Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Direct Payments is not a universal panacea

Local authorities and social workers enthusiastically sell the benefits of direct payments. Direct payments (DPs) allow disabled people to buy in their own care and support. This can be accomplished through engaging an agency to carry out the care and support. Or the service user could employ their own personal assistants.

Social workers generally use the following three points to sell DPs to disabled people:

Flexibility: However, flexibility is not a universal panacea. First of all, define flexibility. When you try, you come up against the test of reasonableness. So, flexibility has to be negotiated. This negotiation can mean the DP user having to make big compromises with their PAs.

Choice: Yet, like so many things in life choice usually comes with a price tag attached. Therefore, the parameters of choice are governed by good old-fashioned economics.

Control: Arguably this should be the greatest advantage of DPs. Yet as with other determining factors such as flexibility and choice, control is heavily influenced by exterior forces.

The two factors that can make DPs an advantageous way of buying in care and support are:
1.    Adequate means to support your needs, and
2.    An ability to properly manage PAs.

Until care and support packages can offer adequate budgets and proper training funding to DP users, this means of caring and supporting disabled people will remain as care on the cheap.

There is also a downside for the PAs who deliver the care and support. This group of undervalued workers have usually to:

  • Work several jobs to make up a weekly wage,
  • Work unsociable hours, often without proper recompense,
  • Go without a decent pension scheme,
  • Go without an occupational sick pay scene,
  • Come out to clients at unsociable hours.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Daily Hate Continues to Spread it's Divisive Message

The Daily Hate is again running stories of hate and division. I their latest printed diatribe they are attacking Muslims who live in Savile Town a suburb of Dewsbury, that is according to the Daily Hate: ‘The corner of Yorkshire that has almost no white residents’.

However, according to the local authority, Saviletown, a suburb of Dewsbury in the borough of Kirklees has a British Asian population of around 10%. The photograph coverage that the Hate gives the story would support the notion that Saviletown was indeed highly populated by people from Asia. But then, a national daily of the Hate’s size and stature can print pretty much anything and sell it as the truth.

From my experience, most immigrant groups do tend to congregate in areas where others of their co-nationalists live. Jews escaping the pogroms of Russia, Poland and Mitteleuropa in the late 19C and early 20C settled in the East End of London; and, other large cities.

From the 1930s, and throughout the war years, Irish immigrants headed for London, and tended to live in and around Camden, Islington and Brent in the North of the capital city. Like most other immigrant groups not all the Irish were destined for London. No, they moved into cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool.

Many of the Jamaicans who came to the UK in the 1950s located in parts of West London, as well as in and around Brixton in South London. Again, not all settled in London, this can be seen from the large populations of Afro-Caribbean people living in Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.

Greeks, Chinese, Italians, Indians, etc, all migrated to our shores and for the most part began their stay in Britain in their respective communities.

My point is that immigrant people often feel safer amongst familiar faces, customs, shops etc. It’s called safety in numbers.

In my experience Irish men of my father's generation definitely resisted integration into British society. Unlike the Irish immigrant women, who did
mix socially and subscribe more to the various wider British communities they entered.

Sure, the majority of Irishmen spoke English. Yet they did not think like the English. If a non-Irish person had walked into any one of the hundreds and hundreds of Irish pubs dotted around our major cities in the 1950s, 60s, 70, 80s, and later they would've had difficulty understanding the very heavy Cork, Kerry, Mayo, Offaly, Sligo, etc accents spoken therein.

The music enjoyed by the diaspora Irish was different to popular music listened to by the rest of British people. Many of their songs reflected the loneliness and yearning of the immigrant torn from the hearth of Mother Ireland. The other category of song was the Irish rebel song. These songs embodied the mistrust and antipathy that many Irish people felt towards the oppressive British state. They allowed Irishmen living in Britain to demonstrate the rebel in their soul, even if it was only from 6 o’clock to 11 o’clock on a Saturday night when they socialised in their pubs and clubs.

Yet today, the children and grandchildren and even great grandchildren of these immigrant Irish people are now very much integrated into the melting pot of British life.

Similarly, generations of Jamaican and other Afro-Caribbean see themselves as British (that's not to say racism doesn't still exist in Britain, as it does).

I can see a time when immigrant peoples of the Islamic faith will become an integral part of Britain, in that they'll worship in their own way, stay with a cuisine that suits them and to some extend follow their own dress sense. Other than that, they will do, and act as most other people in the UK. They'll go to work, put a roof over their family’s heads, worry about their kids, watch football, moan about the weather and become generally cynical about British politics.

Monday, 6 November 2017

National Disabled Peoples Summit

Saturday's 'National Disabled Peoples Summit' was a great success. Around 135 disabled people met at the NEU building in Mabledon Place, Euston on Saturday 4 November.

We held 14 workshops across morning and afternoon sessions. These workshops discussed disability related issues ranging from employment to education and from social care and support to transport.

Each workshop produced campaigning ideas which will now be collated and put together into a comprehensive report covering all the workshops. This report will go out to the attendees of Saturday's Summit as well as interested groups and individuals.

Once we have had time to examine the ideas and responses within the Report we can then prepare the next stage of our campaign, or indeed campaigns.

I would like personally to thank Mandy Hudson, who came up with the idea and followed it through to the end. A big thank you to Ellen Clifford of Inclusion London and DPAC and Ellen Morrison of Unite Community and Inclusion London.

I'd also like to thank Bob Williams-Findlay for his excellent presentation that gave us an historic and political overview of the struggles of the disability movement over the past half-a-century.

Ellen Clifford also needs congratulating on not only helping to set the Summit up, but for also making an important contribution with her contribution that explained how disabled people were currently fighting off some of the most vicious social policies ever introduced.

Thanks to John McDonnell for his message of solidarity made over a video link. John, as ever, gave a matter-of-fact presentation of how and why austerity wasn't working and how things could be very different under a Labour government.

On the day there were a number of support workers, and I would like to thank the BSL interpreters, the palantypists, PAs, registration staff, Sabina and Tracey, and NEU staff for making the event accessible to all. I'd also like to thank the NEU and their caterers for supplying both the venue and feeding and watering us splendidly.

A number of unions made financial contributions. These contributions will pay the support workers and staff we engaged for the event as well as some of the incidental costs associated with a venture of this kind. So, I'd like to thank those unions and we will be sending you written conformation of receipt of the donations along with our thanks.

Finally, I would like to thank those scores of disabled people, some who travelled great distances, for attending and helping to make this first National Disabled Peoples Summit a success.

Seàn McGovern

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Another day in the USA another mass killing

Stories of mass killings in the USA stop being news when they occur with such inevitable frequency. Even the news services in the USA and here are beginning to run out of ways to respectfully report these tragedies without sounding as though, ‘here we go again’. As though it was a gruesome version of Groundhog Day, but without the light-hearted laughs.

Shortly after his inauguration Trump was caught up in round of defeats by each level of the judiciary as he attempted to implement the ban on Muslims from certain countries entering the USA. The rationale behind the ban was to protect US citizens from militant Jihadists whose only reason for entering America was to do harm to US citizens.

Well, maybe if Trump expelled all owners of assault weapons, or anyone who owned an arsenal of weapons and allowed in Muslims from the proscribed nations, there would be fewer casualties from lone, usually white, gunmen armed with war-zone standard weapons hell bent on slaughtering people.