Saturday 7 January 2012

First They Ignore You. Then They Laugh At You. Then They Fight You. And Then We Win.

Some much needed positive news....

As most of you know Sue Marsh has been co-ordinating a report researched, authored and funded by sick and disabled people which is released formally on monday.

As happens with every government welfare report, mysteriously, somehow, details leaked out to the media yesterday and so the coverage has already started. It turns out that Boris Johnson's submission to the DLA reform consultation which closed in February 2011 was the smoking gun we needed and the government hoped no-one would ever find. The Mayor's submission stood out from the other consultation responses, not because it was supportive of our claims (almost all the submissions were) but because it was incredibly thoughtful, well written and researched. Some people are concerned that this may be to do with forthcoming mayoral elections. Whilst we understand the concern, we do not believe that is the case as the Mayor's submission was completed in February 2011 along with all the other submissions. It would be very helpful if we could all let Boris Johnson know how much we appreciate his carefully considered and supportive statement over the weekend.

We desperately need to keep up the momentum over the weekend to ensure this becomes an even bigger story.

We all need to pull together to make this happen. If everyone shares the news on their facebook, twitter, google+, blog, email list, friends, family etc we can keep the focus on the report.

AllBigIdeas is collating a list of the news articles here and so far we've had coverage in;

The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Mirror and The Mail!! Yes, you read that correctly. No you're not dreaming. The Daily Mail have actually covered a welfare story, from a welfare campaigners perspective and had to include the fact that the fraud rate for DLA is only 0.5%. Left Foot Forward have always led the way amongst the political blogs with their support for sick and disabled people's campaign against the Welfare Reform Bill and have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help us. They would never ask us for anything in return, but one way we can all thank them for their support is to ensure their articles are widely publicised.

So please, share these stories everywhere, with everyone you know. Leave your opinion in the comment threads, email the papers, contact your local media, tell everyone and anyone. Keep watch here, on Sue's blog and The Broken of Britain and Where's The Benefit for us letting you know the latest developments and most of all take a moment to step back and think.

Finally we are breaking through. We can be ignored no longer. We have truth and justice on our side. The next few weeks will be the fight of our lives, but no-one is better prepared for that than us. We are people who face and overcome challenges in our everyday lives bigger than many ever have to face in a lifetime. We are used to dealing with confusing bureaucracy, lack of proper support and having to find our own solutions. Above all we know how to endure, that however dark the night, tomorrow will be another day and eventually we find another way.

If you are scared, remember you are not alone. We have come together to show the true power of our community and that we will not be ignored. If you think you won't be affected by these cuts, remember those who will. If you think it'll never happen to you, remember anyone's life can and does change in an instant. We fight this battle not just for ourselves, but for you, your family and loved ones to make sure that in the darkest times of your life the protection you need and have given to us will be there for you.

With love from Kaliya and Sue.

"Alone We Whisper. Together We Shout"

Monday 2 January 2012

Open Comment to Liam Byrne

I just posted this in response to Liam Byrne's article in the Guardian.

"And what do you propose Liam? When you disappear off into your think tanks and focus groups?

For over a year, you have avoided meeting with me. You promised, but you haven't discussed your plans with sick and disabled people.

You talk of "unearned support" Liam, but this is the Guardian! Here, on these comment threads, we all know the details of ESA, DLA, contributory time limiting and independent living funds very well - almost certainly much, much better than you do Liam. We know about the hundreds of thousands terrified about what happens to those who CANNOT earn support. Until recently, we believed you gave it freely.

You have the audacity to attack an erosion of ESA?(time limiting) When it was your government who introduced this terrible failure? Your government who wrote the descriptors making it simply impossible for many conditions to qualify? "like employment and support allowance that working people have actually paid in for."

Then, you dare to criticise the appeals system for the failure of ESA? When you have ignored me and Kaliya Franklin and all others who have been trying to warn you for years? When we warned you repeatedly? when we tried everything, some risking their lives to engage with you? "current chaos in the assessment of those on disability benefits, with spiralling appeal times and poor back-to-work support, deeply troubling."

You let Ed loose in the Daily Mail then think you can throw us a bone with a few tag on lines about ESA and disability? We already know this is a pattern! Give the scroungers a good kicking then say something nice and fluffy about sick and disabled people in the Guardian.


I strongly recommend you stop dreaming up ways in which the welfare state can be auctioned off to the highest private bidder - even planning the very systems in partnership with those very same businesses and insurers.

I suggest you :

Listen to the suggestions and alternatives of disabled people.
Look at our ideas and policy suggestions
Stop designing policy based on a complete disregard for the evidence
IMMEDIATELY stop reinforcing the scrounger narrative - it makes a Labour Party look utterly ridiculous and confirms dangerous stereotypes.

We will win the public Liam. I promise you. By 2015, we will have made this the "NHS 1997" issue.

So stop casting around for spurious, tough-talk soundbites, that conveniently stuff a few billion more in private pockets and get a real strategy on disability.

I suggest you do it very quickly indeed. Those prepared to apologise for these failures may retain some credibility.

The arrogant will simply be exposed as those who oversaw the biggest abuse of sickness and disability rights and protections since the welfare state was introduced."

Sunday 1 January 2012

A New Year's Message From The Broken Of Britain

"There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken,
a shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow beyond grief which leads to joy
and a fragility out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart as we break open
to the place inside which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing."

~ Rashani