Restore the Access to Elected Office Fund!

The Government is facing a legal challenge to restore the Access to Elected Office fund (AEOF) which helps Deaf and Disabled candidates, of all parties, with the extra costs of standing for election. The legal challenge is being brought by 3 Disabled would-be MPs from 3 different parties and is being supported by the cross-party campaign group More United.

There are over 13.9 million Disabled people in the UK, that’s 21% of the British population. Fair and accurate representation of all demographics is an essential part of any healthy democracy. However, just 5 Disabled MPs were elected to the House of Commons at General election 2017. Together, they make up less than 1% of Parliament.

A major reason for the under-representation of Disabled people in Parliament is the additional financial barriers faced by Disabled candidates when seeking to stand for election. The AEOF was set up in 2012 to allow Disabled candidates to campaign on an equal footing to their non-disabled counterparts. The fund offered grants between £250 and £40,000 to cover extra costs such as BSL interpreters, assistive technology or extra transport.

But in 2015 the government froze the fund and it was put ‘under review’. Three years on, there are still no plans to restore the fund, despite a recommendation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) for it to be restored. Without the financial support provided by the AEOF, many Disabled would-be MPs are effectively prevented from standing for election.

Now more than ever, Disabled people’s voices need to be heard. If there are not enough Disabled MPs who truly understand the barriers and discrimination we face, decisions will continue to be made against our interests. The recent cuts to Personal Independence Payments, the narrowing of social care criteria and the closure of the Independent Living Fund demonstrate this.

Standing for election should be accessible for all. The AEOF must be restored to level the playing field and allow more Disabled candidates to stand for election. Please join Labour’s Emily Brothers, Liberal Democrat David Buxton, the Green Party’s Simeon Hart and More United in their call for the Government to reopen the fund.

Join the campaign and sign the petition here: https://www.moreunited.uk/restore-the-fund

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Access For All Southmead

Inclusion Southmead is a friendly group of Disabled and non-disabled residents, working to make Southmead inclusive and accessible for everyone.

We are working with Bristol Disability Equality Forum and The Care Forum on a number of issues, including a lack of access to some of Southmead’s shops, parks and services.

At the top of our current list is access to McColl’s Newsagents and Post Office in Arnside. Although the shop has double doors, these are locked. The only way to get into the shop and Post Office is through a single heavy door, which has a step. There are also displays and shelving blocking access in the shop. This means that some wheelchair users, and other Disabled people are often left outside, whatever the weather. Disabled and older residents have also told us that they have been forced to rely on family or friends to do their shopping, pay their rent or do their Post Office banking for them.

We do not think this is acceptable. All residents should have equal access and choices, no one should be excluded from such an important service in our community.

We have written twice to McColl’s asking for something to be done. After several months we were told that McColl’s had done a site survey, and then put an ‘ask for assistance’ sign and a bell outside of the shop. However, the bell is too high for some to reach, and this had made some people feel even more frustrated and left-out.

McColl’s also said that they cannot do anything in the ‘immediate future’ due to ‘planning consent’. However, Equality law means that businesses must think in advance about what Disabled people need to use their services, and we know that other McColl’s branches are not accessible, including the recently refurbished branch at Pen Park.

So, Inclusion Southmead has decided to hold an ‘Access For All Day’ (A4A) outside McColl’s Arnside on Saturday 21st April, from 11am to 1pm.

We will be asking people to sign a petition to help raise these issues and get Access For All. Please come along, we plan to make this into a fun event for all. We will be there come rain or shine, please join us!

We are also talking to the Council and other groups about the lack of access to Doncaster Park, so that Disabled people no longer have to wait outside whilst their children and grandchildren are playing inside. We want all residents, of all ages, to be able to enjoy Southmead’s parks and community space.

For to find out more, e-mail Deana at zazu@sky.com , or Mike at mike.bristoldef@gmail.com or call 0117 914 052.

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TF18 Paid Artist Open Call

Paid Artist Open Call

Deadline: 7th April 2018

 

Tempting Failure are back, and thrilled to launch their open call for applications to their 7th year of performance art and noise.

TF18 will be the first event in their new biennial format and will take place from 9th – 22nd July in and around Croydon, South London.

Tempting Failure’s open call is your chance to get involved – it’s open to artists from anywhere in the world, at all stages of their careers and they are interested in work from live performance, noise/sound, and fine art disciplines.

They additionally invite applications from artists with experiences or responses to refugee crisis or mental health and they welcome applications from disabled/neurodiverse artists.

As always, Tempting Failure is dedicated to radical, transgressive and under-represented work that explores risk and challenges preconceptions. Find out more about them and the work they programme.

Their provocation for 2018 is Fractured Bodies. We welcome diverse, immediate, radical, philosophical, inventive, political, abstract and urgent responses to this theme.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ON HOW TO APPLY

 

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EU-UK Deal Doesn’t Help Disabled EU Citizens and Carers

Picture of the EU flag flying outside a building

A Disabled people’s organisation has warned that the proposals for who can stay in the UK after Brexit completely ignores Disabled people and their family carers.

Disire — the Disabled people’s organisation (DPO) of Disabled UK residents from other countries  — made the following statement about the recent EU-UK Joint Report :

“For Disabled EU citizens and carers, the EU-UK deal is a disappointment.  Not all Disabled people are able to work, or work enough, and so they sometimes do not meet the criteria for permanent residence.  Carers of Disabled people, who care for their (often British) relatives also cannot apply for a permanent residence card because the Home Office does not consider them to be “working”.

“The newly proposed settled status is still based on the criteria of exercising the EU treaty rights.  (This means) People who want to apply must show they have worked, have been self-employed, have studied or have been self-sufficient for five years.

“Disire believes that Disabled people and carers play a vital role in Britain and should not be prevented from getting permanent residence or settled status.  Theresa May has promised not to split up families.  Disabled people have families too.  Disabled people and carers must not be left behind when developing a new status for EU citizens.

“Disire is disappointed that the EU-UK deal does not mention of Disabled people and carers or other suppressed groups who cannot and will not fulfil the criteria for the proposed settled status.

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“We ask the European Union negotiators and the UK government to urgently ensure that any new arrangements regarding the right to stay in the UK for EEA citizens does not discriminate against Disabled people, their families and carers.

“Any new arrangements and rights must have Disabled people and their families in mind.  That means any new status, rights or arrangements need to have provisions for Disabled people who cannot fulfil the requirements due to their impairment, illness or condition.

“If necessary, people with carers’ duties must also have provisions made for them if these duties prevent them from meeting the requirements. These provisions are important to meet the legal requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the UK Equality Act 2010 and other laws.” 

(Disire, December 2017)

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Do you live in Southmead?

Inclusion Southmead is a friendly group of Disabled and non-Disabled people working together to make local spaces, amenities and groups inclusive and accessible.  We are working in partnership with Bristol Disability Equality Forum and The Care Forum, and meet once a month.

If you want to have your say, share your ideas, or want to find out more why not join us?

The next meeting is on: Tuesday 13 February, 11am – 1.00pm

At the Greenway Centre, Southmead, Doncaster Rd, Bristol BS10 5PY

For information e-mail: mike.bristoldef@gmail.com

Or call 0117 914 0528

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Life costs more if you’re a Disabled person – a lot more!

Whether buying expensive items of equipment, higher fuel bills, or costly insurance premiums, Disabled people are forced to pay more to live their lives.

Scope’s new report, The disability price tag, reveals that on average, Disabled people face extra costs of £570 a month related to their impairment or condition.  For one in five, these costs amount to more than £1,000 a month.

According to Scope, “Marie is just one of many disabled people faced with this financial penalty.  She uses a specially adapted wheelchair which needs replacing, but this would cost her £9,000.

“We’re calling on Government, businesses and regulators to all play their part in tackling extra costs.”

Bristol Disability Equality Forum have been raising this issue for several years and welcome this up-to-date evidence.

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