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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Don't Be On The Giving End

Oh dear, it doesn't matter how many times we talk about it, and my goodness we talk about it a lot, it happens again and again.

Last Christmas we were told to not be a rape victim, earlier this year we were told that it was because of what we wear, and that half of Londoners surveyed thought there were times that rape was the victim's fault, and these are just the tip of the iceberg.

So, in time for Christmas, Hambleton and Richmondshire Community Safety Partnership have launched a 'hard-hitting campaign', advising people to not be 'on the receiving end' of domestic violence during the festive season.

I am struggling to see their logic. Is it aimed at women who they believe were somehow planning to be abused, yet on seeing the poster they will see the error of their ways, and decide against it? How else can it be understood?

Raising awareness of domestic abuse is very important. The quote provided makes good points: “Christmas is meant to be a happy time for families but for many living in our districts it will be a time of fear and pain,” said Sarah Hill, Director of Independent Domestic Abuse Services.

“The pressure builds up as people spend more time together than normal - which can often be a flash point for abuse. But we are here and ready to help – to listen or to provide some shelter.”


But how does this equate to the victim blaming, completely missing-the-point poster.

If anyone is going to urge anyone to do anything, we need to urge abusers not to abuse. It is so screamingly obvious that it frustrates me immensely that we have to write about this again and again and again.

Nobody wants to be abused. A woman seeing a poster telling her not to 'be on the receiving end' does not stop her partner 'being on the giving end'. It may just make her feel even more powerless and vulnerable.

Provide helpline numbers, sure. Provide advice and support, absolutely. But point the advice in a way that does not make it her fault. In a way that does not put the onus on her to not be punched or kicked or raped.

Because believe me, she already does not want to be on the receiving end. She does not need a patronising poster campaign to tell her that.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247, or find a service local to you through the Women's Aid website.

And remember, it is not your fault. Ever.

I wish we did not have to keep saying this, but as long as people keep putting out information like that, we will.

(Cross-posted at The F Word)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Disability Works, Does It?

Companies like A4e, who are paid by the government to get benefit claimants into work, are treated with at best suspicion, and at worst fear and loathing, by many disabled people, especially following TV programmes such as Benefit Busters.

The DWP currently have a shortlist for other companies who are bidding for contracts to carry out government compulsory back-to-work schemes, and worryingly one of the shortlisted companies is the dreaded ATOS, who carry out the ESA medicals, and G4S (formerly Group 4 Security).

However, apparently also on the shortlist, according to benefitsandwork.co.uk, is a consortium consisting of a group of 7 charities, who have called themselves Disability Works UK.
Disability Works UK is a collaboration of national third sector disability organisations including Leonard Cheshire, Mencap, Scope, Mind, Action for Blind People, United Response, Pure Innovations, Advance UK and Pluss.

They boast about their £654.4 million turnover, and cash surplus of £15.6 million, which makes me feel a little queasy. As someone who has donated to more than one of these charities in the past, I will certainly never do so again if that is going to be used in a bid for them to gain their place in what is one of the most oppressive parts of the government's new benefit regime.

For charities and voluntary sector organisations who have done some campaigning against the punitive measures put in place within the benefit system, to now want to play an active part in that system, is disturbing. For them to use money donated by people in good faith as part of that, sickening.

And where does it leave our chances of major disability charities campaigning on our behalf against punitive benefit reforms? If they are hoping to profit from the legislation, I cannot see how we can expect adequate support or representation from them.

If Mind, Scope, Mencap, Leonard Cheshire et al win these contracts, will these charities, who are seen by many as the voice of disabled people, be playing a part in benefit sanctions? Will they be working with ATOS as colleagues? Will we ever trust them again?

(cross posted at Where's the Benefit?)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

DLA Consultation: The Internet Responds.

Yesterday, Where's the Benefit? posted Broken of Britain's response to the DLA reform consultation, and today I am going to try to read the government's consultation document itself.

Other disability blogs and websites have already done some great posts on this subject, and I wanted to draw attention to some of what is being said around the interwebz on the reform proposals.

Fighting Monsters writes From DLA to PIP - a consultation begins.

Arbitrary Constant writes DLA Reform Consultation: Great Expectations, Worst Apprehensions.

communitycare.co.uk write DLA claimants to miss out in benefits shake-up.

Disability Alliance write Government announces cuts to disabled people's support as "new test".

Left Foot Forward writes Supporting Disabled People Not Sustainable says Coalition.

Disabled People Against Cuts have a cartoon entitled Don't worry when we want your opinion we'll tell you what it is.

I don't know whether I'll be able to make my way through reading the consultation document myself without breaking things and / or having a complete meltdown, but if I do I will try to summarise it in a blog post when I have.

(cross-posted at Where's the Benefit?)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Cold Weather Payments

For those readers on qualifying benefits, you can check whether or not you are yet eligible for any Cold Weather Payments on this direct gov website.

Payments are made when the average temperature for where you live is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days.

Also from direct.gov, who qualifies for Cold Weather Payments:
If you are in receipt of Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), you may also be able to get Cold Weather Payments.

You get £25 for each seven day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March and it is paid automatically, you do not need to apply for it.

So, if you want to check whether you are due to receive one, you can do so here.

Cross-posted at Where's the Benefit?