Friday 30 September 2011

Channel 4 and Disability campaigning today

So today, after nearly killing myself at Labour Conference, I had to get to London and go to film a short piece for Channel 4 on "Welfare : Corrosive or a Vital part of Democracy"

It was one of those 3 minute segments that goes out after Channel 4 News, where someone talks at the camera and gives an "opinion". They say it'll be aired in around 6 weeks (I imagine to coincide with the 3rd reading of the Welfare Reform Bill in the Lords) so I'll keep you informed on when to watch.

Having organised the whole thing last week, during Labour conference, I didn't really have any time to think about what I would say and as every woman knows, it ought to have taken at least a week to decide what to wear. I didn't even have time to do a load of washing, so after Dave had helped me exhausted into bed, he spent an hour searching for "you know, that one with the scoop neck" and "the top I wore to Sam and Anna's wedding" "you remember the gold sparkly one". Clearly, I never get time to tidy, so he was picking clothes up from the floor for approval.

In the end, the criteria were so tight (no white, no spots or patterns) I had to wear a pair of my friends's red trousers two sizes too big for me, pinned at the back.

I whipped myself into some kind of presentable state (Note to self : No jeans if you are to defend Welfare) whipped myself to get to the station, whipped myself to survive as far as London, whipped myself into a taxi and stumbled blearily into a small TV studio near Covent Garden.

Probably the most interesting part of the day was canvassing the opinions of the two taxi drivers. Both utterly supported their tax money going to sick and disabled people. Emphatically in fact. One had a mother on DLA, the other a mother with bi-polar. (Note to politicians 1 : Everyone knows someone who is genuinely sick or disabled too!) They both independently suggested that benefits should be immediately available when a person was having a period when they were unable to work, so that they wouldn't be frightened to try. Interesting point I thought. Strange they both said it.

The interview itself went OK I think, though it passes in a blur and I can't really remember anything I said. We'll see what they present when they cut 45 minutes down to 3!!

But what I'll remember is that I "met a man." Then I "met another man" and neither of them wanted people with cancer sent to the job centre or their Mum's to be mis-understood and bullied.

We can all "meet a man" Mostly they tell us what they think we want to hear.

I told them I was a sickness and disability campaigner. They told me their personal fears for people they loved.

If I'd been asking them if they liked the idea of their "hard-earned tax money" supporting "shirkers not workers" who "could work but don't" I expect they'd have thought that was a terrible idea too.

The language we use makes that all important difference.

I came home, flopped gratefully into a sofa and turned on Channel 4 News, delighted that I'd got through the week alive, at last.

Just in time, in fact, to see Katie Razzle do a very good piece indeed on ATOS, the private company who conduct medical tests on sick and disabled people that are so controversial. The company are also sponsoring the paralympics and the piece interviewed our very own Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)!!! It explained how sick and disabled people are threatening to boycott the paralympics over their controversial sponsor. Great coverage for DPAC and I believe Black Triangle have also led the way on this issue, so a huge congratulations for breaking it through so successfully in the mainstream press.

With the video of Kaliya Franklin from The Broken of Britain putting Ed Miliband on the spot at Labour conference one of the most viewed online posts on Wikio today, and his promise to speak with us soon (confirmed, I believe in messages today) this has been a really, really good day for the Disability Movement.


  1. I don’t know how you and the other spoonies do it but you do! So here is my special thanks for that. C├ólins (hugs in French)


    This was me doing my bit on the BBC in 2008, that's me lower down......

  3. That is an excellent point about language. I like to point out that I am living the high life on people's hard earned tax money every now and again. It livens things up a bit :) - I've just blogged about why I get this creeping sense of guilt if I ever have a good day.

  4. It does wear people down and when politicians speak people tend to listen after all they never lie, do they.

  5. Why does he keep calling her Harriet? O.o He really doesn't seem sincere but I hope he is for all our sakes that he will defend us.

  6. Hi all...
    absolutely fantastic work from Sue & Kaliya... I can't describe how I felt when I saw kaliya, one of the little people, & your question was so good...
    I just want to say that disabled & ill people do not WANT to boycott the olympics or keep dragging themselves to protests... We have been trying to expose the parts of welfare reform that are desperately dangerous & unknown by the general public... No matter what we have done it has been silenced & when you have tried for 18 months you start to wonder why???
    We have no choice but to find any means to highlight what is being sneaked through eg. clause 52 which means children born sick or disabled who would receive ESA at 16 for a while, depsite being unable to make contributions, will no longer receive it but be forced to stay dependent on family, no autonomy!!.. Higher profile reforms include: If you've worked all your life & became seriously ill or disabled this year you will have nothing from April 2012 if you have a partner earning as little as £150 per week because of the proposed stupid time limit of 1 year...
    Kaliya & Sue have been high profile the last few days & more people have been finding out what is happening but this is not usual... I just want to remind people that if you are just finding out to please explore more & help if you can... We are desperately afraid, not trouble makers, & would much rather be celebrating the olympics & Paralympics full of pride & inclusion & I really hope we can...
    Please people check out what the WCA really is & how A**S are doing it...
    best wishes... 'Nita

  7. Well done to Kaliya for showing that Ed Milliband really doesn't have a clue about disability or Ill health. I love how the audience cheered her and didn't cheer his responses. I think his days as labour leader are numbered. - Linda

  8. I bet they did not meet with Miliband after.....

  9. You are both amazing, I was delighted to see you on tv, actually I heard your voice first and thought oh I know who that is! We are behind you all the way, now rest!!

  10. Keep up the good work, Sue, what you and Kaliya achieved this week was awesome, but try to keep a spoon or two in reserve - we need you!

  11. Highly encouraging stuff. I'm trying to get going after a breakdown, but I too feel guilty for having a good day - we're made to feel like we're malingering by the system and its just preying on the vulnerable.
    If a care worker were to treat a patient like the government are treating us, they would be disciplined and struck off, yet our beloved establishment are getting away with it scot-free.
    How do I help this campaign?

  12. Hi FiFi - Thanks for commenting. You're quite right. You can help by writing to your MP - I often provide template letters here on the blog. I also give other ways you can help, so keep checking in.

    Currently, we just launched pats petition Please sign and share with friends ;)

  13. I've signed the petition and put it on my Facebook pleading with my friends to sign it too. This is an incredibly important issue so anything I can do just let me know.
    Where can I find said template letters? I will gladly write to my MP.
    I think the major problem is that people are just left to drift and the bullied into situations. The times I had to appeal my claim for ESA, it made me ten times worse. I only started to properly recover once I had my appeal granted and started on CBT. I'm now doing 'permitted work' in the form of starting my own business, but its been a long haul. Nearly two years so far. And I appreciate that I'm one of the lucky ones...

  14. I am a Welfare Benefits Specialist with a CAB. Whilst I strongly believe there should be a welfare benefit system for long term sick and disabled people who are not able to work there is a VERY large percentage of people who are milking the system and who definately do not want to work - why should they. A life on benefits is definately a life choice for some - some of them have more disposable income than me!!! It is these people that need to be targetted and forced back into work - we spend far too much time focussing on what we can't do rather than what we can

  15. Anonymous 20.36 - That's interesting feedback. We've had many Welfare advisers comment here, and to be honest most of them don't agree with you, but I suppose where you are in the country etc might make a difference.

    Last night a C4 news piece interviewed 30 CABs and they all felt the system was failing and a disgrace.