Kathleen Ruff honoured by Quebec’s National Assembly
One of Canada’s best known anti-asbestos campaigners has been awarded the prestigious Medal of Honour by Quebec’s National Assembly in recognition of her tireless work campaigning against Canada’s deadly asbestos trade, and her pivotal role in bringing this trade to a halt.
Kathleen Ruff is well known to Forum members but her achievements deserve wider recognition. This award would have been unthinkable until fairly recently. Quebec was the heart of Canada’s asbestos industry, and Canada was one of the world’s leading asbestos producing and exporting countries. To defeat the asbestos industry in Canada the fight would have to be taken to the heart of the beast and Kathleen did this with relentless determination. She managed to pull together an effective coalition of doctors and scientists who were prepared to stand up and say publically that chrysotile kills. She worked closely with asbestos victims in Canada and other countries to expose the devastating effects of Canada’s love affair with asbestos. She persuaded key politicians to break with the consensus and take a stand against the asbestos industry. And she took on the lies and distortions of the asbestos lobby, their go-to scientists and the politicians who pushed their interests in Government.
As recently as 2012, the Quebec government had awarded the asbestos industry $58 million to help open the giant Jeffrey underground asbestos mine. But later that year, thanks in large part to Kathleen’s tireless campaigning alongside others, the loan was withdrawn and the mine closed, effectively putting an end to Canada’s century old asbestos trade. This was a triumph for campaigners in Canada as they defeated an industry with powerful friends and deep pockets.
The results, in terms of lives that will be saved in Canada, and the countries which received its asbestos exports, are incalculable. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Kathleen for her tireless and selfless campaigning. She is a shining example of what can be achieved with truth and determination. We in the Forum would like to extend our heartfelt congratulation to Kathleen on this richly deserved award.
Kathleen Ruff at Action Mesothelioma Day in Manchester, July 2012.
More info on the award and Kathleen’s work can be found here
26 May 2016
ACTION MESOTHELIOMA DAY
FRIDAY 1ST JULY 2016
Dove release and speeches: 12.30 p.m. in Lincoln Square, Central Manchester
Public Meeting: 'Time for a National Mesothelioma Strategy'
1.30 p.m., Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Central Manchester
Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group will again be commemorating all those who have lost their lives to mesothelioma alongside patients, family members, carers, campaigners, Trade Unionists and MPs. Local MPs will speak at the outdoor rally in Lincoln Square following which we will release doves in memory of past victims.
The outdoor rally will be followed by a public meeting at the nearby Friends Meeting House on Mount Street. Following the surprise announcement in March that the Government was to award £5 million for the establishment of a National Mesothelioma Centre, there is increased optimism that the need for more sustainable research funding is being recognized at last by those who can make this happen. But we need to make sure the pressure is kept up so that ongoing funding is secured for the future.
We will again be raising money for mesothelioma research in the run-up to Action Mesothelioma Day. Last year over £20,000 was raised by GMAVSG supporters. Every penny of this will go directly to mesothelioma research. If you would like to help us raise money this year please contact us to find out how. You can also download a Sponsorship form here (Merv, could you put a link here to the PDF of our Sponsorship form. I will get Rob or Jeff to email you this tomorrow morning).
More details about Action Mesothelioma Day in Manchester can be found here
Please note, there will also be commemoration events for the Battle of the Somme in the centre of Manchester on 1st July. There will probably be parking restrictions and it may take longer than usual to travel into Manchester so please make allowances for this. Please check our Facebook page for updates on travel and parking on the day.
30 March 2016
Asbestos Victims Groups welcome £5 million pledged for a National Mesothelioma Centre but argue for full consultation and open tenders before funds allocated.
Funding for mesothelioma research has always been pitifully low and for years now the Forum has campaigned hard for better funding. Our groups have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for research through sponsorship of our Action Mesothelioma Day events and other fundraising activities.
So we are delighted that £5 million has been pledged by the Chancellor with the express aim of establishing a National Mesothelioma Centre to give a lead on developing research to find better treatment and a cure for this dreadful disease. This is a significant sum, at least compared to funding previously given for mesothelioma research.
Although this is a one-off grant it can be a springboard for the future if used wisely. We desperately need a national strategy for research which enhances collaboration amongst the leading researchers and builds on the cutting edge work already going on in the UK. We also need ongoing, sustainable funding earmarked specifically for mesothelioma research so that we can continue to develop new ideas and treatments, and also attract more researchers to the field, who may currently see this area of work as too risky given past funding difficulties.
At the moment it is unclear where and how this money will be allocated and that is a major concern. None of the leading mesothelioma researchers, research institutions or charities were consulted before the Budget announcement and were as surprised as anyone to hear the news.
During discussions at the annual All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Asbestos Seminar in the House of Commons on 22 March it was suggested that a decision had already been made by the relevant Minister to award this money to a consortium of institutions led by Imperial College, all based in London. If true, this is a shocking disregard for the existing experience and talent of mesothelioma researchers in the UK. Imperial College may have many fine qualities but they have published little, if any mesothelioma research.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel, we have some of the best research in the world already going on under our noses. A National Mesothelioma Centre does not have to be a ‘bricks and mortar’ centre. Why not a ‘virtual centre’, co-ordinating the research already happening in places like Leicester, Cambridge, Sheffield and Southampton?
The Forum has written to George Freeman MP, the responsible Minister, to urge full consultation and an open tender process before any decisions are made about the allocation of the £5 million, or the National Mesothelioma Centre. We need decisions that are made in the best interests of mesothelioma patients, and that requires open consultation with all the best people, not secret backroom deals.
We have an opportunity to drive the fight against mesothelioma forward and give victims some hope for the first time. That requires collaboration and openness not private negotiations. We should seize this opportunity with both hands, get all those currently leading on mesothelioma research around the table with politicians and civil servants and decide collectively the best way to spend the £5 million Budget award, what type of National Mesothelioma Centre we need and how we sustain progress in research for the future.
Click here to read the letter to George Freeman
15 February 2016
Asbestos victims will miss Lord Avebury, one of their staunchest champions, who died on the 13 February 2016.
Lord Avebury championed many causes during his long political career, including the campaign to protect workers from the dangers of asbestos, and to provide justice for asbestos victims and their families, which continues to this day.
In 1976, Lord Avebury was one of the first, and most influential supporters of the late Nancy Tait MBE, assisting her in the publication of her book, Asbestos Kills, and becoming a trustee of Nancy Tait's organisation, the Society for the Prevention of Asbestosis and industrial Diseases (SPAID).
More recently, Lord Avebury was one of the main proponents of exceptional treatment for asbestos victims in the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, and for improvements to the Mesothelioma Act 2014, which set up a scheme to pay compensation to mesothelioma sufferers who cannot trace employers' liability insurance. During the passage of both Acts Lord Avebury kept in close touch with the Forum and spoke eloquently and passionately in support of the Forum's demands.
Lord Avebury was a champion of Human Rights and a true friend of asbestos victims. He will be greatly missed in the ongoing campaign for justice for all asbestos victims.
25 January 2016
Living Well with Mesothelioma Patient and Carer Support Group
Cross Street Chapel. Cross Street. Manchester. M2 1NL.
1.30 to 3.30 pm
Meetings take place the first Monday of every month and give an opportunity for people with mesothelioma and their carers to meet, share experiences and socialise. We also have a speaker at each meeting – the list of speakers and subjects is below. Please check our Facebook page for updates and amendments.
Click here for more information
14 January 2016
Victims Groups disappointed at Mesothelioma Fund levy cut
Click here to read press release
16 October 2015
The asbestos crisis – why Britain needs an eradication law
Asbestos victims’ groups have today welcomed proposals for a new law to remove asbestos from workplaces, public buildings and homes in Britain.
Click to read more...
16 Sep 2015
Living Well With Mesothelioma
Patient & Carer Support Group
Together with Mesothelioma UK, we have set up a new support group for people with mesothelioma and those who care for them.
The group meets on the first Monday of every month, from 1.30pm to 3.30pm, at Cross Street Chapel (Manchester city centre, M2 1NL). For a map and directions, please click here.
The sessions will be an opportunity to meet others who understand what you are going through, and to learn more about mesothelioma and the help that is out there.
Some sessions will offer the chance to try complementary therapies, and to learn techniques to help you cope with the effects of mesothelioma.
Sessions are free of charge, and refreshments are provided.
The dates of the next six sessions will be:
- 5th October 2015
- 2nd November 2015
- 7th December 2015
- 4th January 2016
- 1st February 2016
- 7th March 2016
For more information, please contact us
27 July 2015
STOP PLAYING WITH CANCER!
Asbestos victims support groups, trade unions and UK campaigning bodies are urging local authorities, government agencies and market surveillance bodies to prioritize the threat posed by the possible asbestos contamination of UK imports.
An exposé in the United States earlier this month documented the presence of various types of asbestos fibres in crayons and toy fingerprinting kits imported from China.
Previously, Korean researchers identified asbestos contamination in baby powder from China and authorities in Italy, Spain and Ireland seized toxic thermos flasks also sourced from China. It is relevant to note that not only is China the world’s second biggest asbestos user, consuming over one million tonnes in 2013 and 2014, but China is also now the UK’s second largest import partner accounting for 7% of all UK imports in 2014.
How many of these imports contain asbestos?
Research undertaken last week revealed that products marketed by the toxic brands can be purchased online in the UK. Expressing the concerns of UK victims, John Flanagan from the Forum of Asbestos Victims’ Support Groups said:
“Thousands of people die every year because of past asbestos exposure at work and at home. Despite the UK asbestos ban, hazardous exposures to asbestos continue through lax enforcement of legislation and employer negligence.
If these crayons are being imported to the USA and Australia, it is possible they are also finding their way into the UK. The Government needs to assure people that these products are not being sold here and confirm the measures being taken to monitor imports from China and other countries to ensure that no products containing asbestos reach this country.”
Action Mesothelioma Day 2015
Over 200 people – mesothelioma sufferers, family members, trade unionists and campaigners – gathered in Lincoln Square in Manchester on Friday 3rd July to commemorate all those who have lost their lives to the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Just this week the latest Government figures showed there were 7 new cases of mesothelioma being diagnosed every day.
4 July 2015
Government gives way again over court costs in face of asbestos victims’ legal challenge
The Asbestos Victims Support Group’s Forum brought a judicial review challenge to the Government’s enhanced court costs which means that most mesothelioma sufferers will have to pay an average £7,500, and up to £10,000, to bring a claim for compensation.
Claimants can receive remission from paying court costs if they are on a low income and they do not have more than £16,000 in capital. Since most mesothelioma sufferers are paid approximately £16,000 in statutory compensation they would not be eligible for remission of court fees.
The Government have accepted that this was wrong and are amending the remission fee order so that statutory payments are not treated as capital. This change is effective from 3 July 2015.
The Forum says:
“Yet again, dying mesothelioma sufferers who have very limited financial resources have had to take court action to get justice. In this case they should never have had to launch legal action to stop the Government charging £10,000 in court costs to claim compensation for the criminal negligence of employers, often Government as employer, who continued to expose them to asbestos decades after it was known to cause cancer.”
23 April 2015
Charter for Justice launched
The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK has issued a Charter for Justice for asbestos victims. The Charter sets out a small number of easily affordable reforms that would make a real difference to asbestos victims.
This country owes a debt of justice to asbestos victims and their families. We all have a duty to make sure victims receive the help they need. We all have an interest in making sure that asbestos is removed from the buildings we live and work in so that no one suffers in the future. This Charter sets out how we could achieve these aims. We hope everyone can support it. In particular we would like our politicians and policy makers to support it.
Please pledge your support for the Charter for Justice today, and make sure that any politician you vote for supports it too.
Click here to view the Charter
28 January 2015
UK victims of mesothelioma support Eternit victims in Italy
On 18 November 2014, a delegation of 13 Forum members travelled from the UK to Italy. Our itinerary would be to spend 2 days in Rome to witness the Italian Supreme Court's verdict on the Eternit trial - click to read more...
3 October 2014
High Court Halts Government Plans to Increase Asbestos Victims’ Legal Costs
In a stunning rebuke for the Government the High Court has today (2 October 2014) put a halt to Government plans that would have seen court damages paid to mesothelioma victims cut, a move designed to save money for the wealthy insurance companies liable to pay damages. The High Court, only two months after the damning report of the Parliamentary Justice Select Committee, found in favour of the Forum’s Judicial Review application to stop these changes being forced through.
To read the Forum’s press release click here