EXCLUSIVE #Disability Discrimination means Son is removed from Home?

The following true tale is the introduction into what will be a series of posts regarding a seeming miscarriage of justice and potential disability discrimination; names have been changed to protect the identities of these involved. The purpose of this post is to help the family concerned achieve real justice; please share as widely as possible.

Alison is a single parent of14 year old Adam, both live with various diagnosed and pending diagnosis health disorders including Fibromyalgia and Elhers Danos; Alison is also Autistic and symptoms suggest Adam is as well.

Due to Adams health, he found it difficult to cope with school from the beginning and despite special educational needs intervention, including one to one lessons he struggled experiencing bullying which resulted in him developing depression. These experiences became worse during Adams transition from junior to senior school, so much so that in 2015, Alison began to home educate him. Utilising her qualifications in Advanced Sports Therapy, Holistic Therapies and counselling, Alison along with other professional devised and delivered a programme of education with a wide variety of skills and healthy activities. This proved very successful wih two reviews from the LEA and feedback from the young carers project Adam attended, resulting in him showing a general improvement in mental capacity, attitude and general happiness.

However despite the improvements in Adams education and development the local social services were unhappy and persuaded Alison to undertake a psychological assessment. This transpired to be 4 and ½ hours of Rorschach testing and a further 3 hours of probing of her medical history, during which time Alison without an advocate, perhaps understandably became extremely agitated. The findings of this assessment, which interestingly Alison’s own GP deemed totally unnecessary, was Alison being regarded as having Somatic Syndrome Disorder and thus influencing Adam into thinking he has medical conditions.  The findings despite an array of medical, educational and other evidence to the contrary, was then used by social services to go to court, the outcome being Alison was found to be unable to care for her son and Adam was removed from home and taken into care.

The court when considering Adams future, refused to consider the historical  and educational evidence of Adams physical and psychological health and relied entirely upon Alisons psychological assessment. The miscarriage of justice transpired therein as it appears that the psychological assessor determined: Alisons willingness and ability to research the most appropriate consultants for her sons health, indicates she is only willing to work with selected professionals; further it seems Alisons knowledge that her personal diagnoses of autism and elher danos both have a genetic pre-disposition to health issues, was considered by the assessor as a desire to transpose these onto Adam.

Further the court found that Adam should be taken into care permanently and that contact with his mother would only be regulated once Alison shows no further concern for the health of her son.

The second post will follow soon.

Advertisements

PIP – Permanently Irritation Persecution?

Recent experience leads me to ask the question what does is PIP – Personal Independence Payment OR Permanently Irritation Persecution?

In February  I wrote about how following the DWP rules resulted in my health deteriorating, since then it has been one thing after another. The report from Capita following this assessment  was dire, therefore it was back into the Mandatory Reconsideration process once again, and duly into the request for Tribunal.

I duly received my date for tribunal on May 26th and whilst preparing myself to attend at 10.00 am that morning I had a call from the court telling me the panel had adjourned the event as they wanted further information from my GP. This stunned me and I was left dealing with the vast amount of adrenalin coursing through my body, but I tried to focus on how this delay might well be a positive thing.

In regular circumstances I should have heard nothing more until the information had been accessed and the new date set; however this is the DWP we’re dealing with. Last Saturday (and I’m becoming convinced all of these letters are posted to arrive at the weekend), I received a letter from Capita stating as a result of my recent application for PIP I needed to arrange an assessment!! Yesterday whilst I was at my mums, my partner phoned the DWP and eventually was told this new assessment had been requested by the tribunal; he also called Capita who arranged for the assessment to be next Monday 13/6/16 .

Today I received a form from the tribunal  requesting my permission for them to contact my GP, so I called them to ask about the assessment request; only to be informed by the court they had not, nor could they, request another assessment!

I immediately phoned the DWP and after repeating the information to told my partner, was informed by this call centre person (Colin) they could not understand why he’d  been told this, and as far as Colin could see a new case (claim) had been opened on 25/5/16 and this was the reason for the assessment?!  After informing Colin of my Capita appointment he agreed to email the case manager for an urgent call back.

This is just another episode in the ongoing saga of my PIP claim; this causes me to question if the competence levels of the DWP are diminishing ever lower or is PIP merely another way for those in Government to further persecute the sickest members of society? What I do know is this seemingly endless torment is seriously screwing me up.

 

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?

#LetsTalkAbout Race; A white perspective on Challenging Rising Racism

Two articles in The Guardian caught my eye this week, the first considers a rush by Ofsted to tackle extremism in education as being “symptomatic of a political frenzy born of hatred“; the second is the editorial identifying “an overlooked report shows that employers trying to fill low-paid jobs draw migrants to the UK“.

Both of these posts allude to the current establishment revealing their true attitudes and apparently, despite the numerous changes to Law over of the past 50 or so years, the Elite along with I suggest many others, still hold Racist beliefs. Whilst this may not in itself seem shocking, I’d go so far to suggest it could with some work by us all, prove positive!

On the surface, this claim from a white woman may well seem plain wrong but please bear with me. I’ve argued for years that it’s so much easier to positively challenge sexist (and later ableist) attitudes and behaviour when they’re overt, rather than when ‘hidden’ under a façade of politically correct language and I suggest this might be the same for dealing with racism. Personally I much prefer to demonstrate how prejudicial attitudes are founded in mythology by use of facts and evidence, but this requires the challenger to hold the data and the holder of the prejudices to ‘own’ them, namely to say what they think and when such notions are however subtly obscured, this is much harder.

From my professional experience I understand that often people, of all self defined Races, find it hard to positively challenge Racism, for reasons  which are as variable as the people themselves. The classic argument for why people hold onto prejudice is usually summarised as being  ‘fear’ of the unknown, which has given rise to the raft of educational projects around difference, sharing experiences and stereotyping; but after half a Century of such, surely its time to acknowledge these soft approaches have only made the slightest impact.

The UK urgently needs a new way to talk about Race,  its now obvious the way of the recent past way, a refusal to acknowledge and discuss anything other than positive examples of so called cohesion has failed. The reality is Racism, along with all other prejudicial sentiments, not only exists but is thriving, and I believe this has gone some way to enable the rise in support for Right Wing Politics once again becoming mainstream, albeit wrapped up in UKIP.

The fundamental beliefs of segregation, obedience, and a natural order are not compatible with the world today, fortunately too many of us have been educated beyond the ideals of the local Lord and Squire; yet it is that world we are nonchalantly strolling backwards towards. We allow the Government to remove our freedom to education, movement, health and even a home, via electing those who would deny us such unless we have enough fiscal worth, and all the while blaming the worlds ills on immigration?

Perhaps I’m Naive, but I can’t accept this return to ignorance, feudalism and life by lottery of birth is what people really want; but if I’m correct then those of us opposing such must step up and accept, we have a large role to play.  Racism as we’re seeing above only occurs when the perpetrators feel safe, and they believe they have an audience to support them. It is our responsibility to let them know they are wrong.

For this reason, the fact that the aftermath of Operation Trojan Horse may as Zoe Williams suggests become this Governments Section 28 moment, offers opportunities for real challenges to Racism. Taking this a step further “the saga of the Hungarian sandwich-makers” and the totally hypocritical stance of Government, on of the scandal of business owners actively recruiting migrant low paid workers, is another argument that demonstrates how the establishment thinks about Race.

Both the articles indicate how Race and indeed all isms, are still thriving among those in Power.  Whilst this is illegal, immoral and downright unacceptable, the fact this perspective is once again becoming  open, offers us an excellent opportunity to unreservedly challenge these prejudices, preventing yet more Discrimination. Unless we really desire a return to the ‘good’ old days, we with any privilege left must use it and challenge this Racism as the vile bigotry it is.

Thanks to MHealth Extremist @wildwalkerwoman for editing xxx

 

 

 

 

Political Fury and Personal Responsibility

Once again I’m finding it difficult to sit down and write, I’m finding myself inundated with the appalling tales of life in the UK today; this week I’ve internally wept (there is a reason why only internally, but that is a tale for another day) as I read of IDS laughing  as a rape victim was forced to defend her right to feel safe in her own home as it was debated a PMQ. I Squealed when the DWP refuted hard evidence of people using foodbanks due to Benefit issues and this fury continued as the blogs I follow come in to my inbox daily with stories of people suffering or even dying.

Today we all got up to, unless of you stayed up to watch,  the news the UKIP have their second MP. I freely admit  I have a problem with this; I really do not understand why anyone would want a Government of a) the same as now but worse or b) a Right Wing Government many of our grandparents went to war to fight?

Why oh Why are people, often those detrimentally affected by the Policies and behaviour of the Coalition, not supporting the fight back?

As l regular readers will know I’ve spent my life, campaigning against injustice, prejudice and discrimination; I’ve also been responsible along with Debbie Sayers for the #TruthCampaign –  our efforts to have Iain Duncan Smith forced to answer for the discriminatory Policies of the Welfare Reform Act.

Last year over 500.000 people signed to have him held to account by the select committee, and he was; now we want more we are demanding Kathryn Hudson, the Parliamentary Commissioner For Standards,  investigate him for persistently misleading both Parliament and the Public, But…for some reason getting the signatures is proving problematic, I’m unsure if it is because people don’t get why it is important,  they think its not worth doing or they just aren’t bothered?

Whatever the reasons people are not signing IDS – TIME TO STOP THE LIES, I will keep pushing; I believe, an investigation of IDS would prove a catalyst for ensuring both the Tories and Labour to rethink their proposals for their Election Manifesto. If we can show Ministers will be held personally responsible for the fallout of  discriminatory, unfair and downright deadly Policies, I doubt they’d be as keen to continue to blame us.

If you agree with anything here, please continue to share our petition and let’s take some our of power  back.

Sign Up to the #TruthCampaign  Tweet #IDSTimeForTruth

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

Together We ‘Minorities’ CAN beat the Uphill Struggle for Equality

A new report from the uni of Sheffield has found Welfare reform reinforces growing class prejudice reminiscent of Victorian era –

” many people now attribute unemployment and poverty to the failings of individuals, rather than to structural weaknesses in the British economy and entrenched socio-economic inequalities. Worryingly, negative views around welfare were also extended to the physically disabled and mentally ill. The research therefore suggests that, in the aftermath of the recession, there has been a decline in empathy and understanding for some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised groups in our society

Today the Guardian have turned over comment is free to black contributors, this is fantastic and exactly what we need more of as according to FleetStreetFox  “it’s 2014 and we’re speaking about foreigners in much the same way we did 100 years ago, with just as much nastiness, stupidity and flawed logic“. Other reports have arrived at similar conclusions, both the British Social Attitude survey and the Archbishop of Canterbury have shared concerns about the rise in racism. As a white woman I can’t speak on what this means in everyday day, but I empathise from the perspective of being disabled; I also accept it is my responsibility to challenge any racist attitudes wherever I find them.

I can’t help thinking this decline in empathy and understanding has something to do with the lack of challenge from the Country’s’ leaders towards prejudice, instead the current Political discussion is full of ‘blame culture’. When comments such as “we’re like under siege’ from ‘huge numbers’ of migrants“,  “some” disabled people are “not worth the full wage”, “Women ‘to blame’ for being raped” or  ‘people getting really good benefits are going to charity food banks; not only go with out challenge but are also regularly justified by skewed statistics pulled from the ether, we as a nation, are  in trouble.

The ease with which we can find comments like the above, and blogs and posts from people experiencing not only an increase in prejudice, but also discrimination, is terrifying;  further it is hard evidence of the reality of life in Britain for many of us from the ‘minority’ sectors of society. Continuing to to accept our problems are the fault of other minority group members, and, or choosing to believe the bigoted hype of the elite ran main stream media, can only result in the continuing collapse of the society we’ve grown up with. Acknowledging our own prejudices and electing to view them from the other side  is the way we individually fight back.

The really crazy thing about this, is we the ‘minorities’ actually  form a ‘majority’, and the only thing holding us back, are our individual fears of difference and of change. As a long time community activist I believe in people, not in a notion that all people are good, but in the belief we are better when we come together. As a collective sharing our strengths, skills knowledge and experiences we individually grow more powerful; but together we become formidable and through utilising the diversity, we can create change.

It is only by using our collective strengths we can challenge the structural weaknesses and demand the changes to the existing socio-economic inequalities that encourages prejudice to grow, thus ensuring our children and grandchildren benefit from a fairer and more equal society.

Together We Are STARS shining in the  dark and fighting against the Capitalist Light Pollution