Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Pie n Mash Podcast

November 15, 2018 Leave a comment

Episode 1.

Categories: blogging Tags: , , , , , ,

Off to the UN, this battle is far from over!

March 25, 2015 4 comments

After a day in the House of Commons & Lords, it feels right to share this press release from Inclusion London which we were happy to pass over to those I met today….please share.  I was honoured to help break the news along with others fighting so hard in the #SaveILF campaign:

EMBARGOED until 00.01 Wednesday 25/03/2015

UK Disabled people appeal to the UN over Independent Living fund closure

A complaint to the United Nations was today launched on behalf of disabled people in the UK whose rights have been breached by the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF). The ILF, which is the subject of an on-going and desperate battle between disabled people and the Department for Work and Pensions (1), is high on the priority list for disabled people deciding how to vote at the forthcoming election. The complaint brought by Inclusion London (2) on behalf of two disabled women, Nicky Baker and Dr Melanie Wilson Jones, alleges that the government has violated Articles 17, 19, 20, 30 and 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), ratified by the UK in 2009 (3).

The Independent Living Fund was set up in 1988 to support disabled people with high support needs to live in the community when the alternative was residential care. Since then it has helped thousands to live active and full lives, contributing to their communities and participating in education, employment and volunteering, family and social life. It is an effective way to provide support with both low cost overheads and extremely high user satisfaction rates (4).

On 13 December 2010 without any consultation or impact assessment, it was announced that the ILF would be closed permanently to new applicants. A ministerial statement was made referring to “informal consultation with disability organisations” but there is no record of this consultation (5). Since then, disabled people who missed out on the Fund have been left without the support they need to take part in day to day life and disabled people’s life chances have dramatically fallen. Meanwhile the government has failed to monitor the impact of the closure.

Nicky Baker, age 30, is a qualified auditor working within a disabled people’s organisation as well as studying part time for a degree. Although eligible for support from the ILF, the Fund was closed the day after she telephoned for an application form.  The social care package she receives from her Local Authority does not provide the support she needs to live an independent life, for example to go on dates with her boyfriend without having her parents there or to take part in sufficient training for the high level of powerchair football she reached.

Dr Melanie Wilson Jones received a substantial amount of support including from the ILF after sustaining a brain injury. She made such progress that her needs decreased and thus her support was reduced. However following a road traffic accident in 2011 she sustained a further brain injury requiring someone to be with her constantly. Now unable to get support from the ILF, she is reliant on her husband who works full time and her 16 year old daughter to make up the extra hours of support she needs for evenings and weekends.

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London, who authored the complaint said, “The closure of the Independent Living Fund signals the end of independent living for disabled people. It took many years for disabled people to fight their way out of the institutions and to have the same chances as anyone else to live in the community alongside family and friends.  At the current time Local Authorities are simply not able to provide the level of social care support required to uphold disabled people’s fundamental human rights”.

Sophie Partridge, a current ILF recipient, said: “The ILF has played a huge part in supporting me to have equal access to an independent adult life and a level playing field alongside non-disabled people. Without the ILF being re-opened to new applicants, I worry that young disabled people will never get the same life chances as I have had.”

Solicitor Louise Whitfield, from law firm Deighton Pearce Glynn, who is representing the complainants said: “From a legal perspective, I cannot see how the UK Government can justify closing the ILF to new applicants with no consultation or consideration of the rights protected under the UN Convention.  Under Article 19, those rights include the fundamental right to independent living which has clearly been breached by this decision and I hope that the UN Committee takes appropriate action to recognise these very significant breaches”.

For more information or to speak to either the complainants or other disabled people affected by the closure of the ILF contact: or call 07505144371.

Notes for editors:
1)         The future of the ILF has been the subject of two legal challenges: the first was won by disabled claimants at the Court of Appeal in November 2013 and the second was lost in the High Court in December 2014. There have been continued protests and direct actions led by disabled people and their supporters since 2010, including in June 2014 the attempted occupation of the grounds of Westminster Abbey.

2)         Inclusion London is a pan impairment pan London Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisation (DDPO) which provides policy, campaignjing and capaqcity building support for London DDPOs. Inclusion London promotes disability equality and has been working with the disabled people led campaign Disabled People Against cuts to support ILF recipients in the campaign to keep the ILF open.

3)         The UK is signed up to the UNCRPD Optional Protocol. This means that individuals can take complaints to the UN disability committee for breach of the UNCRPD if all domestic avenues have been exhausted. If the committee find the complaint admissible, they will investigate. and produce a set of recommendations for the State in question. One previous complaint was made to the UN disability committee but found inadmissible as the incidents in question which related to employment discrimination occurred before the UK ratified the convention. For more information about the UNCRPD:
For more information about previous uses of the Optional Protocol:

4)         2% overhead costs compared to 16% for Local Authorities
ILF annual report 2013-14 reported 97% user outcome satisfaction:


Best wishes,
Ellen Clifford
Campaigns and Communications Officer
Inclusion London

Visit for information on free training and events for London’s disability sector run by Inclusion London and Transport for All.

More than an observation

October 16, 2013 2 comments

Some news headlines not made up by me, but sadly very real: Disabled children falling deeper into poverty (the very basics food and clothing); More news from bbc amongst others…the mental health system in crisis…last weeks news: concern over 15 minute ‘flying visit’ calls to provide support in peoples homes…….The week before: disabled people being excluded from their own graduation due to inaccessible ceremony venue…..disability hate crime on the increase but still not being recognised as a real statistic….media stories questioning if there really was a Paralympic legacy or has it fizzled out already, just one year later?

Over the past couple of months I’ve been involved in a number of disability movement events, either speaking, mcing, singing or a bit of all. I sense a real increase in lobbying, challenging, demonstrating going on over the past year. One of the most moving and shocking to be involved in was the 10kCuts event on Parliament Square. I’m still trying to make sense of how 10,000+ people can have died due to government actions, without a bigger public outcry or the news picking it up and asking the question how/why? Of course you will know that i have been a little involved in the Save The Independent Living Fund Campaign which has been back to the high courts and we await judgement, four to six weeks from now.

All these events have really happened, I’m not making them up, you can google, research, ask others and its all there. My blog isn’t really a comment about these events in particular, others are writing much better than i could about the injustice of all of the above. My blog is the observation that even though we have been battling for access, rights, inclusion and independent lives throughout our lives…things seem to be intensifying.

I’ve never felt that paranoia of the big brother state getting me, thats not to say I don’t feel we are oppressed or marginalised people, just that I always believe that right will prevail and change will happen slowly. But the intensification of lots of disability issues, the above is only a small sample of that, makes it hard to stay bright and chirpy about our oppression and discrimination…you know…we are stronger as a result of it, type stuff.

This blog really is about my genuine confusion as to why the government (and opposition parties) cant see there is a problem for disabled people living in the uk right now?

Whilst at University I learnt to try and write objectively based on research, evidence and reasoned argument based on those principles. Of course I/we all write and see things through our own set of values and beliefs, we all do. Im trying to write this as objectively to, im not making a judgement on individual facts or even saying it must be all made up. Its the observation that it is prevulant, being reported and more disabled people are becoming mobilised by what is happening.

So even if you accepted (and I don’t) that all the above was reported on the bbc, newspapers etc as a left wing or anti government bias, even if you take that away….objectively, independent bodies (BMA, BBC, governments own appointed research and reports, the justice system) you cannot deny things are happening negatively and theres a lot of it around! the disability movement (another discussion to be had) or organised collectives of disabled people are becoming active, court cases regarding disability issues are being brought forward which are of a critical nature about fundamental basic rights and they seem to be on the increasing. media reporting of issues around poverty, abuse, exclusion and discrimination is a regular (at least weekly, if not daily).

Yesterday I was working with my local cil. we’ve only been operational for less than a year and already we have a body of evidence, which we have not dug around for, it has come to us through peoples real experiences. Some of this evidence is horrendous and no individual would accept it in a civilised society where freedom, liberty, justice and dignity are meant to be corner stones…the cornerstones by which we are judged as a society.

I’ve held off writing about these things for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are many others writing much more eloquently than I about these issues. Secondly you who know me, know I’m a fighter but I’m also a lover, i protest through music and trying to be the change I want to be in myself, so i am always determined to be on the brighter side, glass half full type person and part of me doesn’t want to write about the negative things that I individually feel passionately about.

But the last few months have given me thoughts and experience and evidence of how serious my smile and fight really is. It is why we must become even stronger, together to continue the fight for what we believe in acceptance, equality and justice. I also know we need our issues to be recognised and supported much more widely than just within ourselves. These wrongs must be righted (is that a wrong word?) by many others so that we build allies and alliances disabled and non disabled people together and that as a society we all realise that disability issues are about how we all live and work together.

A final shocking but true thought/reality being suggested to a few……

Is it really acceptable to be told that instead of having support at night, you could wear a pad if you need the loo?

And yet those saying it go to work, fed, showered, in their smartest suits and dresses without even knowing or thinking how long that all takes them to get ready and out the door, or without considering how much tat time to get ready may cost in monetary terms to the hour…..i do…….down to the minute.

I’m so grateful to work and meet with so many amazing fighters, friendps, allies and people who don’t let any of the above stop them from getting on and making a difference. We are not going away, the fight will continue, not for us individually but for us all collectively. I will continue to sing & smile my way through at the ridiculousness of the wrongs, its what we do, be resourceful and creative. we cant allow wrongs to break the collective heart, so we have to be strong until we get further along the road to justice and equality.

We carry on sausages.

Election Fatigue & other matters

April 28, 2010 Leave a comment

My last few blogs have been of the audio variety, so I thought it was about time I put pencil end to keyboard and mulled over the last few weeks or so.

I had a great inspiring trip with a few close friends (56) up to our favourite outdoor education centre, Bendrigg Lodge. The energy, talents and friendship the young people share on this trip is always inspiring and this trip was no exception.

You may have guessed from my twitter, facebook or diary antics, that since December I’ve been getting more & more involved with the life & times of Ian Dury and in particular the brilliant Theatre Company Graeae. I’ve been singing as part of the development stage of there latest production “Reasons To Be Cheerful”. Written by Paul Sirett, it’s a funny, gritty, sometimes hard & sad story intertwinned around the songs of Ian Dury. I think this description of the show will be better articulated as I get to know the story once it’s finished it’s 100th or more re-write. I’ve only met Paul a handful of times but i love watching him, watching us, wondering what his next thought is. What might he be thinking as a result of a flippent rehearsal comment or action that might end up in the next script, or not? We are in the safe and genius hands of Jenny Sealy who I love being around & learning from. She is a very experienced Artistic Director and great fun to be around. Robert Hyman is our MDand he can sure hit them keys.

You’ll have to come and see!

Anyway on Saturday, it was confirmed that I’m in it, doing the vocal. I’m over the moon, and completely over whelmed by this new opportunity. It feels like I’m punching well over my weight on this one, even though others tell me different and in my heart I know if I work hard and focus I might just get close to living the total dream!

I’ve sung all my life, never brilliantly, but always tried entertainingly. I live & love music and have been lucky to make a living from it in different ways and to do this is a boyhood dream that has stayed with me through my life.

It’s the people around me who are so skilled and talented that are the icing on the cake, you should see them, they are top banana & I’m going on the journey with them!!

I realise, I’ve not actually mentioned the elections, well why should I?? None of them have said much about the things that matter to me, Inclusion, rights, social justice, valuing informal learning & young disabled & non disabled people growing, learning & playing together….except yesterday when the bias of all parties towards segregated education was shown to still be in existence!

And Mr Steen MP, I’m giving up on ever hearing back from you about your bad parking habits. With any luck he’s going to get kicked out on 6th May and we’ll never know about his parking antics or expenses behaviours ever again. With the greatest of respects, thanks for showing you never did actually want to hear from Disabled People, I hope you are very happy polishing yer pearls & may you never need a parking space in SW London!