These are some of the activists and supporters of the WOWpetition campaign, more are joining all the time, if you want to be involved… be involved! info@WOWpetition.com or catch any of us on Twitter!
Francesca Martinez @chessmartinez
The WOW petition is supported and has been submitted by actress and award winning comedian Francesca Martinez. Francesca has a large catalogue of television and radio appearances and has won a BAFTA for her role as Rachael Burns in the children’s television programme Grange Hill. The first disabled main character in the series. Today, she is an internationally acclaimed stand-up comedian, actress & writer and has appeared with Ben Stiller, Ricky Gervais and Kate Winslet in the spoof documentary ‘Extras’. Francesca has cerebal palsy and often describes herself as ‘wobbly’.
Francesca says: I think the Government are using this recession as a cover for implementing cuts and eroding vital services that people fought long and hard for, and we need to get together and protect these crucial support networks.
The current demonisation of people who receive benefits has to be challenged. The welfare state did not cause this recession. The benefit fraud rate is tiny – between 0.3% and 0.5% for ESA and DLA which proves how much genuine help is needed.
As a disabled person in the media, I want to help give this issue a voice. It’s morally wrong for the government to target those in need instead of saving money by targeting the real causes of this crisis, and close tax loopholes and regulate the financial sector.
To me, it’s a human rights issue. Anyone can become sick or disabled or a carer and at those challenging times, we need to ensure our state supports people instead of making their lives even harder. I’m proud to be backing such an important cause.
I’ve read stories of people committing suicides because of losing their benefits and many more people will die as a result of these cuts. Ironically, whilst stating that they want to help disabled people to work, the government are actually taking away their independence and making it harder for people to lead fulfilling and productive lives. It’s a scary time as we have a government who protect the interests of the business elite over the majority, including those groups who are in genuine need of support. Disabled people have much to offer society but life for many will become about basic survival, and, in one of the richest countries in the world, that is unacceptable. We will take the steps necessary to gain justice and restoration of our human rights which this coalition have been abusing. Our bottom line is, we have to do this, lives are being destroyed. No one of good conscience could ignore this situation.
Carole Ford @FordCarole
I received the Severe Disablement Allowance for four years in the mid 1990s, prior to any points test – medical evidence and statement only, assessed at interview by DSS. I was misdiagnosed with a variety of conditions, including myasthenia gravis, before finally getting the right physiotherapy to build up core strength, which I now do everyday to support my back. I have a law degree, graduated 1969, aged 23. I have two children and two grandsons aged six and four. I divorced in 1992, but have lived in the same house for 36 years and managed to work locally for the Civil Service for nine years, until I retired four years ago.
My name is Colin-Roy Hunter, which is how I appear on facebook. You can view my public profile if you so wish and find out about me and my interests. My political views are in this blog post- The Malefic ConDems’ Ideological War on Welfare. I blog and tweet under the name criquaer, which is an abbreviation of CRIppled QUeer Anglo-European Ranter. Rather gives away much of what I am about! My blog also includes details of my health conditions, disabilities and how I deal with my impairments and the environments in which I find myself.
Social care until WOWpetition launched. I believe strongly there is a need for more education in schools about Disability Issues (aswell as practical things like First Aid). I also think that adults with learning difficulties often get forgotten when Government provision for education, access and leisure is concerned, particularly as many have as complex (if not more) needs than children. In 2010 – these may have seemed like common sense views to have. However, since then so much progress has been lost in many areas of provision for people with disabilities, sickness, their carers and families – that we need to confront the Government reforms that have led to this loss of living standards. I hope WOWpetition will raise enough awareness of these issues.
Ian Jones @edwinmandella
I was doing fine. Into my second job after leaving university having qualified as a Chartered Management Accountant. Flying high. People paid money to watch me and 21 others play football. Played for my County. Played for the FA Representative side. I hated pre-season because being one of the least skilful players on the team I had to be the fittest. Played for the Reserves Thursday evening to get fitter. Got up at 3am on the 9th August 1991 to drive up to Newcastle Upon Tyne for a Business meeting. Got as far as Chesterfield. Woke up (I use the term loosely) 2 weeks later. I’d watched Michael Watson get injured in the boxing ring – I’d gone and done something similar to him. From a position of no hope I fought back, ending up in Abu Dhabi 15 years later as the Chief Financial Officer of a $billion aircraft leasing business, until they sacked all the ex-pats! People I worked with didn’t believe I was disabled (although the DWP assessed me at 75% disabled (not enough for me to get DLA!!)). The limp, mood swings, memory recall of a goldfish, slurred speech, inability to carry a cup of coffee without chucking it everywhere etc didn’t register! They considered me eccentric in public (and probably weird in their private conversations). My career was over because as you get more senior the job becomes more about form than substance (Accountants joke!). Having become a house husband and professional golfer (!!) I got angry. I applied for benefits for the first time (2008) and through ATOS assessment to Lower Tribunal to Upper Tribunal back to Lower Tribunal I went from being 28% disabled to 45% disabled to 75% disabled (without legal representation). I then had an unpleasant interview with Seb Coe’s chronies at LOCOG ending up with me taking them to an Employment Tribunal. Again without legal representation, which cost me, because despite LOCOG admitting on stand they failed to make reasonable adjustments for me, they won because I hadn’t specifically accused them of that. Isn’t the British legal system great! Life wasn’t fair. So I decided to try to change that. First “The Spartacus Report” meant that my MP Theresa May was able to put a name to my face. Then a chance TwitCon about a “Silver Lady” led to WOWpetition. Theresa May said to me before the last election, which they didn’t win, that her Party wanted to treat disabled people fairly. So do I, which is why you must sign the #WOWpetition, because it isn’t fair at the moment. Disability is like the National Lottery – it could be you!
I have epilepsy (not controlled) diabetes (controlled) and suffer with depression (currently keeping it at bay). Have been through the Atos mill, was kicked off, appealed and lost. Felt very humiliated and very angry by the whole process. I’m involved with WOW, not so much for me but for others. I’m fortunate; my husband works and we own our own home. What if I was single and living in rented accommodation?
John Charles Dyer @JohnCharlesDyer
I retired in 2007 from a career in public service that spanned 34 years in local and state government in the US. My last role was as Chief Counsel to a state agency and acting General Counsel to its Secretary, a Cabinet level appointee. In this dual role I designed, negotiated and advocated major pieces of legislation. The distinction in titles is that the former is Civil Service, the latter political, but both titles describe the same position I held through 4 tumultuous years in California history. In retirement I continue with my now 47 years of active engagement in both faith and non faith based charitable, community and political affairs, including as an online Twittervist and blogger. I blog for Whirled View, an online American Foreign and Public Policy Journal founded by 3 career US Foreign Service Officers. I am a dual citizen and relocated to the UK with my British wife. Although politically affiliated in the US, in retirement I remain politically independent, supporting a party for the sake of effectuating policy rather than policies for the sake of putting a Party in office.
I’ve had many jobs, I’ve done lots of people and project management in different sectors. After working many years for the same company, things started to go wrong and I had to take lots of time off, I was told I was no longer needed. Since then I had to fight a lot, mainly the NHS and the local council. Now I am finishing a Bsc in health and social care, to complement what the University of Life has taught me in this field. The internet has helped me a lot in many ways during difficult times and I am fascinated by social media and citizen journalism. I am appalled by the current propaganda against welfare recipients and even more appalled by the way the government is removing our safety net which we all have been paying for over the years.
Michelle Maher @mmaher70
Hi, I am 48 years of age and was involved in a car crash twenty years ago which has resulted in my on-going health problems. The cuts to welfare and the draconian and humiliating experience of being dragged before Atos and the fear of the brown envelope drives me to fight for the sick and disabled. I am currently trying to do a PHD at Sussex University, very badly I might add. Joined group through twitter and likeminded peoples aims to fight the ConDems.
Rick B @TenPercent
I’m a human, artist, fool, depressive, blogger and carer. I have survived many attempts on my life by successive neoliberal governments in the form of fake medicals and the consequent legal appeals. I was first ‘assessed’ by the pilot of LiMA in 2003 when it was run by Schlumberger Sena before Atos bought it. I have attained the enlightened and/or state of ennui where I understand the human condition is simultaneously tragic and comedic, for example: Many concentration camps had orchestras, thus one of the highest expressions of creativity, culture and co-operative achievement by humanity was to be found slap bang in the middle of the very worst depths of human depravity. So go figure, people eh? (as I believe Wittgenstein put it in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus). I live by the Irish sea on an island in Wales with a cat, Mogwai, who no more believes in god than I do but is considerably furrier than me. The origin of Ten Percent is explained here. You’re welcome.
Susan Archibald @susanas4321
In 2004 I won a landmark case in the House of Lords: Archibald v Fife Council, which means there is now a duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people if they become unable to carry out the job they are in due to their disability. I am a Non Executive for NHS Fife; Vice Chair Dunfermline & West Fife CHP, Health & Social Care Partnership and the Redesign Committee. I am on both the Management Board and Policy Committee for SCVO, Poverty Alliance Scotland and I sit on three Cross Party Working Groups in the Scottish Parliament on disability, chronic pain, human rights and civil liberties. I launched the Archibald Foundation in 2009 which challenges the existing inequalities and poverty experienced extensively by disabled people by securing and providing advocacy so they have free access to their legal rights and entitlements. The foundation also challenges discrimination, exclusion and poverty by enforcing and strengthening laws while promoting and conducting training courses, conferences, lectures and meetings. The Archibald Foundation has just closed as Ltd Company and is going through process of becoming a Charity in its own right. My ultimate aim is to enable and empower other disabled people to achieve their goals in life.
Wayne Blackburn @crazybladeuk
I’m a 36 year old Yorkshireman on a spying mission to the old enemy, colonising Lancashire one bungalow at a time! I was born with Spastic Diplegia and have had several operations during my childhood and later, and have developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and Spondylosis over the last couple of years. I’ve worked on and off throughout my adult life until my condition deteriorated significantly three years ago and has worsened ever since. I detest the “scrounger” rhetoric being pushed by this and previous Governments and long for the day that the use of “welfare” is once again replaced by “Social Security” as it should be. I have been a floating voter for as long as I remember but will never forgive this Coalition government for its War on Welfare, and wish to ensure that we break through the deceit and lies being pushed by the DWP and its partners, and having been through the Appeals process of DWP and Atos I am well aware of the hardship and stress it brings to a claimant and hope we can restore some sanity and compassion to the system. My blog and read Shiv Malik talking to me in the Guardian.