Thousands back Bury St Edmunds mother’s disabilities campaign

Donna Smith and daughter Danika
Donna Smith and daughter Danika
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A mother’s campaign to help people, like her daughter, who have lifelong disabilities has been gaining considerable momentum.

Public outcry followed the news of Donna Smith’s 19-year-old daughter Danika, who is an Employment Support Allowance (ESA) claimant, being asked to attend a work-focused interview.

She has profound multi-complex disabilities, including spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, and is unable to move voluntarily or talk.

Common sense prevailed and the interview was cancelled but Donna wants to prevent other families going through the same ordeal.

A petition she created calling for a national database for people with lifelong disabilities has attracted more than 5,000 supporters in just three weeks.

The mother-of-three, from Bury St Edmunds, says she has been ‘overwhelmed’ by the response.

Martin Tolley, of Suffolk Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), said Danika’s experience was not an isolated case as ‘all those in the assessment phase of ESA receive a letter calling them in for a work-focused interview’.

“We hope that Donna’s petition gets enough signatures so we can take it to the next level,” he said, adding that ‘the next level’ would involve handing the petition to Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Rossanna Trudgian, of Mencap, said: “This case is further evidence of how the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), and the processes surrounding it, is failing the people it’s designed to support. This lady should never have been asked to attend a Work Capability Assessment, a test which is widely regarded as being deeply flawed.”

Elliot Dunster, of disability charity Scope, said the current WCA is ‘failing to deliver and needs fundamental reform’.

To sign the petition, search National Database of People With Multi-Complex Disabilities on