Network hopes new manifesto will draw movement together


A new network of disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) is to draw up a manifesto and plan a week of campaigning action across the UK in a bid to “sharpen the struggle” against the coalition’s attacks on disability rights.

A conference in September – organised by Inclusion London, Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People, Disabled People Against Cuts and the Alliance for Inclusive Education – called for an alliance between the traditional disability movement and the grassroots organisations of activists set up to fight government cuts to disability benefits and services.

The new UK Collaborative Disabled People’s Network aims to fight threats to independent living, quality of life, inclusion, social justice and human rights, and create “a stronger voice” for disabled people and their organisations.

So far, 73 DPOs and disabled activists have signed up to the idea, with the plan to push for even wider backing from other DPOs once the manifesto has been drafted.

Tracey Lazard, chief executive of Inclusion London, said the first task would be to draft a manifesto of “achievable challenges”, and she stressed that it would need to include “positive alternatives and ideas, and not just a set of bullet points, saying ‘don’t cut this, don’t scrap this.’”

She said: “We can contribute and lobby and campaign in very diverse ways but we need to have a unified voice on key positions. I think it is really, really important to do that.

“It’s about developing and clarifying some key positions around issues we think are crucial.”

The manifesto will probably be launched in the early summer and is set to include demands on benefits; independent living and social care; health; inclusive education; employment; housing; accessible transport; access, inclusion and participation; “turning human rights into reality”; and “real” co-production.

Lazard said she believed it would be a “challenge” to secure agreement on the manifesto, but that there would be “a lot of key areas of consensus”.

The network is also planning Freedom Drive 2013, a week of campaigning action to be held across the UK in the summer or early autumn.

They hope Freedom Drive will win support for the manifesto through a week of rallies, public meetings, direct action, marches, creative arts and the use of social media.

Any DPOs or disabled people who believe they can contribute to the new network can email [email protected].

13 December 2012

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