John Walker: My speech at the Access to Work march (BSL)

Posted on October 6, 2015

A couple of Saturdays ago, I thought to attend the Stop Changes to Access to Work march. I felt it was important to challenge the Government on the track record with AtW.

I was honoured to be asked to be the MC and convene the speeches but I also felt responsible to be quite clear about why we were here and what this march is about. So, here is the speech I made:

To watch the speech in BSL, click play below, or scroll down to read it in English:


This is a government that likes to cut. These cuts are not about budgets or the economy, they are about ideology: the Tory belief in a small government, low tax, and low levels of welfare support.

This ideology creates an unfair society: a world of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.

Today, we are here to defend the best scheme ever created: Access to Work. It allowed disabled people to dream and work in places they never thought they could. We entered new professions and climbed the ranks.

Access to Work gave us equipment, transport, assistance and sign language interpreters – it enable deaf and disabled people to become socially mobile, climb out of poverty, earn good money and be successful.

Sayce report said that for every £1 spent, the Treasury receives £1.48 back. Access to Work is good for deaf and disabled people, good for the Treasury and good for the economy. So why are there changes?

Why is there a cap on how much support we can receive? Why are there constant reviews of support? Why are we constantly being asked to find cuts?

Why are new business ideas turned down when a freelancer wants to try something new? Non-disabled people can invest in their ideas without approval and yet we need to be rubber stamped by our government.

This is not about budgets any more; it is about ideology. It is a constant barrage of ideas about ‘don’t succeed’, ‘don’t escape from poverty’ and ‘don’t dream’.

What is life without the ability to dream, to hope, to change the world we live in? Martin Luther King, a leader of the movement for racial equality, had a ‘dream’ once; why can’t we.

It is a dream about equality in the workplace, in the economy and in society.

Our Government would prefer us to stay as ‘sandwich makers’ (we don’t have enough apparently) – there is nothing wrong with being a sandwich maker but to force us into a type of employment with less needs to access the workplace is debilitating. It is soul destroying.

This world should not cater for only non-disabled people, but for all of us. That wonderful scheme, Access to Work, has allowed us to find our place in the world, and this government wants to clip us back. Their actions, now under investigation by the UN, is disgusting and against the UN convention.

Stop Changes to Access to Work.

By John Walker. Follow him on twitter as @chereme

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