HALF WAY

HALF WAY

 

By Dawn M. Sanders

19/3/2017

 

Half way?

 

My life has been this steep uphill climb. Poised at the base, meek and not able to see the perils I faced ahead or able to realise the torment involved with my choice of parent.

 

Kept in a dresser drawer as a baby, because my mother, a single mum with three other mouths to already feed, was too poor to afford a crib (cot).

 

I grew up in a volatile house with my mother’s unforgiving scorn and torturous personality.

We all weathered the storm in our own way, through it all – I walked alone.

My teenage years were painful and exceptionally awkward. I wasn’t allowed to have opinions or speak my mind, and when I asserted I was dubbed demanding or with “attitude”.

So, breaking away at seventeen was the best thing I did and mum and I even got on better – as much as it was possible.

 

As I walked through my journey – climbing with every step, falling down ditches, getting up and dusting myself off only to saunter on, the time came to leave my place of firth, the life as I knew it, since I never really fit in there.

 

Standing at the water’s edge of change, new horizons and shores afar – I crossed the ocean.

 

When I got to the UK with a 6 month work visa – intending never to return to California again, I hadn’t planned a thing.

I didn’t notice the cultural fog when I had come here the first time, just knew everything was familiar and I was home – wherever home really was…

 

At twenty-four/nearly twenty-five, I had no idea my identity would be thrown into question as a woman with a visual impairment, I mean, it never really was the ‘issue’ it suddenly seemed to be.

Suddenly, the uphill climb became more steep and crowded with obstacles.

I never, ever heard, or been the subject of, such absurd labels, presumptions of my supposed lack of capability and all to the patronising sing-song tune of: “Are you alright?”

 

When my son found me, I was right at the bottom of a steep and imprisoning ditch, with no home and little hope – he saved me and dragged me up again.

 

So, walking hand in hand with someone to show the way, protect and look out for – I at least had someone to share the uphill climb with, as we steadied each other on the way.

 

Seasons came and went as he changed and grew and I gradually got wearier from the climbing, but I had to be there for him.

 

As he became a man, I helped him over the threshold into the scary arena of the adult world.

 

As I’ve guided him through landmarks – fighting for us both as the obstacles are forever put in our path, vultures swoop and monsters appear, it has finally come – the milestone where, one stops, looks around, susses out where they’ve come from and where the hell they’re going…

 

Some things make more sense, like that cultural fog – it still gathers around me when I walk outside my front door, stand at bus stops or walk into a crowded pub.

 

And the milestone? It’s as tall as the ones seen as Stonehenge where I can perch myself high above the pathway of the journey, for a panoramic view within the field of my third eye, my inner wisdom and intuition.

When yesterday came and, at 10 past 1 in the afternoon, I was exactly fifty years old, I climbed atop the milestone and sang, danced, cried and laughed.

With special people all around me, I celebrated the journey so far.

Birthday group of us by the fire.

Birthday group of us by the fire.

As my son and soulmate sat next to me by the fire, I felt strong, humbled and able to continue the fight!

My son and I

My son and I

The obstacle which has been placed right in front of us, must be overcome – like crossing that vast ocean or climbing out of yet another steep and muddy ditch.

 

Yet, turning fifty is something to come to terms with.

Standing at the half way point with more stairs, boulders or trees to clamber, what is it half way to?

No one really makes the summit and the few that make 100 years in this life on this earth, probably couldn’t be bothered whether they got to that point or not – it’s all chance.

So, what actually stands at the summit, what’s at the top of the tree?

I’m now half way to where?

 

 

 

THE BLAME GAME

THE BLAME GAME

 

By Dawn M. Sanders

 

26 Feb., 2017

 

I’m getting sick and bored of this finger-pointing at every slight disaster or unpopular stance for and within the Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn probably is too.

 

It takes less than a drop of a hat within the opposition and advocates for the parliamentary Labour Party and others, start sounding off about leadership challenges.

Yet, Theresa May drops the Dubs scheme, spearheads mass surveillance, dithers over Brexit – not to mention cozys up to the likes of Donald Trump and all his reckless policies and loose cannon mentality, but no one is calling for May’s resignation, why?

 

Why can’t the truth be said: Corbyn is primarily a Socialist – the mainstream media and establishment politicians are intrinsically biased against that.

 

Finally, a voice of reason and rationale has come from Clive Lewis and others on social media.

 

So Labour lost a long-standing stronghold – get over it and so what.

The Tories won Copeland because the candidate pressed all the right buttons for the local industry – if one can even dub nuclear an industry… The point is, just as Trump’s rednecks and disgruntled progressives in the US, the short-sighted view in Copeland prevailed over the long term effects of Sellafield and its dangers.

 

Why isn’t there the same kind of scrutinising over the fact that, the Tories lost in Stoke – not just to Labour, but to UKIP – why aren’t the media or anyone in her party asking May if she’s worried?

How the people of Copeland think the new Tory MP will do more for the LOCAL NHS than May is doing for it nationally, is beyond me!

 

The blame game, as rightfully pointed out by Lewis, will never change Labour’s woes.

Unless the Blairite contingency or beyond, unite behind their leader and stop the in-fighting, Labour is doomed.

Corbyn is far from a perfect leader – then again, there is no perfect leader.

Some leaders are exceptional such as Nelson Mandela, but mostly what a democracy gets is mediocrity or close either side of it.

For leaders like Corbyn, who largely stick to their guns, the journey is tough – not just in opposition, but in standing outside what the establishment dictates is okay.

Unless Labour’s grassroots flourish and there is an overhaul of current right-wing policies, in favour of the original pro working-class principles on which Labour was founded, who is to blame?

 

STAND YOUR GROUND: It’s All in Your Mind, Body and Intuition

STAND YOUR GROUND: It’s All in Your Mind, Body and Intuition

 

By Dawn M. Sanders

 

28/1/2017

 

I got to the Women’s Holiday Centre in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, North Yorkshire about 4 yesterday and just needed a damn good break from the week’s stresses and court hearing.

The big old house was warm and welcoming, with its familiar rugs, cushions and organic woodsy interior.

I was eventually shown my room after a cuppa and meeting a few of the lasses staying.

We all had a nice civilised sit down to dinner in the evening and I was just too exhausted to try breaking into conversation in the end.

 

This morning I got up and someone was already in the kitchen to offer me a cup of tea, so I sat down as they all filtered in.

Someone put David Bowie classics on their i-pad and the buzz, enthusiasm and anticipation of the day was in the air, with northern banter and hefty chuckle.

 

I walked with someone the ten minutes or so to the village hall where Annie our facilitator met about 8 of us.

 

We started out with some really basic strength-building exercises, like standing tall and narrow – feet close together and a bit rigid, to more relaxed and grounded.

As she took us through the exercises and role play, I was surprisingly, at least in my core strength, stronger than I usually feel.

Annie was great at explaining what she was doing, so I didn’t feel like an awkward blind ideot, not knowing what was happening.

I was able to share – in between and when the opportunity presented itself, the ongoing battle I have every time I go out anywhere, in how people react to me as a woman with a visual impairment. The grabbing hands and stupid questions of presumptive ignorance.

I never like to thrust it forward, but my personal reasons for doing the workshop felt really raw.

 

I felt more in charge of my spatial awareness in the space we had in the village hall, than I often do, but then again, I had a good chance to walk the floor – trailing the sides of the room for mental mapping, which always gives me an advantage – slightly levelling the playing field.

 

The others were younger and older and the commonality seemed to be, how men feel more physically ‘entitled’ – especially in public spaces.

People shared experiences and I guess my favourite was the following someone in pursuit, then switching the roles – feeling like a predator or target.

I also liked what was for me, reiterating my physical boundaries, which are heightened, while others were the same or more tolerant.

 

For me, intuition was at the heart of it all – my inner psyche or defence mechanism. As I’ve gotten older, I feel like I’m more aware of my own body language and what it conveys, yet being receptive (where possible) learning from my son when I’m close to him, to gage communication and reactions.

Of course it’s also in the voice – what you say and how you say it…

 

I wanted to do the workshop, to address my own “issues” in dealing with the outside world and how I’m perceived – although the first thing anyone notices is my visual impairment, so feeling/looking more confident is more crucial in compensating to people’s reactions.

 

The best sentiments were: the way you feel is reflected in your behaviour – your behaviour determining people’s reactions and so the circle/chain; or, it’s not my responsibility to educate people…

 

People’s reactions to visual impairment can be astounding, gut-wrenchingly infuriating or surprisingly alright.

So when Annie said my body language was quite strong and confident – I felt pleasantly surprised and empowered.

 

 

FINISHED

FINISHED

By Dawn M. Sanders

11/1/2017

At the bewitching hour, I’m scratching my head, filing my nails and sipping wine. Is it ‘really finished? Can I now, at long-fucking-last, put the damn thing to bed?
I’ve edited the thorn-in-my-side, countless times, tweeked and retweeked, spellchecked and respellchecked – oh, and lost endless nights of sleep on it, but what I REAEALLY need to do, is put the damn thing ‘out there’ let it go – like some balloon of sacrifice and release…

I’m talking of course, of my portfolio – my journalistic portfolio, which will possibly define my entry into the field of scumbags, whistle-blowers, average Jane/joes trying to make ends meet or just the die-hard, who has been at it so long – nothing shocks them and it’s all going-through-the-motions.
Whatever the description of various strains of journalists out there, I’m in!!!
One of the valuable things I’ve learned out of many in my last two-and-a-half years of a pain-staking yet rewarding master’s degree, is journos are no longer the pipers at the gates of dawn.
No longer, are we the gate-keepers of the truth or, what’s going on, because nowadays with amateurs, thinkers, or just people being good at capturing stuff on their mobile phone cameras, the truth is everywhere – which isn’t a bad thing.
It puts the ebasive polotitian under the glaring spotlight, it flags the position of the underdog and most importantly, is the ‘REAL DEMOCRACY’ – where people can take their power back via social media.
All that said, I sat in a lecture when all this about citizen journalism was being emphasised thinking, okay, so why are we here?
Well, as a journo, ya need attention to writing capacity, a code of ethics and, most importantly, the knowledge of law according to the media…
Yes, you can get your ass sued into a black whole in outer space, if you say something defamatory or derail the course of justice, in the name of getting a story out…

So no, I haven’t wasted my time and have worked my bones to the marrow, so won’t be going for mamby-pamby newsletters for do-gooder organisations – despite being a hard-left activist.
No, I want to get paid and, I want/expect ‘RESPECT’!
As a woman with a visual impairment on the cusp of fifty – I know I have triple the stigma: a regressive atmosphere of gender inequality; the cannot-do mentality deeply ingrained in British society for additional needs/challenges; oh, and I’m getting old…

Well, hell! It’s like going to a party with a goth look amongst a bunch of trendies; like being the proverbial hippy in a room full of conventional cooky-cutting housewives, but ‘oh well’ story of my life, will be the odd new kid in town…

Life’s too short to spell check:-/
I have legal issues to wade through, my son to liberate and a fragile but precious future to consider.
Good night!

THE YEAR THE WORLD SHOOK

By Dawn M. Sanders

26 Dec. 2016

 

Okay, so I’m not doing or saying anything anyone else isn’t and it’s a cliché, but oh well, what does anyone expect?

 

This year started out with the death of an artistic/music icon – David Bowie, along with a whole string of others: Prince, Sharon Jones and Leonard Cohen – but these are only sad because they were all famous and broke down barriers through their music and art. Twice as tragic is death and drowning from just a lot of ordinary people fleeing war and the unleashing of human horror.

There were the shocking shifting political sands and mud fights of Brexit, the US primaries and the chaos or full-blown elongated circus that followed. The end results signifying the beginning of an unpredictable era, with undoubtedly more quakes to come, as the earth shudders from the wrath of her inhabitants.

 

The point is, in the last several years, I’ve noticed, each year tends to end with some kind of large-scale catastrophe: a boxing day tsunami, plane crashes… This year is no exception and, it all happened simultaneously just yesterday: the Russian plane crash, a strong quake in Chile and yet another death of a popstar, George Michael.

That was ‘one day’ the universe and those watching over it, telling us what is inevitably on the horizon…

 

What is on the horizon? I think we all know: more seismic turbulence which will test human resilience and resolve, to the limit, but to what limit?

Where/when, do we as world citizens, the majority, the subjects of the powerful elite say, enough’s enough, take our world back – and I don’t mean with a click of a mouse in signing yet another petition, going to yet another debate or protest, then cracking on with the washing or going down-the-pub to sit and philosophise! No, who will light the fire under our scared and wary asses, to remind us of what we must fight for, reclaim and salvage?

 

The tug-of-war could never be more clear and defined between good and evil.

I’m no sooth sayer, but there are already those who have been brainwashed by fascism, extremism and reactionism, and all the other toxic ‘isms going. Those are the ones shaking up the world in discontent and desperation.

Yet, there are those who, are bemused and bewildered by the normalisation of insanity and recklessness in all its belligerence and jaw-dropping bullshit!

 

As corruption festers within crumbling democracies of the West and dictators wage holy hell to keep their power at any human cost, what will it take for us, the majority to open the flood gates to a new brand of revolution?

Old revolutionaries like Fidel Castro are dying off – the world needs, not just one person to unlock those gates, but a tsunami of change to bring down the walls of division, a movement manifesting in wave after wave of unrest, challenge and the kind of revolt we only now read about in history books of the distant past: the Crusades, the War of the Roses – not of course because I endorse bloody battles – far from it. I’ve been to every Stop the War Coalition and anti-capitalist, anti-racist demo I can get myself to in the last decade, but how do we storm the halls of power and destruction with peaceful, meaningful intent – retaking our governments and planet?

How?

? .

POST CALAIS, POST BREXIT: AND THE MIGRANT CRISIS HAS NOT DISAPPEARED

img_3462-1-convoy-to-calais-cars-with-flags-by-cenotaph-whitehall-parliament-street-london-18-6-16

Convoy to Calais
By Dawn M. Sanders

“It’s not just doing something to help it’s also saying, this is wrong. If you see thousands of people dying in the sea – trying to get to fortress Europe…”

Protested Julia Armstrong, trade unionist and long-standing journalist for the Sheffield Star.

On the 18th June, 2016, a convoy to Calais massed at the French border, carrying supplies and solidarity to those inside the notorious ‘jungle’ migrant camp at Calais, France – only to be turned away.

As the convoy and protests erupted 5 days before the UK voted to leave the EU – eclipsed by shifting political sands, followed by a US election which paralleled the shock of Britain’s Brexit, what has become of those who inhabited ‘the jungle’ some 5 months on?

img_3456-2-convoy-to-calais-18-6-16-speaker-and-audience-on-whitehall-london

 

Leading from the London rally preceding the convoy, Ms. Armstrong detailed the unfolding events of the convoy, with people meeting from the north and south, eventually congregating in the car park close to the Dover border – it was suspected the convoy could encounter a roadblock and it did, the French authorities, refusing to let anyone through.

According to Armstrong, the reason given by the French border patrol was: “Something about public order/disorder which there was none of, the intention was to have a peaceful protest outside the camp.”

In autumn, with the jungle dismantled and its inhabitants dispersed, it’s Sangatte (a pre-jungle migrant camp from 1999 to 2002), to the jungle, the jungle to where?

As migrants are moved to Caos: various processing centres throughout France; to Cadas: places for asylum applications, the capacity of centres, let alone the unwelcoming of communities, yields uncertainty and hostility for beleaguered migrants.

 

 

At the epicentre of the mass-migration which has seismically riveted from wars in Syria, Iraq and other war zones, wave after wave of migrants continue to crash onto European shores – many perishing in the sea.

 

According to the BBC, The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that more than 1,011,700 migrants arrived by sea in 2015, and almost 34,900 by land.

135,711 migrants arrived to European shores by seas alone, in the beginning of 2016.

Germany had the highest number of migrants in 2015 – around a million, Hungary came in second place and Sweden was close behind, as the UK had a meagre 60 applications against 100,000   of its population, according to the BBC report.

 

Meanwhile, in a now post-Brexit Britain, where the issue of immigration is never far from Brexit debates within the public domain, the seemingly barely concealed face of racism has appeared from behind a thin veil, in what could be deemed a fresh mandate of post-Brexit hate crime.

 

Robert Spooner, former chairman for Assist Sheffield, a small organisation helping to resettle refugees and asylum-seekers said: “I think the debate about Brexit has changed the attitude toward immigrants – they are scapegoats.”

“On the other hand, there is still a lot of feeling arisen from this baby washed up on the shore of Turkey which caused a huge increase in people wanting to help.” Spooner said.

 

“It’s not just doing something to help it’s also saying, this is wrong. If you see thousands of people dying in the sea – trying to get to fortress Europe – dying in various ways or places, horrendous things happening to people.” Ms. Armstrong said.

 

img_3458-3-convoy-to-calais18-6-16-people-holding-a-banner-saying-stand-up-to-racism-placards-refugees-welcome-here-parliament-street-london

Despite the recent shock referendum result, the hostile environment created by the Home Office and other pillars of UK government, is nothing new.

According to an Independent exclusive The government has been forced to pay £14M to 573 people wrongly detained over three years, in squalid and harsh conditions.

In recent years the number of refugees has risen to 32,400 in the UK.

Under the current Tory government, terms are about to get tougher,.

The article points out, the UK has the largest immigration detention estate in Europe. Yet as the BBC figures show the UK takes on the least amount of asylum cases.

 

Spooner said: “There’s no refugee crisis as such, because the numbers arriving here are small and the ones most able to get here, are the ones most likely to develop our country in a positive way.” He carried on emphasising the nasty approach taken by UK immigration, designed to deter settlement here.

 

However, a Home Office spokesman (name not supplied) maintains: “Detention is an important part of a firm but fair immigration system, helping to ensure that those with no right to remain in the UK are returned to their home country if they will not leave voluntarily. Decisions to detain or maintain detention are taken after careful consideration – and we are committed to treating all detainees with dignity and respect.”

 

A London pensioner, speaking on condition of anonymity with close links to black and ethnic minority communities, said:

“The Immigration Service is ruining people’s lives, breaking up families & stripping people of their income & networks of support.”

She detailed immigration’s pounce strategy, capturing people at random, bombarding them with impenetrable official language – often giving people 72 hours before deportation, no time at all to defend themselves or prove they hold a UK passport in some cases, never mind the lack of access to legal aid.

She spoke of the openly racist stance of detention centre staff, G4S, which Mr. Spooner also pointed out as prevalent, yet the privatised, low-waged untrained workers continue not to face reprimand.

 

From the dangerous journey by land or sea, rescues on European shores, migrant camps, processing centres or maybe detention, in the small possibility a migrant reaches the UK, it is impossible to document the traumatic and desperate plight of a migrant on their journey of hope, in one feature.

So, what else can be said of the migrant crisis that hasn’t already been said?

Ms. Armstrong said: “I haven’t got any ideas, I think we have to keep saying it.” With political deadlock from the Middle East to the West, the crisis continues…

 

 

NAIL IN THE COFFIN

NAIL IN THE COFFIN

 

By Dawn M. Sanders

 

10/11/2016

 

This is my protest, his voice makes me cringe, darker days ahead and a return to days of George W. Bush-esque atmosphere for expats abroad to be ashamed and embarrassed to be American.

 

So what the hell happened? Channel 4’s John Snow pointed out the direct parallel with Brexit, vote to leave the EU – a flip-off to the establishment…

fuck-you

 

 

Yet what did it get us – yet an even worse deal of an unelected Tory government and a weakened/divided opposition.

A kick in the ass to the establishment is one thing, but a recipe for disaster is another.

“Sure, we voted for Brexit, but we didn’t let any of the fuckers run the country!”

Hahaha, too right and at the very least, in the run up to last year’s UK general election, we saw live debate from smaller parties across the board – not in America…

As the pendulum of either or politics has crashed to the right in the US – with a broken mechanism for real choice at its base, what will repair such a broken system?

The prevailing domino effect that always trickles to the rest of the world – firstly to the UK, will inevitably warrant campaign after campaign to keep Trump’s toxic ideologies and policies from resonating this side of the pond.

In the Guardian article here, Bernie Sanders says:” Donald Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media.

People are tired of working longer hours for lower wages, of seeing decent paying jobs go to China and other low-wage countries, of billionaires not paying any federal income taxes and of not being able to afford a college education for their kids – all while the rich become very much richer…”

He carried on to mention tax avoidance – but hang on, hasn’t he just described what Trump blatantly represents – a billionaire who has flaunted tax avoidance for years, on a scale of it’s own proportion?

Sanders also mentioned vigorously opposing Trump’s sexist, racist and xenophobic ideals, meaning another four years of fight, fight, fight throughout the west – setting the stage for further conflict, intolerance – with an us-and-them strategy.

 

So, as Trump begins his quest to repeal Obama Care, undermined environmental protection measures or turn the clock back on women’s choice for abortion, is this the ‘nail in the coffin’ for peace, diversity and equality, which has been so tirelessly sought for generations?

Will Trumps reckless unpredictability bring on the ultimate end of the world as we know it – with just enough good left to inspire the human spirit?

It’s hard not to sound mellow dramatic and deflated of hope.

My only small consolation personally, is, as I emigrated from the US some 25 years ago, Trump ‘really isn’t’ my president…

 

 

 

 

Good Sleep, Bad Dream

GOOD SLEEP, BAD DREAM

 

By Dawn M. Sanders

 

20/9/2016

 

Thought I’d grab an afternoon nap – I couldn’t relax much during my acupuncture treatment, because I felt cold, so I went upstairs and lay down for a much-needed kip.

I snuggled down under the duvet and the cat came to join me as she often does – snuggling up right next to me.

I checked the watch on my bedside table – it was nearly half 5 and I didn’t want to sleep too late with things to do…

 

I quickly lapsed into a heavy settled sleep – I always sleep much better during the day.

 

The dream: my mother was back and in the house where I live now, she was as demented as ever.

My youngest sister was there and taunting me.

She took a phone call for me from some man I had met briefly – his name was complicated and different as he was Asian.

She said after taking the call: “Hmmm, maybe ‘I should call him’ – he sounds nice.”

I went to my room upstairs and, my kitchen radio was on the bedside table – blaring loud. Someone had been in there and left the radio on.

My mother was completely weird, she was naked and kept following me around with that unearthly banshee voice of hers – she kept taunting, putting herself right in front of me, rolling on the floor, walking up behind me; she was crazy, what an American would describe as like, mentally retarded.

I kept asking her to stop, to leave me alone, but the more I tried to get away from her, the more she persisted in harassing and provoking reactions out of me.

My sister did the same – my mother was directly influencing her. I went into my room and closed the door to get changed – I was meant to be going out.

Then my mother was in my room – she never came in there when I was changing, but this time she just barged in and wouldn’t leave.

I pushed her out the door, shut it, but there was a whole under the door handle – she stuck her arm through, laughing and taunting.

She kept putting her face right to mind – the way someone does when they want to kiss you, but she was just weird, sometimes sniffing me or rolling at my feet.

I again told her to ‘fucking stop’ but she just calmly said: “Nah…”

I grabbed her nose to push her face away, I pulled her hair – but this is what she wanted, to push me, to try an get an angry reaction.

My sister kept playing weird tricks like, putting another kitchen radio next to the one that was already there on the bedside table – she was naked as well – everyone in this horrid dream was naked.

 

A man appeared; he was tall, toned and good looking and naked.

He had a lot of body hair and kept doing what my mother was – getting in front of me, he was covered in swet.

I didn’t know who he was, but he too was under my mum’s spell to intimidate, but he was more sexual.

He wasn’t forceful, but almost.

I said to my mum and sister: “what the hell is this, some kind of test, pushing me – using me as some sick experiment?” they laughed, but knew I was on to them.

They were all around me, walking to and fro and I couldn’t get away from them – they wouldn’t get away from me. Sometimes the man was there, but it was mostly my sister and mother.

I couldn’t leave the house.

I almost thought I was awake, but I wasn’t, so I woke myself up to escape.

I thought it was much later in the evening, the dream seem to go on forever – I checked and the watch said 6 35 – it was only just over an hour’s worth of sleep and, I was back in bed with the cat.

 

 

 

 

POISED FOR AN EU REFERENDUM: THERE IS CONCERN FOR OUR HUMAN RIGHTS

By Dawn M. Sanders

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“The UK is facing the biggest roll-back of human rights in its history.”

Was a statement posted on 18 May, by Amnesty International UK.

Is the proposed scrapping of the Human Rights Act (HRA) a catalyst for staying in the EU?

Nikki Sharpe, a solicitor, former councillor and human rights campaigner said: ” I would say the two are interlinked – particularly under this government, you only have to look at the erosion of human rights.”

Simply put, the winners and losers in a replacement of the HRA,as described by Ms. Sharpe, would be those seemingly at the top, i.e. politicians and people with financial leverage, versus the losing poor and disenfranchised at the bottom.

“This is attributable to cuts in legal aid.”

According to Chambers Associate, legal aid was brought about in 1949 – allowing 80% of citizens access to the law. However, accessing legal aid was at 29% as of 2008.

Immigration/asylum cases have been at the forefront of cuts, while the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) goes much further. The LASPO suggested cuts of 320M from 2014 and 220M each year by 2018.  Article 6 of the act, the right to a fair trial, is compromised if one has no access to the funds to take a case to trial.

Both Ms. Sharpe and Alex Jagger, of Amnesty Sheffield point out many people have no knowledge of the HRA or how to access it.

Mr. Jagger said: “The Human Rights Act, is the British implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and it really brought human rights on shore, as of 1998.”

He emphasised one had to apply to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg after an initial hearing in the UK before the introduction of the act.

“As far as the British Bill of Rights – we don’t know anything about it, because the government hasn’t proposed anything.” Jagger said.

In a workshop led by Ms. Sharpe on 21st June 2016, it was reiterated how most ordinary people do not know where they stand with the law. It was pointed out our rights often hinge on whether one gets arrested or not. Ms. Sharpe stressed how organisations often bypass the HRA, such as local authorities.

She said it was more crucial than ever, that we fight for our human rights.

On 28 April of the same year, the Independent sited the crucial use of article 2 of the ECHR, the right to life, which gave pardon to the Hillsborough deaths in 1989.

The government are seemingly awaiting the outcome of the referendum. The Guardian’s Owen Bowcott, stressed how, within parliament there are fears of the damages on crucial political processes: such as the Good Friday Agreement, fighting international crime and the constitution itself, should the HRA be scrapped – therefore, there are few in favour.

Like many things, whether we leave or remain, the HRA is in jeopardy and will no doubt spark fierce opposition should the Tories try to replace it.

 

 

 

STOP DISSING AND START EMPOWERING

By Dawn M. Sanders

28/3/2016

 

Last week witnessed the unleashing of, not only a budget and economic pledges or predictions we all feared, it was laced with the all-too-familiar ideologies embraced by the Tories.

Dawn Sanders at home

Dawn Sanders at home

We have a complex housing bill not yet understood by many, the rush to make every school (primary or secondary) an academy and most noteworthy, the further cuts to welfare benefits – adding to the despair of austerity.

So, focusing on the ‘dis-ability cuts as they are inevitably coined, I’m taking this opportunity to turn it all on its head by trumpeting my passions for equality, empowerment and true dignity…

Take note: I won’t be placing that all-prevailing, crippling label the main stay in this country insist on preceding before us as ‘people first’!

I have argued this point of contention time and again – mostly with ‘people’ with additional needs themselves and, I’m sticking to my guns!

My visual impairment is of course an integral part of my identity, but certainly not the first among equals in being a woman, mother or journalist…

A ‘dis-abled computer mouse is one that doesn’t work, ditto for toilets, cars etc.

Is it overly PC nit-picking? I think not…

As a journalist and writer, words, the connotations behind them and what they represent are hugely meaningful – especially when you’re on the receiving end of those negative connotations, such as lesser than, subordinate, weak – I could go on, but you get the gist.

The point is, just because I and others are visually impaired (or otherwise) doesn’t mean I can’t raise my son single-handedly as I’ve done; I still cook clean and maintain my home; I still have relationships with people in the human way most would expect and, I even enjoy some of life’s more clandestine pleasures…

This all isn’t to say for a second, that I and others don’t get blatant discrimination, especially in looking for work, social environments or on an equal playing field in the game of meeting a possible partner – in fact, being visually impaired, hearing impaired, wheelchair user, with learning/cognitive  difficulties, is often an extremely isolating place to be.

However, the argument of the so-called “social model” which dictates all of these social/practical constraints should dub us as ‘dis-abled to the tune of how society sees myself and others is simply backwards.

It all hinges on, what one cannot do, rather than, what one can do…

Enough said, so when people go out in force – protesting their benefits are being taken away against a backdrop of: “Is This Any Way to Treat ‘dis-abled People” as the banner read, I’m insulted at being considered inherently vulnerable or fragile.

These people who, insist on milking an entrenched victim culture, one I have to fight against every day to “prove myself” a capable parent, employable or dare I say it, a sexual being, are ‘not doing me any favours’!

I’m forever infuriated at being lumped in a category of the “sick and ‘dis-abled” as people with long term illnesses have their own specific circumstances and anyone with severe/complex needs, is an individual – there’s never a one-size-fits-all…

Ultimately, do we not have the right ‘not to be impoverished’?

Why aren’t the likes of Dis-abled People Against the Cuts crying out for more equality in the workplace, employment or closing the loopholes within the so-called anti-discrimination act.

Yes, this government and its ideologies have handed us a double-edged cross to bear: on one hand, because we are rarely taken for our hard earned merits and qualifications when job hunting. For example,  when employers take one look at me I get: “’Uh, how would you manage the stairs, finding the toilets – all delivered with an uncomfortable demeanour…

On the other hand, we’re told we’re scroungers if we’re not working in an environment which doesn’t give us half a chance and, supposedly the government is trying to get us into work?

So, what are they, the ideologists, doing to close the gap of discrimination for those of us who want to use our skills?

Nothing!

The DPAC (‘Dis-abled People Against the Cuts) movement is a short-sighted reactionary group – not offering solutions to the poverty trap most people with additional needs find themselves in – clinging onto the benefits system like a life raft.

In milking the victim culture, they don’t place us on an equal footing when the perfectionist bandits – standing outside nightclubs refusing to let us in under the guise of, health & safety or, we just couldn’t cope with a rough & ready mosh crowd.

By insisting to maintain the lowered status within society’s pecking order, those protesting against benefit cuts really should be protesting on why we are sentenced to a life absent of the same opportunities, most people simply take for granted.

Yes, the benefits we rely on help with added expenses: such as increased taxi fares, holistic therapies managing specific conditions or mobility equipment; (all of which should be secured) but being on state benefits is not an independent or dignified path and one which leaves us wide open to the shenanigans of the state.

Granted, there are those who cannot work due to their conditions, be it mental or physical, yet that should never be the thrust of what is perceived to be living “dignified lives?”

No, in my book of cross-cultural experience, dignity hinges on what I ‘can do’ and making it possible!

I want an empowering campaign which says: yes, I have limitations and additional employment/educational/support needs, but can still contribute to society in a meaningful way.

I want a campaign which says, I have to work harder, so deserve EQUAL PAY, OPPORTUNITIES promoting me as a social/sexual being. Not a campaign/culture of downtrodden, institutionalised oppression…

GET IT?

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/23/disability-campaigners-occupy-parliament-over-benefit-cuts