Friends and fellow activists have paid tribute to

first_imgFriends and fellow activists have paid tribute to the anti-euthanasia and disability rights campaigner Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick, whose life and death “epitomised the true meaning of dignity”.Fitzpatrick – who died on 15 January, leaving a wife, Fabienne, and three adopted children – played a huge part in the ongoing campaign to oppose the legalisation of assisted suicide in the UK, Ireland and internationally.But he also led the Disability Rights Commission’s (DRC) work in Wales throughout its seven-year existence, following an earlier academic career in which he taught philosophy, and was a former chair of Disability Wales.He was awarded an OBE in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to disabled people in Wales, and in an interview with Disability News Service to mark the award, criticised the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) for failing to build on DRC’s work.He said: “The fight for social justice is a long way from being won for disabled people. Are we there? Hand on heart, not at all. Have we gone backwards since the demise of the DRC? Sadly, yes.”Fitzpatrick (pictured being interviewed by Sky News about assisted suicide) contrasted the EHRC’s work with that of the DRC, which he said was “the best organisation I have ever worked with, in or for”.Among his other roles were as a long-standing chair of trustees of the St David’s Children Society adoption agency – he and his wife adopted three siblings – and chaired the Welsh government’s expert advisory group on adoption.There was also a five-year stint as a board member of Consumer Focus Wales, before it perished in the coalition’s “bonfire of the quangos”, and six years as a director of the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, despite frustration at its failure to work more closely with service-users.Fitzpatrick – who became disabled in 1973, after being hit by a stray bullet while working in a Belfast shop – also founded his own equality consultancy, Inclusion21, and ran it for nine years.He had set up his own company after seven years as head of policy and research at the disability charity Shaw Trust, leaving the organisation after becoming increasingly disillusioned, and, he would say later, “having learned a great deal more about cynicism and bullying”.Sir Bert Massie, who worked with him at DRC, said he had been appointed as commissioner for Wales but his “careful and precise analysis of issues resulted in his quickly assuming wider responsibilities, taking the UK lead on education and employment issues”.Sir Bert, who chaired the commission, said: “He retained his position throughout the life of the DRC and became highly respected.“He would use humour and integrity when making a case but the end result was always to provide a better service and reduce discrimination.”Lord [Chris] Holmes, disability commissioner at the EHRC, said: “I had the pleasure and great good fortune to work with Kevin as a fellow commissioner at the DRC; his intellect was only matched by his humour and lust for life.“We had many a happy discussion late into the evening with a touch of vino, and in the margins of meetings on philosophy and a bit of politics. “I feel sorrow, personally and for every person’s life he impacted, that he has been taken from us so prematurely.”Another former DRC colleague, Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said Fitzpatrick had “approached every topic with an unusual blend of humour, warmth and intellectual rigour – with great results”.She said: “He was involved in the DRC’s work on employment – for instance, working with small businesses to improve their knowledge and practice; and threw himself into big ethical debates on how disabled people’s lives were valued – or not – by things ranging from the abortion law permitting later abortions when the prospective baby is expected to have an impairment, to ‘do not resuscitate’ notices being placed in the notes of some disabled people without proper consent.“The movement has lost someone who brought huge talent and commitment to our work and we will all miss him.”In recent years, it was in his role as one of the leading UK campaigners against the legalisation of assisted suicide that Fitzpatrick was best known.In 2010, he took over the policy and outreach work for Not Dead Yet UK (NDY UK) – the network of disabled activists dedicated to fighting legalisation – from Baroness [Jane] Campbell, who had founded the network eight years previously.The disabled peer, who was another fellow DRC commissioner, said he would be “greatly missed” by fellow campaigners, who last September succeeded in persuading parliament to throw out the latest in a series of private members’ bills aimed at legalising assisted suicide.She said he was one of the “greatest advocates” of opposition to legalisation, and praised his “larger-than-life personality, intellectual rigour, vitality, humour and genuine warmth”.He was, she said, a “sad loss to all of us, and the thousands of disabled people’s lives he touched as he fought for our humanity to be valued equally, no matter what our impairment or illness”.Baroness Campbell said Fitzpatrick had thrown himself into NDY UK campaigning work from 2010 with “passion, intellectual drive and selflessness (when he could have been working for a decent income)”.She added: “As a result, NDY UK raised its game and began to attract European and international attention.”Another leading NDY UK activist, actor and performer Liz Carr, said Fitzpatrick was “a bloody lovely man whose life and death epitomised the true meaning of ‘dignity’”, and was “a man of great integrity”.She said: “Kevin’s passionate opposition to assisted suicide, his philosophical understanding of the issues, his humour, intelligence, optimism, energy, sense of justice and, of course, his great company are some of the many things that I am going to miss.”She also praised his decision to keep his illness private.Carr said: “During the past year, he decided that he didn’t want to be the pin-up for disabled people’s opposition to assisted suicide – despite the immense pressure from the media to talk about our impairments and illnesses to gain precious column inches and air time.”Fellow NDY UK activist Dennis Queen, who also worked closely with Fitzpatrick, said: “Kevin was a wonderful colleague in Not Dead Yet UK, as well as an inspired and talented teacher to activists who are fighting the creep of euthanasia across the globe.“Kevin was an incredible role model and media representative. I’m not quite sure what we’ll do without him.“An irreplaceable warrior, who defended our lives until his last breath, is now resting in peace, among our stars. We will honour him by doing the same.”As well as his work with NDY UK, he worked closely with the Care Not Killing alliance, which described him this week as “a great advocate, campaigner and friend”.Fitzpatrick also founded Hope Ireland, an Irish campaign opposing assisted suicide and euthanasia, and – just two years ago – was the founding coordinator of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Europe.One disabled campaigner, Jessica Hatchett, described this week how she met Fitzpatrick when she was a member of Young Voices for Choices, a youth forum for disabled people in Pembrokeshire.She was one of several forum members who were invited to be a part of Rights Into Action 2003, the first international congress of young disabled people, in which Fitzpatrick was heavily involved through his role as DRC’s commissioner for Wales.She said he had been “hugely passionate about the disability rights movement, and spoke very eloquently on the subject”.She said: “He was great at encouraging us to share our thoughts and opinions and getting us to speak up on the issues that we felt were important.“He encouraged people to aim high with their aspirations and gave us the confidence to believe anything was possible.”She added: “He inspired a lot of us who attended the congress to go after our goals in life.“I kept track of Kevin’s most recent work and was proud of the campaigning that he was doing. I hope that in some way his work can be continued.”Baroness Campbell said Fitzpatrick had been “very private about his battle with cancer as he didn’t want others to worry about him or let his illness detract from his tireless work to prevent the legalisation of assisted suicide”.She said the disability movement “owe Kevin so much for his commitment, friendship and selflessness because without him our right to be valued as equal citizens, no matter what our impairment or illness, would not have the recognition that it does”.She added: “I think it’s important to honour his memory by continuing to campaign hard to get society to realise our right to equality in all things, especially at the end of life.”Sir Bert said Fitzpatrick had been such an effective campaigner because “although he dealt with contentious issues he was always courteous even when disagreeing”, and was “always a man of principle”.He said: “He wore his intellect lightly and never sought to intimidate. He always kept a sense of perspective and never lost his gentle humour and interest in other people and their lives.“But behind this he retained a steely determination to improve society and in particular the lives of disabled people. His early death deprives disabled people of a great advocate.”last_img read more

MPs have launched an inquiry into why so many disa

first_imgMPs have launched an inquiry into why so many disability benefit decisions are being overturned on appeal, and look set to examine claims of widespread dishonesty among the healthcare professionals who carry out assessments on behalf of the government.The investigation by the Commons work and pensions select committee follows a previous inquiry into the personal independence payment (PIP) assessment process, which had to be abandoned when the prime minister called a snap general election earlier this year.The committee will ask how the assessment processes for both PIP and employment and support allowance (ESA) are being handled by the private sector contractors Atos, Capita and Maximus.It will also look at how the application and appeals processes are working.The committee said – crucially – that the evidence it received in the last parliament revealed “worrying disparities” between how claimants described their face-to-face assessments and the final reports passed to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).And it said that concerns were also raised about the “dignity and conduct” of the assessment process and the ability of the assessors to “understand and properly assess” conditions.The latest figures, the committee said, show 65 per cent of appeals that reach the tribunal stage are successful, for both PIP and ESA, while the number of appeals had risen by nearly 30 per cent in the last year.Earlier this year, Disability News Service (DNS) provided the committee with substantial evidence of widespread dishonesty in the reports compiled by PIP assessors from the discredited outsourcing companies Capita and Atos.That evidence helped trigger an urgent evidence session of the committee, but none of the four welfare rights experts who gave evidence were asked by the committee’s MPs about claims of dishonesty.DNS had told the MPs how its investigation revealed that assessors working for Capita and Atos – most of them nurses – had repeatedly lied, ignored written evidence and dishonestly reported the results of physical examinations.The committee’s latest call for evidence appears to show that it has listened to criticism of its previous approach and that it will now examine these claims of dishonesty.DNS has so far received more than 250 such claims from PIP claimants, and is likely to submit updated evidence to the committee.One of those who has submitted evidence to DNS as part of its investigation is Mary*, who has experienced dishonest assessors both with her own PIP assessment and her husband’s.She said it was a “huge relief” to hear of the inquiry.She said: “We sincerely hope the extent of this widespread systemic malpractice will be fully exposed for what it is, putting an end to the dishonest healthcare professional reports and the abject failure of both the healthcare professionals and the DWP case managers to follow the DWP PIP assessment guidance and correctly apply the actual legal threshold for PIP.“There will then need to be an extensive clean up of the fraudulent reports and false statements that are currently on the system about individual claimants.”Frank Field, the under-fire chair of the work and pensions committee, said the rate at which ESA and PIP decisions were overturned was “truly amazing”.He said this suggested something was “fundamentally wrong” with how face-to-face assessments and mandatory reconsiderations – DWP’s internal reviews, the first stage of the appeal process – were being carried out.He said: “Quite apart from the human cost this represents – the distress and difficulty for applicants trying to get help with daily living or getting into work – it looks to be wasteful, inefficient, and a huge cost to taxpayers.”Field called for evidence on the assessment system from both claimants and assessors.Any evidence should be submitted to the committee by 10 November.Meanwhile, Maximus has announced that its contract to deliver the work capability assessment – which assesses eligibility for ESA – had been extended by the government by a further two years, until March 2020.*Not her real namelast_img read more

In partnership with ONeills Sportswear this is th

first_imgIn partnership with O’Neills Sportswear this is the new home shirt Saints will wear for the 2018 Betfred Super League Season.Inspired by our heritage, the shirt continues Saints tradition of a White Shirt with a Red Vee.Giving the look of a late 80s/early 90s design, the front has an additional red panel filling in the vee whilst the reverse we have added a red band across the shoulder.The crest is embroidered onto the left chest and it sits above our new home shirt partner Cash Converters who join us this season.Matching white/red shorts, plus red and white striped socks are available compliment the home shirts giving it a real historic look too.Saints Merchandise Manager Steve Law commented: “Once again we have listened to our loyal fans and playing staff who continue to favour the Saints’ tradition of the deeper, bolder red vee on our iconic Home shirt.“With next season’s home kit we have turned back to the Late Eighties/Early 90’s for our inspiration with the additional filled-in panel on the chest, with white shorts and hooped socks to complete the look.“We are delighted to welcome our new Front of Home shirt sponsor Cash Converters and their logo sits well across the vee of the home shirt.“As always we thank all our kit sponsors and O’Neills for their support, and hope our fans continue to support the club through purchasing the official Saints shirts from the Superstore or online at www.saintssuperstore.comInspirationThe attractive white jersey with the unique ‘filled in vee’ design was first worn in the 1987-88 campaign until the end of 1990-91.It will conjure up images of the wizardry of Shane Cooper, brilliance of Tea Ropati, the belligerence and power of Kevin Ward and the pace and elusiveness of Alan Hunte.It was also worn in our John Player trophy final success against Leeds at Central Park in 1988.The FabricThe shirt is produced in the UK by our Partner O’Neill’s Sportswear from a fabric called Koolite. This is breathable, cool and offers high wicking properties for enhanced wearer comfort. It also compromises anti-bacterial properties with good shape retention after multiple washing.In PartnershipAlongside Cash Converters, we welcome back some of the Club’s most loyal partners.Right of chest shirt sponsors are RCL, with collar sponsors St.Helens College whilst our sleeve sponsors are once again Totally Wicked and MyProtein on the Adult shirts.On the reverse of the shirt, long-term shoulder sponsors are Hattons Solicitors, with A-Star Recruitment on the lower back hem.The back of collar sponsor on the Adult shirt is again Totally Wicked.Our Short sponsors are ESRG, and AFEX, whilst AFEX also continue to support us with Sock sponsorship.Shirt Sizes/PricesReplica Adult shirts are Available in sizes X-small through to 7XL. Priced at £49.Player Version Shirts are Available in sizes X-small through to 3XL. Priced at £70.Ladies Shirts size L8 through to L18. Priced at £49.Children’s Age 5/6 years through to 13/14 yrs. Priced at £36.Toddler’s Kits are also available.Personalisation is available in store and on-line, subject to availability, and confirmed squad lists. Saints will wear red numbers in 2018 and these will be available shortly.To BuyThe shirt will be available to buy in store and online from 10am Saturday November 4 and 2018 Members can get 10 per cent off by showing their 2018 Membership Cards, which they can collect from the Ticket Office from today.last_img read more

Whats your favourite Christmas song A recent sur

first_imgWhat’s your favourite Christmas song? A recent survey threw out some interesting results!The obvious ones were there – Fairytale of New York, Merry Christmas Everybody and I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, but top of the list was O Holy Night.It’s an interesting choice and one that I would find it tough to disagree with. It came out top of two different surveys – The Nation’s Favourite Christmas Song and The Nation’s Favourite Christmas Carol.OK, that’s fine, but what’s your favourite line from a Christmas song?Is it that line from Fairytale Of New York that got it cut from many shops’ playlists? Maybe it’s ‘Bring us some figgy pudding!” or “All I want for Christmas is you.” Could it be that classic festive ditty, “Christmas time, don’t let the bells end!”?My favourite line comes in the classic carol, written by Charles Wesley and set to music by Mendelssohn, Hark The Herald Angels Sing.The words say, “Pleased as man, with man, to dwell; Jesus our Emmanuel”.That may sound like an odd collection of words, if you don’t know what they mean, but it’s the meaning that makes them so special for me. The amazing story of Christmas is the story of God being born as a human being and living with people, just like you and me – “Pleased as man, with man, to dwell.” Then the word Emmanuel literally means, “God with us”.If you read the line knowing the meaning, it literally says that God, the creator of all things and most powerful being in the universe, chose to leave the amazing place called Heaven and chose to live as a human being – God with us!Why do I find that so amazing? Well that tells me that human beings are just so incredible important and valuable. Don’t ever let anybody tell you that you are worthless or that you belong on the edge of things! God literally moved Heaven and Earth to show how valued you really are.This Christmas, we have seen many news stories about the rise of homelessness and rough sleeping in the UK. We have seen it ourselves in our own area. I love that Derek Hardman, our Community Foundation Chaplain, has been taking a small team out into town centre, each week, to show love and care to those people who are living on the streets of St Helens – reminding them that we, as a club, are interested in their stories and their wellbeing.I love that, last week, our first team squad went into local hospitals to give out gifts and spend time with families for whom Christmas won’t play out in the way that they hoped it would. It feels like the right thing to do, to be a club who truly show people that they mean something and that someone is there for them – it feels like the kind of thing that Jesus would do and, if you look it at His story, you will see that it is indeed what He did!This Christmas, have an amazing few days. Enjoy time with family and friends, celebrate and have lots of fun. In the middle of it all, remember the incredible fact that God loves you so much that He would live as a human being, bringing amazing value to people like you and me and to people who many in the world would choose to ignore. Jesus our Emmanuel.In the words of Noddy Holder, “Merry Christmas Everybody!”last_img read more