Monday, January 24, 2011

National Day Of Protest

 Guest post by Sue Marsh

Today is a big day for the sick and disabled.

It is the second National Day of Protest against the cuts sick and disabled people now face.

The emphasis is on ATOS Origin, the company responsible for the astonishingly unsuitable medical testing of disability and sickness benefits. At their headquarters in London, Triton Square, and at offices in Edinburgh, Leeds, Tyneside and Burnley, sick, disabled and able-bodied protesters will raise awareness about exactly why the system was not fit for purpose before the Conservative-led coalition ever came to power and simply cannot take any more strain. ATOS uses "medical professionals" to assess whether someone is sick enough or disabled enough to receive state support, but they aren't doctors or nurses. They are paid on results, incentivised to find us miraculously fit for work. The assessments are demeaning and frightening too, and sick and disabled people find them so distressing that some are even forced to consider taking their own lives.

Perhaps David Cameron and George Osborne will be more concerned about the protests planned in Gloucestershire or Hastings or Islington. When Sussex and the Shires stand with Glasgow and Birmingham, the public start to realise that something must really be wrong. Hastings plan to lay a trail of red drops, all the way to London and the breadth of the protests show that this isn't a minority problem - it's affecting millions of people from all backgrounds, all colours and all creeds in every town and village of the UK.

As with One Month Before Heartbreak The internet will be awash with bloggers and linkers and tweeters and Facebookers telling the world their messages, so do please join in even if you just send this article to three friends - you will be making an enormous difference to how these cuts are perceived and getting the protests in front of a wider audience.

If you need a little inspiration, then please watch this on YouTube : "Danny's Speech, Brassed Off, 1996"

If you watch nothing else today, then click on the link above - just a moment away from the kitten that can count or the bloke who can put his legs up his nose. You see, we've been here before. We don't have the luxury of saying, "Oh well, they'll be fine, they'll get through, we all just need to tighten our belts" because sick and disabled people often can't get through. They can't get out to protest and they wouldn't have the energy even if they did. If the miners were broken men in the 80s, then imagine how those who can't physically fight will be affected as they are targeted in the same way in 2011?

For those who can get to a protest today, thank you. For every person there today, there are 10, 50, maybe a thousand people at home, willing you on and manning the keyboards. If the recently departed Pete Postlethwaite from the tremendous clip above is watching, then I think he would be willing you on too.

**If you want to read testimonials from the sick and disabled and learn more about why ATOS and politicians are making a dreadful mistake over ESA and DLA, please do take a few minutes to read some of their powerful stories by clicking on the One Month Before Heartbreak link.


Independent Living Editor said...

You're right - we all need to make our voices heard, even if we aren't directly affected: apart from anything else, who knows when it will be our turn?

I for one don't want to be part of a society that solves its financial problems by making the least able bear the cost.

Julie said...

Am very interested to hear that Atos are behind this. Atos are one of the companies that have been taking over GP practices and if Lansley's reforms go ahead, they will be in charge of commissioning services as well as providing them. In which case they'll probably decide they're jolly fine chaps and give themselves lots of business at a ramped up price, because they're worth it..

Will highlight this on my blog BSS.


Are the 'powers that be', counting on the fact that if you have a disability you will have very little strength to fight the new legislation. In part they could be right... I, like many others, have little time to care about my own disabilities, as so much work is involved with our son's - and that's the physical effort - quite separate from the emotional aspect of disability and the knowledge that both of us are on borrowed time.

I shall do my best to promote awareness of the injustice of all the planned changes - but this is a time when many people are concerned with education and jobs - I just hope that 'healthy, able bodied' people will feel able to support us too. (Sadly, I personally know people who are more concerned about whether they will still be able to afford their usual 2 holidays a year!) What's a holiday?