On Saturday, I attended the Hardest Hit Rally in London and was asked to write a blog for the Learning Disability Coalition (LDC). With kind permission from the LDC the blog is also reproduced here.

This weekend demonstrations up and down the country were held to protest against cuts to benefits and services for disabled people.  Following the success of the Hardest Hit’s London march in May last Saturday saw events hosted in cities across the UK, stretching from Edinburgh to Brighton.  Whilst each event had its own distinct flavour, the unifying message was one of dismay and anger at the impact of cuts on disabled people.

London’s contribution to the day saw protesters gathered outside City Hall, or on “Boris Johnson’s lawn” as one speaker put it.  The crowd was kept entertained with music before a range of passionate speakers took the stage.  Kirsten Hearn, Inclusion London’s Chair, opened proceedings with a powerful speech about the local impact of cuts in the Capital and the ongoing demonization of disabled people in some sections of the media.

Other speakers included members of the London Assembly, trade union officials and representatives of disability charities.  There was an overwhelming sense of anger at the perceived disparity of treatment by the Government of bankers and of disabled people.  Many spoke out in disagreement with the Government’s policy on cuts.  As one speaker put it, “reducing work support for disabled people will not cut the deficit”.

Employment support for disabled people was one of the main issues covered by speakers, as well as the proposed changes to Disability Living Allowance (DLA).  This point was brought home by an Assembly Member from the Green Party who summed up the importance of DLA, simply stating “many disabled people rely on DLA because being disabled costs more”.

Towards the end of the rally there was a queue of people waiting for the opportunity to share their personal experience with the gathered crowd.  Despite the anger and frustration evident in many personal accounts, the rally’s atmosphere was one of unity and a collective voice.  Our attention now turns to the Government to see if they will heed the voices of disabled people across the country and lessen the blow of spending cuts for the hardest hit.

Alexis Camble, campaigns and policy officer.