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  1. #1
    Senior Member ***Force_Majeure_007***'s Avatar
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    Exclamation Occupy Westminster Abbey.....

    This news is a few days old but the campaign is still ongoing....

    http://www.independentliving-fightback.uk/online/

    and is supported by DPAC....

    http://dpac.uk.net/2014/06/disabled-...nment-attacks/

    Has anyone seen anything about this covered on mainstream British news channels? Or has it been another media blackout?*

    Regards

    FM007
    Expect the worst and hope for the best!!!

  2. #2
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    The BBC covered it, as did Channel 4. It also got into several of the newspapers, notably including the Guardian.


    The problem I have with this protest is that it does not appear any permission had been granted in advance from the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey. If an occupation over this important issue was allowed to proceed despite the lack of permission, it would mean anyone with a protest they wanted to make in the shadow of Parliament would protest in the grounds of Westminster Abbey, especially now that there are restrictions on protesting in Parliament Square.

    The Abbey exists as a place of worship, prayer, sanctuary, pilgrimage and reflection. It cannot go about its daily life and work with protestors occupying its grounds.


    You can't strongarm the Dean and Chapter into supporting a case by arguing on their behalf that Jesus would support your cause. If you want their support, you put their case and ask for their support. Ultimately, I have no idea from what happened whether the Dean and Chapter supported the arguments put forward by the protestors. It may well be that they felt they had no option but to take rapid action to prevent the kind of expensive and damaging stand off St Paul's Cathedral got dragged into over Occupy London.


    I know there is huge depth of feeling about the closure of the ILF, and I support the underlying arguments of the protestors. However, the news coverage seems to have focused on a bunch of people attempting to protest on private property without permission, who were prevented from establishing their protest. I'm not sure how that message advances the arguments not to close the ILF.


    Declaration of interest: member of the Methodist Church (which is in a covenant relationship with the Church of England), former elected member of the Methodist Conference for a total of ten years (the nearest Methodist equivalent to the Church of England General Synod), former member of the Methodist Equality and Diversity working party.

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    Senior Member ***Force_Majeure_007***'s Avatar
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    Thanks for that info flymo much appreciated....
    Expect the worst and hope for the best!!!

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    Though I feel the Abbey had no alternative to preventing occupation, I am very disappointed that there appears to be no attempt by the Abbey or the wider Church to respond to the issues raised by the protest. The closure of the ILF and the wider lack of resources for supporting disabled people is a travesty for social justice. I would like to see the church standing alongside those who protest, and those who are with the protesters in spirit. There are many who are scared at what is to come. Nobody asks for disability and the dependency that can result.

    I am also disappointed that there is no evidence that any pastoral or practical support has been offered by the Abbey to those involved in the events at Westminster Abbey. Any time a protest is broken up like this is potentially violent, and this is a protest by increasingly desperate people who may feel that few are listening to their plight.


    I'd like to think the church is on the vanguard of challenging the comfortably off and comforting the oppressed. Sadly, it doesn't always show this important part of the Christian tradition.

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    I've never been in the Abbey. It costs £15 and we decided history wasn't worth THAT much. So I can't see the Dean etc letting a bunch of folks in for free. Too much possibility of folks trashing the place.
    And to your last comment flymo, think again. Bishops have commented on the sad state where we NEED food banks. Many churches set up and run food banks, credit unions, soup kitchens and there is the work of Christians Against Poverty. They also run projects for the elderly, shopping services, lunch clubs, meals on wheels.

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    I'm not decrying anything the bishops and the church have done on so many important issues. In so many ways, the church has been in the vanguard of campaigns over key issues relating to poverty, social justice and human rights.


    My comments were limited to the narrower issue of social care and independent living for disabled people. I'm not aware of any campaign over these specific issues from any of the churches - not just the Church of England. I'm sure things have been said, not least by the Lords Spiritual (the Church of England bishops in the House of Lords), but I'm talking here about public statements in response to this protest.

    It may well be that the Abbey, Diocese of London (which, as a Royal Peculiar, the Abbey is not actually part of) or the wider Church of England has said something that hasn't made the media coverage, but I wonder how many people are left wondering what the church's priorities are with the protest being cleared and no statement about the issues. I read quite a few comments in response to online comments saying the Abbey cared more about the £15 admission fees than the issues, so I checked the Abbey's web site for any form of press release or statement. I found nothing I could use to counter that specific accusation, even though I did not feel that comment accurately reflects the Abbey's priorities.

    There's certainly nothing I can see in the news section of the Abbey's web site or the news section of the Diocese of London web site. The only reference I can find on the Church of England web site is in the daily news digest, which merely points to reporting of the event but not to any commentary from the church.

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    Senior Member Lighttouch's Avatar
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    DPAC, (Disabled People Against Cuts), is a campaigning group who are disabled activists out to try and create change.

    The only way things change is through groups of disabled people joining together in solidarity and singing from the same hymn sheet in order to get noticed.

    The idea of holding demonstrations is to try and gain the medias attention and report the incident for better coverage.

    I've only ever been on a few 'direct action' demonstrations. But I am a Trustee of a disability organisation that is affiliated to DPAC to fight the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) as the Local Authority will be given 'non-ring-fenced' money to run similar services. And as I was at a launch event hosted by a Manchester Councillor yesterday I learn't that Manchester City Council are going to have to save £50,000,000 in the next financial year..

    If money isn't ring-fenced to help disabled residents it will be used to prop up other council services shortfall to the detriment of disabled people wanting to live independent lives.

    We'll be going back 50 years to institutions!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lighttouch View Post
    If money isn't ring-fenced to help disabled residents it will be used to prop up other council services shortfall to the detriment of disabled people wanting to live independent lives.
    That is certainly the key issue. When the money to replace the ILF is devolved to local authorities, it will not be ring fenced. Existing ILF beneficiaries will be reassessed and may find they get less funding than before.

    Local authority budgets are under immense pressure over the costs of residential care, so there is certainly an incentive to trim other adult social care provision year on year. I don't have any council funded care, but I know several people who are worn out and frightened of the repeated reassessments they are subjected to, as the council looks to trim the provision they receive.


    I'm not sure Saturday's protest was effective in getting anyone to engage with the issues about the ILF - as I said earlier, the media coverage seemed to focus primarily on the occupation attempt and the police action, not the ILF. I can't find any sort of response from the church (though I take reddivine's point that the church is active in many social justice and poverty issues, as I know first hand) and certainly not from government.

    However, existing ILF recipients are getting desperate, and I appreciate that desperate times call for desperate measures.


    The other problem is that the ILF has been closed to new recipients since December 2010. There is already a tranche of people who would have benefited from ILF support who are having to make do with what their council alone will provide in the community, or go into residential care.

    In different personal circumstances, I could have been dependent on the ILF (I've had highest rate Care DLA or enhanced rate Daily Living PIP for some thirteen years), and it scares me that this safety net has gone.

    I wish there were good options to make the government listen. They have decided that their policy is the correct one and by the time any new government gets into office, the ILF is going to be so close to final shutdown that it is likely to be fatally wounded.

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    Can't help thinking they'd have been better occuping Westminster (the govt) instead of Westminster Abbey. after all its the politicians who make the daft changes and they're not known for being at the abbey!

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    Quote Originally Posted by reddivine View Post
    Can't help thinking they'd have been better occuping Westminster (the govt) instead of Westminster Abbey. after all its the politicians who make the daft changes and they're not known for being at the abbey!
    Unfortunately any attempt to occupy Parliament Square is a criminal offence.

    It is very unlikely you'd get any sort of occupy protest inside the Palace of Westminster and if you did, you may well be arrested under anti-terrorist legislation. You could certainly be looking at the wrong end of a Heckler & Koch MP5 if you are not careful.

    You are not even allowed to get too close to Parliament on the River Thames - the area close to the north bank next to the Palace of Westminster is a prohibited area to river traffic.


    I expect these restrictions, together with the involvement of St Paul's Cathedral in clearing the Occupy London protest, is why the organisers of Saturday's protest (which included Occupy London) saw Westminster Abbey as the next best thing. This is why I feel the Dean and Chapter had no alternative to the protest being cleared - if the Abbey becomes the de facto place to protest near Parliament, it is going to struggle to operate.

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