The country’s largest disability charities have been accused of “selling out” disabled people, as they look set to play a significant role in providing back-to-work services under the government’s new Work and Health Programme.Disability News Service (DNS) has contacted seven of the largest disability charities – most of which are not user-led – and none of them has ruled out seeking contracts from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).Disabled activists say this means the charities will be unable to campaign effectively on welfare reform, because of the size of contracts on offer.All seven – the group that in past years were known as the “big seven” disability charities – insist that any contracts they win from the government will have no impact on their campaigning work, including whether they speak up about social security reform, including cuts to disability benefits and back-to-work policies for disabled people.But their generally supportive responses to the government’s work, health and disability green paper – which was published on 31 October – could suggest otherwise.One of the seven – Mind – has already been caught lying about its interest in seeking DWP contracts under the Work and Health Programme.Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive, told protesters on 31 October (pictured) that the charity had “no contracts with DWP” and that he was “not interested in future contracts at this stage”.His lies were exposed when a disgruntled employee leaked internal documents showing that Mind was applying to join a DWP framework that would allow it to bid for contracts.Last month, the charity’s policy and campaigns manager, Tom Pollard, joined DWP on secondment as a senior policy adviser.Asked whether winning DWP contracts would impact on its campaigning work, Mind told DNS last week that it “always speaks out about the issues that we believe impact on people with mental health problems, and we don’t enter into financial relationships which would prevent us from doing this”.The DNS investigation comes as the Charity Commission confirmed that it has written to Mind’s trustees following a complaint about the charity’s close links with the government – and about Farmer’s lies – by Dr Minh Alexander, an NHS whistleblower and former consultant psychiatrist.She told the commission that she was “concerned that Mind’s independence has been compromised through collaboration with the government which goes beyond constructive joint working”.A Charity Commission spokesman told DNS: “The Charity Commission can confirm that a concern was raised with us regarding the charity Mind.“The commission is in correspondence with the trustees to highlight the concern and to request more information.“We have provided the trustees with the appropriate guidance and we are awaiting a response which we will consider in due course.”But there are also concerns about the future independence of the other six charities.Leonard Cheshire Disability said that it already provides services under the government’s Work Choice programme, but refused to say if it was seeking contracts under the Work and Health Programme, or if any such contract would impact on its campaigning work.RNIB said that it was “exploring” possible involvement in the Work and Health Programme as a “specialist sub-contractor”, although only if any programme was “entirely voluntary” because “we don’t support the sanctioning of individuals’ benefits if they do not attend a programme”.An RNIB spokeswoman said: “We will continue to represent and campaign on behalf of people with sight loss as part of our constructive dialogue with the DWP.”Action on Hearing Loss said that it “may consider DWP contracts in the future”, but denied that this would impact on its campaigning work.Scope said that it had “yet to make a decision regarding upcoming opportunities to deliver employment support but hope to make an announcement in the new year”.A Scope spokeswoman said: “We have been and will continue to speak out on the issues that matter to disabled people.“We believe that the work capability assessment is fundamentally flawed and doesn’t accurately identify the barriers disabled people face in entering or staying in work and will continue to speak out against this.”Disability Rights UK (DR UK) said it was too early to say if it would bid for contracts, but if it did “it would likely be in partnership with other disabled people’s organisations”, and that it would “never compromise on being able to speak out about issues of welfare reform”.Mencap’s head of employment, Mark Capper, said the charity was “disappointed” to see that the framework for the main contracts “appears to favour large businesses rather than third sector providers who can offer specialised support”, and that it would not want to be involved “unless significant changes were made to involve third sector providers”.But a Mencap spokesman said the charity “may” consider smaller contracts “if we believe they will allow third sector providers to support people with a learning disability into employment”.Capper said that Mencap wanted to “ensure disabled people receive the support they need to realise their ambitions, and that the government meets its commitment to halve the employment gap experienced by disabled people”.He added: “Whether this is achieved by working with the government or speaking out against them when we believe they are failing, we will continue to do both.”But Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) dismissed the suggestion that the charities would speak out strongly against DWP if they won multi-million pound contracts under the new programme.Linda Burnip, DPAC co-founder, said: “It is clear to everyone that organisations taking money from the government to provide services of any kind will not be in a position to campaign in any effective way against the policies on welfare reform.“These contracts are rumoured to be worth between £2 million and £30 million and once part of propping up the system, any independence to criticise it will be lost.“It is shameful that organisations supposedly existing to benefit disabled people are willing to sell them out in such an abhorrent way.”Freedom of information responses secured by DNS show that six of the “big seven” were invited to DWP’s national launch of its green paper, while the seventh – Scope – hosted the event. Five of the six, plus Scope, attended the event.The freedom of information response also shows that the government’s guest list of 79 organisations included just six disabled people’s user-led organisations, five of which, including DR UK, attended the launch event.The green paper includes the possibility that DWP could in future force all sick and disabled people on out-of-work disability benefits to take part in “mandatory” activity, including those in the employment and support allowance (ESA) support group.But despite this measure – and the horrified response from many disabled people – the reactions of the “big seven” to the green paper last month were generally positive.Scope even welcomed the green paper’s publication in DWP’s own press release, allowing work and pensions secretary Damian Green to claim in the House of Commons that criticism of the government’s plans was “completely out of touch with those who represent disabled people”.Leonard Cheshire Disability also welcomed the green paper, and said the government had taken “an important first step towards reducing the disability employment gap”.RNIB said it welcomed the government’s “aim to tackle the barriers that disabled people face in employment”, although it said that “the proof of the pudding will be in the eating”.Action on Hearing Loss – formerly RNID – also welcomed the green paper, praising the “collaborative focus of the Department of Work and Pensions and the Department of Health on integrated support for work and health”.The other three charities were more critical, although none of them could be said to have attacked the green paper.Disability Rights UK criticised elements of the green paper, pointing to its failure to announce any new incentives or requirements on employers, calling for more enforcement of the Equality Act, and warning that the government appeared to be cutting funding for employment support.Mencap welcomed much of the green paper but was critical of the planned £30-a-week cuts to ESA, and said that the possible changes to the support group “could cause deep concern to sick and disabled people”.Mind also welcomed parts of the green paper but, like Mencap, was critical of the support group measure, while it also criticised the government’s failure to consider “a fundamental rethink of the way conditionality and sanctions are used”.
The Department of Health (DH) has refused to say why it failed to warn NHS bodies and other local services that claimants of out-of-work disability benefits are at a hugely-increased risk of attempting to take their own lives.DH published the latest version of its national suicide prevention strategy in January this year.The strategy was published four months after NHS Digital produced the results of its Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS), which showed that more than 43 per cent of claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA) had said (when asked in 2014) that they had attempted suicide at some point in their lives.But the suicide prevention strategy fails to mention these figures or to highlight ESA claimants as a high-risk group, even though it briefly mentions Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guidance for dealing with ESA claimants who may be at risk of suicide or self-harm.This week, a DH spokeswoman refused to explain why the figures were not mentioned in the strategy or why ESA claimants were not highlighted as a group at particularly high risk of suicide.Instead, she said: “As I know you’ve discussed with the DWP, suicide is a very complex issue, so it would be wrong to link it solely to anyone’s benefit claim.“There is clear guidance in place for DWP staff members to follow if a claimant expresses a desire to self-harm, to ensure the claimant receives appropriate care and support.“We updated the National Suicide Prevention Strategy to strengthen delivery of its key areas for action to reduce suicides. “This includes ensuring that every local area has a suicide prevention plan in place by the end of the year to ensure that all local services are working together to implement tailored approaches to reducing suicide in their communities. “Good suicide prevention plans include action to address the wider determinants of suicide risk including unemployment and living with long-term conditions or disabilities.”The DH refusal to explain its failure to highlight ESA claimants in its suicide prevention strategy comes as Disability News Service this week publishes new figures (see separate story) which show that the proportion of people claiming the main out-of-work disability benefit who have attempted suicide doubled between 2007 and 2014.The figures show that in 2007 – a year before the introduction of the much-criticised work capability assessment, which tests eligibility for ESA – 21 per cent of incapacity benefit (IB) claimants told researchers they had attempted suicide at some point in their lives.IB began to be replaced by ESA under the New Labour government the following year, in 2008.But by 2014, following four years of social security reforms under the new coalition government, and austerity-related cuts to disability benefits and services – and six years of the WCA – more than 43 per cent of ESA claimants were saying they had attempted suicide.The figures were calculated for DNS by Sally McManus, who leads research on the survey for the independent social research institute NatCen, on behalf of NHS Digital.It is unclear if the government has ever made the same calculation, and if it has, why these figures have never been published.But the DH failure is just the latest evidence that the government has ignored, and even covered up, links between its efforts to force people with mental health conditions into work, and increased levels of suicide, attempted suicide, suicidal thoughts and self-harm.Letters written by coroners, which blamed the WCA process for triggering two suicides and called for changes to the assessment process, were ignored by ministers.They also failed to pass the first of those letters, written in April 2010, to the independent expert who was reviewing the WCA, Professor Malcolm Harrington.Ministers also failed to pass on the results of internal reviews into the deaths of ESA claimants that were linked to the WCA to Professor Harrington.As a result of these failures to act to improve the WCA, many other claimants are believed to have died, including Mark Wood, Paul Donnachie, David Barr, and a woman known only as Ms D E.The strongest evidence until now that there was a link between the WCA and an increase in mental distress came in November 2015, when public health experts from the Universities of Liverpool and Oxford showed in a study that, for every 10,000 IB claimants in England who were reassessed for ESA between 2010 and 2013, there were an additional six suicides, 2,700 cases of self-reported mental health problems, and an increase of more than 7,000 in the number of anti-depressants prescribed.In all, across England, the reassessment process from 2010 to 2013 was “associated with” an extra 590 suicides, 279,000 additional cases of self-reported mental health problems, and the prescribing of a further 725,000 anti-depressants.DWP dismissed the findings of that report in 2015 and said it was “wholly misleading”.Samaritans can be contacted free, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by calling 116 123 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.orgPictured: The Department of Health’s Whitehall offices
Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter That much is clear — part of the exhibit is at dog-level, in a corner of the gallery that has a patch of fake grass, dog toys and feeding bowls. There’s even a jar of dog treats available for any pup who passes through. Some of the art hangs at a dog’s-eye level. Photo by Gilles Combet.With about 70 artists working out of this studio-gallery, and 135 artists in total, the organization is looking for more space. Truly, its high volume of artists makes for a lively atmosphere, with individuals painting away while music and singing elevates the already joyous environment. Massiani studied art history at the Sorbonne Institute in Paris. She’s now based in San Francisco, partly managing her own gallery space at the Minnesota Street Project, and partly in the Mission. She has a long history of curating exhibits, but “Bitchin’” is the first where she’s had the chance to embrace the “goofy, fun and weird” vibe of Creativity Explored. And the first that’s she done, bottom-up. The exhibit came about while Massiani went through the studio-gallery’s art archives. Through this, Massiani found an underlying common theme of dogs in many of the paintings and drawings by the artists. She explains, “It gives us a good sense of their relationship with humans and a metaphor for the artists’ understanding of the world.”Untitled (Poodle) by Lance Rivers, 2016 © Creativity Explored Licensing, LLC, pencil and watercolor on paper, 11 x 15 inches.Lance Rivers, one of the artists, spoke about his art piece depicting a brown poodle. Why a poodle? “I like the color of it. I looked it up on the computer. I got an idea of that dog — that’s all.” And he enjoys being a part of the showcase. “It makes me feel real good and it’s real nice.”On opening night of the exhibition, on May 9, about 30 dogs showed up much to Massiani’s delight. “We did have a lot of people coming in because they just, like, wanted to bring their dog to an art opening,” she says. “Which was hilarious.” Creativity Explored is located at 3245 16th St. “Bitchin’: An Art Show for Humans and Dogs” will be open for viewing until July 11. For more information, visit the website. “There is one,” says Cléa Massiani, exhibitions coordinator of Creativity Explored, “that literally looks like an S&M dog. And there’s one that’s all cutesy, with glitters and shit.” She’s referring to paintings and drawings of dogs gracing the walls of her organization’s art gallery. Even the exhibition’s title is all cutesy and shit: “Bitchin’: An Art Show for Humans and Dogs.” Creativity Explored, at 3245 16th St. between Guerrero and Dolores, provides artistic opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities. It creates the space and support necessary for studio artists to make an income from selling their artwork, and to come into their own as artists. And now it’s time for dogs. “I’ve been wanting to do a contemporary dog show for a while. It became like this kind of fun understanding of the creature and also, like, the gaze of how the artists are seeing those dogs,” says Massiani. Email Address
PAUL Wellens says Saints are more experienced as they prepare to start their Super League season.Although former Captain James Graham has departed to Canterbury Bulldogs, the club has brought in three players with NRL experience.And it’s those additions that Wellens reckons could push Saints one further than last season.“As a club we have moved on from the Grand Final defeat now as there is no dwelling on it,” he said. “Our focus is on 2012 and we have shown as a group that we have no problem overcoming the defeats by performing well the following season to make it back to the final once again.“We have a quality group of players and this season we can hopefully go one better.“Losing someone of James’ calibre was a big blow but we have gained experience in Lance Hohaia and Anthony Laffranchi. They have massive experience and have represented their countries so I don’t think you can do any better than that.“Mark Flanagan has gained experience from the NRL too and he is on the verge of playing international football too.”He continues: “There was a lot of disruption with injuries at the beginning of last season and we had to blood a lot of youngsters. But you could see with Jonny Lomax and Lee Gaskell that they gelled midway through the year and we improved as they did that.“They have that experience now and as we enter this year we have combinations that have played together and know what they need to do. They will be better two players in 2012.”Wello is currently undergoing treatment as he recovers from an Achilles injury and is rated as doubtful for this Saturday’s trip to London.“It is getting better and I am targeting this weekend’s game, but if I don’t make it I will be looking at the week after. I won’t play unless I am 100 per cent fit but I’m confident I will be ready for the early rounds. I am chomping at the bit to get back but have to listen to the medical staff. If it means missing a couple of games to play the rest of the season that’s ok.”
THERE’S just two months to go until the start of the new Rugby League season and Kingstone Press is offering one lucky fan and their guest the opportunity to be there from start to finish with the Ultimate Season Ticket!And what a season we have in store!Saints face Huddersfield to kick off the season at Langtree Park, while clubs in the Championship and League 1 will also open their campaigns.The Magic Weekend returns to Newcastle following a hugely successful first visit in 2015, while Blackpool will again play host to the Summer Bash after an action-packed inaugural event earlier this year.The winner of the Ultimate Season Ticket will attend both events with their chosen companion, with allowance for travel and accommodation, where they’ll enjoy all of the excitement on and off the pitch.A trip down Wembley Way beckons in August for the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final – and the Ultimate Season Ticket winner will be there to find out!Then, with the first domestic champions of the season crowned, the action accelerates towards the Super 8s and the race to reach the Grand Final, achieve promotion or survive the dreaded drop.Meanwhile, for the clubs in League 1, there’s an opportunity for elevation to the Championship.Wherever your allegiances lie, as winner of the Ultimate Season Ticket, you’ll be there for each of the end-of-season deciders, including the First Utility Super League Grand Final, Kingstone Press Championship Finals Day and the Million Pound Game.But the action doesn’t end with the close of the domestic season, because you’ll be attending an England game of your choice in autumn’s Four Nations.Choose to see Steve McNamara’s side face the Kangaroos for the first time in two years, or enjoy a match against New Zealand or Scotland – the choice is yours.Visit www.kingstonepress.co.uk to enter for your chance to win the Ultimate Season Ticket.As an added incentive, there are weekly prizes up for grabs; including England shirts, Championship balls and cases of Kingstone Press Cider, and every entrant will receive £5 off the new England shirt or any 2016 NRL shirt at Advantage Sports.Ten Ultimate Season Ticket Finalists will be selected on January 19.Visit www.kingstonepress.co.uk for full terms and conditions.
Tickets are priced at:Hatton’s Solicitors West Stand: £12 (adult), £10 (concession and 16-21), £6 (junior)Solarking South & Totally Wicked North Stands:£14 (adult), £12 (concession and 16-21), £6 (junior)Tickets can be bought by popping into the Ticket Office at Langtree Park or on matchday via the turnstiles.
Then grab an ‘Adult and Child’ Membership for the 2018 season.This great package delivers all the benefits of being a Member, whilst allowing your ‘Junior’ to attend all our away games too!Dad and Lad, Mother and Daughter … whatever your permutation … this is your way of being Saints and Proud with your family and backing the boys!A new Membership for 2018 for one adult and one junior in the Hatton’s Solicitors West Stand is just £33.30 per month, for ten months, or £315 upfront.Just choose your Membership and price, and then pop into the Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium to sign up.For more information, forms and prices click here.
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — CFPUA has filed a motion to intervene in the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s lawsuit against Chemours, claiming the proposed consent order does not do enough to protect the water in our area.Last month, the state announced it intends to settle its lawsuit with a proposed Consent Order. – Advertisement – The Consent Order hits Chemours with a $12 million fine, requires health screenings of residents who live near the plant and demands the company install new filtration and prevention of GenX emissions or discharge.CFPUA said it is seeking to intervene in the lawsuit because they believe the proposed order is not adequate to protect CFPUA’s interests or remedy CFPUA’s harms caused by Chemours’ PFAS releases to the Cape Fear River.On the night before Thanksgiving, NCDEQ released a proposed consent order that would settle the State’s lawsuit against Chemours.Related Article: Attorney General addresses ongoing Chemours litigationCFPUA says they was not made aware of this proposed consent order before its publication, nor asked how it might impact CFPUA’s efforts to remove PFAS compounds from the drinking water.This week, CFPUA submitted their formal comments on the proposed consent order, detailing their top concerns, which includes claims that the consent order treats downstream users of the Cape fear River less favorably than groundwater users near the Fayetteville Works facility, nor does it provide assistance in treating our source water for PFAS compounds.The NCDEQ is still accepting public comments on the proposed order. The deadline is Friday.You can email them to email@example.com
A new election was ordered after evidence that a political operative working for GOP candidate Mark Harris collected and potentially altered mail-in ballots last year. Harris’ seemingly narrow victory over Democrat Dan McCready in November was scrapped.Harris isn’t running again. McCready is.Among the Republicans, state Sen. Dan Bishop of Charlotte is thought to have the deepest pockets. He sponsored HB2, the 2016 state law limiting LGBT rights that prompted businesses, entertainers and others to boycott the state.Related Article: Flight to New York returns to ILM due to possible mechanical issueHarris backs Stony Rushing, who is staunchly anti-abortion. Senator Dan Bishop (Photo: Facebook) RALEIGH, NC (AP) — A conservative soldier in the nation’s culture wars leads the Republican field for a new North Carolina congressional election, needed because of earlier ballot misdeeds.Three candidates have entered the Republican primary in North Carolina’s 9th congressional district ahead of Friday’s deadline.- Advertisement –
The murder happened in the early morning hours of March 22, 2017. During Stephens’ first court appearance, Assistant District Attorney Dru Lewis gave more details about what led to the shooting.Lewis stated Stephens and Greenwood had prior altercations about Stephens’ wife. Investigators say on the night of the murder the two argued elsewhere, it then led back to Stephens’ home on Julia Drive.An autopsy shows Greenwood was stabbed eight times and shot in the face. The second victim Anthony Lanza was also stabbed several times in the chest.Related Article: Wilmington oral surgeon faces new sex crime chargesSeveral months after Stephens was arrested, a judge reduced Stephens’ bond to $300,000. He posted bond and has remained on house arrest.The New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office says the defense attorney for Stephens is currently involved in the James Bradley murder trial. Bradley was found guilty of murder on Tuesday, with the sentencing phase of the trial starting on Thursday.The trial for Stephens was scheduled to begin in May, but has been postponed to allow the defense more time between trials.The district attorney’s office says a new date has not been set. Aaron Stephens makes his first court appearance on a murder charge via video from the New Hanover County Jail on March 23, 2017. (Photo: Kirsten Gutierrez/WWAY) NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The man charged in a fatal Monkey Junction shooting two years ago will not go on trial in May, because of another capital murder case that is still underway.Aaron Stephens is accused of shooting and killing Terry Greenwood, 39, and stabbing Anthony Lanza, 35, in his neighborhood on Julia Drive.- Advertisement –