WCBC

Emergency on Planet Earth

THIS POST WILL BE UPDATED REGULARLY THROUGHOUT THE TORY SPONSORED CORONAVIRUS CRISIS.

What follows is a random collection of thoughts from a human being trapped in 21st Century British society. 

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Monday 30th March

This video was taken from YouTube and deserves everyone’s attention.

A challenge by Dr. Rupert Read to the UK Government: take responsibility for having got us into this public health disaster, and don’t try to put the blame for lockdowns on us.

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Apologies for the fact that I am using a link from the Metro newspaper, but the article highlights something that we should all be concerned about. At least those of us with a heart and conscience.

People with Down syndrome could be left to die of coronavirus to ‘save’ medical supplies

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Every day I am finding more and more positive aspects to this lock-down. One of these must be introduction to the wonderful world of the Tufnell Park Film Club.

The club was set up in July 2012 by Nigel Smith and Wayne Gooderham.  Nigel’s been a movie-geek since he first went to the cinema to see Superman II. You can follow him on Twitter at @nigelcsmith. Wayne has just about got over the discovery that Robert de Niro wore a bald wig in Taxi Driver. You can follow him on Twitter at @wb_gooderham.

Under normal circumstances they show films every week in a local pub. While the boozer is closed and we’re all staying at home, they are introducing one film each week and encouraging everyone to watch it. All are welcome to join in, wherever you are. You can see what films they have already chosen here.

This week’s ‘Film Club at Home’ selection is Ingmar Bergman’s classic The Seventh Seal, which we’d originally planned to show in tribute to Max Von Sydow who died earlier in March.

If you’ve never seen The Seventh Seal before, we hope Nigel’s introduction here will encourage you to do so. As he says, it’s only 90 minutes long and has more jokes than you might think. The film is widely available online and we’ve put links on the website. Like last week, do let us know what you think of the film and we’ll publish a section of responses online. From next week on we’ll start visiting our ‘also rans’ list with Woody Allen’s classic of cinema-as-escapism, The Purple Rose of Cairo.

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Saturday 28th March

The following message was sent to staff members at the Neuro Therapy Centre in Saltney, Chester.

Hi both

I hope this message finds you both well in these surreal times.

I am contacting you in the hope that you may be able to suggest some exercises that I can do to strengthen my upper body from home during this awful coronavirus crisis. I have just bought a pedal exerciser from eBay and expect it to arrive next Wednesday.

I am determined to do all I can to prevent the onset of this virus. I was in hospital with a chest infection at the end of January. When I asked the doctor if there was anything I could do to prevent such infections again he said that I should work on my upper body muscles to make sure they are healthy.

Any help you can provide at this worrying time would be much appreciated.

Stay safe and I hope to see you at the Neuro Therapy Centre soon.

Nathan Lee Davies

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Change.org Petition:

Today frontline NHS staff will begin to be tested for coronavirus. Care home manager Mark says that care workers must be urgently tested too as they look after the elderly and vulnerable who are at risk. Will you help by signing his petition?
Test all frontline care workers for coronavirus
Mark Topps started this petition to Boris Johnson and it now has 11,680 signatures
Sign now with a click

I’m the manager of a residential care home and facing one of the toughest times we have faced. I have seen staff having to self-isolate and residents doing the same, and there are hundreds of other care staff across the country in the same boat.

Every day we go to the care home and deliver care to the elderly and most vulnerable with limited supplies of gloves, aprons, masks, hand sanitiser etc. We are not being tested and nor are the residents. How do we know that we are not spreading it to them, or leaving the care homes and spreading COVID-19 to our families and members of the public? The truth is we don’t know.

That’s why we’re calling on the Government to urgently ensure care workers to be tested. 

The same dilemma is being faced by everyone working in a care home, domestic staff, cooks, administrators and volunteers. The Government classed us as unskilled and yet now we’re expected to be the frontline workforce, keeping residents out of hospitals and protecting your loved ones. 

The Government have announced the virus is spreading at a faster pace than expected and currently the only tests being done are to people who require hospital admission.

The knowledge that I could be spreading this with residents I work with and my family is the worst feeling. As a dad of three beautiful children -I struggle to know what the most responsible thing to do is.

There are care workers up and down the country delivering care into peoples homes, possibly spreading the virus further into other families.

I am petitioning for all care workers to be tested! We are your front line! Please help us by signing

Care Workers deserve better! We deserve to be tested and we deserve equipment to do our jobs!

Sign now with a click
At Change.org, we believe in the voice of everyday people. Is there something that you want to change?

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Wednesday 25th March

This is obviously a very worrying time for us all. How on earth are the British public supposed to survive on a basic rationing of their favourite soap-operas?

If the worst happens, and I start to have symptoms of coronavirus, one of the first things that I will do is record a video-diary to chart the progress of my illness. I believe this is the socially-responsible thing to do, and I am surprised that others haven’t done so already, save from one or two in the establishment. #justsaying

VIDEO: JOHNSON TOOK 11 DAYS FROM ‘GATHERINGS HAVE LITTLE EFFECT’ TO THEY MUST BE STOPPED TO BLOCK CV – HOW MANY LIVES HAS HE COST?

I am enjoying the work of Johnathan Pie throughout this coronavirus crisis. Two exceptional pieces of work from the roving reporter can be found by clicking here and here.

This is the wrong time for anyone to be sexually frustrated. Mind you, is there ever a right time?

I have contacted WCBC, to try to get some PPE for my staff. Apparently, their supplies are extremely limited. Subsequently, I asked them to ensure those with symptoms were provided with PPE as a matter of urgency. I will only need such equipment if I fall foul of this virus myself, so at the moment I am not a priority. If only the rest of society thought in such a selfless and socialist manner…

I am enjoying trying to compile a music listography at the moment. It was a birthday gift from my sister, and I have bought hundreds of music stickers to decorate the book.

From Wikipedia:

Jamiroquai (/əˈmɪrəkw/ (About this soundlisten)) are an English funk and acid jazz band from London, formed in 1992. Fronted by singer-songwriter Jay Kay, the band were a prominent component of the London-based funk/jazz movement of the 1990s. Their sound draws from black music of the 1970s, and their lyrics and visual concepts occasionally deal with social and environmental idealism. They also drew from rockelectronica and Latin music, and on stage perform with several musicians in the band playing live. Over the years, Kay has consistently remained as the leader through several line-up changes.

The band débuted with “When You Gonna Learn” under Acid Jazz records, which led to Kay signing a record deal with Sony Soho2. While under this label, the group released a string of million-selling albums containing singles that have reached various charts worldwide, including the 1998 single “Deeper Underground“, which topped in the UK, while having moderate success in the US within the Dance charts. All eight of the band’s albums have entered the UK top 10. Three of them, Emergency on Planet Earth (1993), Synkronized (1999), A Funk Odyssey (2001), along with their greatest hits compilation, charted at number 1.

Jamiroquai have sold more than 26 million albums worldwide as of 2017. Their third album Travelling Without Moving (1996), received a Guinness World Record for the best-selling funk album in history. The music video for the album’s lead single, “Virtual Insanity“, was named Video of the Year at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards. The group has won an Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors, as well as one Grammy Award, two MTV Video Music Awards, and two Billboard Music Awards. They have also received sixteen Brit Award nominations.

The Human Right To Dignity

The following article dates from Friday, 15 April 2011 and is taken from The Broken Of Britain blog. This was a blog written by the late Dr Rhydian Fon James and his words are as relevant today as they were nine years ago.

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To read a biography about Rhydian, please click the following link. I would recommend reading all about this prolific inspirational who achieved so much before tragically passing in January 2016 at the age of just 31. Like me, Rhydian lived with Friedreich’s Ataxia. 

It is encouraging that the social care landscape has changed for the better in Wales since this article was published, as disabled people are now protected by the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act of 2014. In addition, the Welsh Government have made a commitment to the Codes of Practice to Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.

I have now received my ‘independent reassessment’ from ICS and WCBC and am working behind the scenes to sort out an appropriate care package. I do not want to say too much at this stage as I need to concentrate and stay focused on the negotiations ahead.

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The Human Right To Dignity

This week was meant to be a quiet one, with Parliament in recess; no pressing issues on the news agenda; no MPs to brief. Meant to be. It hasn’t quite worked out this way, and we’ve all been busy preparing the continued campaign. This has meant that I haven’t had a chance to write about an interesting court case that’s been on my mind for the last couple of weeks.

Last week the Supreme Court heard an appeal case with huge implications for disabled people who receive packages of support. The court heard the appeal of Elaine McDonald, whose care package was cut by Kensington and Chelsea council even though it had assessed her as needing that support. McDonald became disabled following a stroke in 1999 and later broke a hip in a night-time fall. She had been provided with a weekly package of 22.5 hours of daytime support and another 10 hours of care seven nights a week.

A needs assessment by the council found night-time care was essential to provide supervision to prevent her falling while using the commode at night, due to a bladder condition. But in 2008 the council said it planned to cut her care package, and said she could be given incontinence pads instead of an overnight care worker, even though she is not incontinent. In November, the Court of Appeal ruled that the council had not breached care laws, McDonald’s human rights or the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) by cutting her support.

The Supreme Court confirmed three weeks ago that it had granted her leave to appeal. McDonald’s case is being funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which said in November that it feared other councils would use the judgment to “reduce community care and services for disabled people”. The Supreme Court’s decision will not be handed down for a few weeks yet, but it will be massively important for anyone who gets a care package from their local council.

This is because the Court of Appeal had found that a council could simply review a service-user’s care needs and then reduce their support, without needing to conduct a new assessment. The precedent set by this case would affect all service users. At the moment, if the council want to cut a person’s care package, they must show that their needs have changed and that they are thus entitled to fewer hours.

As service users will know, councils have been anxious to cut costs in recent years. This has led to a great deal of pressure to cut care packages, and the near-impossibility of new care packages being offered, but the need to re-assess has slowed the austerity zeal. This is because, regardless of whether they wish to cut, councils must show that the service user’s needs have lessened prior to cutting, and a council cannot be considered to have conducted a lawful assessment simply by reviewing a disabled person’s care package.

If the Supreme Court were to uphold the Court of Appeal’s decision, it would give councils free reign over decisions to cut care packages. It would also mean that it would be more difficult to argue that the refusal to provide care was a breach of her human rights to dignity and to a private and family life.

You might think that forcing a disabled person to, effectively, wet themselves at night when they are not incontinent is humiliating and degrading. But when councils are hunting for possible cuts, it may not be illegal for councils to cut care packages and force just that outcome.

Birthday Musings… #SaveWILG

Many thanks to everyone for all the birthday wishes – it means a lot and is much appreciated.

I can’t believe twelve months have passed so quickly. I am proud to have published Dancing on Thin Ice – a selection of Tanka and Haiku poems in the last year. It was a year that began with a visit from Julie Morgan AM, who works as the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services in the Welsh Government. She attended my house to inform #SaveWILG campaigners that she had decided to give those who were unhappy with local authority assessments, the chance to have an independent assessment with extra funds provided by the Welsh Government to pay for any extra support needed.

This seemed like a victory for #SaveWILG campaigners. Indeed, the support given by the Welsh Government has been encouraging and comforting. They appointed ICS to undertake the independent assessments and the vast majority of these were completed by the end of October 2019.

However, WILG recipients are still stuck in limbo almost six months later. This is not due to any failing by the Welsh Government or ICS, but local authorities are still keeping us waiting, as they rubber-stamp the independent assessments.

I am really not knowing which way to turn at the moment. Life remains very insecure until I find out what the reassessment says about what support I can expect in the future. I am subsequently unable to decide where to put my energies. Do I write a new book, create some new poems or take a well deserved holiday before deciding on my next venture? I can’t make a decision on this until I know how much my independent assessment has been coloured by their meetings with WCBC.

I was told last week, that I could expect to hear back from Adult Social Care at the beginning of this week. At close of play today (Wednesday), I have still not heard anything. I believe a verdict is imminent, as I know a decision has already been made, but being kept in the dark about this is seriously damaging my physical and mental health.

The anxiety all this has caused me and other WILG recipients, is appalling. We should all be claiming compensation for the way we have had to wait, but I am sure we all agree that we just want it over and done with – as long as we end up with the support we need, to live on a level playing field with the rest of society.

Once again, many thanks for my birthday wishes and I hope that by this time next year, I am looking forward to the future with some degree of certainty.

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#SaveWILG Campaign Relaunched

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As many of my regular readers will know, I have spent the last 5 years campaigning to protect independent living for disabled with high support needs across Wales. In February 2019, we made a break through and the Welsh Government agreed to offer independent assessments to all recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant who did not agree with the decisions made by their Local Authority.

Since February, the Welsh Government have pulled out all the stops to make sure that WILG recipients have been assessed properly. They recruited the assessment company, ICS, to carry out the much needed reassessments and the majority of these were completed by the end of October 2019. WILG recipients were looking forward to resolving this issue before Xmas 2019, so that they could look forward to the future some degree of certainty.

However, WILG recipients are still stuck in limbo land and are unable to make plans for the long term future due to the fact that Local Authorities are dragging their feet and refusing to sign off the assessments made by ICS.

The fact that LAs are involved in this process is a contentious one as these are supposed to be independent assessments.The context is that these are being undertaken by ICS without its social worker having sight of any previous care assessments undertaken. This is as ICS did not want its social workers unduly influenced by what a local authority had undertaken or produced previously. Consequently, at the point ICS has concluded and quality assured its assessment on a person it does not know how the outcome of this compares to that which the person’s local authority has undertaken previously. In addition, a local authority may have some key information about a person or their care which may be relevant if ICS had known this.

This seems fair enough and WILG recipients have nothing to hide so would welcome LA involvement. If only it were that easy. I have had no reply to countless emails sent to WCBC this calendar year even though it is in the best interest of WCBC and myself to get this situation sorted once and for all. I must make it clear that I am very thankful to WCBC for agreeing to fund 24/7 support for myself while we await the outcome of the assessment. I appreciate this, but would still like to secure a long term plan that I know will see me through what is left of my life. Surely, a bit of security is not too much to ask while I continue to fight a progressive, genetic disease of the nervous system…

The stress and anxiety that all this indecision and uncertainty is causing, recently forced me to spend a period of time in hospital with a nasty chest infection. I am slowly getting back on my feet, but this whole episode has just renewed my determination to get this this whole sorry mess sorted out once and for all.

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The Leader: Opponents of disabled living scheme in Wrexham criticised for “distressing” comments as plans are approved

The following is an article from the Leader newspaper that was written by local democracy reporter Liam Randall (@LiamRandallLDR). The original article can be read here.

It is the first story of real concern that has been published since the people of Wrexham elected a Conservative MP. Her comments, that can be read in the article below, are a clear warning sign of the hostility that disabled people in the area are likely to face while she is in office.

Stuck with a Conservative/Independent run council and a Tory MP is the stuff of nightmares. Recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant have been protected by the Welsh Government, but are still being made to wait on the results of their independent assessments by a disorganised WCBC. Previously, I would have approached Ian Lucas for his support as my MP. I am not about to waste my breath on asking the current incumbent for any assistance.

The people of Wrexham have a chance to redeem themselves next year in the local elections – lets hope common sense wins the day…

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First Choice Housing has entered proposals to convert a family home on Ffordd Glyn in Wrexham into supported living accommodation. Source: First Choice Housing and North Wales Newspapers

OPPONENTS who fought plans to create new accommodation for disabled people in Wrexham have been criticised for making “distressing” comments.

Councillors met to discuss proposals to convert a family home on Ffordd Glyn in Erddig into four specialist apartments to help individuals live independently.

A total of 143 objections were submitted to the local authority ahead of the planning committee meeting amid concerns from neighbours about traffic and parking.

Issues were also raised about the potential background of tenants and the impact on crime and anti-social behaviour in the area.

A Decade of Growth…

The annoyingly nameless decade that is rapidly drawing to a close has been a time of desperate struggle for many sick and disabled people living, or trying to, in these bleak times of austerity.

The Conservative – Lib Dem coalition was unleashed on the great British public back in May 2010. They immediately announced that they would be making severe cuts to the benefits system, and public services in order to balance the books. This political choice would target the poor and vulnerable, as they were held responsible for the global financial crash.

I don’t have the time to go through the last decade month by month, but suffice to say that these austere policies set the mood for the entire decade. I remember watching the TV news with a feeling of dread, as I knew what would follow would damage our society in ways that we hadn’t even dreamt of.

I had just escaped from an unhappy marriage, and had moved in to my new bachelor pad where I was to employ a team of personal assistants to help me to live independently. Unfortunately, I was in and out of hospital during 2010, as I suffered a nasty bout of pneumonia as well as having three operations to remove kidney stones.

This wasn’t going to be an easy decade, that much was obvious. I had a decision to make – do I give in and accept my position as a worthless member of society, or do I stand up for myself and fight back against the establishment? – I decided on the latter option…

I was forced in to politics as an activist, by my repressors and they have created a monster that will not rest until social justice is served to each and every one of us. It all began when the coalition government introduced the bedroom tax, and WCBC targeted me as someone who should be paying for having more than one bedroom. I wasn’t standing for that, and decided to make a piece of art in protest, that appeared in the Daily Mirror and had the desired impact. Combining art and activism was something I would continue to do with success throughout the decade.

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One of 20 postcards created for the Postcards from the Edges initiative. 

Fortunately, I seem to have blossomed with my back against the wall. This is particularly evident through the success of the #SaveWILG campaign, through which I have made numerous friends, enjoyed trips to Cardiff and Westminster and built political connections on a cross-party basis. We have held an art exhibition to promote the campaign and even had a awareness day in Wrexham, that saw musicians, poets and comedians show their solidarity. The postcard campaign that we ran, also saw the campaign gather support from acclaimed film director Ken Loach, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and even Jeremy Corbyn.

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Jeremy Corbyn meets Nathan Lee Davies at the Welsh Labour Conference in April 2018. 

There is still some work to be done to finalise everything with regard to independent living for former ILF recipients in Wales, but sincere thanks must go to everyone who has helped make this campaign a success.

The fact that I have also managed to publish two books and receive an Honorary Fellowship from Glyndwr University within this period, is something that I am very proud of. It seems that I can be productive with the right levels of support. It also helps not having to put up with a significant other and her three noisy children. Married life is just not something I am cut out for. Of course, I get lonely at times, but I do not think that a conventional relationship is the answer for me. The need to remain focused is more important at this moment in time.  I wrote a blog about my personal situation earlier this year. You can read it by clicking here. 

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Receiving an Honorary Fellowship from Glyndwr University.

Whilst enjoying the company of three great friends at the pub yesterday, I was comparing my situation with the one I found myself in at the dawn of the previous decade. There is no doubt that the work I have done over the past ten years has put me in a stronger position for the difficult years ahead. Let no one be in any doubt that the Johnson regime will lead to considerable difficulties for many of us, but it is no good just moaning and worrying about it all. The time to act is now, and we all have a part to play in creating a society that works for the many, not the few.

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Good friends are hard to find, but I have been extremely fortunate. 

I have a few exciting projects lined up for 2020 and beyond, such as developing my poetry, working on my third book and creating art exhibitions to try to reach the politically confused.

Whatever I end up doing, it is sure to be a bumpy ride. Buckle up…

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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