmes like “Still Game” don’t do genuine disabled people like us much good because we’re all tarred by the same brush. We’re all made to feel like dirt, not just by society, but by the very system which is supposed to be there to help us. We all have our own stories about how the system treats us. We all have heard the negative attitudes towards us as n’er-do-wells, feckless spendthrifts, and altogether no-gooders.

But isn’t it great how this government is using our social model to do away with our DLA

Yes, by 2013 the DLA will be no more. DLA, the only non-means tested benefit for disabled people designed to meet the extra cost of living with a disability will become the Personal Independence Payment. Like the DLA, PIP will have two parts to it; personal attendance and mobility. Disabled people’s call for independent living will be answered by the PIP, for the PIP will be based on the principles of independent living

But hang on a minute, according to this millionaire government – I call them this, because there’s more multi-millionaires around the Cabinet Table in number 10 Downing Street, than the whole of central Scotland. Anyway, they say by using the principles of independent living, this means if you have a self-propelled wheelchair; you won’t need as much mobility allowance, because you can move around independently.

I say: until I can get onto every bus and train by myself; until I can get into every Indian Restaurant, every butcher, baker and candlestick maker (if there’s any left) on every street – I need every penny of my mobility allowance

What do you say?

It’s reckoned that 360,000 disabled people will be affected by the demise of the DLA. What really gets my goat is taking away the mobility allowance from people in residential care. This will well and truly throw away their key to independence and participation within society, locking them within segregated care homes for good

But, this ploy of saying if you have an aid to daily living you don’t need as much PIP, along with others, like having to be reassessed every couple of years, will reduce the existing DLA budget by 20% – that’s a saving of £1.4b

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’m going to be cured of my cerebral palsy within the next two years – which means that any savings will be offset by expensive and degrading reassessments every two years. Nevertheless, half a million – that’s half a million disabled people will lose their DLA

This public school boy government; they are mostly public school boys anyway, who wouldn’t know a jammie piece if it hit them on the head from a tenement building; they say they want to provide “fair and progressive” reforms in public services, but what is “fair and progressive”; and what about the maintenance of quality of life and human rights.

There’s been a big debate over the need for universal benefits like child benefit and free travel for those over 60. Now I agree with universal benefits, if they are truly universal, not just based on age, like only the young and the elderly – why not disabled people as well?

I am sick and tired of being means-tested – aren’t you?

Why do we need to be the ‘deserving poor’ before society helps to remove the barriers society has created to keep us out in the first place? Why do we need to be means-tested before we can get help with our personal care, or house adaptations and technical aids? Why should only the ‘deserving poor’ be supported to exercise their citizenship? Why can’t we all be supported to exercise our rights of equal citizenship?

But that is the basis of our social welfare system.

The eighteenth century social philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, upon who’s thinking Victorian utilitarian welfare was based, thought that those on poor relief – that is welfare – should receive “less than the lowest peasant in the field”

Well these changes to our welfare benefits certainly make sure that will happen today – give the sick, the disabled, the unemployed less money, then they will be more motivated to go out to earn is their utilitarian way of thinking.

But how do you find work, when there’s no work there? How do you work, when there’s a mountain of discrimination against you in the labour market? How do you work, when there are cuts to the budgets of services and equipment to help you work? How do you work when social services won’t help you to get up out of bed in the morning?

All of this won’t be helped by taking £20 a week from you and putting you on a Job Seekers Allowance, just for one year, before taking it off you altogether. Then what will you do?

I wonder how I would fare today, if I were young and without job experience, as I was in 1970 when I left university. It took me and my careers adviser 546 applications before I got my first job. I’d be well and truly starving in the gutter if I had to find a job within a year. And that’s even if there were 546 job opportunities for me now, which I doubt
But it’s not just the quality of our lives that will be ravaged by these cuts – it’s our human rights as well. Believe it or not, but the UK government has actually signed several conventions on human rights, including the UN Convention of Rights for Disabled People.

This reinforces many of the rights of non-disabled people, including the right of privacy, family life, independent living; and most importantly the freedom from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment.

We have been hearing of people living on sandwiches and tea because they only get 15 minutes a day of home help. We have been hearing of people sitting in soiled nappies all day, because they can only get help to go to the toilet once or twice a day. And I have heard of home helps leaving the service due to work overload and a sense of guilt at not being able to do their job properly. One person had a workload of 40 people (or ‘tuck-ins’ as she called them) to see in a four hour shift – that’s 6 minutes per person, including travelling time. This really is a shocking state of affairs, which will only get worse as the cuts bite deeper and deeper

They say you’re never oppressed until you feel oppressed. Many of my contemporaries felt oppressed. Segregated in their family homes, unable to get out and do the things they wanted; even worse there were those in residential homes. They couldn’t even decide what to eat each day of the week. The gruel was just plonked down in front of them whether they wanted it or not.

Things have changed now, thanks to people like, Paul Hunt, Ken Lumb, Ken Davis, Mike Oliver and many more who saw their poverty of life opportunities, not as a result of their physical conditions, but as a result of the social injustice society was throwing at them. They did many a battle of the minds with many a politician and bureaucrat to win what little freedoms we have today

If not for their sake, at least for your own, join with us in the fight for our freedom movement. Let’s fight for our freedom of family life and privacy; our freedom of movement and community living; and our freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment.

Not all of us can go on a march; nor will many want to clash with police on the streets, like those students did before Christmas. But, like Ken Davis, Vic Finklestein and Mike Oliver, and all our predecessors, we can use our minds to argue, debate, use the new technology of Twitter and Facebook, to get our voices heard and taken note of.

Of course, some of us have and will march with others in protest. Disabled People Against Cuts are a loose connection of disabled people who demonstrated against the cuts in the streets of Birmingham last October. They have a three prong strategy; taking to streets; encouraging people to write to their MPs as well as visiting them in their surgery; and using social media, twitter, facebook, etc

I urge you to look them up on your internet under www.dpac.uk.net

Not everyone could go on their “Cuts will Kill” march last October; but if you look on their website you’ll find some of the many well wishers who posted their comments.
There are other sites on the web which you should take part in including www.benefitscroungingscum.blogspot.com
Hopefully, after this conference we’ll be able to circulate a list of sites to which you can contribute

And don’t forget YouTube
There are some really funny videos, some of which we’ve been able to download and play for you today, like “Liar, Liar”

Finally, we hope to join others on a quiet civilised march in March. “There’s another Way” march will be made in March, but Dave Moxham, General Secretary of the STUC will tell you more about that. I do hope, however, some of you will come along. It’s fun to be with people who feel as you do. The warmth of comradeship and common purpose, but to put it quite bluntly, if you don’t feel the pain – the pain of these cuts – you’ll be dead to the anguish others like you will be feeling

I urge you; feel the pain; feel the anguish; get angry; and react in anyway you can. For it is only by joining together, or by thousands of people doing their own individual thing – like putting your thoughts on paper, Facebook or YouTube – that such anguish suffered by so much oppression by so many can burst like a geyser, drenching this government of millionaires, for millionaires, in basic humanity and common sense.

James Elder Woodward

Vice Convenor of Inclusion Scotland

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