The BBC’s disabled security correspondent has spoken of his wish for a “normalisation of disability” in society.Frank Gardner, who was giving the third annual Jack Ashley Memorial Lecture, said he would like to see “the sharp edges of difference” between disabled and non-disabled people “sand-papered down so people don’t make a big deal about it anymore”.He said: “What I would like to see is the normalisation of disability, that people don’t look twice at somebody who’s blind or in a wheelchair… so they are 100 per cent part of mainstream society.”Gardner (pictured when he featured on the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?) told the invited audience in the state rooms used by the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, about many of the daily experiences of discrimination that have frustrated him since he became disabled 12 years ago.He described his continuing frustration with the barriers he encounters with air travel, including the ground staff who often grab him by the shoulders without asking in order to “manoeuvre” him off a plane, and how he is frequently left alone waiting for assistance at the end of a flight, long after the other passengers have disembarked.Gardner said that many of the problems he faced were due to the “attitude” of service-providers, and that there were “a lot of areas where life could be made easier without too much difficulty”.He also spoke of his frustration at non-disabled people who use accessible toilets, and the abuse of accessible parking bays in central London by non-disabled drivers.He said: “For me there might as well not be a single disabled parking spot in central London because I can never find them.“They are used by people who are able-bodied… it’s bloody annoying.”Gardner spoke also of how he became disabled, having been shot six times and left for dead by terrorists in Saudi Arabia in 2004, and how he then spent seven months in hospital and underwent 14 operations.He said that two things particularly helped him avoid falling into a “vortex of self-pity and despair”: the advice of a Navy psychiatrist, who told him to worry about the things he could still do and not those he would not be able to do anymore, and a letter from his bosses at BBC News which promised that his position as security correspondent would still be his when he was ready to return to work.The lecture was hosted by Disability Rights UK (DR UK), the all-party parliamentary disability group (APPDG) and the family of the late Lord [Jack] Ashley, the former deaf MP and peer who died four years ago after nearly half a century spent fighting in parliament for disability rights and equality, and who chaired the APPDG for more than 40 years.One of his daughters, Guardian journalist Jackie Ashley, said that her husband, BBC political journalist and author Andrew Marr, who was also at the lecture, had not wanted to be “that bloke with a stroke” after he became disabled, while her father had not wanted to be “that deaf MP”.But she said that they and Gardner had still been “inspirational” to disabled people, and she asked him how he felt about the idea of being a spokesperson for disabled people.Gardner said he did “not want to be associated with one particular thing” and although he did not have “anything against disabled people” he did not want to be a spokesperson for them any more than he wanted to be a spokesperson for people who drive Toyotas, although he said he hoped his work was “an inspiration for other people”.He pointed out that the disabled consultant Phil Friend, a former chair of Disability Rights UK, had once told him after he had apologised for not having time to help with a certain piece of work: “Keep doing what you’re doing, keep being on air… that’s enough.”But the disabled crossbench peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell pushed Gardner further, and asked: “Don’t you think you can do both?”She said that she speaks on disability in the House of Lords but also on other issues, and accepts that she has a privileged position, adding: “Don’t you think it’s a kind of duty that those of us who have the privilege of having the ear of people do a bit of both?”Gardner told her: “That’s why I’m here tonight. I think it’s a good thing to do. I don’t think it’s a duty.“Instead of going to my daughter’s school concert, I’m here. I think what I do is important and it’s a case of finding the right balance.”Liz Sayce, DR UK’s chief executive, told the audience: “We want everybody to have that chance, if you become disabled, to pursue the life you want, the career you want, as Jack Ashley did and as Frank you have described.“Unfortunately, for many disabled people it is still not happening; there are too many barriers.”She pointed to DR UK’s leadership programme, and said: “More and more people are coming through it, showing talent can break through.”She said the programme was producing a “cadre of disabled people” who are becoming role models and mentors for other disabled people.She said: “The more disabled people [there are] doing everything from being MPs to security correspondents to company directors, gradually we are going to… change the world.”
The number of disabled people living in poverty has risen by 200,000 in just one year, government figures have revealed.The new figures [summaryresults, tables 7a and 7b], published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP),show levels of absolute poverty rose between 2016-17 and 2017-18.Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) said the figures meant another200,000 disabled people living “terrible, degrading, miserable, half-lives”.The figuresare likely to be influenced by continuing government attempts to cut spendingon disability benefits, including policies such as the benefits freeze and cutsto payments to new employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants placed inthe work-related activity group (WRAG).The WRAGcuts of nearly £30 a week were introduced in April 2017, with ministers tryingto justify them by claiming they would “incentivise” sick and disabled peopleto find work.The newpoverty figures are part of the annual Households Below Average Income report,which was published last Thursday (28 April).They alsoshow that as many as 600,000 more disabled people are now in absolute poverty,compared with 2010, when the Tory-led coalition government came to power.Mediaattention focused on a rise in child poverty, but the report also showsincreased levels of absolute poverty – the government’s preferred measure –affecting disabled people.Householdsare said to be in absolute poverty if their income is less than 60 per cent ofaverage (median) income in 2010-11, adjusted for inflation.Beforehousing costs are taken into account, the proportion of individuals living inhouseholds including a disabled person who were in absolute poverty rose from16 per cent to 18 per cent, between 2016-17 and 2017-18.And thenumber of disabled people living in absolute poverty – before housing costs –rose from 3.6 to 3.8 million.Once housingcosts have been accounted for, the proportion of individuals living inhouseholds including a disabled person who were in absolute poverty also rose,from 22 to 23 per cent.And thenumber of disabled people living in absolute poverty – after housing costs –rose from 4.9 million to 5 million, an increase of 100,000.Bob Ellard, a member of DPAC’s national steering group, said: “Wealthypeople running the government think poverty means not having much money. “They don’t understand poverty, it doesn’t just mean little money; itmeans bleakness, fear, misery, hopelessness, day in day out, no rest and noremission, stretching into a degrading future. “It means hunger, it means cold in winter, it means worsening mentalhealth, it means bad living condition and fear of being on the streets. “And for some people it means death by suicide, starvation or othereasily preventable causes. 200,000 more disabled people in poverty isn’t just anumber. “Five million disabled people in absolute poverty is five millionindividual human beings living terrible, degrading, miserable, half-lives. Aliving nightmare.”MichelleMaher, from the WOWcampaign, said the figure of 200,000 moredisabled people in absolute poverty was “no surprise to campaigners whorecognise the multiple cuts disabled people face”, including the bedroom tax,and cuts to housing benefit and council tax support, the closure of theIndependent Living Fund, cuts to employment and support allowance, and theimpact of the benefits freeze and the benefit cap. She said WOWcampaignhad been fighting for seven years “to get the government to assess the impact ofall disability cuts” and to demonstrate a duty of care to disabled children andadults across the UK and to “make sure disabled people are not driven intopoverty”. She said: “Theyrefuse, as they know the figure would emerge that disabled families could useto fight for support, and shock the public.“Iabsolutely cannot comprehend the inhumanity and cruelty shown to our fellowcitizens.”Shepredicted that the roll-out of universal credit would make the number ofdisabled people in absolute poverty “far, far worse”. A DWP spokesperson refused to say if work and pensions secretary AmberRudd accepted that the increase in disabled people in poverty was caused bycontinuing government attempts to cut spending on disability benefits, or explainwhat other factors may have caused the rise.But she said in a statement: “Tackling poverty will always be a priorityfor this government, and we take these numbers extremely seriously.“Absolute poverty rates for people in a family reporting a disability arelower than in 2010, and we are spending £55 billion this year on benefits tosupport disabled people and those with health conditions – more than everbefore.“We are looking at what more can be done to help the most vulnerable andimprove their life chances.”Although DWP is correct that the proportions of households in absolutelypoverty are slightly lower (by one percentage point) than in 2009-10, thenumbers of disabled people in absolute poverty have increased by 300,000(before housing costs) and 600,000 (after housing costs) between 2009-10 and2017-18.A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…
Saints return to the Centurions for the first time since 2005 with what looks set to be the biggest away following at the Sporting Village to date.“It will be a tough battle for sure,” he said. “I am happy they are back in Super League. The game against Cas probably didn’t do them justice. It is a tough place to go and a tough first game for them.“But what you saw on Friday (against Leeds) was the Leigh we know. Derek (Beaumont) and all the boys involved there deserve more credit than they are getting.“It will be tough. Leigh and Saints always seem to get on but I’m sure they will be a fiery atmosphere on Friday night.”KC will be able to call on the returning Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook to fill the void left by Joe Greenwood’s departure to the Gold Coast Titans.“Louie was ready for week one but didn’t have enough miles in his legs,” Cunningham added. “Matty Smith is progressing well too. He is still in his boot and we’re doing all the things to make sure he is right for the rest of the season.”Saints have been given an allocation of East Stand tickets for the game at Leigh on Friday after they sold out the South Stand.Full ticket details can be found in the match centre.Buying from the club benefits us direct – you can purchase your ticket from the Ticket Office, online and by calling 0174 455 052.
Kick off is 2.30pm at Ruskin Drive in St Helens with entry priced at £2 for adults and under 16s free.
The game will be played at Stebonheath Park, Llanelli home of Betfred League 1 side West Wales Raiders.The Squad:Harry Anderson (Leeds Rhinos, Kippax Welfare, Brigshaw High School) Danny Attley (Leeds Rhinos, Kippax Welfare, John Smeaton Academy) Joe Barnes (Warrington Wolves, Halton Farnworth Hornets, Great Sankey High School) Lewis Baxter (St Helens, Wigan St. Judes, Standish High School) Jack Bibby (Wigan Warriors, Shevington Sharks, Hawkley Hall High School) Joe Burton (Leeds Rhinos, Kippax Welfare, St Wilfred’s High School) Oli Burton (Leeds Rhinos, Kippax Welfare, St Wilfred’s High School) Nathan Carter (Castleford Tigers, Kippax Welfare, Corpus Christi) Nathan Clemmitt (Newcastle Thunder, Cramlington Rockets, King Edward VI) Jacob Dugdale (Widnes Vikings, Wigan St Judes, Standish High School) Jude Ferriera (City of Hull Academy, West Hull, Hull Collegiate) James Patrickson (Wakefield Trinity, Castleford Panthers, St Wilfred’s High School) Jumah Sambou (St Helens, Woolston Rovers, Kings Leadership Academy) Harry Shackleton (Bradford Bulls, Hunslet Warriors, Rodillian Academy) Iwan Stephens (Leeds Rhinos, Drighlington ARL, Morley Academy) Robson Stevens (Huddersfield Giants, Birstall Victoria, Castle Hall Academy) Will Tate (City of Hull Academy, Skirlaugh Bulls, Caistor High School) Kai Tyson (City of Hull Academy, Skirlaugh, Malet Lambert)
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