Sunderland anti-cuts protestors march on London

Claire Parker, from Hendon, Sunderland is a campaign coordinator for the RNIB, she is worried about proposed changes to the Disability Living Allowance.

Claire Parker, from Hendon, Sunderland is a campaign coordinator for the RNIB, she is worried about proposed changes to the Disability Living Allowance.

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CAMPAIGNERS from Sunderland will be among thousands taking to the streets of London tomorrow to demonstrate against the Government’s austerity programme.

Organised by TUC, A Future That Works, aims to highlight issues relating to the cuts that are sweeping across the country.

The demonstration will also argue the way forward is to “raise average pay, penalise big bonuses and invest in training and new industries”.

Among those making the trip to the capital will be Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) campaigner Claire Parker, from Hendon.

Along with her friends and colleagues, she is eager to preserve disability living allowance (DLA), which is due to be replaced by a personal independence payment (Pip) from April next year.

The 31-year-old, who this summer was given the honour of carrying the Olympic torch, told the Echo she is looking forward to spreading the RNIB’s message as she feels not all of those who currently receive DLA are even aware it will be changing soon.

She said: “I think, for me, it is really worrying what the changes are going to mean, but some people don’t even know this is coming. It’s very worrying.

“People aren’t really even being made aware of the changes, so they are going to get a very big shock next year.

“I feel Pip will do the opposite of what it is meant to do.

“The only reason I am independent is because of the help I get through DLA.

“You could go on and on with the list of things that people take for granted, but can make a massive difference to blind and partially sighted people’s lives.”

Also present will be Kevin Rowan, regional secretary of the Northern TUC, who said the pressure put on working Wearsiders is unacceptable.

He said: “Like all parts of the North East, Sunderland has seen some significant challenges as a direct result of current government economic and fiscal policy.

“Public services, including local government, health, the civil service and schools and colleges, have all been under financial pressure and have witnessed job losses.

“The private sector is fairing no better and these factors are combining to lead to growing unemployment, especially among young workers, many of whom are facing long-term unemployment.

“That’s why so many people are protesting in London tomorrow, frustrated and angry that the Government is stubbornly ploughing ahead with policies that are leaving deep scars in our communities.

“We need a change of direction, policies that focus on jobs and growth instead of only cuts, we need a future that works.”

l Echo reporter Mark Scully will be travelling with the RNIB campaigners to report from London tomorrow.

Follow his updates on Twitter at #SunderlandFTW.

Twitter: @sunechomark