Labour Call For Review Of WCA

9/26/2012 06:18:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 12 Comments

Well, it's only taken us two years, but finally Labour have said what sick and disabled people have been asking them to about the WCA. 

Honestly, anyone would think its conference season or something and that they don't want a repeat of this;

Next stage is that we have to keep the pressure up and ensure Labour do as they say they will. 
But this is definitely cause for some celebration, maybe not quite champagne but a few of those chocolatey celebration things...


Disability News Round Up By John Pring - Week Ending 23/09/2012

9/26/2012 07:46:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

  • The UK’s leading disabled people’s organisation (DPO) has attacked a government decision to set up an “alliance” of DPOs, charities, and private and public sector organisations that will be asked to produce new disability policies for the coalition. 
  •  The Scottish National Party has refused to say if “fitness for work” contractor Atos should be allowed to sponsor the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, even though more than half of its MSPs have publicly criticised the company. 
  •   London 2012 organisers broke at least one promise on access provision and “failed to deliver” on others, according to the chair of the independent body set up to examine the “sustainability” of the games. 
  •  New Welsh government plans to promote independent living could provide a significant boost to the disability movement in Wales, according to the country’s leading disabled people’s organisation. 
  • The British Paralympic Association has announced a new four-year sponsorship deal with Sainsbury’s, just days after the end of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. 
  • Rugby league is to become the first professional sport in the UK to carry out full access audits of every one of its stadiums. 
  •  Both the government and opposition have backed a bill that would scrap laws that discriminate against people with mental health conditions in business and public life.

News provided by John Pring at


Dear Paul

9/23/2012 09:39:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 5 Comments

Sorry to hear how difficult things are for you. 

Most people who go to tribunal with help win. Please contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau and ask them to help. They might have a waiting list, so the sooner you get in touch with them the better. If they say they can't help, ask them who else in your area does welfare rights support and ask them to help you contact them.

Lots of councils have something called a 'One Stop' shop. Its a place where there are council staff to help with all these kind of problems. They can fill out forms for you, you just tell them your answers and they will write it all down for you. 

There is alot of support online but its in writing and that doesn't sound like it'll help much! But, if you do want to join a group or forum for support they will all understand your issues with writing and reading. 

Try to talk to your doctor, tell them what you have told me and how you feel. Pain can be treated. If you are having to lie on the floor because you're in too much pain to get up then you need more pain relief. 

You can phone Social Services to get help for yourself. You don't have to wait for a Dr to ask them. The phone number will be on the website for your local council. Tell them what you told me; that you are not coping, and that you feel so desperate you want to die if you don't get help. 

Ask social services for an Occupational Therapy assessment. They look at how you live and see if there is any equipment or techniques they can teach you which might help. 

Don't be embarrassed to ask for this help if your home is a bit messy! They have seen it all and they'll understand. 

You can phone people just to talk about how you feel. Mind Charity are good, and Samaritans always have someone there to listen. You don't have to give your real name if you don't want to. You don't even have to speak to the Samaritans when you call if you feel scared or embarrassed. Sometimes just being able to know someone else is there is comforting. 

If you get stuck on the floor because of pain and can't get up yourself then the paramedics will come out. I usually think its best to stay on the floor for a little while and see if I can get up myself, but if you've been there more than half an hour, if you think you've broken a bone, or you're bleeding phone for help straight away! 

Keep a mobile phone in your pocket all the time so you can phone for help if you need. Even if you haven't got any credit you can call 999. 

Phone your local MP for an appointment. They call the times they meet with people surgeries. If you can't get out at all you can ask for a home visit or for a phone call from them. 

Please don't feel embarrassed to leave a comment on my blog - everyone here is disabled and we all understand. No-one will judge you for your situation or spelling!

I have put this on my blog because I know you have subscribed and will see it. There are lots of people reading in the same situation so they might find it useful too. 

Come back and look at the comments. There are lots of disabled people and lots of specialists who read here - they will have more ideas about how to help and will leave them for you in the comments thread. 

Take care and don't give up. I know you feel alone, but there are lots of us here thinking of you and we will all do what we can to help you. 

Best wishes, BendyGirl


What do you wish you'd known when you first became sick or disabled?

9/21/2012 08:56:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 15 Comments

I'm doing some research for an article about the most important things you wished someone had told you when you first became sick or disabled. The focus of the piece is mostly on consumer issues but I'd be really interested to hear any of the things you wished you'd known when you first became sick or disabled. It could be all kinds of things from the RADAR key scheme, to not having to pay VAT on disability specific equipment, or really anything you wish you'd known or would be in your top list of things to tell people in that situation.

If people could leave comments, or contact me on twitter @bendygirl I'd be really grateful please. My list wouldn't necessarily be the same as your list so by getting lots of different thoughts on what is most important I'm hoping to get a balanced top 20.

Thank you!


Bog Off Exhibit 32 - The Bog At The Beeb In Brum

9/19/2012 08:57:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 3 Comments

White raised toilet against yellow wall in middle of photo. On the right hand side of the photo are silver moveable grab rails and a standing frame. To the left is a blue, changing places fold up bench locked into position against the wall
White sink against white wall with silver towel and soap dispensers above. Flip up taps and dispensers are automatic. To the centre left is a baby change tray mounted on the wall and in the immediate left against the yellow wall is standing frame and raised grab rails

Closer view of blue changing table with controls just visible in a black box underneath mounted on the wall

Its been quite some time since the last Bog Off blog, but a now functioning phone and a few trips around the country have inspired my toilet photographing fetish anew. This rather impressive example was found in the new BBC building in Birmingham when I went to do Woman's Hour. It's tough to say which made me more excited...the blingy bog or the Dalek in reception. However, filled with pre broadcast nerves I spent a lot more time examining the bog than I did the Dalek, and to my deep dismay whizzed past the Dalek without a chance either to touch it up or take its photo!

As bogs go this was a particularly impressive example. It completely outshone the bogs at the Paralympics which were spacious, functional and well equipped...but devoid of bright colours and a wee bit wiffy. This loo smelled nice...which was probably because the cleaning schedule was rigorous and that it was just off the reception. There were fancy door opening things...but being inept I couldn't work them so the reception staff did fancy door opening which was very nice of them.

Functional, good looking and impressive. At least our Licence Fee's being spent on something useful in BBC Birmingham!


Disability News Round Up By John Pring - Week Ending 14/09/2012

9/18/2012 09:53:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

  • Disabled people with high support needs who protested outside government offices have described the “terrifying” reality they face if the coalition pushes ahead with plans to abolish the Independent Living Fund in 2015.
  • New government figures show that one in five decisions to find someone “fit for work” made by the company that carries out the controversial disability benefit test is wrong.
  • A former Department for Work and Pensions medical director has pledged to speak out about the government’s “fitness for work” test if he finds it is “not proper”, after he was ambushed by campaigners at a conference.
  • Disabled people increasingly believe that coverage of welfare reform and other disability issues in national newspapers is helping to fuel hate crime, according to a new report.
  • The editor of a local newspaper has angered disability hate crime campaigners by telling users of Motability vehicles that they should “hang their heads in shame” in comparison with medal-winning Paralympians.
  • Every one of Britain’s Paralympic squad faces extra living costs because of their impairment, according to the captain of Britain’s blind football team, the latest Paralympian to speak out on the importance of disability living allowance.
  • David Weir helped carry the British flag at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics on Sunday, hours after another astonishing performance to win gold in the T54 marathon, a race he described as his “toughest” yet.
  • A second medal-winning athlete has spoken of how disability living allowance has allowed him and other British Paralympians to “be the best we can be”.
  • A British Paralympian has spoken of the crucial contribution disability living allowance has made to her independence, and to her gold-medal-winning performance at London 2012.

For links to the full stories, please visit Disability News Service


Disability News Round Up By John Pring - Week Ending 07/09/2012

9/12/2012 07:48:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 1 Comments

  • A leading Deaf performer has called London 2012 “cowardly” and “immature” for ignoring his complaints about the lack of accessibility for Deaf visitors to the Paralympic Games.
  • A senior US government advisor has suggested that the London 2012 Paralympics could help disabled people in their fight against the UK government’s cuts to disability benefits and its opposition to inclusive education.
  • Disabled people’s organisations have responded warily to a string of new appointments to key posts in the coalition’s first ministerial reshuffle.
  • An MP has called for an inquiry into the “violence” of police officers against disabled activists who took part in a protest at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
  • A leading Deaf dance and film performer has launched an angry attack on the organisers of the Paralympic Games over their failure to provide any facilities for Deaf spectators at a key London 2012 venue.
  • Health experts from the prisons inspectorate are set to visit a disabled man whose life is at risk after being denied – his family say – the 24-hour care he needs for a serious health condition.
  • A disabled Labour MP has delivered a passionate appeal for the government to fix the “fundamental” problems with its “fitness for work” assessment.
  • The government has refused to say if the former minister for disabled people will present any medals to Paralympic athletes over the final days of London 2012.
  • London 2012 organisers have repeatedly refused to provide information for disabled visitors to the Olympic Park in accessible formats, Disability News Service can reveal.
  • A prominent disabled activist has criticised organisers of the London 2012 Paralympics after telephone helpline staff were unable to tell her if there was an electricity charging point for her powerchair anywhere on the Olympic Park.

For links to the full stories, please visit Disability News Service


BBC Woman's Hour

9/11/2012 12:37:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 2 Comments

I was on BBC Woman's Hour this morning talking about Paralympics, disability, women, legacies and paradoxes along with Sophie Morgan. You can listen again here - section is about 2mins to 12 mins....there's also a very interesting section on painkillers and addiction later on


Here, There And Everywhere...

9/10/2012 09:11:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 3 Comments

It seems fitting to wake up to the first post Paralympic day to drizzling, miserable rain - a sort of real life pathetic fallacy warning of political and economic doom to come after the excitement and optimism of weeks of sport dramatic enough to get even a lazy, chocolate eating focused scrounger such as myself interested.

I was lucky enough to go the Paralympics last week, a treat from my lovely twitter friend @fionalaird There aren't enough 'amazings' or 'awesomes' to describe what the atmosphere was like in the Olympic Stadium; the whole experience was surreal, a happy, positive London where strangers interacted and on the Olympic travel routes abundant volunteers couldn't do enough to help. It was far from the typical travel reality for disabled people, but a glorious utopian vision of how access could be all the time with the right funding, attitude and will.

My journey to London was easy and well supported, but when I tried to return to Birmingham it was back to travel reality for disabled people with a big bump. Despite having booked all my assistance 48 hours in advance when I arrived at Euston there was no ramp to get on the train and a grumpy, unhelpful platform staff who told me off for not having sat in the assistance lounge waiting like a good little cripple, disregarded my "but I booked it all properly" explanation and made it quite clear that although a ramp would turn wouldn't neccessarily turn up in time for me to get on my train. Fortunately the Virgin trains staff overheard this exchange and came over to say that they weren't allowed to use the portable ramps as they aren't insured but that there was no way the train was leaving without me. My new Luggie scooter came into its own as it was easily lifted onto the train and I was helped on - a very good job as the train did leave before the ramp arrived. Back at New Street station the ramp and support arrived, and despite a few moments of stress while we waited for the lift to be fixed it was all easy. Well, easy until I tried to get a taxi. Other passengers pushed in front of me despite it being obvious I was at the front of the queue and four or five taxi drivers either refused to meet my eye or just plain refused. Fortunately it wasn't too long a wait until one stopped and got the ramp out willingly, later apologising for his colleagues but enough to have caused a bit of a panic while I tried to work out if I could manage to find my way back to my friends on my scooter.

After all that I was very relieved that I was being driven to Bristol for the 100 Voices conference held by Brandon Trust this weekend. 100 Voices is the only conference for people with learning disabilities who also choose the agenda for the conference. Last year employment was the topic everyone wanted to cover, and this year transport was the choice. People with learning disabilities are even more disadvantaged in the employment marked than those with other disabilities, and there were many complaints about the lack of adequate public transport to enable people to get to work on time. Whilst bus passes are available for free, they can't be used before 9 or 9.30am in many places, which prevents people from getting to their jobs on time.

We all arrived in Bristol on friday evening to stay at The Thistle Grand Hotel. Its an old Victorian building, so wasn't designed to be accessible, and there were the usual complaints from staff that the hotel wanted to put a proper ramp at the front entrance, but had been refused planning permission by the local authority to do so. Although the building itself isn't perfect in access terms, the hotel have the best access statement I've ever seen, it details the width of doorways, if there's a ramp, what kind of ramp, whether it can be used independently, that there is a loop system etc. It was those little details that made it so impressively accessible...its the first hotel I've ever stayed in which had what it described as DDA compliant TV channels set up to ensure there were either subtitles or audio description permanently available. 

But, as ever it was staff attitude which made it a great place to stay. The portable ramp at the front of the building was tricky to use, and as my scooter is so low to the ground it got stuck every time, but every time the concierge was on hand to help. The most impressive part was that when 40+ disabled people arrived at once with a huge variety of access and support needs the staff didn't bat an eyelid and simply got on with assisting everyone, making us all feel like that was just part of the service they put on for all guests.

Typically I disappeared to bed before 9pm as I was speaking the next day - and everyone else stayed up late drinking, partying and pulling. It was really good to see everyone I met last year. I was so touched during the press photo shoot when Anne appeared behind me, gave me a massive hug and said "I helped you last year". I hadn't thought she would remember as we'd met just the once, but when I told her that everytime I talk to a politician about people with learning disabilities and employment that I explain about her job she nearly levitated with pride and excitement. Anne works as a carer in an old people's home, and having experienced the way she looks after people if I lived close enough I'd be trying to employ her to look after me.

So now I'm back in rainy Birmingham where I based myself for the week so that I could manage to get to both the Paralympics and Brandon Trust. Its been exhausting and I'm wiped out, but 100 Voices is my absolute favourite event of the year. Its actually the hardest to plan a speech for too as there is a huge range of disabilities all of which have different communication needs, so as usual I planned music to relate to the transport topic. Its also really tricky to find music that is instantly recognisable to 100+ people aged from 18-65, some of whom have profound and multiple disabilities, and that mentions a form of transport. As ever there were worries and complaints about using children's songs from people who weren't there or who don't have a disability themselves, and as ever the whole room loved the music and was more engaged at that point than any other during the day. The only complaint from a delegate was that this year there was no Bob The Builder music!

Its been a brilliant if exhausting week, and I'm in Birmingham for another few days to recover - depending on whether I have to do some radio stuff tomorrow. I'm looking forward to getting home to BendyCat who apparently has absconded to live upstairs with my neighbours and to planning the agenda for party conferences next month. This year we've been a bit more organised and have split the responsibility, so Sue Marsh and Pat's Petition will be covering Labour Conference in Manchester, and I'm off to Conservative Conference in Birmingham. We've got a new Minister for Disabled People now, who also happens to be my constituency MP Esther McVey so it will be good to meet her in Birmingham in her new role and see what comes of that....