Thursday, September 29, 2011

17 Cities to Take Action Against Atos and Government's Welfare Policy Tomorrow

Feel the power of the disability vote - Protest of California health care budget cuts

A press release from Benefit Claimants Fight Back:
Towns and cities around the UK will see protests tomorrow (30th September) against Atos, the IT Company responsible for carrying out the con-dem government's Work Capability Assessment. As part of a National Day of Action Against Atos, organised by disability, claimant and anti-cuts activists, people will be gathering outside Atos' offices in Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Brighton, Chatham, Cheshire, Birmingham, Glasgow, Hasting, Norwich, Oxford, Bristol, Chester, Plymouth, Sheffield and York.

In London a demonstration is being held outside the BMJ Careers Fair where Atos will be exhibiting in an attempt to recruit doctors to work on their Disability Assessment teams. Thousands of people have been denied or stripped of vital benefit because of decisions made based on Atos' assessment procedure which involves a short interview and a computer based test. Many people have had conditions worsened, either by being forced into the workplace, having much needed money withdrawn or the stress of the assessment process, which has been described as relentless. Sadly some have taken their own lives after hearing of Atos and the DWP's decisions to remove their benefits. Even people with cancer and other terminal illnesses have been deemed 'fit for work'. The government has pledged that this form of testing will be extended to all disability and health related benefits.

This week over one hundred groups and individuals signed a letter to the BMJ and the RCN urging them to stop allowing Atos to recruit at their events and in their publications.

An online protest will see companies and organisations which do business with Atos contacted and informed of this company's 'callous and cruel' treatment of disabled and sick people.

Supporters of Disabled People Against Cuts have said that "As long as ATOS continues to treat disabled claimants little better than animals they will continue to protest against them and seek means to discredit them."
This entry is cross-posted at Where's the Benefit?

[The image is a photograph of a blue sticker which reads "Feel the power of the disability vote". It is from an American disabled people's campaign, but is just as relevant here.]

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Feminist Podcasts

I listen to lots of podcasts, on all sorts of subjects, but sometimes struggle to find really good feminist ones. So I asked on twitter and facebook for feminist podcast recommendations.

Some of the following were already on my list, and I will be adding the others to give them a try. In case you, too, were looking for some feminism on your iPod (other mp3 players are available), check these podcasts out. Some of them are not explicitly feminist, or do not call themselves feminist, but they are ones which are considered feminist by at least some listeners. They are in no particular order.

We have also had our very own podcast in the past, and you can check out episodes one, two and three.

Other podcasts I found through google search rather than anyone's recommendation, are:

Thanks to @famousblue, @AngryMalayWoman and @LittleSpy amongst others for their recommendations. If you know of any other feminist podcasts, let us know in the comments!

(Originally - well, 3 minutes ago - posted at The F-Word).

[The image is a photograph of a silhouetted person wearing headphones, against a dark gold background. It was taken by Philippe Put and is used under a Creative Commons Licence]

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Banks are Bastards When You're Poor.

Yesterday I got a letter from my bank, informing me that my account is changing. I have a Basic Bank Account, because I don't have enough income or good enough credit for a normal current account. It seems that, as of next month, my Basic account is going to become even more basic.

The main change, according to the letter, is that from October I will only be able to use RBS and Natwest cashpoints. Or Ulster Bank ones, to be fair, but there aren't (m)any of those in Sheffield. To me, this is pretty much a disaster. My local cashpoint is a supermarket one - to find an RBS or Natwest ATM I will need to go into the city centre. Every time I need cash.

Also, walking is often difficult for me. I just don't have the capacity to be going to the city centre every time I need to withdraw cash, or - if I'm already in the city centre - walking further than is absolutely necessary, to find the correct cash machine.

Having to use a Basic Bank Account is already a fairly humiliating experience at times, and they tend to be held by people who are unable to access better accounts, because of their income or financial history or age. I am limited to banks that offer basic accounts, and within that selection, to banks that I have not had debt with in the past. Since recent mergers of numerous banks, I am even more limited because banks which were not financially connected before, now are.

The bank assure me in the letter that they value my custom, and in the very same sentence tell me I am welcome to close my account if I am not happy with the changes. Cheers for that, it makes me feel really valued. I haven't yet worked out a way that I can open a different account elsewhere.

So I have no options. I can't close this account in disgust and go to a different bank. I have thought a lot about this overnight, and all I can do is grin and bear it. Cope with the fact that I will only have occasional access to my own money. Work out ways to withdraw lots of cash in one go without being mugged. Learn where RBS and Natwest cash points are and if there are buses that go nearby. Use the small amounts of energy I have to go to the appointed cash machines rather than being able to get out my money and spend it in my local area.

If I had the energy, I'd be even more furious than I am.

[The image is a photo of a hand holding up a piggy bank against a blue sky. It was taken by D. Sharon Pruitt]

Edited to add: I'm not the only person outraged by this. have said:
NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) have been lambasted for preventing holders of their basic bank accounts from using other banks' cash machines.

NatWest and RBS basic bank account holders can only withdraw cash from NatWest, RBS or Ulster Bank cash machines in the UK or at the Post Office. The move places RBS and NatWest alongside Lloyds TSB, which already restricts it 'Cash Account' holders to using Lloyds TSB cash machines and branches of the Post Office.

Previously, most basic bank account holders were able to use the Link network to withdraw cash.

Which? principal policy adviser Dominic Lindley commented: 'This change will increase financial exclusion as it leaves basic bank account holders at RBS unable to access around 80% of the free cash machines in the UK. These account holders will be inconvenienced and might incur extra costs when travelling to find a cash machine they can use.'
Thanks to @vinnivee for that link.