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Please feel free to adapt to your particular situation/protest. But feel free to rifle from the main play and use whatever you find there.
1. THE ASSESSMENT. David Dear David Mary Mary Aletheia Aletheia All Please come to for your Work Capability Assessment to 10 Cheap Street on Thursday 6th at 11 am. David (ringing his mobile) You can get me an adjustable chair? Great. Otherwise I can’t sit through the interview… Mary I hope I’m up to it. Assessments worry me. Aletheia “You will see a qualified health care professional”… That’s good. They’ll see what I need. They walk across the stage. David peers at a doorway. David Is this it? The letters are very small. Aletheia The buzzer’s a bit of a stretch. Voice of Atos receptionist.
(bright and breezy) Atos Healthcare? Can I help you? David We’ve come for our appointments. Atos receptionist I’ll buzz you through. Aletheia Can you help me with the door, it’s a bit heavy? Atos receptionist. Follow me please? David Upstairs? Atos receptionist Is that a problem? David Have you got a lift? Atos receptionist No… I suppose we could use the ground floor suite. David That would help. Did you get my adjustable seat? Atos receptionist. (consults notes) Yes. This way folks. As she leads them across the stage and places them left, centre and right in front of three pillars (sideways on so the audience can see their faces). There is a computer screen on top of each pillar facing each claimant. The Atos assessors are behind the pillars and cannot be seen. Atos assessor1 (robotic voice)
Is your name David? David Yes. I think you’ve given me the wrong seat. .(he squirms in his chair. As the following dialogue goes on, he twists to the right) Atos assessor 1 Can you walk 500 yards? David On a good day, yes, but… Atos assessor 1 (presses a buzzer) 0 points Atos assessor 2 Is your name Mary? Mary That’s me Atos assessor 2 Are you hearing voices right now? Mary Not right now but… Atos assessor 2 Answer yes or no Mary No Atos assessor2 Presses buzzer 0 points (Mary begins to pace up and down clearly distressed as other conversations go on) Atos assessor 3 You must be Aletheia
Aletheia That’s right. Atos assessor 3 (rapidly robotic) So you have mildarthritismildepressionmildanxiety Aletheia No…wait…I have osteoarthritis which affects most of my body. Atos assessor3 You don’t look disabled to me (presses buzzer) 0 points. Atos assessor 1 Stand so I can examine your leg David (who by now is half off his seat) With pleasure. (He hobbles up on his crutches) Atos assessor 1 Unbend your leg David I can’t Atos assessor 1 Unbend your leg David It’s part of my condition. It locks like this sometimes Atos assessor 1 (presses buzzer) 0 points Atos assessor 2 You appear to be fit and well.
Mary I’ve just left hospital. Here are my discharge notes. Atos assessor 2 Irrelevant (Presses buzzer) 0 points Atos assessor 3 Bend towards your feet Aletheia (bending but struggling) It hurts, that’s as far as I can go. Atos assessor 3 Twiddle your toes. Aletheia What’s the point in that? I’m wearing shoes, you can’t see them not moving. Atos assessor 3 No evidence of significant physical disability. (Presses buzzer) 0 points. Congratulations you are fit to work. All three assessors burst out from behind the pillars and sing and dance around the claimants. The claimants sit with their heads in their hands.... Assessors Congratulations and celebrations I’d like to tell you you’re as healthy as can be Congratulations and jubilations I want the world to know that you are welfare free Who could believe that you’ve spent so long being on benefits When really we’d have been all better off if you were working But that was in the bad old days before I vet you And we won’t let you Do that again CHORUS
I’m sure that you’re afraid that you’re misrepresented But we look for your strengths instead of at impediments You’ll learn to love the fact that we have really freed you So you won’t need to Come back again CHORUS Meanwhile the claimants are in a state of despair,David and Aletheia are hobbled up, Mary is distressed they sing back. I ain’t got no points ain’t got no housing ain’t got no car ain’t got no job ain’t got no childcare ain’t got no food ain’t got no rent ain’t got no day out ain’t got no hols ain’t got no meds ain’t got no discounts ain’t got no parking ain’t got no carer ain’t got no cleaner ain’t got no pension ain’t got school dinners ain’t got no relief Ain’t got motability Ain’t got no life
2. THE FIT TO WORK RACE Enter International Paralympic Committee President. Atos PR shakes their hand and they walk to front of stage as if about to give a lecture. Atos PR Ladies and Gentleman. Thank you for coming today. I would like to introduce to you the President of the International Paralympic Committee. Atos has been a key technology provider for the Paralympic Movement since 2002 and became the official Worldwide Information Technology Partner for the IPC in 2008. Today we are delighted to announce our contract has been extended, continuing the longstanding relationship between our two organisations. IPC President. We know we can count on Atos. The company with the technology expertise as well as the knowledge of the Paralympic Movement, to help us redesign and update our website. Thank you Atos – for enabling us to meet and exceed the needs of sports fans in 2012. Atos PR We enable in all sorts of ways. On the international stage at the Paralympics, and on the individual stage of each person’s personal journey back to work. The spirit of the Paralympics, the spirit of Atos, go hand in hand, “To Enable people to Achieve Excellence and Inspire and Excite the World." And so to mark this moment. We are launching the London 2012 Inaugral Fit to Work Race. Commentator. A world class field is lining up in eager anticipation for the first ever Fit to Work Race. Just recovering from a suicide attempt, representing people with mental health issues we have the famous writer - Virginia Woolf. On behalf of cancer patients everywhere, our very own founder of the NHS – Nye Bevan. And for chronic ulceritis and Crohn’s Disease
former US President – Dwight Eisenhower Atos PR On your marks, get set, go… The contestants “run” in slow motion Commentator It is Woolf in the lead as they head to the workplace and the first hurdle. She’s making the leap with confidence…but… something’s bothering her. Wait. She’s got her hands over her ears… She’s stopped for a moment… Bevan hares past her. Eisenhower is coming up on his shoulder. Bevan’s over the first hurdle, Eisenhower close behind Woolf starts up again, but she’s lost touch with the leaders. Eisenhower gains on Bevan, as Woolf staggers to the first hurdle… Can she make it? No…she’s stopped again. Looks like the buzz of people is too much for her. Oh dear, she’s going the wrong way. Dizzy and disorientated, she’s gone back to the start. She’s out of it. … so it’s Eisenhower and Bevan neck and neck at the second hurdle Bevans’s over… but Eisenhower seems in pain…he’s clutching his stomach. What a time to have a flare up…He pulls himself up. He’s not going to give up that easily. He follows Bevan over the hurdle. That’s it Mr President, you can do it… …Eisenhower is moving up the field, looks like he’s managing to control his pain…Oh but I’m wrong. He’s doubled up, his face is contorted… he’ll not get up again now.
Still Bevan’s in it and he’s over the third. Three whole days at work. Well done sir. He’s coming to the fourth, but now he’s stopping. He’s stooping over. Oh dear, he’s throwing up… …can he pull himself together? He’s trying. He’s standing up straight, but it looks like all the energy has just drained from him. He’s got half the strength he had a the beginning. It’s no good, the chemo therapy is too much for him. He sits down by the track.He’s all done in. So that’s it. The race is over. No winners here. Atos PR It was a small sample… .the wrong test group… We’ll reconvene shortly 5. BONUS MATERIAL At Christmas time, these might come in handy for a spot of Atos Carol Singing… God Rest You Merry Gentlemen, let nothing ye dismay, For Atos your good saviour will take your pains away, And lead you down to Tesco To work till Christmas Day Oh Tidings of Comfort and Joy, Comfort and Joy Oh Tidings of Comfort and Joy. (with thanks to the Atos Miracles FB guys)
The First Nowell, Atos Healthcare did say To certain poor claimants in beds where they lay Their legs where they lay, too painful to sleep On a cold winter’s night that was so deep
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel You’ve done our assessment & now you are well Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel You’re fit for work now so go out and sell
Good King Atos he looked out On the feast of Stephen When the snow lay round about Deep and crisp and even Brightly shone the moon that night Though the frost was cruel When a poor man came in sight struggling with his fuel Page and monarch went upstairs Up they went together Ignoring claimant’s wild lament And the bitter weather "Sire, the stairs are too steep now I can go no longer."Hither, page, and stand by me If thou know'st it, telling Yonder claimant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?" "Sire, he lives a good league hence Underneath the mountain Right against the forest fence By Saint Agnes' fountain." "Bring my laptop, bring my pens Tell him to come hither Thou and I will question him When we bear him thither." Fails my heart, I know not how, I wish that I was stronger." "My laptop tells me different son. No points means you are fit now So go and get yourself a job Quick get on with it now” So the claimant left the house Too tired to make a protest Weak and ill and failing fast
he lay in the snow to rest Therefore, Christian men, be sure Wealth or rank possessing Ye who do not bless the poor Won’t yourselves find blessing
3. THE APPEALS Enter Atos Assessor stands on left, Tribunal Head in the middle, Department of Work and Pensions rep on the right. Claimants enter from the left. Claimant 1 I am sick and tired. Assessor Fit to Work (Puts a sticker on them) Claimant 1 moves across to Tribunal head
Claimant 1 I can barely walk. Tribunal Head Clearly unfit for work (takes sticker off) Claimant 1 Thank God for that. (walks past DWP decision maker) DWP Rep It’s time for your reassessment (Claimant 1 walks to the back of the queue) Repeat with Claimant 2, 3 or more(they can say other things – like “I’m hearing voices”/ “My sight’s deteriorating”) till you reach Claimant 1 again. Claimant 1 I am still sick and tired. Assessor Fit to Work (Puts a sticker on them) Claimant 1 moves across to Tribunal head Claimant 1 I walk even less. Tribunal Head Unfit for work (takes sticker off) Claimant 1 Thank You. (walks past DWP rep who hands out a letter) DWP Rep Time for your reassessment (Claimant 1 walks to the back of the queue) Repeat for Claimant 2 & 3 (who then leave the stage) Jo/e
What an earth is this costing us? Ian Dury £50 million a year to date. Enter Minister who walks up to the DWP rep. Jo/e That’s crazy. Maybe they can sort it out? . Minister We could suspend benefit while they are appealing. That should put a few off. DWP rep I’ve got a better idea. Minister Tell me about it. DWP rep I just need to make a phone call. DWP rep walks off and phones a number. So no need for the tribunal. Thanks very much. DWP rep switches off phone. There. All sorted. Claimant 1 walks towards Atos Assessor Claimant 1 I’m really sick and tired of this Atos Assessor Fit to Work (puts label on) Claimant 1 Here I go again.
Tribunal Head Your appeal’s been cancelled. Claimant 1 What? Tribunal Head We had a phone call. Claimant 1 Not from me. Tribunal Head We suggest you contact the DWP. Claimant 1 I need a new appeal DWP Rep Sorry – you’re out of time You’re fit to work. Follow the queue through the door. Claimant 1 stumbles off shaking their head. Minister Excellent work.
4.CALLED TO ACCOUNT Enter David, Alethia, Mary. They are dressed in togas. Once they are in place they put on Spasticus masks. All We the Spartaci call the Minister for Welfare, The Department for Work and Pensions and Atos HealthCare. Enter Minister, DWP, Atos reps. They stand in front of the claimants. David
Minister, your welfare reforms aren’t working. They’re hurting disabled people. Minister What we have in this country is more than two million people who have been on incapacity benefit for years and years. Effectively the system has said you’re on benefits for the rest of your life and I don’t think that’s good enough. David But my condition IS for life. If you want me to work, you need to provide me with the right supports… the right chair, time off when I’m sick. Aletheia (to DWP) Surely your Department can improve things? DWP Rep You’re being a bit negative, I feel. We want to focus on what people can do rather than what they cannot. The overarching principle of Employment and Support Allowance is that everyone should have the opportunity to work. That people with an illness or disability should get the help and support necessary for them to engage in appropriate work, if they are able. Aletheia Exactly – if we are able. But you force us to do what we cannot, and that stops us from doing what we can Mary (to Atos) Can you tell me why your assessments are so poor? Atos PR We are here to assess disabilities and levels for functioning. We give our medical opinion based on all the evidence in the report. We can only use the evidence we have. Mary
So why ignore the evidence I presented? I told you I was just out of hospital… David Minister – the Chief Executive of Mind resigned from your committee. He stated the work capability assessment was unfit for purpose and damaging to people with mental health needs. Isn’t it time to change? Minister I think you’ll find that I asked officials to request Paul Farmer step down after his charity became involved in legal action against the department. (smug) It's obviously not possible for someone involved in suing the department to also remain as an adviser to it. David I think you’ll find that Mr Farmer has stated that his organisation isn’t suing you, and he resigned of his own accord. A slightly different story. Alethiea (to DWP) You recently claimed 75% of ESA claimants are fit for work. So the media could claim we’re all skivers and scroungers. But, we know nearly 40% of us appeal. And your own report has shown about 36% of claimants withdraw before making a claim because they get better. DWP Rep We merely released the figures. We can’t be responsible for the conclusions of others. Alethiea People are more honest then you’d think. Why not do a press release about that?
Mary According to the Daily Mirror, 1,100 people you found fit to do work related activity died between January and August 2011. That’s 32 people a week. Atos Kills doesn’t it? Atos Rep I suggest you retract that comment. It’s libellous. Our assessments didn’t kill them, they would have probably died anyway. Mary So why did you find them fit for work related activity? Minister/Atos/DWP The body of evidence suggests people are better off in work. The Spartaci The bodies of experience suggest otherwise. Minister, Atos, DWP If you’d only work with us – you’ll reap the benefit: better financial prospects, well being, better health. The Spartaci It will be the death of us. Minister That’s a little histrionic. DWP A misrepresentaton of the facts. Atos Extremely slanderous.
David, Alicia, Mary consult in a huddle. David We have reached a verdict Mary We find all three parties guilty. Minister/DWP/Atos Of what? Aletheia Failure to promote the welfare of sick and disabled people. Minister Ridiculous – we put people at the heart of our policies. DWP You are being somewhat selective with your facts, we feel. Atos We’re consulting our lawyers. David Go ahead. We will fight you in court. Mary On your doorstep. Aletheia In the media. Spartaci We are Spartacus. We are everywhere. Alone we whisper - together we roar. And you know what? Sing We ain’t going to stand for it. We ain’t gonna stand for it. no, no, no
(wag fingers at DWP/Atos/Minister who slink off stage) We ain’t gonna stand for it Mash into We’re gonna get up, stand up, Stand up for our rights. Get up, stand up. We won’t give up the fight.
Sources: Atos statements based on the following: http://www.atoshealthcare.com/ http://www.atoshealthcare.com/index.php? option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=23&Itemid=294&Itemid=294 http://www.atoshealthcare.com/index.php? option=com_content&task=view&id=68&Itemid=428 http://www.atoshealthcare.com/index.php? option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=11&Itemid=287 http://issuu.com/atosvictims/docs/legal_letter_from_atos?mode=a_p Minister and Atos statements based on interviews given in: BBC Radio 4 “Can you touch your toes” Broadcast on 20th December 2011. Prime Minister/Minister/DWP statements based on: http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/106689 http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2002/jun/10/socialexclusion.politics1 http://www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/ministers-speeches/2010/27-05-10.shtml http://www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/press-releases/2012/apr-2012/dwp04212.shtml http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/Governance/article/1125771/mind-rebuts-dwpversion-resignation-row/ Benefit claimant’s stories
We are extremely grateful to the many claimants who told us their stories and allowed us to share them. Although we didn’t use every single detail, there were many common experiences that have informed this play. Because each person is in a unique position and we do not want to jeopardize their situations, we are providing first names only: David, Aletheia, Mary, Tim, Kate, Yvonne, Adam, Nelson, Elizabeth, Sam,Vincent, Adam, Pussycat
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