National ATOS Demo – A personal Account

Yesterday I was spokesperson for ATOS DEMO, the day started with a home interview on local radio at 8.00 am, which in my world meant getting up at 5.00, to allow my drugs enough time to work for me to coherent; I then had 2 hours to recover to attend my local demo at Leicester.

Arriving slightly early to meet up with my fellow organisers, we were immediately approached by a police officer with a community support officer, asking who the organiser was; we informed them there was no one person locally, we were a group of ATOS survivors protesting about the companies role in Welfare Reform. This really surprised them, I really don’t think they’d come across a protest that wasn’t organised by a Party or group before; on refection the age of both officers might have something to do with this, they were too young to remember what genuine community activism is – the coming together of individuals against/for a common cause, without a Political agenda. Later during the Demo, my carer was speaking with them about the day and reasons behind it; he says the were actually interested and not only sympathised with us, but were impressed by our campaign, I believe this showed in the way they remained at a discreet distance through the programme.

The Demo started promptly at 11 am, and was reasonably well attended with approximately 50 people all with a story of ATOS treatment to tell; Nick, another of our organisers had put together a great 2 + hour programme of speakers, poets and singers, if you’re interested the whole thing was captured by Down Not Out, an amazing local homeless project; and made the local press. It was also fantastic to meet up with people from different groups in the City who came out to support us – Unite, Left Unity, TUC, and others I admit I’ve forgotten the names of.  But what doesn’t make even this fantastic coverage were many of the horror stories I heard when speaking to people there, personal tales of humiliation, sanctions, suicide and more; what makes it even more tragic (if this is possible) is the Fact, we’ve all heard it all before, not once but over and over.

I passed out about an hour after I got home, the price I pay for less than 3 hours out; and today I feel I’ve wrestled with the Olympic Judo team; In truth the day has seriously cost me in terms of energy and pain but…was it worth it YES YES YES!!!

The fact that 2 young police officers learnt something from what we did says to me that this type of collective peaceful protest has a positive empowering effect not only on those involved but others around, and I remain convinced this is THE way forward. The video and press coverage we achieved will forever remain in the ether of the internet, and can be utilised to maintain the spirit of the day. We will, as DEAEP  and through Down Not Out, be able to offer appropriate support to those people with personal issues with ATOS and DWP; and the organising group of the Leicester Demo has already booked a venue for a follow up meeting to continue the campaign for justice and equality with vulnerable people locally.

The only other thing I want to say is THANK YOU – to Tom Smith, who had the idea and called for this day, to Each of the Host organisers at the Leicester Event, to ALL involved in covering the day & most importantly to EVERY SINGLE PERSON who attended, including those who stopped to listen,even for a while – YOU made MY Day xx

24 thoughts on “National ATOS Demo – A personal Account

  1. Pingback: National ATOS Demo - A personal Account | Welfa...

  2. Reblogged this on Lizardyoga's People and commented:
    I am reblogging this Jane, as a way of compensating for not being there. But perhaps it was better that the protest was made up of those who have genuinely suffered from ATOS, as I have not


  3. Pingback: Delights – and disgraces – of the Atos day of protest | Vox Political

  4. Reblogged this on Jay's Journal and commented:
    One woman’s struggle to get through the day and then suffer that evening and the next day. Something an awful lot of people do most days. I was so looking forward to going but, I am ashamed to say, I was too ill 😦 So thank you Jayne and others who went to stand up for all the disabled.


  5. Well done Hun X I know it must have been hard for you getting up at that time, but you deserve to be proud of yourself. As you say, if those two young police officers are now more aware of the issue because of the protest then you’ve achieved something. It’s all about planting the seed.


  6. Pingback: Whistles, ripples… and a giant inflatable rat, as Atos faces day of action

  7. Pingback: ATOS is Pulling Out of its Contract. | Rantings From a Virtual Soapbox

  8. The fact that there was a board (presumably from someone who works for ATOS) which said ‘Fit to protest fit to work’ says all you need to know about ATOS and the powers that be that don’t understand disability or illness.If only they could see how people are at the end of the day then they might jst open their eyes. If one of the Cabinet or Government Minister had a debilationg illness like M.E. or MS for 6 months the law would change overnight!! Well done to all those who protested and organised it too!


  9. Pingback: Whistles, ripples… and a giant inflatable rat, as Atos faces day of action | DisabledGo News Blog

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