The Hardest Hit ..Disability March

The Hardest Hit ..Disability March

I cannot remember a protest march that was so good natured and amiable. It was more of a gathering of people concerned with highlighting the injustice that is about to happen, and in some instances is already happening.

The issues are many but here are a few:

...Cuts to Social Services funding meaning essential services for the disabled are being cut and in some cases withdrawn by Local Authorities.

...Changes to DLA, which will be replaced by Personal Independence Payments...With ongoing reassessments, and only two components to care and mobility rates taking a lot of people out of eligibility. This is due to happen when Universal Credit is bought in in 2013/2014

...A harsher Work Capability Assessment which does not take into consideration long term and chronic conditions or real life situations and which will move many people off of benefits when they are far from the work place and in effect unemployable.

After a rally that saw Jane Asher and Liam Byrne, Shadow Work and Pensions Minister, among others, give rousing speeches to the gathering crowd, while open topped tourist buses went past with cheering occupants,we all marched towards Westminster

The above and many more issues were highlighted in various banners and in march chants, including the one by the RNIB in the main picture.

The sign in the centre says "We are being ********* by the Government.. the *'s representing Braille on the sign .. the Braille word is actually "shafted". Though I only have their word for that!

There was no malice as such, but more of a general feeling of fear of what the future held, and for many this would mean the end of any quality of life.

I think you have to bear in mind that we already have to fight for everything including health care and benefits, and to a degree accept that as the norm. This should not be the case.

Almost 8000 people managed to get there from all across the UK. There were individuals and groups representing nearly every disability and long term condition you could think of.. And some you can’t.

The attendance would have been higher but for geographical, cost, and accessibility issues when using public transport.

Carers and support groups marched together with the group and the pace was understandably slow.

It was only a short distance from the start at Victoria Embankment to Dean Stanley Street and past the House of Commons, but you could see some people flagging, including myself. I personally was spurred on by the feeling of being in a cohesive group and being part of something unique.

It was stated that this was the largest March of it’s kind ever in the UK, and I for one am proud to have been a part of it , and in my own small way a part of history in the making .

TV coverage was scant, although it appears some of the media are at last showing examples of wrong decisions by the DWP and highlighting the efforts people have to go through to get the benefits they are legally entitled to.

I hope this is a sign of things to come, and that any campaigning does not wither and die after the march, but gathers momentum.

Write to you MP , be more active , don’t just sit there and let this happen !

Rich

28 Replies

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  • good post richard// as yet have failed to get dla as I CAN walk a short distance and can still just about dress

  • Yeh summer i am in the same boat , but thankful that i don't qualify as being virtually unable to walk , and needing care is not somewhere i would like to be . Although i know it is likely to happen .:(

  • Hi Rich. This was good to read about. Unfortunately I am one of these people who rarely gets to see the news until it is old news,and I didn;t even have any idea this was going to happen. This sort of raly can only be a good thing.

    It also strikes me that despite what appears to be a wonderful modern world full of people "in the know" who have answers to everything, can do anything, women who are in powerful positions in industry and technology falling over itself in its progress and the wonderful legislation which brought in access for the disabled compulsory in public and work places - the one thing us humans have most definitely gone back on, is our attitude to disability. You only have to read about people's experiences on here and to see the faces of people who encounter anyone with what ever disability to see that if you are not perfect, you aren;t worth bothering about. It is a real individual issue which exists now, which no legislation can alter I'm afraid. In fact I fear that the more you legislate the more anti- people will become towards the anyone with a disability.

    Perfection seems to be the "thing" everyone is striving for, more money, nice houses, nice cars, good body image, perfect hair, make-up, you name it everywhere in the media is telling us that is what we should achieve. The housewives of Orange County are becoming the "norm". God forbid, it is this almost institutionalised attitude that we have to chip away at too.

    Good on you and well done, I am proud of you. and of course thank you on my behalf.

    Julie xx

  • Thanks Julie , great addition to the blog :)

    Rich :)

  • I am a million percent behind this blog. I know that I am going to strand up and be counted as and when health allows and get more involved in disability rights. I am completely counter to the modern values and culture that Julie is so acurately describing. I cannot envisage ever signing up to this insane greedy individualistic philosophy of our time. I believe that humanitys only chance is to harness our intelligence and work co-operatively as a group. We need to accept that we are inder-dependent on oneanother from cradle to grave for care, love and support at various stages in the human life cycle. I appreciate that modern society is complex but every human being ages or experiences dependency needs before they die. Even David Cameron will- although Im sure right now he feels it will never REALLY happen to him. Pehaps he imagines he will just float away one day as old man in his sleep. For the world of the perfect its outside their frame of reference. Human being have intrinsic value irrespective of whats in their pocket. When we reduce ourselves to a dung heap where we are all crapping and climbing on top of each other in an attempt to preserve the most we can for ourselves we impoverish humanity. I absolutely hate this current ideology of emphasising the individual at the expense of our human connections. I dont buy any of the govs rhetoric. I see right through it. Its only about preserving wealth for a few and cutting back on collective responsibility. I am going to continue to believe in being part of a minority of like minded individuals. After all the world has been transformed by counte-cultural minorities. Wilberforce fought slavery and won. . Im with Richard. Lets stick together when we suffer and dont have a magic bullett. Community ( an old fashioned notion) holding each other up. Its the best antedote to human suffering when so often mankind cant solve it. Like us lot with RA for example. The treatments ok - its getting better but its not exactly a solution now is it. I may have to put up with living through this shameful time but my values of treating people first and giving each person, care dignity and choice are a far cry from the gov definition of these words. They are more than a smoke screen for savings or political ideology they are emblazoned on my heart and branded on my soul.

    There now I feel better for getting that of my chest.

  • Good lord Fiona where did all that come from! you certainly made your point and of course I agree entirely you just have a much better way of putting things than me.

    Hope you feel better for getting all that off your chest!

    I feel so proud of you for making your point, yes we should all stick together your right.

    Thanks for putting it over so well.

    mand xx

  • hehe Sparkle , glad you got that off your chest ? i am exhausted reading it .

    Rich :)

  • Not meant to exhaust. As Mand says trying to illustrate my point which I believe is fundamental to social reform and change. Changes in social policy and legislation come from underlying moral and philosophical values in society.History shows that.

    Sadly we are heading down the route of America model of welfare. If you think its its worrying now unless this ideology is resisted it will only get worse. Many people in USA dont get treatment for many long term conditions because they dont have insurance.

  • Hi sparkle .. you got your point across eloquently.

    With regard to Funding for health care ..Labour already had plans to change the way care is funded ..in the Green paper "Shaping the future of Care Together" there were three options suggested :

    Partnership - People who needed high levels of care and support would need to spend their savings and sell their homes.

    Insurance - Additional costs met through voluntary insurance. This scheme would help people to protect their wealth and the value of their homes.

    Comprehensive - Everyone over retirement age who had the resources to do so would be required to pay into a state insurance scheme. All basic care and support would be free when it was needed. The Government would also look at having a free care and support system for people of working age alongside this.

    This was getting very close to the current USA system.

    I think the current Government holds too much weight in the idea that a sense of community can be enforced on people where it does not exist.

    They hope that any needs of the local community can be met by local people and organisations , when funding to these help groups is being cut to the bone..

    I spotted on TV last night that there was a documentary/ reality TV experiment prog coming up that showed the effects on people in a street when all locally supplied services were stopped (care , rubbish collection, council services basically) cant remember the name of the prog or the channel , but should highlight the reality of "community spirit" or lack of the real world.

    I like to think of myself as community spirited however i don't think i could say that about many in this area, or at least not enough people!

  • Here Here Sparkie, right behind you on this x

  • Hi Rich, I can't applaud you enough for attending the march, the support from all forms of disability must have been overwhelming.

    Yes TV coverage was very scant to say the least didn't really get to the point of the march at all.

    In my opinion here it's the people out there who "fraud the system" so to speak I'm sure you know what I mean. There's so many claiming now that the people who genuinely need the DLA are the ones being affected yet again! Inevitably those who have a "blind illness" are the ones to suffer as we are seen as nothing wrong with us, its so unfair makes my blood boil it really does I intend to write to my MP as I did with the prescription charges, once again well done on attending the march, thank you.

    mand xx

  • Thanks Volunteer Mand :)

    Worrying times indeed :(

    Rich X

  • Hi Rich

    Thank you so much for taking that trip into London especially on a day when you could perhaps have felt better and having to live with the weariness and pain in the days following. Hope you are starting to feel better physically.

    I feel very proud to 'know' you from the forum and to count you amongst my friends. You are one cool guy and you should rightly feel proud of being part of this campaign. I hope the day has brought with it a feeling of achievement and better awareness of the needs of those with disabilities. Continually being trampled on by politicians who neither know anything of our problems or seemingly care the slightest about how we may be affected by their proposed changes is not the way forward. It is going to take continued effort on the part of each of us to ensure that government and society do what is right by those who need that help.

    With you all the way Rich and thank you so much for representing NRAS and all its members.

    Lyn x

  • Thanks for the comments Lyn both here and the NRAS forum :)

    Rich X

  • Thanks for all the comments , and phew Sparkle did you stop to take a breath ?

    The worse thing is about the whole thing is that we have a Minister for disabled people , Maria Miller, who does not have a clue what disabled people need.

    For those who can't or don't visit the NRAS forum then here is how the cuts will probably effect me in the near future (i have cheated and copied and pasted as my hands are not to good this morning !)

    **********************************************************************************************************************

    "May be not immediately but at some point I will need support from DLA and I already need support in the form of Incapacity Benefit.

    I will also have the fight for benefits when my IB is changed to ESA.. And with the new descriptors bought in this year it is literally 50/50 that I am found fit for work (full time) and have to claim JSA .

    When on JSA and I manage to get a job I will lose all the advantages that come with getting a job while on Incapacity Benefit.. ie Disability Element of Tax Credit, which means I could take a job at less than 30 hours per week and still get help.

    There is a probability that even though I do approx 10 hrs a week at CAB , that I will be forced to stop that volunteering to do a required training course or work placement. I would then lose 2 years worth of experience and training. Curiously I am volunteering to make myself more employable.

    Yes we should protect the most vulnerable, however there are many that fall in the middle ground and have long term fluctuating conditions. The Work Capability Assessment currently does not take these conditions into account, nor does it take into account “Real Life” when applying the descriptors.

    These are both being looked at by Professor Harrington for the Review of ESA and the WCA.

    With DLA changing under Universal Credit to Personal Independence Payment , and with stricter criteria and only two rates for care and mobility .. . Fewer people will qualify for the benefit, and also lose any passporting to other benefits

    With pressures on Local Authorities to cut budgets , this March was also about protecting Adult Social Services help, changes to the social fund and any other issues that affect people with a disadvantage through disability or chronic illness."

    **********************************************************************************************************************

    Worrying times indeed , with legal aid reform threatening to take away all help for Social Welfare Law , this means there will be no qualified help for Benefits Tribunals , for Housing Repression, for Employment (except for discrimination cases .. though you would have to have a strong case for someone to take it on) and other matters .

    The voluntary sector will not be able to pick up the shortfall due to cuts in funding and in some cases closure, so in theory you could get sanctioned by Job Centre Plus or fail the Work Capability Assessment , and you would not be able to get the required level of help to contest the issue.

    If you go to an ESA Tribunal your chances of winning are 70% if you are represented and slightly lower if you have a submission done for you by an advice agency .

    The DWP highlight the fact that 39% are found fit for work at Tribunal .. but fail to realise we can add up . That means 61% of the decisions by the DWP with regard to this are wrong! Nice of them to spin it the other way !

    Well i could rant forever ... but hands are hurting

    Again thanks for the supportive comments ... get active and tell your story :)

    Rich

  • wel done rich.. my hands play up there is virtual key board thing that can be downloaded with predictive typing.. havent succeeded in down loading this yet.. me and computers he he xx.. there is voice activated software that another member suggested dragon software for typing but it s nearly £70 which is a bit steep for me x

  • I have looked at dragon naturally speaking .. but not quite at that stage yet and i hate predictive text :O

    no real problem yet but know whats out there when the need arises :)

    Rich X

  • Hi Rich

    Not able to write much of a comment today but wanted to say "thank-you" for going for those of us not able to. I hope that you are recovering from the physical consequences.

    The only news channel that gave it proper coverage was Channel 4 News where it was the 2nd item and got a reasonable airing. Jon Snow's blog on the Ch 4 website is a good way of interacting with him as is his Twitter feed. He is neither sycophantic to govt ministers nor gives them an easy ride!

    Look after you:-)

    Cece x

  • Thanks Cece .. yes the Channel 4 report was very good and i even appear in the video 32 seconds in haha for about 2 secs .. blink and you'll miss it ;)

    channel4.com/news/catch-up/...

    Before you start the video i am also in top left with my hand on my head wearing an NRAS Blue T-shirt hehe.

    It was great they covered the story of the woman with MS who failed her medical .. at last the real stories are starting to come out :)

    Not too bad today .. hands are a bit iffy , and will try walking when i go out with camera in a minute :)

  • Hi Rich

    Thank you for all that you do from giving your advise CAB style to setting off on a march not knowing if you will have theenergy to complete it and probably knowing that you will suffer for it as well. I have just completed my DLA forms and have used the advise you gave on the main forum. after seeing Ali's 'Summer' rejection I might as well have not bothered as I don't have a nats hope of getting anything.

    I agree with all that my fellow sisters and bro's have said to you and Fiona that was amazing you should write a piece for the Sundays that will wake the papers up, you go girl and soooo true. Thank you

    Tricia xx

  • Just seen that comment Trish, thanks for that xxxxx

  • rich.. excellent blog and march.. one cool guy for standing up and being counted.. I DIDNT know about it til you did this blog

    alison x aka summer

  • this isnt a nice comment but true if the disabled son of David Cameron had lived to adult hood he would have need benefits and care!!

  • just replied to you about David Cameron son !!!

  • Hi Ali

    You have just said what me and my hubby have been discussing. Apparently ( as far as we are aware old dave has done nothing for disabled charities despite his sons tragic situation. The words going round in serious newspapers that he is known as the Bully from Bullington thats because he belonged to an elite club for future leaders when at uni.

  • apologies if not politically correct in my above comment.. political disclaimer.. dont think mucx of any government.. have tried a couple of differnt ones!!Sparkle and Rich c for PM .

    Sparkle eminent writer and prob could be gReat speaker in the house..

  • Hi Rich,

    I think it was a fantastic march and was delighted to see such a diverse group of people.

    One irritating thing on the BBC commentary was along the lines of:

    "Protestors *claim* that they are in fact a minority of the real numbers affected by the cuts as they are attending for the others who are unable to at home"

    I get so irritated by the press assumption that if you are disabled (especially claiming you are sick!), on any kind of benefit or allowances or get any level of help that you are a scrounger, a liar and a theif.

    They then had the MP for disabled people explaining that more people who were alcoholics and drug addicts got Higher rate DLA than the blind or wheelchair users. Well, perhaps that is because the questions are about your capacity to do tasks rather than your actual impairment?

    Perhaps its because drugs and alcohol issues attract more support and help from agencies than the chronically sick and disabled.

    Stupid sound bite driven media!

    I am no labour supporter, nor do I support the liberals or tories. I do support good people trying to do something good for people. There are a few MPs like this. I went to parliament with my MP for something to do with NRAS and I can heartily recommend doing this. Fantastic experience and made me much less cynical about them.

    Thanks again for going. I think we need to have our views represented and taken to all parties and all people and well organised protests help our cause no end. Also pleased to see them having to take pictures of people under 90 who are CLEARLY DISABLED! :-o ;-)

    Do you think this will reach the depths of "library pictures" at the beeb?

  • Hi Rich,

    I just wanted to add my congratulations on top of all the others who have commented on your blog. Well done for going and for representing NRAS.

    As you know, NRAS has recently joined the Disability Benefits Consortium and we submitted comments on a recent joint charities report that is feeding into the Harrington Review and we plan to do more.

    I would also like to get more members involved in direct campaigning around this issue. To anyone reading this blog post, please get in touch with me at jamie@nras.org.uk if you would like to get more involved in this issue.

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