This conference was the result of a collaboration between My Barnsley Too, South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust, 360 Engagement and Berneslai Homes. My Barnsley Too is a disability equality forum, which provides a support network and an opportunity for disabled people to get active on promoting the rights of disabled people. If you would like to become a member of My Barnsley Too, please contact email@example.com or visit our website: http://www.360engagement.co.uk/page3.php .
The aim of the conference was to present and gather evidence of the impact of welfare reform on people with disabilities.
Over 100 people attended the conference held at the Civic, including disabled residents and carers and service providers. Sir Steve Houghton, Leader of Barnsley Council, spoke about their commitment to minimise the impact of cuts they have to make over the next three years, but that it was going to be very challenging. The Council has had to save £16.5 million this year alone and faces even greater cuts to their budget over the next two years. He said that they know they need to keep talking to people and engaging with residents about changes to Council services, and this was particularly important for disabled people and carers.
Marie Tidball gave an outstanding keynote speech, providing an overview of national policy and a wave of evidence to show the impact that welfare reform and austerity is having on disabled people. This includes an increase in stigma and discrimination. Marie also spoke about creative solutions to help minimise this impact and also to empower people to challenge decisions. A copy of her presentation and biography can be found here: (click here for presentation) & (Click here for biography) .
Julian Horsler from Barnsley Council presented local and regional evidence of impact in terms of: welfare reform, changes to services and actual impact experienced by service users and service providers. Julian also highlighted the negative media image of ‘benefit scroungers’ which are vastly out of proportion to the facts.
A list of all the evidence referred to can be found here: (Click here).
A moving film was telling the stories of local disabled people, produced by the Wayne Sables Project. You can watch the film by following this link: https://mega.co.nz/#!YtkVFbaC!JUVmhBS09EZIDwIq9x9svRTGF_lCJbrNSV31R_KaoDA
Workshops were held to gather further evidence from conference delegates, all of which will be collated and included in a report that will be presented to the Council’s Scrutiny Panel and shared with the Health and Wellbeing Board.
A series of workshops were presented in the afternoon to provide people with information and resources including advice on benefits and budgeting, getting online, access to work and health and wellbeing.
If you need advice about changes to your benefits you can call the welfare reform helpline:01226 787897 or download this leaflet: https://www.barnsley.gov.uk/media/3019391/welfare_reform_leaflet.pdf.