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Making a Stand

Twelve months ago, Ian Parry and myself – both life-long supporters of Wrexham AFC – wrote the following resolution to be put to the Wrexham Supporters Trust AGM:

It has come to our attention that Wrexham AFC, whether through a lack of finance, vision or compassion, have let the proposed building of further wheelchair viewing platforms become an infuriatingly long drawn out and laborious, unfinished, process.

Since the opening of the inaugural platform  in 2015 by Lord Faulkner of Worcester, Wrexham AFC has had an abundance of positive nationwide publicity regarding this new facility for disabled fans. However, instead of striding forward and consolidating this with additional facilities, the club has rested on its laurels and appears content to sit back and accept the plaudits for achieving the implementation of a single solitary wheelchair viewing platform.

We believe that rather than this be the minimum requirement it should have indeed been a catalyst for further development and an opportunity to show many other clubs how to accommodate and welcome disabled supporters.

The official capacity of My Racecourse is quoted as 10,500 and according to the recently published “Green Guide” it states that “there should be 100 wheelchair spaces in a venue of 10,000 or more seats” At the moment My Racecourse has 6 designated wheelchair spaces on the wheelchair viewing platform, whilst the other “designated” wheelchair spaces are in fact seats designed for able bodied supporters where wheelchair users are expected to comfortably position themselves; more often with a carer squeezing in alongside.

Many disabled Wrexham fans attend matches in all weather conditions and deserve at least the basic right of shelter. Additional and improved disabled viewing facilities would show that the club does indeed care, recognises and appreciates their dedicated support.

We note that the club originally applied for funding for 3 platforms at £18,000 each in 2014/15.

Our Resolution is this:-

That WST agree:

  1. To have designated wheelchair and carer bays at the front of the Hays Travel stand.
  2. That the club take action as soon as possible on further platforms as soon as funding is in place, and the plans have been passed by Wrexham Council and by the Safety Officer.
  3. That these new facilities are not tied in to, or dependent upon, any other stadium redevelopments.
  4. That the club meets minimum standards of accessibility at the earliest possible opportunity.

 

It is time for the 2019 AGM, which takes place on 27th June. You would have expected much progress to have been made to enable wheelchair spectators such as myself and Ian, to enjoy an afternoon at the Racecourse with fellow fans. Unfortunately, next to no progress has been made and we are still watching 80% of games at pitch-level at the front of the stand. This section does not provide adequate cover, so we are often at the mercy of the elements. This pitch-side area has not even been specifically designated as we called for last year.

I can’t speak for Ian, but I have had enough of being treated like a second-class citizen. It is no fun watching a poor standard of football from pitch-level, with the threat of getting soaked from threatening rain clouds that seem to gather all too frequently.

Every so often, we may be lucky enough to get a space on the platform. This is rightly run on a rota basis, to ensure that everyone gets a chance to use this excellent facility. The platform gives wheelchair users an excellent overview of the action, while surrounded by their fellow supporters. It is this inclusion, that makes going to games enjoyable – even if it is a goalless encounter with Borehamwood.

The football club have proposed the building of a second platform, but it should be noted that many DSA members are not particularly enthused with the solution that the club have put forward. This is due to the fact that the intended platform will be situated in no-man’s land, between vocal home and away fans. This is clearly not the safest place to spend 90 minutes. The DSA had originally proposed the removal of a couple of rows of seats in a specific part of the ground, but such proposals – there were two of them – were scrapped as it seems potential profit from maximum capacity, is more important than providing equal access to all. This is very disappointing from a former community club.

A focus-group was set up to consider the building of a second platform. This was made up of representatives of the club board, DSA committee members and the DLO. The last meeting of this focus-group was nine months ago, which shows how highly it is being prioritised by those hell-bent on a return to the Football League – never mind the cost.

As a result, I will not be renewing my season ticket and will only be going to games at the Racecourse when it is my turn on the rota for the platform. Instead, I will be watching football matches at various different grounds, with one ear on the Wrexham score. I will always love and support the club, but I cannot be disregarded and humiliated any further. By writing posts like these, I hope to tap in to some common decency that will help the club find the motivation to work on the resolution,that was passed overwhelmingly by club owners, twelve months ago…

COYR.

Since writing this, it has come to my attention that the issue of a second disabled platform is back on the club’s agenda. I am not holding my breath for any improvement in the near future, but I would love to be proved wrong. It is about time the club concentrated on becoming a true community club where everyone is welcomed and included.

 

Captain Courageous Keeps Up the Fight

I was shocked and saddened to read about Fernando Ricksen and his battle with Motor Neurone Disease.

The former Glasgow Rangers captain featured on an ITV News report that I found very difficult viewing due to his admirable determination in the face of tragic injustice. 

Of course, this situation causes to me to think of my own condition, and while I do not want to measure my circumstances against the unfortunate positions of others – it is not a bloody competition – I can’t help relating and empathising in some small way with Fernando.

This is not the time, nor the place, to discuss the frustrations of living with Friedreich’s Ataxia, but I wanted to send my love and support to Fernando and his family during this tough time. I do hope that the world of football can help to fund research into MND and give hope to future individuals suffering from this cruel condition.

I encourage all readers to donate to MND Connect and help Fernando make a difference during the precious time he has left. The work that the Dutchman is doing now will be of greater value to society than any of his achievements on the football field.

Keep fighting Fernando…

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This image is used without the permission of the owner. It was found on Google images and I am taking absolutely no credit for the image above. If the photographer comes forward he/she would be fully credited for their excellent shot. 

Part -Time Position Available

I am in search of new staff to work alongside me as a personal assistant. This is a fulfilling role that gives you the chance to make a difference to someone else’s life. I am looking for someone who is punctual, reliable, a team player and can be flexible. Word processing skills and a full driving licence are also essential.

There are between 12-15 hours available, though there is the potential for more hours to cover holidays and sickness. This is an ideal opportunity for a student looking to gain experience in in social care sector or anyone who wants to put their time to good use.

Drop me a line via the Contact page, Facebook or Twitter. Good luck.

***

Rate of Pay: Flat Rate: £9.50 per hour  – Weekly Hours: To be discussed at interview.

About the employer:

This post is to support a sociable 42-year-old man living in the Wrexham area. He uses a wheelchair and lives with Friedreich’s Ataxia. Subsequently he requires support to remain independent. An intelligent author and disabled activist with a good sense of humour, he remains ambitious and adventurous. He enjoys company and likes to go out socialising.

Summary of duties:

To provide support to access various social and recreational activities. You must therefore have a clean driving license. You will need to support with his personal care, including toileting, washing, dressing and preparing meals. He is a very creative individual and requires support to develop his ideas. Due to his poor dexterity he struggles to type quickly – as a writer this is most frustrating – therefore you should have good word-processing skills.

A full driving license is also required as he often attends meetings throughout the North Wales and North West area.

Support with gardening and household tasks.

The post will include 5.6 weeks paid annual leave (pro-rata)

Police records check funded by the employer will be required.

The person they are looking for:

The ideal person will have a good sense of humour and should also display plenty of energy, initiative and enthusiasm. In addition, applicants should be patient and trustworthy with a flexible and empathetic attitude. A positive attitude and clear understanding of confidentiality is essential. Promoting the independence of the client will be the main focus for any support.

You must be reliable, friendly, flexible and punctual.

Times Required:

The specific hours that need covering at the moment are Friday mornings 08.30-15.00, and Thursday mornings 08.30-10.30.

Holiday and Sickness Cover is also available.

 

WLG/Momentum AGM #SaveWILG

At the weekend I travelled to the Welsh Labour Grassroots/Momentum AGM in Llandrindod Wells. It was a positive meeting that proved very productive. The opportunity to mix with fellow comrades from across Wales is always welcome as we attempt to build upon our strong Socialist foundations.

At the end of the meeting, I asked Adam Samuels – my first port of call whenever presented with challenges throughout the #SaveWILG campaign – to say a few words about the need to alert WILG recipients to the opportunity in front of them. After doing this, he passed me the microphone.

Since 2013 I have been noticing increased difficulties when speaking to large audiences. I tend to get very anxious and struggle to get my words out clearly while my chest tightens. In addition, as people listen to the verbal gems that can be heard beneath the increasingly slurred speech, I find that I have no control over my hands or arms. It is almost like an out of body experience, and very frightening. Friedreich’s Ataxia, mixed with general anxiety does not make a good combination…

Anyway, I must have been intelligible, as after waffling on for a couple of minutes my comrades were kind enough to give me a standing ovation. It was truly appreciated and meant the world to me to receive such a reaction from socialists I admire deeply. I had been talking about how the remarkable levels of support that I have received throughout the #SaveWILG campaign had kept me motivated and determined to succeed. I could not have continued to fight without the help and assistance that I received from others.

I really wish I had been able to soak up the ovation, rather than battling with my body in an attempt to remain conscious. It is a really scary situation but my genetic condition is obviously getting worse. Such health concerns were not present when I began the campaign, but the fight has taken so much out of me. This is why it is important that as many WILG recipients as possible, benefit from the opportunity to work with an independent social worker and ensure they are able to live the lives they choose based on what they actually need, rather than local authority budget restraints.

With the campaign drawing to a close – don’t get me wrong, I am still keeping my eye on the ball – I am wondering what to do next. I have several irons in the fire, but first of all I need to concentrate on my body to try to make sure I am around to help other campaigns for a good while yet.

 

Disability News Service: Appeal to hundreds across Wales to seek independent assessments of support needs #SaveWILG

The following article was written by John Pring and appears on the excellent Disability News Service website, which can be accessed by clicking here.

***

A disabled campaigner is encouraging hundreds of recipients of support through the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) scheme to consider taking up the government’s offer of an independent re-assessment of their care package.

The Welsh government announced in February that it was pausing the closure of the WILG scheme – and its replacement with a system of council-funded support – following a campaign by disabled activists and allies.

Julie Morgan, the Welsh government’s deputy minister for health and social services, then wrote last month to all WILG recipients to tell them they could ask for a reassessment of their care package if they were unhappy with the outcome of their local authority’s assessment of their post-WILG needs or if that assessment had not yet taken place.

And she assured them that the Welsh government would pay for the independent assessment and any extra care and support they might need as a result.

Morgan has now written to Nathan Lee Davies, the WILG recipient who led the campaign to halt the closure of the scheme, updating him on the government’s progress.

She told him that only 26 WILG recipients had so far requested a re-assessment, across 10 local authorities.

Morgan said in her letter: “It is important that those people who wish to have an independent assessment are able to access it, but this is also in the context of the large number of people who we know are content with their new arrangements.”

Davies believes about 1,300 disabled people are eligible for a re-assessment, and fears that many WILG recipients are being held back from requesting a re-assessment.

He is now calling on all those WILG recipients who are not happy with their care and support package to ask for an independent assessment.

Davies, who has himself requested an independent assessment, said: “I started this campaign four years ago, after a social worker warned me that without the WILG my hours of support would be reduced from 86.5 hours a week to just 31 hours per week.

“I would be unable to maintain any quality of life without a substantial increase in my support and any reduction would leave me struggling to exist rather than living the life that I choose.

“The use of an independent social worker allows me to be assessed purely on my physical and mental needs.

“I feel that social workers from local authorities are under pressure from their managers to reduce costs, whatever the consequences.

“Assessments are therefore skewed from the outset and I fear that a number of WILG recipients are not receiving the support they deserve.

“Let’s not forget that all WILG recipients are disabled people with high support needs.

“This means that many need a strong network of people around them to give them the confidence to press for improvements.

“The fact that only 26 people have asked for a reassessment suggests that many WILG recipients are being held back by a combination of inertia, lack of support and advice and a sense of ‘better the devil you know’.

“I feel that an independent service will provide people with disabilities with greater security for the future.”

He added: “The government have listened to campaigners, reviewed the evidence and acted accordingly to ensure people get the support they deserve to live independently within their local communities.

“WILG recipients and their families need to investigate the opportunity that is in front of them to help ensure they have piece of mind for the long term future.”

WILG was set up – with UK government funding – as an interim scheme following the UK government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund in June 2015.

The Welsh government is now closing WILG for good and transferring the funding to local councils, and by April the 22 local authorities were due to be solely responsible for meeting the support needs of all former ILF-recipients in Wales.

But Morgan announced the “change in direction” in February because a government review had shown a significant variation in how support packages were being cut by different councils.

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Press Release: DPAC’s latest research shows the cruelty of Universal Credit

The following article was taken from the DPAC website and can be accessed by clicking here. 

***

In response to the DWP’s lies trying to minimise the negative impact of Universal Credit (UC), by commissioning unbranded BBC documentaries and media articles highlighting UC success stories, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) has compiled a damning record of UC systemic and catastrophic failures.

This record draws on local and national press and media articles, government and research reports.   While the DWP bleat that UC is unfairly vilified the reality is that UC had always been a disaster for claimants and has already wasted millions of pounds.

It has now reached a point where it is unable to adapt to claimants’ complex circumstances, and is forcing people with the least resources into further poverty, homelessness, and hunger.  These failures are driven by ideology. Making claimants wait for their first payment on the pretext that this mirrors the circumstances of working people is another DWP fairytale.

Experts who have looked at UC have also identified design, management and IT issues which cannot be solved by tweaking the system.

This is why DPAC is calling for UC to be scrapped. It has become a social security system, which not only does not offer security, but actively undermined people’s ability to cope with the hazards of life.

So far DPAC activists have already removed many thousands of copies of the Metro and will continue to do so whenever a lie about UC is printed. RMT and UNITE members are monitoring each days’ delivery of Metros to help us with this.

We are also calling for a boycott of Reach newspapers which have also in many cases published and republished one case study of one Job Centre manager saying UC works well. Reach’s Director, Helen Stevenson, is coincidentally a former non-executive director of DWP.

Download the Report:

DPAC Report – Hunger Debt Homelessness Crime Prostitution and Suicide – Universal Credit Media Articles – May 2019

Notes for Editors

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) are a campaign group fighting for the rights of disabled people www.dpac.uk.net @dis_ppl_protest

https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/second-newspaper-group-could-be-targeted-over-universal-credit-articles/

Intergenerational worklessness is a lie.

https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/are-cultures-worklessness-passed-down-generations

 

The same DWP propagandist Reach Media articles –over and over again

https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/uk-news/universal-credit-why-actually-great-16279017

https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/universal-credit-good-thing-helps-2866016

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/world-news/universal-credit-why-actually-great-16279017

https://twnews.co.uk/gb-news/why-universal-credit-is-actually-a-great-idea

https://www.latest-news-headlines.eu/local/leicester

https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/why-universal-credit-actually-great-2870686

https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/universal-credit-why-actually-great-16279017

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/uk-news/universal-credit-why-actually-great-16279017

https://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/why-universal-credit-actually-great-2870686

https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/universal-credit-why-actually-great-16279017

https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/universal-credit-why-actually-great-16279017

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/uk-news/universal-credit-why-actually-great-16279017

https://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/why-universal-credit-actually-great-2870686

https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/why-universal-credit-actually-great-2870686

https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/uk-world-news/universal-credit-why-actually-great-16279017

https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/why-universal-credit-actually-great-2870686

https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/universal-credit-why-actually-great-16279017

https://www.lincolnshirelive.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/why-universal-credit-actually-great-2870686

https://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/why-universal-credit-actually-great-2870686 

https://www.getreading.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/universal-credit-why-actually-great-16279017

https://www.kentlive.news/news/uk-world-news/why-universal-credit-actually-great-2870686

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/universal-credit-why-actually-great-16279017

https://www.leeds-live.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/universal-credit-why-actually-great-16279017

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#SaveWILG Update: Letter from Julie Morgan

I received the following letter from the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services to update me on the progress of WILG assessments.

It makes for interesting reading. I will be writing in response to this letter soon, but for now I think it is important to make sure that everyone is fully informed of their rights.

Thanks to Julie Morgan as ever for her sterling work in making the independent assessments, a reality.

*** 

Dear Nathan

Following my letter of 18th of April to former recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) regarding their ability to have an independent care assessment, I thought I would provide you with a brief update.

All local authorities have now have confirmed that they have circulated my letter to their former WILG recipients.  Clearly people will need time to consider whether to have an independent assessment.   I have asked recipients to let their local authority know their intentions by 14th June.  To date, I understand that twenty-six former recipients have expressed an interest in having an independent assessment of their care needs.  These are spread across ten authorities.

This number may well increase over the next three weeks.  It is important that those people who wish to have an independent assessment are able to access it, but this is also in the context of the large number of people who we know are content with their new arrangements.

As regards to the sourcing [of] the independent assessments, the tender process is about to close.  The bids we receive will be evaluated against bidders’ ability to meet quality and timeliness criteria, including to ensure the appropriate standard of social workers for the assessments are recruited.  This is with a view to a contract being agreed in early June, with the practical arrangements being finalised during June, for the assessments themselves to commence from July.

I trust this is helpful.  Please feel free to communicate this information to your network of former WILG recipients.

Yours sincerely

Julie Morgan AM
Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services

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