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London – Hardest Hit March, Lobby and Protest, Wed 11 May

April 16, 2011

Thousands of disabled people, family and friends are expected to march. There are many ways to participate, including online – visit:

Some of us autonomous claimants plan to attend and will be meeting up with WinVisible at 11.30 on Victoria Embankment at the corner of Derby Gate SW1. The march will go past Parliament towards Millbank, ending at Dean Stanley St. The nearest tube station is Westminster. Bring anti-atos placards, leaflets etc

The Hardest Hit campaign, organised jointly by the Disability Benefits Consortium and the UK Disabled People’s Council, brings together individuals and organisations to send a clear message to the Government: stop these cuts.

Download a placard template and edit with the name of the CEO of your favourite charity at: hardest hit march template2

We will be marching in solidarity with all disabled peoples, claimants, carers and workers attending, however many of us remain sceptical about the nature of the event – some of the reasons why are well articulated below, which was first published at:

Hardest Hit? Marching for Millions more like!

Self-serving multi-million companies are organising a well resourced and publicised ‘disability’ protest march, on Wedneday (11th May) as part of their Hardest Hit campaign. It is put together by the Disability Benefits Consortoium (DBC) who are trying to absorb the feisty new wave of protest against increasing discrimination and poverty. The cosortium is, for disabled people, a wolf in sheeps clothing. They are preying on the real fear and hardship facing many of us since the cuts got worse, to protect their interests.

Disabled people’s Direct Action Network, like Disabled People Against Cuts, opposes the DBC and all big business taking our people and our money and profiting from our excluded position.

These large organisations are not organisations OF disabled people and they are not our liberators: they are our long time jailors, warehousing our people for profit in institutions, bidding and taking control over any services and resources they can. They control many disabled people’s lives, resources, cash, housing, care, equipment and so on and have influence with government.

Whatever money is going to be earmarked for disabled people.. they want it, hence their apparant concern about the difficulties disabled people are subject to right now. Cuts could hit the charities, their profits and the huge wages enjoyed by their higher level staff right in the pocket.. their campaign title is an irony.

DAN has illegally protested, repeatedly, over the years against many of these businesses, in particular Leonard Cheshire Foundation, RNIB, SCOPE, MENCAP, and the like. We have spoiled parties, occupied foyers in their glamorous offices, we have been hurt and arrested and fined.. just to raised awareness with the public that we want rights and inclusion not charity, that we want to speak for ourselves, not be told what’s good for us. It’s never been easy to get the press to cover it.. all these ungrateful disabled people protesting illegally and getting angry about these nice people ‘helping us’ just isn’t ‘sexy’, as my colleague Simone Aspis at the Alliance for Inclusive Education would say. To see an organisation like the Cheshire Foundation marching under the banner of ‘the hardest hit’ seems a bit rich when you check out their accounts – they are a multi milion global business.

Supporting charities makes people feel good. People often don’t want to look much further into it. But why would they think disabled people want to be objects of pity, or charity? This is not the only option, but it can be hard to get that message out there, when the charities are so well resourced they have a lot of control over public impressions of us.

In the disabled people’s movement, disabled people know we need entitlements and to be part of society like everyone else! We want to be citizens, running our own lives, talking on our own behalf – not being forced into gratitude for paltry handouts from oppressive charities which humiliate us, keep people down and profit from our incarceration.

These are not organisations DAN in particular have picked on, they are targets of the disabled peoples movement and have been for decades – though some of the charities pretend to have come on board with the social model of disability sometimes, we have found they just do it in order to suck up any power and money resulting from our successes in fighting for freedom. Thus the general public continue to be duped that they are our saviours.

They are part of the problem. We know because the disabled people’s movement was born in institutions, by disabled people who had a new idea about what was really causing us to be in this lesser position in society.. and it wasn’t just our impairments. We know because many activists in our movement have lived and been neglected, abused and repressed in these places and none of us want to die there, though hundreds of disabled people do. We know because we try to support people into freedom and independence ut of these awful ‘homes, so we hear stories, some of them horriffic, like people lying in their own piss on a carpet til their skin is burned, lying in their own shit regularly, until they become infected, having no access to communication or moving around, accidental deaths that are so regularly in the courts.. and the abuses, the violence and sexual assaults.

When you are part of a real community it is so much harder for people to get away with that and you have routes to escape when someone isnt locking you in ‘for your own good’.

We’re sad to see some less radical campaigns which have sprung up recently backing DBC. DAN has been around long enough to remember what happened last time these charities joined our campaigns (as referenced by Bob Findlay below). They got money. We received lip service. And disabled people got a toothless dog called the DDA (which legal aid can’t be used for, which contains nothing any official body enforces without us taking an individual case.. oh and made it legal for 98% of businesses NOT to employ us!).

When campaign success is going to happen you can count on these charities use their plentiful resources to to sweep in and be there to help government ‘resolve’ the anger, fear and penalties disabled people face. They get to sit at the table with Government and make sure THEIR business interests get served first, not the interests of disabled people. They take control of matters for government, claiming to be the people who represent disabled people and ‘look after us’ so nobody else need get bogged down in the detail.

Charities who incarcerate disabled people in homes and provide services often profit from dependance, inaccess, cornering markets, restricting wider access of accessible information, controlling care, controlling money, locking us away, putting us at more risk of abuse and neglect, speaking ‘for’ us, denying peer support and outside advocacy – basically making sure nobody gets any of their independent living needs met, so they stay trapped. The disabled people’s movement campaigns for freedom instead: independent living, access, choices and rights, information, our own homes, and so on.

Hardest hit is a really awful campaign title but it says it all. They are competitive and they want money. Lots of people are being screwed over by these cuts.. it is not necessarily worst of all just because a person is disabled. This disregards intersections of oppression and the issues others are facing … it reads like a community sector in opposition to others.

This is not a competition.

We shoudn’t be fighting for our rights on the back of ignoring the rights and needs of others, this plays into the hands of those who are squeezing the poorest in our society to protect their own profits.

In simplest terms – look at the situation.. they even want control of disabled people protesting! Don’t be sucked in by these profiteering leeches: don’t help them repeat history by keeping our power!

We need to continue to warn newly aroused protesters that it may be unfortunately naive to get into bed with companies who profit from our oppression and remind them about our history.. the new public image is still the same facade, updated.

Spread the word. Feel free to share, repost or quote .Blog about it. Share links. Send me any good links about this that you have.

What unites and what divides us? by Bob Williams-Findlay

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve permalink
    May 8, 2011 11:01 pm

    Am having an ‘evil thoughts’ day today:-) Just wondering what would result from a spontaneous mass ‘sit-in’ somewhere prominent on the hardest hit march? Thousands of disabled people from being on crutches to needing a wheelchair for mobility…ALL doing a ‘clog-up london sitdown protest’ How might the Police react? Would they have sufficient officers to cope on the day? What media attention might such a plan result (suitably primed beforehand of course. though without exact details:-) If the police got heavy-handed what kind of sympathy against these evil Con-DemNs plans might result? Would it help or hinder our cause? I personally would cause as much of a stink and unhelpful attitude even to the extent of being ‘roughed-up’ for a few minutes…if it brings the true intentions of this governments plans into the spotlight!! Oh well…time for my medication…and if I have anymore evil dreams i’ll be sure to post again..hehehe

    ATOS – Healthcare Professionals? What a SICK joke..They neither CARE nor are they PROFESSIONAL…(Except as The Euthanasia Dept within The DWP)

    Lets show these millionaire morons we mean business! Don’t let the buggas grind you down! Here’s to Wednesday!

    • Dennis Queen permalink
      May 10, 2011 4:06 pm

      I love that idea.. that’s what would make it worth going for me… 😉

  2. Dustnbones permalink
    May 10, 2011 7:42 pm

    This is a confusing blog. While I agree with the sentiments you contradict yourself by going on the march. What’s that all about? I know of some prominent disability activists who won’t go on the march because of charity involvement.
    My own view is this. While there is no alternative I think we have to use this to raise awareness. I know I will go in support of other disabled people and many will do the same.
    That aside what we have to ask ourselves is how can we campaign if we don’t have the financial resources to have the impact that charities have? We can rant and rave about the injustice of what charities get up to but at the end of the day, the only outcome will be sore throats.
    Although Scope have come in for some justified battering, not all they do is bad and I can testify to that. That said, I was appalled to learn recently that only a quarter of their staff have disabilities.

    • Dennis Queen permalink
      May 12, 2011 8:43 am

      grreat post. while organisations FOR instead of organisation OF have all the power, this situation will continue. What do we need to do? Rise up. If this many disabled people can congregate in protest for DBC….. our power is all right there. I have not attended the protest. we need to bring the new generation of activists into the disabled people’s movement.. get on board with the coalitions, and CILs and campaign grous like Disabled people against cuts (DPAC) and Disabled people’s direct action network (DAN) – show our power. the power of yeterday was not the charities, it was disabled people coming out in protest. charities down own that they are just using it. our movement has been stronger.. it grew weak as we gained privelege.. now we need to regain our power for our own sake, on our own behalf


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