A disabled campaigner who has spent 14 years fight

first_imgA disabled campaigner who has spent 14 years fighting for justice for survivors of the thalidomide scandal has vowed to continue the battle, after he was recognised with an MBE in the new year’s honours.Nick Dobrik’s years of experience on the thalidomide campaign led to him volunteering to help campaigners seeking justice for survivors of other treatment scandals, including those affected by the pregnancy drug Primodos, the epilepsy drug Epilim and NHS contaminated blood.Dobrik (pictured), a long-standing member of the Thalidomide Trust’s user-led National Advisory Council (NAC), said he was accepting the MBE on behalf of all of those involved in the thalidomide campaign – led by the NAC – and “all the thalidomide community”.He said: “It was a privilege to receive it. It’s very nice to get recognised.”But he said it was “a team effort”.He added: “I could never have done this on my own. If we were not a team, we would not have achieved as much as we did.”Dobrik, who works as a commodity broker, said the thalidomide campaign was not yet over.In the last four years, he has visited the European parliament 80 or 90 times to fight for compensation for thalidomide survivors in the UK, as well as those in Sweden, Italy and Spain.Four years ago, he and other campaigners secured evidence that showed the German government deliberately sabotaged efforts to secure justice for thalidomide survivors in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and that it knew the drug was associated with birth defects at least 10 days before it was withdrawn from sale in 1961, and almost certainly much earlier.Although the campaign has secured financial support for thalidomide survivors from the British government and Diageo – which bought Distillers, the company which distributed the drug in the UK – there is still an ongoing battle for compensation from the German government and from Grunenthal, the German pharmaceutical company which manufactured thalidomide.Dobrik said the campaign was “very close” to reaching an agreement with the German government on compensation.But he said the “group that was most guilty” was Grunenthal, which had “contributed nothing” to support thalidomide survivors.He said: “They are a nasty bunch. We will hold them to account. They can bury their heads in the sand, they can run as fast as possible, but they are never going to escape us.”Dobrik said it was time that all the historic treatment scandals were resolved, as many of them go back nearly 50 years.He said: “It is time that those issues are resolved. You cannot expect people to wait a whole lifetime before their needs are met.“It is time for the government to act generously towards these groups and accept responsibility.“These legacy issues need to be resolved. People have waited three-quarters of a lifetime for justice.”Dobrik was an expert adviser to a working group that examined the use of Primodos and other hormone pregnancy tests, which reported in October.But he has rejected its conclusion that there was no “causal relation” between the use of Primodos and impairments in babies born in the 1960s and 1970s.Health minister Steve Brine was forced to apologise to Dobrik last month in the House of Commons after both he and the prime minister, Theresa May, attempted to use his presence as an expert advisor to the working group to defend that conclusion, which was attacked by critics as “a whitewash”.Dobrik said: “I was very angry about that because I disagreed with the conclusion. They used my name to whitewash the report.”But the working group also came up with recommendations to tighten regulations “to make sure things like this don’t happen again”, something he has campaigned for himself, particularly on the safety of medicines taken by women during pregnancy.He said: “The inquiry came up with a whole series of recommendations and I will hold the government’s feet to the fire to make sure they are enacted.“I’m happy that I’ve been involved in that inquiry for the last three years, because it gave the opportunity to look at these regulations and make recommendations to decrease the likelihood that another tragedy will happen again.”Picture: Nick Dobrik being interviewed by Sky News about the government’s Primodos commentslast_img read more

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A disabled woman has handed the Department for Wor

first_imgA disabled woman has handed the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) a petition of more than 200,000 names in a bid to stop companies forcing claimants to travel long distances to attend face-to-face benefit assessments.ClaudetteLawrence only launched the petition on the 38 Degreeswebsite in November,but by yesterday (Wednesday) it had been signed by more than 213,000 people.She startedthe campaign after becoming increasingly concerned about the distances disabledfriends were being asked to travel to attend face-to-face assessments withdisability assessment contractors Maximus, Atos and Capita.But she isalso concerned about disabled people being charged up to £40 by their GPs towrite a letter explaining why they need a home assessment, rather than havingto travel to an assessment centre for their eligibility tests for personalindependence payment (PIP) or employment and support allowance (ESA).Lawrencesays in her petition: “People who are on benefits due to ill health, cannotafford to pay for private letters. “There is arisk that people who are entitled to PIP or ESA will lose out, causing hardshipand suffering.”Last week, Lawrence (pictured, right) and Lorna Greenwood, campaigns manager for 38 Degrees, were at DWP’s headquarters in London to discuss the issues and hand the petition to civil servants and a special adviser to work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd.Lawrencetold Disability News Service (DNS) that a friend of hers from Thamesmead ineast London had been asked to attend a work capability assessment in Wembley,on the other side of the capital in north-west London.Anotherfriend, from Charlton, in south-east London, had been asked to attend anassessment in Southend, on the Essex coast.Lawrencesaid: “It’s just not right. The whole process is unfit for purpose.”She said shehad been expecting a strong response to her petition but had been “absolutely shocked”by how many people had signed it. One of thedisabled people who signed the petition said: “I have a long term mental healthdisorder and I was expected to take a journey with my baby which would involvethree buses and two trains. “When I rangto say I couldn’t cope with even walking out of the door, let alone figure outthe details of a very expensive journey, they treated me with contempt andrudeness. “Theyignored my doctor’s letter. Needless to say they decided in my absence that Iwas fit for work. “Luckily mylocal DEA [disability employment adviser] saw the truth and made up for theirnastiness.”Another said:“They make people travel a great distance then say if you can travel this farthen you are fine.”And a thirdsaid: “I have had to travel for an assessment be completely unable to move fora week afterwards [and was then] turned down.”And one saidsimply: “I was asked to attend an assessment in Milton Keynes and I live inLondon!”A DWPspokesperson declined to say what action the department would take in responseto the petition.But she saidin a statement: “We want everyone to have a good experience at their PIP or workcapability assessment. “Whenever wecan we will make benefit decisions using paper evidence so that people don’tneed to travel to an assessment.“Anyone weneed to see in person who is not able to travel to an assessment centre canrequest a home assessment. “Whereverpossible our assessment providers will use supporting evidence which does notincur a fee to claimants. “No one isrequired to travel for more than 90 minutes by public transport to theirassessment.”Five years ago, MPs on the Commons public accountscommittee used evidence collected in a lengthy investigation by DNS and thedisabled journalist Richard Butchins to accuse Atos of lying in the document it used to win a £184 million contract toprovide PIP assessments across London and the south of England.Atos had wonthe contract by boasting of its “extensive” network of 16 NHS trusts, twoprivate hospital chains, and four physiotherapy providers, all of which it saidwould provide sites where the PIP tests would take place.But in themonths after the contract was awarded, all but four of the NHS trusts and bothof the private hospital chains dropped out.Atos hadstated in the tender that it had a network of 740 assessment sites acrossLondon and the south of England.But after the contract was signed, it only managed to secure 96 assessment centres, including not a single one covering a vast sweep of north London, and only one in Suffolk and one in Cambridgeshire, although it has since improved these numbers.A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…last_img read more

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Labours Jon Trickett has written to the Cabinet S

first_imgLabour’s Jon Trickett has written to the Cabinet Secretary and head of the civil service today, calling for an independent investigation into an apparent breach of civil service neutrality.A story by The Times on Saturday featured briefings from two senior civil servants, who suggested that Jeremy Corbyn may be “too ill” and “frail” to be Prime Minister or even Labour leader. “There must be senior people in the party who know that he is not functioning on all cylinders,” one was quoted as saying.As shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, Trickett has therefore asked Mark Sedwill for a personal meeting to discuss the matter and for an investigation that would be “independent of the Cabinet Office”. In his letter, the Labour frontbencher describes the incident as an “unconstitutional political intervention with disturbing implications for our democratic system”.Responding to The Times splash yesterday, Corbyn said: “The idea that civil servants should be briefing a newspapers against an elected politician, against a prospective government, is something that should be very concerning to all of us.“The Civil Service has to be independent; has to be non-political and has to be non-judgmental of the politicians they have a duty to serve. If we were elected to government, we have a very clear framework of things we want to do in this country on housing, education, health and the environment and so much more. We would explain those to our colleagues in the civil service and expect them to carry out those policies.“That is the way British democracy must work. There must be an investigation into which senior civil servants are spreading fictitious information to the press and in the process compromising the integrity of the Civil Service.”Below is the full text of Jon Trickett’s letter to Mark Sedwill.Dear Mr SedwillI am writing in connection with the articles today in The Times on Saturday, which you will have seen.These pieces offer a credible account of conversations at a senior level in the civil service about the Leader of the Opposition, the Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP.The premise of these conversations is the allegation that Mr Corbyn’s health is poor. This is manifestly untrue.Discussion of these matters, based on false assumptions, should not be taking place. Worse, it is without precedent in my experience that any high-level discussion about senior politicians, let alone the leader of the Opposition, should be shared with a newspaper.I must now formally say to you that it is hard to avoid the conclusion that this has been a totally unwarranted and indeed unconstitutional political intervention with disturbing implications for our democratic system.There clearly needs to be an investigation into what appears to have been a breach of civil service neutrality, independent of the Cabinet Office, in order to avoid any real or apparent conflicts of interest.I am also writing formally to request a meeting with you to discuss this deeply concerning development, when I hope you will be able to give clear assurances that the basic principles of British public life will not be undermined.I look forward to hearing from you.Jon Trickett MPShadow Minister at the Cabinet OfficeTags:Labour /Jon Trickett /Civil Service /Mark Sedwill /last_img read more

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Displaced from the Mission An Artist and Unofficial Historian Loses His Home

first_imgThis piece was produced by KALW and is republished here with permission as part of a collaboration with KALW.  The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco’s Mission District is currently about  $3,500 per month.That means a renter needs to make almost $130,000 per year in order to spend no more than a third of her paycheck on rent. In our series, Displaced from the Mission, we’re bringing the stories of people who have been left behind by the neighborhood’s economics. Tags: arts • displacement • housing Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% DogPaw Carrillo was born and raised in the Mission District. He was a renter in the same house for 31 years, until seven months ago when he was evicted. For now, he’s subletting for a friend, while looking for permanent housing in the East Bay. Carrillo says his whole life is in the Mission, even if his home isn’t, so that’s where I went to meet him.Carillo’s an artist, he used to paint but lately he’s focused on photography—it’s easier to pull off when you don’t have a studio. Cafe La Boheme on 24th and Mission is his makeshift office for now. He says the cafe was and still is a cultural center for his generation–especially Mexican Americans like him.“There were a lot of poets, poet laureates—Alejandro Murguia, Alfonso Texidor,” he says, “and this was the hub.”Carrillo’s lived here in the Mission his entire life; on the small streets that branch out from 24th. We take a walk through the neighborhood. He points out every mural–ones painted by this friend or that. He’s working on a photography series, to capture them before they expire.“Murals are like people,” he says, “they get old and start getting all wrinkly and next thing you know they’re gone.”We turn left on Treat Street. The houses are grey blue and papaya orange. Carillo runs into familiar people constantly.“Well this is my first neighborhood this is where I grew up.” He points to a little orange house with steps in front, “and this house here, this is the home of the great Taj Mahal. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Taj Mahal, he’s a great blues man. As kids we would watch him from here and he would sit right there and he would play the blues–I’m, like, ten? Nine? I’d never heard the blues before and instantly–transformed, was I.”He points across the street. “This building over here, which is now the San Francisco Mime Troupe, once housed the Fantasy Record Company. A lot of the music as a kid that I heard came out of here–Lenny Bruce came out of here, Mongo Santamaria, Dave Brubeck, the great Cal Tjader–and they used to let us have the whole run of the place.”It all seemed to go down on this block.“Santana played at this block party here,” he says, “this was before Santana became Santana.”He points to a brown building he calls the hippie house,  and says “it’s the oldest house in the Mission.”Carrillo grew up inspired by the stories of the Irish and Italian and Mexican organizers that worked in the neighborhood. “It could be any color, it’s just this energy that’s been here for a long, long time,” he says, “it’s a working class energy.”This neighborhood made him who he is. He’s never lived anywhere else. So when he was evicted seven months ago–he says he felt blindsided.“You just immediately go into shock,” he says, “because you know there’s never going to be a home here, as such.” But, he says, there’s a part of him that thinks, “this is going to be gone anyway, why mourn that?” He means the neighborhood, the Mission, will be gone.“It’s like an ice cube on a hot summer day on the sidewalk,” he says, “It’s not going to be there long. And that’s what we have right now.”The house he was evicted from was a few blocks from where we are, on Capp Street. It was more than just his place of residence. He says it was a collective and performance space, “a nice little community space that only we knew was there.”They called the space Gravy Dogs Presents. Over the years the house hosted punk rock, reggae, ska and blues shows.He and a housemate split the rent which, by the end was $1,300 per month. When the owner passed away, his sons decided they didn’t want to be landlords; so they sold the building. They used the Ellis Act to evict Carrillo. He and his housemate considered a lawsuit, even met with a lawyer, but in the end, didn’t pursue it.“He never said, ‘hey this is an uphill battle, you’re better off pulling out,’ but that’s what the math  was,” he says, “those were the numbers.”The house was put out on the market, and sold for almost $800,000.Carrillo describes living in the house while it was being shown to buyers. “There’s no dignity in any of that that,” he says, “we had 30 people show up that first day,” and Carrillo hosted them all.“So now they’re hanging out in my yard having coffee talking about ‘what a great yard,’ and I’m standing there going this is amazing.”Carrillo says the owners paid him $16,000 to leave. After 31 years, the house was like a museum of the neighborhood’s culture. Carrillo had to dismantle it all.“You start to look at things differently: ‘this is sacred, this is not sacred,’ ‘this can be donated, this’ll be put out on the sidewalk.’”But he saw it as an opportunity. He gave old instruments to the San Francisco Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble, art supplies to Precita Eyes, furniture to Salvation Army.“There was a halfway house on my block…my neighbors,” he says, “so I gave them a bunch of clothes.”But some things he and his housemate couldn’t part with. Like over one hundred pieces of framed musical memorabilia and archival poster art from the Mission District. Those were the things that were put into storage.He bounced around for a while and now sublets a room from a friend. “I was spoiled,” he says. “We take these things for granted–hot running water, a place where your mail is safe, good light–little things like that.”He doesn’t have a consistent income, just what he puts together from art projects and commissions. The $16,000 he got from the eviction is dwindling. He doesn’t know yet if he’ll find a permanent place he can afford in the city.“I’m being shot out of a cannon,” he says.But then, he starts to tell this story about the recent Day of the Dead parade. When he was there, he got to talking with another life-long Mission resident.“She said, ‘I feel like a phantom,’” he recounts, “I said ‘really? So do I. Tell me.’ She says, ‘yeah, it’s like, I grew up here, my family grew up here, they’re all gone, I live in a room,’ and she feels like she can walk down this street where she grew up and nobody could see her.” Carrillo says, “sometimes I feel like that.”And then an idea strikes. His face lights up. “Why not have a New Orleans funeral?” he smiles. “Everybody loves a New Orleans funeral, are you kidding me?”A funeral procession for the Mission itself. He starts brainstorming out loud–coffins, costumes, horns–the whole street taken over by people like him; the people that he says will haunt this neighborhood forever. 0%last_img read more

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IT was a very special day in May when Lynne Baines

first_imgIT was a very special day in May when Lynne Baines of Haydock won £1000 on the Saints Premium Lottery.“I have been a member for many years and previously won £5. As I now pay by standing order, it was a great surprise when I had a call from the Saints Lottery Office to tell me that I had won £1000.”After this exciting news, Lynne began to consider how she would spend her windfall.“My son is getting married in August and this timely prize will be put to good use,” she said. “2011 is certainly a special year for us.”Would you encourage others to join?“For just £1, you could enjoy a special win of your own and it all goes to a great cause, whilst all helping Whiston Hospital Children’s Ward during these difficult times.”Congratulations to Lynne. Who knows, next time the winner could be you.How would you spend yours?last_img read more

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DEREK Traynor is calling on Saints not to drop the

first_imgDEREK Traynor is calling on Saints not to drop their intensity after two encouraging performances.A good showing at Wigan when down to 12 men was backed up with an excellent 26-22 win over Castleford at the Totally Wicked Stadium.Now Saints head to Widnes this Friday looking to continue their improvement.“We were delighted with the outcome on Monday, especially after backing up a really tough Wigan game,” he said. “But we honestly believe we can improve on that and get better.“And, the big thing is the lads believe that themselves and we will be looking to do that on Friday.“We have played two top teams. Cas have been running hot and Wigan is always a big game. The last thing we need to do now is drop our intensity because of the position Widnes are in.“We have to get our approach right as they are a dangerous team. We can’t drop our standards and if we maintain that then hopefully we can come away with a win.”Saints do not expect anyone to return this Friday, with Jonny Lomax, James Roby, Ryan Morgan and Jack Ashworth all side-lined.Kyle Amor will be named in the squad too but his availability may change depending on tonight’s RFL Disciplinary hearing.He has been handed a Grade B charge of High Tackle – Careless – initial contact with ball/chest – following his sending off against Wigan on Good Friday.Derek continued: “We are aiming to carry on in the same vein but we can’t fall in love with ourselves because we have tried hard for two games and come up with two decent performances.“Our philosophy is every time you pull a Saints shirt on you give your ultimate effort, so you aren’t going to get praise for putting effort in. It’s skill, intensity, brains and game sense we want to improve on.”Derek is part of the three-man coaching team that is in ‘caretaker charge’ of the Saints until a full time coach is appointed.He is splitting his time with his role as head coach of the under 19s and is enjoying the challenge so far.“The players have been great with me as have Sean Long and Jamahl Lolesi,” continued. “I started here as a volunteer at under 11s in 1995 and I never dreamt of being at this level.“My aim is to make the best of it, do the best I can and learn as much as I can. I will give my best for this club.”Tickets for the game, which kicks off at 8pm at the Select Security Stadium are on sale from the Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium, by calling 01744 455 052 or online here.There are advanced ticket prices for Members – and Saints get 25 per cent of the ticket price if you buy direct from us.last_img read more

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Teacher of the Week Kristen Allen

first_img Her first grade class studies hard, but also enjoys dancing and learning about things which are not in books.  “Kindness, independence and caring,” Allen says, “is just as important as the curriculum.”Allen admits she struggled in school herself and was told she wouldn’t accomplish her goals by a guidance counselor.  “I wanted to prove him wrong,” she says, “I love nothing more than hitting goals!”She is inspired by her hard work to become a teacher and pushes her students to know they too can accomplish anything they want in the world.Related Article: NC schools receive $2M federal grant for hurricane recoveryAs a special lesson for Black History Month her class is studying the words of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass, the namesake of the school. “He said if you can read forever, you will be free forever.  I strongly believe in that quote,” she says, “and I think my children believe in it too.”As the WWAY Michael and Son Teacher of the week she advises all students, everywhere to work hard and learn as much as possible.  She says with education and hard work “anyone can be anything they want to be.”You can nominate your favorite teacher for the WWAY Michael and Son Teacher of the week by clicking here. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Kristen Allen wants nothing more than to see the smile on children’s faces every at Douglass Academy in Wilmington.She says “those faces, those hugs are changing the world.”  Being a teacher is something she uses to make the world a better place.- Advertisement – last_img read more

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Churches raise money to cover Florence damage costs

first_imgChurches fund raise to pay for Florence damage repairs (Photo: Kate Cornell) HAMPSTEAD, NC (WWAY) — Churches are working together to raise money to cover Florence damages that still need to be taken care of in Hampstead.After Hampstead United Methodist Church took a beating, Blair Road United Methodist Church in Mint Hill decided to put together a picnic and turned into a fundraiser.- Advertisement – Feeling so humbled by the gesture, the congregation decided to invite St. John’s Church of Christ as well, who also suffered from Florence.Pastors at both of the Hampstead Churches are looking forward to this new faithful friendship.“It’s the very beginning on the relationship” Pastor Skip Williams at Hampstead United Methodist said. “St. John’s and Hampstead Methodist are already talking about things we can do together.”Related Article: Hurricane recovery round table gives residents access to more help post-Florence“I’ve traveled,” Pastor Shawn Hicks at St. John’s said. “I’ve never seen churches such as Blair Road United Methodist and Hampstead United Methodist and St. John’s different backgrounds different cultures denominations break all of that down come together for one cause.”If you would like to make a contribution, you can do so via Cash App $SaintJohnsHampstead.last_img read more

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Man accused of damaging multiple cars

first_imgDustin Ryan Massey (Photo: BCSO) CALABASH, NC (WWAY) — An Iredell County man is accused of vandalizing several cars in the Calabash area.The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office has issued multiple summonses for Dustin Ryan Massey, 37, for injury to personal property. According to the documents, Massey is accused of damaging six vehicles Tuesday.last_img

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