On April 25th, the #Right2IL Campaign was launched in Parliament. Unfortunately, I could not be there so I wrote the following which was read out by my good friend and comrade, Ellen Clifford.
Apparently, the message was well-received. I am looking forward to playing my part in the fight for the rights of disabled people to be recognised.
“Good afternoon to everyone and apologies that I cannot be present today. As a disability activist who has spent the last 4 years campaigning for the protection of independent living for former ILF recipients in Wales, I feel that it is important to contribute to the meeting. I believe that it is essential that disabled people in Wales are also represented in the creation of any independent living scheme that we campaigned for.
The Welsh Independent Living Grant was given to former ILF recipients as a temporary measure while future arrangements were discussed. In November 2016, the Welsh Government announced they would be scrapping the grant and transferring all funds to local authorities. This could not be allowed to happen and we have campaigned tirelessly and imaginatively to push the Welsh Government into making a u-turn. Independent Social Workers and extra funds have been promised by the Welsh Government to ensure former ILF recipients can remain in their local communities.
Even though the #SaveWILG campaign has been a success in protecting the rights of former ILF recipients, the Welsh Government are not planning to extend these rights to disabled people who missed out on the ILF. Our campaign has produced a positive result for approximately 1,300 of us, but this does not mean we can forget about those who never received the Welsh Independent Living Grant. We do not believe any disabled people with high support needs should be purely at the mercy of cash strapped local authorities.
The tripartite system that the ILF established – between recipient, local authority and independent social worker – should be something that we all receive. I would welcome the opportunity to be part of the ROFA campaign and share the skills and tactics that we have built up during our successful campaign. Please do keep in touch and let me know how the people of Wales can get involved. There may be a different legal system in Wales to contend with, but I believe that any Welsh Political Party – with the possible exception of Plaid Cymru – would welcome the opportunity to work with the UK Government to protect disabled people with high support needs.
My contact details are as follows:
Many thanks for allowing me to be part of your discussion and let us hope that this is the beginning of a new campaign that will result in justice for disabled people and their families.
Solidarity to you all.
Disabled People Against Cuts have launched a campaign that I will be taking part in, to try to preserve independent living for disabled people with high support needs across England and Wales.
The campaign was launched on April the 25th in the Houses of Parliament. Sadly I couldn’t be there that day, but I did write a message for my comrades who made it down to London. I will be sharing this message in a future blog as it was written on behalf of everyone involved with the #SaveWILG Campaign.
Below I have copied one of the postcards that we are hoping to send to MPs, AMs, the media and activists to mobilise support in these terrifying times.
Look out for more about this crucial campaign over the coming months, when you will get plenty of chances to become involved in a campaign that will make a huge difference to the lives of so many…
I am writing to ask you to support a bold new vision for independent living* for the future.
The social care and mental health systems are currently in crisis and as a result disabled people’s rights to an adequate standard of living, to dignity and inclusion and to equal participation in society are being taken backwards.
In its present state, the system is not fit to respond to current needs, let alone predicted greater needs in future. Disabled people’s experiences of support are subject to a post code lottery and differ considerably depending upon impairment.
Disabled people and our organisations are calling for a better system guaranteeing consistent levels of adequate support. This will not only benefit us and our families but will strengthen wider society, save costs in other areas and produce social and economic benefits.
You can read about our vision for a national independent living support system here: https://dpac.uk.net/2019/04/a-national-independent-living-support-service/
Please sign up in support and help us reclaim disabled people’s futures by making our vision reality.
*The phrase ‘independent living’ is not about disabled people doing things on our own, it means having choice and control over our own lives, being included in the community and having the same chances to take part as other people.
I will be distributing the postcards above in the near future. Your support would be much appreciated. Further details will be posted here soon.
It wasn’t planned or anything. Promise.
Last night I attended An Evening with Mark Drakeford – a Clwyd South CLP event in Llangollen.
About this Event
An opportunity to meet Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford in Llangollen.
There will be an introduction from local AM Ken Skates and your £10 ticket includes a light buffet. There will also be a bar and a raffle with a range of prizes to be won.
The First Minister spoke brilliantly at this event about the forthcoming EU elections, the rise of the far right and the achievements of Welsh Labour. One of the four Welsh Labour candidates in the forthcoming EU elections – Mary Wimbury – also roused the audience and explained why she needed their support. It was also good to catch up with Ken Skates AM, who I used to work with at North Wales Newspapers, and Susan Elan Jones MP who supported me throughout the campaign.
The personal highlight of the evening though came with the drawing of the raffle. I had bought two strips of tickets and was fortunate enough to have one of my numbers plucked from the hat by the First Minister himself at the start of the draw. I therefore had my choice of all the prizes on offer and chose a bottle of whiskey from the House of Commons which can be seen below.
This is something I will enjoy once I have finished my WILG reassessment and all former ILF recipients in Wales are happy with the support they are receiving…
This will certainly be a good reason to raise a glass to the efforts of this proudly socialist Welsh Government.
A memo leaked to us shows that DWP are planning to tell lots and lots of fairytales about how well Universal Credit is working. This is not our experience or the experience of anyone we have contact with.
On Friday May 31st DWP are launching a misleading advertising campaign with a wrap around on the Metro free paper.
This is costing quarter of a million pounds of our money meanwhile they have robbed millions from women pensioners, disabled people, women and children all of whom have been pushed deeper and deeper into poverty, and despair. Many have been forced to resort to prostitution and crime in order to survive.
DWP must be stopped from using the media to spread their lies so we’re calling on all of those affected and those who care about the truth to do what we’ve done with the Mail and Sun before and go to your nearest train and tube station or any other locations where the Metro is given out free and remove or otherwise prevent as many as possible to be read.
This is nothing short of a propaganda war which we must win. Please ask friends and family to help with this task and share this request on social media.
We are preparing a dossier to complain to the advertising standards authority but let’s make sure the Metro never want another DWP advert again.
DISCLAIMER: The following blog is written totally independently from McDonald’s Corporation. Great Tastes of America is a registered trademark and I am not associated with the product line in any way. I am not seeking to promote or disparage the American fast food giant in any way, shape or form. All opinions expressed below are personal to me and my Socialist background. I should add that anything written on these blogs should be taken with a pinch of salt – sachets available from McDonald’s counters.
In the first of a new series, I will be eating and reviewing the Great Tastes of America range of burgers from popular fast food chain, McDonald’s.
I am unhappy about this for a number of reasons – from calories to Capitalism – but it is a good writing mechanism for me to hang my anger at modern society upon. I will be forcing fast food meals down my fat face for the next 12 weeks (one every fortnight) while discussing everything that I find unappetising about the modern world we live in.
The first Taste of America burger is The New York Stack. This is a burger made up of two 100% beef burgers with bacon, pickles, cheese, tomato ketchup, chunky coleslaw, mustard and lettuce in a sesame seed bagel.
This was a very nice burger. I am not going to go over the top, but the pickle in this burger did remind me of the time I enjoyed in Tom’s Restaurant, New York City back in 1999.
The exterior of the diner featured in popular TV sitcom, Seinfeld. Inside was a traditional NYC diner and a massive, greasy burger was polished off, no problem. It was helped by the fact that it was served with a massive gherkin on the side of the burger and fries, that added acidic sweetness to compliment the mountain of meat I had been served.
It didn’t compare to my experience in ’99, as the meat was not as substantial and there was no romance after trudging through an anonymous town in North Wales, to get my hands on the same burger that was being peddled across our bland, identikit nation.
As I am trying to eat sensibly, I only opted for the regular sized burger, and fries while managing to resist the Nacho Cheese Wedges and Aero Peppermint McFlurry. I don’t want to totally ruin my health and my taste-buds while writing this series of blogs. Instead, I want to use these reviews – of what are ultimately unsatisfying mouthfuls of future faeces – to lead me into a discussion of all the unappetising aspects of modern life. There are many, and the only question I need to ask is, ‘where the bloody hell should I start?’
I’m alone, depressed and angry. I’m abandoned and left to struggle without the support needed to live independently, despite campaigning tirelessly for four years to help others.
I won’t go into detail ATM as I am without typing support and am both hungry and thirsty – I can access water bottles, but can’t drink as my urinal is three-quarters full of steaming hot piss and needs emptying before being used again.
Instead, I want to share a bible story with you all from the little known book of Nathan, pose the question “Who is my neighbor?” and ask YOU if this is the kind of selfish society that you always dreamt of?
In the Gospel of Nathan, the parable is introduced by a question, known as the Great Commandment:
Behold, a certain person stood up and tested him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to become a decent human?”
He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”
He answered, “You shall love all people regardless of gender, race, religion with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.”
He said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live. You may want to draw the line at Tory cabinet members and hatemongers such as Farage, Trump and Robinson. I think that’s fair enough.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, asked Nathan, “Who is my neighbour?”— Nathan 10:25-29,
Nathan replies with a story:
“A certain man was going down from Stansty to Rhosddu, and he fell among Conservative and Independent councillors AKA robbers, who stripped him of mental and physical well-being, leaving him half dead. By chance a wealthy banker was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Welshman also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Cestrian as he travelled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two quid for he was last of the big spenders, gave the coin to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’ Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?”
He said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Nathan said to him, “Go and do likewise.”Did he listen? Did he fuck.— Nathan 10:30–37
Re-assessments of severely disabled people unhappy with their care packages will not begin before July.
The Welsh Independent Living Grant has ended with councils funding care for more than 1,000 people receiving it.
In February, the Welsh Government announced anyone unhappy with their new council care package would be offered independent re-assessments.
Plaid Cymru said the wait was “way too long”. The Welsh Government has been asked to respond to the criticism.
In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Welsh Government told BBC Wales it has set aside up to £60,000 to pay an independent organisation to do the reassessments.
It anticipates the contract will be awarded by the end of June and re-assessments will begin in July.
£2.4m per year has also been budgeted, “for planning purposes”, to cover the potential costs of any increased packages.
157 people out of 1,174 assessed by their councils by the end of last year had had their support reduced.
There have been big regional variations, with cuts most common in Wrexham, Newport and Ceredigion.
The WILG was introduced in Wales to replace the UK-wide Independent Living Fund (ILF), which was closed down by the UK government in 2015.
In a letter to ex-WILG recipients, Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan said their “patience” would be appreciated.
“I do not want people to be waiting for an independent assessment,” she said.
“However, it is important to organise these independent assessments properly, so that they meet the required standards.”
Plaid Cymru’s social justice spokeswoman Leanne Wood questioned whether the reassessments were necessary.
“Initially many of these people were given an award for life and going through a reassessment process is extremely stressful,” she said.
“Particularly if you have a condition that everybody knows is not going to improve, it’s only going to deteriorate.
“So putting people through those reassessments is potentially problematic but at the same time this does need to be resolved quickly.”
Nathan Davies, a Labour member and founder of the Save WILG campaign, said the wait was “inconvenient” but criticised the previous Welsh Labour Government, led by Carwyn Jones, which made the initial decision to transfer the responsibility to councils.
“The fact that they [the current Welsh Government] are having to do this work now is because the previous neo-liberal regime did not listen to our campaign team and disregarded the evidence that we presented.
“The fact that we are having to endure an uncomfortable few months is totally down to them and a number of irresponsible local authorities.”
You can see more on this story on the BBC Wales Live programme at 22:30 BST on Wednesday BBC One Wales, and then on BBC iPlayer
I received the following email this morning, concerning the International Welsh Poetry Competition. This is something that I wrote about at the beginning of the year, when I was intending on entering a poem of my own.
There is now no way I will meet the deadline for entries, but even if I was in a poetic mood then I don’t think I would put my work up for the competition. I believe that all art is subjective, and cannot be judged in such a objective manner.
No one is getting the opportunity to say that their poem is better than one of mine, just like I would never say that my poetry is superior to anyone else’s.