By Raya Al JadirThe only wheelchair-user to secure accreditation as a nightclub bouncer is fighting “discriminatory” new rules that have led to the loss of his licence, just as he is being recognised for three decades of community service.John Young is to be presented later this month with a British Citizen Award (BCA) – which recognises “individuals doing extraordinary things in the local community” – only weeks after being told he had lost his (pictured (SIA) licence because of new regulations.He had held his licence for six years, but it was downgraded in December because new rules state that a door supervisor must be able to escort a person up and down a flight of stairs and, if necessary, be able to restrain a customer.Although he has some martial arts training – has a blue belt in karate – he is unable to “sit on somebody”, as he says he would need to be able to do under the new rules, because of how long it would take to get out of his wheelchair safely.As a result, he can now work at retail locations such as Primark or Marks and Spencer, but not at licensed venues such as bars and nightclubs.SIA has told Young (pictured) it is looking at whether it will be able to make reasonable adjustments for him and other disabled people, but that any changes to its licensing rules are unlikely to be introduced until early 2017, because they would need to be approved by the home secretary.Even if that happens, he will have to complete another course – costing £240 – and resit his exams later in 2017 before he can resume his career.He said: “If a black or Asian or gay person can do the job, why can’t a disabled person? If you are not discriminating against others, why the disabled?”He said that “if SIA had their way then no disabled person would be able to apply for the licence in the future.“Given the right opportunity and reasonable adjustments being made, we can contribute to the economy.”He said his fight against SIA had been a “one-man crusade”, although he praised the support of his Conservative MP, Richard Harrington, and the Hertfordshire council-funded employment agency Work Solutions.An SIA spokesman said the organisation did not comment on individual cases, but was “committed to tackling equality and diversity issues”.He said: “Following a number of deaths and injuries involving physical intervention by door supervisors, we were directed by the Home Office to require all door supervision licence holders to obtain a top-up qualification on physical intervention when they renewed their licence in order to ensure public safety. “Those not wishing to take the top-up training are eligible instead to renew their licence as a security guard.” He said the top-up qualification “includes escorting and disengagement skills”, and added: “We understand that some door supervisors may not be able to complete the training that leads to the top-up qualification. “We are fully considering what steps can reasonably be taken to avoid the disadvantaging of disabled people, while at the same time ensuring the safety of members of the public.“Any proposals regarding amendments to our licensing criteria for disabled people would be subject to a consultation.”A Home Office spokesman said the department did not think there was anything it could add to the SIA statement.Young had wanted to join the armed forces as a child but was unable to do so because of his impairment.He decided instead to join the security industry, as it was “a way of serving the country and making it secure in some way”.He said: “I thought there are so many disabled people who spend huge amounts of money in pubs and nightclubs… so why not apply to security jobs and show people that disabled people like me can do the job.”He qualified after attending a college in Hertfordshire in 2009, where the only adjustment he needed was a scribe to write his answers for him, with his exam held in private with his own invigilator.Young, who also works as a disability awareness trainer, has been a member of the charity Bushey and Watford Physically Handicapped and Able Bodied (PHAB) since the age of 17, nearly 30 years ago.As a former chair of the club, which takes its members on activities such as bowling and rock-climbing, he has worked to improve access within the community and to promote PHAB’s work, as well as improving the outlook of young disabled people.He has also qualified as a disability athletics coach, and runs coaching sessions in the community.Young will be one of 33 recipients of a BCA medal of honour at a ceremony in the Houses of Parliament next week.He said he was “elated” to be recognised with a British Citizen Award, and added: “It is a good thing to be recognised, but I don’t do it for the applause, I do it because it is something that needs doing for the good of the disabled community.”He said: “I do what I can do; I know that if my work will help me that it will also help many other disabled people.“My voice is not just my own, but it is for the disabled community. For me, it is about keeping disabled issues and disabled rights in the public domain and in the public interest.”He added: “Sometimes I feel like a third-class citizen when it comes to goods and services, and in 2016 you should not feel like that.”
The decision of some disability charities to sign contracts that prevent them criticising the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is proof that they cannot be trusted to speak up on behalf of disabled people, according to grassroots activists.Last week, Disability News Service (DNS) reported that – in exchange for lucrative government contracts under the Work and Health Programme – some organisations have promised to “pay the utmost regard to the standing and reputation” of work and pensions secretary Esther McVey (pictured).They have also promised in the contracts that they will never to do anything that harms the public’s confidence in McVey or her department.So far, Shaw Trust, Leonard Cheshire Disability and RNIB have confirmed that they have signed contracts – either with DWP or with one of the five main Work and Health Programme contractors – that include clauses that prevent them bringing DWP and McVey into disrepute.Shaw Trust is itself one of the five main contractors and has signed up to DWP’s contract and its “publicity, media and official enquiries” clause.RNIB has signed agreements as a subcontractor with Shaw Trust that say that it must have “regard to the standing and reputation” of DWP, do nothing to bring McVey and her department into disrepute in delivering those contracts, and must not “attract adverse publicity” to them.But it is unclear whether the wider clause agreed by Shaw Trust and the other main contractors – which applies to all their “affiliates” – also applies to all their sub-contractors, including RNIB.Leonard Cheshire said this week that its involvement in the programme was “extremely limited” and restricted to providing support in two London boroughs, but admitted that there was “a clause in our contact with Ingeus related to actions that brings Ingeus/DWP into disrepute”.It insisted that the clause “would not affect what we say publicly on issues related to the DWP or wider campaigning” and that it had no other contracts with similar clauses.It has so far declined to share the clause with DNS.Other disability charities that appear to have agreed to act as key providers of services under the Work and Health Programme, such as Action on Hearing Loss and the Royal Association for Deaf People*, have refused to answer questions about the contracts and clauses they might have signed up to.Another, Turning Point, said that it had “in principle partnership agreements with a number of organisations delivering the programme to provide specialist support when and if needed” but had “not been presented with nor asked to comply with such a clause”.By noon today (Thursday), Turning Point had failed to say if it expected to sign contracts at some point, which contractors it had agreements with, and whether it was concerned about the presence of the clause in contracts signed by the main Work and Health Programme contractors.Other charities mentioned in the contract documents, including Mind, Rethink and Carers UK, made it clear this week that they had not signed any Work and Health Programme contracts.But a spokesperson for the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance – a network of disabled people and their organisations across England, whose members include Sisters of Frida, Equal Lives, Inclusion London and Disabled People Against Cuts – said the clauses were “further proof that disabled people cannot trust the charities to speak up for our best interests and that they put their financial interests ahead of the people they purport to represent.“Since 2010 the charities have consistently let themselves be used as cover by the government while they have continued to systematically dismantle our rights.“They have failed to speak out in any way that is appropriate given the severity of the situation we are facing.“Disabled people have many criticisms of the Work and Health Programme and the dangerous policies associated with it.“We can now add to that list that it is being used as a tool to buy silence.”There are major concerns about the Work and Health Programme, which is part of the government’s much-criticised Improving Lives work, health and disability strategy, with its “cruel and disastrous” emphasis on “work as a cure”, the placement of employment advisers in health services, and the continued use of benefit sanctions to “punish” disabled claimants.In the wake of last week’s report, DNS was contacted by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), both of which were keen to examine the clauses.But the Disability Benefits Consortium, whose 80-plus members include Action on Hearing Loss, Leonard Cheshire, and RNIB, and which often speaks out on DWP issues, failed to raise any concerns.Its co-chairs refused to say this week if they were concerned that the clauses could harm the ability of the consortium or its members to criticise the government.Laura Wetherly and Phil Reynolds, DBC’s co-chairs, insisted that the consortium was “independent” and does “not hesitate to call for change when it is needed”, and that the coalition itself “is not signed up to these clauses”.They added: “The DBC cannot speak for or comment on behalf of individual members.”When asked whether they and the consortium were concerned about the clauses, they refused to comment.Kristiana Wrixon, head of policy at ACEVO, said she had been concerned to read the DNS report, and said that her organisation was now seeking clarification on the purpose of the media clause from DWP.She said the clause in the contracts signed by the main providers was “ambiguous and therefore open to wide interpretation”.She said: “The Department for Work and Pensions should clarify the purpose of the clause and publicly reassure those involved in the delivery of the programme that it is not meant to restrict campaigning and advocacy activity.”NCVO refused to say if it was concerned about the clause but said that it would be talking with its members “about how they’re working with the clause”.*An earlier version of this story said that Down’s Syndrome Association had refused to answer questions from DNS. This was not correct. The charity did not receive two emails containing questions about the Work and Health Programme, due to a mistake made by DNS. The charity has made it clear that it does not have formal links with the DWP and has not been asked to sign any Work and Health Programme contracts. Apologies for the error.
NATHAN Brown is expecting a tough forward battle when Saints lock horns with Catalan Dragons this Thursday.The two sides meet for the third time this season in a ‘winner takes all’ clash at Langtree Park; the prize a trip to Old Trafford next Saturday.“The battle will be won in the pack,” Brown said. “We have taken a lot of pride in what our middle blokes have done this season and we will need them to be as good again.“Catalan have done a great job and have beaten three of the top six sides in their last three matches. That shows what a good side they are.“You don’t get to this stage of the season if your roster isn’t good.“They have hung on in there and got two victories to come into this semi-final. They will come here feeling confident.”Saints progressed into the semi-finals courtesy of a 41-0 win over Castleford.Whilst that scoreline was obviously emphatic and impressive, it was more down to solid tackling and never say die defence.“Good defence is important, if you don’t do it well you put pressure on your attack and vice versa,” he continued. “We will need to do as well as we did in the Castleford match if we are to give ourselves the best chance.“We know what works for us and we have to do that well. We also know what doesn’t work for us, so it’s important not to do that. We need compete well and work hard.“We have had a week off and got through a good bit of training. We planned a week that has worked before when we have had a few games off. We have generally come off periods like that with a good performance and we feel it has been a productive week.”Tickets for the match remain on sale from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on here.