Originally posted on REALFARE:
Thomas Barlow – @tbarls
Like many people I have been in and out of work over the past couple of years.
Every job is temporary, or low paid, or unspecified hours, or all of them together. And all of the jobs come to an end.
Recently I decided that I was going to stop this cycle and follow my dream of becoming a writer. This is it, this is what I will do, or die in the process.
So when I was told, suddenly, by my advisor, that I had to come in every day to the jobcentre for the next two weeks at least, I finally felt confident enough to speak back.
Though not at the time I was told. As my interview was ending my advisor told me
“Oh, and you have to come in every day for the next two weeks, starting tomorrow”
“Really? Oh ok” I…
View original 943 more words
Research shows disabled children are much more likely to be bullied. Three young people who were once victimised tell their stories and share tips on tackling the problem.
This year’s Anti Bullying Week has been asking schools to give particular attention to children with disabilities or special educational needs. The organisation behind the campaign, the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), has published new research on attitudes to disablist language this week and cites other recent research which shows eight out of 10 children with learning disabilities have been bullied, and that disabled children at primary school are 50% more likely to be victimised.
Rebecca, Maxine and Ammaar were at the receiving end of bullying. They explain how they got through it in the hope that their stories will help those having trouble now.
More than 90% of parents of children with Asperger Syndrome told the ABA that their child had been bullied in the past 12 months. Rebecca Parkin is 17 and has the condition. She was bullied regularly from the age of six until recently, when becoming a campaigning voice for others in her situation boosted her confidence. Rebecca says she was an “easy victim” for bullies. “I rarely spoke to anyone. I was really shy and kept to myself, even saying hello to someone was really difficult for me,” she says.
The problems began in primary school, where she was called names and excluded from friendship groups, but she describes high school as “a living hell”. “I was called fat, crazy, weird, stupid, ugly. When I was about 12 a gang of 16-year-olds came up to me in a park and tried setting my hair on fire. In school I got hit and tripped up, I had food and water thrown on me. One day a boy cornered me and said he was going to find me after school and kill me. I also got abuse online and someone set up a fake account on YouTube in my name so people could leave nasty comments on my videos.”
Rebecca was so badly affected that she began self-harming and needed help from mental health services. Things only changed for the teenager when she managed to speak up about what was happening to her. She says that she bugged teachers “until they did something about it” and that helping others in the same situation taught her that “you need to speak up so things will change”.
“I know it’s hard but if you can’t vocalise what’s wrong, write it down or draw it,” says Rebecca. “Do whatever you can to show how you are feeling and what is going on.”
Maxine Young is 22 and acquired a learning disability as the result of a brain tumour at the age of three.
“He called me brain tumour kid,” says Maxine Young, referring to one boy who bullied her. She was consistently called names and teased about her size and appearance throughout primary and secondary schools, and then at college. Telling teachers led to bullies getting temporary exclusions from school, but the bullying only stopped completely when Maxine was physically assaulted at a bus station, and went to the police. The attacker got a two-year suspended sentence and was ordered to pay compensation. This, coupled with how seriously the police took her situation, has helped her grow in confidence. Maxine has now developed strategies to avoid being targeted in the future.
“If I do get bullied now, I say to them, why are you doing this? What’s the point in bullying people when you won’t get anything from it? I carry a personal alarm with me in case I do get assaulted again,” says Maxine, who has also received self-defence coaching from the police.
Maxine now helps Mencap to give anti-bullying training to parents and carers of people with learning disabilities .
Mencap are keen to stress that Maxine’s story is an exception to the rule. The charity says that in the last two years there were 124,000 disability hate crimes, but only 3% of these were recorded by the police, and only 1% resulted in prosecutions.
‘Don’t believe them’
Ammaar Hussein is 16 and has been a victim of bullying in the past because of his deafness. He recently made a video for the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) giving tips for ways to tackle bullies. One tip he offers is, “Don’t believe the bullies”.
They would “speak very slowly, stretching their mouth and making fun of me” says Ammaar. It reached the stage where the bullies’ words affected how he went about his daily life. “I kept thinking that I couldn’t communicate properly and that people wouldn’t understand me if I tried. I felt embarrassed.
“One boy called me a robot because I was wearing my hearing aids,” he continues. “I felt really annoyed and ignored him but I kept thinking ‘Do I really look so different?’”
He says his biggest mistake was to listen to what bullies told him. “I did not realise that they were trying to ruin my confidence,” he says. “Remember, bullying is never your fault.”
Ammaar is now an anti-bullying ambassador at his school and he helps other deaf young people who are being targeted because they can’t hear.
Back to Kilburn jobcentre this morning for a Thursday signon session with Eddie, the 51-year-old man with learning and literacy difficulties who I’ve been working with as he’s tried to get his fortnightly jobsearch done and avoid sanctions.
The jobcentre was pretty chaotic this morning – understaffed, I think, and tense. Most of the seats in the waiting area were occupied by people who were waiting to sign on. A number of people were pacing around.
Eddie was one of them: “I want to get out of here,” he kept saying to me. “Let’s get it [the signon] done and go.” Eddie hates the jobcentre and he seemed fraught this morning. He said there’d been some sort of fight between a claimant and adviser and/or Security just before I arrived. I knew something was up, because I’d seen four or five coppers climbing out of their car and heading into the jobcentre just as I turned up at about 9.30am. By the time I got upstairs, the police were all hanging around on the first floor in the waiting area and I could see a couple of coppers talking to people in a side room.
A recent upper tribunal decision may have significantly increased the chances of employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants being placed in the support group rather than being forced to carry out work-related activities that cause a substantial risk to their health. The decision has come about because, just two months after taking power in 2010, IDS did away with one of the stages of the work capability assessment in order to push through the transfer of incapacity benefit claimants to ESA as hastily as possible.
The work-focused health related assessment (WFHRA) was a ‘second medical’ at which an Atos health professional looked at what capability for work you still had and ways in which it could be improved by the taking of steps in relation to your physical or mental condition.
The subsequent report was passed on to your personal adviser who used it to decide what kind of work-related activities you might be capable of. It was a vital part of the WCA because it was the only way the DWP passed on information about the way your condition affects you to the person supposed to be preparing you for work – they have never been allowed access to the medical assessment itself.
WFHRAs were suspended for two years in July 2010 due to their having achieved only ‘mixed results’ and because of the increasing backlog of ESA medicals. They were subsequently abolished altogether.
A recent three judge upper tribunal hearing, however, has almost reinvented the WFHRA.
The tribunal were hearing a case in relation to regulation 35(2). In essence, this says that if because of your health condition or disability, there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of any person if you were required to carry out work-related activities, then you should be placed in the support group.
The tribunal judges held that where a tribunal is considering whether a claimant should be covered by regulation 35(2) the onus is on the DWP to provide a significant amount of additional evidence if they think the claimant should not be placed in the support group.
This includes evidence about what activities work providers in your specific location send people on, which ones it would be reasonable to require you to do and what mechanism the DWP can point to that will give the tribunal confidence that the information will be effectively communicated to the work programme provider and acted upon.
If the DWP can’t do all this to the tribunal’s satisfaction then it must find that you are eligible for the support group.
Not surprisingly the DWP are very unhappy about this and are appealing the decision to the Court of Appeal. In the meantime, the DWP appear to be trying to get all appeals to first tier tribunals that raise the issue of regulation 35 stayed until the Court of Appeal has heard the case and reached a decision – which could be many months away.
We’ve updated both of our guides to claiming ESA to take account of this decision.
Meanwhile, if you are an ESA claimant, we’d be very interested to see your comments below on what work-related activities you have been forced to do and whether they were appropriate.
Originally posted on Scope's Blog:
This week is national Anti-Bullying Week, and this year’s theme is disability-related bullying.
Research by the Institute for Education shows that disabled children are twice as likely as other children to experience persistent bullying. This can take many forms including physical abuse, name-calling and cyberbullying.
Jack is doing an apprenticeship and is also possibly the only disabled mixed martial arts fighter in the UK – but part of the reason he took up the sport was as relief from the bullying he experienced at school.
“It started in year eight. Words like ‘spastic’ were thrown around at me and those words got me into trouble at school, because I wouldn’t stand for it.
“It was hard. I don’t…
View original 521 more words
A press release.