Author: nld01

Committee discuss #SaveWILG

By visiting Senedd.tv and watching the Petitions Committee meeting from September 17, you can listen to probably the final discussion of the #SaveWILG campaign by the committee. 

Many thanks to the Petitions Committee for all the time and work put into considering the petition. I am glad to report that I received an email from the independent assessors this afternoon proposing the beginning of my assessment on October 1st.

The information below has been taken from the official minutes of Tuesday’s Petitions Committee meeting.

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P-05-771 Reconsider the closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant and support disabled people to live independently

Supporting documents:

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Disability Wales Press Release: ‘Action on Disability: The Right to Independent Living’

Below is a press release from Disability Wales on the launch of  ‘Action on Disability: The Right to Independent Living’. My views on this framework are not overwhelmingly positive, but it doesn’t really affect me that much. I will look more closely at this in future to see how it will affect my disabled brothers and sisters, but for now I have just had an email proposing the beginning of my independent assessment on October 1st. This has to be my priority for the time being.

I am delighted that I will soon be able to get on with the rest of my life thanks to our success with the #SaveWILG campaign and I look forward to my next project – whatever that might be.

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The ‘Action on Disability: The Right to Independent Living’ framework was officially launched by the Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, at a coffee morning with Bridgend Coalition of Disabled People on Wednesday (18th).

The framework has been created following extensive engagement with disabled people and the organisations who represent them. 

Focusing on the work being carried out across the country, it sets out the principles, legal context and commitments which will underpin all of the Government’s work with, and for, disabled people.

The framework’s main aims are to: 

  • Improve access to help, advice and services for disabled people in Wales
  • Promote equality of opportunity
  • Enable disabled people to more easily and readily access resources and mainstream services
  • Focus on the key issues identified by disabled people and set out what the Welsh Government can do to remove the barriers they face.

Craig Channell, 37, a member of the Bridgend Coalition, spoke about what the new framework meant to him:

The framework is to do with our rights as disabled people and to make sure everyone is doing all of it; making sure everyone is protected with education, housing, the services out there and things like that.

Hopefully there’ll be more support for people with disabilities. I think it’ll help us get to know our rights, my friends will know what support they can have. It’s great knowing we’re being included into the framework like this.

Kimberley Webber, 38, also a member of the Coalition, said:

There’s a lot more people out there backing disabled people than I knew and there’s not a lot of help at the moment but looking forward with this framework, plenty more people can help us. Even though we are disabled, we still have feelings. It’s knowing who you can approach with questions and people you can talk to for answers, which I didn’t have before.

The Deputy Minister and Chief Whip Jane Hutt, said:

This framework encourages firm action, giving the lead to those most affected by it.

The barriers which disabled people face are not just physical obstacles, they’re also the hurdles and blockages created by people’s and organisation’s attitudes.

Through in-depth conversations with a diverse range of disabled people, we quickly established local action would be crucial, so the framework has been created to reflect this and strongly encourages public services, employers and organisations at every level to take responsibility.

Rhian Davies, the Chief Executive of Disability Wales, said:

Disabled people comprise 26% of the Welsh population, yet encounter multiple barriers on a daily basis. These include ingrained poverty, lack of access to the local high street and public transport, challenges in obtaining appropriate support in the education system and discrimination in the workplace. 

Through the Framework for Action on Disability: the Right to Independent Living, the Welsh Government commits to systematically tackling these barriers and demonstrating leadership across the public sector and among employers in challenging negative attitudes and outdated stereotypes. A more equal Wales requires all citizens to prosper and achieve their full potential. 

The success of the Framework will be measured by the extent to which disabled people as a whole enjoy the same rights as others, are treated with respect and play a valued role in contributing to Welsh society.

Underlying the whole framework is the ‘Social Model of Disability’, a way of viewing the world which has been developed by disabled people. It states people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their impairment or difference, and recognises certain barriers makes life disproportionately and unfairly harder for disabled people. https://gov.wales/action-disability-right-independent-living-press-release

You can read and download a copy of the framework now on the Welsh Government website here: https://gov.wales/action-disability-right-independent-living-framework-and-action-plan

Welsh Labour Will Campaign to Remain

This morning I received an email from Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, outlining his party’s approach to the Brexit shenanigans. I thought I would share this below.

I have lots going on at the moment, as I am still waiting on my WILG assessment and am in the midst of a staffing crisis. My stress levels are through the roof, and I have decided not to attend the first session of the counselling course that I was due to begin tonight. However, I do not live in a bubble and I realise that this Brexit palaver needs to be put to bed as soon as possible, so that politicians can get to work on the multiple problems that have been ignored in the face of all this Euro nonsense.

I am not sure what exactly is my position on the Brexit debate. I just want to see the back to it all, but believe in Mark Drakeford and  his political acumen. Therefore, I am sharing his opinions.

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Dear Nathan,

Given the dramatic and worrying events in Westminster recently, I thought this would be a good time to write to you personally to set out the Welsh Labour Party’s position on Brexit.

Welsh Labour believes that Wales’ best interests will only be served by remaining in the European Union.

We campaigned for a remain vote in the 2016 referendum and nothing we have seen or learned in the three years’ since has changed our minds.

Any type of Brexit – even the softest possible – will cause potentially irreparable damage to Wales and its economy. This is because Wales is heavily dependent on manufacturing and agri-food and 60% of our exports go straight to the EU.

We will support all the efforts our colleagues in Westminster are taking to prevent the no deal Brexit, which the Prime Minister and the Tory government is hell-bent on pursuing.

Labour has made an unequivocal commitment to put the Brexit decision back to the people.

In that referendum, we, as Welsh Labour, must and will campaign to remain in the EU.

Yours in solidarity,
Mark Drakeford AM
Welsh Labour Leader and First Minister

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot

I have found a new hero.

John Callahan is someone to admire and revere. I have only just been introduced to his work, through the film ‘Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot’, which was sent to me by my friend Ted Eames.

After sharing this with my followers on Facebook, another of my good friends, Brian Hilton, alerted me to the documentary ‘Touch Me Someplace I Can Feel’. This is a magnificent slice of reality that allows me to relate to the cartoonist in so many ways. I found myself being filled with inspiration and fresh new ideas that will no doubt be highlighted on this blog in the coming months.

Who can fail to be inspired by quotes such as the following from ‘Touch Me Someplace I Can Feel’ ?

“Giving up is one of the best things you can do. Just finally give up. Trying to manage is just ridiculous really, because you just drive yourself crazy with your thoughts. I think surrendering to your real true nature, then, I think you have peace finally.”

Or cartoons like this:

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For now, I will just provide further information and details of the films I enjoyed so much over the past couple of rainy days.

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The following information has been taken from Wikipedia.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is a 2018 American comedy-drama film based upon the memoir of the same name by John Callahan.[4] Gus Van Sant wrote the screen adaptation and directed the film. The cast includes Joaquin PhoenixJonah HillRooney Mara, and Jack Black, and follows a recently paralyzed alcoholic who finds a passion for drawing off-color newspaper cartoons.

The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2018, and was released on July 13, 2018, by Amazon Studios.

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The following summary of ‘Touch Me Someplace I Can Feel’ has been taken from IMDb. 

This is a documentary about the provocative American cartoonist John Callahan. At the age of 21 Callahan got involved in a serious car-accident and was paralyzed from the waist down. Drawing cartoons has become his way to express himself although he can hardly use his hands. With a raw style, pen clutched between his hands, he draws cynical and ruthless observations of mankind. His work is praised and criticised. Callahan has provoked protest-marches and receives many angry letters. He was fired at The Miami Herald journal after drawing a cartoon in honour of Martin Luther King Jr. Day; a little boy with a wet spot on his pyjamas saying: “Mommie I had a dream”. Callahan does not understand why people get so upset about his work but he admits at having been an angry young man for a long time, trying to point the hypocrisy of people. Callahan also writes ànd sings songs. He likes to play the ukulele, something that is very hard for him to do. Of course the songs are no lullabies, lines like “Life is like a box of hand-grenades” and “Something always keeps me from committing suicide in the fall” reflect his way of thinking.

Touch me Someplace I Can Feel’ can be rented via YouTube. 

You can read all about John Callahan on his Wikipedia page.

 

Disability News Service: Labour ‘on collision course with UN and EHRC over independent living’

The following article has been written by John Pring and appears on his excellent Disability News Service website which can be found by clicking on this link.

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The Labour party is on a “collision course” with the equality and human rights watchdog and the United Nations because of its failure to accept the need for a legal right to independent living, according to a national network of disabled people’s organisations (DPOs).

The Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA) has called on Labour to join the TUC in backing its proposals for a new National Independent Living Support Service (NILSS) that would give disabled people crucial new rights to free support.

A meeting of ROFA members and supporters from across England agreed on Friday on their priorities for winning support for NILSS.

Among those priorities was to push Labour to include the plans in its next general election manifesto.

There was also “contempt” at the meeting for the Conservative-led government’s continuing failure to publish its own much-delayed plans for solving the adult social care funding crisis.

ROFA’s demands for a NILSS were first set out in January, in the Independent Living for the Future document, and backing for the plan appears to be growing.

On Friday, the Trades Union Congress passed a motion – proposed by Sean McGovern, co-chair of TUC’s disabled workers’ committee – that calls on the next Labour government to establish a NILSS.

The motion had been passed by TUC’s annual Disabled Workers’ Conference in May.

Such a service, running alongside the NHS, would provide a universal right to independent living, with support provided free at the point of need, funded by general taxation, managed by central government, and delivered locally in co-production with disabled people.

Similar motions have been passed by local Labour branches, with the hope that the proposals will be debated on the floor of the party’s annual conference in Brighton from 21 September.

And the day after Friday’s meeting, ROFA member Andrew Day passed Jeremy Corbyn a letter, when the Labour leader visited him during a visit to Norwich, in which he asked him to meet ROFA to discuss the NILSS proposals.

Mark Harrison, a ROFA member who helped draw up the strategy and took part in Friday’s meeting, said the disabled people’s movement was united behind NILSS.

He said the idea could be “transformational” if it was adopted by Labour as part of its general election manifesto.

But he said he did not believe that the party’s shadow social care minister, Barbara Keeley, had engaged with representative DPOs on social care and the right to independent living, as the party should have been doing because of principles laid out in article four of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Labour disputed this and insisted that Keeley had not refused to meet with RoFA, and “regularly consults with a range of stakeholders, including people with lived experience, on social care policy development”.

Harrison said Labour’s current policies on social care were “pathetic” and “neither transformational nor socialist”.

He said Labour was currently on a “collision course” with the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, which has called for the UK to introduce a legal right to independent living, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has also backed such a move.

Although Labour’s 2017 general election manifesto (PDF) promised to sign the UN convention into UK law, the party has since shied away from promising a legal right to independent living, which is offered by article 19 of the treaty.

Harrison said ROFA would hold the Labour party’s “feet to the fire” over independent living.

He said: “This could be a flagship commitment of a new Labour government coming to power.”

He also said there was “complete contempt” for the government at Friday’s meeting over its failure to publish its plans for social care, and for its own failure to engage with representative organisations of disabled people.

He said “momentum was building” behind the NILSS idea, and he added: “That was the good thing about Friday: the momentum is building up and people are really on it, determined that we are not going to let this one go.

“The Labour party should not be waiting. It should be engaging with us now.”

A Labour party spokesperson said: “The proposals fall across a range of government policy areas, from work and pensions and health and social care to justice.

“They will be considered carefully as part of Labour’s policy development process.”

She added: “Labour is committed to addressing the crisis in social care.

“Our plans for a National Care Service will provide dignity in older age, and independence and support for people with disabilities.

“Our plans will ensure that social care receives the funding it needs, at a time when Tory austerity has created the national crisis in social care.”

The Department of Health and Social Care had failed to comment by noon today (Thursday).

The Last Time? #SaveWILG

I received the following email to inform me that the Petitions Committee at the Senedd will be discussing my petition to Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant on Tuesday 17th September at 9.00.  This may be one of the final times that the petition is considered by the committee in question, considering how far we have come over the last seven months.

We are still waiting for our reassessments, but the end is in sight…

Nevertheless, I would still recommend that all those affected by WILG should tune in to the following:

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Dear Petitioner

Your petition will be considered at our next meeting on Tuesday 17 September at 9.00.

I enclose a link to the Agenda and Public Papers for your consideration:

http://www.senedd.assembly.wales/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=430&MId=5650&Ver=4

A live broadcast of the meeting will be available on Senedd TV at:

http://www.senedd.tv/

Kind regards,

Petitions Committee 

The Final Furlong #SaveWILG

I am up to my neck in negotiations with my local authority over emergency payments for my depleted Direct Payments account. It has taken a beating over the past six months, as I have been using it to fund the 24/7 support that I so desperately need. I had saved quite a sum to be used in such a situation – it was always going to happen, due to the fact that I live with a progressive disability and had not been fully reassessed since 2010.

I am pleased to report that, having met with the Head of Adult Social Care, WCBC have agreed to make the relevant payments to ensure that I can continue to receive the support I need, at least until the end of my forthcoming WILG reassessment.

There is one thing that I would like to make clear to WCBC and all local authorities. One of the meetings I recently had with WCBC, through up the question of where the additional funds that I am now in desperate need of, would come from? I was shocked and disappointed that WCBC and a number of other local authorities, do not seem to grasp the fact that the #SaveWILG campaign that I led, resulted in the Welsh Government agreeing to fund any extra costs incurred. This was clearly outlined in a written statement on the future of WILG payments, made by the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan on the 18th of July:

I would remind Members that the cost of these independent care assessments, and any additional support for people that might be identified from them, will be met by the Welsh Government. This is so that there can be no question of changes being made to people’s care and support as a cost cutting measure. The under-pinning principle of my approach is to ensure that outcomes reached are consistent with supporting people’s agreed well-being outcomes.

It is important that all local authorities realise that Ministers have agreed to fund any increased care costs that may arise from the outcome of an independent assessment.

Even though the #SaveWILG campaign has been extremely critical of local authorities in Wales over the past four years when dealing with WILG recipients, we have actually assisted cash-strapped councils by reducing the amount they are expected to pay to support disabled people with high support needs across Wales.

WILG recipients and their supporters need to remember this fact, and hammer it home when confronted by adult social care professionals who do not keep up with the news, or realise just what an impact the #SaveWILG campaign has had. The Welsh Government has actually done something pretty special and deserve all the credit in the world. They have listened to our fears, read the evidence we collected and acted decisively. Sadly, there is little room for any positive news in the media at the moment, as we are all obsessed with the actions of a Conservative Muppet and the mess he is making of the BREXIT debacle.

All we need to do now, is remind all local authorities of the changes that have been introduced…

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