Emily Smith was instrumental in setting up the 38 degrees campaign to stop the discriminatory changes to Access to Work funding for Deaf people. As a joint sponsor she has been tirelessly pushing for more signatures to the campaign to bring issues the Deaf community face to ministers. She is a Registered BSL/English Interpreter working with the Deaf community. Emily provides an update below about the campaign.
In case you don’t know what all this is about, Access to Work (AtW) have decided to start to implement guidance, forcing Deaf people that use 30 hours or more AtW support, to employ a salaried interpreter. No flexibility. No choice. No control. There has been no consultation with deaf people or their employers or interpreters. It is unworkable, yet AtW haven’t taken this into account.
Why we set up the campaign?
There had been many unspoken discussions amongst us about what was happening with Access to Work. The odd look here, the odd tut there… Then one fateful Monday night, having spoken about the fact that no one seemed to be doing anything, it happened. We found ourselves on the 38 degrees website writing furiously. Within an hour we had a campaign!
What happened next was very unexpected. The campaign went live and up on Facebook at 6.30pm…. Later that night, we had 1,000 signatures… By the next day, we had 2,500! The little logo that we’d hastily created was all on everyone’s pages. The response was amazing and showed us that we were right in our thinking…. People were worried about this.
We have been asked why we didn’t go to the Deaf organisations about our concerns. The reason was time. We all had people we knew that were being affected, and their jobs were being placed at risk now. Organisations not only take a long time to get things done, they hadn’t been communicating with their own members about Access to Work even being a concern. We could do something immediately. If we were right about people being worried and feeling that they weren’t being represented, a campaign would show the people involved that something needed to be done. Quickly.
We are thrilled at the level of response. Already we’ve seen ministers talking as a direct result of the campaign, and deaf charities raising the issue.
Deaf organisations seem to have been spurred into action. If our campaign had any part in this, then that’s brilliant!
A letter will be winging its way to the two addressees of our petition; Sir Malcolm Bruce and Iain Duncan Smith, and we will of course keep everyone informed of their response. For the most important news, we will send emails to everyone that has signed up to the campaign. There are lots of other things going on too. Keep your eye on our website for the most recent updates: Stopchanges2AtW.wordpress.com, or like our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter (@emilysmith2007).
What can you do to help?
Numbers! We need more signatures!
The more people we can get to sign up to this, the more pressure this will put on organisations, AtW and Ministers to do something! Send emails to your friends, family and work colleagues, asking them to sign and share the petition. You can also email your local MP. There are template letters on our website. If you have been told to recruit an interpreter using your AtW resources let us know. We need your stories please share them with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.