Update On Our Campaigns Work

Hello everyone, its been a long time since i posted another blog, and i just wanted to update you on what myself and Lois have been doing and concentrating on in the Campaigns team over the last month or so. I hope your all keeping well and fighting the good fight, and if there’s any more of that left you’ll most definetly read on!

The Labour Party Conference was something of a tour de force for the Me in my Volunteer role and more importantly, the charity itself. I met,spoke to (& lobbied!) lots and lots of important people throughout the week, made some favourable contacts at some very sociable socials and really pushed the  Mencap Liverpool agenda. Our voice was heard on BBC Radio syndicated across all BBC Radio Breakfast shows in an interview i gave as a follow on from the question I asked Ed Milaband’s during his live  televised  BBC Parlaiment conference Q&A with delegates, party members, charity workers and members of the public, about whether he’d tackle the problem of the removal of indefinite awards of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and its migration to Personal Independence Payment, as further questioning him on  Work Capability Assessment – the medical  carried out by Atos Healthcare on behalf of the Department for Work & Pensions for eligibility for benefit – as well as whether he’d move away from a less stereotypical dialogue that concerned Mencap and Disabled people and instead to a more compassionate and sympathetic language and rheotoric. The answer i got from the Labour leader was a far from satisfactory one and I will be following up my concerns with emails, phone calls, tweets, letters and whatever else it takes to pressure the Leader of The Opposition and his office to come out and further explain there position on these matters as I feel there is more Labour can do to defend the concerns of Disabled people on these matters.

I also met and conducted a long conversation with Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Work & Pensions & Chair of Policy Review Liam Byrne, as well as being roundly applauded by the floor at a conference Employment Consultation event for calling out the Shadow Employment Minister Stephen Timms to do more on protecting Disabled people in work and defending there welfare out of work.

My other priority for conference was to push our other agenda of Transport for disabled people and the savage cuts to Bus Services, disabled fare concessions and the imminent threat to free Disabled Travel Passes. To ensure this I attended as many fringe events on Transport as I could and poured through as many pamphlets, articles and Transport Select Committee report as I could, whilst also lobbying my Local MP in the hall Louise Ellman who is Chair of the Transport Select Committee.

Another point of concern through conference week was the highly publicised Government funding removal of the National Express fare concessions for Disabled & elderly people. To tackle this I’d already arranged a meeting with National Express’s Head Of Corporate Affairs who conveniently was also attending Conference as we met a stones throw away from the Conference Hall. During the meeting I learned National Express our trying to fill the void as best as they fiscally can with there new coach cards for the over 60s and the disabled, that they would be conducting further consultations to ensure they  “keep working with people around the country to help them to assist themselves and learn better how we can help them” as well as the appointment of a new Access & Inclusion Manager with concerns for Disabled peoples fares, travel experiences and employment within the company. We at Mencap Liverpool will continue to campaign to bring a solution to the problem by insisting that the option of National Express and Government sharing the costs of the concessionary schemes would be the best solution in the interests of all concerned.

That was all very pleased and maybe even fun, but by far the most pleasing thing that brought a smile to the face during Conference week was the interest and response Mencap Liverpool got as a charity from my dealings and attendance at fringe and main hall events throughout the week. The feeling that people respected us, our name and myself for working for such a good charity and its cause of assisting disabled people to live fair and fufilling lives made me very proud indeed with many people coming up to me to say they where glad I was there and with what I’d said, and in some cases what Mencap Liverpool had done for them.
No sooner had the conference ended that I was given another assignment by Mencap’s Regional Campaigns Officer for the North West, regarding the immiment Hardest Hit march with their campaign now been rippled across the country on a far more localised basis. For more info on the march please click here
My job, assisted by my very good supervisor Lois, was to publicise the Hardest Hit march and its campaign as best as I could, and attempt to get as many MP’s from across the political party spectrum to attend the rally and gives words of explanation from the Government and encouragement to the fight for there futures Disabled People are undertaking.
Unfortunately we were dissapointed in not achieving to get an MP to come, although this could change. We did however recieve many letters of reply directly from MP’s speaking of their total support and solidarity for our cause and the rally.
Myself and the Campaigns team as well as some Mencap Liverpool members are going down to Manchester along with many other Mencap groups in the North West to be at the march and its a day I thoroughly look forward to after an extremely enjoyable day I had at the original Hardest Hit march in London in April.
I’ve also in addition written a very detailed letter to the House Of Commons Work & Pensions Select Committee questioning them on many issues – more details i wrote and there imminent reply next week!
To wrap up, I’m donning my Mencap Liverpool badge all the way down to London the end of October for the cross charity/disabled community Conference organised by the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) event. As well as discussing our work and publicising our concerns I will also be attempting to be elected to this excellent organisations Steering Groups to guarantee Mencap Liverpool’s voice and expertise is heard at every level.
Finally, and this is the end, I’m venturing out into Politics myself good and proper as North West Young Labour finally buckled to mine and other requests that they elect a Disabled Officer for the region and its members under the age of 26. If you would like to vote for me or show your support you can do so on Facebook 🙂
Many thanks and we will continue up our work of  supporting Disabled people and fighting the good fight.

Thomas

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