Yesterday I attended an event, ‘Future for Civil Society’ where voluntary sector and trade union speakers warned that the Conservative lead government funding cuts delivered under the heading of the “Big Society” are helping to undermine charitable organisations in the country.

Around 150 representatives from charities and unions were there and at this TUC-organised event in London, with speakers unconvinced that the Big Society is anything other than a farce.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said the conference was part of ongoing efforts to build “the widest possible coalition” against the cuts, involving unions, charities, community groups and faith organisations.

He called on people from across Britain to join a “march for the alternative” in London on March 26 “to send a clear message to ministers that they must find another way.”

The event is focused on service providers and third sector organisations with TUC, DPAC, as representative for service users, does not seem to quite fit into the flow of the discussions.

The term ‘ the most vulnerable’ and protecting ‘the most vulnerable’ was touted quite a bit and the question of volunteering – it is not a free resource and needs much support. Cuts in short term may be more expensive in the long run.

A report of the event and feedback from the workshops would be available from the organisers later.

More info about the event at the TUC website

-Eleanor Lisney

Liz Carr

Liz Carr

We are very happy that Disabled comedian and activist Liz Carr will be speaking at the People’s Convention on Saturday February 12th at the Friend’s Meeting House opposite Euston Station in London.

We are also running a workshop in the afternoon ‘At the Forefront of Resistance’

This workshop’s panel –

Sue Bott, Director of National Centre for Independent Living

A disabled person with visual impairment from birth, Sue has been active in the disability movement in the UK for many years.

Richard Reiser, co ordinator for UK Disability History Month

Richard is an expert disabled international equality trainer, consultant and teacher.

Kevin Caulfield, Chair of Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition Against Community Care Cuts (HAFCAC)

Kevin is an active campaigner for all disabled people’s rights to equality and equal citizenship from a social model perspective at a local, regional and national level.

We would like as many disabled people as possible to come to this to tell us what you think. It starts at 10.30- 5 pm but the afternoon workshop if anyone is unable to come for the whole day should start at 2pm. Please support us.

The venue is Friends Meeting house near Euston Station. You need to book tickets from www.righttowork.org.uk £2 unwaged £5 waged to cover the costs of putting on the conference.

Access of venue – Friends Meeting House is accessible for wheelchair users. Accessible Parking can be found at Euston Station (£25 per day). Frequent buses stop at Euston station.

BSL We have requested for BSL interpreters. tbc.

Easy Read worker will be available at workshop.

Lunch is NOT provided – there is a vegetarian cafe en site at the venue. Eateries and food available at Euston Station including Nandos, Harry Ramsden Fish and Chips, and Marks and Spencers.

DPAC had told Disability News Service that they planned to occupy the EHRC’s London offices sometime in March, although they said they would not be announcing which day the protest would take place.

They believe the EHRC should be challenging councils that are failing to provide adequate support for disabled people, and backing more legal actions on behalf of disabled people.

They have also pointed to the commission’s failure to speak out on cuts and reforms to disability living allowance (DLA) – and particularly the loss of the mobility component for most people in residential care – as well as problems with the controversial work capability assessment; the closure of the independent living fund to new members; and cuts to housing benefits.

They say all these policies could be challenged as breaches of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, particularly as the commission is monitoring its implementation.

Members were particularly angry at the commission’s failure to fulfil a pledge to contact DPAC to discuss its plans to support disabled people.

Linda Burnip, a founding member of DPAC, said: “Following a threat to occupy their offices, they suddenly got in touch with us. We have postponed [the occupation] pending a meeting. They have given me a list of things they are planning to do.”

She said the EHRC had told her that they were “limited in what they can do and how they do it”.

Before the EHRC’s intervention, Burnip had said: “We expect them to be helping uphold disabled people’s human rights and the UN convention and they are not. They basically might as well not exist.”

An EHRC spokeswoman said: “Our disability programmes director has had a positive discussion with Disabled People Against Cuts about their concerns and we’re planning to meet with them to discuss this issue further.”

Watch this space!

First published at Disability Lib

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Sounds like a fun event for those who can make it!

MAD PRIDE for the HOLOCAUST DAY
A FUNDRAISER FOR THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST WELFARE BENEFIT CUTS.
THE MONTAGUE ARMS
NEW CROSS SE14
FRIDAY 4TH FEBRUARY
8PM – MIDNIGHT

£5 / £2 concessions.

THE SWAMP WINOS / PSCHOYOGI / ONE TRUE DOG / BLOCO MALUCO / LE DONNE / DAVE RUSSELL

 

Mad Pride Poster

At the Hackney Unites anti-cuts meeting last week, London Anti Racist Alliance chairperson, Arpita Dutt, spoke about activists using the Equality Duty as a tool for challenging public bodies planning to implement cuts in services, and the ARA’s community drama group, arts4REAL, performed an anti-cuts drama piece, “Hard Times  –  We’ve Got To Stop This!”, which had been premiered in December at a West London ARA anti-cuts event in Acton supported by Ealing TUC and local community organisations.

For a report on Arpita’s speech, speeches by other activists and the
drama piece, visit:      http://hackneyunites.blogspot.com

 

Baroness (Jane) Campbell of Surbiton in response to an enquiry from DPAC (a supporter suggested sending letters to her for support against the cuts)  writes:

letters to Maria Miller Minister for disabled people copied to me would be best because then she has to answer them and cannot deny they exist if I am copied in. I can then use them to hold the government to account and quote from the letters and ask how they have responded to such hardship that disabled people are obviously experiencing.

You can write to her at

Westminster
House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW
Tel: 020 7219 5124
Fax: 020 7219 1303
campbelljs@parliament.uk

You can also send us a copy where we can archive them together at http://dpac.wikispaces.com/DPAC+documents

Email to us at mail@dpac.uk.net

Our own Bob Williams- Findlay wrote:

If you accept, as I do, that the experience of disability arises from the negative interactions between people with impairments and their social environments – then technology can play a major role in “bringing this reality” to life by exposing it, offering solutions and demonstrating the ability of technology to both enable and disable people with impairments.

Read the rest at his guest blog at beyondclicktivism

On Friday, a High Court judge squashed a decision by London Councils to cut £10m from its £26.4m grants scheme to voluntary organisations in the capital

Service users of two of the organisations affected by London Councils’ proposed cuts brought judicial review proceedings against them.

Louise Whitfield, a solicitor at law firm Pierce Glynn who acted for the claimants, said:

This case establishes that even in the current economic climate, it remains of paramount importance that public sector funding cut decisions are properly assessed for their gender, disability and race equality impacts. If they are not, public sector funding cut decisions will be unlawful.

You can read more about the ruling at the Local Government Lawyer website

Patrick Butler, in the Guardian today, questions if the court decision merely provides some respite but not a reprieve for charities against cuts.

..it is not the decision to cut the London boroughs grants scheme that was illegal, but the process of reaching that decision. Whitfield says that in her experience, authorities which are forced to re-examine decisions in this way often come back with less onerous proposals. But the Labour-led, Tory-supported London Councils has already scaled down its cuts package once, from 80% to 63%.

He asks if the other providers of services will go down the legal route but warns that –

….the window of opportunity is not open for much longer: councils will set legal budgets later this month, and the courts may be reluctant to retrospectively unpick those decisions. A charity which has not set a legal challenge in train already may have run out of time.

Read the rest at his article at The Guardian

This is from a DPAC workshop given by Linda Burnip and rendered into Easy Read by Kevin Clifford – please do not use without asking first. A Word document can be downloaded here.

 

Planning your campaign


 

  • Decide what you want to achieve


 

  • Decide HOW you can do this

 

  • Decide your time scale for action (how long you have got)

 

  • Think about who you can work with to help you get what you want, for example local councillors,local groups, other groups of disabled people. Normally the more of you there are,the stronger you should be.

 

  • Decide on a name for your campaign and group


  • Make a logo for letterheads


  • Give jobs with powerful sounding titles to a few people, for example Chairperson,Equalities Officer, National Secretary.


  • Think about publicity. There are 2 main ways to get publicity:

–  stories about what you do in the press/media/local radio

writing letters to local papers. If you can get a group of about 6 people who take turns responding to any letters in the press that helps lengthen the publicity you can get.

 

Here are some ways to campaign:

 

  • Taking a case through the legal system

 

  • Protests

 

Direct Actions – these are not legal

 

For both legal protests and direct actions you need to:

 

  • Decide on your target and it is best to have a second one in case you are unable to use the first one. For a direct action it is best to keep this secret and arrange to meet nearby.

 

  • Decide what to do, for example are you going to march to town hall and have a rally there?Are you going to take over an area of a building and all sit on the floor and refuse to move until your demands are met? Do you want to be chained or tied to something or together?


  • If you can, have a gimmick to attract attention and publicity, for example dress up as something, fake blood, nativity play and free mince pies.

 

  • Send a press release to the media in advance saying what you are doing and how they can meet up with you

 

  • Speak to a local criminal solicitor and make sure their firm offer a duty service in case anyone is arrested.

 

What you need on the day:

  • Leaflets saying what you are protesting about

 

  • Placards

  • A press release for the day to hand out to any media people.

  • Banners and t-shirts

  • Ideally have someone who can video everything that happens. This is also good to advertise your action afterwards

  • Contact details of local criminal solicitor who can help if anyone is arrested.

Other Ways to campaign

  • The internet

  • Email Campaigns

  • Petitions

  • Consultations

  • Submissions to Select Committees

  • Working with charities