Organisers of a national “summit meeting” of disabled people’s organisations (DPOs), grassroots campaigns and trade unions hope it will “reinvigorate” the disability movement.The National Disabled People’s Summit is being funded by unions, and co-organised by the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance.Organisers of the summit say there is a need to explore how to co-ordinate resistance and organise joint campaigning in the wake of years of austerity measures that have targeted disabled people.They point to the report in August of the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, which concluded that cuts to social protection in the UK had caused a “human catastrophe” for disabled people.At least 24 different organisations and campaigns are already signed up to take part in the summit in central London on 4 November.Marsha de Cordova, Labour’s new shadow minister for disabled people, is set to attend, and is likely to speak briefly, along with Ellen Clifford, from Inclusion London, and Bob Williams-Findlay, a former chair of the British Council of Disabled People.But the focus of the event will be workshops on areas such as independent living, social security, accessible transport and inclusive education, where participants will try to agree plans for campaigns, and aim “to inspire concrete activity that will lead to real change”.One reason for the summit is to try to identify disabled people who can take a lead on campaigning, following a year in which the movement has lost some of its key figures, including Debbie Jolly, Sophie Partridge, Robert Dellar and Eleanor Firman.Clifford, Inclusion London’s campaigns and policy manager, said: “In terms of losing key campaigners, the last year’s been really awful and it has really had an impact on capacity.”She added: “The summit won’t appeal to everyone because the position behind it is a clear anti-austerity one that not every single Deaf and disabled person or disability organisation may subscribe to.“The aim is to build new alliances between all those who want to fight neoliberal attacks on our rights and to reinvigorate our movement for change.“I am really excited about people working together who have not worked together or campaigned together before.”She said: “Over the past year in particular we have lost a number of experienced and committed activists.“We need to empower new campaigners to get involved and gain the confidence to take and lead collective action that can not only bring about the reversal of damaging cuts but also go forward in creating a society founded on principles of fairness and social justice, equality and human rights for all.”DNS reported last month how the idea for the summit came after Mandy Hudson – who represents disabled teachers on the new National Education Union – and colleagues on the TUC’s disabled workers’ committee, realised how many disabled people were having to fight individually to secure the support they needed to live independently, and decided it was “time for a more strategic view”.The summit is taking place at the headquarters of the National Education Union in Mabledon Place, near Euston and King’s Cross stations.Attendance is free, and can be booked online.
User-led groups met this week to discuss how to turn back the tide of closures of organisations run and controlled by disabled people and service-users.Research shows the number of user-led groups continuing to fall, due to austerity cuts and other trends affecting their funding.The closures mean user-led organisations have a “diminishing” voice in opposing oppressive policies, according to a briefing released ahead of the meeting.The closures are leading to a loss of a collective voice for disabled people, and the knowledge, peer support and advocacy that user-led organisations provide, the briefing said.The meeting was organised by two national networks of user-led groups, the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) and Shaping Our Lives (SOL).Professor Peter Beresford (pictured), SOL’s co-chair and one of the organisers of the meeting, said: “What was powerful was the strength of feeling at the meeting, which drew together a very diverse range of disabled people and service-users, with very clear messages.“The allocation of funding must be changed to stop discriminating against user-led organisations and to secure their future; they are crucial as the most direct voice for people increasingly marginalised under our politics.“Most shocking of all, participants made clear that nobody would fund a black organisation led by white people, a women’s organisation led by men or an LGBTQ organisation led by heterosexuals, yet the king-size portion of money in our field goes to organisations which are the absolute equivalent – dominated by non-disabled people and their agendas.“It must change and soon, before it’s too late.”Both NSUN and SOL have produced research showing the number of members falling sharply in the last three years.Initial findings from NSUN’s latest survey show that user-led organisations are often “overstretched” and forced to rely on the goodwill of volunteers and unpaid staff. The user-led organisations that took part said securing funding was “increasingly difficult”, with small user-led organisations increasingly losing out on contracts to large, non-user-led charities.NSUN was also told that austerity, funding cuts and “the nonsense of the benefits system” were having a devastating impact on the lives of individual disabled people. The briefing paper for this week’s meeting said that the “diminishing voice” of user-led organisations meant there was less opposition locally and nationally to “oppressive policies”.It said that many user-led organisations were suffering from “severe” cuts to local government funding, which had affected grants from local authorities.This problem had been “intensified” by the trend of awarding large contracts to national private sector organisations to manage smaller contracts, with user-led organisations often then being asked to deliver the same service for a “much reduced budget”.Those user-led organisations that do still receive funding from local authorities often feel pressured not to speak out about damaging cuts to services because of their fear of losing contracts.Grants that are available from trusts and foundations often focus on project funding, leaving user-led organisations struggling to finance their core running costs.But the briefing paper also warned that the individuals involved in setting up and growing user-led organisations were themselves experiencing “some of the worst deprivation, poverty and life chances in our communities”.It added: “Their resilience and ability to struggle both personally and on behalf of others is now greatly diminished.”A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…
JAMES Roby has been speaking about his third inclusion in the Dream Team.The hooker was named in the side once again after a stellar season in the Red Vee.“It is a great honour to be part of the Dream Team and surrounded by such great players,” he said. “This year all the names are on the jerseys too and it is superb to be listed amongst some of the great players from the past.“Of course the St Helens players stand out for me on this shirt and it’s fantastic to be on this shirt with some of the players I used to admire growing up.“Every player doesn’t take individual accolades without thanking his teammates and I’m the same. They have helped me get this award and we all work hard for each other. It is a team effort at the end of the day.“We’ll need to have that spirit on Sunday. Games against Wigan are always massive games and to have it at the DW and it being a playoff makes it bigger. It will be a great spectacle and we want to turn up and bring our A game.“We’ve lost four times to Wigan and it’s not happened for a number of reasons this season. They have performed better than us and got the results. I’m not sure that really matters as the playoffs are a different competition. We can’t forget those defeats but we will be focussed for the game in hand.“We know if we lose we aren’t out and that is a weird situation. But we are going to the game to win it. We are under no illusion and know the task. We have had a full week to prepare and we want to put in a top performance.“The fans will travel over there in numbers and to do it for them would be brilliant.”
KEIRON Cunningham believes Huddersfield are in a false position on the First Utility Super League table – but Saints can’t worry about the Giants’ form when the two sides meet this Sunday.It’s fourth v eleventh at the Magic Weekend in Newcastle with two points vital for both teams.“Huddersfield are playing well and are probably in a false position,” Keiron said. “They are similar to Leeds and if you take the Cas result (against Leeds) out of it you’d probably say both have been unlucky on a number of occasions.“Baloo (Paul Anderson) is working hard there and the boys are starting to get some belief at what they are doing. They went to Catalan and nearly rolled them so they will be on a high and coming into the game full of confidence. But we aren’t doing so badly either.“When we played in the rain at the beginning of the season we deserved to win the game. Our kicking game was very good that night. I have watched a lot of their games this season and I am shocked with where they are at. They’ve lost by a couple of points and not had the luck.“All we can do is take care of ourselves though. The Hull game wasn’t good and we had a vast improvement for the Salford match. We will try and improve again in those areas we are deficient in.“Magic does skew the table and can be a little unfair, but it is what it is. We have to showcase rugby league and push the boundaries. I enjoy the concept and playing there. Last year was a good game. We are looking forward to it.”KC reported no fresh injury concerns following the win over the Red Devils.Jonny Lomax, who came off in the second half of that game, is likely to be fit too.“Jonny coming off was a precaution and he is fine,” Keiron added. “Fingers crossed he will be fine for Sunday. Adam Swift came through ok too, whilst Shannon McDonnell has been ill but is ok now.“Nothing changes from where we are at and we know we need to keep on improving. You always have to improve and get better. We are working hard and hopefully we are heading in the right direction.“I like stability in the side, but if people aren’t holding up their end of the bargain then you have to look at it. There are plenty of people in the squad who are going to play plenty of rugby this year.“We have to try and find the best defensive team we can because we know we can score points.”Tickets for the Magic Weekend can be bought by popping into the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, by calling 01744 455 052 or online here.They go offsale at midnight tonight.
KEIRON Cunningham praised his side’s effort on Saturday as they defeated Catalans Dragons 28-24.“I thought our effort was outstanding,” he said. “I thought we were the better team and if we had not have won the game I think that would have been undeserved.“We had plenty of opportunities, we took plenty of them and wasted a few and I’m glad we brought the game home, It was a true gritty performance from the club.“We knew it was going to be tough; it has not been a happy hunting ground for us over here in France over a number of years. Things were stacked up against us after a couple of poor losses but I am proud of what the players did and I really think they deserved the win.“The game was open in the first half, there were lots of tries scored but both teams tightened up in the second.“Catalans had a good crack at it but I thought we were a little bit better tonight.”He added: “Theo has been brilliant since he came to the club. You forget how young he is, he still is a baby and lots of learning to do but he competes really hard.“Not only does he set up the match-winning try but he scrambles at the end to make a defensive play and saves a try.“There was a lot of fight from the club tonight.”