You’re Invited to Bristol Disability Equality Forum’s Open Forum!

Graphic: Black text on top of various coloured circles (two pale yellow, one purple, one blue and one mint green) surrounded by a graphic of two Disabled people (one in a wheelchair, the other with a visual impairment) having a conversation, a graphic of a speaker and a sign language translator and the BDEF logo.
Text: Open Forum. Join us to hear about our projects and discuss local disability issues with other Disabled Bristolians. Central Bristol Quakers, BS2 9DB. Saturday 30th July 1pm-3.30pm. Online and In-Person. Free for all Disabled people. Speakers TBC.

Bristol Disability Equality Forum are hosting an Open Forum event on Saturday 30th July from 1pm to 3.30pm at the Meeting Room in Central Bristol Quakers Friends Meeting House, Champion Square, Bristol, BS2 9DB.

Free for all Disabled people, join us to hear about our projects and discuss local disability issues with other Disabled Bristolians.

Central Bristol Quakers Friends Meeting House can be found on Champion Square which is n the small square behind Future Inm and lies behind (to the south of) the large Cabot Circus multi-storey car park. It is a 2 minute walk to the shopping and food in Cabot Circus. The location is well served by public transport. There is parking nearby, in the Cabot Circus car park.

The event will be both in-person and online via Zoom. Speakers will be announced in the coming weeks. The meeting will be generally accessible to all but, if you can, it would be good if you could let us know what your access and dietary needs are.

It’s important we know who is attending in person and remotely so we can ensure we can meet people’s access needs. For example, it will make a big diference to know whether those who need BSL will all be attending in person, all online, or a mix so that we know where to arrange the interpreters to be.

Please also note that we may be able cover the cost of accessible transport for those who don’t have access to a car and are totally unable to travel on public transport. You will need to discuss this with us before the event to work out if and what you can claim.

To let us know you would like to attend our Open Forum event, and whether you will attend in-person or online, please contact our Administrator Beth in any of the following ways by Monday 25th July.


Phone: 0117 914 0528

By Post: Bristol Disability Equality Forum, c/o St Pauls Learning and Family Centre, 94 Grosvenor Road, Bristol BS2 8XJ

For any clarifications or enquiries, please contact our Administrator Beth (who works Mondays 1pm-6pm, Tuesdays 11am-4pm and Thursdays 12pm-4pm) by emailing or phoning 0117 914 0528.

NHS staff autism training becomes law

Ensuring all NHS staff receive training in learning difficulties [what the NHS calls learning disabilities] and autism now have the full force of the law behind them.

The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in Learning Disability and Autism programme is now law, as part of the new Health and Care Act 2022.

Paula McGowan campaigned tirelessly for the training after the death of her 18-year-old son, Oliver, in Bristol’s Southmead Hospital.

Oliver had a learning difficulty, autism, epilepsy and cerebral palsy.  He died after suffering an allergic reaction when he was given an antipsychotic at the hospital.

His family say the hospital gave him the drug against their wishes and those of Oliver himself.

His brain swelled so much after the antipsychotic drug that it began to come out of the base of his skull.

In the wake of the tragedy, Paula started a petition to prevent avoidable deaths by making learning difficulty and autism training something every NHS member of staff must have.

The programme was tested last year and an evaluation is due to be published in the coming weeks.

‘So much better outcomes’

In a video posted on Twitter, Paula McGowan said other people with learning difficulties and autism would now have “so much better health and social care outcomes”.

She has also thanked all those who have supported her campaign, including Baroness Sheila Hollins.

Hollins is a professor of the psychiatry of learning difficulty at St George’s, University of London.

She was a strong supporter of McGowan’s campaign and put forward the amendment to the legislation to make sure the scheme became law.

Two new roles at Bristol Disability Equality Forum

The Forum is at an exciting period of development that is seeing it develop a range of community development projects to support Disabled people, to ensure their needs are met, and to extend the scope of their voice and influence. 

As part of these developments, we are delighted and excited to offer two new paid roles at the Forum, totalling 1.5 FTE.  These are permanent posts, subject to continued funding being available. 

They are:

  1. Deputy Manager – 0.5FTE.
  2. Citywide Community Development Worker, working with those Disabled people who identify as CEV – 1 FTE.

New Extended Deadline for applications: Wednesday 17th August.

[Please note, all applications must be submitted using our Application Form; no CVs will be accepted.]

Interviews: Week beginning Monday 5th September.

Criteria and flexibility notes:

a. It is an occupational requirement under the Equality Act 2010 that the successful applicant for each post identifies as a Disabled person.  This means any applicant who doesn’t identify as a Disabled person will not be considered for the roles.

b. If a suitably experienced Disabled person meets the criteria for the half-time Deputy role and the full-time Community Development worker role, we are happy to consider a partial combination of the two.  We are also open to applications for the Community Development role on a job share basis. 

However, be aware that we cannot promise that an applicant will get the combination of roles, or the Community Development worker job share they would prefer, as it will depend on the applications received and the best interests of the work to be undertaking.

c. As those who are Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) are underrepresented within the Forum, we particularly welcome applications from Disabled people within these communities.

Please indicate whether you would consider a job share [You don’t have to be willing to consider it].

Completed applications should be returned to:

If you would like to discuss the post before applying, email well before the deadline as her post is only half-time.

For information on and how to apply for the Deputy Manager job, visit:

For information on and how to apply for the Community Development Worker job, visit:

Reminder About This Week’s Rail Strikes

This is a reminder that there will be no rail services at all on some of GWR’s routes on the strike days this week – Tuesday 21 June, Thursday 23 June and Saturday 25 June.   Where services can run they will be extremely limited with much later start and much earlier finish times.  

There will also be a restricted service on Wednesday 22 June, Friday 24 June and Sunday 26 June, with services starting late and finishing very early. 

Full timetables are now in online journey planners for Tuesday 21 June and Thursday 23 June, and timetables for days between the strikes will be available from Saturday 18th June.  Where services are running rail travel should only be considered if absolutely necessary. 

There will be no alternative road replacement services available, and there is still the possibility of further changes – even on the day.  

As well as checking timetables, there are maps showing which routes are open.  This will be kept updated with the latest information. 

Disabled drivers facing long delays in licences

Disabled drivers are facing long delays in their driving licence applications being approved by the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).  The waiting time for motorists with medical conditions has risen by 65% in 12 months.

Drivers must tell the DVLA about certain health conditions.  These include diabetes, sleep apnoea, epilepsy or a heart condition.

An investigation by an online car dealership (Heycar), found a 65% rise in the time it took to get their application approved, with more than 300,000 Disabled drivers affected by delays.

The report said one of the causes of the backlog include DVLA staff working from home not having access to a vital database.

The DVLA expects to get back to their ‘normal’ turnaround times later this year, with 90 per cent of medical applications being dealt with within 90 days, by the end of September.  However, the current delays are seriously affecting the lives and mobility of Disabled people.

As well as the long delays in dealing with licence applications, Disabled people are finding it extremely difficult to contact DVLA, which means they don’t know what is happening to their application.

DVLA seems to not be aware, or not care, that these delays mean many Disabled people are having to make monthly payments for vehicles that they cannot use. 

While the Forum understands that the pandemic has caused a backlog and delays within many services, it is not acceptable that Disabled drivers receive a worse service from the DVLA than not-yet Disabled people -leaving some drivers waiting up to six months for a new or renewed licence.

Laura Welti, the Forum Manager, said:

“The DVLA must cut the amount of time it takes to deal with licence applications from Disabled drivers and improve its communications.”

For more information, including medical driving licence FAQs, please visit the Heycar medical licence guide.

Airlines told to improve support for Disabled flyers

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has ordered airports to set out by next week how they will improve services and support for Disabled people following recent, high-profile failures.

Disabled passengers have been left on aircraft for long periods after landing as the airports and airplanes industry struggles to recruit enough staff following the pandemic.  This has been made worse by a lot of flight cancellations and long delays.  

As well as needing assistance with wheelchairs and to get off their airplane, Disabled people are more likely to need support from airport liaison staff when flights are delayed.

In its letter to airports and airlines, the CAA says the recent “significant service failings” (experienced by some Disabled passengers) are “simply unacceptable”.

The CAA’s letter warns: 

“We will continue to closely monitor the quality of service provided and if these significant service failures continue, we will consider whether further action is needed, including using enforcement powers.”

The authority notes a recent increase in the percentage of passengers requesting the assistance service.

The letter said: 

“It is not clear what is causing this increase in demand for the assistance service, but through working with airlines, airports should ensure that support offered meets the particular need of each passenger, both to ensure that the assistance is appropriate but also to make the general operation more effective.”

Disabled people can let airlines and airports know in advance that they will need support and the CAA said that it will work with stakeholders to spread that message.

New Level Playing Field survey shows discrimination and abuse experienced by Disabled fans at Football matches

Findings show that Disabled football fans are discriminated against   when they go to away games. The survey was by the charity Level Playing Field (LPF).

Of more than 600 Disabled football fans:

43% had some form of abuse or negativity at them at an away match in the last 5 years.

26% had verbal abuse.

16% had experienced disability-related offensive songs, chants or gestures.

13% said that “fear of disability abuse” was a barrier for them when attending away matches.

There is also conern about how staff at grounds have poor levels of Disability awareness.  Public transport to the matches is inaccessible and stadiums have general access problems.

Mikey Erhardt, Communications Officer at Get Yourself Active, said:

“These new findings from our friends at Level Playing Field paint a stark picture of the reality of being a sports fan as a Disabled person.

In a month that has seen the governing bodies that run the “beautiful game” fail Disabled fans, it is clear that individual clubs also need to do more to support Disabled people’s right to enjoy the world’s favourite sport.

We want to see changes made quickly, with stadium staff empowered to root out those who chant at or intimidate Disabled fans. We wish to see more training given to staff to understand the needs of Disabled fans, and more thought given to accessibility in the design of spaces and services.”

You can find out more about the survey results in this article from LPF on their website:

Local elections accessibility survey

The Government’s Department for Levelling Up is inviting feedback on the accessibility of the recent local elections. They are calling for “as much feedback on Disabled people’s experiences as possible”.

The survey is completely anonymous and will be open until Friday 17 June.

The survey can be found here:

Accessible and Welsh verisons of the survey can be found here:

There is a link in the survey’s introduction to a Word version for anyone wishing to complete it offline or who would like to see the questions before starting.

Diabetes Awareness Week 13 to 19 June

This week is Diabetes Awareness Week (13 to 19 June).

Diabetes is a serious and complicated condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. Approximately one in 14 people in the UK live with diabetes. 

Raising awareness of the condition is one of the most important ways of providing support to people who have diabetes as well as being able to detect early symptoms of Type 2 diabetes.

For more information about diabetes and the support available, visit Diabetes UK.

COVID-19: get help with food

How to get help with getting food if you’re self-isolating or if you can’t afford food.

Help with food if you’re self-isolating

Call 0800 694 0184 if you need help to get food because you’re self-isolating.

They will try to find a volunteer to help you.

Help if you can’t afford to buy food

Call 0800 694 0184 to find out:

1) if you can be referred to a food bank, for short-term support in a financial crisis,

2) if you can be referred FOOD club, for help feeding your family, or

3) information about community or voluntary organisations that can provide you with food.

You can also call the Citizens Advice Foodbank helpline for emergency food support: 0808 208 2138.

If you’re on certain benefits and have a child under 4 or are at least 10 weeks pregnant, you may also be able to get help from Healthy Start.

If your child usually has Free School Meals but is not attending school because of coronavirus (COVID-19), speak to their school to find out how to get free school meal vouchers or other support with food.