Sad farewell to leading activist
It is with huge sadness that we have learnt of the recent death of Debbie Domb, one of the founding members of Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition Against Cuts (HAFCAC).
In our eyes Debbie will always be a fearless and principled freedom fighter for Disabled people’s rights, both in Hammersmith & Fulham where she lived and also across the country. Debbie stood for inclusion and equality for everyone, particularly challenging bad policy and practice towards Disabled people regardless of who the bad decision maker was.
HAFCAC formed in 2006 as a non-funded Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) to challenge the then Conservative Council’s attempts to start charging Disabled residents for basic support to live independently in the community (when their manifesto on which they were elected said they would not).
Debbie gave her all to whatever needed to be done, giving much of her precious energy to get behind the campaign to end discriminatory homecare charging. From the early days Debbie was involved in working on our petitions, lobbying Council meetings, campaigning on the streets for Disabled residents to register and use their vote and involving local residents and organisations in our work.
She was the practical person running our infamous HAFCAC pub quizzes at the Goldhawk pub, persuading local shops and residents to support us. Monies raised were used to campaign – bringing Disabled people and non-Disabled people together. She kept a keen eye on our finances in general and she knew exactly what went into the pub quiz cash box!
Debbie employed her own Personal assistants using a direct payment from the Council to enable her to live her life as fully as she could. She challenged the second class citizenship often heaped on Disabled people and promoted our right to have choice and control over our lives. She gave many people work as personal assistants as they supported her to just be Debbie.
As the Council got closer to implementing the charging policy, HAFCAC worked with the Public Law Project to challenge the Council’s decision. The legal case known as Domb v THE LONDON BOROUGH OF HAMMERSMITH AND FULHAM taken by Debbie and two other Disabled residents was a clear message to the Council that enough is enough. Debbie knew that nothing has ever changed for Disabled people without our struggle and involvement.
When the government closed the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in 2015, Debbie lobbied the new Labour administration in Hammersmith & Fulham successfully, protecting peoples ILF support packages. During the national ILF campaign outside the DWP central office at Caxton House she was almost crushed by a police charge on a peaceful demonstration.
Debbie is a legend to everyone in Hammersmith & Fulham. Many local Disabled residents who never knew her are much better off today, due in part to her efforts. We live in the only local authority in England that does not charge Disabled people for ‘home care’ support. Debbie and HAFCAC call it Independent Living.
We will all just miss her terribly, her infectious smile, her wit, her challenge and principles and her ability to put herself on the line when she needed too. Strong women like Debbie don’t come into our lives every day and we are so grateful that she did. As an organisation we would not have been as successful as we have been without her.
Our thoughts are with Debbie’s family, her friends, her Personal Assistants and everyone that was touched by knowing her.
From everyone at http://www.hafcac.org.uk/