Demonstrators staged a large rally in Birmingham city centre in protest against welfare cuts for disabled people.
Hundreds of people gathered in Victoria Square on Saturday in support of the Hardest Hit campaign, organised by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) and the UK Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC).
Speakers representing various disabled groups and carers highlighted cuts to local services and follow the Hardest Hit rally in May, held in protest against the Government’s Welfare Reforms, currently being steered through Parliament.
More than 5,000 people took park in demonstrations across the UK.
Speakers in Birmingham included 26-year old Sarah Rennie from Birmingham, who has the degenerative muscle weakening condition spinal muscular atrophy and Paul Kelly, whose 28-year old son has cerebral palsy.
Wheelchair user Sarah, who set up a disability and access consultancy company in the city centre to support organisations under the Equality Act 2010, said: “I am able to work but I rely on by Disability Living Allowance to facilitate my independence, to protect my health and it means my community can benefit from me.
“Disabled people are valuable to Birmingham, we have a value to the community and to businesses in the city. If we are not around spending money on goods and services businesses will suffer.”
Mr Kelly, from Sutton Coldfield, said: “It’s really frightening, if you start to take the benefits away from people it will put them on the poverty track.”
Regional campaign organiser Rebecca Swift said that many people are living in fear of cuts to benefits including the Disability Living Allowance and the Employment and Support Allowance.
Several members of the Birmingham branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society attended the rally.
Ruth Hinks, aged 39, from Hollywood, in Birmingham, was diagnosed with MS when she was 24.
The mother-of-two said: “People are worried that their benefits will be cut and they are frightened about their future especially if their condition is changing all the time. We just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Speeches were also made by Birmingham mayoral candidate Sion Simon and Erdington Labour MP Jack Dromey (Lab). Both called on the crowd to continue lobbying their local councillors and MPs.
Sutton Coldfield Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell and Birmingham Yardley MP John Hemming did not attend the rally but sent statements to be read out.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "The current benefit system is not always reaching those who need it most, which is why we will be introducing the new personal independence payment to ensure people get the right levels of support.”
It was a day of demonstrations in the city centre on Saturday with the same location occupied by anti-capitalist protesters who have been camping in the shadow of Birmingham Town Hall since last Saturday.
Thirteen tents have been pitched in the square by people protesting against “corporate greed” and the world financial crisis.
Protesters said they would stay as long as it took to bring about change. They are in discussions with the police about moving to another location.