Category: wearespartacus


Hi Folks its been a long time and ill do a blog post soon that explains that,

but first

A new project… Myself and fibrogirl with a group of other campaigners are going to start a campaign for the correct classification of Fibromyalgia and ME.

This was triggered by a hastily removed article yesterday that stated the FM and ME, CFS could possibly be re classified as mental health problems. This was very quickly denied by the world health organisation, but they stated there would be no change to the FM ME classification and the problem with that is, that they are not accurately classified now. So the upshot is a new campaigning group utilising some of the campaigning experience gained by working with the We Are Spartacus Campaign in the hope we can raise this issue and work towards better treatment for us all…

FibroGirl has done a blog post update which explains whats going on and how you can get involved…

Sorry ive been gone so long I will do a post soon that explains where the stats campaign is at and why ive been absent… Dxxx

Heres FibroGirls blog please read and come join us… http://but-you-dont-look-sick.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/fibromyalgia-me-call-to-action-update.html?showComment=1392316106857

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I know ive not been around since london but to be honest ive been wiped out both physically and mentally and unable to really get it together. On top of which my sons been ill just a virus but it takes its toll on sleepless nights… Anyway this piece is Written by Sue Marsh. and Cross posted in the interests of viralness.

I can hardly bear it any more. Day after day after day. Terrible stories of suffering, despair and suicide.

I’m know you don’t believe it. I know what you’re told. “It’s getting better, we’re taking action, we’re improving the process, these people don’t try hard enough, they’re not really sick enough.”

People say I shouldn’t beg. But I’m not proud. If getting down on my knees and begging you would make a difference, I’d do it gladly. I promise you now, you’ll be remembered for this. If you’re sitting at home right now, thinking about your legacy, I promise you it will be this. It will be that you turned away from the pain and suffering before your very eyes. I’ll make sure of it if it takes me 20 years.

It will be that you allowed your Department for Work and Pensions to lie and cheat and mislead whilst people – millions of people – suffered.

I know, I don’t usually click on video links either. But you found time to watch Strictly Come Dancing,you said so at the Downing St charity reception. And we know you loved Fruit Ninja. And you have time to take countless holidays.

So even if you’re convinced I’m wrong, absolutely certain I’m just a trouble making leftie, please, I’ll beg you, I’m not proud, find ten minutes – just ten minutes to watch

This film. 

Work Capability Assessments have been found in law to discriminate against people with mental health conditions. Your government appealed but the appeal was overturned. Not only are you on the wrong side of the argument, you’re on the wrong side of the law.

You have to stop this. You can pause the migration of Incapacity Benefit claimants until the process can be made safe. YOU can do it. Today if you chose to. You could stop this dreadful social crisis unravelling before our eyes.

And I’m begging you. For what it’s worth.

We are being misled again this time by our new “Minister of

State for Work and Pensions” Mike Penning

Mike Penning has begun his career as the new Minister of state for work and pensions, by using the same misleading tactic of his predecessors…
Manipulating stats to make all DLA/PIP claimants look like they do not deserve their benefit because they haven’t been assessed in a face to face with the DWP… In an article in the Daily Mail with the extremely misleading head line “Disabled benefits farce: 94% of new claimants have never been assessed by a doctor” 

He said “Only 6 per cent of new disability benefit claimants have a face-to-face assessment with a medic, it has been revealed.”

 Implying that only a small amount of claimant are getting benefits they are entitled to…

But the truth is far more revelling…

DWP “Medical Examination Report states that:

6% of claimants were actually seen face to face by a DWP engaged assessor.

40% by a GP,

10% on the claim form they submitted alone. Often clearly the most disabled 

45% on “other evidence” perhaps a community psychiatric team or a consultant

Getting the full picture is important

Ministers that continue to misuse stats, show us that they cannot be trusted to work for us as disabled people or care about us as voters.

It seems the Stats campaign has another member to add to the list. A growing list of ministers and MPs that regularly mislead the public and parliament in order to justify their cuts that disproportionately hit the sick and disabled.

Sue Marsh has done an excellent blog about this at Diary of a benefit scrounger.

The fight goes on… Dxxx

Almost a month ago Jayne Linney & I wrote a letter to Esther McVey disputing her use of statistics & offering a wide range of evidence which demonstrated just this.

866 people signed the letter and many left harrowing tales of suffering as a result of  ’Welfare Reform’; which were then appended to the end of the signatures; the letter was posted yesterday by recorded delivery to arrive at Parliament today.

Aside from posting today @ 1pm we are also emailing the following Politicians, Ms McVey, IDS,, Shelia Gilmore – also campaigning about misusing stats, and Michael Meacher, John McDonnell Ann McGuire & Liz Kendall as they have been sympathetic & supportive of the campaign; Dame Anne Begg – chair of Work & Pensions Committee has already received a copy.

If you’re up for it why not email your own MP with a copy of the letter ? https://docs.google.com/document/d/1n2QVXOKKSfkn9dwXOvmQ74Vzbhyx7HXEbid8EpEb674/edit The more Politicians became aware the better chance we have of this working.

Most of you will also be aware of what occurred as a result of your letter, we set up the petition to hold IDS to account, as he is ultimately responsible for everything that’s comes out of the DWP; to date we have  over 52,000 signatures. https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/work-pensions-committee-hold-ids-to-account-for-his-use-of-statistics-2# and if you’ve not already signed, please do.

Well that’s the news on this up to date, we certainly had no idea what began out of frustration & fear would become but, we think it demonstrates when we all pull together we can achieve our goals.

Until the next update x

Hi folks wow where did that year go? 🙂

Today is blogging against disableism day, this time last year I did a piece about how the media had whole heartedly embraced the scrounger  rhetoric condemning thousands of us to derision and hate from the general public.

Has much changed in that time?

Yes and No…

We still have a constant barrage of offensive and inaccurate reporting, that would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. We still appear to be at logger heads with our current government with regards to benefit reform, and those on welfare in general…Here’ just a Couple of examples… The Sun, The Daily Mail,

But, there have been some subtle changes, changes that have been hard-won… We are seeing more articles, about how the welfare reforms are not well thought out, more articles that question the statistics that are coming out of the DWP, articles that wholly disagree with some of the changes that have been introduced since April such as the Bedroom Tax, Universal Credit, and PIP… some even questioning whether the changes are even possible… here are some more examples… The Guardian, The IndependentThe Huffington Post

So the bias has subtly shifted but still is a long way from the kind of treatment any minority would expect in the twenty-first century.

This year I’ve become  aware of another form of disableism, least I think of it as disableism…

I keep having the same conversation with people… People who think disability campaigning is about politics… Which seems to be something the disabled should not be involved in… least not vocally… According to a few… Now I don’t deny that there is an element of working in the political arena that goes with disability campaigning, but the reason we do it, is not because of politics as such.

Disability campaigners have really one goal in mind, we want to see a society that is inclusive, we want to see a society that doesn’t marginalised, exclude or make us sicker by its very existence…  after decades of disability movements and some extraordinary campaigners, we still have people who think that lobbying an MP to improve a service, or try to get Ministers to tell the truth is about policies is politics… it isn’t…

It’s always about identifying areas that continue to need improvement,and fighting for that improvement… weather its Social Care or Benefits… and regardless of which political party happens to be in office.

If the transport system for example needs improvement, as disabled people how do we go about getting those improvements? We can lobby the companies to get them to one at a time change their policy or we can campaign via our MPs, we can petition or lobby the government to get the law changed so that all the travel company’s have an obligation in law to put changes in place to improve things…

Several times in recent weeks I have lost FB group members and friends because i refuse to be a good disabled person and sit quietly on the side lines and let someone else decide how the welfare system can help me, how social services can help me and how society will consider me…

Many think its wrong to stand up and say this is not right, we need you to include us in the process, you need to understand that We as disabled people want to be involved, to have a say, about how we challenge society, to finally get politicians and the public to grab the bull by the horns and accept us fully, as real meaningful members of society…

Being political is different to party politics. Whether we like it or not politics is everywhere, and if we want the right to be free to live how we choose, we have the responsibility to do something about it. It is time to move away from, “As long as Im ok then its someone else’s problem”… To one that says, “Are We ok as a society?”

Some people may choose to bury their heads and claim that “I’m too sick for this” or “I’m too disabled, and I have my own battles”.  But the only way to get what you need is to ask for it… the old ‘ those who ask dont get’ mentality will not help us in this fight, we need to not only ask, but to demand that equality becomes a reality… Before any more back peddling on our rites can happen. As the well-known disability rally cry states…

‘Nothing About Us With Out Us’

So Say We All… Dxxx

Re my last post about Jayne Linney and myself writing an Open letter to Ester McVey

… the open letter is now closed to signatures but is available to view…

We now have a Change.org Petition running… Please sign and share… Dxxx

We are both disabled as well as being disability activists. We experience pain and suffering ourselves and see it in our friends, families and colleagues. It is one thing to live with the physical challenges of a disability. It is quite another to hear lies and misinformation every day from our own government.

We have watched sick and disabled friends fall foul of the Employment and Support Allowance process and seen people who are genuinely sick and disabled being left with next to nothing to live on. Some are living in fear of the Personal Independence Payments assessments to come. In this climate, which is confusing and intimidating for some of the most vulnerable in our society, those in power should be operating to the highest standards of integrity and accuracy. Recent reports suggest that the Work and Pensions Secretary may have misrepresented Government statistics to make a political point.

http://www.standard.co.uk/panewsfeeds/ids-misrepresenting-statistics-8571591.html

We are concerned that this is just the tip of the iceberg. We believe that Iain Duncan Smith has built a wall of misinformation to discredit all claimants of DLA when the fraud rate of DLA is a tiny 0.5%.

Last month nearly 500,000 people signed Dom Aversano’s petition calling on IDS to live on £53 per week. That was an incredible movement of people trying to hold a politician to account for his words. Please sign this petition, and we might actually see that happen.

Jayne Linney, Debbie Sayers

http://jaynelinney.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/dear-esther-mcvey-your-facts-arent-true/
https://ramblingsofafibrofoggedmind.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/dear-esther-mcvey-your-facts-arnt-true/

Just had to share this with you all… made me giggle… Dxxx

‘I’m not talking to Spartacus’

Hi All, time for another guest post this is regarding the coming PIP regulations FibroGirl, and 500,000 disabled people are  asking for your help… Dxxx

A call to arms – PIP needs you

I was moved to roll up my campaigning sleeves late in 2011 when I finally dipped my toes in the water of twitter and followed the bread crumbs to see what was happening. Until that point I felt alone with my struggles.

The endless forms, justifying myself and my illness, learning to live with the fact I would never again be able to work or even plan more than a day ahead and even that was good going. Dealing with the loss of ME And watching my loved ones adjusting to this person who now had to walk with a stick that lead on to a wheelchair and some days never getting out of bed.

I was one lone voice lost in a wilderness and I found through the Spartacus campaign, and getting involved gave me hope. It also gave me a purpose again.

I well remember the collective swell of pride and excitement as the Spartacus report went to print and Lord Frued and his cronies panicked, giving more ground than it was ever thought possible.

Its impossible to sustain that energy, like any long term campaign it ebbs and flows. But once again its time to get stuck in – the summer has seen ESA and the dreaded work capability tests and scrounger rhetoric being challenged, pushing the politicians to wake up and smell the coffee. It’s been quiet on the PIP front since we all worked so hard to get the consultation work in.

Now my friends it’s a call to arms, the PIP regulations go back to Parliament very soon, the new disability minister says before the Christmas recess – The sly tactics adopted by Maria Miller have been taken up by Esther McVey.

Avoiding going before the Work and Pensions select committee   Esther McVey letter

But telling them she plans to publish the government’s response on the SAME day as the secondary regulations are laid before parliament. In other words giving us no time to analyse them or effectively lobby our Mps and Lords before hand.

On top of this it has come to light that the government has reneged on another promise to release the 5000 responses to the initial consultation the one PIP is based on – Maybe they thought we would go away if they stayed quiet for long enough… Well I for one don’t plan to stay quiet.

I decided to write this template letter in response to Sue marsh’s request about the initial PIP consultation responses.

Attached is the link to the letter I’m sending to my MP – feel free to use it. MP template letter

Join with me and lets show this government that we have not gone silent or forgotten just how much our collective power is worth. We wont get it repealed but we can and must force them to give as much ground as possible for the sake of the 500,000 and rising who will loose out, it could be me or you.

FibroGirl

To find your MP’s contact details follow this link

It’s amazing how circumstances can change your out look…

What are the circumstances that would change you from the archetypal mild mannered citizen, to the protester, activist, activist blogger or creator of a movement?

For me it wasn’t the student fees protests although as  a teacher that almost swayed me…

It wasn’t the riots because it didn’t seem like much of a protest…

It wasn’t the police over reacting to any kind of protest, kettleing being for me the low point, from a force that is supposed to protect citizens human rights…

nor was it the Occupy Movement, which i still whole heartedly support…

none of these things made me sit up and say oh my god I need to do something …

No not even being found ‘fit for work’ by the now notorious ATOS, WCA, created that set of circumstances, because I had a plan for that eventuality. I would add to my already P/T teaching hrs and go self employed working round my health (Fibromyalgia)(http://www.fibromyalgia-associationuk.org/what-is-fm-highlights-203) because I fully expected to have my health problems ignored by such an unfeeling ‘unfit’ process to asses my invisible medical problems. So being one of the lucky ones I opted for work choice and created Ravenswyrd Designs (http://ravenswyrddesigns.yolasite.com/) and no I’m not to proud to advertise it here… Still a work in progress…

No none of these things, all though, all worthy reasons to get involved, where the catalyst for me…

So what was my catalyst?

For me it was the release of the ‘Responsible Reform Report’ AKA the ‘Spartacus Report’ (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/files/response_to_proposed_dla_reforms.pdf). As I run two FB Fibro support groups,(UK FIBRO http://www.facebook.com/groups/235676626461366/   and CORNWALL FIBRO http://www.facebook.com/groups/225265977504776/) I have to be benefit aware so I can provide information to my members. I had begun to follow the governments plans to change ESA and DLA, via the Welfare Reform Bill. I was horrified by what I was hearing and how it would effect the people I help to support. This fear was only heightened when I heard about the work that Sue Mash and Kayla Franklin and their companions who despite overwhelming odds and serious health issues, took on the government, by releasing the RR report and delivering it to the lords.

The RR report based on FOI request, was an analysis of the proposed changes and draft regulations for PIP the new benefit designed to replace DLA. After my experience with ESA and my fears and worries for other people like me. I said to my partner, I have to do something, I cant sit by anymore, and watch this tragedy unfold…

However I had no idea how to do this, but I started to follow, blogs, FB Groups, read the news and slowly I realised something serious was happening, something dangerous, something so scary I didn’t want to believe it at first. The disabled community, genuinely sick and disabled where being attacked not by the changes to benefits although they are utterly merciless and not ‘fit for purpose’ but by the media and the government who had begun and continue to systematically down grade the sick and disabled from valid and equal members of society  to a drain on society, fraudsters, and scum, the lowest of the low in their eyes (something that has happened, once before in history, with horrifying consequences).

With headlines like 54% (April 2012) of sick and disabled found ‘fit for work’, ignoring the 40% of successful appeals. And the news papers who began cheering along like an audience at the colosseum, baying for blood as more and more articles appeared, that splashed hate against the disabled across their pages, inciting the public to new height of hate crime against us. Despite fraud levels through sickness and disability, being the lowest of all benefits at a tiny 0.5%. And all this with no mention of the fact, that the human rights of the sick and disabled people, where being trampled all over and no coverage on any of the major news networks, of the protests being held in the capital by disabled people.

So it was with all this going on that  I started thinking of getting more involved and having joined the Spartacus Report (http://www.facebook.com/groups/wearespartacus/) FB group I found myself answering a call for volunteers… and as they say the rest is history…

But blowing my own trumpet is not what this blog post is about…

Having got involved in Spartacus in a small way, I found myself working with other people doing things like helping to write open letters to the government, or writing to MPs etc, protesting Workfare for the disabled which is intended to be mandated and indefinite…

This started me thinking… And now I’m getting to the point honest…

This is how resistance begins, by word of mouth, although this generations word of mouth covers continents and oceans in seconds. Through the internet and social networks, protest and resistance has taken on new meaning. And this could not be more true than for the disabled community, who for generations, have had their voice go unheard, such as the voice of the house bound,  but no more… From the well known, Diary of a benefit scrounger, blogs (http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.co.uk/), and Benefit scrounging scum,blogs (http://benefitscroungingscum.blogspot.co.uk/) and many, many more, as well as information and news groups like Social Welfare Advocacy (http://www.facebook.com/SocialWelfareAdvocacy) and their new Social Welfare Union(http://www.facebook.com/SocialWelfareUnion). To the quiet, loan and emotive blog by Helen Sims (http://socialwelfareunion.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/public-need-to-wake-up-to-whats-happening-to-our-welfare-state/)  who’s voice in previous times would never have been heard . A new voice of disability is starting to be heard.

The time for disability activism to re-emerge is upon us, from the protest in the street by groups such as DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts (http://www.dpac.uk.net/), The Black Triangle (http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/) and UK Uncut (http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/), to groups like Spartacus (www.wearespartacus.org.uk) that seek to inform and support, the disabled community to have a say,and engage in a dialogue with the changes as they happen.

For me, now is the time, to try to make a difference, if not to the whole then at least to the few. For many like me that time has come… I feel privileged to be among the many, many people, who have said this is the time for action this is the time to be heard… before we loose the ability or the rite to be heard…

Now is the time and our limit has been reached  we will not go quietly…

So for me the circumstances have come together to make me act even if I have to do it alone, but I know I am far from alone, in this fight…. Dxxx