Keywords:<i>disabled people</i>, <i>email campaigning</i>, <i>groupwork</i>, <i>user led groups</i>, <i>Welfare Reform Act 2012</i>, <i>service users</i>, <i>online petitions</i>
Pat’s Petition was originally an e-petition submitted on the UK Government’s website asking the Department for Work and Pensions to ‘stop and review the changes to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families’. All e-petitions are submitted by an individual, in this case Pat Onions, and aim to reach 100,000 signatures for the possibility of debate in parliament.
Pat’s Petition was a small group formed of volunteers, all with firsthand experience of the issue as disabled people and/or carers, who had no previous experience as a group or in reaching out online to a wider community for petition signatures. The petition reached over 62,600 signatures and ended on November 1st 2012. At the time, it was the 12th most successful petition out of the 10,294 closed petitions.
While the group continues to press for change, it is helpful to reflect on the learning of their first year; specifically the development of the group and the use of e-petitions. This learning may be of use to other campaigners, to people thinking of online campaigning and also to those interested in online groups.
This reflective account draws on the experiences of the individuals concerned and the private resource of communications between the group. It looks back on their experience from October 2011 to November 2012 when the petition closed, and reflects on the story of Pat’s Petition.