Friday, August 28, 2009

Disability activists in Britain take their concerns to the Prime Minister

From Community Newswire in the UK:

Disability campaigners knocked on the Prime Minister's door August 27 to remind him that while he enjoys substantial support from many quarters in his everyday life, hundreds of thousands of disabled people in the UK do not.

The group of six campaigners, from national disability charity Scope, delivered a box containing thousands of postcards to Mr Brown, to highlight the acute need for more support to enable disabled people to live independently.

Campaigners are contrasting the substantial resources and entourage Gordon Brown has at his disposal to the lack of support experienced by the vast majority of disabled people who because of this, often cannot take part in everyday life activities.

Today's protest was part of a move to lobby the Prime Minister to support the Disabled Persons (Independent Living) Bill and call for more funding for local authorities to provide adequate support to disabled people.

One of the campaigners who went to Downing Street was Scope fundraiser Martyn Sibley. He said: "Many disabled people lack the support they need to participate in everyday life activities. Today was all about bringing to the attention of Gordon Brown, how vital the Independent Living Bill is to disabled people.

"I genuinely hope the Government will listen to, and act upon, the petition received today, making independent living a reality for all disabled people."

Rosemary Bolinger, a Scope trustee, mother and former nurse who has cerebral palsy, added: "Disabled people are simply not getting the support they need to lead their lives they want.

"While it may not always seem like it, Gordon actually has a lot of support - certainly in terms of staffing and resources. However, hundreds of thousands of disabled people in Britain have very little or no support to enable them to take part in everyday activities."

Campaigners will also be highlighting disabled people's concerns around the future of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Attendance Allowance (AA). They will be emphasising the vital support provided by these entitlements and how they should continue regardless of future reforms to the social care system proposed in a recently published Green Paper.

Rosemary added: "The Independent Living Bill must not be put to one side. This Bill is crucial if disabled people are to be able to live where they want and have more influence over many other major decisions that affect their lives."

The Disabled Persons (Independent Living) Bill is a Private Members' Bill introduced by Lord Ashley of Stoke and Roger Berry MP.

The Bill covers some of the issues addressed in the recently published Green Paper on social care such as greater personalisation of services. However, it goes further, looking beyond social care to issues such as housing and access to advice and information. It focuses on areas where radical improvements are needed if disabled people in the UK are to achieve greater independence and enjoy more choice and control in their lives.

A key area highlighted in the Bill is to make it unlawful to force a disabled person, against their will, to live in a care establishment or other institutional setting. Another is to place a duty on local authorities to provide a list of accessible housing, keep a record of disabled people requiring such properties and provide a matching service.

The Bill, which also seeks to establish disabled people's right to accessible information about the support and services they receive, was introduced in December 2008. It has gone through the House of Lords and is due for a Second Reading debate in the House of Commons on October 16 2009.

Scope is a national disability organisation, with a focus on children and adults with cerebral palsy and people living with other severe and complex impairments. Scope's Time to Get Equal campaign aims to raise awareness about the barriers disabled people face. To find out more about the campaign visit: