Disabled campaigners challenge benefit company and Paralympic sponsor accused of ‘assessing people’s lives in minutes’

Protesting about treatment of the disabled are Andy Greene and Pat Lynch

 

Published: 7 September, 2012

by PETER GRUNER

TWO wheelchair users from Islington symbolised the growing despair of the nation’s disabled at a demonstration to co-coincide with the Paralympic Games.

Andy Greene and Patrick Lynch joined a protest  outside the offices of Atos, the body tasked with organising benefit assessments for the government. They are also co-sponsors of the Paralymics.

Former charity worker Mr Lynch, 52, who lives off Liverpool Road, suffers from a slowly developing illness, syringo­myelia, caused by a cyst between the brain stem and spinal cord.

He featured in the Tribune last year after having to beg for financial support in an experience he found “totally humiliating”.

Labour MP for Islington South Emily Thornberry app­ealed successfully against a cut to his benefits.

Demonstrators at the protest heard that disabled people now face being institutionalised rather than supported to live independently by at least one local council in the West Midlands.

Wheelchair user Andy Greene, a member of Islington Disabled People Against Cuts, said that putting people in care was cheaper than allowing them to live independently within the community. He said: “I welcome the Games, of course. But we have a situation where thousands of disabled people are being denied essential benefits. Their entire lives are being assessed in minutes and it is extremely distressing.”

He spoke out in the run up to another planned demonstration outside the offices of the Works and Pensions department next Wednesday, September 12, at 9.30am. There is also a Paupers Picnic being held outside the House of Commons next Thursday, September 13, at 1pm.

Mr Green said: “Disabled people represent the poorest and most vulnerable in society. They are struggling against financial hardship, social isolation, ill-health, depression and despair. And now in at least one part of the country there is even talk of taking away their basic freedoms and putting them into care. How much worse can it get? It’s like putting the clock back 50 years. All the gains and progressive changes in the lives of disabled people are under threat.”

Mr Greene, 36, who lives off Upper Street, was born with lifelong disabilities, including no legs and no right arm and is visually impaired.

He warned there would be further protests over the issue of people being refused benefits.

“Disabled people are having their rights whittled away,” he said. “With cuts it means less access and less opportunity for mobility. Long term the Paralympics won’t do anything to address these issues.”

He urged disabled people in the borough to join the fight back. “Don’t take it lying down if your benefits are cut. The majority of people who appeal – about 70 per cent – win in the end.”

The Islington Tribune

Comments
  • WORRIED VETERAN September 8, 2012 at 10:50 am

    all disabled people MUST turn out and vote at the next election!!!! there can be no complacency and the fight must not stop until a fair system is in place for those people who are suffering through these current reforms against the disabled/ill/injured.

  • jed goodright September 8, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Yes Worried

    BUT the problem is who do you vote for?

    None of the parties in the UK represent, in any way, the views of disabled people.

    labour are too concerned to keep the WCA in order to ‘enable’ disabled people be a part of the working community. UKIP will just kill us, just like the tories ……

    THE VOTE MEANS NOTHING BECAUSE THIS IS NOT A DEMOCRACY

    Share your anger though!!!!!

  • DAVID A SHAW September 8, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    It is vital to get rid of this government ASAP, Labour are currently ruled by neo-liberals but it does not have to be that way. There is a large group of center left MPs and thinkers in the Labour movement. They are pro Disability and will not but profit before people as the current lot and any neo-liberal group will do , who put the wishes of the wealthy one per cent first. A vote for Labour gives people the chance to bring the party back to its roots. And in doing the that put the people of the nation first. Trust me on this one. I am a Labour left socialist and also disabled.

  • miki67 September 13, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Today, from ATOS (the disability denying wing of I.D.Smith’s private and personal fiefdom within Govt., The DWP):
    ” It is with some satisfaction that we can announce today that any disability benefits paid to Stephen Hawking will be removed forthwith after his sterling performance at The Opening Ceremony of The Paralympics where we were a major sponsor. After a thorough assessment of Stephen, we have decided he is fit for work and will have his DLA terminated immediately. As he no longer requires the middle or full-rate DLA, we will also be removing Carer’s Allowance from his primary caregiver.
    These sanctions will also apply to all other British Paralympians and any disabled person seen performing at The Paralympics. These subjects are all currently being assessed by our approved medical personnel, based on recorded evidence from the games.
    As major sponsors of The Paralympics we felt it right to use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to use the games as a mass screening assessment process. We feel it has been a successful operation for our company, achieved in a superb cost effective module.
    Therefore, we are expecting to roll out this model in the coming months.
    Iain Duncan Smith has given us the green light, subject to approval from Cabinet colleagues.
    With not inconsiderable pride in our methodology, we would like to assure the taxpayers of Great Britain that their hard earned taxes will less and less be handed out to undeserving spongers,wasters, and the dross of society,and instead will be used to handsomely reward our ongoing programme of Eugenics.
    We are immensely satisfied with the role we have played in bringing the most succesful Paralympics to you, our most valuable resource : the people. We hope you will support us in our efforts to streamline society, and that you continue to inform us of anyone you think is getting benefits they do not deserve. We look forward to your continuing support. Without it we could not do as we have done, are doing, and will continue to do so until our aims are reached and a final solution is found to the problems of society which are a drain on our resources and an irritation to us all.
    Thank you.
    As a complimentary bonus we will be sending DVDs of The Who’s ‘Tommy’ to all our clients.
    If a deaf dumb and blind kid can play such a mean pinball, then many of the so-called ‘disabled’ will certainly have to have their aspirations reassessed.
    We hope this is a motivational gift and that you benefit from it ; because it’s the only benefit you are ever likely to receive once we have interviewed you, assessed you, and sanctioned you on a permanent, no appeals ,no quibble basis.

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