By Raya Al JadirA disabled actor, artist and activist has criticised the film industry for its continuing failure to address discrimination, after he was dropped from a role and replaced with a non-disabled actor.Chris Tally Evans (pictured) was originally handed the part of a blind man in the short film In This House, following a successful screen test, after being recommended to film-makers Tree Top Films by Disability Arts Cymru.Evans was asked to provide a “showreel” of his film and television performances, but his roles had come before he lost his sight and so were on obsolete video formats.In the early 1990s, after he lost his sight, he found it impossible to take part in casting sessions because of the lack of access, but he was able to provide Tree Top Films with examples of his work in his own films, live performances and appearances on BBC current affairs programmes.Because he did not have a showreel, the film’s funders, Ffilm Cymru Wales (FCW), asked him to record his own monologue, and then take part in another screen test.Evans was then told by email by Tree Top Films that he had been dropped from the part because FCW wanted a more “established” actor.Just 10 days later, he received another email, this time from the equality charity Diverse Cymru, asking him to act as a consultant on the film to help the non-disabled actor playing the part he had originally been given.Evans admitted to feeling “cheated” out of a role he was deemed to be “not good enough” for, and noted the irony of how he and other disabled actors are overlooked for parts but are then needed as consultants.He said: “It is a backward attitude and not in the spirit of equality.”Tree Top Films has now apologised for the way it treated Evans.Owain Hopkins, creative director of Tree Top Films, said the company had “scoured south Wales” to find a visually-impaired actor to play the part, but had been unsuccessful and so “had no option but to cast a non-visually-impaired actor”.He admitted that Evans had originally been offered the part, but said: “On viewing the footage from the screen test, we realised that Chris was not the right actor for our film.“This is not an uncommon practice in the film industry.”He insisted that “not casting Chris had absolutely nothing to do with his disability”, and that the company was “committed to supporting disabled actors”.Pauline Burt, chief executive of FCW, said her organisation was “committed to supporting the sector to improve their working practices to encourage greater diversity in the workforce”.She said: “It is clear that more could be done to facilitate those with disabilities to enter and continue to work in the sector and to that end we are currently working with Diverse Cymru to develop best practice guidance for the sector.“As a general principle, we would support and prefer to see roles authentically played – however, there is no reason to confine actors with disabilities to disabled roles.“And it is important to take full consideration of the specific circumstances of any given film: that includes assessment of any inappropriate trauma that might arise from the particular demands of the role, the availability of cast, and their suitability for the role.”Michael Flynn, director of influencing and partnerships at Diverse Cymru, said Evans’ experience would be included as a case study in the charity’s Diversity in Film and TV project, which will support production companies and funders to diversify their workforce.Flynn said FCW realised there was a problem and was “taking action to sort it out”.He said: “They would like us to go through their policies and practices, look at monitoring, and also support them to pass on the messages to the companies that they fund.”Evans said the incident was “just one of many that occurs more frequently than people think”, although he said the industry had improved in the last decade.He has been asked by FCW to talk to a group of producers about recruiting disabled actors but said he feared the move could be tokenistic.He said the industry needed to ensure that disabled characters are played by disabled actors, while such parts should not have to focus on their impairments.And he said Diverse Cymru was keen to expand a database of minority actors and performers that it uses when approached by production companies, while monitoring how often they are recruited.
About 900,000 disabled people will see their weekly incomes fall by at least £50 a week by 2020, because of the continuing impact of the government’s welfare reforms, according to new research.The research by the consultancy Policy in Practice found that, of 7.2 million working-age, low-income households, more than two-fifths of those containing a working-age disabled person would lose at least £50 a week, compared with November 2016.The report, The Cumulative Impact Of Welfare Reform: A National Picture, says the impact of measures introduced after November 2016 will see the average low-income household containing a working-age disabled person lose £51.47 a week by 2020, compared with an average loss of £35.82 for households not containing a disabled person.This will come on top of an average weekly loss of more than £20 for low-income households containing a working-age disabled person as a result of welfare reforms introduced pre-November 2016 – such as the benefit cap, cuts to housing benefit and the bedroom tax – although this figure does not take account of rising living costs.More than a fifth of low-income households containing a working-age disabled person will lose between £20 and £50 a week by 2020, more than a quarter will lose less than £20 and just 8.6 per cent will be better off, according to the analysis.The research looks at the impact of the continued roll-out of universal credit, and other reforms such as reducing employment and support allowance payments to new claimants placed in the work-related activity group by nearly £30 a week, the continued freezing of most benefit rates, and cuts to housing benefit, as well as expected inflation and rent increases.The figures calculated in the report take account of the impact of mitigating measures introduced by the government, such as the introduction of the national living wage and increases to the personal tax allowance.The research is particularly significant because the founder of Policy in Practice, Deven Ghelani, helped develop universal credit when he was at Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice.The report, prepared on behalf of the Local Government Association, warns that the losses to income affecting disabled people, as well as the impact on families with children, will further increase the pressure on “already stretched” local authority support services.It calls for the government to ensure there is adequate local support, funded by central government, and that this should be focused on households with disabled members and on families.And it warns that housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable for those in the private rented sector.A DWP spokeswoman said: “This report assumes that people won’t make any attempt to change and improve their lives.“But our welfare reforms incentivise work and, for the first time, universal credit helps working people progress and earn more, so they can eventually stop claiming benefits altogether.“Under universal credit, people are finding a job faster and staying in it longer than under the old system, and since the benefit cap was introduced, 34,000 households have moved off the cap and into work.” No-one moving onto universal credit from existing benefits or tax credits will lose out in cash terms, although this does not apply if and when their circumstances change.
SAINTS kept the pressure on at the top of the table with an adequate performance against a poor Leeds Rhinos outfit, writes Graham Henthorne.However, this was a Leeds side which contained many of the players who so efficiently wiped the floor with a very similar Saints side in the opening forty minutes of this season. This shows just shows how far the Saints have come that turning in a display in which for the most part they went through the motions allowed them to so comprehensively beat the visitors.Ben Morris opened the scoring taking Danny Richardson’s pass and running a a great line crashing through the Rhinos defence wide right.Quick hands again down the right side from Richardson to Jake Spedding finally ended up with Dave Eccleston stepping back inside to cross the whitewash.Had Aaron Smith’s line ball to Rob Fairclough been ruled legal then the game would have been beyond the visitors in the first quarter. As it was the Saints had to work hard for three full repeat sets before the visitors made the error which relieved the pressure.Straight away the Saints went down the other end where Fairclough showed his attacking flair with a delightful dummy which stood up the defence giving him a walk in to score.What wasn’t in question throughout this game was the Saints commitment to defence, shown perfectly after Richardson’s long clearing kick down field. The chase was on from Morris and Spedding and both were on hand to force a repeat set.The last five minutes belonged to Regan Grace. The winger, cheered on enthusiastically by a very vocal band of his countrymen and women, finally managed to do what he has threatened to do for weeks. He got through the defensive line on his own 30, rounded the full back then teased him on his way to the line.But with seconds to go to the break it was he who got under his opposite number to save a certain try.Losing Captain Joe Ryan at the break meant longer stints for the big guys down the middle but the work was shouldered without complaint from Levy Nzoungou and his counterpart off the bench Matty Lees.Richardson opened the second period with a 40/10 and from the scrum Calvin Wellington earned his own burst of “When the Saints Go Marching In” from his countrymen as he burst through paper thin tackling to score.Fairclough and Richardson were both unlucky not to score before Morgan Knowles got the try that his tireless work every week deserves.The final try was scored by Richardson but was made from Phil Atherton’s half break and offload.The game was played in extremely humid, muggy conditions which may account for the sluggish nature of the Saints play. There may also have been a hangover from last week’s disappointing loss to the Auld Enemy. And whilst it is always difficult to nil a side and just as difficult to beat and side from Leeds be under no illusions that this is anything other than a very young and inexperienced Rhinos side.Consequently the tempo will need to rise for the second visit of the season by a Hull KR which arguably should have won at Langtree earlier in the season.Match Summary:Saints U19s:Tries: Ben Morris (10), David Eccleston (16), Rob Fairclough (26), Regan Grace (35), Calvin Wellington (44), Morgan Knowles (54), Danny Richardson (70).Goals: Danny Richardson 6.Leeds U19s:Tries: Goals:Half Time: 22-0Full Time: 40-0Teams:Saints:20. Ricky Bailey; 2. David Eccleston, 3. Jake Spedding, 4. Calvin Wellington, 5. Regan Grace; 6. Danny Richardson, 7. Rob Fairclough; 8. Ross McCauley, 9. Josh Eaves, 10. Phil Atherton, 11. Olly Davies, 12. Ben Morris, 13. Morgan Knowles. Subs: 14. Aaron Smith, 15. Levy Nzoungou, 16. Matty Lees, 21. Joe Ryan.Leeds:1. Jack Wray; 2. Tommy Brierley, 3. Jack Norfolk, 4. Harry Boyes, 5. Ryan Jones; 6. Jordan Lilley, 7. Joe Sanderson; 8. Nyle Flynn, 9. Ben Brady, 10. Jonny Holmes, 11. Nathan Barker, 12. Ben Frankland, 13. Matty While. Subs: 14. Harvey Hallas, 15. Josh Jordan-Roberts, 16. Sam Hallas, 17. Trea O’Sullivan.