Most people assume that getting a job is the way out of poverty. And, for many people it is. But figures from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reveal that one in eight workers were living on less than 60% of the national average income prior to the current increases in the cost of living. 

According to the ONS the average income is around £30,500 per year, so anybody on less than around £18,000 (about £350 a week) a year is going to be struggling. National Insurance rises, plus fuel and food increases are putting people under a great strain, which is why  the Big Power Off is so important to bring the voices of those affected from out of the margins.

Dennis Queen is from Manchester and is (occasionally) self-employed.

This is Dennis’s story:

Mrs Queen works full time, to support 5 of us, as our 17 year old twins are home educated. We have a, now adult, disabled child of ours living with us too. I’m a disability rights activist in Manchester Disabled People Against Cuts, the reactivated DAN – Disabled People’s Direct Action Network, Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, Manchester Disabled People’s Access Group, and Not Dead Yet UK.

Disabled people were one of the marginalised groups of people who the last two years have also been hit badly, as well as people of colour – and if you’re multiply marginalised, then maybe all of the above are happening.

In the last two years 97,000 disabled people died of Covid, and roughly another 100,000 excess deaths happened . The main common factor was people living in institutions that generate private profit. @DAN_Disabled DAN has approached government with ideas to solve this continuing problem. They are disinterested – because people who profit from our incarceration’s money speaks louder than we do. We’ve been fighting to free our people since the 1970s.

On Sunday we’ll be switching off everything we can at the socket; only using electric light when essential (eg cleaning up incontinence!) – lots of candles; only using other electricity when essential (eg. Mrs Queen works from home); microwaving our dinner and eating cold the rest of our meals.

Our kids are joining in by: having the PCs off for the day; having (cold) picnic lunch at the park; having (board only) GAMING NIGHT, by candlelight, with cold drinks and snacks. 

All protests move us forward in one way or another. The only rubbish protest is doing nothing and moaning about it instead .  I think hitting energy companies in the pocket is the only way to get their attention. We’ve tried asking nicely. 

I don’t think the political parties are going to save us. The ‘opposition’ leader is a eugenicist, not someone who will emancipate disabled people. (He created backdoor routes to assisted suicide as Director for Public Prosecutions when it was voted out – this will not be forgotten). Just like Starmer, we need to create the future we want to see regardless of parties running things. 

It’s been getting worse since 2010 and our government wants to continue their tradition of enacting a real cull. If we keep fighting then that’s our best chance of interrupting the trend.  

Everyone can join in as much or as little as they can with the #BigPowerOff – lots of disabled people will have essential needs met via electricity, so only join in as much or as little as you can.  For example I won’t be clearing up ‘accidents’ in the dark.

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