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Posted on 29 August 2012 at 15:43 GMT

UK Uncut and Disabled People against Cuts protest against ATOS, the Paralympics Sponsors, in Hartshead Square, Sheffield, photo Alistair Tice

UK Uncut and Disabled People against Cuts protest against ATOS, the Paralympics Sponsors, in Hartshead Square, Sheffield, photo Alistair Tice   (Click to enlarge)

Sheffield's disabled join Paralympic protest

Disabled people in Sheffield put on a united front against the government's chosen Paralympics sponsor.

Protesters from the city's branches of UK Uncut, Disabled People Against Cuts and the Mental Health Action Group stormed the steps outside Hartshead Square Jobcentre Plus, home to Atos healthcare offices, ahead of the Paralympics launch today.

The event was one of 20 days of action which took place across the UK. They were organised to highlight the government's decision to make Atos - the firm tasked with carrying out work capability assessments for people with disabilities - the official sponsor of the games.

Thousands of people in Sheffield stand to be affected by the fit-for-work tests, with many already lodging appeals against cuts to the cash they receive.

David Kirkham, from UK Uncut in Sheffield, delivered an impassioned speech to crowds of disabled people, carers, families and campaigners at the protest dubbed the 'Atos closing ceremony'.

He said: "Atos is an unfit-for-work private sector company charged with stopping money and benefits for vulnerable and disabled people in this country.

"The Paralympics is about being the best you can be but the government and Atos are using that to point the finger at disabled people.

"The Paralympics is about being all you can be, not forced into a workplace which is not fit to have you.

"We have doctors who take a holistic approach to sickness and disability. Instead that is being replaced with a 15-minute box-checking test."

As if to prove the point of the protest, a woman came out of Atos' office and took the mic saying: "I've just walked out of my interview because they don't know what they're doing."

Pointing to her files of papers she said: "I've got letters here from my doctor and consultant from the last two years, yet Atos are trying to say I'm fit for work."

Alistair Tice

Swansea

Protesting against Atos in Swansea, 29.8.12, photo by Ben Golightly

Protesting against Atos in Swansea, 29.8.12, photo by Ben Golightly   (Click to enlarge)

Disabled people, family members and anti-cuts campaigners took a protest to the Atos assessment centre in Swansea today against the flawed and hated "work capability assessment" and disability cuts.

On a main road with banners reading "Cuts are Disabling: Fight Every Cut", "ATOS: Not fit for purpose", "Scrap these flawed tests", and "Stop privatisation of the DWP" we got lots of support from passers by, including a speaker from the Swansea Bay Racial Equality Council who spoke in support at the rally.

Ben Golightly

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