Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘London’

Monday the 2nd March 2015 saw the ‘National Day of Action Against Maximus – Same Circus, Different Clowns’ – given that there was a protest in solidarity with us in Toronto it would be fairer to call it an International Day of Action!

The day was organised by Disabled People Against Cuts, Black Triangle, Mental Health Resistance Network, #NewApproach and UK Uncut.

Events took place in Balham, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Croydon, Dundee, Ealing, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hull, Huddersfield, Inverness, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicester, Lincoln, Manchester, Norwich, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Sheffield, Stockton-On-Tees, Sunderland, Truro, Wrexham and the Maximus HQ in central London.

I attended the demonstration at the Maximus HQ at 29 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H. We were blessed with a bright sunny day which put everyone in good spirits and ready to make our voices heard. You can view a slideshow of images from the day at the foot of this page.

The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) has been described as ‘The Greatest Sham on Earth’ and those who are unaware of its absurdities tend to think you are exaggerating when you tell them how stupid and irrational it is. The WCA has but one intention and that is to reduce welfare spending no matter the human cost, and make no mistake, there has been a human cost. I can speak of this first hand. For one very close to me, an impending WCA, combined with a fear of Iain Duncan Smith’s many other pernicious ‘reforms’, played a part in an attempt upon their own life. This resulted in a long stay in hospital and I still see the fear in her eyes whenever a ‘brown envelope’ arrives. Medical staff treating her have told me that her actions, in response to the Coalition’s welfare cuts, are not uncommon. Has it really come to this in the United Kingdom, of all places? David Cameron recently said that ”The measure of how our society is, is how we treat its most vulnerable members”; he is right, and he has failed.

Demonstrations and bad publicity played a part in forcing ATOS to run away from the contract to carry out this hated test, Maximus willingly took up the poisoned chalice and 2nd March was the first working day of their new contract; hence why we found ourselves outside their offices. Later we took to the streets and, having occupied a roundabout, the public were given a demonstration of just how absurd the Work Capability Assessment is. It took the form of a circus with such exciting acts as hoop jumping, empty milk bottle carrying and a cardboard box lifting competition; these being references to assessment criteria used to find people ‘fit for work’. The performance ended with everyone joining in with the ‘Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group’ rendition of David Cameron Is A Wanker.

Twitter and other social media outlets were utilised by those who could not intend in person but wanted to take part. The twitter hashtag #Maximarse started trending and put Maximus into such a state of panic that they bought up many variations of the domain name to stop others from using it. Ah well, it is not as if anybody working for Maximus have anything better to do with their time, exploiting people has never been easier than under this Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All Photographs Copyright (c) 2015 Christopher John Ball

You can view images from previous DPAC disability campaigns I have attended and photographed here

Christopher John Ball is, along with Dean Sipling, co-author of the play Throwing Stones – ‘What’s in your family album?’ Order your copy today from Amazon

“Mid-life male photographer meets young, nubile female student-cum-artistic muse – so far it’s old hat. But photographer turned playwright Christopher John Ball and co-writer Dean Sipling, whose background is film and television, bring the pairing into a thoroughly contemporary world of intercepted emails, sinister insinuation and sharp retorts. Their ‘guilty until proved innocent’ plot … is thoroughly watchable and believable – perhaps as a result of Ball’s professional insights and DS Dom Lucas’ services as police advisor to the production” Barbara Lewis – The Stage

2015 will see the publication of three monographs featuring fine art photography by Christopher John Ball. Watch this blog for further details.

Read Full Post »

On July 4th 2014 DPAC organised events around the country, to highlight the fight to keep the Independent Living Fund, through a series of ‘Independent Living Day’ parties and picnics.

I attended the London party held outside the DWP Offices at Caxton House in Tothill Street SW1. The fun and games started at 2 pm. I arrived later than I would have liked due to my hip having other ideas, so I missed the beginning and most of the CAKE! As the events got underway the party spilled over into Twitter via the #IL4JULY hashtag.

On the 28th June 2014 DPAC had attempted to stage a peaceful protest/vigil in support of the Independent Living Fund(report and photographs here) at Westminster Abbey. Sadly the Dean, after but a brief period of deliberation, decided that, rather than support us, the appropriate Christian response, to such a peaceful action, would be to call the police so that we could be evicted from the temple.

Given the aforementioned actions, upon hearing that a group of disabled individuals had taken it upon themselves to peacefully gather to enjoy a roadside picnic and eat a bit of cake, Westminster Abbey upped its security; well, you can never be too careful. There had been cake after all; think of the sugar rush being experienced, anything could have happened.

After we had had our fill of cake, myself excluded of course but that is what happens when one is late (I’m not bitter about missing out on cake, honest), we moved on to indulge in a little dessert; mild civil disobedience flavoured. This took the form of a temporary road block across where Tothill Street meets Victoria Street

After a few minutes of peaceful, if somewhat noisy, traffic blockage the Police Liaison Officer asked if it were possible for one side of the road to be cleared so that an ambulance might pass. This rather nice officer (aren’t they all in the Met Liaison Department) assured us that this wasn’t a ruse on the part of the Metropolitan Police Service and there really was an ambulance on its way. We decided to clear a way for said ambulance and as soon as we had, no surprises, scores of officers arrived to fill in the space we had created and block any attempt on our part to recreate the road block. Of course no ambulance made an appearance, the Police Liaison Officer saying it had been diverted (wink, wink). If I were being honest, I personally would rather be made to look foolish by the Metropolitan Police than to have stood my ground and endangered someone by delaying access to their medical requirements. The Metropolitan Police played upon our good natures; shame on them;-)

Of course one cannot be allowed to block a main road, especially in central London and on a weekday, except of course when the authorities want to do so; as they did on Sunday and Monday for the Tour de France. Then, the good lads and lasses of the Metropolitan Police Service will go out of their way to facilitate closures rather than kettle.

As an aside, I have started to become increasingly aware, whilst participating in these peaceful demonstrations, that the Metropolitan Police appear to be focusing in, literally in the case of the officers gathering video evidence, upon our impairments; as if to identify (objectify) us by them and in other cases to impede progress. It makes for a very unpleasant experience and one that seems out of place in a democracy; indeed it calls up images from a much darker time in European history. We must be ever vigilant, no doubt the likes Iain Duncan Smith already have the cattle trucks on order, I shall explore this in a later blog.

Below are photographs made during the day in a slideshow format. I have split the images into two sets.

DWP Offices Caxton House, Tothill Street

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Road block across Victoria Street

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All Photographs Copyright (c) 2014 Christopher John Ball

Christopher John Ball is, along with Dean Sipling, co-author of the play Throwing Stones – ‘What’s in your family album?’ Order your copy today from Amazon

“Mid-life male photographer meets young, nubile female student-cum-artistic muse – so far it’s old hat. But photographer turned playwright Christopher John Ball and co-writer Dean Sipling, whose background is film and television, bring the pairing into a thoroughly contemporary world of intercepted emails, sinister insinuation and sharp retorts. Their ‘guilty until proved innocent’ plot … is thoroughly watchable and believable – perhaps as a result of Ball’s professional insights and DS Dom Lucas’ services as police advisor to the production” Barbara Lewis – The Stage

2014 will see the publication of three monographs featuring fine art photography by Christopher John Ball. Watch this blog for further details.

Read Full Post »

We have all been enthralled by the amazing athletes who have competed in the London 2012 Paralympics. Given all the excitement of that and other recent high profile events it may have slipped readers minds that the 15th of September is Battle of Britain Day.

You may ask ‘why am I linking the two?’ – I will explain.

The 15th September 1940 fell on a Sunday and it was on this day that Goring’s Luftwaffe launched its largest and most concentrated attack upon London – approximately 1,500 aircraft were sent over to rain death and destruction upon these Isles. After failing to deliver so far on his promise to Hitler it was Goring’s hope that he could draw the RAF out into what he planned would be a final battle of annihilation. The action was to be the apex of the Battle of Britain – a campaign that had started on the 10th of July and would go on till the 31st October 1940.

The pilots – who came from all corners of the world as well as Britain – never gave up. Tired, exhausted and at great risk they repeatedly flung themselves and their aircraft at the enemy…landing damaged planes, or those that were out of ammunition or fuel, and climbing straight into another fighter to rejoin the battle.

Let us also not forget the men and women who worked on the ground.  They kept the aircraft maintained and armed, repaired the airfields, made safe the unexploded bombs and operated Dowding’s innovative defence system.

Without their sacrifices and courage I would argue that there would have been no Paralympics as there wouldn’t have been any paralympians to take part.

Nazi ideology found its way into their public health policies. The Nazi’s encouraged the view that the disabled were simply a drain on resources and a danger to the Aryan bloodline. The Nazi propaganda of the time produced posters and films describing disabled people as “useless eaters” and people who had “lives unworthy of living”.

In 1933, the Nazi government instituted the “Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Diseases.” This law called for the sterilisation of all persons who suffered from diseases considered hereditary, including mental illness, learning disabilities, physical deformity, epilepsy, blindness and deafness.

Nazi doctors and nurses betrayed their profession and those within their care. They willingly carried out their ‘duties’ under the infamous ‘T4 Program’ and murdered thousands as the program of sterilisation turned to extermination. They murdered those in their ‘care’ via the use of lethal injection and gassing – specially designed death vans toured German and Austrian hospitals. The killings carried on until the end of the war. It is estimated that at least 275,000 disabled men, women and children were murdered by the Nazis.

The Nazi’s imported their twisted philosophy into the countries they occupied and would have done the same if they had invaded Britain. As a disabled individual, born just 20 years after the Battle of Britain, I, along with every other person with a disability, including my partner, including our paralympians, would been thought of as ‘without worth’ – we would not have been allowed to live had the Nazi’s not been bested by the RAF in that summer of 1940. And this is why I connect Battle of Britain Day with the Paralympics.

Those that took part in the Battle of Britain weakened Hitler’s war machine and damaged its moral – the Nazi’s had lost experienced pilots and aircraft. Many have argued that this contributed to the failure of the offensive against Russia. The Battle of Britain was an important turning point in the Second World War – it showed the world that the Nazi’s were not invincible. The United Kingdom was still in the fight; an unsinkable aircraft carrier from which to launch the liberation of Europe – a beacon of hope and freedom to those countries suffering under the Nazi jackboot.

The Battle of Britain gave us heroes such as Sir Hugh Dowding, Sir Keith Park, Geoffrey Wellum, Billy Drake, Peter Townsend, Bob Doe and, of course, Sir Douglas Bader – a man who, in 1931, had lost both legs yet fought in the Battle of Britain and who would do much in later life to help the disabled. In 1976 Bader was knighted for his services to disabled people.

In our more cynical times there have been many attempts at revisionist histories of the Battle of Britain. Yet the simple facts remain – the men and women who played their part in victory fought for freedom, our freedom, and they won it – for each and every one of us. For this we must all be thankful and we must never forget.

“I wish I could say all that is in my heart. I cannot hope to surpass the simple eloquence of the Prime Minister’s words, “Never before has so much been owed by so many to so few.” The debt remains and will increase.” – Sir Hugh Dowding November 24th 1940

Please show your support – consider making a donation to The RAF Benevolent Fund. It doesn’t matter how small – if you are going out tonight, on this Battle of Britain Day, why not have one drink less and donate the cash to the fund?

The site can be found here http://rafbf.org/171/donate-now.html

Christopher John Ball is, along with Dean Sipling, co-author of the play Throwing Stones – ‘What’s in your family album?’ Order your copy today from Amazon

“Mid-life male photographer meets young, nubile female student-cum-artistic muse – so far it’s old hat. But photographer turned playwright Christopher John Ball and co-writer Dean Sipling, whose background is film and television, bring the pairing into a thoroughly contemporary world of intercepted emails, sinister insinuation and sharp retorts. Their ‘guilty until proved innocent’ plot … is thoroughly watchable and believable – perhaps as a result of Ball’s professional insights and DS Dom Lucas’ services as police advisor to the production” Barbara Lewis – The Stage

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts