Nelson man’s fight for rights of disabled

PETITION PLEA: Wayne Blackburn is fighting for the human rights of sick and disabled people (S)
PETITION PLEA: Wayne Blackburn is fighting for the human rights of sick and disabled people (S)

A Nelson man suffering with a form of cerebral palsy is urging Pendle residents to help fight for the human rights of sick and disabled people.

Wayne Blackburn (37), of Brunswick Street, is part of a nationwide steering group backing comedian Francesca Martinez with a “Wow” petition.

The aim is to gather 100,000 signatures by December 12th to spark a government debate calling for a Cumulative Impact Assessment of Welfare Reform, and a New Deal for sick and disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions.

Over the course of a year, over 75,000 signatures have already been collected.

Mr Blackburn, who used to work in retail, was born with spastic diplegia, and also has complex regional pain syndrome. Now, in a final drive to gather more support, he has shared how he has been personally affected by government cuts and changes to Housing Benefit.

He said: “We want to try to make people realise just how bad it is at the moment.

“I have been off work for four years with a worsening condition, and have been affected by bedroom tax quite badly.

“I was moved from a two-bedroom bungalow to a one-bedroom flat in July, and was one of the lucky ones.

“I became a member of the Labour Party six weeks ago, as Ed Miliband has pledged to repeal bedroom tax in 2015 if he gets in power.”

Mr Blackburn stated how it is not just bedroom tax that is causing “misery”, but other issues including changes to Disability Living Allowance, changes to Council Tax Support and the rise in the cost of living.

He added the discredited tick box assessments of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), administered by Atos Healthcare on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, is continuing to cause hardship for thousands nationwide.

He said: “The cuts are having such an affect on people. I was speaking with one gentleman from Manchester who has been left with less than £5 a week for food, which is ridiculous. There have been suicides as well.”

To sign the “Wow” petition or for more information visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43154