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

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

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

At DPAC, we believe in being inclusive and accessible and here we are very grateful to Ellen and Kevin Clifford for doing this Easy Read version of the Disability Living Allowance for all of us. There is a Word Document version here

What is Disability Living Allowance?

What is Disability Living Allowance?

 

 

 


DLA is a benefit

Disability Living Allowance is a benefit that is paid to disabled people.

DLA helps life chancesIt is to help cover the extra costs of being disabled and so help disabled people to have the same chances to take part in life as other people.

You can get Disability Living Allowance if:

  • you have a physical impairment or a learning difficulty or mental health support needs

  • your impairment means that you need someone to support you or that you have difficulty walking and getting about. You are under 65 when you ask to go onto it.

  • You must have been like this either needing support or having walking difficulties for at least 3 months and it must be likely you will carry on like this for at least the next 6 months.

If you are very ill and going to die within the next 6 months there are different rules for this benefit to make sure you get it more quickly and easily.

If you are over 65 there is a different benefit called ‘Attendance Allowance’ that you can get.

You can get Disability Living Allowance whether you work or not.

The amount you get is to do with what support needs and impairment you have; it is not to do with how much money you have coming in.

Disability Living Allowance has two parts called ‘components’:

  • a care component – if you need help looking after yourself or support to keep you safe

  • a mobility component – if you can’t walk or find it very hard to walk, or you need help getting around

Some people will be able to get only one of these parts but other people might be able to get both.

You can get different amounts for each of the two parts depending on how your impairment affects your day to day life.

For the care component you can get a low, middle or high amount.

For the mobility component you can get a low or a high amount.

If you can get Disability Living Allowance it might mean you can get more in other benefits.

For the Easy Read DWP consultation Disability Living Allowance reform – public consultation http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/dla-reform-consultation-easyread.pdf

Support the 12 University of Birmingham students facing disciplinary procedures that could result in the termination of their degrees. One of them who is facing disciplinary action was too ill to get out of bed at the time.
The students are facing the disciplinary action after a peaceful occupation on Monday 17th January. The group undergoing disciplinary action, some of them disabled supporters of DPAC,  were part of a larger group opposing the University’s plans for department cuts and staff redundancies.
Unreasonable force was used at the end of the occupation by university security staff that resulted in several injuries against peaceful protestors. The university refused to allow for concerned staff members and union members to enter the building to oversee the eviction as impartial witnesses.
The University should drop all disciplinary charges agsinst the students who were protesting peacefully, should make a statement apologising to students and staff for the use of unreasonable force and ensure impartial witnesses are allowed access during any future occupations.
Please sign the petition and  circulate widely – disabled students facing disiplinary action after protesting on National day of Action  http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/defendbirminghamstudents/

For more information contact Claire at  cxl736@bham.ac.uk and mobile number 07772585794.

Today in London, some of us did our first direct action and – I challenged the police for the first time in my life. Not before I got stuck on a bus because the ramp was broken – how many protestors would have that problem???

Some of us met up at a cafe before the demo. There were quite a few people already gathered at Triton Sq – disabled and non disabled people and we started marching towards Atos Origin but they had locked up before we got there and we did not manage to get in. There was a little scuffle with an older man being knocked on the ground.

We gathered outside and chanted and Claire started speeches with a rousing speech reminding the police there were disabled people there with visible and invisible impairments.

People kept arriving.

I recognised people from previous demos but also supporters from PCS and Women against Cuts, Islington Disabled People Against Cuts, MadPride and many others. Journalists such as John Pring but no cameras – we are not as interesting as say – women protest at Scotland Yard over the use of under cover police who infiltrate protest movements to gather intelligence.

Anyway, I noticed that there were barriers being put up around us and I placed myself there – a policeman asked me to move so that they can continue the barriers. I refused I said I wanted to be there because I would not be able to take photos if the barriers were there because – being in a wheelchair, I need a certain distance and the barriers/barricades cut into my vision. I need to be able to weave in and out and I could not with the barriers there. He replied that he had to lock the barriers in place – I asked for the reason – he said it was his job to do it and they had to lock but he would be willing to compromise by leaving a gap at the end so that one can move in and out of the blocked off area. The reason why I placed myself there was because I wanted to make sure we were not locked in – so I moved.

 

Barricaded

But then they barricaded the whole area anyway and there were a few tense moments when some heated words were exchanged with the police but the police would not let them out en masse. A policewoman said we would be allowed to come in and out but singly. So I would say it was a kind of containment.

It was a nice friendly atmosphere on the whole, Penny read a couple of her poems, somebody else sang, we had people bring us nice hot rice and sausages and doughnuts and for some reason, there was also a mini bazaar.

At the end, it was decided that we would go to another Atos site at the back of Marylebone. It was a long trek in the cold rain and when we got there – it was after 5 and most of the staff had left. It was also up steps at the back – and somebody rang the police! We were called to a stop by the police and interrogated – were we protesting? No we were just out there in the street – what all together? One person said we had no reason even to have to answer any questions. The policeman said he wanted to hear our part of the story – well, I never went in so I could truthfully say that I couldnt. What story is there to tell?
So some of us went off for a well deserved tea break and off to another meeting to discuss the 12th Feb People’s Convention with the Right to Work campaign. But of course, we had to have another access issue – the taxi driver at the taxi rank refused to take me saying he didnt have a ramp – which is illegal – so the other taxi driver was very irate and complained it was totally out of order and that we should report him – so here you go – taxi driver license 64124 – taxi with no ramp!
Eleanor Lisney
Photos can be seen at our flickr site – http://www.flickr.com/photos/disabledpeopleprotest/sets/72157625773604577/with/5385235903/
you can also read the fuller report of events all over the country including this one in London at the Benefits Claimants fight back web blog
Pics of the London demo can also be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/peteriches/with/5385496598/
From the Right to Work website written by Linda Burnip: http://righttowork.org.uk/2011/01/national-protest-against-benefit-cuts/