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The rich language of disability / 29 February 2012

Well, it's all been happening whilst I've been away. Apart from such regulars as young Dolly, Joe Mc, Tanya and Ms. Pepper, a quick glance at the DAO blog lists brings up a host of fresh names. But are they what they appear to be?

Take for example Rich Downes. Obviously a  pseudonym (and I see he's done the reverse of what I do and has used a picture of a much older man in order to establish more credibility). I actually have it on good authority that he's only allowed out after 7pm with a note from his mum!

But he is a good writer. Take for example his latest blog. I don't know if Rich invented the term 'chugger' but it fits so well doesn't it? Those muppets who dress up like idiots and solicit money from punters outside of shops and supermarkets.

Their collecting bucket usually has some vague reference to 'the handicapped' or one of the big charities like Scope, or Blind Dogs for the Guides! (Read Rich's blog - he puts it far more eloquantly than I can).

So, as my re-entry into DAO blog land, and in support of those young contributers like Rich, I thought I'd resurrect and old favourite, the ultimates chugger 'Captain Pratt', getting it wrong yet again!

It also ties in quite nicely with my last blog about the A4e debacle (see Sept 2011) which is still going on. Apparently Margaret Hodge (Ed: Bless her!) has told the coalition that they got it wrong when they took away the Direct payments contracts from disabled people led groups and gave it all to A4e. Not the only thing they've got wrong eh!?

Keywords: cartoons,chuggers,cuts to services,disabled peoples movement,disabled peoples protest,disabled women,money,politics,user led organisations,wheelchair users



1 March 2012

The hyopcrisy of some notable charities on this (e.g. see Paul Farmer, CEO Mind's timely, bewildering, 'I know nothing!' response... confusing volunteering with workfare / workprogramme and when I took him to task the response was that there was no contradiction between Mind's involvement with the Work Programme as a second tier provider and its 'support' for people campaigning about the Welfare Refrom Bill.... hmmm.

My emeither to PF:

(Lynn Harrison ‎(Hi Paul

I'm writing as a former Mindlink NAP member, and network member,

regarding your statement on Mind's website:


I just wanted to ask for clarification on a few points.

Have I correctly understood that you are equating volunteering with

Workfare work placements? You write:


Disability Works UK, our local Minds may be involved in offering

specialist support to people with mental health problems helping to

improve their skills and boost their confidence.

Well-structured and meaningful volunteering can be an excellent way to

prepare people for paid work"

You say that Mind will no take part in coercive practices, but, as I

understand it, the terms of Workfare have been much publicised for some

time? Certainly, those subjected to it have been very aware of this.

Does this mean that you were not? How can that be?

You write : Disability Works UK will not play a role in imposing

sanctions and will only seek contracts with providers whose values are

compatible with our own

I wondered if you could explain that? And how Mind's involvement with

Workfare does not conflict with its stated support of those of us who

have been campaining against the Welfare Refrom Bill? I believe Mind

supported The Hardest Hit campaign, at least, initially?

I would also like to ask why Mind has not been transparent about its

involvement in Workfare via Disability Works UK? Many have been aware

of this for some time but could not find any reference to it on Mind's

website until now? If it is something that Mind feels is of great

benefit to people who are experiencing mental distress then wouldn't

Mind have wished to publicise this from the outset?

I look forward to your reply)

Mind's response:

(Dear Lynn,

Thank you for your email, Paul has asked me to respond on his behalf, as the lead for Mind's policy and campaigns work on welfare and benefits.

We understand that there are serious concerns about both 'workfare' placements and the Work Programme, and we have raised many of concerns with both schemes ourselves through our campaigning. However, it is important to clarify the difference between the schemes and the nature of Mind's involvement in each.

Our statement, which you refer to, was focused on what has become known as 'workfare'. This term in fact covers a number of different schemes involving work experience or work placements for different groups, with different degrees of compulsion involved. Mind does not support, and has no formal engagement in, these schemes. However, since the placements are organised at a local level by Jobcentre Plus or back-to-work providers, we recognise that there is a possibility that some local Minds or shops may have taken on volunteers who are in fact being compelled to take part. As such, we wanted to make it clear that we do not think any parts of the Mind network should be taking on these sort of volunteers and we will look to ensure that any such placements that are taking place will be ended.

However, we absolutely recognise the value of volunteers and volunteering, where people are not being forced to take part. These people are vital to the ongoing success of the Mind network and their involvement can also be very beneficial in maintaining good mental health and, in some cases, increasing their chances of entering paid employment.

Our involvement in the Work Programme, through our membership of DWUK and the individual involvement of some local Minds, is not connected to 'workfare'. Instead, this is focused on ensuring that people taking part in the Work Programme with mental health problems are supported effectively in areas where local Minds can provide relevant services. This may include things like access to talking therapies, courses to increase confidence, or training in CV writing.

Only a small number of local Minds are involved in the scheme and they are acting as 'sub-contractors' to the main providers on the Work Programme. We are using our mental health expertise to judge potential partners and we know that some do not share our view that coercion and sanctions don't help anyone to recover. We also know that local Minds who are involved in these sort of schemes have helped to ensure that people aren't sanctioned when they struggle to engage with activities because of their mental health problems.

This involvement in the Work Programme in no way limits our ability to speak out on welfare reform and this is one of Mind's priority areas of campaigning. We have played a key role in the Hardest Hit campaign, we have fought hard for changes in the Welfare Reform Bill, and we have raised issues publicly through our media work and our Daily Stigma campaign. We have achieved significant reforms in areas like the Work Capability Assessment and will continue to fight for a welfare and benefits system that is fair and effective for people with mental health problems.

I hope this response addresses your concerns but do let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes,

Tom Pollard

Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer)

They haven't pulled out though


29 February 2012

Good to see that other businesses like Burger King, bookshop Waterstones and electrical retailer Maplin have pulled out of the so called work experience scheme.

click on the video link on the following BBC report and watch SWP's Mick Bradley calmly hammer the right wing!

Arty Farty

29 February 2012

Our local group had to close down when it lost it's contract for administering the Direct payments scheme to A4e. We'd been running it for several years and had no problems. It made about eight disabled people with shed loads of experience redundant. I know other groups 'of' have all had similiar experiences. A4e should be made accountable to disabled people as well as being prosecuted for fraud!