Today Samaritans announced that Esther McVey has left its advisory board.
This is great news, thanks to hard work by groups like Disabled People Against Cuts, Recovery in the Bin, and Black Triangle — groups led by disabled people, mental health service users and survivors. Their investigations revealed McVey’s membership on the board.
These groups should be confident Samaritans is on their side and should be more involved in informing policy.
This episode reveals a need for a review of advisory board membership. Samaritans must win back the trust of disabled people and others who have been harmed by disability (re)assessment policies, “sanctioning”, and cuts to welfare payments.
Additionally, there should be an urgent review of Samaritans’ communications policy. It is not acceptable for the same message to be copied and pasted to multiple people who are concerned about serious conflicts of interest which harm Samaritans’ reputation, potentially affecting donations and most worryingly putting people off calling.