I always enjoy a good conference, meeting some like-minded folk, an opportunity to put my opinions across, some good food and conversation and some stationery to liberate, the only thing missing from the conference I attended last Thursday was the stationery that needed me to liberate it. Usually I attend these events on my lonesome, being the only policy peep, but this time my good friend and colleague Julie Collier, TA Group Support Coordinator came along too.
What was particularly good about this conference is that we, service users, people with disabilities whatever we call ourselves, outnumbered the urm…what can I call them without causing offence? You know those nice professional people that work for disability charities (sorry guys) that I usually rub shoulders with that have been now where near their local Jobcentre Plus. So of course there is of course that passion and that passion comes out of necessity as getting a job as a person with a disability is an almost impossibility unless you manage to get you foot through the door of a third sector organization that works with disabled people, but now in these lean times funding for these groups is becoming thin on the ground. Amongst us at the conference was an old face, a young man I had the pleasure of teaching whilst I worked for the Drake Music Project drakemusic.org/ it was great to catch up with him, he’s now working for Walsall Social Services.
Back to the conference, the conference was held by Disability Rights UK,
They’ve recently been formed from the amalgamation of The Disability Alliance, an excellent organization that I wholly support and do some fantastic campaigning work, also they are a fantastic source of information about disability and sickness benefits, I usually direct people to them for this type of info - disabilityalliance.org/inde... Radar and the National Centre for Independent Living. Naturally the main topic up for discussion was the Welfare Reform Bill which amongst a whole plethora of nasties contains the proposals to remove DLA and replace it with Personal Independence Payment (PIP) the dreaded ATOS and the Work Capability Assessment, work experience whilst in the WRAG group (that’s the Work Related Activity Group, people that have been through the WCA and are on ESA) Disability Hate crime and the media, quite a day, an excellent day, I can’t wait for the emails to start circulating.
I did however after the conference and after a little wander around Birmingham city centre take the train home – a rather crowded London Midland train so I took my own advice - tourettes-action.healthunlo... and sat in the 1st Class area, I did (and this is the important bit so you don’t get chucked off the train or fined) explain myself and show my Identic card to the conductor, and it worked, but I did feel quite cheeky about it and that I shouldn’t really be there.