Disabled Students' Campaign Update

Monday 11-01-2016 - 10:04

Happy New Year! I wanted to take this moment to reflect on what the Disabled Students’ Campaign has been doing in the last six months, and what’s coming up in the next six months – and make sure you’ve got all the details for our upcoming Conference!

In The Last Six Months…


So let’s start with the difficult bit.  In December, just in time for the International Day of Disabled People, the Government made a decision to press ahead with their proposed cuts to DSA.  This was a crushing announcement for me and all the other student activists who have been lobbying hard on this issue for the last 18 months.  But the fight doesn’t end here – keep your eyes tuned for more guidance on how to campaign at a local level to mitigate the loss of this much needed support.


Read our most recent response to the Government's proposed changes to DSA


Disabled History Month 2015

We did find some time in December to celebrate Disabled History Month though.  We profiled the stories of thirty disabled women from history, across different cultures and disciplines.  We also marked 20 years of the Disability Discrimination Act: celebrating the campaigners who fought for that change in legislation and looking at what has really changed since.

You can read my blog about this, and our Know Your Rights Guide here.


Student Suicide Prevention Roundtable

In November we took the first step in our long-term project on preventing student suicide.  We brought together student representatives, academics, charities and campaigning organisations in our London office for a day packed with research sharing and new ideas.  I’m really excited to pursue those connections and collaborations over the coming months.


Direct Actions

The autumn has been jam packed with direct actions on issues the Disabled Students’ Campaign has policy on.  In October students marched alongside workers and benefit claimants to demonstrate outside the Tory Party Conference.  In November disabled students block in the 10,000+ strong march for Free Education in London.  And in December, we held a smaller but very loud protest outside the Department for Work and Pensions on the issue of Welfare Reform.  This was held in conjunction with Unite Community, Disabled People Against Cuts and people over at War on Welfare, and I’d like to thank Shelly Asquith (Vice President Welfare) and James Elliott (DSC’s NEC member) for their hard work in organising that event.


In the Next Six Months….

Website and Regional Networks

Part of my priority work this year is around making sure the Campaign is organising and communicating as effectively as possible.  We’ve made some good progress in updating the website and I’m going to be locking myself in a room sometime soon to re-write lots of our resources so that they are as useful to you as possible.  We’ve also started gathering the information we need to set up Regional Networks so you have the support you need at a local level and I’m looking forward to this coming to life.


Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Guide

My biggest piece of work this month is to write up the in depth guide to mental health and suicide prevention for students' unions.  I’m really looking forward to bringing together all the work we do on mental health across NUS into one place and spreading the word throughout our conference season this spring.


Women in Leadership Conference 2016

This is your chance to explore the importance of women’s leadership in the student movement and develop leadership skills through a range of knowledge sessions on topics such as intersectional feminism and successful networking. I’m looking forward to hosting the networking circle for disabled women and a workshop of healthy productivity and self-care.

The Conference is taking place on 26 January so register for the event!


The Student Strike

After our 2015 Conference voted to support an escalating series of direct actions with the aim of toppling the Tory government, I’ve been getting involved with the grassroots movement for a student strike in the next few months.  This is where students walk out of their campuses in protest against a system of higher and further education that is no longer working for us.  This is a huge and radical process and needs lots of organising, so get involved!

Read something here...


Preparing a good handover

This is so important! And I left a whole chunk of time towards the summer to make sure that whoever you elect as your next National Disabled Students’ Officer can hit the ground running in July.

Oh, and I might spend some time organising….


Disabled Students’ Conference 2016!

It is with great pleasure that I can announce registration has now opened for our annual Disabled Students’ Conference – so get registering!

Join us in Manchester over Tuesday 22 – Thursday 24 March for three days of networking, learning and shaping the future of the campaign. We’ll be hosting workshops, passing policies and hearing from guest speakers, all in a safe and accessible space.

Motions submission are open and nominations will be open from 12 January. The motions deadline this year is 26 January and nominations deadline is 17 February. The forms can be found on the Disabled Students Conference Hub.

The Form will ask for your Personal Details - We need these details to be sure the text is submitted by a Constituent Member (member students’ union) and know who the proposers of the motions or amendments are. Before filling in the form please ensure that you have your secure code so that we can make sure it has been submitted legitimately.

Please check how many motions you may submit and the length of submissions. On the form, you will be able to save your process and come back to it later. We will not be accepting any motions through email.

This is such a great opportunity to build your network of allies and friends, plus all unions get one free delegate space so don’t miss out!

Register for Disabled Students Conference 2016 today!


I hope this has been helpful and, as ever, get in touch if you need anything.

In unity,

Maddy Kirkman




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