Government #Disablism Discrimination in Action

This week a woman not known for her timidity, admitted how a non-disabled man had used his presence and the environment to disempower her; I’m referring to Dame Anne Begg and the she interview gave to the BBC. In the Daily Record Dame Anne is quoted as saying “Iain Duncan Smith took to standing behind me during Prime Minister’s Questions. He stood at what’s called the Bar of the House and occasionally he would lean on my wheelchair…Our working relationship was slightly fraught anyway because I’d been critical of him a lot. I wanted to keep that criticism a professional criticism, not a criticism of him as a person so I never quite built up the courage to actually say: ‘Please don’t do that.’” Dame Anne also was recorded as having explaining how “she would normally reproach people who invaded her personal space but she let him off“.

This is an excellent example of how competent, intelligent, and independent disabled people not only experience prejudice – as people either knowingly or subconsciously, use their bodies, words or actions to oppress us; but how this actively exasperates and diminishes us.

It is no coincidence I use this example with IDS being the perpetrator, as it is again his department, the DWP, I am discussing today. In November last year I introduced you to Burt, who with our support at DEAEP was transferred from WRAG to the support group last December; since then Burt has received up to three letters a month plus texts reminding him of his “Back to Work” appointments! Each month Burt has responded to each letter with a phone call saying “but I’m in the Support Group”, he has received an apology and a promise to rectify this from each call; yet it has continued.

Burt is a former career soldier who fought in wars all over the world, until being retired out with a crushed spine and severe PTSD, amongst other conditions, all contracted during his service.  He isn’t a naturally timid man, he loved his Army life and willingly gave everything to “Queen & Country”, as his service record and the plethora of photographs and awards proudly displayed in his lounge demonstrate; and yet the persistent harassment he has experienced from the DWP in the past 2 years has left him joyless, feeling without purpose and literally unable to complain.

As Dame Anne alluded to regarding IDS, his actions which amount to bullying in my opinion, makes it difficult if not impossible to positively challenge the perpetrator(s); and this is the situation Burt is in. Personally I can totally relate to this, and would suggest many readers and other claimants can also. It is these dismissive attitudes and continuous intimidation by the DWP that creates the ‘Brown envelope Syndrome’, so well recognised by those of us unfortunate enough to claim benefits; it is also this oppression, and misuse of positions of power, that has contributed to the deaths of many us.

How much worse this is going to get following the closure of ILF and a budget, which I believe initiates the removal of WRAG? Being forced to deal with increasing poverty is physically and psychologically damaging enough without having to deal with this prejudice and discrimination from the DWP.

I find this particularly ironic that jobseekers (presumably including those who would have been placed in WRAG)  are being mandated to participate in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), which claims to Stop negative thought cycles; I can’t help but think IDS, his ministers and the staff at DWP would benefit far more from CBT than claimants?

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The Desperate Fight Within Disabled Campaigning

This is my first post in a few months, there’s been several reasons for this including an horrendous bout of depression, an operation and masses of work for DEAEP, our new course starts next week. There also been one issue that has taken over what little energy I’ve had left after this; a month ago I was asked if I’d be interested in working on the setting up of a unifying group for disabled people to fight the Government.

Anyone that’s read my blogs is well aware I’m committed to collective working and collaboration, most of my posts end with some form of plea for Unity or Togetherness, so of course I said yes. To my horror, in this very short period of time several of those willing to do the backroom work have been bullied and verbally assaulted by the same people who purport to believe in campaigning and challenging for our rights. So much so, that a number of the individuals willing to use their spare energy have said they can no longer continue; I simply do not understand this!

What the Fuck is going on, when those of us Fighting for our lives under this Tory regime of Austerity and Cuts, are attacked by our peers; isn’t it enough that people are dying through the bullying of JobCentre & other DWP staff, without resorting to this behaviour ourselves?

When #homelessness is soaring and people are being evicted from their homes due to the costs of the #BedroomTax, or the #BenefitCap; when the loss of ESA or PIP, through flawed and biased ‘assessments is causing people to choose to stay warm or fed; what will happen to those on #ILF that lose their Care packages in 3 weeks? Isn’t all of this this enough to make people angry enough to challenge the Government and to work WITH their peers and not attack them?

I totally agree that different opinions are essential for any project to get off the ground, and this means different beliefs being aired and people feeling frustrated their thoughts aren’t being taken into account; I’m aware not everyone feels a unifying organisation is the way forward and that’s fine. I recognise the pressure we are ALL under and realise that sometimes we say things we might not mean, I also acknowledge that on social media, the words we write can often come across as something different to what we actually meant but…this is NOT what happened here; this was selective Bullying. People were reading derogatory comments and joining in, it was made Personal, through targeted attacks on individuals; all who have been involving in online campaigning for the past 4 years at least. If this behaviour had happened on the street and from a group of non-disabled people, many of us would be, (rightly in my book) shouting about Hate Crime; this is how serious I take what has has occurred.

The outcome is not only, have the abused individuals felt the need to leave the unifying group, several have left the world of disability activism completely; and what a loss! All that knowledge and experience held by these individuals, lost from campaigning and no longer available to work on the real Fight.

To close, I want to state some of us are continuing to work on developing a unifying project for disabled people, a group that can challenge the Government with authority; but it is with great sadness that not only will the work be much more difficult without the lost expertise, but that we’ve lost true campaigners to bullying from within.

I hope that those involved in these abusive attacks realise the damage they’ve caused, not only to the individual victims of their abuse but to the disabled movement; remember when our enemies see this behaviour it only serves to further their cause.

ONLY TOGETHER CAN WE FIGHT FOR OUR SURVIVAL

Dear John Bercow – YOU can have #IDS Indicted

Who Will Watch the Watchmen?

An Open Letter to John Bercow

Dear John Bercow,

I was incredibly naive when I started campaigning for the rights of people with long term health conditions and disabilities.
I believed passionately in democracy and that here in the UK, we had one of the best political systems in the world.
I had always believed there were strict rules governing MPs and that they were held to account by customs and conventions that had served us for centuries. Sadly, that naivety is long gone.
Over the last 4 years, I’ve learnt that democracy is merely an illusion. I’ve learnt that a politician can do or say virtually anything he or she likes and no-one will do anything about it at all.
In the case of Iain Duncan-Smith, we have seen the results of a failure to govern the governors as never before. He has lied – not “misled” or “misdirected” – to parliament repeatedly. He has lied about who is affected by his “reforms”. He has lied about who is protected from them. He has lied about how much they have saved the treasury and he has lied about their efficacy. He has lied about the level of support for his changes and lied about the timescales of their delivery.
The results of his lies are clear for all to see. Vulnerable people he promised to support go hungry or are left without care or security. Nearly a million people have been driven to foodbanks. Homelessness has risen, the benefits bill has risen and the housing bill has risen. Sanctions have soared – over 500% in the case of those too unwell to work – and a fiscal black hole of billions is becoming apparent at the treasury as every one of his major schemes grinds to a halt. Universal credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Personal Independence payments, all have failed, leaving millions stuck in limbo.
Yet still Mr Duncan-Smith lies and still his lies go unchallenged.
This petition https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/investigate-ids-for-lies calls on parliament to investigate those lies and hold a full and transparent enquiry into his conduct. He has even repeatedly bullied the media not to hold him to account, can he bully you too? Is there no-one prepared to challenge this man and stop his inhumanity?
Campaigners will never rest until the scale of this man’s failures are clearly exposed to the public. Until his dishonesty is fully revealed. He will not be reshuffled or sent quietly away to “spend more time with his family”. No matter how long it takes, Iain Duncan-Smith will be shown as the cruel bully he is.
You could choose to make sure that happens sooner rather than later, before more thousands of lives are ruined by his incompetence and lies. You have the power to restore at least some of the democracy we have lost. But make no mistake, now or in the future, it will happen. I and many like me will make sure of it.
This letter is from the indomitable Sue Marsh , in support of the #TRUTH Campaign; Thanks Sue 🙂 xx

Are you in the ESA Support Group and have been asked to attend a Work Focussed Interview?

It would appear the DWP are up to their tricks again – threatening sick and disabled people with withdrawal of benefits unless they attend Work Focussed Interviews – Even those of us in the Support group!

Below is a Calling Notice from DPAC

DPAC have been getting information that people in the ESA Support Group are being required by JobCentre Plus offices to attend Work Focussed Interviews, under threat of benefits being withdrawn if you don’t go.

According to the DWP Webpage, if you are in the Support Group you “You don’t have to go to interviews, but you can ask to talk to a personal adviser. “, which should mean that they cannot require you to attend.

We are going to look closely at this and do whatever we can to get this stopped, but in order to do that we first need to gather information about how widespread this is, which areas it is happening in and how long it has been going on.

DPAC are asking for people to come forward  – if you are in the ESA Support Group and have been contacted by your Jobcentre to attend an interview, they would really like to hear from you, please email  atmail@dpac.uk.net and they will get back to you.

DPAC will deal with all emails in Complete Confidence. If you or someone you know has been called for a  Work Focussed Interviews Contact DPAC as soon as possible.

 

 Don’t let the DWP Bully you