It was a scorching hot day in London and my comrades Delyth Lloyd-Williams and Greg Ogden reckon I was on fire too as we continue our fight to #SaveWILG.
I would love to write more but time is at a premium and I must keep on campaigning. I just have time to say that we spoke with Chris Ruane MP and John McDonnell MP as we aim to #SaveWILG.
The following article was published in September 2016 by our friends at Inclusion London and seeks to evidence the impact of the Independent Living Fund closure with a focus on the situation in London.
This is clearly a VERY IMPORTANT REPORT FOR ALL ASSEMBLY MEMBERS TO READ IN FULL as the Welsh Government intend to close the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) despite clear evidence of flaws during the transition period that the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care constantly tries to hide behind.
WHAT USE IS A TRANSITION PERIOD IF OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE AND A DEMOCRATIC VOTE IS NOT ENOUGH FOR A GOVERNMENTAL RE-THINK?
Beneath the Inclusion London article, I have added a link to a PDF report written by the DWP reporting on the effects of the closure of the ILF. This is also essential reading for all Assembly Members.
As our elected Assembly Members you have the opportunity to make a telling intervention in the lives of disabled people with high care and support needs. You cannot let this opportunity slip through your fingers as the potential of this group of people deserves to be tapped into as we can all make a difference to the communities in which we live.
One year on: Evaluating the impact of the closure of the Independent Living Fund
This report seeks to evidence the impact of the closure with a focus on the situation in London.
The Independent Living Fund (ILF) was shut permanently on 30 June 2015. One week before, wheelchair users tried to storm the House of Commons chamber during Prime Minister’s Question time in a last ditch attempt to prevent closure. Disabled people receiving support through the ILF who are all too familiar with the day to day realities of the mainstream care and support system, were concerned that closing the ILF would mean a removal of essential support.
This report seeks to evidence the impact of the closure with a focus on the situation in London. It brings together statistical analysis from Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests sent to all 33 London boroughs with findings from a survey sent out to London Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) as well as qualitative evidence provided by former ILF recipients concerning their experiences of transfer to Local Authority (LA) support.
Comparison of evidence gathered through comparison of the Freedom Of Information (FOI) responses, Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPO) survey, and examples of lived experience submitted by former ILF recipients has led to a number of themes emerging:
- Post-code lottery for former ILF recipients across Local Authorities.
- The detrimental impacts of the ILF closure on former ILF recipients, ranging from distress and anxiety to removal of essential daily support.
- The lack of consistent practice across different Local Authorities regarding referrals for CHC funding.
- Limitations of the mainstream care and support system and failings in the implementation of the Care Act.
- The value of the model of support provided by the Independent Living Fund.
- The importance of Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations for making Deaf and Disabled people aware of and supported to exercise their rights.
There is an urgent need for a radical rethink of how Disabled people are supported to live independently. Disabled people who use independent living support must be at the forefront of developing ideas and with adequate resources for meaningful engagement.
This also needs to happen quickly, before the memories of what effective independent living support looks like and how much Disabled people can contribute when our support needs are met fade into the distance.
Download the full report below including the Executive Summary and Easy Read version
Watch the video at: http://bambuser.com/v/6445226?v=m
More essential reading from the DWP:
TAKEN FROM PLAID WRECSAM BLOG
The case for disabled people wanting to maintain their independent living was raised in the Senedd today with questions to First Minister Carwyn Jones.
The Welsh Independent Living Grant is due to come to an end next year and responsibility for ensuring disabled people can live independently will be transferred to local councils.
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, asked: “Disabled people have told me that they appreciate their independence more than the money provided by the current Welsh Independent Living Grant. What assurances can you give them that this independence will continue when the WILG comes to an end?”
Mr Jones responded by saying that his government would monitor the actions of local government and individuals would be assessed to provide assurances.
Mr Gruffydd said he was disappointed that the First Minister did not appreciate the importance of disabled people having choice and control over their own lives, something that the WILG helped ensure: “I’m afraid I have little faith that the transition to councils that are already stretched to the limit in so many ways will work smoothly. The First Minister said time and again that his government would monitor the transition, but evidence from London shows that a similar transition has been disastrous and they should heed that evidence. In Scotland and Northern Ireland they’ve maintained the fund and the independence that it allows, which has been a success. I question why this Labour Govenrment is putting people in Wales through that uncertainty and pain when we have a model we could emulate in Scotland?”
A determined campaign has been run to save the WILG by author and journalist Nathan Lee Davies, of Wrexham. He said: “I would like to thank Llyr Gruffydd AM for raising the issue of the Welsh Independent Living Grant at the Senedd. Without WILG my independence would be severely curtailed and I would be totally reliant on my penny-pinching local authority, which has already threatened a severe reduction of my care and support should the grant close.
“It is important that disabled people are able to live their lives independently so that they can continue to contribute to their local communities.”
What an eventful week.
To begin with, I must assure you – and anyone reading from Wrexham Council or the Welsh Government – that there has been the usual hours of struggle without care or support that has left me frustrated without being able to communicate while spending hours sitting in discomfort. The fact that I have achieved so much is because I have a great team of support workers who have helped me excel DESPITE the shortage of social care hours of support that I receive.
On Sunday evening (July 16th) I went to see comedian/activist Mark Thomas at the Llangollen Fringe Festival. After his enjoyable set, I was lucky enough to meet him and ask for his advice and support for my petition. He kindly agreed to Retweet information about my petition and within an hour I received an extra 22 signatories. I have currently received 174 online signatures and have a healthy paper petition that is growing as we speak.
Thanks to Mark (pictured above) for his support and I look forward to seeing him in the not too distant future as I am interested in attending a gig of his on October 4 at theWaterside Arts Centre in Sale, Greater Manchester.
After a couple of humdrum days I then travelled to London on Wednesday (July 19th) to take part in a Disabled People Against Cuts protest in the Houses of Parliament. We managed to occupy the central lobby in the Houses of Parliament, which is used as the MPs entrance to the House of Commons.
The event was a huge success and received a great deal of media coverage as can be seen by following the links below:
It was a great day and I really enjoyed taking on the establishment and making my voice heard. I also met up with my MP for Wrexham, Ian Lucas who has arranged a home visit with me next week.
It was also a special day for one of DPAC’s lead activists as Paula Peters celebrated her birthday. This was a chance for me to chat and mingle with some of the magnificent DPAC members who had travelled far and wide for the protest. There was also a surprise guest as John McDonnell turned up to give his best wishes to the remarkable Ms Peters. How many other politicians would give up their spare time to attend a birthday celebration for one of their supporters? Not many.
On Friday morning (July 21st) I was also chuffed to see that I was featured in the Wrexham Leader. I have been speaking to a journalist from the newspaper all week – in fact Mark Thomas actually suggested to the scribe that he should cover my story. I was pleased with the finished article that can be seen below:
I think that I now deserve a break, but this is something I just cannot do. I will be a long time dead and there will be plenty of time to rest then. In the meantime, there is a fight to be won…
I have now achieved over 60 signatures for my petition, which means the closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) will be discussed at the Welsh Assembly when it reconvenes in September.
I am not just going to let the petition stagnate over the summer period though as the more signatures we can get, the more pressure the Welsh Government will be under to examine how they have handled this closure. I will therefore keep spreading my petition online and through social media with the help of my friends from Disabled People Against Cuts, who are also helping me to create a series of memes that I will share as soon as they are available.
A paper version of the petition will also be available next week which I will be carrying round with me everywhere I go.
I am also going to London soon to take part in a DPAC protest at the Houses of Parliament.
A year ago, I remember that a friend of mine on Facebook launched a petition about the closure of football fields in the local area and received something like 15,000 signatures and rightly so. However, it is soul destroying that I struggle to get half as much support despite this being a more serious issue that will destroy thousands of lives.
Anyway, enough of my moaning. Please sign this petition before you carry on enjoying what is left of the weekend.
Thanks for your support.
During the following 12 months I hope to visit all the 92 football grounds in the Premier League and Football League. I will not try to watch a match at all the grounds, but I do want to bask in the architecture of these differing stadiums and collect memorabilia to auction at the end of my tour.
The charity that I have chosen to benefit from my expedition is Level Playing Field – the working name of National Association of Disabled Supporters. Instead of spending time trying to explain the nature of this registered charity I will share their guiding principles that can be found on their excellent website at www.levelplayingfield.org.uk
Level Playing Field (LPF) believe that being a disabled person is a social issue and that an individual only becomes disabled because of the social, attitudinal and environmental barriers that the individual faces (this is known as the social model of disability).
Our efforts are focussed on removing these barriers in all sports. LPF and its members will know they have succeeded when all fans can enjoy an equal experience at live sports events:
- all stadia and sports venues are fully accessible and inclusive;
- all customer and/or fan services are equal and inclusive;
- disabled people are seen as customers with a commercial value
We are guided by the following principles:
- Anti-discrimination – so that disabled people do not face discrimination arising from poor or misinformed practice.
- Equality of opportunity or making things fairer – for disabled people in every aspect of their contact with sports clubs and venues.
- Increasing the independence and choices that disabled people have.
- Individual needs / Diversity – recognising that a disabled person is an individual who, like all others, has his or her own needs, abilities, human rights and responsibilities.
- Integration/inclusion – such that services are made accessible to disabled people and offer choice.
- Involvement in decision-making – so that disabled people, and/or their advocates, are consulted before decisions which affect them are made.
- The social model of disability explains that it is social and physical ‘barriers’ that cause ‘disability’ not impairments.
LPF is working to remove the barriers that currently exclude disabled people. These barriers can be:
- prejudice and stereotypes
- the way things are organised and run
- little or no access to information, buildings and transport
To download a PDF of the Guiding Principles with footnotes please click here.
To download a PDF copy of the LPF Governing Constitution click here.
I think you now get an idea of why I have chosen to support this charity. As a disabled person, I know that attending a football match every weekend and having involvement with like-minded fans through a DSA (Disabled Supporter’s Association) can make a big difference to people’s lives. I want the money raised through this project to make a real difference by giving others the opportunity to attend matches and feel the same sense of inclusion that I feel every time I visit the Racecourse.
There is much planning to be done. Fortunately, I recently discovered Roadrunner Motorhomes which provides fully accessible accommodation on wheels. It boasts a ceiling track hoist, profiling bed, toilet and wet room, which is all I need to make this epic adventure a reality. I have booked the motorhome for the first week in October. This will be ideal for visiting clubs based on the south coast and maybe a few more once I have worked out which are the best campsites to stay in.
For more information see: www.roadrunnermotorhomes.webs.com
I also need to set up an online sponsorship page for all you kind people to support me on my tour of England and Wales. In addition I will also be booking the few hotels with the necessary equipment needed to transfer me from wheelchair to bed. This will be needed in order to visit the London clubs and those based in south Wales and the North East.
I will be beginning my quest next week with trips to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Stoke City. My trip to Wolves is to represent Wrexham DSA who have been invited to Molineux to meet their counterparts in the West Midlands and foster a positive relationship with this group before enjoying their clash with Nottingham Forest. My trip to the Britannia Stadium was organised with the help of Eddie Niedzwiecki after my friend Valerie Leney wrote to him to tell him about my 40th birthday. He kindly got in touch with tickets for his side’s forthcoming game against Liverpool.
This venture will cost me a pretty penny at a time that disabled people are disproportionately feeling the full force of austerity measures. Subsequently, any individual or company that would like to help out with petrol costs, hotel fees and food bills then please do get in touch.
So, this is my latest escapade. There is much to organise and at times it is overwhelming, but if the money I raise helps just one disabled person attend football more regularly – subsequently increasing their sense of- self-worth – then it will have been a worthwhile venture…