On Thursday 25th October, a peaceful #HardestHit protest took place during lunchtime, organised by the Bristol Disability Equality Forum , held outside the Council House in Bristol, UK – yesterday (Thursday 25th Oct 2012).But – a few disruptive things took place, and one of these was picked up by the local press (The Post) who posted this story today “A Disability campaigner spat at #bristolmayor #LibDem candidate Jon Rogers”. And of course, a row broke out between Jon and other people with Disability’s, during this peaceful protest held in Bristol, campaigning against the cuts to Welfare, and employment.
As usual, the token ‘anarchist’, who has their own agenda, gets all the publicity from the media, as well as giving free publicity to two of the mayoral candidates, while the actual reason for the demonstration (i.e. disabled people’s fears of the cuts hitting them) gets a little bit at the end of the report.
Mark Williams – co-Chair Bristol Disability Equality Forum
Background about the cuts to Welfare in the UK:
A report by the Children’s Society and Disability Rights UK claims 230,000 severely disabled people are set to get between £28 and £58 less in benefits every week, while 100,000 children stand to lose up to £28 a week.
Also – up to 116,000 disabled people whoWORK , will be at risk of losing £40 a week (which helps with costs such as Travel and Work Place adaptions, that employers do not provide!
Ms Kaye Long said: “On a day-to-day basis the cuts will have a huge effect on people’s basic human rights and living conditions. At least half a million disabled people will feel the negative effects.”
What the local Press had to say: (link to this news story)
Here’s a few quotes, take from The Post (Bristol) (www.thisisbristol.co.uk) who reported on this protest, that I attended:
MAYORAL candidate Jon Rogers was spat at by a demonstrator when he attended a protest over cuts to benefits for disabled people. A man campaigning on behalf of a rival candidate also threw his cigarette at the Liberal Democrat hopeful, who is the city council deputy leader.
Jon Rogers said “he was appalled at what happened and said he believed the actions constituted “assault”.” The campaigner who spat at Jon Rogers, ‘Michael Wright’, attempted to justify his actions by claiming Jon Rogers had “no place” at the march because of Bristol City’s Council’s planned closures of care homes for Disabled and the Elderly.
The activist, who is campaigning for Trade Union and Socialist Coalition mayoral candidate Tom Baldwin, told The Post: “I don’t think he has much of a place at a demonstration like this. He has closed operations for eight care homes in Bristol.”.
After Jon Rogers walked away from the fracas he said: “I have come down here to offer myself up to talk about disability issues, not to be abused in an appalling way. It’s assault.” But Jon Rogers said he did not intend to take the matter further.
Read the full article from ‘The Post’ (This Is Bristol), here: http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/Campaigner-spits-mayor-candidate-Jon-Rogers/story-17186260-detail/story.html
SAM DOWNIE’S COMMENTS ABOUT WHAT TOOK PLACE:
As I was attending this peaceful ‘Hardest Hit’ protest, I’d thought I would share with you. Read to see what really went on and what I observed over the space of Lunchtime.
1. Jon Rogers
Around 20 minutes into this peaceful protest, Jon Rogers came by on his bike, wanting to know what was taking place. He did start to talk to various people, including me and yes he did listen to concerns.
Whilst I was talking to other people, I heard a argument row taking place, between Jon and someone who I didn’t know, someone who I’d thought had just ‘shown up’. So I walked over to where the row was taking place, and listened for a short while.
No I didn’t see Jon being spat at. No I didn’t see a cigarette flung at him.
But – I did hear Jon say (during the argument taking place) “I don’t support people like you, and I don’t think you all need to be here”. Was this a dig at the person who spat at Jon, or was this a general thought/saying of his to everyone who was there (me included) ? (if that’s the case then that could be called ‘indirect disability discrimination’).
Other people I saw there and talked to were:
– Marvin Rees ( Bristol Mayor, candidate for Labour party) *in this photo
– Tom Baldwin ( Bristol Mayor, candidate – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition)
thanks both for speaking to me and coming to see what was going on and learning more about the Hardest Hit welfare cuts.
2. Why Was I There ?
Simple. I work. I have a Disability, and I claim Benefits (DLA and Working Tax Credits) which help me to stay in WORK. I’m a self-employed Journalist (freelance for BBC News, freelance for The Guardian, freelance for Channel 4 + other technology magazines and websites). I’m also a Presenter / broadcaster. More information about me at my website :http://www.dsoundz.co.ukAnd as a Broadcaster/Journalist, these Welfare cuts will effect me, and my work.
Why? well perhaps I can answer it like this: Why do I need to claim Benefits?
3. What’s my Disability ?
It’s simple again. I have 3 forms of Epilepsy. (read more about me and Epilepsy here : http://www.dsoundz.co.uk/sam-and-epilepsy ). Epilepsy effects over half a million people in the UK, and over 50 million people worldwide.
I am banned from Driving (it’s against the law to drive with Epilepsy, where ever you are in the world), so need help with costs for getting to / and back from work. My seizures effect the way I work too, as Epilepsy effects Memory and body control.
The AED’s (anti-epilepsy drugs) I take, don’t cure Epilepsy… as, there is no cure for Epilepsy… fact!All AEDs help by dampening the effects of seizures. And I take quite a bit of drugs per day to help combat seizures, but like all drugs, there are side-effects.
When you look at me. Ask yourself this: Can you see me having a seizure? (I have over 10 of these a day!). Epilepsy is a ‘hidden disability’, as it’s within the brain. So the next time you see me, do ask me How am I, and ask about what Epilepsy is and how it effects me and my work.
There’s more information about Epilepsy here : http://bristolepilepsy.org.uk/resources/epilepsy-facts/
4. What to do next ?
Carry on protesting.
Carry on sending out the message that Welfare cuts, will hit everyone – in employment (or not).
What I am doing right now is… talking to MP’s and various Lords in the HoC, by helping them with research.
I’m also doing some research for the ‘POST’ office (that is the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology) a government body who discuss research and analysis in all kinds of things, but more recently they have held discussions and posted documents about Welfare benefits looking at things such as IT (technology) and how people with various impairments might not be able to use these new services being introduced by the DWP (department for work and pensions).
I’m also looking into the Data Protection Act and how Fraud is rife within the DWP and it’s Work Programme (but I’ll blog about this at another time).
5. To Sum Up
So before you come to the conclusion that people with Disability’s, do not work / or are benefit scroungers. Do think again ! and make sure you know yourself what the right thing to say is.
Working people like me, ARE tax payers. We pay rent too. This is why I protest against the Welfare cuts, as it effects employment and a chance in a working life.
A Disability is for life…. fact !
Disability, effects everything around you, and sometimes there’s a small chance of a cure. There isn’t one right now for the over 50 million people worldwide who suffer daily with Seizures and Epilepsy.
So now you can see why I was there at the Hardest Hit protest in Bristol, on Thursday 25th October 2012.
photo’s by Sam Downie (c)