Month: July 2019

  • A new userled project will help disabled people i

    first_imgA new user-led project will help disabled people in London use the law to fight for their independent living rights, and combat the discrimination they face from providers of goods and services.Inclusion London’s Disability Justice Project will support disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) across the capital to make better use of the Social Care Act, the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act, through information, training sessions and ongoing support.The project will also build “better, stronger” relationships between DPOs and lawyers with expertise in those areas, and encourage them to look at cases from an equality and human rights perspective and understand the social model of disability and the history of the disabled people’s movement.Svetlana Kotova, the disabled lawyer who has been appointed project coordinator, said Inclusion London hopes the project will help to launch important “strategic” discrimination and human rights cases that will “tackle the most pressing issues that disabled people are facing”.She said the project came about because DPOs were telling Inclusion London that disabled people were facing discrimination “in all aspects of their lives”.She said: “We thought it was time to build the capacity of DPOs to ensure they can use the law effectively to advocate for the rights of disabled people.”The Disability Justice Project will build on the success of Inclusion London’s Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations Legal Network, which looks at how DPOs can use case law and legislation in their advice, advocacy, policy and campaigns work, and builds partnerships between lawyers and DPOs.A key focus of the new project will be the Care Act, which only became law two years ago and “has a lot of good things in there but doesn’t necessarily take a rights-based approach to care”, she said.Kotova said Inclusion London wanted to both ensure the Care Act was implemented properly – there are concerns that local authorities are “not always fulfilling their duties as they should” – and influence that implementation by emphasising the importance of taking account of disabled people’s rights.It comes at a time when local authorities are making further cuts to their social care budgets, which will make it even harder for disabled people to secure the support they need and are entitled to, she said.The project aims to build the capacity of advocacy workers employed by DPOs in London to provide advice and information, so they can use “strong legal arguments” in their casework when fighting for the rights of disabled people.Kotova also hopes that DPOs will be able to use the relevant legislation in their campaigns and discussions with local authorities.She said: “In social care, we definitely know people are finding it much harder to get the right levels of support.“They increasingly have to battle with local authorities who want to cut their packages.“We do hear that people are really concerned that their packages are going to be cut. They are expecting this or it is happening.”The project will also focus on the Equality Act, and its legal protection against providers of goods and services who discriminate against disabled people.One of the problems in enforcing the Equality Act, she said, is that it is much harder for disabled people to secure legal assistance than for cases taken under the Care Act.Kotova said the difficulty of enforcing the provisions of the Equality Act was a “huge weakness” of the legislation.She said: “Even if you are prepared to [take a case to court], it’s often really difficult to get legal advice and representation with these cases, so sometimes disabled people are left alone to go to court ourselves and take all the risks.”She said that Inclusion London was hearing of cases of discrimination in transport, access to buildings and shops, and in securing information in an accessible format, “even from government departments”, and particularly in obtaining information in an easy-read format, which she said was “almost never possible”.She was particularly surprised to learn, after Inclusion London issued a call for disabled people’s experiences of banking services, that there were significant problems in that sector.She said: “We got a lot of people coming back to us saying how difficult they find it, even though I personally thought banks were a long way ahead with how they try and make their services more accessible for disabled people.“It tells us that even in areas where we thought things are not that bad, things are actually bad.”There will be a launch event for the Disability Justice Project in November. Any lawyers or London-based Deaf and disabled people’s organisations who would like to attend can email Svetlana Kotova at [email protected]  Picture: Disabled activists outside the Royal Courts of Justice in 2013 for a case opposing the closure of the Independent Living Fundlast_img read more

  • Labour is facing concerted pressure to put an end

    first_imgLabour is facing concerted pressure to put an end to years of “blatant discrimination” against its own disabled party members, while also facing complaints about “inexcusable” access failings at this week’s annual conference in Brighton.Members of one disabled members’ campaign – Party Participation and Disabled People (PPDP) – handed out leaflets at the conference, calling on Labour to address its continuing failure to comply with its duties under the Equality Act.Other disabled members had been planning a separate protest about access at the conference but were persuaded by party figures to cancel the action.And many other disabled activists have spoken out this week about the problems they have faced, both with access at the conference and in the wider party.The PPDP campaign has more than 160 members across the party who are frustrated at Labour’s failure to act on what they say is widespread discrimination.Sophie Talbot, Fran Springfield and Rona Topaz said in a joint statement issued to Disability News Service that the party had had 22 years to implement disability equality legislation.They said: “Not only does the party continue to blatantly discriminate against us (every party structure with at least 25 members must make meetings, events and campaigning activities accessible, whether or not they know of disabled participants), but it has refused to act on the law.“This year’s conference has shocked people with its inexcusable inaccessibility. Yet this happens at every ward, every CLP [constituency Labour party] all the time.“And when disabled members challenge their ward or CLP they are given the brush off.“We call ourselves the party of equality yet we are in the dark ages when it comes to equality for disabled people within this party.”They added: “This can’t continue. It sickens us to the stomach. That’s why we did our leaflet drop, and we’ll continue to campaign on this until the party starts ensuring all sections of the party are compliant with the Equality Act.”Their concerns about access at the conference were shared by another disabled party activist, Alex Hovden (pictured, right), who was attending his first party conference.His concerns included the inaccessibility of conference procedures, disabled delegates being ignored when they wanted to speak during debates, delays in producing accessible versions of conference papers, and the lack of a disabled person on the party’s National Executive Committee and on the committee responsible for conference arrangements.He said: “What I would like to see is Jeremy Corbyn get in a wheelchair and try to access conference for a day or so, then he could understand the problems you will face as a wheelchair-user.”He also raised concerns about the shortage of accessible accommodation in Brighton and access problems across the city, including cobble stones and uneven pavements.Anne Pridmore (pictured, left), another disabled party activist, said access at the conference had been “a complete disaster”.She faced huge problems with her personal assistant’s accreditation, despite following the party’s advance instructions to the letter, while there was only one toilet accessible to her at the conference centre, and every time she wanted to use it she had to collect a key from a stand run by a local disabled people’s organisation.Pridmore said she had “never been so embarrassed in all my life” as she was by the access problems she encountered at a fringe meeting, which was supposedly wheelchair-accessible, as clueless organisers tried to find somewhere for her to place her chair.And she said a step near one of the entrances to the main conference venue had only been removed halfway through the conference.She said: “Until they include us in their conference arrangements then nothing is going to change, I am afraid.”Louise Reecejones, general secretary of Disability Labour – which represents the interests of disabled party members – and a Labour member of Wirral council, told a Disability Labour fringe meeting that disabled people with hidden impairments were “invisible” in the party.She said she had faced huge access problems because of her profound deafness, both in council meetings and Labour group meetings.She told the fringe meeting that she had not been able to follow what was happening at the annual general meeting of her local party last week, and added: “I felt quite isolated in my own party.”Reecejones said it had taken her seven years to persuade the party to show British Sign Language interpreters on the big screens in the main hall of the annual conference.She said: “I just think they do not understand the pressures and struggles you go through on a daily basis and how isolating it can be in our party to have a disability and try to fight our own party to make access arrangements.“We are not going to change everybody. There will be CLPs who really do not want to change.”Emily Brothers, a disabled former parliamentary candidate and a member of the Disability Labour executive, said: “There needs to be a shift in the mindset of many members of the Labour party.“When we talk about inclusion we are not just talking about the world out there… it includes what we do as members of the Labour party in being a kinder, gentler, more inclusive, more supportive party.”Kirsten Hearn, a disabled member of Haringey council, said: “I have felt quite lonely, arguing the toss for disabled people on the executive committee at my local CLP.“I have felt isolated and alone and really intimidated.”She suggested that disabled party members should find the other disabled people in their constituency and help them connect with each other; make connections with local disabled people’s organisations; and create a strategy for members and leaders in the local party “to take on board inclusion for disabled people”.She said there needed to be a “toolkit” that would help disabled people “start that revolution” in their local constituency.She said she had faced discrimination and exclusion and “had to fight so hard to get through the door.“I spent my time moaning about not being let in. It’s time for disabled people to kick down the door.”Miriam Mirwitch, the disabled members’ officer for Young Labour, and chair of London Young Labour, said disabled people were under-represented at every level of the party.She said she had been pushing over the last year to make the party more accessible to disabled members, and called for there to be an access point of contact for every event organised by the party.She said: “It’s really vital that disabled members are able to participate in our democracy.”One disabled party member said she had been forced to miss five meetings at this week’s conference because she was not able to enter the venues in her scooter.She said: “We have to take it back to the NEC [Labour’s governing body, the National Executive Committee] because it’s not acceptable.”Dave Allan, chair of Disability Labour, said: “Many of us will have realised that this week’s conference is not as accessible as it could have been.”He said Disability Labour had already “made representations” to the party’s general secretary and “will be making even stronger ones”.But he said one of the problems was with the inaccessibility of Brighton, with a lack of dropped kerbs and narrow doorways at fringe venues, and he said the party should be told not to return to the city for its annual conference “until Brighton is accessible to disabled people”.But he said he accepted the problems had been magnified by the huge turnout at this week’s conference.The Labour party had failed to comment by noon today (Thursday).last_img read more

  • PREPARATION for Steve Prescotts toughest ever cha

    first_imgPREPARATION for Steve Prescott’s toughest ever challenge, to cycle 1024 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats, and climb the national three peaks, all in nine days, is in the last stages.There are just three days left before two teams of eight will set off from the southernmost tip of England on Saturday 4 June and join Steve in a challenge he has branded his ‘hardest to date’ in aid of the Steve Prescott Foundation.Participants have been training hard to increase endurance, speed, and optimise nutrition and recovery times as they build the cycling miles.The Challenge has received a boost from three specialist sports brands: ISC Compression which makes high performance apparel has donated a compression garment for each member of the challenge to help recovery after the long rides and hikes. JST Nutrition has committed to providing high nutrition energy and recovery snacks and fluids to be used during the challenge, and DW Sports has supplied free weather proof fleeces for all challenge participants.Steve Prescott said: “This is one of those crazy ideas that sounded great at the time. But now it’s getting nearer it’s getting a little scary. There are people who take on the Three Peaks Challenge, or a Land’s End to John O’Groats bike ride, but not both. But this is what the Foundation is about – challenging each other and other people, and inspiring people too.”To sponsor Steve on his latest inspirational test, visit the challenge starts, daily updates will be available via read more

  • Venice Commission recommendation to be implemented from tomorrow – Muscat

    first_img SharePrint Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the government will be implementing a third of the recommendations in the report issued from the Venice Commission. The Prime Minister said this during a political activity in Marsascala.Muscat said that the Venice Commission has amongst others recommended that the President of Malta gets a two-thirds approval from the Maltese Parliament, and that even though this reform is still not officially in place, a President for Malta will be unanimously approved by the House in the coming days.Venice Commission calls for revision of constitutional rolesThe Prime Minister the touched on AirMalta and said that the government has taken a huge gamble in expanding the company when one considered the large competition that it faces in the aviation market, and said that the government aim is to see AirMalta as THE Mediterranean airline.Joseph Muscat also invited the leader of the Opposition Adrian Delia to appear in front of a magistrate for investigation on the allegations that are being made by the FIAU.He also said that checks and balances are done at the end of the calendar year and this year the government will register another surplus in the year ending balance even though the Opposition was quick to publicise the deficit registered in the first two months of the year.The Prime Minister also said that the best country in the world when it comes to equality and homophobia.Muscat is unreliable – PN Reacting to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s speech earlier today, the PN has said that numerous international and European reports including the European Commission had condemned the the lack of a plan for the Government and it’s reluctance to focus on certain sectors.They call the Prime Minister unreliable for not having a long-term plan or business for the Labour market, which posed many difficulties for the different sectors.WhatsApp <a href=’” alt=”last_img” /> read more