Bristol SEND Crisis march

On Thursday 30th May 2019, people will protest across the UK to raise awareness of failings to those with SEND, their families and education providers who are expected to provide an appropriate education on continuous budget cuts.

The march will bring people together to fight with and for:

  • Parents and carers who are struggling and are frustrated with the SEND system currently in place.
  • Parents who do not believe that this current system is providing fair and equal accessibility for their children, as was promised.
  • Parents from across the country who feel that the current legislative framework surrounding SEND, is not fit for purpose and appears to be designed in such a way to avoid putting in place the required provisions to support their children receive an education to meet their needs.
  • Children and young people who are being denied their basic right to education.

If you believe in fair and equal access to education for all children and young people, join the Bristol SEND crisis march on Thursday 30th May, 1-3pm, outside City Hall, Bristol

 

 

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Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 13-19 May 2019. The theme this year is Body Image – how we think and feel about our bodies.

The aim is to reduce mental health stigma, encourage conversations around body image and mental health, and raise funds for mental health charities. Here are a few of the events happening in Bristol for Mental Health Awareness this week:

Free Drama Workshop: Mon 13 May, 12:30 – 1:15pm

Many Minds Bristol will be offering a lunchtime wellbeing drama games energiser session on Monday 13th May at 12:30pm at the Arnolfini in Bristol. It’s free and open to all.

To find out more contact Olivia on Olivia@many-minds.org or call 07843 210 272

Let’s Talk About Body Image: 15 May, 3.45 – 5.15pm


Off the Record, supported by Community Access Support Service, invite community members and Bristol residents to join them to discuss body image and how we think and feel about our bodies. In this discussion they will be looking at how body ideals have changed and why, social media, and body positivity. Body image issues can affect all of us regardless of age, ability, race or gender and our mental health can be worsened by media images and unattainable standards.

Share your views, perspectives and solutions, and find local services that can support a positive body image and emotional wellbeing.

You can book your (free) place here

Address – Off the Record, 8-10 West Street, Old Market Street, Bristol, BS2 0BH

Illustrate: 15 May, 6pm

Illustrate, Park Street’s shop-come-cafe, is hosting two events in aid of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Focusing on this years Mental Health Awareness theme: Body Image, Illustrate are hosting an exclusive exhibition, We are One of A Kind. Additionally, there will be a panel discussion, talks and a Q&A on “finding peace around food, weight and body image”, and afterwards guests will be invited to mingle and experience free massages, drinks and cakes.

More information here: www.illustrate.co.uk/collections/illustrate-presents/products/mentalhealthmattersbodypositivityevent

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Disabled Women’s Access to Healthcare survey

Access to healthcare is for everyone, but disabled women are being excluded from important health screenings because their local surgery doesn’t have a hoist.

Muscular Dystrophy UK are trying to identify the existing barriers wheelchair users face when trying to access health services such as these. They are particularly interested in gathering evidence from anyone who cannot transfer out of their wheelchair without a hoist. 

You can find out more and take part in the survey here:
https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/N3B9FHF

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Volunteer to help improve goods and services aimed at Disabled and older people

The Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC) would like to recruit new volunteers to join their Consumer Research Forum.

The Consumer Research Forum is a group of ‘older people, people with long term health conditions and Disabled people of all ages’ who help out with RiDC’s consumer research. They help assess the accessibility, quality and value of goods and services aimed at Disabled and older people by taking part in surveys and interviews or trying out products and services.

The hope is that the research will lead to improvements in the design of products and services so that they are accessible and meet peoples needs of Disabled and older people.

Watch the video below to hear Forum members share their experiences:

You can find out more about the RiDC, the products they have reviewed, and register as a volunteer on their website: https://www.ridc.org.uk/

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Disability News Service news 11 April 2019

Airline forced to apologise after charging woman for carer’s seat reservation

An airline has been forced to apologise to a disabled woman after it charged her extra to reserve a seat next to her for her carer, and then refused to refund the charge.

Helen Jenkins had informed Flybe when she was booking her return flights from Birmingham to the Isle of Man online last week that she would require assistance.

She and her husband are planning to celebrate her birthday in September with a four-day visit to the island – which they have been told has an excellent, accessible public transport system – before she has a major operation that is likely to rule out flying for another six months.

Read the full article here.

Autistic authors’ guide maps out route to quality care

A new guide – written solely by autistic people – aims to show care providers, commissioners and inspectors how to provide “quality care” for other autistic people.

An Independent Guide to Quality Care for Autistic People has been written by members of the National Autistic Taskforce (NAT) and has a “heavy emphasis” on developing choice and control for service-users.

The guide says: “The more autonomy a person has, the less support services need to rely on external authorities such as good practice guides, instead looking to the person themselves as the primary source of information, instruction and guidance.”

Read the full article here.

Disabled activists’ bid to find northern DPOs could ‘combat London bias’

A new disabled people’s organisation (DPO) is hoping to bring together DPOs from across the north of England to provide a strong, collective, regional voice on issues affecting disabled people.

Leeds Disabled People’s Organisation (LDPO) was formed in January last year and has no funding, but it wants to hear from other DPOs across the region*.

It is hoping to map the location of all the DPOs across the north of England so they can work together and provide a powerful new voice, potentially setting up a new regional coalition.

Read the full article here.

DWP ‘victimised’ disabled staff member who claimed discrimination, tribunal finds

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) managers “victimised” a disabled member of staff after she claimed that she had faced workplace discrimination, an employment tribunal has ruled.

It is just the latest case to raise concerns that DWP is institutionally disablist, both in its treatment of disabled benefit claimants and of its own staff.

Last November, DWP admitted failing to keep track of how many complaints of disability discrimination were made by its own staff, while in February Civil Service figures revealed that the proportion of DWP staff who said they had been victims of disability discrimination at work in the previous 12 months had risen by about 50 per cent in just four years.

Read the full article here.

Tomlinson becomes latest ‘shoddy, shameless’ disability minister

Disabled activists have responded with resignation after the government appointed another “shoddy, shameless” minister for disabled people.

The new minister, Justin Tomlinson, previously held the post between May 2015 and July 2016, before he was sacked in a government reshuffle.

Now he has been appointed again, this time to replace Brexit casualty Sarah Newton, and becomes the eighth minister for disabled people – or the seventh if you only count him once – since 2010.

Read the full article here.

Justice for Jodey Whiting: Mum brands DWP’s petition response ‘a joke’

The furious mother of a disabled woman who took her own life after repeated safeguarding failings by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has branded DWP’s response to a parliamentary petition set up in her daughter’s name “a joke”.

Joy Dove said this week that DWP’s safeguarding failures had killed her daughter.

She spoke out after DWP responded to the Justice for Jodey Whiting petition, which was set up in her daughter’s name.

Read the full article here.

Council accused of ‘settling scores’ after cutting funding from DPO that criticised it

A council has been accused of being “vindictive” and trying to “silence” a disabled people’s organisation (DPO) by withdrawing funding for its advice service, just months after the DPO published a critical report about social care provision in the borough.

Labour-run Merton council, in south-west London, has been accused of discriminating against disabled people by withdrawing funding from the only advice service in the borough that provides welfare rights experts who will visit disabled people in their own homes.

The council’s equality impact assessment of the decision to withdraw funding from Merton Centre for Independent Living (MCIL)* concluded that it provided “high quality casework support” and was “serving a small number of vulnerable disabled people very well”.

Read the full article here.

DWP ‘hypocrite’ ministers refuse to be held to same safety standards as social media

Ministers have been branded “hypocrites” for rejecting the idea that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) should be held responsible for benefit-related deaths, despite their government calling for social media managers to be held criminally responsible for safeguarding failures.

Home secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) said this week that the government was acting to hold the social media industry accountable for its failures because “we know, in our hearts, we know that protecting the vulnerable is our shared responsibility”.

But evidence has also mounted over recent years of links between the failings of DWP ministers and senior civil servants and the deaths of disabled people, particularly in relation to the flawed work capability assessment (WCA) process.

Read the full article here.

Whistle-blower withdraws offer to help police reopen probe into autistic abuse scandal

A whistle-blower who has vital evidence of serious abuse at a care home for autistic adults has retracted her offer to talk to police about what she witnessed, which could have led to them reopening their failed investigation.

Disability News Service (DNS) found out this week that Avon and Somerset police had failed to interview her, even though her whistleblowing played a key part in helping to expose the abuse scandal at Mendip House, which was run by the National Autistic Society (NAS).

The whistle-blower, Hannah*, had talked in depth to DNS this week about what she witnessed at Mendip House in Brent Knoll, Somerset, and revealed that she had never been interviewed by Avon and Somerset police.

Read the full article here.

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Pavement parking inquiry launched by Transport Committee

Car parked on pavement

The Transport Committee has launched an inquiry to explore the problems of pavement parking in England and consider the possible solutions.

‘Pavement parking’ is when one or more wheels of a vehicle are on the footpath. As well as creating obstacles for people wanting to use footpaths, Councils face additional costs to repair damage to surfaces which are not designed to take the weight of motor vehicles.

Thoughtless pavement parking can cause problems for Disabled people. Wheelchair users get blocked in, unable to go around parked cars and visually impaired people often collide with the vehicle as they might not see the obstruction until it’s too late.

Lilian Greenwood MP, Chair of the Transport Committee, said: “This is an area where some people’s actions cause real difficulties for others. Parking on pavements risks the safety of all groups of people from the littlest to the oldest, with differing needs.”

Lack of progress in tackling pavement parking has led many groups to campaign on the issue (you can find information about RNIB’s campaign, ‘Who put that there!’ here) and although it is regularly raised with MPs by their constituents, the Government has not taken any action on this issue in recent years.

Has pavement parking caused issues in your local area? The committee is calling for written evidence on the impact of pavement parking; you can find out more about the inquiry and how to respond here.

The closing date to submit written evidence is 14 May 2019

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Adult social care “at breaking point” say charities and organisations

Stacks of pound coins

Age UK, Care England and Alzheimer’s Society are among the 15 organisations urging the Government to invest in adult social care services.

The joint letter warns that “adult social care is at breaking point” and that increases in costs and decreases in funding has meant that it has become more and more difficult to offer people the high quality care they need to be independent and live the lives they want to lead.

The letter points out that adult social care services face a funding gap of £3.6 billion by 2025 and it has now been two years since the Government recognised the need to find a long term, sustainable solution for adult social care. The organisations that have signed the letter are uniting to ask the Goverment to consider this funding crisis in its upcoming adult social care green paper and Spending Review and to “urgently invest in these essential services”.

The letter was signed by the following organisations:

Local Government Association
Age UK
Alzheimer’s Society
Association of Directors of Adult Social Care
Association of Directors of Public Health
Care and Support Alliance
Care England
Care Provider Alliance
Carers UK
Independent Age
NHS Confederation
NHS Providers
Sense
Solace
Voluntary Organisations Disability Group

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Disability News Service news 21 March 2019

Disabled people ‘must keep fighting for their right to travel on public transport’

Disabled people must keep fighting for their right to travel on public transport, and should “challenge the status quo”, an accessible transport campaigner has told a conference.

Alan Benson, chair of the user-led, pan-London organisation Transport for All, told Transport for London’s Access All Areas conference that the pace of access improvements to the capital’s public transport system had slowed since the “watershed” of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Benson (pictured, centre), a wheelchair-user, said that in the last week he had missed a train because of slow assistance from rail staff, missed buses because the wheelchair spaces were full, and had been stuck at Bank tube station because the lift broke.

Read the full article here.

Disabled young people have been cheated by support reforms, MPs hear

Disabled young people have told MPs how they have been “cheated” by the government’s new system for supporting pupils and students through school and college.

MPs on the Commons education committee heard how disabled pupils were being denied a voice in drawing up their education, health and care plans (EHCPs), and how they were not receiving what had been promised in those plans.

The committee also heard that EHCPs were too focused on education, rather than being “life focused”.

Read the full article here.

Domestic violence services even worse 10 years on, says report

Regressive government policies have disproportionately affected the ability of disabled women who have experienced violence and abuse to access the services they need, according to a new report.

Shaping Our Lives (SOL), which has written the report, says some services have been discriminating against disabled women under the Equality Act because of a lack of knowledge and training, and a “pitiful” lack of accessible buildings.

It says that these failures are a clear breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Read the full article here.

Still no replacement for Newton, seven days after resignation

The government has given no indication of when – or even if – it intends to appoint a replacement for the minister for disabled people, Sarah Newton, who resigned last week over Brexit.

Nearly a week after Newton’s resignation, no replacement has been announced.

A spokesperson for Number 10 said yesterday (Wednesday): “As soon as there is one, we would announce it in the usual way.

“I haven’t got any guidance on when that appointment will be.”

Read the full article here.

Autistic campaigners to protest outside charity over regime of care home abuse

Autistic campaigners are to protest outside the headquarters of a national autism charity next week to highlight what they say is its abhorrent failure to act on a regime of abuse that took place at one of its care homes.

The protest in London on 29 March by two autistic-led organisations – Autistic Inclusive Meets and Autistic UK – will highlight the lack of justice for those abused at Mendip House, in Highbridge, Somerset.

Official reports show the National Autistic Society (NAS) failed to share the results of internal investigations into Mendip House with Somerset County Council or the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Read the full article here.

CQC admits one in five social care services have not been inspected in two years

Nearly 5,000 adult social care services – nearly one in five – have not had an inspection by the care regulator in the last two years, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) have revealed.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) figures have raised fresh doubts as to whether the regulator is fit for purpose, while Labour’s shadow social care minister has said they are “highly concerning”.

The figures were released to Disability News Service days after the latest revelations concerning a care home run by the National Autistic Society, where autistic people were taunted, abused and ill-treated by staff.

Mendip House, in Somerset, had itself not been inspected by CQC for more than two years when whistleblowers came forward and exposed the abusive regime in 2016.

Read the full article here.

Jodey Whiting petition: DWP ‘has blood on its hands’, says Green party

Labour and the Green party have backed a petition that calls for an independent inquiry into deaths linked to the failings of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and an investigation into potential criminal misconduct by ministers and civil servants.

The Green party co-leader, Jonathan Bartley, himself the father of a disabled son, said this week that DWP had “blood on its hands”.

Less than a week after the launch of the Justice for Jodey Whiting petition* last Friday (15 March), more than 6,000 people have already signed it.

Read the full article here.

Jodey Whiting petition: Seventh family demands justice over DWP benefit deaths

The disabled daughter of a woman who took her own life after losing her disability benefits has explained why she believes ministers and senior civil servants should face prosecution for the deaths they have caused.

Hayley Storrow-Servranckx spoke out this week to back a new parliamentary petition that calls for an inquiry into deaths linked to the actions of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and for that inquiry to pass any evidence of criminal misconduct by ministers and civil servants to the police.

The petition – Justice for Jodey Whiting. Independent inquiry into deaths linked to the DWP* – brands DWP “institutionally disablist and not fit for purpose” and demands urgent action to make the safety of all benefit claimants a priority.

Read the full article here.

DWP’s latest confession on safety: ‘We keep no record of complaints linked to deaths’

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is facing fresh allegations of negligence – potentially criminal – after admitting that it keeps no records of how many of the complaints it receives involve the death of a claimant of disability benefits.

The admission came in response to a freedom of information request from Disability News Service (DNS), which arrived just 24 hours before the launch of a new parliamentary petition* calling for an independent inquiry into deaths linked to DWP failings.

It adds to mounting evidence that DWP is institutionally disablist and not fit for purpose and will fuel calls for urgent changes to its policies and administration of benefits to ensure it makes the safety of all claimants a priority, as demanded by the petition.

Read the full article here.

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Justice for Jody Whiting petition

Jody Whiting took her own life in 2017 when her disability benefit payments were stopped because she missed a capability assessments. An independent inquiry into her death found that the DWP failed 5 times to follow their own safeguarding rules in the weeks leading up to her suicide.

A petition has been launched which calls for:

1. An independent inquiry to investigate DWP failings in relation to these deaths, including whether there has been misconduct by civil servants or Ministers. 

2. Any evidence of misconduct contributing to serious harm or deaths to be turned over to the police. 

3. Recognition that DWP is institutionally disablist and not fit for purpose. 

4. DWP to urgently change its policies and administration of social security benefits to make the safety of all claimants a priority.

So far, the petition has been signed by nearly 18,000 people. At 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in parliament. You can sign the petition here.

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70% of benefit appeals find in favour of claimants, figures show

More than two-thirds of people who faced being denied social security benefits were found to be entitled to that support, prompting calls by the SNP for a fresh review of the DWP assessment and appeals process.

Official government figures show that 70% of people who faced the possibility of losing their entitlement, and took this decision to hearing, had their cases overturned.

Social Security and Child Support appeal disposals totaled 51,256 in the quarter up to December 2018 and 41,171 (80 per cent) were cleared at hearing. Of those cases cleared at hearing, 70 per cent were found in favour of the claimant (up from 65 per cent on the same period in 2017).

Read the full article here.

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