In 1992 hundreds of disabled people gathered outside London Weekend Television to protest against the Telethon fundraiser. This was one of a number of actions by disabled people against charity fundraising, including two protests in Leeds outside the BBC’s Children in Need in 1990 and 1992.
Following Block Telethon, DAN, the disabled people’s direct action network, was formed.
Here’s an excerpt from the Block Telethon statement.
What we are against
Disabled people oppose charity because:
- They do not have or seek disabled people’s permission for their activities, nor do they believe it is necessary to obtain it.
- They are not controlled or run by disabled people, nor are they accountable to disabled people.
- They claim to represent the aspirations of disabled people and yet they have no accountability. No charity employs its legal 3% quota of disabled people [NB employment quotas have since been abolished].
- They say that the problems disabled people face are due to our medical conditions, rather than the attitudes of the non-disabled world and the denial of our civil rights.
- Charities divide disabled people into medical groups, which threatens the unity needed between disabled people in their struggle for civil rights.
- Charities fundraise to provide items like the odd wheelchair, computer or holiday for a small number of disabled people. Therefore ignoring the fact that most disabled people still live below the poverty line. Charities never deal with this harsh reality. Charities do not and cannot have an analysis of why disabled people need them – if indeed we do.
- Charities portray disabled people as passive, tragic people who are longing to be “able-bodied”. They implant fear of disability into non-disabled people and they often portray us as not being able to make our own choices and as being perpetual children.
- Charities maintain rather than oppose segregated provision in transport, education, housing, leisure, employment and all aspects of our lives.
- Charities do not and cannot acknowledge disability as a political issue.
There’s a great write-up of Block Telethon by Barbara Lisicki here.