DPAC hopes history lesson will help reclaim the future from austerity


theweeksubDisabled activists are hoping a week of protest action will inspire a new generation of campaigners to fight cuts to disability rights, benefits and services, by drawing on the successes of the past.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) is promising direct action, a march on parliament, an online campaigning “blitz”, and a debate on the future of the social model of disability.

The week of action, from 29 August to 4 September, will build up to the launch of the new Reclaiming Our Futures manifesto, which has been produced by DPAC, Inclusion London, the Alliance for Inclusive Education and Equal Lives (formerly Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People).

The manifesto is likely to include policies on inclusive education, employment, independent living, access, welfare, housing, and co-production.

Andy Greene, a member of DPAC’s steering group, said the week was important because it would “set out what we are for rather than what we are against”, and would show “that disabled people aren’t just about saying ‘this is rubbish’; we do have a clear vision of what would work for us and everybody else”.

DPAC says it wants to use the Reclaiming Our Futures week to “protest against the targeting of disabled people by austerity measures”, to fight for the right to inclusion and independence, and to celebrate the “value, pride and self-determination of disabled people”.

It is stressing that the history of the disability movement is “littered with examples of how our community has come together when under attack to fight – and win”.

The week will begin on Thursday 29 August with an “online blitz”, using email and social media sites including Twitter and Facebook to swamp possible targets such as MPs, disability charities and the media with their message.

This will coincide with Transport for All’s day of action, which aims to pressure Crossrail to make all of its stations accessible.

The following day – 30 August – DPAC is hoping there will be local protest action across the country.

On Sunday 1 September, two of the veterans of the disability movement – Anne Rae, chair of Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, and Professor Colin Barnes – will be speaking at a debate in London on “reclaiming the social model”, with the event live-steamed over the internet.

The following day, DPAC is planning a direct action, although it has yet to announce the target.

The week will end on 4 September with the UK Freedom Drive. An anti-austerity protest march will begin outside four Whitehall departments – Education, Health, Energy and Climate Change, and Transport – with activists handing each one a list of demands.

The four blocks of protesters will then march on parliament, where they will launch the UK Disabled People’s Manifesto and present their demands to MPs.

In addition to the events DPAC has planned, it is hoping disabled people and their organisations will plan their own protests, exhibitions, debates and other events during the week.

Reclaiming Our Futures has the backing of other user-led networks and campaign groups, including the WOW petition, the European Network on Independent Living, Black Triangle, and the Mental Health Resistance Network, as well as the Unite disabled workers’ committee, the TUC, and a number of mainstream anti-cuts groups, including Occupy London and UK Uncut.

15 August 2013