There will be more protests like yesterday's disability march
The organisers of yesterday's Hardest Hit protest in London were suggesting last night that they intend to replicate the success of the protest across the country.
Late in the afternoon, RNIB's Steve Winyard, chair of the march's organising committee, told the BBC: "We believe there were around 8,000 people present and the Met Police have confirmed this."
"Only about one and a half thousand signed up online, so we're all really pleased," said a steward earlier in the day as crowds began to get larger.
In disability terms, this is a very big turnout. To get lots of disabled people in one place takes a lot of energy and planning from organisers and participants alike.
At the midday rally, Jane Asher, actress and president of Arthritis care, acknowledged "the supreme effort" that those present had made to be there, and "those at home worrying and frightened at just what these cuts are going to mean to them".
Visible on the day were many accessible portaloos, toileting areas for assistance dogs, a big screen, sign language interpreters, palantypist/stenographers and quiet areas in the nearby Methodist Central Hall for people overwhelmed by the level of activity. Leading up to the march, information was created in many accessible formats: video, braille, large print and digital.
Previous big disability events in the capital have included the campaign against ITV's 24 hour Telethon fundraiser in the early 90s, and the Rights Now protests which led to the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995. Exact figures for attendance seem lost in the mists of time but are generally thought to be in the early thousands.
Steve Winyard said: "What's great is that it was the Disability Benefits Consortium working hand in hand with the UK Disabled People's Council and the disabled people's organisations. A lot of people said this couldn't work but it's worked brilliantly."
"This will be the basis of new and potentially even more effective campaigning round the country. We're going to take the campaign around the UK working to affect MPs at a local level. We can do the same sort of link between local independent living centres, disabled people's organisations and local arms of the big charities to create effective coalition."
The DBC and UKDPC led The Hardest Hit march from Victoria Embankment to a mass lobby of parliament on Wednesday afternoon. Disabled people and their allies in the form of organisations, friends and families, made up the crowd.
The organisers maintain that disabled people are "the hardest hit" in the budget cuts being spearheaded by the coalition government.
A combination of benefit changes and reductions in budgets given to local councils could result in many local care services being pulled and less money to live on. Campaigners say this stops disabled people from being able to contribute to society.
Speaking on Tuesday's Call You and Yours on Radio 4, Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller, reminded listeners that the reform policies are not yet finalised, saying: "It's in the government's interest to understand how our reforms are going to work and, where necessary, for us to be able to refine that. We're working on an ongoing basis on all of our reforms with disabled people and disabled people's organisations; it's in our interests all to get it right."
On the same programme, Broken of Britain's Kaliya Franklin said: "We know that the overall amount that George Osbourne wants to cut from the deficit is 89 billion pounds, of which at least 9 [billion] is going to be lost directly from disabled people."
Bystander, 9 year old Daisy Holland and her father: “I’ve never seen so many wheelchairs in one place. It’s great” she said.
Organisers say they were "massively disappointed" that Maria Miller did not accept an invite to address Wednesday's rally.
The larger coalition plan is to address a perception that too many people are now living free on taxpayers' money. In a speech last year, David Cameron talked about benefit fraudsters: "When you work hard and still sometimes have to go without the things you want because times are tough, it's maddening to know there are some people who could work but just don't want to. You know the people I mean. You walk down the road on your way to work and you see the curtains drawn in their
house. You know they could work, but they choose not to."
A recent Com Res poll for the charity Scope, found that 92% of disabled people are concerned about the impact of government spending cuts on them personally. The government say they need to focus more on those most in need.
The Disability Benefits Consortium is made up of 50 member organisations, including: Scope, RNID, Sense, RADAR, Rethink, MIND and Guide Dogs.