Protesters call for inquiry into death of disabled woman


Disabled campaigners have held a public protest over the case of a disabled woman who died in despair at her failure to secure the accessible housing and support she needed.

Protesters outside Camden council’s department of housing and adult social care called for a public inquiry into the council’s treatment of Jennyfer Spencer.

Their campaign is led by two disabled people’s organisations, the Campaign Against Care Charges (Camden) and WinVisible, the national disabled women’s charity.

Spencer, a wheelchair-user and former primary school teacher, had spent seven years living in a fifth-floor, inaccessible flat. Her support package of direct payments had also been withdrawn.

Her body was found on 1 March, along with a letter addressed to a local paper detailing her despair at her long battle with the council.

Claire Glasman, a volunteer with WinVisible, said after this week’s protest: “People spoke about how – like Jennyfer Spencer – there are a lot of people being neglected and at risk.

“People are having their direct payments cut or dropping out [of receiving council support]because of charging.

“People are very disturbed about what happened to Jennyfer Spencer and also worried on their own behalf. We all know it could happen to us as well.”

She said she feared that other disabled people could die in similar circumstances unless there was an inquiry.

The council claims that Spencer had a “long history of refusing to engage with services”, and that her direct payments were cancelled because the money was just being left in her bank account.

It said it made repeated attempts to engage with Spencer, including contacts through her legal representative, her GP and the community mental health team.

It said that any suggestion that it had failed to meet the needs of Spencer was “conjecture” and pointed out that no cause of death had yet been established at an inquest.

A council spokeswoman said there were “currently no plans for a public inquiry”.

5 May 2010


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