A disabled activist who was left “humiliated and violated” by the actions of a high-profile journalist who mocked a “safe space” used by disabled people at last week’s Labour conference has praised the decision to ban her from next year’s event.TalkRADIO presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer has been told by the Labour party that she will not be welcome at next year’s party conference, following “multiple complaints” about her behaviour.Hartley-Brewer posted a video on social media (pictured) in which she could be seen sitting in the safe space – which was put aside for disabled people and others who needed a quiet area for impairment-related and other reasons – and then saying “boo” as a colleague with a camera enters the room.A sign on the door makes it clear that there is a serious purpose to the safe space, referring to “urgent medical treatment”, the party’s “safeguarding unit” and “safety or welfare” concerns, while information about the room was included in the accessibility information pages of the main conference guide.Hartley-Brewer argued that the sign did not make it clear that the room was “meant for people with autism and other disabilities” and has refused to apologise.This week she was still describing the room as “absurd”, even after being told repeatedly that it had been used by disabled people for impairment-related reasons, including by autistic people and those with anxiety.Rebecca*, the disabled Labour activist whose complaint led to Labour investigating Hartley-Brewer’s actions, told Disability News Service (DNS) that the decision to ban the journalist was “entirely appropriate”.She said: “I think it was quite clear she was going there with intent to cause distress and to paint herself as some kind of martyr when she got the inevitable backlash.“She still hasn’t apologised, so she’s not sorry, so she doesn’t deserve to be at the conference.”She said she was “still angry” about Hartley-Brewer’s actions.She added: “What it showed me is just how ignorant people are around these issues, especially when it comes to mental health, and just how much work needs to be done to get it anywhere with a parity of esteem with physical disability.”Rebecca, who is autistic, said she believed this ignorance could be linked to the social security reforms of successive Conservative-led governments and the “narrative they have spun” about disabled people, and the impact of that on disability hate crime.She said: “I think she’s one of those people who doesn’t believe in mental health or anxiety. We’re just snowflakes [to her].“It’s the ‘might is right’ attitude. She’s just a bully. You can guarantee that she was a bully in school. She’s just a deeply unpleasant individual.”She added: “Someone said on Twitter, ‘If you can’t handle it, you shouldn’t go’. Do they want all autistic people to be shut up and locked away in an asylum somewhere?”Rebecca said that discriminatory attitudes like this were “disgusting” and “sad”.She said it was “really important” to explain why such spaces were necessary, and she said they probably should be staffed by accessibility stewards to avoid such actions at future events.She said that having the quiet room at the conference had allowed her to continue to attend the event. She said: “If I didn’t have that space I would have had a full-blown panic attack.”Such an attack can lead her to “physically seize up”, experience pins and needles in her hands, and temporarily lose the ability to speak.She said: “I’ve been picked up by ambulances [because of] the way I collapse.“If I hadn’t had that space I would probably have collapsed and possibly been taken in an ambulance or I might have taken myself back to the hotel, but I might not have been safe.“If I hadn’t had that space I think I would have been in real trouble that day.”A Labour spokeswoman said: “We pride ourselves on high standards of inclusivity and we do not tolerate abuse or discrimination.“We received multiple complaints about Julia Hartley-Brewer’s behaviour during conference, including from Disability Labour, and she caused considerable distress to vulnerable groups, including to delegates with conditions including Asperger’s, autism and anxiety disorders.“We reserve the right to decide who we accredit for our events. Julia Hartley-Brewer had no right to use our conference facilities to mock disabled people, so she will not be welcome next year.”Hartley-Brewer said on Twitter that the decision to ban a journalist for making what she said was a “joke” about Labour’s “absurd #SafeSpace” was “ridiculous and sinister”.TalkRADIO refused to comment on the incident or on Labour’s ban but instead directed DNS to a tweet sent out by Hartley-Brewer last week.In that tweet, she refused to apologise, although she said: “I’m told that this ‘safe space’ at Labour conference is meant for people with autism and other disabilities. The sign doesn’t say that.“For the avoidance of doubt, there was no intention to upset disabled people, but every intention to upset snowflakes. Hope that clarifies.”*Not her real name 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…
FOLLOWING enquiries from many disabled spectators Saints have re-visited the disabled car parking policy at Widnes.Spaces are still limited but the policy now will be:There are eight spaces on the Main Car Park, the car park steward will have eight passes for each game and as people arrive the passes will be handed out to people who are in wheelchairs and people who cannot walk more than a few yards unaided ONLY.This is on a first come first served basis.In addition, there are facilities at the rear of the East Stand for disabled parking. There are 12spaces, and an additional three which are reserved for the Community Transport Buses. The same criteria apply and is on a first come first served basis.The East Stand is accessed via Naughton Road which is off Cameron Road.
SAINTS collar sponsors, OD’s Designer Clothing, have been shortlisted in this year’s Drapers Independent Awards.They have been nominated for four gongs in the magazine’s annual awards – menswear independent of the year, best store design, premium fashion independent of the year and young fashion independent of the year.Store owner Chris O’Dea said: “It is great to be nominated but I am more pleased for the staff as it is great recognition of their hard work and the hours they put in too.“The nominations show there is a thriving independent store in St Helens and an outlet that attracts people from outside the area.“It would be great to win as it would show the independent sector in the town centre can thrive. It would be great recognition for the town too as the awards celebrate the best the country has to offer.“We have a world class rugby league team in St Helens and an award would show there is a world class shopping experience too.”OD’s have been partners of the Saints for a number of years and have been on both the home and away shirts for two seasons.They recently opened their menswear store in Barrow Street and have an outlet specialising in womenswear and children’s clothing on Cotham Street too.Their online store is also very popular and they offer discounts for Saints fans.Drapers Independent Awards take place on Thursday, November 7 at the Waldorf Hilton in London.Dave Hutchinson, Head of Sales and Marketing at Saints said: “It’s great that one of our partners has been recognised for their innovative approach to retail and store design.“Their new outlet in Barrow Street is cutting edge and is an example to all independent businesses in how hard work and dedication can reap rewards.“We wish them all the best in November when I’m sure they will do St Helens proud.” read more
For just £1 you can win A BIG CASH PRIZE, a framed signed squad list, or one of two photos signed by Saints number 10 Luke Thompson!To be in with a chance of winning simply seek out one of our sellers in their bright yellow t-shirts near the turnstiles or in the hospitality areas.At our match against London Broncos Mr. O’Toole from Eccleston won a Cash Prize of nearly £550.00!!!!!Another big cash prize is anticipated at half-time during the Hull KR match tonight so for just £1 per ticket you could be our next lucky winner.You have got to be in it to win it! Seek out a seller and join the Cash Dash!If you are a lucky winner please contact the Lottery Office on (01744) 455070.