Information on Second Doses of the COVID-19 Vaccine from the NHS

Image of a small bottle of a COVID vaccine with the label saying COVID-19 Vaccine Injection Only.

In response to the Indian variant of COVID-19 (also known as B.1.617), the NHS is bringing forward second dose appointments from 12 weeks for people in the most vulnerable groups – over 50s and people aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions.

You don’t need to do anything unless the NHS contacts you.

Then:
 
• If you had your first dose at a GP clinic, your GP will be in touch to rearrange your second appointment 
• If you booked your appointment on the National Booking System, and you receive a text message asking you to bring forward your second dose, please visit the National Booking System and click Manage My Appointments to amend your second appointment.  You can also call 119 to manage your booking.

 
Unless you are contacted, please continue to attend your existing second dose appointment – there is no need to contact the NHS. They will contact anyone who should bring their appointment forward. People under the age of 50 will continue to get their first dose, with their second dose at 12 weeks.

New Passanger Assistance Mobile App from National Rail

Image of a woman sitting in a train carrage on her own wearing a face mask.

National Rail have launched a new Apple/Android rail assistance app.

Passenger Assistance by Transreport allows you to:

·        request assistance for your rail journey

·        manage your customer profile

·        view your travel history

·        browse rail journeys via the online journey planner.

The app is being delivered by Transreport in partnership with National Rail, and can be used to book assistance for future journeys across the National Rail network. 

Read more here: https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations_destinations/passenger_assistance.aspx 

Forum to Meet with the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work

Photograph of Justin Tomlinson MP (Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work) taken from the gov.uk website.

Thanks to support from Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy, Justin Tomlinson (Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work) has agreed to meet with the Forum, to discuss our concerns about the National Disability Strategy Survey.

Background

Back in February we worked with the National Federation of the Blind UK (NFBUK) on a petition calling on the Minister for Disabled People to withdraw its Survey on a National Disability Strategy, because:

  1. it was not accessible to people with a wide range of communication access needs;
  2. the Minister had not involved organisations of Disabled people in drawing up the survey;
  3. many of the questions did not relate to Disabled people’s issues and priorities;
  4. some of the questions were not appropriate; and
  5. little or no space was provided for Disabled people to comment on what was, and was not, being asked or to say what issues and priorities they want the Strategy to cover.

The petition was signed by over 120 small to medium disability organisations – mostly Disabled people’s organisations – and featured in the Disability News Service.

The Minister’s Response

The Minister’s reply to our petition did not impress us, nor anyone who saw it!  Our petition was one of three that were sent to the Minister and, as far as we can see, the response to all of them was not acceptable. 

So, we asked Kerry McCarthy to lobby the Minister to listen to what Disabled people said about the survey.  We chose her because she has campaigned in parliament on disability issues before. 

Kerry mentioned our petition and raised the issue of the survey not being accessible, during the Minister for Disabled People’s question time.  His reply was to offer to meet with her, and Disabled people, to talk about it. 

Next Steps

The Forum will be meeting the Minister on Tuesday 15th June, along with our petition partner the NFBUK.  Kerry McCarthy, will chair the meeting and we have invited Bristol’s Centre for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to also join us.  

If you experienced difficulties completing the survey, please email bristoldef@gmail.com telling us how the survey or particular questions in it, was not accessible to you. 

If you do this by 6th June we will be able to include your experience in what we say to the minister.

We will let you know what was said at the meeting, once we have held the meeting and heard whether the Minister has accepted our concerns.

A Disability Equality Commission for Bristol

Now that the Mayor elections have passed, the Disability Equality Commission Working Group will start preparing for the recruitment of a Chairperson and Commissioners.  The working group is made up of Disabled people and their organisations, including the Forum.

The Forum originally got a commitment from Deputy Mayor Asher Craig, back in 2017, that as soon as the Race Commission was established, the Council would set up a Disability Equality Commission.  So we were delighted when, last November, the Council invited Disabled people’s organisations to form a working group to help set up the Commission.

The Forum has been involved with this working group since shortly after it was set up.  So far, along with all the other working group members, we have been involved in drawing up some terms of reference and job descriptions for the Chairperson and Commissioners. 

These roles are unpaid, not because that is what all the working group wanted but because none of the people on the other Commissions are paid and, until it has been running for a while, there isn’t the money to pay people.  Also, the working group felt that until we have raised more money the top priority was to spend the small amount of money available on meeting people’s access needs.

Who gets to be a Commissioner or the Chairperson will be decided by interview.  Anyone who fits the essential criteria for the role, and lives in Bristol, will be able to apply. 

Although the working group is nearly all Disabled people and their organisations, the Commission will be part of the Council’s One City office (the same as the Women’s and Race Commissions) not a totally independent one.  This means that some aspects of how it is set up and works, has to be agreed by the Council. 

As happens when doing things as a group, every person or organisation has had some of their proposals accepted and some not.  Anyone who has tried organising something together with their friends or family will have experienced this!  However, as a starting point, we are hopeful that the Disability Equality Commission will be able to improve the lives of Disabled people in the city, over the next 5 years.

The Commission’s focus in its first few years will not be up to the working group.  That will be decided by the Chairperson and Commissioners, once they have been recruited. 

We expect the Commission to do some research on the latest information about Disabled people in Bristol, and survey them about their priorities, before it decided what priorities to work on first.

We will keep you updated on progress over the next few months.

Online and Telephone Fraud – Common Types and How to Avoid Them

Image showing the word 'Scam' in white chalk text on a black background.

Whilst any person can be aware and be hit by digital or telephone scams, it is even more improtant for Disabled people to know how to deal with online (known as phishing) and phone fraud. Messages and calls can come out of the blue and claim to be from real companies. They are usually done in an attempt to get your personal details or bank account information.

The main pieces of advice are to always be wary and, if you are in any doubt, stop and do not respond. Terminate calls, delete emails and messages and do not click on links or attachments.

Never respond to anything that asks you for bank details or to log on to your online bank accounts. Do not tell anyone your passwords, PIN num,bers, verification codes – even if they ask.

If you want more information, go to the Co-Operative Bank website: https://www.co-operativebank.co.uk/global/security/common-fraud-threats

Coronavirus Update – We Enter Step 3!

Photograph of a person's hands and arms as they sanitise themself in a public place.

With the rest of England, we are now moving ahead with coming out of our national lockdown as we have now entered Step 3 of the Government’s roadmap.

Step 3 has come in today (17th May) which means that we can now meet more people outdoors (up to 30), can now meet people indoors (group of six or two households), travel the UK and internationally, go to indoor entertainment, attractions and events and eat or drink inside a cafe, pub or restaurant.

Whilst this is great news for us all, there is still a long way to go.  The situation internationally, across Europe and in India, is a reminder of the dangers of this virus.  By getting back to basics and supporting one another, we can get back to the things and people we love sooner.

Testing is available to everyone in Bristol, and now we’re opening up our city even more, it plays an important role in finding cases of COVID-19 and helping people to isolate.  Even though our rates are low, people can still pick up the virus and could be spreading it without knowing.  Alongside testing, vaccinations are an absolutely vital tool in helping us get back to the things we love.

It remains important that, throughout this phased unlocking, we remain patient and treat each other with kindness.  The changes to the rules around social distancing will mean that some people will want to give their friends and family a hug and others will want to continue keeping their space from others.

We must be aware that for some people the risks of close contact may be greater than others.  In some settings, such as care homes or indoors in a restaurant, there will be detailed COVID secure help that people need to follow, even when they are with friends and family.  Let’s all be respectful of one another’s wishes and work together to find the right balance as we look forward to recovery.

You can find more information on the Bristol City Council website – https://www.bristol.gov.uk/coronavirus/what-you-need-to-know or Tel: 0117 922 2000.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 at the Forum

Graphic of the BDEF logo, an earth and a trio of mountains on a green background. The text in white reads "Step into Nature and Take a Breath" folowed by "Mental Health Awareness Week 2021".

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (10 – 16 May) and the theme is nature, highlighting the important positive connection between the natural world and mental health.

Many people have struggled with their mental health during the pandemic and for some, the easing of lockdown restrictions has created its own challenges too.

We at the Forum have various projects & ways of getting involved that link to the benefits of good mental health.

Making Change Happen

Our peer support project where Disabled people meet vurrently daily over Zoom to support one another, give each other helpful advice and have a good old natter! They will continue to meet on Zoom but will soon be meeting in person again. 

The project also offers a phone service to those who are not online and can now help those who are digitally excluded to access the internet and provide them with tablet PCs so that they can join the online discussions and be kept informed of Forum activities and information.

The MCH group are a happy band and can be a great listening ear for those who are Disabled and want to talk about anything that is troubling them. If you’re interested or you know someone who may be, contact Dan by emailing mch.bristoldef@gmail.com

Community Climate Action

As nature is the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we have a project all about preserving our natural habitat in Community Climate Action. In partnership with Bristol Green Capital, the project shows that we play a leading role in shaping Bristol’s transition to a low carbon and climate resilient city.  

For this project we will work with Disabled people to:

  1. Create a climate action plan for the Disabled community in Bristol. This plan will help Disabled people in Bristol lower their use of dirty energy.
  2. Make sure that the city’s climate plans are fair and good for Disabled people.

The project will focus on making lives better at the same time as lowering our use of dirty energy.

The role of the Forum is to guide the project. We need you to bring it to life! To find out more, visit our CCA webpage on our site or contact Emma by emailing cca.bristoldef@gmail.com

Accessible Walking Group

Research shows that going for walks outside is one of our top coping strategies and 45 percent reported that being in green spaces had been vital for their mental health (according to Bristol City Council).

We at the Forum are in the process of doing the leadership training so we can begin our new walking group. This will be where we can go for walks as a group of Disabled people – the walks will be accessible.

To find out more about the group and our first walk, contact Dan by emailing mch.bristoldef@gmail.com

Volunteering Opportunities

Getting involved by doing volunteering is another great way of improving people’s mental health. We at the Forum have a range of opportunities which Disabled people can apply for.

To find out more, go to our Voulunteering page on our website.

Join Access Sport at their North and South Bristol Multi-Sport Hubs for Mencap’s Round the World Challenge

Access Sport are running new 16+ sessions as part of the Mencap Round The World Challenge.

As part of a collaborative effort, lots of fantastic deliverers have teamed up to offer multi-sport sessions in North and South Bristol. The 8 week block will then repeat in the alternate venue later in the year after a cycling and wheelchair sports block too so everyone has the opportunity to try all activities. Along the way, participants earn rewards for the hours of activity they complete.

·       South Bristol Hub (The Park Centre, Daventry Road, BS4 1DQ) –  Mondays 11am – 12pm starting 10th May

·       North Bristol Hub (Badminton School, Westbury Road, BS9 3BA) – Thursdays 12.15 – 1.15pm starting 13th May

Participants are required to fill in the below word document to register and return to Joe.Hawkins@accesssport.co.uk.