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Friday, 16 January 2015
Disabled man ejected from cinema because his ventilator was too noisy
A disabled man was chucked out of a cinema because his life-saving ventilator was too noisy.
Richard Bridger, 31, was asked to leave by staff because other film-goers complained the machine was a 'nuisance.'
Odeon cinema staff told Richard and his carer to exit the screening of Taken 3, after receiving six complaints out of an audience of 200.
Muscular dystrophy charity Trailblazers criticised the popular chain for being 'discriminatory' after ejecting Richard from the Saturday evening screening.
Film fan Richard was watching the ultra-violent Liam Neeson flick with his carer at the Epsom, Surrey, cinema from the wheelchair bay when he was asked to leave.
His father Steve, 57, said: 'The ventilator does make a small noise, the air rushing and puffing, but it's nothing drastic at all - nowhere near as loud as people eating popcorn.
'But six people complained that the ventilator was making a nuisance. What about people eating popcorn and rustling the packets?
'If he was texting or answering phone calls during the film I could understand it, but he can't do any of those things because he doesn't have the physical strength to do them.
'Richard has been going to that cinema since it opened and, in the last four years, has required the use of the ventilator to keep his carbon dioxide levels down which can be life-threatening if they are raised too high.
'All he wanted to do was go out and watch a film and it takes a lot of organisation to arrange for Richard to go out.
'I find it disgusting that, in this age, a person should be treated in this way.'
Steve, who needs full-time care at his home in Epsom, claims he was told he should not visit the cinema on Friday or Saturday evenings as it is 'too busy'.
Genetic disorder Duchenne muscular dystrophy causes Steve to have severe weakness to his muscles including the ones that operate his lungs.
Trailblazer's campaigns officer Victoria Wright said she was 'very disturbed' to hear about Richard's plight.
She said: 'If the noise unfortunately disturbed other customers, then you would hope they would make the compassionate choice to move seats.
'Richard, on the other hand, has no choice but to use his ventilator to breathe.
'To remove Richard from the cinema and imply he can only come at certain, less popular times because of his disability, was insensitive and discriminatory.'
Odeon have apologised profusely for the careless way staff dealt with the situation.
Head of guest experience Jason Stanton said: 'We sincerely apologise for the way this matter was handled and for the upset it caused.
'We are inviting Mr Bridger and his son to return and enjoy Taken 3 at any time as guests of Odeon Epsom.
'We are also looking again at what happened to ensure it never happens again.'
Dundee City Council’s Blue Badge stance branded ‘bureaucracy gone mad’
Dundee City Council has been accused of “bureaucracy gone mad” after bosses told a blind and disabled pensioner her Blue Badge parking permit would have to be collected in person.
Despite neighbouring Perth, Angus and Fife sending the lifeline passes in the post, Margaret Grant, 81, was told the rules had changed in Dundee.
Margaret, who founded the Brittle Bone Society and was awarded an MBE by the Queen in 1989, lives in the Hilltown and is confined to a wheelchair. She is also blind and partially deaf.
She said: “I have been eligible for a parking badge since 1967, but the council have people begging for their rights.
“I told them I couldn’t come and collect it, but they told me either myself or someone with power of attorney has to get it.”
The Blue Badge scheme allows disabled people to park closer to their destination and applies nationally.
However, the badges are issued by local authorities — which can charge up to £20 for the service.
Margaret’s daughter Yvonne Grant, 53, who also has brittle bone disease and uses a wheelchair, eventually collected the badge in person from Dundee House — but she criticised the rule change.
She said: “What if people don’t have anyone to help them? The problem is with the people who issue these. It’s bureaucracy gone mad.”
A Dundee City Council spokeswoman confirmed it did not offer to post badges.
She said: “The procedure for applying for a Blue Badge was tightened up nationally in 2012 to tackle misuse of badges.
“Since then, applicants are told that the process will take six to eight weeks to complete and that the badge will have to be collected in person.”
Thursday, 15 January 2015
Church blasts 'evil' of David Cameron's 'unequal' Britain: 'Poor left behind and cities cast aside'
David Cameron’s Britain is a place where the poor have been “left behind” and cities “cast aside”, the Church warned today.
In a withering attack, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York lashed out at the “evil” inequality allowed to develop under the Coalition.
And they accused Mr Cameron of neglecting the poor in a obsessive drive to win over Middle England.
The damning verdict follows last year’s letter to the Daily Mirror by 31 Church of England bishops slamming the rise in poverty and marks the biggest political intervention by the Clergy since its Faith in the City report in 1985.
In a message timed to coincide with the start of the general election campaign, the Archbishops said some parts of Britain were trapped in “apparently inevitable decline.”
Ed Miliband seized on the comments, saying: “Cameron used to say we were all in it together.
'Today church leaders are saying they don’t believe him. The country doesn’t either.”
The Archbishop of Canterbuy, Dr Justin Welby, said the Government’s cuts had widened the gap between rich and poor.
“Our economy appears to be, in one sense, a tale of two cities – one being a growing and constantly improving London and the South East generally, and the other being most, but not all, other cities, alike in that they are each trapped in apparently inevitable decline,” he wrote in a new book called On Rock or Sand.
He continued: “The hard truth is that many of these cities are in what appear to be lose-lose situations.
“Already in decline, the road towards recovery and growth is made even more difficult.
“There are now fewer readily available Government resources able to support economic development in these regions; and also, since the 1980s, the banking system has become more and more London concentrated and consequently out of touch with local needs.”
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said the country was facing “a new poverty”.
“The poor in this ‘age of austerity’ experience what I call a ‘new poverty’, where many of the ‘new poor’ are in work.”
“Once upon a time, you couldn’t really be living in poverty if you had regular wages. You could find yourself on a low income, but not living in poverty. That is no longer so,” he wrote.
He said the glue that held communities together was under threat from “rampant consumerism and individualism.”
“While many have benefited from the economic progress of past decades, the consequences of this rampant consumerism and individualism – both economic and social – have been to eradicate the glue that holds communities together,” he said.
Mr Miliband said it was an important intervention. He said: “We are a country of food banks and bank bonuses.
'We are a country where millionaires get tax cuts and millions are paying more. David Cameron should take these concerns seriously.”
He added: “I grew up in London in the 1980s not far away from here.
“I felt that we were an unequal, divided country. I felt that there were a lot of people who were not getting a chance to do well in our country.
“The thing I really fear is that we are like that now as a country and there are a lot of people who don’t feel this country works for them.”
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “They are important points around the need to continue to do more in supporting families, in improving their standards of living, in helping families climb our of poverty and, of course, rebalancing the economy.”
He added: “There is more to be done and that is why it is right to stick to the long-term economic plan.”
Committee announces second evidence session into benefit sanctions
The Work and Pensions Select Committee has today (15 January) announced the second of three evidence sessions into controversial benefit sanctions.
The Tory-led coalition government introduced a new benefit sanction regime in October 2012 for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and December 2012 for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants.
Claimants who fail to adhere to tough new benefits conditionality rules run the risk of having their payments docked or removed, with four weeks being the average length of suspension. However, repeat offenders can see their benefits slashed for up to three years.
Opponents of the system argue claimants are being ‘sanctioned’ for punitive and unfair reasons, such as a man who had a heart attack during a sickness benefit test only to be sanctioned for failing to complete the assessment.
Another man received a four-month sanction for failing to attend a work placement as a charity shop, even though the charity had told him he was no longer required.
The purpose of the committee’s inquiry is to explore:
The local authority perspective, including the potential impacts of sanctioning on local welfare assistance provision.
The potential health impacts of sanctioning, particularly in relation to ESA claimants.
The application of conditionality and sanctions to single parent claimants.
Jobcentre Plus (JCP) staff and managers’ attitudes and approaches to conditionality and sanctioning; the impact of JCP benefit off-flow targets and sanctioning rates.
The destinations of sanctioned claimants.
Possible reforms and alternatives to the current sanctioning system.
Wednesday, 14 January 2015
Parents of disabled children face ‘impossible’ barriers to employment
88% of unemployed parents of disabled children express a strong desire to return to work, according to a new survey published today.
However, the survey of over 900 parents by the Working Families charity reveals how parents of disabled children face enormous challenges in balancing work and caring responsibilities.
The findings expose the extent to which parents of disabled children value the opportunity to work but face a lack of flexibility in the jobs market, with 77% struggling to find a job with the right number of hours. 87% said finding a job with a flexible work pattern was a major barrier.
Almost four in ten parents had given up work more than six years ago, making their future employment prospects even more difficult. The Working Families charity says employers are missing out on a range of skills and talents.
79% of unemployed parents said they had no choice but to give up work soon after their child was diagnosed. According to the Working Families charity, this common occurrence could have been avoided by employers allowing parents time to adjust to change in their caring responsibilities.
“Combining work and caring is very challenging. There is never any flexibility around the timing of my son’s hospital and other appointments. I just need to drop everything and be there”, said one parent.
Another parent said: “I gave up work when my son was diagnosed and it was around five years before I could consider going back to work. Then four years of looking for a job that was flexible enough.”
A shortage of part-time flexible employment opportunities means parents of disabled children will struggle to return to work, says the Working Families charity.The majority of in-work parents surveyed by the charity reported facing a ‘difficult’ or ‘impossible’ battle in finding suitable and affordable childcare, due to a significant lack in specialist childcare providers. Where it was available, prices were significantly more expensive than for non-disabled children’. One parent reported being asked to pay £16 per hour by the only provider in their area.
“Only one local provider offers suitable childcare for my son, but at £16 per hour this is far too expensive”, she said.
Working Families is calling on all parties to commit to a ‘statutory right to a period of adjustment leave, to enable families to weather relatively short-term life crises such as the onset of disability of a partner, parent or child, or other major change in their caring responsibilities, without having to give up work’.
A cost analysis carried out on behalf of the charity by a leading consultancy firm, suggests this could result in a potential annual net gain to the economy of up to £500 million.
Working Families says a ‘six week period of adjustment leave, paid at Living Wage levels should be introduced as a matter of urgency’.
Jobs in the public sector should be ‘flexible by default’, says Working Families. Government ministers should also encourage private sector employers to adopt a ‘Happy to Talk Flexible Working’ approach to employing new staff.
The charity is also calling for the appointment of a junior minister with responsibility for increasing the availability of affordable childcare for disabled children.
Sarah Jackson, CEO of Working Families, said: “More needs to be done to support the parents of disabled children to either stay in work or to re-enter the workforce.
“Childcare has repeatedly been shown to be a major barrier to work for these parents and we call on the next Government to commit to appointing a minister with specific responsibility for urgently driving up the national supply of suitable, good quality and affordable childcare for disabled children.
“Furthermore, we have shown that the introduction of a legal right to paid adjustment leave on or soon after diagnosis of a child’s disability or special need would have a positive outcome not only on the family’s economic future but on the state’s as a whole.”
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