Today I assessed & sectioned the DWP head office, Caxton House, Tothill Street, Westminster, London – dressed in a doctor’s coat, armed with a large prescription for compassion, with friends. I checked if the DWP has a heartbeat and couldn’t find one.
I then prescribed the DWP a prescription with a heart on it, printed on a large poster. I declared the DWP a danger to itself and others, and with the help of other protestors, held hazard tape across the front of the building. They didn’t take it so we sectioned them for being a danger by taping off their entrances.
I am making a film about the socioeconomic impact on mental health. Through mischievous, subverted and passionate protest, I aim to highlight that government benefit administration is contributing to people’s mental illness and even deaths.
Joining me was mother and campaigner Joy Dove, whose daughter Jodey Whiting committed suicide after serious failings, since admitted by the DWP, in prematurely stopping her benefits. Joy is currently waiting for the attorney general to seek a second inquest into her daughter Jodey’s death.
I was subverting the usual questions claimants are asked at Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments such as; ‘Can you raise your arm above your head – to say you support profit-driven targets?’, or, ‘Do you feel scared and panicky – that your complicity has contributed to people dying?’
This is a symbolic protest that demands the following actions by the UK government:
- The ending of assessments that are not fit for purpose, which have done things like find people with terminal cancer, people who cannot feed themselves, and people in hospital, fit for work. These unfair, punitive, devastating assessments have also driven people to suicide.
- Recognition that DWP is institutionally disablist, and that it is damaging to people’s mental health, especially during the Covid-19 crisis.
- For the DWP to make radical changes to its policies and administration of social security benefits to make the safety of all claimants a priority.
This was an art action for http://www.section136.co.uk