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my birthday card from brothers girlfriend

November 27, 2022

November 26, 2022
staability biking with terrible clothes for someone that loves writing when I was little Paul wheeler with my best friend about his all wheels or as they called it now a try ride with special characters on my legs to help my legs tastes great in the pedals and in line with the rest of my body racing on sports day when I was in primary school for the picture of me on my type when I was little tomorrow

litter picking and clearing up the community with daylight club

November 26, 2022

This summer I went with daylight club and a few members of passport to leisure to do do some community work litter picking and clearing up the streets of the community around trestle theatre and in the housing estates that are close to the theatre I went out out-of-hours in a hi-vis jacket and collected rubbish with my group and loaded it up into bags 4 a charity to take away and dispose of it, here is a picture of me in my hi-vis after coming back from litter picking

my birthday evening make up.

November 25, 2022

here is my birthday evening makeup ready to celebrate with my Grandma, mum, brother and my grandfather

and to be spoilt with lots of surprises prosecco station to see what I get be part of the celebrations and thank you to all those that wished me a very happy birthday today

potter painting with daylight club day services

November 25, 2022

yesterday we had the pleasure of doing some pottery painting and I painted on lilac heart one of my family members Christmas presents so they have got a heart that is artistically designed by me here it is in a picture below 🤣🌄🥰♥️

‘I Want To Show Disabled People Can Be Fashionable’

November 25, 2022

A disabled fashion blogger said she was determined to raise the profile of people in wheelchairs on social media.

Sophie Bradbury-Cox, aka Fashion Bellee, posts about clothing, being a mum, living with spinal muscular atrophy and campaigning for fashion to be more inclusive.

The 34-year-old from Wellingborough in Northamptonshire has built up an Instagram following of about 23,000 people.

She said: “I just felt there was a space on social media for someone to show that disabled people can be fashionable and that we don’t have to hide away.”

carol birthday card for my family and friends all myself thank you for all my cars 💕

November 24, 2022

My birthday evening celebration

November 24, 2022

celebrating my birthday with my family

I can’t believe I’m 23 already!

November 24, 2022

I can’t believe that I am celebrating 23 years I was born today yeah it is a picture of me when I was celebrating my 21st virtual parties during lockdown what a whole different 21st than I ever imagined but more perfect than I ever imagined no way did I think I would be 23 already

Reflecting on my 23 years!!!

November 24, 2022

Despite having Cerabal palsey and complex needs including functional neurological disorder and tourette syndrome I I have found a memory that means a lot to me it is my first ever birthday at college when I visited the garden centre with the Landmark program for one of the subject those studying their gardening and and had a look around some of the decorations and pose with some of them how many years goes by no I am a mainstream student throwing knives thank you landmark programme and thank you oaklands college

Celebrating my birthday with sing up choir at tressle theatre

November 24, 2022

John McFall: European Space Agency Selects World’s First Disabled Astronaut

November 24, 2022

There’s been big news from Space. The European Space Agency has selected the world’s first disabled astronaut, former British Paralympian John McFall.

He will be starting by helping the Agency research whether it will be feasible for physically disabled people to go into Space.

This giant leap for disability has had a whole page of  BBC coverage to itself so I am linking to it here.

When I was a child, people I know and love whose children shared my disability wondered whether the loss of gravity provided by being in Space would make it easier for severely disabled people to move.

This thought, the Moon, and Space in general have fascinated me for many years. I wish John McFall all the very best in his new role and sincerely hope he will one day be able to go into orbit- and return to Earth with the answer to my question.

Plans of my birthday tomorrow and the year ahead

November 23, 2022

I plan to share a birthday cake with my choir tomorrow and celebrate with them then I plan to be spoilt by mum grandad and Grandma with lots of gifts then at the weekend I can too to make some cake or biscuit to share with wacky world which I go to on Monday I am excited to get loads of this I have asked for a pillow electronic candles with batteries in to make the bathroom look a bit more stylish and and I have are for oodie witches like a hooded blanket cross between a jumper and a blanket I’ve asked the many other than you like a heated cushion that massages your back and your seat in other words your backside as sitting in the wheelchair makes me very stiff during the day stay tuned in to see how spoilt I get tomorrow celebration celebration is definitely required I will pictures of my birthday and upload them tomorrow night stay tuned to see what me my family and friends get up to on my 23rd birthday I also turn to go back to to oaklands college in September you study forensic science and investigation as well as completing my biology that I am talk to The failed last year and see more punk concerts at my local music venues and more concert in general and what I thought of them as I will be doing a series on them as I go andI would love to hear what your best birthday celebration would be in the comments .

when mum buy you a heated blanket for your 23rd birthday

November 23, 2022

when mum buys you a heated blanket and the cats decide that it is theirs the cost of living is also affecting my cats and their heat regulation they were showing me that they appreciate it too good birthday present to me to stay warm in bed. Have a look at my pets think that they are humans little mini people that also want to keep warm and need to keep cosy this winter I think they would speak and say seriously need to the most human-like pets ever although I love them all

Video clips of me having fun

November 23, 2022

Jack Grealish England World Cup Worm Dance Delights Young Fan

November 23, 2022

The boy who inspired England footballer Jack Grealish’s goal celebration said it was “the best thing ever” to see his hero perform the unusual “worm” dance.

Grealish scored England’s sixth goal as they thrashed Iran 6-2 in their opening World Cup match in Doha, Qatar.

The Manchester City forward had promised to do the special dance for 12-year-old Finlay, who has cerebral palsy, the next time he scored.

Grealish said after the match: “Finlay, that was for you.”

The footballer met Finlay, who is from Manchester, after receiving a “touching” letter from the youngster referencing Grealish’s bond with sister Holly, who also has cerebral palsy.

The condition affects movement and co-ordination.

Speaking after the England match, Finlay told BBC Radio Manchester: “It’s the best thing ever. I love you Grealish!

“It was amazing because he is my idol.”

Manchester City fan Finlay, whose dad Dan happens to support rivals Manchester United, said he only just got home to watch the game.

“In the morning I injured my leg, so I had to go to A&E,” he explained.

“But thankfully I got back 10 minutes before the match started.”

He said when Grealish scored he was “jumping around, or trying to jump” and he screamed “come on” but he did not think his idol would do the special dance.

“I actually thought he’d forget – but he remembered!

“When he did it I was like ‘oh my God he’s done the worm’!”

Finlay, who plays football at City in the Community, said the whole experience had left him “starstruck”.

“I just can’t believe it. It feels like a dream come true.”

He said his “superhero” was “very inspirational” and the fact he had given up his spare time to meet him had “brought me confidence”.

“I really want to thank him for that,” the youngster said.

He now hopes Grealish will be doing more “signature Finlay” celebrations on the way to England winning the World Cup.

Grealish said after the win: “I got on really well with [Finlay].

“He asked me to do a celebration for him and luckily for him it come at the World Cup.”

Putting aside his allegiances as a United fan, Finlay’s dad Dan said he had a “lot of respect” for Grealish.

“He had so much on his plate; he had just scored a goal for England and he has remembered to do that celebration for Fin.

“Just shows what a legend the guy is.”

As well as thanking his football idol, Finlay also praised City in the Community for providing a place where children like him can play football.

“Anyone with disabilities, they can play with a smile on their face,” he said.

“Before City in the Community, I got upset because I couldn’t really play football.

“When I went there, it just made me happy that I could actually play football.”

Chris Hemsworth: Alzheimer’s Risk Prompts Actor To Take Acting Break

November 23, 2022

Actor Chris Hemsworth says he is taking a break from acting after learning he has a heightened risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The Thor star made the discovery after undergoing tests as part of his Disney+ documentary series Limitless.

He told Vanity Fair the tests confirmed his “biggest fear”, adding he will now be trying to take “preventative steps”.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and can cause memory problems, confusion and communication issues.

Hemsworth learned that he has two copies of the gene ApoE4, one from his mother and one from his father, making him between eight and 10 times more likely to develop the disease than those without both copies of the gene.

About 2 to 3 per cent of the population carries two copies of the gene.

“It’s not like I’ve been handed my resignation,” Hemsworth said, but added the news “really triggered something in me to want to take some time off”.

“If you look at Alzheimer’s prevention, the benefit of preventative steps is that it affects the rest of your life,” he said.

“It’s all about sleep management, stress management, nutrition, movement, fitness. It’s all kind of the same tools that need to be applied in a consistent way.”

The Limitless series sees Hemsworth test his body and explore ways to live longer and healthier.

He explained that he had not been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, but had been warned of the heightened risk. “It’s not a pre-deterministic gene, but it is a strong indication,” he said. “Ten years ago, I think it was more thought of as determinant.”

Hemsworth said the original plan for the series would have seen him receive all his genetic test results live to camera – but series creator Darren Aronofsky told him privately once they got the results.

The Marvel star was subsequently given the option of removing any references to Alzheimer’s from the show, but decided to include his genetic risk of Alzheimer’s to improve awareness and understanding.

“My concern was I just didn’t want to manipulate it and over-dramatise it, and make it into some sort of hokey grab at empathy or whatever for entertainment,” he said.

Hemsworth also confirmed to the magazine his grandfather has also been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The actor will soon be seen in George Miller’s forthcoming Mad Max sequel Furiosa, which concluded filming earlier this month.

The 39-year-old said he would take a break from acting after finishing the publicity tour for Limitless, along with his other contracted work.

He will be going home to Byron Bay in Australia to spend time with his partner, actor Elsa Pataky, and their three children.

English certificate

November 22, 2022

Today I have received confirmation via certification that I have passed my English language GCSE course with a Grade 3

For many people without cerebral palsey this would be a small achievement. But for people like myself this is massive, because teachers tried to discourage me from being in a main stream education setting, even telling me what if I fail.Being told I cannot do the course even though I’ve gained certificate in the past!for many different types of courses at many different levels. It’s made me feel discriminated against

Pictures of me with my makeup done

November 22, 2022

Cost Of Living: Disabled People At Breaking Point, Says MS Patient

November 22, 2022

A man with multiple sclerosis, who says he has to choose between paying for a carer or medication, has said disabled people are at “breaking point”.

Martin Pridgeon, from Grimsby, called on the government to increase financial help during the cost of living crisis.

Mr Pridgeon uses a private carer to help him cook, clean and do household chores he cannot do alone.

The government said it had a £37bn package of support including extra payments for disabled people.

The 44-year-old, who has secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) and struggles to do day-to-day tasks, said: “Disabled people urgently need the support right now.”

He has planned to deliver a 14,000-name petition to 10 Downing Street asking for more help for disabled people.

“Disabled people are at breaking point and stuck in a catch-22 situation because of the rising cost of living,” he said.

“The support that has been publicised in the autumn statement is all very well but why do we have to wait months to get it?”

Last week, chancellor Jeremy Hunt said benefits were to increase in line with inflation, along with more money being put into the social care system as part of the autumn statement.

“I want to share my experience because I know I am not the only one who will suffer this winter,” he added.

Mr Pridgeon is medically retired and receives Personal Independence Payment benefits.

He is unable to afford a carer because he has to spend £200 a month on the drug fampridine, a symptom management treatment for MS that is not currently available on the NHS in England.

“I’ve had to cut down on food and heating to be able to afford it, even though it is really important for me to stay warm because of my MS,” he said.

A government spokesperson said it had put a “strong” financial support system in place.

“As part of our £37bn package of support, we are supporting six million people with a disability or health condition with an extra £150 payment while millions of low-income households will also be receiving at least £1,200 of direct payments this year.”

baking at work ewheels social club today.

November 21, 2022

we made flapjacks at work ewheels today is a group of young people from 18 to 30 years old all with cerebral palsy I have been going there since I was 16 years old I’m now about to be 23 years old and love going there to see my friends I will will love to share with you what we get up today I am sharing the crap jack’s which we made using apricot and great apple today at social Club I hope great the Apple and added the chopped up apricots to the mixture and stirred it with Sam wooden spoon thank you wacky bill for the baking activity today we all grow up together from other even sharing the same care provider and having Christmas parties together as we grew up and that’s how wacky wheels with formed in St Albans Hertfordshire England

Photos and videos of me dressed up

November 21, 2022

Children In Need: ‘Now I Have Deaf Friends I Feel Less Alone’

November 21, 2022

A school holiday playscheme funded by Children in Need gives children who are deaf a bit of respite from the stress of negotiating the hearing world.

And it’s often the first experience they have of being part of a community.

One charity led by deaf people runs a project in north London that benefits from fundraising efforts and donations.

Remark! Community helps young people form meaningful relationships and provides a community where they feel they belong.

Company camping for a college course or D of E

November 19, 2022

Make sure you always go out in groups of 6 if possible in case of emergency make sure you take take if you are all weather camper and experience in how to keep warm in a tent in the winter because remember there’s no central heating and less you are glamping this is why it is important to write a list when going camping just in case things and the the clothing that will be most appropriate according to the weather forecast and a thinner or thicker set of clothes just in case the weather changes suddenly and unexpectedly this is so that you don’t end up hyperthermic or overheating if you go in the summer you also have to take your food camping stove and camping gas to ensure you you have adequate food intake especially if you are doing orienteering whilst you are there air and make sure you either have enough cut and dry wood to create a campfire or that your campsite provides you with an outdoor tyre pit to cook marshmallows sausages and other camps favourites on make sure it’s got the essentials that you need important so for me that was a decent disabled toilet and shower or just in case this is important to me because my disabilities but different essentials will be important for different people for different reasons this means for me call my morning routine I will make sure I have enough tea bags to fill up a blast and then enough tea bags to least three cups when returning back to the site where I am come but just my personal preference to make sure I have that and my class with me at all times on expedition and just in daily life this means that I will be taking a suitcase and the duvet whether they are grilled with that or not I don’t care what would you take with you?



comment your company essentials down below or anything you find useful while camping how to stay warm in particular with my cerebral palsy world camping any body got any tips or tricks please comment below p🏕️👩‍🦼🤣🍵☕☕🛎️☕🏨♨️

D of E camping DAB is an outdoor experience

November 19, 2022

you learn how to cook outdoors on camp wash up and how to clean up after yourself and for me as a person with the disability that is where I learnt alongside my residential placement at school to wash up dryer and things like how much washing up liquid to use when washing up and what temperature to have the water up in my washing up bowl when I am preparing to do the washing up I also learnt how to use a sleeping bag and how to cook marsh mello no on the ham cooker how to pack for outdoor pursuit and how to navigate and you directions left right x x I don’t necessarily need gadgets to live my life in the way iTunes I loved it and experience but discovered that I will never go camping after I passed my levels of D of E that I wish to show me some images of what utensils are used except when I went camping on my tip with my school

huddled I enjoyed putting together and solving

November 19, 2022

staability biking with terrible clothes for someone that loves writing when I was little Paul wheeler with my best friend about his all wheels or as they called it now a try ride with special characters on my legs to help my legs tastes great in the pedals and in line with the rest of […]

litter picking and clearing up the community with daylight club

This summer I went with daylight club and a few members of passport to leisure to do do some community work litter picking and clearing up the streets of the community around trestle theatre and in the housing estates that are close to the theatre I went out out-of-hours in a hi-vis jacket and collected […]

Circus skills and me during Shakespearean in in the circus skills workshop provided by the learning disability testable organisers for the opening day

November 19, 2022

plate spinning pictures with the circus skills workshop 🤣

also during the festival I got to try out some plate spinning for the first time which I found difficult to actually keep up in the air like you’re supposed to using my hand eye coordination a bit more that day she try my best at all the circus at including the plate spinning ended up on the floor I was proud of myself but I managed to bring it on there for a short duration of time circus skills is something I would like to do more of as they do amazing things with slightly unusual things to do tricks I would like to add a whoopee cushion to that to the clicks next time to make my chair far as I do my dick I can imagine me becoming the circus maybe a dream that’s a bit party weeks good to go thank you to everybody that to read and watch my videos thank you you for all my followers and commented who chosen to pay me compliments about the seas I do and my busy lifestyl

Attending the open event for learning disability festival and planting with earthworks

November 19, 2022

well I was at the opening event for the learning disability testable we had a circus specialist come in the shower many things they used to do Circus trick with and how they use them and she let us to have a go at using them ourselves here is the video of me using the diablo which is like a giant yo-yo but school the circus profession is a giant yo-yo but extraordinarily larger and have to stick instead of you just bouncing it by the screen I enjoyed this and learnt how to bounce it effectively I also planted with earthworks who had a stall at the moment just to be ready festival I planted people aren’t in a disposable coffee cup they were seeds that I and then they grew into a big peacock earthwork support adults with learning disabilities to gain employment will be there to bilty garden centre as well as running stalls at events such as the learning disability festival I enjoyed this and got covered in soil and earth and got to take my people aren’t seeds home in the disposable coffee cup events like the learning disability festival focus on creating a world where learning disability people or people with conditions that can come with associated learning disability are not seen as a convenient nuisance and are supported to exist in regular street corners in regular houses with the right support where can panning for change and more respect for people with learning and physical disability churches encouraging people not to bully people with a learning disability and explaining to them what a learning disability can me and showing them every learning disability is different and every person in this world has a different lifestyle and different way they live so therefore having learning disability is not odd is not to be found upon and these just a regular thing this means that people with a learning disability can down the street proud of having a learning disability rather than Shane do it lucky for me I only have learning disabilities associated with cerebral palsy but for many people they are autistic as well well which leads to a lotto playground bullying but sometimes from adults who should know better that are disrespectful and unkind to these types of people what they don’t do you to realise is we all have a different lifestyle people with learning disabilities have a different lifestyle to and that lifestyle obviously and learning disability what are your thoughts and opinions on this? As I would love to hear many sort feelings and opinions from people with a learning disability either associated with the condition or not and their families and caregivers that supports them please see my videos and pictures below to see how the possible for me as a part of it in Hertfordshire in August

Butlins holiday 2021

November 19, 2022

I went to Butlins bognor Regis with a charity called rickmansworth gateway and this is because of my persistent fundraising, I have managed to do amazing things including Butlins and nutley edge. We should be allowed by the government to have funding for things like this at least once a month if not twice because as part of this I manage to make friends and see atomic kitten on stage and go clubbing, I also got to experience having pre drinks in the hotel room. I was able to drink the night away with many other big Weekender guests including the rickmansworth gateway service users and was able to see some amazing bands and singers like atomic kitten. Here are some pictures to give you an insight into what I got up to there and why this fundraising means so much to me and my independence. I even got to practice pouring wine for the first time at the age of 22.

Pictures of how I celebrated children in need and the charities that are supported by them, such as me on my very first holiday without my parents or family with fab kids at 18 years old. This is a charity supported by children in need that takes young disabled adults, teenagers and children away to experience many outdoor adventures, including making dream catchers, here is me with mine after returning from holiday with one. Fab is amazing because it gives you the thrills of a normal adventure holiday but with the support of specialist staff who know how to deal with any situation that may arise from disability or conditions, they even managed to get me up to dance for the first time in my life… Which for me is priceless because at least I got to dance standing upright like many normal people. Thank you fab kids!!

November 18, 2022

Pictures of my trip to Nutley edge cottages this summer on their mad about animals break

November 18, 2022

Me out having fun & me dressing up

November 18, 2022

Fun with Cerebral Palsy visiting East Sussex

November 18, 2022

In July 2022 I visited a placement called Nutley edge in East Sussex where I enjoyed visiting Drusilla’s zoo and theme park where they have an accessible carousel that I could access in my wheelchair. First accessible carousel I have ever seen ncluding people with mobility issues that have to use a wheelchair into the fairground. Well done for inclusivity Drusilla Zoo and Theme Park and please see my tick tock below to see my 2022 break to Nutley edge and the things I got up to highlighting why respite is important to me and why I sincerely believe that things like this should be financially assisted by Social services that provide respite for me and many others across the country because this is a much better way to provide it than any of the centres I have ever been to.

But this isn’t seen as a respite provision that Hertfordshire and the surrounding areas are willing to fund through Health and social care funding. No idea why because I feel much more rested physically and mentally after accessing one of these provisions that I have fund raised for due to the lack of benefit recognition . They do not recognise how beneficial it is to have respite in the form of a holiday instead they put us in centres where no activities are provided meaning that all that respite care is boring and mind numbing increasing anxiety whilst there. This is why places like nutley edge and revitalise should be recognised whether you are part of continuing health care or not because this is not all that respite services cater for. But this is the health and social cares remit which they will fund. We should be supported and encouraged to make our own decisions about where we spend our respite care breaks and should be given a budget to do so especially with the care act 2014 now in legislation. I thought that this was supposed to change care for the better but I don’t see it changing any time soon they do not need to just talk about modernization it they need to actually doing so because for me and many other disabled people it is all just words and no action whereas for me actions speak louder than words.

Videos- good respite care and the benefit of it

November 18, 2022


London Underground Step-Free Projects At Risk Due To Funding Issues

November 18, 2022

    Some step-free projects planned for the Tube could be delayed or cancelled due to a lack of funds, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

    In August TfL was given a sixth bailout deal after its revenues plummeted during the pandemic.

    The body said its current “funding situation” had affected progress with step-free schemes and “external funding will be critical” to carry out more.

    One charity said disabled people were “being hit hardest by funding cuts”.

    Two-thirds of respondents to a recent TfL consultation said they would use the Tube more if the number of step-free stations increased.

    More than 200 stations across the Tube network are step-free, including all 41 Elizabeth line stations and every DLR station.

    Trials of a new “bridging device” at eight Jubilee line stations to help wheelchair users on and off trains have also been launched.

    However, step-free access projects were paused at Burnt Oak, Hanger Lane and Northolt in March 2020 and have not yet been resumed.

    Fazilet Hadi, head of policy at Disability Rights UK, said it was “not acceptable that people with mobility impairments and wheelchair users continue to be denied access” on public transport.

    TfL said its current funding situation meant it was “preparing a new business plan” which would be published before the end of the year, and step-free access would be “considered as part of this process”.

    It added it would “continue to work with third parties and developers to identify funding”.

    Earlier this year TfL agreed a £3.6bn deal with the government to keep the transport network running until 31 March 2024.

    At the time, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan labelled the deal “far from ideal”, but then-Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it “more than delivers for Londoners”.

    The Department for Transport has provided more than £6bn of funding to TfL in recent years.

    silly photos of me relaxing after choir and cookery content from my pizza making on Monday

    November 17, 2022

    Open photo

    Open photo

    picture of me of me enjoying a respite care break last time I can break for it and pictures of me chilling at home after choir pictures of cookery on Monday

    November 17, 2022

    pictures of me at peacock when I went to nutley edge next to a statue or elephant to find a wheelchair accessible carousel and go on it this is what good West bike needs to meet and why I am fundraising and feel very passionate about respite care because this is what restaurant should be and will be in the future is mine I won’t have anything to do with it also include pictures of me ME2 at home after quiet today day thank you more pictures to come in the next post

    all ready for choir this morning

    November 17, 2022

    getting ready for our Christmas show at the moment at kettles I am a participant in the choir there and I’m part of a family and a very supportive one at that alongside my own family if you are interested in my story please donate donate using my just giving link thank you this will be going towards my DVD and the trailer for it thank you I’m proud to put on my t-shirt each week represent and the hard work they do down at crystal clear data I also love being so very much looking forward to the Christmas shows and the songs and carols we will spend there this means a lot to me and look to the other participant switch everything wrong it gives me the confidence to be seen and heard even though some of our singing is not the best but we all enjoy it as a group and as the collective ☃️☃️☃️☃️☃️☃️🏗️🤩🤩🐱🐱

    Accessibility Improvements On The Jubilee Line

    November 17, 2022

    An email from Transport For London:


    We are starting a trial to improve access between the train and platform at our London Underground stations which are already step-free.

    We know at our step-free stations, some customers find the small gap between the platform and the train a barrier to getting on and off with confidence.

    To help with this, we have developed a bridging device which is laid over the gap between the platform and the train. It is the same width as the existing ramps widely in use across the network, but only 200mm long. 

    The trial will be taking place from Monday 14 November until spring 2023 on the Jubilee line platforms at Bermondsey, Canary Wharf, Canada Water, Canning Town, Green Park, London Bridge, North Greenwich and Stratford stations. Colleagues working at these stations have been trained in using the bridging device to assist customers. 

    If you would like to use the bridging device when travelling on the Jubilee line, you can ask a member of staff to deploy it for you when you arrive at the station.

    If you need to use it to get off the train at one of the trial stations, speak to staff at your starting stations to ask them to arrange for this to happen at your destination. There is no need to book in advance. 

    You can find more information about this bridging device on our website.

    We’re keen to hear what you think about the bridging device, whether you use it as part of the trial, or if you would like to share your thoughts about the initiative. You can give us your feedback using this link.  

    Yours sincerely,

    Mark Evers
    Chief Customer Officer

    Ellie Simmonds: “Strictly Gave Me Confidence”

    November 17, 2022

    The Access All team were shocked when Ellie Simmonds left this year’s season of Strictly Come Dancing – the first person with dwarfism to compete on the show.

    But the dancing competition’s loss is this episode’s gain, as Ellie chats all things representation, ballroom, skydiving and her plans for the future.

    Why do we only ever hear about disabled dating, and never about long-term relationships? Presenters Nikki Fox and Emma Tracey talk about their experiences, plus provide some tips and advice.

    Billionaire Elon Musk might have bought Twitter, but he also reportedly sacked half of its staff including the entire accessibility team. So what does this mean for disabled people? BBC Click’s Paul Carter and accessibility consultant Leonie Watson help us make sense of a wild week in social media.

    my graduation from health and social care and my kitchen the bowling alley when we were first allowed out and about I graduated from health and social care level 1 1-in 2020 T2 +23 but because of covid they didn’t do the maths.

    November 16, 2022

    They Didn’t do the normal graduation that year they were concerned about covid spreading so me and my friend and my support work at the time went to a bar instead brand prosecco cocktails and here is a picture of me posing with my prosecco so proud that despite the pandemic challenges that home study I was able to graduate from the core still and also complete my placement actually this world more difficult for me as it wasn’t allowed to be supported by my normal classroom helpers meaning that I was more relying on my personal assistant than ever be able this was because they they possibly message to ordered work that actually even with those with special educational needs like me at the beginning and then we were allowed to go back in in small study group to those of our course and other courses that had disability these challenges were unique and different for everyone 1as will will changing all the time I’m but I believe that if I wasn’t special needs and in education at the time I would be brought and stimulated and very reluctant to you something I believe that my course skill made me remain focused despite all the news that we were hearing at the time from very Johnson and number 10 downing Street because although they had to say things about covered in news reports is forever changing their minds and just be bleak not shining positivity when actually I believe that is disabled people we can so many things from a pandemic such as be able to work more virtually and flexibly from home whether that be in a volunteering role like it is to me or those of us that are employed like I plan to be in the future I may be disabled but this made me more determined than ever to celebrate my son just broke not having Uma graduation don’t we would have had hers covod not be present in England and all around the world this is showing people that they can make reasonable adjustments and they can adapt because it talks them too which for me and those of us that require reasonable adjustments this show them what is reasonable and how unreasonable people and services were being before the pandemic so in a way I believe this tore us all a very valuable lesson how to study without sitting face to face with a tutor even though we can find it difficult perseverance do you study portals more effectively and for me it was showing me how much I could achieve despite the lack of face-to-face in the beginning from a tutor or a teacher you deserve I have now gave my house to social care level 1 children’s only young people suffering me this show me how much I couldn’t leave and how did her I was is well as many other young disabled people in education that I know because yes there was a pandemic but that didn’t mean our disabilities ready to way we were more in we were more dependant drug the more independent because we didn’t have that structure of college day centres and many more services that we were accessed by the pandemic but we gave you so much more and it made us value and that they provide for us activities education and training and placement opportunities I believe that people that use health and social care like myself who are disabled need to be able to get together in the support agency just like we used to and have Christmas parties and things like that because that’s the one that has been spoilt and ruined by the pandemic because CQC are a bit behind on the X and y the rest of the world moves on health and social care and CQC stuck and are not moving on very fast or very effectively at all in terms of letting service users and people that providers support socialise together again which use a a really good networking opportunity for those that use services this is one thing that covered and Boris and his silly rules to the care quality commission created in a way we have more opportunities mystic ones in terms of meeting our needs as well but we have also lost a lot so even though he gained not that I am any other young people I know no would want that from the service provisions like our Christmas parties which we still have not yet had since the pandemic it is now 2 years since we were all ordered to lockdown they need to realise but yes it is still around yes they want to keep her safe but life new song just like any other mainstream person tomorrow moves on it’s just time to move on and stop stop living in the past when it comes to the rulings with the pandemic but here is a picture of me making the most of and still having to wear them today as we speak here is a picture of me making the best of it going bowling and celebrating my graduation with the glasses as deco just like I would if we weren’t go into lockdown and various things like that just enjoying being me enjoying a game of bowley and enjoying a glass of prosecco memories that will last a lifetime graduation that meant a lot to me can you check that I feel like we should be able to take our own now understand what the pandemic is including whether we attend parties but they hold it’s really weird me because groups can do party disability groups but anybody that’s the care agency or a data centre provider can’t this doesn’t mean it’s her one and another rule for another really really doesn’t make them traceable than the rest of the world because we have care so in terms of track and trace they are able to do this more easily the ruling just doesn’t make sense and may need to see common sense in the government to let her have our party acceptor back because I service users of any agency support and care you look forward to and remember come when we’re young to when we’re old and herb memories photographs and and awards that we were given on various events such as may be nominated a couple of years ago for the two of you I still have the certificate for that and still remember the experience treasure the certificate and we plan to put it up on my wall I think rules need to move on with the rest of the world regardless of whether we’re disabled or not this shouldn’t matter we may be disabled and may have to be careful but we should be able to decide how careful we want to be such as if we return leave the rent because at the end of the day yes yes if so put them on people are going to attend but that’s up to people because mentally people may suffer more if they don’t go then they would if they got coded and that should be something that should be assessed trying to client person may support a person they support and the adventures still happen in my opinion for those that live alone especially not just in schemes with the people that they live with because at the moment all that happening is places that are agency run do it in schemes that do assisted living for the people that live there but in terms of service users that live in our communities for many different agencies we do not get our parties anymore this is not fair as to me personally I used to enjoy giving out Christmas cards to the team that supported me that year in terms of in headquarters and and out in the community and this was a central place where we would all meet at which I would give out Christmas cards and was able to assist planning them for many places are used to help mate decorations for parties for many agency but not so much anymore it’s only the carers support charities that tell you to do event anymore it’s not the actual agency or company it’s more the charity that I understand that yes you about but people still want their social events to continue and put an emphasis on that this is because they believe if there are people which use the charity other made of support people happy they will recover properly from covid if they were computer active or at least more properly then if they were mentally depressed or unhappy so please CQC move on with the times. So I think this year agencies that support work showed spread Christmas cheer again and do something else today which rest up at many of my agencies health days with an elf hat elf costume and the lot it used to be anything that me and my support coordinator is used to all grown up in head office as elves for a photo each year for the website things like this need to be brought back I missed elf day so much of the Christmas time is approaching even though I have many more Christmas events coming up making with wacky wheels youth group but I still miss our health days Christmas parties and many more things such as decorating for the Halloween bingo that they normally do for more elderly service user population decorating the agencies training room with spiders pumpkins and many more halloween anything and making all my team dress up in witch hat the craziness that I used to love that has now just been taken away allow us to celebrate like we always did is my message to CQC and local social services life is all about a celebration for us with disability

    My pets and parties

    November 16, 2022
    A nearly 23-year old woman🍾🌺👩‍🦼👩‍🦼pets dogs and many other animals I especially like going out to party some pictures of the nightlife experience of a 22 year old woman with disabilities, I also studied biology last year which I will go back to next year and complete along with wanting to start studying forensic science level 2. eventually I want to study biomedical science at Newham college this is y goal and dream so that I can eventually go to uni and study end of life care, please see my pictures underneath to have an insight into my life and disability which is obviously Cerebral palsy which will always be apart of me but will not stop me including doing gardening as a hobby.

    PIP And DLA Will Not Be Means-Tested, Minister Finally Confirms

    November 16, 2022

    With many thanks to Benefits And Work.


    The DWP “have no plans” to means test DLA or PIP, a DWP minister stated yesterday, ending weeks of doubt on the issue and following many MPs receiving emails on the issue from Benefits and Work members.

    As Benefits and Work reported on 2 November, Mel Stride, the secretary of state for work and pensions refused to give an assurance that DLA and PIP would not be means tested

    In answer to a question on the subject, he would only say:

    “The right honourable gentleman is inviting me to break with what has been a very, very long-standing and quite correct convention that when it comes to a major fiscal event, ministers simply do not provide a running commentary as to what may or may not be in that fiscal event.”

    We alerted our readers to the possibility and urged them to contact their MP on the subject. From your comments and emails we know that hundreds of you did so.

    Yesterday the question was asked again in writing by Labour MP Marsha De Cordova

    “To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether he plans to means test the (a) Disability Living Allowance and (b) Personal Independence Payment.

    In answer, Tom Pursglove minister for disabled people at the DWP, replied:

    “We have no plans to means test Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

    “Both DLA and PIP are intended to act as a contribution towards the extra costs that arise as a result of a long-term health condition, or disability, and have been non-means tested since they were introduced.”

    So, it seems that the “very, very long-standing and quite correct convention” that ministers do not comment on fiscal events can, in reality, be broken – if enough people email their MPs on the subject.

    Night life I have enjoyed this week.

    November 15, 2022

    Yesterday I enjoyed making pizza with my friends at youth group for disabled adults.

    We got to choose our own toppings and got to grate cheese getting some kitchen skills.

    I had pineapple, mozzarella, salami on my pizza,in the afternoon I enjoyed a game of bowls.

    Nightlife I have done karaoke on zoom and a rock concert at my local pub enjoying a glass of wine.

    i enjoy the things I do and this has been a really good month.

    If you like my stories please donate to my JustGiving page to help to support me in my dofe expedition.

    Thanks samedifference and all my supporters reading my stories.

    Roberta Flack Is Unable To Sing After ALS Diagnosis

    November 15, 2022

    Grammy-winning musician Roberta Flack has been left unable to sing after being diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

    The “Killing Me Softly with His Song” performer is also having difficulty speaking, her manager said on Monday.

    Flack, 85, has won four Grammy awards and received 14 nominations.

    A documentary about her life is set to premier next week in New York. She also has plans to publish a children’s book in January.

    In addition to Killing Me Softly – which was later covered by musician Lauryn Hill – Flack is known for songs including “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, which launched her to stardom after it was used in Clint Eastwood film Play Misty for Me, and “Feel Like Makin’ Love”.

    Her condition – Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – “has made it impossible to sing and not easy to speak,” her management said in a statement.

    “But it will take a lot more than ALS to silence this icon,” they said, adding that she “plans to stay active in her musical and creative pursuits”.

    There is no known cure for ALS, which is also known as motor neurone disease (MND). It is caused by the death of the nerves that carry messages from the brain to people’s muscles. It affects their ability to move, talk and even breathe.

    The timing of Flack’s film and book release next year coincide with the 50th anniversary of her fourth album “Killing Me Softly With His Song”, which was released in 1973.

    After the singer suffered a stroke in 2016, she told the Associated Press news agency that wants her songs to be remembered as “classics” and and not just an “old hit”.

    “I could sing any number of songs that I’ve recorded through the years, easily, I could sing them, but I’m going to pick those songs that move me,” Flack said.

    “Now that’s hard to do. To be moved, to be moved constantly by your own songs.”

    Automatic 12 Month Extensions Of PIP Not Happening Yet

    November 15, 2022

    In a sign of continuing chaos, the DWP has gone back on its undertaking to automatically extend PIP awards by 12 months when a review is due, the welfare rights workers site Rightsnet has reported.

    Back in September, we reported that the DWP had officially confirmed that PIP claims awaiting a review would be automatically extended by ‘up to 12 months’ and that, from 31 October, claimants would receive a letter confirming their continued entitlement.  The news was announced in the DWP’s official stakeholders bulletin Touchbase.

    However, Rightsnet has now revealed that in a further email to stakeholders the DWP has now said that the scheme will not be up and running until ‘early to mid-December’.

    The DWP did say that “’Anyone needing a statement before this can contact the helpline 0800 1214 433 and we will issue a certification of entitlement for proof of their PIP award. Otherwise, claimants do not need to contact us unless their circumstances change.”

    The announcement is further evidence of the DWP’s inability to manage its current workload and casts even more doubt on the likelihood of it being capable of safely managing the forced transfer of 2.6 million legacy benefits claimants to universal credit by the end of 2024.

    Blind Woman And Guide Dog Kicked Out Of London Premier Inn

    November 14, 2022

    A blind woman and her guide dog were thrown out of a London Premier Inn in the night after she was accused of lying about her assistance dog.

    Angharad Paget-Jones, 29, said she was woken up and asked for “proof” her dog Tudor was a registered guide dog.

    She claimed that after providing a Guide Dogs ID booklet, security staff accused Tudor of being a “fake” guide dog.

    Premier Inn said it was urgently investigating the allegations.

    It is usually illegal to refuse access to disabled people with guide dogs.

    Ms Paget-Jones, a data analyst and disability rights campaigner from Port Talbot, said she was “forced to leave the Premier Inn at Enfield, in the middle of the night” during a stay on Saturday.
    ‘No dogs’

    She posted about her experience on Twitter, saying that despite checking into the hotel smoothly at about 20:00 GMT with her guide dog Tudor in a fluorescent guiding harness, the problem arose when her boyfriend went to walk him after she had fallen asleep in the evening.

    Ms Paget-Jones claimed hotel staff stopped her boyfriend on his way back by saying “no dogs”, and “was asked for proof” that Tudor was a guide dog.

    “My boyfriend said he was a guide dog, and said he was sure that I would be able to provide ID for him and I would be able to get this to them in the morning,” she explained.

    “They wouldn’t drop it and came up to the room and ended up disturbing me as I was half asleep. No one was telling me what was going on, I asked for a manager to help resolve the situation.

    “I closed the door for my own modesty as I was just in a T-shirt and underwear, but the staff continued to demand evidence Tudor was a guide dog.”

    Ms Paget-Jones added that “a male security guard joined the hotel staff”, and “they continued to tell me to leave the hotel” and saying Tudor “looked like a fake guide dog”.

    “The staff used a master key to open the door, barging in demanding proof Tudor was a guide dog,” she said.

    “I showed them the yellow book which outlines a guide dog and Tudor’s harness, which has Guide Dogs branding on, but they said this wasn’t sufficient evidence and told us to leave.

    “My partner ended up calling the police, but they did nothing, and we got thrown out.”

    The BBC has seen a video clip of part of the incident, which appears to show Ms Paget-Jones’s yellow ID book on the bed in the hotel room.

    In the footage her boyfriend can be heard on the phone to police, while a young female staff member tells them to “leave”, saying “if you have a guide dog you would know to bring documentation”.

    Ms Paget-Jones said: “I felt discriminated against, harassed and as though my privacy had been invaded. We ended up staying with my partner’s parents, but I ended up having a panic attack that night.”

    She added she would be taking legal action against Premier Inn.

    The hotel firm issued a statement saying it was “shocked and appalled” to hear about the allegations.

    A spokesperson said: “An urgent investigation is already under way with that site to find out exactly what’s happened, and we’ve reached out to the Twitter user to fully understand the circumstances of what has taken place and apologise for the upset caused.”

    The business added it takes “a zero tolerance policy towards discrimination”, and “all team members receive disability awareness training”.

    The Equality and Human Rights Commission says displaying an ID booklet for assistance dogs “is not a legal requirement, and assistance dog users should not be refused a service simply because they do not possess an ID book”.

    Blanche Shackleton from Guide Dogs said: “Guide dog owners deserve to be able to live their lives the way they want and feel confident, independent, and supported in the world.”

    She added: “The law needs to be stronger, so we’re calling on the government to end access refusals and ensure that, unless there is a valid legal reason, that guide dog owners are welcome with open doors when they use businesses, shops and taxis.”

    second log of the weekend good quality respite looks like when I managed to fundraise for it.

    November 12, 2022

    what it could look like as a disabled woman receiving it is concerts attending awards and different corporate events for different volunteer jobs attending a Christmas party attending a bowling game or or just going to see a show show or play of your choice or going to Butlins just to list some of the things that I have done today with the funds I managed to raise this allows me to have the same experiences talking quotes as many of my non-disabled friend has believe it or not I have friends that aren’t disabled because as disabled adults we are allowed to do that we don’t just have cab grand that are only disabled we can have a mix of mainstream and disabled friend that understands our conditions but I pound if your friends friends they will embrace you wholeheartedly and understand your differences even though so they may be more restricting and there’s as a mainstream student can walk run etc this can include things like Butlins going to concerts events at just awards e.t.c. volunteering in my community and joining in in with mainstream people as well as disabled people it is believe it or not we’re not just a wheelchair we are person our life isn’t our wheelchair or wheelchair is our legs and joining in in projects for mainstream people as well as disabled people because believe it or not I like isn’t her wheelchair I will chair is our legs and our freedom and so are our personal assistant so this is why I am fundraising to give me freedom anywhere I go now and in the future especially when it comes to education training or holiday as I love to travel like any adults my age I am not the same as you but I like the same things as adults in my age group and adults which I study with we have things in common I’m no different because I’m in a wheelchair they just use legs and have to worry about the highest high heels if this is what they choose to where where where where is I going to have to worry about these things we have different priorities but the same hobbies we have different measures we have to put in place for our independent but we can still have it just may need a little extradition to aid our independent we like make-up for me that are bright colours such as neon pink especially when I went to a Butlins big Weekender 1-year ago I love spring my hair neon green last Halloween 2 and wearing bright coloured high heels and dresses at the weekend. When i went in the clubs and see the Artist. Respite means to me please be my colouring videos that I have together to spray how much is a brand new restaurant to my life when I have storage in the path beyond stay tuned for next week about my last TV expedition thank you.

    nightlife on a Friday night with cerebral palsy.

    November 12, 2022

    Like many young people whether they are disabled or enabled body Friday night is party central in England anyway and I’m sure many other countries around the world or people with cerebral palsy this is no different we to make a Friday night party night too even if that is just with karaoke with our friend or a trip to the pub to see a punk concert like I did recently we are are just people that end up going out on wheels of some kind whether that be a walker or a wheelchair which has some benefits to it as we can wear heels as high as we like and don’t have to worry about walking in them Mr as a lot of us don’t walk or only walk short distances with cerebral palsy meaning that we enjoy high heels more than people who are main stream ladies because we can wear them higher than the mainstream ladies can because we don’t have to consider walking them because a lot of us either have a wheelchair that we can use or have a wheelchair that we use all the time for mobilising we can also get drunk without worrying about stumbling into a taxi because all we do is have to get weld into a taxi for people with cerebral palsy that may walk they definitely would still have access to a wheelchair meaning they don’t have to consider this either this is why you will see us in retail stores and shops buying the the most high shoes we can find with the most crazy patterns being proud of our disability and of course our high heels this is what funding support can make possible we want this possible wherever we decide to travel to we don’t want to be restricted with funds just because of our needs if we are travelling somewhere which is why I am fundraising to make the impossible possible for me whether I am on holiday or at home with my support please see my tiktok video link down below 2 to find out what I get up to on a Friday night as a 22-year old disabled woman and if you like my story as always the message is donate donate donate to my JustGiving page.


    Friday night in the life of someone with cerebral palsy

    ♬ Forever Young – UNDRESSD

    Lora And Neil Fachie: From Paralympians To Parents

    November 11, 2022

      Paralympic cycling champions Lora and Neil Fachie have been talking about putting their own spin on parenthood after the birth of their baby son.

      The visually-impaired cyclists, based in Altrincham, Greater Manchester, became parents to Fraser on 31 October.

      Lora, who was still training three days before Fraser was born, said she thought her fitness definitely helped her get to grips with being a new mum.

      They were learning how much they could do on “so little sleep”, Lora added.

      The golden couple, who were both appointed an OBE earlier this year, told BBC North West Tonight they had found “ways to get around things”.

      Neil, previously dubbed “Mr Unbeatable“, said: “It’s a case of we do things in a different way.

      “I’ve got some sight, but I see better when it’s light. I’ve actually got a few clip-on lights around our nappy-changing area, so it almost resembles a football stadium, going to the arena for combat.”

      Prior to giving birth to Fraser, Lora said she was most nervous about changing his nappy, but has since discovered it was the easiest thing to negotiate.

      Meanwhile, Lora got to practise reading bedtime stories last month when she became the first ever person to read a CBeebies Bedtime Story in braille.

      However, she said that initially breastfeeding had felt more of a challenge.

      “The midwives were brilliant, but they know how to support people who can see,” she said.

      “So all the advice, especially for getting a good latches [was] nipple to nose and then look for their open mouth.

      “I can’t see when his mouth’s open, so I needed to feel – and no one knew how to support me.”

      ‘Very lucky’

      The couple said one health visit had caused them distress, but it had been a “blip” in the support they had received.

      Lora said that after she had finished breastfeeding Fraser, a health visitor asked her if she thought he was a bit red.

      She said she told the visitor she was visually-impaired so could not see.

      “So she said, ‘What about you, then, Daddy?’ and Neil said, ‘I can’t see properly’,” Lora said, adding that the response was: “‘Well, that doesn’t stop you seeing colour, though, does it?'”

      The pair said they had been “very lucky” to have great support from family and friends with Fraser, including maternal grandparents Anthony and Sue Turnham, who were also visually-impaired.

      Neil said: “We’ve seen the perfect roles models of Lora’s parents bringing up visually-impaired children who have gone up to lead incredible lives.”

      Comedian Adam Hills Receives MBE

      November 10, 2022

        Comedian Adam Hills has said he is “addicted” to helping disability sport after receiving an MBE.

        The host of Channel 4’s The Last Leg was honoured for services to Paralympic sport and disability awareness.

        Hills, who has a prosthetic foot, joined the Warrington Wolves’ Physical Disability Rugby League team for a 2019 documentary.

        He has previously spoken about his affection for the Cheshire club, saying it is “the heart of the town”.

        Hills has co-hosted The Last Leg since it started alongside the London 2012 Paralympics as a show covering the week’s topical news but also shining a light on conversations around disability.

        In 2019 he made the Channel 4 documentary Adam Hills: Take His Legs, which saw him embark on his childhood dream of playing competitive rugby league and join the Warrington Wolves’ Physical Disability Rugby League team as they journeyed to his home country, emerging as champions.

        At the Windsor Castle investiture ceremony, he said the MBE was “like a reward for eating chocolate. I’d be doing it anyway.”

        Speaking about Wolves and the Cheshire town, he said the club “is the heart of the town and the veins go throughout everything else”.

        “Whether it’s community outreach, dance classes, disability rugby or dementia friendly cafes, what I love about Warrington is the town feeds into the club and then the club feeds back into the town.”

        Hills said after the ceremony: “I feel like all I do is put the spotlight on the Paralympics once every four years.

        “But I guess also I’ve been promoting disability Rugby League, and disability cricket through the Lord’s Taverners – I think most people who come into contact with disability sport become addicted to it and I’m definitely one of those.”

        The Australian also revealed the Princess Royal told him at the ceremony that her favourite comedy show is the BBC series Would I Lie to You?

        Hills said about his chat with Anne: “We talked about comedy for five minutes… I don’t think I’m breaking royal protocol by saying she said her favourite comedy show was Would I Lie to You?

        “Then asked if I’d been on it and I said no, and she seemed quite disappointed.

        “I’ll now call Lee Mack and tell him the Princess Royal watches him.”

        Pilot scheme for dementia-friendly signage at railway station unveiled by Northern

        November 9, 2022

        A press release:

        Train operator, Northern has unveiled the first ‘dementia-friendly’ signage at one of its stations in Derbyshire.

        It has worked with the Friends of Buxton Station and local dementia support groups on the pilot scheme, which is designed to make signs much easier for someone with dementia to understand.

        This includes fewer signs to avoid ‘information overload’, strategic placement of signs at important ‘decision points’ and wider use of symbols to reinforce the wording chosen.

        The pilot follows an approach by the Friends of Buxton Station chairman, Dave Carlisle, to Northern for funding from the operator’s Accessibility Fund.

        Mr Carlisle, who has personal experience of Alzheimer’s in his family, says he was compelled to act having seen so many rail users struggle to understand some of the signs and instructions at railway stations.

        Chris Jackson, regional director for Northern, said: “We’re really pleased to get this pilot scheme off the ground – which has already been recognised by the Community Rail Network for influencing positive change.

        “Small alterations can make a huge difference to someone living with dementia and the feedback from rail users at Buxton Station will help inform future station improvements across the network.

        “I’d like to thank the Friends of Buxton Station for championing this issue and working so closely with us on this pilot scheme.”

        Northern and the Friends of Buxton Station are now encouraging feedback from local dementia support groups and individuals on the deployment of the scheme.

        Northern is the second largest train operator in the UK, with nearly 2,000 services a day to more than 500 stations across the North of England.

        Strictly Come Dancing 2022: Ellie Simmonds Bouncing Back After Exit

        November 8, 2022

        Ellie Simmonds’s mum says her daughter has gained so much through Strictly Come Dancing, despite being disappointed to leave the show.

        Val Simmonds said she had gained confidence by doing something “so out of her comfort zone”.

        “She never ever assumes she can do anything, but she’s always willing to try and is always a bit surprised when she can,” she told BBC Radio WM.

        On Sunday, the Paralympian became the sixth celebrity to leave the show.

        Simmonds, from Walsall in the West Midlands, performed a Charleston with dance partner Nikita Kuzmin, which brought them their highest score yet of 33 and was widely praised.

        But they lost out to singer and actress Molly Rainford and her partner Carlos Gu in the dance-off.

        Afterwards, the 27-year-old told presenter Tess Daly she had had the “time of her life”.

        “It’s been the most incredible experience – life changing really,” she said.

        Her mother Val said: “I thought it was a superb dance, but in some ways I’d rather her go out on a good dance, and Molly is very good – so it was always going to be tough.”

        Simmonds, who was as born with achondroplasia, which reduces growth in arms and legs, achieved huge success as a swimmer before retiring last year.

        Although she was a confident in the pool, her mother said she overcame a “lot of reservations” to go on the BBC One show, including whether she could dance and how dances would be adapted.

        However, Val added her daughter had “just gelled” with Kuzmin and they had worked through each dance together.

        “After retiring I think you are in a void of ‘what am I going to do next?’ She said all along I’ll take a year to see how things go before I start to try and develop where I’m going next,” she said.

        “And this is very much part of it and I think it has made her realise whatever doors open you can look inside and think ‘yes I am going to have a go at that’.”

        Kuzmin said Simmonds had taught him “empathy”, which her mother said was probably because of her strength and caring nature.

        “I think he started seeing the world from her eyes and the daily challenges that you deal with… she doesn’t take anything for granted, but she’s so caring and looking out for others.”

        Coronation Street Star Cherylee Houston Collects MBE At Buckingham Palace

        November 7, 2022

        Coronation Street star Cherylee Houston has received an MBE at Buckingham Palace for her services to drama and to people with disabilities.

        She received her title at the Palace from Anne, Princess Royal. It was announced that she would be receiving this honour back on New Year’s Eve 2021, when the New Year Honours List was released.

        The actor has been part of Coronation Street for 12 years and was the first actor to use a wheelchair among the cast of the ITV soap.

        Talking about how important it is to see disabled people represented on screen, she said: “If you think when you were growing up who your role models were, who influenced you, if you as a disabled child don’t have that, how do you know what you can do?”

        She also spoke about how the looming cost of living crisis would affect disabled people, and she believes that more on screen representation can cause viewers to be more empathetic.

        “That’s why I firmly believe the more we’re on our screens, the more we’re going to be understood, the more people care and empathise and will ensure that we will have equal rights and equal opportunity, because it’s about equality,” she said, adding, “It would be nice if the world was a bit more physically accessible.”

        Oliver McGowan: NHS Autism Training Mandatory After Teen’s Death

        November 7, 2022

          Mandatory training for treating people with autism and learning disabilities is being rolled out for NHS health and care staff after a patient died.

          It comes after Oliver McGowan, from Bristol, died following an epileptic seizure.

          At the time, in November 2016, he was given an anti-psychotic drug he was allergic to despite repeated warnings from his parents.

          His mother Paula lobbied for mandatory training to potentially “save lives”.

          The training is for all NHS staff who work with the public.

          An independent review found Oliver’s death at Southmead Hospital was potentially avoidable.

          The 18-year-old, who was mildly autistic and had epilepsy and learning difficulties, was being treated for a seizure when he was given olanzapine to sedate him.

          Oliver, from Bristol, died in intensive care 17 days later after a rare side effect caused his brain to swell.

          ‘Staff didn’t understand’

          Mrs McGowan said: “He was a young teenager, who was very active.

          “He was playing for England FA and he went into hospital having… partial seizures.

          “Because staff didn’t understand his autism and how it affected him, he was chemically restrained.

          “Oliver wasn’t mentally ill and this caused Oliver’s death.”

          A spokesman for the NHS said the training had been developed with expertise from people with a learning disability and autistic people as well as their families and carers.

          The first part of the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training is being rolled out following a two-year trial involving more than 8,300 health and care staff across England.

          Mark Radford, chief nurse at Health Education England said: “Following the tragedy of Oliver’s death, Paula McGowan has tirelessly campaigned to ensure that Oliver’s legacy is that all health and care staff receive this critical training.

          “Paula and many others have helped with the development of the training from the beginning.

          “Making Oliver’s training mandatory will ensure that the skills and expertise needed to provide the best care for people with a learning disability and autistic people is available right across health and care.”

          Saturday’s blog about respite

          November 5, 2022

          They should consider what we feel about it and not just what they are going to pay for respite, it should be about activities for everybody Please see my crowd funding page underneath. If you like my stories then donate, donate, donate. This Saturday’s blog is about respite and cerebral palsy and the quality that respite should be. Today we need appropriate respite rather than some that is good and some that is bad.  Remember to take respite provision seriously not just sending us to the one that is deemed appropriate by you as local social services professionals. Not just sending us to somewhere where there is no activity at all to stimulate us, and not considering what we wish to get out of our respite stays, and not giving us staff that care about our needs and we’ll being. I would like to reform this by 2028. I would like every respite place to open activities I would like to ask you please what “we” see as good respite provision and be able to timetable the one “we” choose whether it be in county or not. It should not matter as some of the ones out of county are less money for better value for money. It is unless when they send us to somewhere that doesn’t have activities and doesn’t have any games for us to participate in. We should not have to play a post code lottery for the services we attend. The local authorities just care about where they spend the least money and not about the quality of the service for that money. People who are disabled have to fight to be the leaders of there own life  whereas people who are not disabled can always illustrate there own lives. They should have a star scoring system and J system to allow us to understand what actives that are good and included in there service provision so that we can choose the right placement for our interests, needs and hobbies. 😀😂👩‍🎓☹️☹️🎓😁🛌👩‍🎓😂🛌

          Why I think respite and support should be supported by social services.

          November 4, 2022

          The call I am making for disability respite care and residential courses for the support to become the norm in2023 because anybody could become disabled at any time. Anywhere from car accident to broken legs or brittle bones. As the population gets older they are more likely to become disabled. As a disabled person right now it means that we need to put in the infrastructure to make people not feel bad for having disability and you needing change because of the lack of support and respite. Disabled people who need someone to stay over with them on a residential course for example like me and many other young people in their 20’s in this day and age is going to double if not triple. I believe as there are more courses available there will be more disabled people wanting to do them. We as disabled people deserve to be seen it shouldn’t be a privilege that we are able to access the same things as everybody else we should just be able to accept it like we could if we were not disabled or had different needs to other people needing someone to stay with them this is not because we want to be watched over this is because we need it because of our disability our mobility may be decreased because of a disability we were born with therefore we cannot change it. Some people may have had accidents that they also cannot change.As accidents happen as accidents do happen I believe that 2023 should be the year that respite should be offered to anyone who is disabled ànd cannot look after themselves

          The government needs to grow up and open their eyes to see what it’s like for other members of the society and to see that as well as having the support to do so without having to pay the amount of fees that would be the equivalent of n buying a house just to have you our support needs met. As many support places charge into the thousands. This has to be given to you by the government without having to repeat your story again and again.As it hasn’t changed we had it from birth. I often think of ways to improve the experience for people with Cerebral Palsy but there is no choice. The miracle is that they think that Cerebral Palsy will just go away. I often tell them that if you know of a cure please tell me because there isn’t one.

          DWP Call Centres Will Cause Life-Threatening Destitution

          November 4, 2022

          With many thanks to Benefits And Work.


          The shocking level of service at DWP call centres will lead to life-threatening destitution for some claimants when the forced migration from legacy benefits to universal credit (UC) begins in earnest, the experience of Benefits and Work readers shows. 

          In particular, claimants who need an extension of time for their UC claim will face losing all their legacy benefits if they are unable to get through to the DWP on the phone.

          In the spring, Benefits and Work published two pages asking readers for their experiences of calling the DWP. 

          The first is entitled ‘Which DWP number are you struggling to get through on?’ and asks for readers experiences of trying to get through to a range of DWP numbers, including the UC helpline, the PIP enquiry line and the Jobcentre Plus for ESA change of circumstances line.

          The second article followed on from this and asked specifically for readers experiences of calling the ‘0800 121 4433 PIP Enquiry Line’.

          What we’ve learnt from the hundreds of responses that continue to come in is that callers can be left waiting literally hours without being answered, not just once, but day after day.  They can be repeatedly cut-off after they have answered AI bot security questions.  Sometimes callers get through and can briefly hear human voices in the background before being cut-off.  And sometimes they have actually begun speaking to a human being before being cut-off.

          Under any circumstances, and for any benefits issue, this would be distressing.

          But in relation to a forced moved to UC, this could lead to sudden and disastrous poverty.

          The DWP have published a web page specifically for claimants who have been contacted and told they must move from legacy benefits to UC.  On it, claimants are warned:

          To continue receiving financial support you must claim Universal Credit by the deadline date given in your letter. This is 3 months from the date the letter was sent out.

          This gives you time to gather any information and evidence, such as identity documents that you need to make your claim.

          It may take time to gather all your documents and evidence to make your claim online, so you need to act as soon as possible.

          If you cannot claim Universal Credit by the deadline date given on your letter, you should contact the Universal Credit Migration Notice helpline as soon as possible.

          We can only give you more time to make a claim if you have a good reason. You must request this before the deadline date on your letter.

          And there’s the issue.  If the DWP stick to their current timetable, they will attempt to move 2.5 million claimants from legacy benefits onto UC in the space of a single year.

          Many of those claimants are likely to have problems meeting all the DWP’s requirements.   

          Some will struggle with paperwork because of mental health issues or learning difficulties. Some will find it hard to engage with the process because of anxiety. Some will be too physically unwell to respond.  Some will have their health conditions made significantly worse by the process itself.

          As a result, many thousands of claimants will need to ask for an extension by phoning the helpline.

          But with the dreadful level of service that the DWP provide, and with desperate and confused claimants calling multiple times every day about problems with migration, it’s virtually unavoidable that the phone lines will be overwhelmed. 

          People who are unable to get through to ask for an extension are likely to see their benefits stopped altogether. It’s a situation that scarcely bears thinking about, but unless something is done it is one which will happen repeatedly.

          We are urging readers to contact their MP, talk to disability charities that they have connections with and begin to raise awareness of this issue, before it’s too late.

          With 2.5 million claimants being migrated to UC in a year, we need to know how many calls the DWP expect to have to deal with. How many new call centres will they open to cope with the vast number of enquiries they are likely to receive?  How many extra staff will they employ?  What training will they receive?  What targets will they have for how long callers are left on hold?  How long they will spend on average talking to each caller?  Will they make calls out to claimants who fail to meet the deadline to find out why?

          The Scottish government are managing to move all their PIP claimants over to adult disability payment without threatening any of them with having their money stopped. 

          The DWP could do the same for legacy benefit claimants – they are simply choosing not to.

          And, in case you imagine we are exaggerating the difficulties people encounter trying to talk to the DWP on the phone, we’ve published some readers experiences below.

          Members can download a copy of our 21 page guide to moving from ESA to UC from the ESA guides page.

           If you want to stay informed about UC migration, sign up for our free ‘My UC Alerts’ and we’ll email you when there’s important news.

          Joe Powell-Main

          November 3, 2022

          A young ballet dancer who uses a wheelchair is hoping to create more opportunities for differently abled dancers with a special performance.

          Welsh-born Joe Powell-Main is the star of Sleepwalker – a show put on by the Royal Ballet which sees him take centre-stage.

          The 25-year-old suffered life-changing injuries after a complication with knee surgery and a car accident at the age of 15, leaving him to think he would never dance again.

          But now, Joe and his ballet partner Issy have adapted moves to incorporate his wheelchair.

          Joe will be streaming a preview of his performance as part of World Ballet Day, and hopes to open up ballet for more people with disabilities.

          25 Fold Increase In PIP Long Covid Awards, One In Five Getting Maximum Amount

          November 2, 2022

          With many thanks to Benefits And Work.


          There has been a 25 fold increase in awards of personal independence payment (PIP) for Long Covid in just one year, DWP statistics have revealed.  Over one in five successful claimants is receiving the enhanced rates of both components, totalling £156.90 a week

          In July 2021 there were just 108 PIP awards for Long Covid, but by July 2022 – the most recent month for which figures are available – that number had leapt to 2,794.

          The success rate for claims based on Long Covid is 47%.

          Of those who get an award, 1,233 are receiving the enhanced rate of the mobility component and 722 are getting the enhanced rate of the daily living component.

          633 (23%) are getting the enhanced rate for both components.

          Yet the level of awards is still tiny compared to the number of people likely to be eligible.

          According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) 1.1 million people have had self-reported Long Covid for at least one year and 514,000 for at least two years.

          Long Covid symptoms adversely affect the day-to-day activities of 1.6 million people, with 342,000 reporting that their ability to undertake day-to-day activities had been “limited a lot”.

          It is very likely that many of these people would be eligible for an award of PIP.

          Fatigue is the most common symptom reported in connection with Long Covid (69%), followed by difficulty concentrating (45%), shortness of breath (42%) and muscle ache (40%).

          All of these symptoms would be highly relevant to a PIP claim and would be likely to lead to points being scored for in relation to activities such as:

          • Preparing food
          • Managing therapy and monitoring a health condition
          • Washing and bathing
          • Dressing and undressing
          • Engaging with others face-to-face
          • Planning and following a journey
          • Moving around

          It is more than a little surprising then, that in spite of the large increase in the number of awards, there are still so few people claiming PIP for Long Covid

          You can read more about PIP for Long Covid and the fact that many thousands of people are likely to be missing out on an award.

          Benefits and Work members can download a 7-page, Long Covid PIP supplement, to be used in conjunction with our Guide to PIP Claims and Reviews.

          Benefits and Work have also published a short, introductory video on the subject.

          The UK Terror Survivors Tracked Down By ‘Disaster Trolls’

          November 1, 2022

            Conspiracy theorists, who claim UK terror attacks have been staged, are tracking down survivors to their homes and workplaces to see if they are lying about their injuries, a BBC investigation has found.

            Martin Hibbert, who was paralysed from the waist down when he and his daughter Eve were caught in the 2017 Manchester Arena blast, told the BBC he is now preparing to bring libel action against a conspiracy theorist based in Wales.

            Richard D Hall has described how he physically tracks down survivors of the attack – in which 22 people were killed and more than 100 injured – to determine whether it was faked. He says he spied on Eve from a vehicle parked outside her home.

            In a video shared with his followers online, Mr Hall demonstrates setting up a camera to film Eve, now profoundly disabled and in a wheelchair, to see whether she can in fact walk.

            “I’m all for freedom of speech,” Martin Hibbert told me. “But it crosses the line when you’re saying I’m an actor or I’ve not got a spinal cord injury or Eve’s not disabled, she’s not in a wheelchair.

            “You don’t know how far he’s going to go to get answers.”

            Mr Hall suggests that those who were killed in the attack are really alive and living abroad. He also promotes theories that several other UK terror attacks were staged. A former engineer and website designer, he makes money from selling books and DVDs outlining his theories, as well as speaking at events and posting videos online. As recently as mid-October, he had more than 16 million views and 80,000 subscribers on YouTube.

            When I confronted Mr Hall at a market stall he runs, he insisted I’m wrong about how he operates.

            For the past five months I’ve been looking into conspiracy theorists who target UK terror survivors, for BBC Panorama and a Radio 4 podcast. My investigations and new research, along with the testimony of those affected, show that conspiracy theories and tactics like those deployed by Mr Hall are emblematic of a wider phenomenon that survivors and bereaved families are experiencing.

            A victim of the 2017 Westminster Bridge terror attack, who has been harassed by online conspiracy trolls, told the BBC that surviving a terror attack now seems to inevitably lead to being abused.

            These types of conspiracy theories, and the abuse they inspire, echo those of Alex Jones, the US host of the conspiracist show and website Infowars, who this month was ordered to pay nearly $1bn (£861,805,000) to families of the US Sandy Hook school shooting after falsely claiming the 2012 attack was a hoax.

            Online abuse describing terror attacks as hoaxes, and those who were injured as so-called “crisis actors”, appear to be on the rise since the pandemic, according to survivors who have spoken to the BBC.

            Most of the abuse has been perpetrated online, but people I have spoken to say they fear for their safety because the abuse has also begun to affect their lives offline.

            Nearly one in five people in the UK think terror survivors are not telling the truth about what happened to them, new research for the BBC suggests. A third say the pandemic has made them more suspicious of official explanations of UK terror attacks.

            The survey of more than 4,000 people, weighted to be representative of the UK population and carried out earlier this month by King’s College London, also suggests that 14% believe the 2017 Manchester Arena attack probably involved “crisis actors” who pretended to be injured.

            Research from BBC Monitoring found that dozens of videos promoting false claims about the Manchester attack – accumulating more than 300,000 views – were still on YouTube five years after the incident. After the BBC flagged this to YouTube, the company removed Mr Hall’s channel and one other that had promoted his content.

            “Targeting the victims and families of these atrocious attacks is abhorrent,” said a spokesperson for the company. “YouTube’s hate speech policy outlines clear guidelines prohibiting content that denies, trivialises or minimises violent historical events, and we will remove flagged videos that violate these guidelines.”

            Martin Hibbert’s lawyer, Neil Hudgell, who is preparing a libel case against Mr Hall, told the BBC: “Martin’s got to the point of enough is enough. This needs tackling and to be silenced in legitimate ways.”

            Mr Hall’s claims and tactics also include:

            • Entering the workplace of Manchester Arena survivor Lisa Bridgett, posing as a customer, with the aim of secretly recording her to discover whether she’s lying about her injuries
            • Visiting the homes of other Manchester survivors to try to question them about whether the attack was a hoax
            • Publicising the names and locations of dozens of Manchester survivors and bereaved relatives of victims in a video – appealing to his followers to send him any information they have about them

            Martin Hibbert first became aware of Mr Hall’s tactics when police alerted the family to allegations that he had put a camera outside the home of his daughter Eve. Mr Hall had shared a video of himself preparing a small camera strapped to a stake which he said he would use to check whether Eve really was hurt in the Manchester Arena bombing.

            “I’ve sharpened the spike on the end so I can just stick that into the ground in order to surveil our subjects,” he told his viewers, holding up a camera attached to a stick with fake foliage wrapped around it.

            Eve, who is now 20, was left severely disabled after the bombing. She experienced a serious brain injury and has lost the use of her left arm and leg.

            Mr Hall later said online that Eve left the house in a wheelchair, but added, “There’s no evidence” that the injury was as a result of the attack.

            He also documented his attempt to prove that Lisa Bridgett, who lost a finger in the bombing, was not injured either, by taking a hidden camera to the boatyard where she works.

            Ms Bridgett told me: “It makes you feel very security conscious, because you just don’t know who’s out there and who might be lurking in a garden or standing round a corner with a hidden camera on.”

            Messages seen by the BBC show how online abuse, citing conspiracies that Mr Hall and others promote, have also been sent to the grieving relatives of those killed in the Manchester Arena bombing, as well as survivors of other UK terror attacks. There have been attempts by trolls online to identify where terror survivors live and work.

            Mr Hall requests donations on his website and promotes an online shop where he sells branded merchandise. He also has a market stall where he sells his book and DVD about the Manchester Arena attack, along with other books and DVDs promoting conspiracy theories.

            I visited the market stall to ask him questions after multiple attempts to get answers to survivors’ questions.

            He told me he didn’t want to talk to me about the “evidence” he says he has to back up his claims, and that he doesn’t trust the BBC. I asked how he feels to be profiting from the worst day of these survivors’ lives.

            “If you read my book, all the answers are in there,” he said. When I told him there is no evidence in his book, he told me I’m wrong.

            He refused to address questions about whether he really believes UK terror attacks were staged and if he understands the harm his conspiracy theories and tactics cause to the survivors of these attacks.

            After my visit, I wrote to Mr Hall again but he didn’t respond. Since then he has added a series of disclaimers on his website saying that he does not “advocate that viewers of this website make contact with alleged terror attack victims, either online or in person”.

            He has also posted a new video, in which he says he did not put a camera outside the home of Eve Hibbert, but admitted to leaving “a camera rolling” in his van which was “parked in a public place”.

            He says he has made “polite door to door inquiries in order to gather evidence, which is a perfectly legitimate activity when doing research”, and that his appeal for information from the public does not make him “responsible for hateful messages sent by people”.

            But he held firm to his “opinion [that] there has been no satisfactory evidence presented to the public, which proves that the Manchester arena incident was not staged”.

            Subsequent to the publication of this article, Mr Hall removed several videos from his website. A comment added to his homepage said: “In response to recent media coverage, if any person is upset by what they have seen, Richard D Hall apologises for any upset caused.”

            To try to find out more about Mr Hall and what motivates the people who push these conspiracy theories, I spoke to an insider who used to appear in Mr Hall’s videos. He has insight into how this conspiracy industry works.

            Neil Sanders said he doesn’t share Mr Hall’s views on the Manchester Arena attack. He believes it is the fans who are shaping the trajectory of a conspiracy theorist like Mr Hall, who used to focus on theories about UFOs before starting to push claims about “fabricated terror”. In fact, Mr Sanders said he is sure that when he and Mr Hall had discussed the conspiracy theories that took off after the Sandy Hook school shooting, Mr Hall had dismissed them as nonsense.

            But he said the more Mr Hall has become embroiled in this world, the more he appears to have bought into these conspiracies. It is the more sensational theories which are the ones that “sell”, Mr Sanders explained, adding that Mr Hall’s talks in pubs and other venues up and down the UK in recent years have been packed.

            Mr Sanders says he doesn’t support conspiracy theories that UK terror attacks were staged.

            The King’s College research suggests that four in five people do recognise that serious terror attacks have occurred in the UK.

            But, when asked specifically about the Manchester and 7/7 bombings, a significant minority – one in seven people surveyed – have doubts about whether those attacks even happened at all.

            And more than one in 10 of those surveyed think the Manchester Arena attack was a hoax.

            “This not only disengages people from society generally. For that small minority who get really caught up in conspiracies, it can actually affect their behaviour,” explained Prof Bobby Duffy, who led the research. He feared that those who believe these theories are more likely to target survivors with abuse.

            The research distinguishes between those who believe terror attacks, such as the Manchester Arena bombing, were a hoax, and those who aren’t sure about the truth of these attacks.

            Prof Duffy describes how anxiety, uncertainty and social media habits can all tip someone from simply questioning events, to arriving at more extreme beliefs.

            Of the 14% of those surveyed who believe “crisis actors” were involved in the Manchester Arena attack, just under half say the messaging app Telegram is a key source of information on news and events for them. They were also more likely to be under 24 years old and not to have voted in the last election.

            The research suggests that the pandemic has created a “gateway” for these conspiracies, with a third of people surveyed saying it has made them more suspicious of official explanations of terror attacks. Prof Duffy said he expects the current economic climate to exacerbate this tendency.

            One of those who admits to engaging with such online conspiracy theories is Alicia, who said she lost faith in the government during the pandemic. She said she struggled during lockdown and now she’s struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. Social media is the main place she turns to for updates and information.

            The mental health worker had said online that she was looking forward to visiting his stall.

            “People don’t feel safe any more because they’ve got nobody to look to who tells us the truth. That’s quite scary, actually.”

            She told me that she doesn’t want it to be true that the Manchester Arena bombing was a hoax, but it really frightens her that it could be – and she’s not sure what’s true any more.

            When I told her how I’ve interviewed survivors who were injured in the attacks, and how they have been deeply hurt by Mr Hall’s false claims, she appears genuinely shocked.

            Alicia says she has never sent out online abuse based on these kinds of conspiracy theories. But there are plenty who have.

            Travis Frain was trolled by online conspiracists after he was filmed just after being hit by a car during the 2017 Westminster Bridge terror attack. Mobile phone footage of him standing on the bridge after breaking his leg – adrenaline delaying the pain – inspired a wave of online abuse.

            He received the first message about the attack in hospital the next day.

            “We know the attack was staged. I hope they hang you,” it read.

            In the months after the attack, Mr Frain flagged videos and posts to social media sites using their reporting tools, but he said nothing happened until his lawyer wrote to them.

            YouTube did then take down various videos which promoted the theory that he was a “crisis actor”, but he said he has had only varying degrees of success with other major social media sites.

            Mr Frain reported the abuse to the Metropolitan Police. No-one has been charged.

            He said he felt “powerless” because people don’t realise how viciously and frequently terror survivors are trolled online.

            It’s for that reason these survivors have decided to speak up – and that some are looking to the courts to hold the conspiracy world to account.

            Bristol Inclusive Cheerleading Team In World Championships

            October 31, 2022

            following on from yesterday’s blog about respite and qualification

            October 29, 2022

            I believe that was more feasible feasible option as the cost of living wasn’t the high meaning that more people donate to causes that mattered today again disabled people have signed signed in the cost of living meaning that people like me you have cerebral palsy and other conditions that they were born with end up with respite seen as a holiday it’s rusty stable people you are in need of respite it isn’t a holiday it is opportunity to recharge people want to donate or can afford with the cost of bills and inflation to donate to the causes that matter to them as a result to this many people with disability do not get many donation if any nearly that respite is unattainable more than ever before because the government don’t see that as a necessity well yes we may have fun on me extra qualifications and residential for qualification and also travelling it is fun it is a necessity for goes that need respite care for the carers and anybody that help Priscilla Tate support as it is not just about living with a bill over your head there’s many other challenges such as who will take us to the toilet will shower we will go as disabled people that most of the government and don’t have any immediate relatives who are they do not understand me sit and unimaginable if you are not disabled or know someone who is to that extent although they may not have relatives that visibly disabled I bet you there is some relatives of people in parliament who have any visible disability such as ADHD autism and mental health issues or challenges because disability doesn’t have just one look we don’t look disabled we are not disabled we are people there is not a look to disability but people forget that many of us have a disability without people knowing it as many disabilities don’t mean you have to use walking sticks wheelchairs mobility scooters etc they might be learning mental health extreme phobias eating disorders and many more but for many of those that choose to be employed geyser government or choose to be in power in the government don’t understand what it is like for people with disabilities generally and don’t support them or people who have disabilities or at least don’t know that they may have a disability because some people don’t is they are of the older generation such as learning needs they don’t appreciate having a disability and what things you may struggle with but just learn to get on with it show me people that may see my holiday or just a nice place to travel to where we can have fun be us and not argue stability just give our care people and people with tortoise a break from the daily demand after especially those who are not employed to do this family members if you feel passionate about my story you can find my gofundme and crowd from details on stage different I would very much be welcomed and appreciated by myself so that I can complete my my most recent goal of completing my DV expedition and training residential in 2023 so that I can qualify with my DAB silver all thank you 😊💰 if you would like me to delete like page in a future blog comment and let me know but it is on the same night thank you you everybody for showing interest in my story and I would love to see how many people show in test in the future thank you for listenin

            Disibility discrimination when it comes to accessing support for completion of these courses and respite care.

            October 28, 2022

            And the challenges that I face as a young disabled woman who just wants to access the things to improve my mental and physical well-being.

            I face many barriers when it comes to courses that include residentials as the sociatal expectation is that all disabled people are rich. And charge extortionate amounts for disability services because they know that we rely on them meaning that travel and respite care and anything that requires support that you would not normally receive in your home is often financially unobtainable.

            This makes us reliant on fundraising or grants in the hope that we will be able to travel or go on the course that we want to do. Whilst fundraising can be fun and rewarding at some points of it government and local social services for adults with needs or disability try to exclude us from society. This ends up being indirect discrimination because they know that if we do not have funding we cannot better ourselves and map out our future in terms of careers and travel.

            Many of us with disabilities like me will be capable of future employment after education with the right support system in place. So we may cost the government now while we are in education but we will be able to contribute to it later when we have completed education and we won’t cost the government because we will have the financial means to employ our own staff and pay our own service fees.


            Welcoming Myah Richards- Findtheability23

            October 28, 2022

            Same Difference has a very special announcement to make. We are very excited to welcome our new writer and team member Myah Richards, who will be sharing her fundraising journey under the username Findtheability23.

            We hope you enjoy her story and wish her every success.

            Welcome Myah!

            Cost Of Living: ‘I May Have To Put My Child In Care Due To Bills’

            October 28, 2022

            A mother said she was considering whether she would have to put her disabled daughter in care due to rising energy bills.

            Yvette Clements, 58, from Norwich, is a carer for her daughter Rosey, who cannot regulate her body temperature.

            Their heating has to be on most of the time and their bills have risen to £300 a month.

            “If this carries on I will have to think about putting her in care, which is heartbreaking,” she said.

            “We belong together but I need to make sure she gets what she needs.”

            Rosey, 23, who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, needs an electric bed, an electric bath, an electric hoist, a feeding machine and CCTV to monitor her in the night due to her seizures.

            The only time her mother can turn off the heating is when Rosey is out of the house at Sense College, a specialist school for young people with complex disabilities.

            “I will happily sit in the cold when she’s not here, but I don’t have that option most of the time, because Rosey might have a seizure if she gets cold,” she said.

            “I never turn my oven on anymore, and I am cutting back in every way possible, but I still can’t afford my energy bills.

            “I’m also terrified about the potential power cuts. It simply isn’t an option for Rosey’s equipment to be off.”

            Ms Clements gets universal credit, which includes a carer’s allowance and housing costs, while Rosey receives personal independent payment (PIP).

            Rosey was one of about six million disabled people who recently received a £150 lump sum cost of living payment from the government.

            But Ms Clements said it did not even cover one month’s worth of electricity, which is provided by Scottish Power. Her bill recently increased from £122 to £295 a month. When this happened she cancelled her direct debit and now sends in monthly meter readings.

            Rosey might not have long left to live, her mother said, and the situation is preventing them from making memories together.

            “This might be Rosey’s last Christmas, we don’t know how long she will live, but I can’t afford to take her anywhere or buy her presents.

            “Although she is registered blind, she can see lights and that is her favourite thing. We have a sensory room but I have to limit her time in there because it is too expensive.

            “She absolutely loves Christmas lights but I don’t know if we will be able to afford to turn them on this year.

            “Our life is hard enough, I shouldn’t have to be making these choices,” she said.

            A Scottish Power spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear about Mrs Clements’ situation. Scottish Power is committed to supporting our customers through difficult times. We have specially trained customer service advisors who can help manage customers’ individual situations sensitively and support them to access the advice and support that best meets their needs.

            “That includes working with Citizens’ Advice and our debt advice charity partner, StepChange, as well as offering flexible payment options. We also provide financial support through the warm homes discount and our dedicated hardship fund.”

            Sense gave the family a £500 grant as part of emergency financial support. It is the first time in the charity’s 60-year history that it has handed out direct cash payments, which it said reflected the urgency of the situation.

            Sense chief executive Richard Kramer said: “The current cost of living crisis has worsened an already precarious financial situation for disabled people across the country – with those with more complex needs, and their families, facing the hardest time.

            “While the government decides whether or not to increase benefits, disabled people and their families struggle with spiralling bills and face agonising decisions, like choosing between heating and eating.

            “The government must recognise the scale of the crisis and impact on disabled people and commit to increasing benefits in line with inflation.”

            A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “The government’s energy price guarantee will save the typical household around £700 this winter, based on what energy prices would have been under the current price cap – reducing bills by roughly a third. This comes in addition to £1,200 direct payments to vulnerable households.

            “A Treasury-led review will consider how to support households from April 2023, focusing support for those in need while reducing costs for the taxpayer.”

            New DWP Secretary Warned Against Benefits Uprating Cut

            October 27, 2022

            The new secretary of state for work and pensions, Mel Stride, is on record as saying he thought it would be ‘extraordinarily difficult’ for the government to persuade MPs to link benefits uprating to wage rises instead of inflation.Stride has been named as the new secretary of state for work and pensions by prime minister Rishi Sunak, He replaces Chloe Smith, who lasted for just one month and nineteen days in the post.Since Iain Duncan Smith was replaced in 2016, there have now been eight people at the head of the DWP. Apart from Therese Coffey, who lasted a few days short of three years, not one secretary of state has been in place for a full year.Stride was educated at Portsmouth grammar school and went on to read philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) at Oxford, a standard degree for those wishing to pursue a career in politics.Other Oxford PPE graduates include:  Rishi Sunak, Elizabeth Truss, David Cameron, Jeremy Hunt, Ed Balls, Ed Miliband, Nick Robinson, Robert Peston and Paul Johnson.Stride went on to become paymaster general in May’s government and was chair of the treasury select committee until yesterday.His voting record on welfare benefits is as unsympathetic as might be expected.  According to TheyWorkForYou Stride voted in favour of a reduction in spending on welfare benefits 52 times and against only twice.Stride is a strong supporter of Sunak and appeared frequently in the media in the run up to the latest conservative leadership election.On 4 October, 11 days after Kwasi Kwarteng’s disastrous mini-budget, Stride told Sky News’ Kay Burley that he thought it would be ‘extraordinarily difficult’ for the government to link benefits uprating to average wages rather than inflation.Kay Burley:  A suggestion now is that they [benefits] might go up with wages and that’s the difference between a 5.5% and a 10% increase in benefits.  One wonders what backbenchers might do about that?Mel Stride:  I think they are going to find that extraordinarily difficult.  I think colleagues are going to struggle with this. It could be one of those areas where the government is going to have to think again.Kay Burley:  So you mean a U-turn?Mel Stride:  Potentially.  I think that’s potentially the case. . . I think the pressure on this is going to be very difficult from the backbenches towards government.So, whilst Stride did not express a personal preference one way or the other, Stride made it clear that cutting benefits uprating was something that was unlikely to be supported by enough back benches to be viable.We will hope that this remains his belief now that welfare benefits is his responsibility.

            First SWAN Clinic Opens In Wales

            October 26, 2022

            As a teenager, Debbie Schwartz felt humiliated as doctors said her illnesses were all in her head.

            “It was soul destroying,” said the 47-year-old former teacher. “I felt hopeless, isolated and humiliated.”

            Debbie has an illness so rare, experts have not been able to identify it – and she is among thousands of people looking for answers.

            Now, she is among the first at the UK’s first specialist clinic of its type for patients with syndromes without a name.

            Debbie spent many of her teenage years being taken the length and breadth of the country by her worried parents who were trying to figure out what was wrong with their only daughter.

            “I felt like I was letting my parents down,” she recalled. “They were traipsing me around back and forth to hospitals in Newcastle and London.

            “As an 11-year-old being told the tests aren’t showing anything and your parents are hearing that, there’s no thoughts the doctors are wrong because they’ve done all these tests, they are the doctors, they know. So the diagnosis must be that I’ve made it up.

            “The onus was very much on me and I felt pressured by that. I was in school and just a child. It was difficult.”

            Debbie felt the medical experts had been “very dismissive” and then, in her late teens, her eyesight, speech, hearing and mobility deteriorated.

            It did not stop her, however, completing a biochemistry degree in London and qualifying to become a science teacher.

            But Debbie collapsed in 2000, spent 10 months in hospital and has not walked – or worked – since.

            “It was then decided it wasn’t asthma and I started having a lot of different tests with different doctors,” she recalled.

            “They would start off excited because I was a unique case and thought it was interesting but they’d lose interest when they did the tests and they still couldn’t come to a diagnosis.

            “They didn’t find much wrong so put everything down to being psychosomatic or depression and anxiety.

            “The soul destroying part was just because they said there was nothing wrong, I didn’t go home and everything became good… I kept deteriorating.

            “I felt like a failure – and the doctors were quite humiliating.”

            After years of fighting, Debbie finally got a partial diagnosis in 2005 of mitochondrial disease – a group of conditions caused by defects in key parts of the body’s cells.

            Subsequently she has also been diagnosed with three more “very rare disorders” – a neurological condition, another affecting her immunology and movement disorder dystonia.

            She has hearing loss, is partially sighted, struggled with balance and has no feeling in her hands and below her knees and needs the help of carers three times a day and her quality of life is “getting worse.”

            One of the things that frustrates Debbie most is although she is convinced her conditions are linked, until now they have been looked at in isolation.

            Now, with the help of consultants at the UK’s first national all-Wales syndromes without a name clinic in her home city of Cardiff, Debbie hopes can get closer to identifying what her underlying condition might be.

            It has been set up by specialists because Debbie is not alone in having such a rare condition.

            Although individually these conditions are very rare, all together they can affect thousands of people.

            Previously Debbie had to rely on several specialists to manage her various conditions.

            “But they’re different teams that stick within their specialty,” she said.

            “They don’t look at me as a whole person and my symptoms as a whole, which is what this new clinic will do.”

            Now, after a 35-year battle, she is hoping she will get the one overall diagnosis that she believes has had a “profound effect” on her life for so long.

            “I’m hoping that with a team of multi-disciplinary doctors looking at me as one, they might come to one conclusion that it is one disorder instead of all of these separate ones.”

            It is estimated that 6,000 babies are born every year with an illness so rare it does not have a name – an estimated 350,000 people in the UK.

            Experts estimate there could be more than 8,000 rare diseases and children are disproportionally affected with 50% of rare diseases affecting children – and almost a third of them will die before the age of five.

            The new SWAN (syndromes without a name) clinic at Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales can be accessed by adults and children across Wales through a referral by a hospital doctor – with an estimated 150,000 people in Wales affected.

            “Rare diseases are a significant health problem that are unfortunately associated with poor outcomes,” said Dr Graham Shortland, clinical lead for the new clinic.

            “The impact on patients and their families is considerable, with the majority of patients who do receive a diagnosis waiting an average of four years.

            “A diagnosis brings hopes and reassurance to families and the goal of the clinic is to shorten the diagnostic journey, improve access to specialist care and support those who continue to await a diagnosis.”

            As many of these diseases often have a genetic cause, it is hoped the clinic will also be able to give advice to families about the risks of a child inheriting rare conditions.

            Medical experts in Wales said the clinic is another example of Wales leading the way in the field of rare illnesses after becoming the first UK nation to offer whole genome genetic tests to very ill children.

            “The SWAN clinic is the first commissioned clinic of its type in the UK and as far as we’re aware there are no others in Europe,” said Prof Iolo Doull, chairman of the Rare Diseases Implementation Group.

            “It’ll be a one stop shop. You can look at Wales as being either very small place or big enough to do important things. In this case Wales has been big enough to do this which perhaps in other places would have fallen under the radar.”

            Young Woman With CP Myah Richards Fundraising To Take PA On Duke Of Edinburgh Trip

            October 25, 2022

            Cover-Up And Incompetence Mark ‘Scary’ Forced UC Transition Process

            October 25, 2022

            With many thanks to Benefits And Work.


            Evidence of DWP cover-up and incompetence in relation to the forced transition from legacy benefits to universal credit (UC) were revealed, as the social security advisory committee called for external scrutiny of the “scary” process this month.

            Members of the social security advisory committee gave evidence to the commons work and pensions committee earlier this month as part of the committee’s inquiry into managed migration to UC.

            One MP on the committee revealed the bizarre degree to which a report on the initial Harrogate pilot for managed migration has been covered-up.

            The Harrogate pilot started in summer 2019 on a very small scale and was abandoned in March 2020 because of the pandemic.

            MP Steve McCabe revealed that copies of the report on the pilot had been deposited in the House of Commons and the House of Lords Libraries, but they were entirely redacted with the exception of the words “moved to Universal Credit” and “user research”.

            McCabe told the committee : “I do not want to get into conspiracy fantasies and start accusing Ministers of cover-ups or anything like that, but what on earth can be in the Harrogate report that means that we are not allowed to see it?”

            In reality, redacting all but 5 words from a report is, by definition, a cover-up. 

            Whether there was anything in the report that actually needed to be covered-up or whether it is simply that under former DWP secretary of state Therese Coffey, the DWP became addicted to secrecy for its own sake, is something we cannot know at this point.

            McCabe went on to illustrate the dangers of the transfer to UC and the degree of DWP incompetence using two examples from his own caseload.

            “One was a woman who had a series of illnesses and was awaiting the result of various tests. She was both physically in a very bad way and psychologically quite distressed. At that point, she failed to respond properly to a migration notice. She did not have a computer at home. She attempted to phone the Department. She could not get to speak to anyone. She sent a recorded delivery letter, but Department thinks it did not receive it. She went weeks and weeks without money.

            “The second was a 19-year-old boy who had severe learning difficulties and autism. After he left school and his tax credits and disability element ended, he was required to apply for Universal Credit. His mum attempted to register him. That seemed to take several weeks. They omitted to tell her that she needed to complete a work capability form. That resulted in a further 16-week delay. Then the staff at the DWP insisted on speaking directly to her son on the phone, except he is non-verbal. Surely, we need a better service to cater for these kinds of eventualities.”

            Charlotte Pickles, a member of SSAC, told the MPs how important SSAC believed some sort of external scrutiny of the “scary” migration process is.

            “Our view is that external scrutiny—so independent, transparent and open scrutiny—is absolutely essential to the success of the programme. That is for two reasons that I think we made clear in our report.

            “First, that sort of scrutiny will support an effective programme. If the only thing the Department can rely on is internal management data and that feedback loop that should be, and we hope will be, very effective, they are going to have gaps in the insights. They are going to have gaps in their understanding of how it is landing with claimants and the different groups that we have already discussed this morning. If you want to be as successful as possible—which the Department does want to be—external scrutiny and input is an important part of delivering a successful programme.

            “Secondly, why it is so important is because we are all very aware that for some groups, in particular, UC is quite a scary proposition. If you are sitting on a legacy benefit or you are a tax credit claimant, you possibly, likely, in certain groups, are very nervous and possibly reluctant to make that move to UC. By having the external input, you get a greater public assurance that the system is working and operating and it does have the best interests of claimants at heart. Both for effectiveness and public confidence in the programme, that external input and oversight is important.”

            At this point, however, there is no indication that the DWP will be any more open to external scrutiny of the managed migration process than they are to any other part of their secretive machinations.

            You can read the full transcript of the oral evidence hearing on the parliament website.

            Universal Credit WCA Success Rates – The Secret Is Finally Out

            October 24, 2022

            With many thanks to Benefits And Work.


            For years the DWP has been refusing to publish statistics on how many universal credit (UC) claimants are found fit for work and how many have limited capability for work (LCW) or limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA). 

            However, the secret is finally out following a parliamentary question which actually got a response.

            In January 2022 there were 51,600 UC decisions and 6,985 ESA decisions:

            62% had LCWRA for UC and 66% for ESA

            20% had LCW for UC and 14% for ESA.

            18% were FFW for UC and 20% for ESA.

            In February 2022 there were 55,600 UC decisions and 7,008 ESA decisions:

            61% had LCWRA for UC and 65% for ESA

            17% had LCW for UC and 14% for ESA.

            22% were FFW for UC and 21% for ESA.

            In March 2022 there were 66,200 UC decisions and 7,745 ESA decisions:

            59% had LCWRA for UC and 66% for ESA

            17% had LCW for UC and 13% for ESA.

            24% were FFW for UC and 21% for ESA.

            So, the percentage of claimants found fit for work over the three month period was very similar, with 21.3% of UC claimants found fit and 20.6% of ESA claimants.  

            The percentage of claimants placed in the limited capability for work category was 18% for UC and 13.6% for ESA.  These claimants have some work-related conditions attached to receiving benefit.

            But over the whole quarter, on average only 60.6% of UC claimants were placed in the limited capability for work-related activity as opposed to 65.6% of ESA claimants.  Claimants in this group are eligible for a higher rate of benefits without any work conditionality attached

            If UC LCWRA rates had been the same as ESA rates then over 8,500 additional claimants would have been found to have LCWRA over this quarter.

            In the course of a year that’s over 34,000 claimants who are missing out on being found to have LCWRA.

            Of equal concern is the fact that 1.2 million ESA claimants are waiting to be forcibly transferred from ESA to UC.  There will be no WCA imposed at the point at which claimants are transferred, but they are likely to face a further assessment at some point in the future.

            And whilst the WCA for both benefits is virtually identical, it seems clear that there is a difference in the way the tests are applied. 

            You can read the full written answer on the parliament website.

            Mum Faces £17,000 Energy Bill To Keep Disabled Daughter Alive

            October 21, 2022

            A mother is facing a £17,000 home energy bill to operate the life-support equipment her disabled daughter needs to stay alive.

            Freya Hunter, 12, has severe cerebral palsy and relies on receiving oxygen for chronic breathing problems.

            Her mother Carolynne told BBC Scotland it costs £6,500 a year to run the kit and heat their home in Tillicoultry.

            But Clackmannanshire Council warned her this bill could hit £17,000 next year due to Freya’s “hospital at home”.

            Carolynne, 49, fears her family will face further fuel poverty amid the UK’s economic turmoil.

            She also worries that possible winter power cuts in the event of reduced gas supply could put Freya’s care at risk.

            “My situation is quite unbearable now,” said Carolynne, 49. “I’ve been worrying how to afford to pay for the amount of energy I need for the past seven months.

            “The level of care Freya is having is probably on par with what would be happening in an intensive care ward.

            “She needs constant heat and the staff need to be comfortable in the room.”

            In addition to cerebral palsy, Freya relies on receiving oxygen for her breathing problems – particularly through the night.

            The family require help from at least two NHS nurses or staff from self-directed support (SDS) – a form of social care.

            Staff monitor Freya’s heart rate as well as oxygen levels and carry out frequent suctioning to keep her airways clear.

            ‘We freeze to heat Freya’s room’

            The family lives in a large council house – which is not energy efficient – so there is space for Freya’s equipment.

            And Carolynne, who works full time on a moderate wage, does not receive the same support as those on low incomes.

            “Our situation is very complex, it’s like we don’t fit in,” she said. “Our energy is way above average but I don’t earn enough to pay for it.

            “And we’ve cut back on everything that we can. My older daughter and I historically have lived in fuel poverty as we don’t use the heating in the rest of the house.

            “We freeze so I could afford to pay for what’s needed for Freya.”

            Earlier this year, Clackmannanshire Council’s Energy Advice Service told Carolynne that if the energy price cap rose by 88% in January, her energy bill could reach £17,700.

            This was prior to the Energy Price Guarantee being announced, which will now end in April 2023.

            And a recent forecast by Cornwall Insight suggested the energy price cap could rise by 73% for average consumers – although the prediction could be significantly affected by changing wholesale prices.

            It means the family still face a possible five-figure bill.

            ‘Should I take her to hospital?’

            The Hunters are among the families whose financial futures have been rewritten after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt dismantled policies from the mini-budget.

            Anyone on the major benefits – such as universal credit – should expect a rise in what they receive. However, that will not come until April.

            There is no clarity yet on whether this rise will be in line with rising prices, or the lower increase in average wages.

            Carolynne, who does not get universal credit, does not know whether she will qualify for additional support on top of Freya’s disability payment.

            Mr Hunt said there would be “difficult decisions” to come on tax and spending – but support for the most vulnerable would be prioritised.

            Carolynne added: “I’m struggling to pay what I have to pay just now. Having to wait until April to see whether I would qualify for targeted support is detrimental to my mental health.

            “We’re not the only family in Scotland or in the UK suffering like this.”

            In sharing Freya’s story, Carolynne hopes governments will be encouraged to direct support to families that provide a high level of medical care for loved ones at home.

            She said this should include being prioritised for solar panels and battery storage – particularly in light of the National Grid warning that households could lose power for up to three hours this winter.

            She said: “If I don’t have power how can I keep Freya alive? How on earth am I supposed to manage a team of staff? How are they meant to look after Freya safely if there’s not any power?

            “Have I to phone an ambulance every day and take her to hospital? This is a massive problem and there’s not been anybody from the government thinking about how do we address this.”

            Clackmannanshire Council has been approached for comment.

            Plea Over Wheelchair Taken From Birmingham Garden

            October 20, 2022

              A woman has appealed for the return of her wheelchair after it was taken from her front garden.

              Laura Birchenough said she had been left “trapped at home and devastated” without the chair.

              It was taken from the front garden of her home in Kings Heath, Birmingham, on Sunday after accidentally being left on the drive by her husband, James.

              The 29 year old said she would have to pay around £2,500 to replace the wheelchair and wait up to six weeks.

              “I’m getting all emotional because it’s an extension of my body,” she said.

              “I feel like I’ve lost a leg.”

              Mrs Birchenough said she suffered from a chronic condition that makes her tired and leaves her dizzy and shaky if she has to stand up for more than a minute.

              She said she would not be able to go out with her two sons, aged four and five, without the wheelchair.

              “I got it in the first place for them,” she said.

              “I can normally take them around the park and things like that, but obviously that’s going to be a bit of a problem now.”

              She said she believed whoever took the wheelchair and her sons’ bikes, which were also left on the drive in Topsham Croft, did not steal them deliberately.

              “In my mind, it was just an accident and someone thought it was being given away,” she said.

              ‘People have rallied’

              After posting an appeal on social media she said she had received huge support.

              “People have really rallied around, which has been lovely,” she said.

              Anyone with information about the missing wheelchair can contact her through her business’s website.

              Cost Of Living Crisis: ‘I Am Shivering While I’m On Dialysis’

              October 19, 2022

              While the cost of living is soaring, millions of people are coping with the uncertainty of whether their benefits will rise with inflation.

              In Sunderland, where one in 13 of the working-age population claims out-of-work benefits, Nicky and Alison are struggling to survive.

              “I’m freezing right now, I’m shivering while I’m on dialysis, but I won’t put the heating on because it’s too expensive,” says Nicky Telford.

              The 43-year-old, who used to work in a factory, has to have kidney dialysis for five hours every other day, since suffering a blood clot.

              The cost of Nicky’s groceries and utilities bills have gone up sharply, and news that the government may not raise his benefits in line with inflation has hit him hard.

              “I’m on benefits because obviously I can’t work, [but] things are getting dearer and benefits aren’t going up,” he says.

              The cost of living is increasing at nearly its fastest rate in 40 years, with prices in August almost 10% higher than a year earlier.

              Nicky’s younger daughter, a trainee paramedic who lives with him, recently turned 18, meaning he no longer receives child benefit.

              He has also been hit with the “bedroom tax” – which reduces the housing benefit available to social housing tenants with spare bedrooms – since his older daughter moved out. He says he’s put three bids in for smaller houses, but hasn’t heard back.

              Nicky has been supported through patient advocacy and financial grants from charity Kidney Care UK. But he says his dialysis room at home already feels “like a fridge” and his biggest fear is that financial pressures are going to force him to go to hospital for the treatment.

              “With electric bills going up I don’t know how long I can actually do dialysis at home. I just live day by day at the moment, I don’t see a future,” he says.

              “There’s nothing more frustrating than a man who wants to go out to work, who can’t, who feels like he can’t support his family.”

              Nicky and his daughter live in a suburb of Sunderland, where about one in five households is on a low income. That’s compared to one in seven nationally.

              The percentage of working-age population who claim out-of-work benefits is also much higher than the national average.

              Nicky receives personal independence payments (Pip) – which are designed to help cover things like transport for disabled people – as well as employment and support allowance, and universal credit.

              The government has not confirmed whether it will stand by its manifesto commitment to raise all benefits in line with September’s inflation figure, which is due to be published on 19 October.

              By law, benefits such as Pip and the disability living allowance must rise in line with prices.

              But other benefits, such as universal credit, are not protected in this way and have not gone up at the same rate as inflation for nine out of the past 12 years.

              Some people have suggested it makes more sense for benefits to rise at the same rate as wages, which went up by 5.4% in the three months to August 2022.

              Conservative MP Lee Anderson said it “does not seem fair” for those on benefits to get “inflation-busting” increases of as much as 10%, while public and private sector workers are offered pay rises of 2-4%.

              ‘You daren’t go out every day’

              Alison Bailey, 57, is always trying to come up with ways to make the money go further, but it’s a stretch at the moment.

              The Sunderland native left her previous job at an energy firm due to ill health and is now a carer for her mother, who suffered a stroke five years ago.

              She receives £69.70 a week in carer’s allowance – which will go up in line with inflation – and around £500 in universal credit. Her rent is £450 a month, leaving her about £100 a week for food and bills.

              “Prices are just so beyond anybody’s means at the moment. You’re spending the same amount but you’re not getting the same amount of stuff,” she says.

              Like Nicky, Alison wraps up in blankets rather than putting on the heating, while her beloved dogs Poppy and Charlie also keep her warm.

              “I’ve started to use an air fryer, and I put stuff in the slow cooker or microwave, I don’t use the gas now.

              “You try to keep to a healthy diet but it’s just impossible to do. Fruit prices have gone up – everything has, and you just feel as if your world is shrinking in on you. And you daren’t go out every day because you end up spending money that you haven’t got to spend,” she says.

              “The only enjoyment I get now is when I’m out with my dogs.”

              She is urging the government to raise benefits by “as much as they possibly can” as “people just can’t survive on what they’ve got”.

              Self-disconnecting from utilities

              Unfortunately, these are the kinds of money problems Denise Irving hears about every day. She is the manager of Citizens Advice Sunderland, and has seen demand for its services skyrocket.

              During the whole of October 2021, 323 people attended the centre’s drop in. But this October, 206 have used it in the past seven days, she says.

              The most common issue is benefits, followed by debts, energy prices and the struggles with the cost of living in general.

              “On the whole it’s simply that they haven’t got enough to live on so they want to make sure they are on the right benefits and there’s nothing else they are entitled to.

              “We do have high levels of unemployment in Sunderland but we also have high levels of disability and sickness. Most of the people that come to see us are disabled, have caring responsibilities or are on long-term sickness.”

              There’s also been a 45% increase in the number of working families using the service, she adds.

              “We’ve been hearing about heat-or-eat for the past two years, now they don’t really have a choice of either – what we’re finding is that people are self-disconnecting from their utilities to save money.

              “We’ve always seen issues with affording Christmas and the like but now it’s that they simply can’t afford to pay the council tax, pay gas and electric bills and buy enough groceries to last them the week,” she says.

              The government says it will begin its statutory annual review of benefits and pensions from late October.

              A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said the government was “committed to looking after the most vulnerable” and had demonstrated this through the package of support measures it had made available, including the energy price guarantee.

              What Is Disability Hate Crime?

              October 18, 2022

              A charity has teamed up with Somerset County Council to raise awareness about disability hate crime.

              OpenStoryTellers, based in Frome, has created a series of videos about it after researchers found victims often failed to recognise it was a crime.

              It said people with disabilities were also vulnerable to “mate crime” when victims are befriended by someone who later exploits or manipulates them.

              The videos are available to view on the council’s website.

              Avon and Somerset Police recorded 473 disability hate crimes between April 2021 and March, but it said the true figure could be considerably higher, because of underreporting issues.

              Charlotte Woodall, from OpenStoryTellers, told BBC Radio Somerset: “Some of our members didn’t really know very much about hate crime and disability hate crime and actually we did a lot of research with our members to find out what people did know.”

              ‘Nothing will happen’

              The charity said it hoped the campaign would empower people with disabilities, whether that was a physical or a learning disability, to understand hate crime.

              “Quite often people are targeted and they are victims and they don’t do anything about it – possibly because they’re scared, possibly because they think ‘well nothing is going to happen anyway’, or possibly because they don’t recognise it is an actual crime,” she said.

              Ben Harris, from Frome, who has both hearing and sight loss, described an incident where someone had thrown a drink at him from a moving car.

              He said it had not occurred to him at the time to report it, adding: “I was able to brush it off, but it did make me angry”.

              Ali Gunn, from the south London-based charity United Response, which supports people with learning difficulties, said: “The experience of ‘is this a hate crime?’ is something that we hear quite often.”

              There was a 41% rise in recorded hate crimes between 2021 and 2022 in England and Wales according to figures released earlier this month.

              Ms Gunn said: “Either reporting procedures have got better, people are more aware of how and when to report a hate crime or it indicates that hate crime is on the rise, but either way it does indicate there is a problem there that needs addressing.”

              Cost Of Living: ‘I’ve Been Left Without Carers For Five Months’

              October 17, 2022

              High petrol prices this year have been driving carers from the profession, leaving the people who rely on them without vital support, an exclusive survey shared with the BBC suggests. Natalie Rowley lost access to care five months ago.

              Short presentational grey line

              Natalie Rowley woke as usual on Wednesday 20 April and waited for the first of her three daily carers to arrive.

              The 32-year-old has needed support since complications in her pregnancy almost four years ago left her with a joint disorder and other complex health issues, which mean she is in chronic pain and unable to walk.

              The previous night’s homecare visit had gone as planned. Natalie had been helped to bed and given medication. But after hours of waiting that morning, a text message appeared on her phone letting her know her care had ended.

              “Sadly I don’t have [other] clients in your area and staff are complaining about fuel costs. Good luck with everything in the future,” the text from the manager of the homecare company read.

              Fuel prices were high in April and then hit a record peak this summer. And while they have since come down slightly, Natalie has been left without a carer ever since.

              In the following months, her husband, Jason, has cared for her, while also looking after their three-year-old son, and battling his own health condition.

              “He helps me in and out of the shower, [with] moving from one room to another, he helps me put cream on my back, changing my pad, supporting me through seizures… he does everything basically,” Natalie tells the BBC from a bed, set up in the living room of her home in Shropshire.

              “It’s really hard and sometimes I do feel like he’s more of a carer than a husband.”

              Presentational grey line

              LISTEN: You can hear more from Natalie on the BBC Access All podcast

              Plus, businesswoman Caroline Casey, who topped the Disability Power List in 2021, reveals why she didn’t realise she was blind until she booked a driving lesson for her 17th birthday.

              Presentational grey line

              Most of Natalie’s days are now spent in bed. Without professional care, things like taking a shower or getting a hot water bottle to relieve her pain sometimes get forgotten, or delayed.

              The situation has also put a strain on family life, and Natalie says she feels guilty asking loved ones for help. “If [my husband] goes out to do the shopping sometimes I have to phone him to say ‘I’m having a seizure, can you come back now?’

              “And he’s literally left the trolley full of shopping in the middle of the supermarket and jumped in the car and come home,” she says. “Going from the life that I had to my life now, it’s so incredibly frustrating.”

              Natalie’s former care agency, Silverbell, told the BBC it was “mortified” by her situation but said it had “no alternative but to downscale our operation”.

              It said funding from the local council was “no longer sufficient to cover the carers’ petrol costs and travelling time” to reach more distant clients.

              Homecare ‘exodus’

              The BBC has spoken to other people around the country who have also lost access to care. One woman said she had gone a week without “a proper wash” earlier this year, while another said she was left with no care at all during her husband’s working hours.

              With the cost of living crisis surging and food costs spiralling, a survey of 509 care providers – employing more than 69,300 care workers and supporting about 118,000 people in their own homes – has revealed how petrol price rises have affected them.

              More than half said some staff had handed in notice or left because they could not afford to pay for petrol or diesel for their cars, while 59% said they had staff who intended to seek work elsewhere.

              And more than three-quarters of the providers who responded to the survey said staff had requested a fuel allowance raise. “The fuel amount we now have to pay means we are literally working on the brink of closing the company,” one provider said.

              The Homecare Association, which represents providers across the UK and conducted the survey, says high fuel prices have led to an “exodus of homecare workers”.

              It said the responses raised “significant worry about the long-term sustainability of care businesses” in a sector already facing major staff shortages, and that it should be a “wake-up call to the government”.

              “High fuel costs are exacerbating an already difficult situation. Homecare workers cannot afford petrol or diesel for their cars, which they need to drive to the people they support, so they are leaving for jobs that do not require travel,” CEO Jane Townson said.

              ‘Another nail in the coffin’

              Carers supporting people in their own homes often spend substantial periods of the day travelling between clients. Most companies offer fuel mileage reimbursement for work travel, but rates vary.

              The majority of the providers who responded to the survey said they paid between 21p and 45p per mile. Some – 2% of those who responded – said they did not pay mileage rates at all. By comparison, NHS staff currently receive 56p per mile.

              Louise, a carer from the Midlands, is among those considering changing careers because of petrol costs. She uses her own car and says she can visit up to 16 clients a day, with trips often taking between 15 and 30 minutes.

              “I get 30p a mile. The 30p covers it if the journey is smooth but if I get stuck in traffic it doesn’t and that’s about 90% of the time,” she explains.

              Louise describes the struggle over fuel prices as “another nail in the coffin” in an already lowly-paid job and amid a cost of living crisis. “I love my job, I love the work I’m doing, I love going into people’s houses but I just can’t afford it,” she says.

              The Homecare Association has called on the government to introduce a temporary annual grant of £107m as an allowance to cover the increased fuel costs.

              And Disability Rights UK said the “central and local government must act on the serious findings” of the survey and address the “catastrophic impact” of the cost of living crisis on disabled people. “Care workers should not have to pay for fuel costs or for driving to and from visits,” it said.

              A spokesperson said the government was “taking action to support people – including by cutting fuel duty – and [had] urged petrol retailers and others in the supply chain to pass on this historic cut on forecourts”.

              Natalie says living without professional care for five months has been “tiring, stressful and upsetting”. But her situation may finally soon be resolved.

              Since BBC News visited, Natalie’s case has been reassessed by the Shropshire council. A spokesperson said the council was “very concerned” about her situation and was “actively working” to restore her care.

              Natalie said her “cheeks hurt from smiling” after being told that she may soon have her care restored, but says the situation needs to be resolved for others, too.

              “I have a family but there are a lot of people that don’t have families and their carers are the only people they see that day, and that’s heartbreaking.”


              October 14, 2022

              A press release:

              One in 12 blind and partially sighted people experience domestic violence according to new Vision Foundation research

              Esme never knew when her ex-husband was following her. He could be right behind her, the unseen stalker who frightened her children and brought back memories of years of domestic abuse. “My children were scared,” she explains. “‘You can’t take us to school Mum because you can’t protect us,’ my daughter said. ‘You’re blind.’”

              Esme is one of 188,000 blind and partially sighted men and women in the UK who are victims or survivors of domestic abuse, according to shocking a new report, The Unseen, published this week by sight loss charity, the Vision Foundation.

              The findings have been made public this week to coincide with World Sight Day, Thursday 13 October 2022.

              Esme is one of dozens of people with vision impairment who took part in research carried out by the domestic abuse charity SafeLives, for the Vision Foundation, to establish the scale and prevalence of this particularly insidious abuse, which so far has only been anecdotal.

              “Until now there were no data, discussions or dedicated services addressing this issue in the sight loss community, one of the most excluded sectors of society,” explains Vision Foundation chief executive Olivia Curno. “We suspected but we couldn’t prove it. Now we have the evidence.”

              Victims and survivors spoke of how perpetrators would exploit their disability by moving objects to create trip hazards, hiding medication, white sticks and mobile phones. They would follow victims without their knowledge and insist on staying in the room during hospital visits, thus preventing them from being able to disclose abuse. There were many reports of gaslighting, physical attacks and enforced isolation from friends and families. 

              Participants in the research described how difficult it is to get help. Some are simply not believed, or encouraged to stay in an abusive relationship by friends and family. Many feared having to move to a new and unfamiliar area or their children being taken away.

              The research found a serious gap between need and specific help available among organisations and professionals working in the field of sight loss. Domestic abuse services, police, health, housing and education professionals often don’t understand the specific needs of someone with vision impairment and how to access appropriate support on their behalf.

              “Our team found a stark contrast between the lack of information on domestic abuse in relation to blind and partially sighted people and the very high number of people with personal experience who wanted to take part in this research. Their experiences confirm the urgent need for action. says Suzanne Jacob, chief executive of SafeLives.

              “Some simple measures could make a huge difference,” says Olivia Curno. “For example, if hospital appointments were conducted one-to-one and prefaced with the question, ‘Are you safe at home?’, this would be an effective way of safe disclosure. A useful first step.”

              Other measures include targeted and tailored training, domestic abuse champions for visual impairment organisations, a ‘survivors’ network’ to share experiences and a ‘toolkit’ for practitioners with a quick guide to support.

              Key to this is a funding mechanism to enable organisations to drive change and a special domestic abuse round of the Vision Foundation’s Vision Fund will be launched in the coming weeks.

              With the right support, survivors have inspiring stories to tell of being able to move onto happy and fulfilling lives. Last word goes to Esme, now living free of abuse for two years, “I’m now much more confident, I have found my voice. I’m now not afraid to speak out, I’m happy as a single parent with disabilities.” Esme attributes the newfound confidence to Dance Dosti, an organisation which offers accessible dance sessions to visually impaired people and has received Vision Foundation funding. She’s now also a social media cook with many thousands of followers.

              Rob Burrow BBC Documentary: ‘I’m A Prisoner In My Own Body’

              October 14, 2022

              One of Great Britain’s greatest rugby league players, Rob Burrow, is being helped into a swimming pool by his wife, Lindsey.

              It is the only way that the former England, Great Britain and Leeds Rhinos player can manage to walk without suffering debilitating pain in his joints caused by Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

              “I know when you get married you say, ‘in sickness and in health’. I did not think she signed up to look after me so soon,” he jokes.

              In another scene, his mum, Irene, spoon-feeds him.

              “I need my parents for everything. It’s like I’m their kid again.”

              Burrow is characteristically jolly and cheeky throughout, joking with the camera crew as they document his life since his diagnosis for a new BBC documentary, ‘Rob Burrow: Living With MND’.

              But his demeanour makes his situation no less desperate.

              In 2019, two years after retiring from a glittering 17-year career that saw him win eight Grand Finals, three World Club Challenges and two Challenge Cups, Burrow was diagnosed with MND. It is a degenerative condition for which there is no cure.

              In this heart-breaking 30-minute BBC Two film, viewers get unparalleled access to his life.

              ‘I’m a prisoner in my own body’

              In the opening scenes, Burrow explains a little about MND.

              “I’m a prisoner in my own body. The lights are on, but no-one’s home. I think like you, but my mind doesn’t work right. I can’t move my body.”

              The 40-year-old has to speak via a computer, using recorded samples of his voice.

              His consultant, Dr Agam Jung, calls MND “an extremely cruel condition,” explaining: “You may not be able to speak, you may not be able to swallow, you may not be able to breathe independently, you have weakness in your arms and legs. This leads to dependency and a reduced life span.”

              While Burrow jokes with the doctors and tries to maintain a positive attitude, the question of end-of-life care hangs in the air.

              “How do I have the conversation around death?” asks Dr Jung. “It’s there in the patient’s mind. It’s there in the family’s mind. If I do not bring the topic up, that conversation will never happen.”

              Wife Lindsey says: “I can’t imagine a world without Rob.”

              ‘I was such a hands-on dad’

              Alongside looking after their three young children and working as a physio in the NHS, Lindsey has had to take on the role of Rob’s primary carer.

              “It kills me seeing Lindsey juggling everything,” says Burrow, adding: “I was such a hands-on dad.”

              Lindsey and Rob met as teenagers. There are incredibly emotional scenes when she talks about the prospect of life after Rob.

              “He always says, ‘find somebody else, you’re still young’,” she explains tearfully. “There will never be anyone else. No-one can ever take Rob’s place.”

              ‘Kev is like a brother’

              Kevin Sinfield was Burrow’s captain at Leeds Rhinos.

              After Burrow was diagnosed with MND in 2019, Sinfield began a series of fundraising challenges. He completed seven marathons in seven days in 2020, and then in 2021 he ran 101 miles in 24 hours, raising millions of pounds for MND research and support.

              Describing his former team-mate, Sinfield, 42, says: “Pound for pound, he was probably the strongest player we had in the squad. I’m honoured to have played alongside him.”

              “Kev is like a brother,” says Burrow. “The stress he puts on his body for me, it’s unbelievable.”

              How Do Visually Impaired People Play Video Games?

              October 13, 2022

                Ben Breen was born without sight but video games have been part of his life for as long as he can remember.

                He started off playing games on his PC without any of the technology that may have helped him understand them.

                Since then he has seen more developers add features to games which improve the experience of visually impaired people.

                But now he wants to see all big gaming studios consider people with sight loss when developing games.

                “I started out with games like Fighter Pilot on PC not really understanding how anything worked because I didn’t know about screen readers at the time, or any of the tech,” he said.

                “So I was just pressing buttons, seeing what happens, and literally nosediving a plane.”

                He began playing audio games with basic graphics designed for people with low or no vision.

                Once developers started adding some features specifically for blind people, Ben was able to play more mainstream games for people of all abilities.

                Studios have recently been creating games with more embedded features for those with sight loss, such as The Last Of Us Part 1 for PS5 which was released in September.

                “I still do play audio-only games occasionally,” Ben said. “But I prefer stuff when it’s enjoyable for more people.”

                Helpful features include creating short-cuts on the handset, and lock-on aim in fighting games.

                Screen narration tells the user what is happening visually on the screen, while navigation assistance tools allow the player to determine their distance from objects and enemies.


                Warning: Third party content may contain adverts

                Now an accessible games and immersive technologies research officer with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Ben is sharing his experiences with the billion-dollar gaming industry.

                He was among those at a recent symposium in Dunde who spoke to representatives of Google, EA Games and Microsoft about how videogames could be improved.

                The event was hosted by Abertay University – the first in the world to launch a computer games degree – with the RNIB.

                By working with the university, Ben hopes future developers will create all of their games with accessibility in mind from the start.

                He said: “As much as we’ve had games released on a couple of platforms that are fully playable, we need to see all the companies stepping up.

                “Even just at a basic level, increased accessibility equals increased sales.”

                Ben added: “Sight loss is a spectrum and gaming can still happen, but more needs to be done in terms of making games accessible.

                “Whatever games I can play, I will play.”

                He said studios need to accept that accessibility is important and he wants to see people with sight loss consulted during the development of games.

                “I’ve had people say to me that they wouldn’t want to game if they woke up without sight, but they would,” he said.

                “You’d want to continue, and the way you’re going to be able to continue is if games actually start adding the features in.”

                Abertay’s Dr Robin Sloan, who has been teaching and researching game design for 15 years, said designing the interactive aspects of games with inclusivity in mind and testing them on people with low or no vision was essential.

                “That can be things like using high contrast, larger fonts and less complexity in the scene,” he said.

                “Beyond that, you get much more challenging things like making decisions around something that’s happening that’s really visual.”

                He said standardising design models and codes with accessible features could help smaller games companies improve their inclusivity.

                This is because smaller companies often buy in the foundational code for their designs.

                “If the model is already accessible, this can allow the developers to just focus on the game,” he added.

                Adapt games and devices

                A spokesperson from the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, the trade body for the UK games industry, said accessibility was a key priority.

                She added: “The UK games industry has a strong track record of working with charities like SpecialEffect to adapt games and devices such as the Microsoft adaptive controller.

                “Meanwhile organisations like Many Cats work with studios on a recruitment and culture level to encourage thinking about accessibility at every stage of the development process.

                “The games industry equality, diversity and inclusion initiative #RaiseTheGame has worked with the Royal National Institute of Blind People to help provide a perspective on the sector as well as to promote fundraiser and awareness events such as Gaming for RNIB.

                “RNIB has consulted with our education initiative Digital Schoolhouse, reviewing materials and providing training on making content accessible for visually impaired learners.”

                Dundee is a major hub in the industry, launching some of the world’s biggest titles including Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto.

                Pay PIP Now Campaign Launched By MacMillan

                October 12, 2022

                With many thanks to Benefits And Work.


                MacMillan has now launched its campaign on PIP waiting times and they are asking Benefits and Work readers to help out by signing their petition and highlighting it on social media..

                MacMillan say that:

                Pay PIP Now is calling for the UK Government to reduce distressing waiting times for PIP.

                “The current average waiting time for PIP for people making a new claim in England and Wales is 18 weeks. It’s unacceptable that people living with cancer are facing a such a long wait to receive the financial support they need, and are entitled to.   

                “Each week their claim is delayed, those affected can miss out on up to £156.90. This shortfall comes at a time when people with cancer face potentially catastrophic increases to the cost of living, on top of a significant financial impact from their diagnosis. 

                “We’re calling for the UK Government to reduce PIP waiting times to 12 weeks, so that people with cancer get this support when they need it the most.”

                As well as signing their petition, MacMillan are asking people to like and share posts about the campaign that you see from @macmillancancer on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

                Share the campaign on your social media accounts using the text:

                I’m supporting Macmillan’s campaign calling on the UK Government to cut distressing waiting times for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) down to 12 weeks. PIP must reach people quicker at a time when they’re struggling with the cost of living crisis. Sign the petition now:

                Charity Research Finds That Only 1% Of Disability Hate Crimes End With A Charge

                October 11, 2022

                Of the thousands of disability hate crimes reported to the police last year, just 1% resulted in criminal charges, two charities have revealed.

                Leonard Cheshire and United Response submitted Freedom of Information requests to 43 police forces in England and Wales and 36 responded.

                It found that out of more than 11,000 reports, 99% of cases went no further.

                The National Police Chiefs’ Council said it wanted “to understand the reasons” behind the low number.

                A hate crime is an offence which targets a victim’s protected characteristics, including their race, religion, sexual orientation or disability.

                PhD student, Cassie Lovelock from London, told the BBC Access All podcast she has experienced physical and verbal abuse because of her disability many times.

                She has hereditary neuropathy with a liability for pressure palsies (HNPP), a rare condition with similar symptoms to MS, and often uses a wheelchair.

                On one occasion, while waiting for her boyfriend outside a shop, two drunk men grabbed her wheelchair and pushed her down the road while making sexual comments.

                Despite screaming for help, she claims passers-by ignored her. She eventually escaped by rolling her wheelchair into the road.

                On the latest episode of Access All, Cassie talks more about her experiences of disability hate crime and the team look at the support available.

                And a month into Prime Minister Liz Truss’s premiership there’s still no confirmation about who the new Minister of State for Disabled People will be…or is there?

                On another occasion, Cassie was pushed out of her wheelchair by a woman who wanted to use the wheelchair space on a London bus for her pushchair.

                “It was very humiliating,” Cassie says. The bus driver witnessed the incident, helped Cassie and refused to let the other woman travel.

                Cassie says the incidents she has endured – including being shouted at on the street and accused of faking her disability – have all been “intrinsically tied” to her disability.

                But, she admits, she hasn’t always reported her experiences immediately because she wasn’t sure they would be considered hate crimes.

                Ali Gunn, policy lead for United Response, which was involved in the research, says Cassie’s experience is common.

                “A lot of the time victims don’t even know they’ve been a victim of a disability hate crime” and, as a result, the number of reported incidents could be the “tip of the iceberg”.

                She says a disability hate crime is classed as “any criminal offence that is motivated by a person’s disability or perceived disability”.

                Of those hate crimes that were reported but went no further, Ali says: “We found that around 50% of the no-charge outcomes were a result of either the victim withdrawing support, evidential difficulties despite there being a named suspect, or that the police were unable to find a suspect.”

                She says its “really important for the victim to capture as much information as possible – what they hear, what they see, or what’s happening and the date, the time, the location”.

                But she adds that the whole community should play its part.

                “If you witness a crime you might feel uncomfortable or nervous to go up at the time, but afterwards please support the victim. Give your phone number, give any information that you were able to record at that point in time about what happened.”

                The two charities – Leonard Cheshire and United Response – which conducted the research have called for police forces to appoint Disability Liaison Officers.

                “They would be able to support a disabled victim from the point of reporting all the way through,” Ali says, hopefully resulting in a higher charge rate.

                This week, the Home Office also released its statistics on hate crimes. It reported that 14,242 disability hate crimes had been recorded in the year ending March 2022 – an increase of 43% on the previous year.

                That figure has doubled since 2017/2018 with stalking and harassment offences the most commonly recorded disability hate crimes.

                A Home Office spokesperson described hate crime as a “scourge on communities” and said that “while the rise is likely to be largely driven by improvements in police recording, we cannot be complacent.”

                They added: “[We] expect the police to fully investigate these hateful attacks and make sure the cowards who commit them feel the full force of the law.”

                After thinking about the incident with the men, Cassie did report it to the police. She received a call from an officer and a case number, but says she never heard from them again, putting Cassie’s case in the 99% that result in no charge. The force was unable to corroborate this information.

                Cassie is getting on with her PhD, but says the “terrifying” experiences have stayed with her and she has changed where she shops and which public transport she uses as a result.

                “Even now, I get this anxiety – what if something happens?” she says.

                Tommy Jessop: Why I Investigated Care For Patients Like Me

                October 10, 2022

                    People with a learning disability are more than twice as likely to die from avoidable causes than the rest of the population. Actor Tommy Jessop and BBC Panorama investigated some of the stories of families who say they were let down by their medical care.

                    Tommy Jessop is an actor and campaigner who wants to use his voice to make sure people with a learning disability are heard.

                    He’s known to millions for his role as Terry Boyle on the TV series Line of Duty. He also has Down’s syndrome, which puts him among the 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK at risk of having their lives cut short by illnesses that can be treated or prevented.

                    For a BBC Panorama, he has been investigating the failures of healthcare which contribute to people with a learning disability having a life expectancy 20 years shorter than non-disabled people.

                    He found cases where disabled people were not listened to, where they were neglected, and where families had to fight for appropriate treatment instead of their loved ones being allowed to die.

                    “Being in Line of Duty made people listen more and I had lots of invitations to speak up. It is about time people really should start listening to us and see how we really feel,” Tommy says.

                    “People with a learning disability used to be hidden away, because people didn’t believe in us. But our lives truly are worth living and medical care should be better for all of us.”

                    Tommy says he has always had good care from the NHS but that’s not always the case for other people like him.

                    An NHS report found that in nearly half of cases where a person with a learning disability died before the age of 75, the cause was a preventable or treatable illness. For everyone else, that figure was 22%.

                    Reviewing more than 3,500 deaths of people with a learning disability, the NHS found that in nearly a third of cases there was no evidence of good practice.

                    Tommy and Panorama examined thousands of coroners’ reports from the past nine years. They also heard the stories of four people with a learning disability who had been affected by poor care.

                    Chloe died in hospital at the age of just 27. She had a learning disability and lived with a serious muscle condition called myotonic dystrophy.

                    In April 2019, she became very ill and was admitted to Queen’s Hospital in Romford, where a scan revealed possible signs of cancer. Chloe was agitated and in pain, and struggled to communicate how she felt, her aunt Lisa told Tommy.

                    Chloe was given morphine, which can cause breathing problems for people with her muscle condition. Three days later, she went into cardiac arrest and was resuscitated.

                    After five more days, she was moved into a general ward. Specialist learning disability nurses were not involved in her care there. She died in the early hours of the morning.

                    An independent investigation found the transition to morphine may have contributed to her collapse and that doctors failed to recognise that her health was getting worse. “Chloe’s voice was not always heard during her stay,” the report found.

                    Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital where Chloe died, said it was extremely sorry she did not receive the high level of care she deserved, but that it did not find evidence that the morphine caused her cardiac arrest.

                    It said it had made improvements to ensure patients with learning disabilities are listened to and cared for better.

                    Tommy says many of the stories were about a failure of health professionals to listen to and understand disabled people.

                    He met the family of a woman with Down’s syndrome, Julie Taylor, who was admitted to Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport. Before arriving in hospital, she had stopped eating and drinking, and lost nearly three stone.

                    It took two days before the hospital adjusted their care to take account of her disability.

                    Her brother, Peter, visited and found her bed soiled and dry vomit in her hair. Julie lost another two stone in hospital and was at high risk of malnutrition. But she was never referred to the nutritional team.

                    She caught chickenpox and, too weak to fight the infection, Julie died days later, aged 58.

                    “I think she was a nuisance to them and they hadn’t got the facilities or the trained staff to deal with people with a learning disability,” Peter tells Tommy.

                    The number of learning disability nurses in the NHS has fallen from 5,500 in 2009 to approximately 3,200.

                    Cat McIntosh, a community learning disability nurse who cared for Julie before she went into hospital, said she thought she had experienced discrimination.

                    “It felt to me as though people weren’t prepared to make the effort or show her the same level of care that we would if maybe she didn’t have the diagnosis and the labels,” she says.

                    Stockport NHS Foundation Trust offered its “sincere condolences” to Julie’s family and accepted there were lapses in procedures in her care, but it strongly denied that staff discriminated against her.

                    Tommy also met a mother who had to fight to get life-saving care for her son.

                    Robert, who has the genetic disorder Fragile X syndrome, was treated for testicular cancer two years ago. The tumour was removed but the cancer had spread and the recommended treatment required 72 hours of chemotherapy.

                    His mother, Sharon, says it was impossible for him to sit still long enough for any invasive treatment, but the hospital at this point offered no alternative.

                    They said Robert would have to go into end of life care.

                    “They kept saying there was nothing that they could give him,” Sharon says. “I was pleading.”

                    Watch Panorama: Will the NHS Care for Me on BBC One on 22 October at 20:00

                    She put out a call for help on social media and got a lawyer and a second medical opinion. At that point, the hospital convened a meeting and suggested a different course of chemotherapy.

                    Robert has now made a full recovery, but his treatment by the hospital left Sharon “heartbroken”.

                    “Is it because I’ve kicked up a fuss? Is it because I’ve got a solicitor involved? You’re dealing with people’s lives,” she says.

                    Sharon was only able to tell her story openly because the BBC went to court to challenge an order protecting her identity.

                    Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it worked hard to support Robert and his family.

                    It said that it held a “best interests” meeting for Robert, where agencies formally decide the best options for someone who does not have the capacity to decide themselves, as soon as concerns were raised. But it acknowledged the meeting should have been held earlier.

                    Treating people with a learning disability can be challenging for doctors and nurses in a busy environment like a hospital because it can take a little longer, says Tommy.

                    After investigating these cases, he says some hospitals might benefit from staff who understand the issues of people with a learning disability and can communicate when people can’t explain very well.

                    Tommy says that staff would be more likely to get the right diagnosis and not just attribute the symptoms to their disability. Doctors and nurses should ask disabled people about their symptoms directly and not just talk to their parents or carers, he says.

                    “Now more than ever people with a learning disability want to be heard,” Tommy says. “And we say we should be treated like everyone else.”

                    Strictly Come Dancing: Ellie Simmonds’ ‘Heart Touched’ By Support

                    October 10, 2022

                    Paralympian swimmer turned Strictly Come Dancing contestant Ellie Simmonds says her heart has been touched by the public’s support.

                    She says messages in the street have meant “so, so much” as she goes on a journey not just with her dance partner but the “dwarfism community, disability community, or anyone different”.

                    Nikita Kuzmin, with whom the West Midlands sports star performs on BBC One, says their dancing is challenging the concept of normal, and “normality’s whatever we make it”.

                    Strictly Come Dancing continues at 18:30 BST on Saturday on BBC One and on iPlayer.

                    Research Call Over MND Risk To Elite Rugby Players

                    October 7, 2022

                    An expert has called for “immediate research” after a study suggested that elite rugby union players could be at increased risk of brain conditions like motor neurone disease.

                    The study examined a link between sport and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, MND and dementia.

                    The MND Association said the study raised “more questions than answers”.

                    Scientists said the study should encourage “dramatic changes” in rugby to reduce the risks of brain injury.

                    Rugby authorities have been told they should look to minimise contact training and reduce the global calendar.

                    The research team was led by consultant neuropathologist Professor Willie Stewart, honorary professor at the University of Glasgow.

                    It looked at former Scotland rugby international players from both the amateur and the professional period.

                    The research team compared health outcomes among 412 former Scotland international male rugby players with more than 1,200 individuals from the general population.

                    The results showed that the rugby players, all of whom were born before 1991, were more likely to die at a slightly older age than peers of similar age and socioeconomic status.

                    Urgent action needed

                    While they had a higher risk of death overall from neurodegenerative disease, they were less likely to die of respiratory disease.

                    Their chances of being diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease were 2.67 times higher.

                    By far the biggest risk was for MND, with rugby players 15.17 times more likely to be diagnosed than people of the same age range in the general population.

                    The overall number of MND cases in the study is not known, although it is understood to be small.

                    Former internationalists were also three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s and two times more likely to develop dementia.

                    Presentational grey line

                    The debate on brain health and contact sports such as rugby and football is gathering momentum.

                    There are no definitive answers but a series of research studies, including this latest one from the University of Glasgow, add weight to the suspicion that elite players are more at risk than those in the wider population.

                    Care has to be taken about drawing firm conclusions especially if the numbers of players surveyed is relatively small.

                    But the research team, led by Professor Willie Stewart, having previously carried out a landmark study of the dementia risk among former professional footballers, has now further underlined the need for further research on the impact of concussion and other head injuries on the longer-term health of rugby players.

                    Presentational grey line

                    The results have been published as part of the FIELD study, which was funded by the Football Association and the Professional Footballers Association.

                    Prof Stewart – who led previous research that found former footballer professionals are three-and-a-half times more likely to die of dementia than the general population – called for further investigation.

                    “Of particular concern are the data on motor neurone disease risk among our rugby players, which is even higher than that for former professional footballers,” he said.

                    “This finding requires immediate research attention to explore the specific association between rugby and the devastating condition of motor neurone disease.”

                    At at briefing ahead of the study’s publication, the academic said urgent action was needed by rugby authorities.

                    He welcomed moves to reduce high-impact training between matches, but said the pace of change was “slow”.

                    “This should be a stimulus to them to really pick up their heels and start making pretty dramatic changes as quickly as possible to try and reduce risk,” Prof Stewart said.

                    “Instead of talking about extending seasons and introducing new competitions and global seasons, they should be talking about restricting it as much as possible.

                    “So cutting back on the amount of rugby we’re seeing, getting rid of as much training as possible. Things like that have to be addressed pretty, pretty rapidly.”

                    The study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, showed about three out of four of the rugby players with dementia had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a specific pathology linked to brain injury exposure.

                    It also found that unlike in football, there was no sign of increased risk depending on position on the field.

                    Dr Brian Dickie, director of research development at the Motor Neurone Disease Association, said the new study added weight to previous reports from the FIELD team on increased risk of neurodegeneration in football players, although the new study was considerably smaller.

                    However, he said it raised “more questions than answers”.

                    “For example, it is not clear exactly how many players were diagnosed with MND, though from the information provided, that absolute number will be small,” he said.

                    “It is also surprising that there were no cases reported in the larger control group, as MND is the most common neurodegenerative disease of mid-life and the study population appears to include people in the ‘high risk’ age range of 50-80 years.

                    “Moreover, we know that the vast majority of cases of MND involve a complex mix of genetic and environmental risk factors, so the level of genetic risk may be different in high-performance athletes compared with the general population.”

                    Dr Jane Haley, director of research at MND Scotland, said: “We welcome this very interesting piece of research. While the initial results do seem concerning, the study is based on a small sample size which means that, because MND is a relatively uncommon condition, larger studies will be needed to determine whether this result can be confirmed more widely.

                    “A connection between elite level sports and MND has been proposed before, but this is the first time an increased risk has been indicated for rugby players. The reasons for these apparent increases are not yet known and need to be explored further.”

                    Dr James Robson, chief medical officer for the Scottish Rugby Union, said: “Work continues in Scotland, on and off the field, to address player safety, taking the issues involved seriously.”

                    He added: “Rugby continues to have many health and social benefits. Important research like this can help us continue to improve safety and mitigate risks associated with contact sport.”

                    Improving Physiotherapy Services For Adults With Cerebral Palsy

                    October 6, 2022

                    For some time now, I have been quietly involved with a group of researchers, and adults with CP, who have been creating the animated videos below.

                    The researchers wanted to know what adults wanted from physiotherapy services and they have released this animation today to mark World Cerebral Palsy Day.

                    The video is available in English, Welsh and Irish with appropriate BSL.

                    It’s World Cerebral Palsy Day!

                    October 6, 2022

                    Millions of Reasons
                    for accessible
                    technology solutions

                    There are over 1 billion people around the world who live with a disability. Yet we still navigate a world that is not designed to be accessible.

                    This World Cerebral Palsy Day, help us find the next breakthrough in accessible technology. The cerebral palsy community is made up of over 17 million individuals who have creative ideas and lived experience. The world needs your expertise!

                    text that says World Cerebral Palsy Day and a green ribbon

                    Tony Hickmott: Autistic Man To Be Released After 21 Years In Hospital

                    October 5, 2022

                      An autistic man who has been held in a secure hospital for 21 years has been told he can finally go home.

                      Tony Hickmott, 45, was sectioned after he had a mental health crisis in 2001, and despite a long fight by his family, he has not been released since.

                      Last year, a judge criticised his detention, telling authorities to find a home near his parents, in Brighton.

                      A care team for Mr Hickmott is now being assembled and he is expected in a new home in his home town, next month.

                      “He’s coming home, I can’t believe it,” his mum Pam told BBC News. “It will be a real home. We’ll get him home and every day will be a bonus.”

                      Mr Hickmott has been held in a secure Assessment and Treatment Unit (ATU) designed to be a short-term safe space used in a crisis. It’s a two-hour drive for his parents, Pam, 78 and Roy, 82.

                      There are about 2,000 people with learning disabilities or autism detained in specialist hospitals across England and a BBC investigation revealed 100 of them, including Mr Hickmott, have been held for longer than 20 years.

                      Last year, a select committee of MPs backed calls from campaigners to end the scandal of autistic people being wrongly detained, saying such hospitals should be closed by 2024.

                      In 2013, psychiatrists agreed Mr Hickmott was “fit for discharge” but authorities failed to create a care package with appropriate support in the community. Last December, Pam and Roy took the case to the Court of Protection.

                      There, a senior judge ordered managers at the NHS and Brighton & Hove City Council to stick to a rigorous timetable to find Mr Hickmott a home, condemning their “egregious” delays and “glacial” progress.

                      A whistleblower who worked at the ATU as a support worker between 2015 and 2017 also told the BBC Mr Hickmott was the “loneliest man in the hospital”, living in segregation with little or no stimulation.

                      Mr Hickmott has to speak to staff through a hatch, the paint worn thin from countless knocks and bangs.

                      A photo taken on his birthday shows his TV encased in a Perspex box, his cards lined up on top. Mr Hickmott isn’t allowed to use the remote control and has to ask carers to change channel.

                      This year, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said Mr Hickmott’s hospital – which we are not naming for his care and wellbeing – was failing to meet people’s needs.

                      Inspectors halted further admissions because they believed “people would or may be exposed to significant risk of harm”.

                      The report highlighted staff shortages, a lack of training and an increase in restrictive interventions. It reported how relatives of patients said their loved ones were heavily medicated and had few meaningful activities to enjoy.

                      Robert Persey, Brighton & Hove Council’s executive director for health and adult social care admitted there had been unacceptable delays in Mr Hickmott’s case – but said the process was both complicated and costly. Care in the community must be funded by the local authority.

                      “It has taken far too long. It’s complicated trying to get all the elements like housing and carers all ready at the right time,” he said.

                      “Local government [funding] is continually being cut. Yet we have a responsibility to look after these people to the optimum level we can, and the funding is really challenging to find and achieve that.”

                      The hospital’s owners have been approached for comment.

                      In June, the government published draft reforms to the Mental Health Act to redefine “mental disorder” so that it no longer included autism.

                      If enacted, the changes will also require authorities and the NHS to provide sufficient resources to prevent autistic people reaching crisis point and then having to stay in an institution because there is nowhere else to go.

                      A government spokesman told the BBC: “Ministers accept that there must be credible alternatives to inpatient facilities, allowing people to live independent and fulfilled lives in their community.”

                      Broken promises

                      Chris Lucas, who is part of the care team supporting Mr Hickmott, has been meeting him each week for the last few months.

                      He said he loves talking about old TV game shows, singing the theme tunes. “I think his world is quite small at the moment. But now, I think there’s so much opportunity for him. I think there’s a whole world out there that can really help him become the person he is meant to be.”

                      Mr Hickmott is expected to move into his new home on 1 November, but Pam and Roy remain fearful of further delays. “We can’t give him any more broken promises. He says ‘no more Christmases here, mum. No more birthdays here’. I’ve lost count of the broken promises. We can’t do it to him again.”

                      But they are looking forward to seeing their son living freely again – with support – in a bungalow close to where they live. “I can’t wait for him to make us a cup of tea,” Pam added.

                      “He wants to go to the pub with me,” said Roy. “I’ll have a pint and he’ll have a half and he says he’ll have a cheese roll. That’s what he wants, a cheese roll. I can’t wait. It’ll be heaven.”

                      Missing £150 Payment Report Form

                      October 4, 2022

                      With many thanks to Benefits And Work.


                      The DWP have now published an online form for disability benefits claimants who have not yet received their £150 disability cost of living payment.  A number of our readers have already posted to say they have still not received the payment.

                      The ‘Report a missing Cost of Living Payment’ report form says it should be used if you were expecting the £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment but have not received it for:

                      • Personal Independence Payment
                      • Disability Living Allowance for adults
                      • Disability Living Allowance for children
                      • Adult Disability Payment
                      • Child Disability Payment
                      • Attendance Allowance
                      • Constant Attendance Allowance
                      • Armed Forces Independence Payment
                      • War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement

                      You will need your NI number to complete the form and one reader who has done so reports that at the end it says that the DWP will get back to you within two weeks.

                      The form should not be used to report a missing £326 Cost of Living Payment.

                      You can access tte missing cost of living payment report form here.

                      Disabled Author – ‘Making of Elements’ an Epic Fantasy Adventure

                      October 3, 2022

                      A press release:

                      Joseph Doliczny’s Making of Elements tells the story of the last true kingdom in a world blighted by a deadly curse. With its motley heroes trying to survive rather than seeking glory, as a cult tries to harvest the power that gave birth to the curse, is another nightmare awaiting the Borrowed Lands?

                      Media Contact:

                      Joseph Doliczny



                      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

                      UNITED KINGDOM – Joseph Doliczny’s Making of Elements, and the first book in his planned The Borrowed Lands series, not only showcases his expertise as a creative and compelling storyteller but proclaims from the rooftops that his disability is not what defines him.

                      Fast-paced and with a flowing narrative and characters that draw you in from the start, this author’s decision to ensure his protagonists don’t replicate the standard glory seeking persona seen in most fantasy fiction makes for a welcome departure. It also provides an opportunity for key characters to explore paths and plot twists and turns, that wouldn’t work when applied to a stereotypical hero.

                      Sharing with readers details of his disability and that his own personal experiences have shaped his representation of the ‘curse’ that is dominant throughout, adds a further authenticity to his tale and resonance to the reader’s appreciation of the adversity Joseph Doliczny has faced on his journey to become a published novelist. From being told he would die by age 25, to now having his own family and book published.

                      An accomplished and polished debut work of fiction written to inspire others;fans of fantasy literature will be delighted to welcome this newcomer to their fold. They will also be queuing up for future instalments and to learn whether the last true kingdom is heading for happier times.

                      In a message to disabled readers, the author says:

                      “Many of the characters are inflicted with a curse, which I have drawn on my own experiences of living with a ‘curse’.  Having developed a rare brain condition during my teenage years, much of the emotional impact on the characters is a reflection of how I have felt. As A disabled writer I’ve included this message in the book in a hope to inspire others.

                      “I have generalised Dystonia. It is a movement disorder which causes part of my body to spasm. For many years, my condition consumed me. It was all I thought about every day. It became so bad I eventually withdrew from ‘normal’ life completely, until I didn’t leave the house.

                      “Through spending a long time on my mind set, plus tones of support from friends and family, I became more than my condition.

                      “I set myself realistic goals to work towards. The first was to walk to the end of my drive, until it became to publish my first novel. Now I am not saying you have to publish a book, but try to focus on the things that make you happy. Do not let your disability define you, as you are so much more.”

                      Hear more about Joseph’s experiences with his latest podcast – available on Spotify.


                      The world has been ravaged by a deadly curse. The last true kingdom is on the brink of existence. Can a band of misfits find a cure before all is lost? Embark on an epic adventure with the fantasy novel ‘Making of Elements’. Follow the dark twists and turns as the characters fight for their survival. A once-great union of kingdoms is no more, with the last of the leaders looking to wage war. King Vidal clings to his position as he receives a message from the Collector, a madman who claims to have a cure. He sends his only son across the Borrowed Lands. Prince Zander must succeed if the kingdom is to survive, but also to save himself.

                      Others from Eldertude are dragged into the Prince’s quest. Erica and Kantra have seen first-hand what the curse can do. Although they despise their kingdom’s rulers, they must help the Prince in order to give their families hope. All the while, a sadistic cult alone in the desert tries to open the tomb of a demon. They believe they can harvest the power which first gave birth to the curse. If the tomb is open the world will be plunged into a new nightmare. Making of Elements is a gripping and immersive story.

                      Making of Element is the first book of the Borrowed Lands series.

                      Published by Press Dionysus, Making of Elements is available in paperback, ebook and kindle

                      IBAN No: 9781913961183 – Available at:

                      About the author:

                      Joseph Doliczny was born in West Germany into a forces family. When his parents split he moved to South West England to the countryside. Without much to do, Joseph spent a lot of his time reading and writing short stories. His primary school teacher wrote ‘most likely to be the next Philip Pullman’ on his certificate when he graduated.

                      Although maintaining a keen interest in creative writing, Joseph went on to study Sociology at University. His desire to better understand different societies and their make-up, drove him to throw himself into his academic work. When he left university, he then travelled the world, visiting over four continents to see his studies in practice. Since then he has had a goal to visit every country in Europe, which he is now 65% through.

                      His wife Georgina has always accompanied him on his travels and is also a keen reader. When Joseph started writing Making of Elements, she both encouraged and helped him develop his writing (especially with his grammar). Joseph is also supported by his mother, an established author amongst many other things. She has helped give him the belief that he can follow in her footsteps.

                      Joseph has always had interests in many different genres, but fantasy has always been his true love in the literature world. As a teenager, he developed a rare brain condition named Dystonia. At one point it was thought to be terminal. It took all the support of his family to get him through, but also his passion for reading. Being able to pick up a book in the waiting room or hospital bed and disappear to another world is why he loves writing. He now looks to create that escapism for others through his first book. Also with the introduction of his first daughter, Olivia, he wants to be able to make her proud.

                      ‘Toxic Culture’ Of Abuse At Mental Health Hospital Revealed By BBC Secret Filming

                      October 3, 2022

                      Humiliated, abused and isolated for weeks – patients were put at risk due to a “toxic culture” at one of the UK’s biggest mental health hospitals, BBC Panorama can reveal.

                      An undercover reporter at the Edenfield Centre filmed staff using restraint inappropriately and patients enduring long seclusions in small, bare rooms.

                      Staff swore at patients and were seen slapping or pinching them on occasion.

                      Hospital bosses said they have taken immediate action to protect patients.

                      Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the medium secure unit, said it was taking the allegations “very seriously”.

                      A number of staff members have been suspended, and the trust said it was working with Greater Manchester Police, the independent healthcare regulator the Care Quality Commission, and NHS England “to ensure the safety of these services”.

                      Greater Manchester Police said it has opened a criminal investigation.

                      The BBC’s undercover reporter, Alan Haslam, spent three months as a support worker inside the Edenfield Centre in Prestwich, near Manchester.

                      With capacity for more than 150 patients, it is intended to care for people held under the Mental Health Act who are at serious risk of harming themselves or others, including some patients from the criminal justice system.

                      Whistleblowers had made allegations about poor staff behaviour and patient safety at the hospital.

                      Wearing a hidden camera, the reporter saw:

                      • Staff swearing at patients, taunting and mocking them in vulnerable situations – such as when they were undressing – and joking about their self-harm
                      • Patients being unnecessarily restrained – according to experts who reviewed the footage – as well as being slapped or pinched by staff on some occasions
                      • Some female staff acting in a sexualised way towards male patients
                      • 10 patients being held in small seclusion rooms – designed for short-term isolation to prevent immediate harm – for days, weeks or even months, with only brief breaks
                      • Patient observations, a crucial safety measure, being regularly missed and records falsified

                      Dr Cleo Van Velsen, a consultant psychiatrist, said the BBC’s footage showed a “toxic culture” among staff of “corruption, perversion, aggression, hostility, lack of boundaries”, which was undermining patient recovery.

                      Prof John Baker, an expert in mental health nursing at the University of Leeds, said: “It doesn’t feel safe. You’re quite clearly seeing toxic staff. There’s an awful lot of hostility towards patients across all of the wards, which is really concerning.”

                      Warning: This story contains repeated use of highly offensive language

                      Claire – not her real name – has a history of self-harm and was filmed being humiliated by a female support worker for needing help with going to the toilet.

                      The staff member complained to her face about “having to look at your arsehole where biohazard fucking waste comes out”.

                      In a sign that boundaries between patients and staff had broken down, on another occasion Claire sat on the lap of the same support worker, who said: “If you fart I will actually kill you.” The support worker then pulled aside the patient’s clothing and repeatedly slapped her bare skin.

                      A senior nurse was among those who watched, laughed and jeered as Claire was slapped. Most of the time nurses are in charge of the wards.

                      One nurse was filmed refusing to check on a crying patient named Olivia, who self-harms and has repeatedly tried to kill herself. The BBC is only identifying patients where they and their families have given consent.

                      Staff members laughed and joked that Olivia was “only crying” and “if she slit her throat you’d know it” because “she’d tell everybody about it”.

                      When talking to patients about their bodies, staff used demeaning language, often passing it off as a joke. But patients told the undercover reporter they felt bullied and dehumanised.

                      Olivia said staff had called her a “fat cunt”, before claiming they had been joking. The 22-year-old’s mother said Olivia had in the past stopped eating and drinking because she believed she was overweight. “It’s not funny, it’s not a joke,” Olivia said.

                      Another time, when Claire was due for a weekly injection, she hid her head under a blanket. Support workers and the senior nurse with them did not try to persuade her to comply, but instead were filmed dragging her by the wrist from a chair and into a room down the corridor.

                      One of the support workers mocked Claire again as staff held her down on a bed and exposed her body for the needle, saying “as if we’d choose to see your arse” and calling her a “cheeky bitch” as she protested.

                      After giving the injection, the staff locked Claire in the room, telling her they would keep her there for an hour as they laughed at her through the glass in the door – before letting her out a few moments later.

                      Dr Van Velsen said the members of staff acted “like a gang, not a group of health care professionals”. “It’s against any policy I’ve ever seen about restraint in doing this,” she said.

                      The code of practice for mental health workers says restraint and other “restrictive interventions” should only be used to take control of dangerous situations and stop anyone being hurt – not for punishment.

                      A BBC Panorama undercover investigation has found evidence that a secure NHS psychiatric hospital is failing to protect some of its vulnerable patients.

                      But the BBC filmed one patient being restrained after hospital managers said she had been shouting and verbally abusive.

                      Harley, a 23-year-old autistic woman who was at Edenfield due to self-harm, was sitting on the floor when at least eight members of staff picked her up and dragged her away, screaming.

                      Harley was being restrained to take her back into seclusion, where she had already spent more than two weeks.

                      At one point a nurse was filmed saying staff wanted her kept in seclusion because they “need a break from her”.

                      Reviewing footage of the incident, Dr Van Velsen said: “You cannot deprive somebody of their liberties because staff are fed up of her.”

                      Patients are only supposed to be confined to one room and isolated from others for short periods when there is an “immediate necessity” because they are likely to harm other people. It should not be used as a punishment or threat, or because of staff shortages, guidelines say.

                      Staff told the BBC’s undercover reporter that Alice (not her real name), a patient who had attacked staff, had been in seclusion for more than a year.

                      Guidelines for psychiatric hospitals say they can keep patients segregated for long periods to protect others on the wards. But the hospital must have the approval of a team of experts, consult the patient’s family where possible and give the patient additional space, including access to an outside area.

                      Edenfield’s seclusion rooms are small, with a bed, shower and toilet, all of which can be observed by staff from an adjoining room. Some have mould, peeling paint, a smell of sewage and windows that don’t open.

                      During one 30-minute break from seclusion, Alice asked for her blanket and teddy bears, comforts which she had been allowed before her isolation began. A support worker refused, saying: “You’re lucky you’ve not got a straw fucking bed in there. I’d give you a straw bed like cows have to sleep on.”

                      On another occasion, staff were filmed trying to give Alice her anti-psychotic medication Clozapine twice, because of an apparent breakdown in communication.

                      Asked what would happen if she had too much of the drug, a nurse said: “She’d probably just die.”

                      While the majority of patients filmed being mistreated by staff were women who had been sectioned and had self-harmed, some patients held in Edenfield have been convicted of violent crimes.

                      Experts said staff showed a worrying lack of boundaries even with these patients.

                      One patient, a man serving a life sentence for murder, was filmed writhing on the floor and on a bed as a female support worker grappled with him and tickled him.

                      Afterwards, she said: “You get away with murder here, don’t we? Can you imagine if I got caught by bosses?”

                      A different female support worker was filmed dancing up against another male patient.

                      “As well as making herself vulnerable she’s also increasing the vulnerability of the patients,” Dr Van Velsen said. “The one thing you should not do with patients is have a kind of sexualised relationship with them.”

                      Vulnerable female patients were also seen being mistreated by male staff. A male support worker taunted a woman with a history of self-harm as she undressed, saying he would turn his back because “I don’t want to be mentally scarred again”.

                      The support worker was also filmed pinching her twice, the second time while bending her arm backwards.

                      “It’s an assault,” said Dr Van Velsen when she viewed the footage.

                      Among the staff’s most important duties are patient observations, or “obs”. These are checks to ensure patients are safe, made every 15 minutes – or more frequently for patients at higher risk.

                      Records of the observations affect decisions about care and can show that patients were being properly looked after, in the event that they hurt themselves or anyone else.

                      Observations were frequently missed or carried out poorly. A nurse was filmed telling a support worker to falsify the records. “Here, sign some of these things, say you’ve done them,” he said.

                      He also asked the reporter to join in the falsification. “Want to pretend you were doing obs?” he asked.

                      Hospital employees complained of understaffing and burnout. Sometimes support workers were left on their own, with no nurse on the ward.

                      There was a shortage of nurses for adult secure wards on 58 occasions during one five-week period, according to records from the trust which runs Edenfield, seen by Panorama.

                      Prof Baker said there should never be a shift without a registered nurse on the ward, but added that recruitment problems in mental health care were “no excuse for the abuse we’ve been seeing in the footage”.

                      Seven members of staff were seen sleeping on shift by the BBC’s undercover reporter. One nurse went to sleep outside in the sun for about an hour while on duty, in full view of other staff and patients.

                      The BBC has reported the findings of its undercover investigation to hospital management and the Care Quality Commission.

                      Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust said senior doctors have undertaken clinical reviews of the patients affected and it had also commissioned an independent clinical review of services at the Edenfield Centre.

                      “We owe it to our patients, their families and carers, the public and our staff that these allegations are fully investigated to ensure we provide the best care, every day, for all the communities we serve,” the trust said.

                      The Care Quality Commission, which had previously rated the Edenfield centre as “good”, says that rating is “currently suspended” and it is “reviewing the information” provided by Panorama.

                      Thalidomide Survivors In Wales To Get Lifelong Support

                      September 30, 2022

                      Survivors of thalidomide in Wales will receive financial help for the rest of their lives, ministers have announced.

                      Thousands of babies worldwide were born with limb deformities after pregnant mothers took thalidomide to treat morning sickness between 1958 and 1961.

                      There are about 30 known survivors of the drug in Wales, many aged 60 years or older.

                      Health Minister Eluned Morgan said she hoped news on the funding would provide reassurance to survivors.

                      A 10-year funding agreement for the Thalidomide Trust Health Grant was due to end in March 2023.

                      The grant’s distribution to survivors is overseen by the trust, which has received more than £8m from the Welsh government since 2013.

                      The money is used for help that includes pain management, personal assistance and personal care.

                      ‘Vital assistance’

                      “I hope the announcement today reassures thalidomide survivors that continued financial support will be available to them,” Ms Morgan said.

                      “Providing support with their ongoing and future health needs to enable them to maintain independence and wellbeing for as long as possible.

                      “I want to thank the Thalidomide Trust for their work in helping to oversee the grant and providing vital assistance to thalidomide survivors.”

                      The Welsh government said it had agreed with the trust that there would be regular reviews of the funding to ensure the needs of survivors continued to be met.

                      Trust executive director Deborah Jack said: “Most of our beneficiaries are now in their 60s and the years of using their bodies in ways that were never intended has really taken its toll.

                      “Almost all of them are living with persistent pain and most are now experiencing multiple health problems. The costs of meeting their complex needs are significant and growing.

                      “Many of them have been really anxious about the prospect of this much-needed funding coming to an end so this is really welcome news.”

                      Thalidomide was withdrawn in December 1961 and banned as a morning sickness drug, but is still used in the UK to treat certain cancers.

                      It is heavily regulated to ensure it is not used during pregnancy and only prescribed by specialists.

                      The Family Inspired By Ellie Simmonds On Strictly

                      September 29, 2022

                      When the Davidson family sat down to watch Strictly last weekend, it was a watershed moment.

                      For the first time, Hailey and her daughter Skye saw someone like themselves on a prime time show.

                      They both have the same dwarfism as Strictly celebrity Ellie Simmonds.

                      And for Hailey, it was more than watching someone who has already inspired them to enjoy sport – it was representation.

                      Hailey, 43, said: “It makes a huge difference, because we don’t get to see ourselves very often, especially on something as big a scale as Strictly Come Dancing.

                      “You can see people on the Paralympics but here it’s seven o’clock on Saturday night and we’ve got Ellie representing us.

                      “It’s hugely important.”

                      Ellie Simmonds is best known as a gold medal-winning Paralympic swimmer. At 13, she was the youngest British athlete at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, winning two gold medals.

                      In 2012 Ellie added two golds at the London Games and she won her fifth in Rio 2016. The former BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year also boasts 14 World Championship titles.

                      Like Paralympian Ellie, Hailey, her daughter Skye, 12, and her son Finlay, 17, were born with achondroplasia, which stunts growth in arms and legs.

                      And the family, from Inverkeithing in Fife, has already been influenced by her shining example.

                      The Davidsons joined the Dwarf Sports Association (DSA) ten years ago.

                      Hailey helped develop the association in Scotland and both Skye and Finlay enjoyed training and competing in a range of sports including track and field, football, basketball, hockey, boccia, curling, archery, swimming and badminton.

                      Taking part in its games events encouraged the children and built their confidence.

                      It is also where they first met Ellie.

                      Hailey said: “Ellie is patron of the DSA. We met her for the first time at a national games.

                      “She comes along and helps with scoring, organising, with the children’s warm-ups. Since then we have had a great friendship with her because she has the same dwarfism as us.

                      “She speaks to all the kids, and is a fantastic role model and a huge inspiration. Everything she has achieved, whether it’s being a Paralympian, five gold medals or commentating on the Commonwealth games, everything she does, she is a really positive role model to all the members within the dwarfism community.”

                      Skye added: “She is great, just hyper and helping out and she just brings a table with all her swimming things to give away to us, water bottles from Tokyo or a swimsuit.”

                      And she loved watching her on the Strictly stage.

                      “She was pretty good at it. She only learned for a little time and she was pretty awesome. I liked the sassy bits.”

                      For Hailey, it is more than that. It is helping people to understand what her life is like.

                      She told BBC Scotland’s The Nine programme she was glad she was paired with average height professional Nikita Kuzmin.

                      Hailey added: “My husband Scott is just under 6ft and within the community and the DSA we have all variations of relationships.

                      “Quite a few members with dwarfism with average height husbands and wives and we also have quite a few that are the same size.

                      “A lot of the kids with dwarfism – 80% of them – are from average height parents who can be so apprehensive and scared about what the future will hold for their child.

                      “It means everything when we are getting represented in real life.”

                      She cannot wait to see how the programme handles the partnership.

                      She said: “My husband and I had a first dance at our wedding – people do look, people do take the mickey but I think Ellie showcasing it in this way with Nikita and the way they are going to have to adapt is going to be interesting.

                      “Because we have to adapt. We can’t reach things, we can’t do certain moves. It is going to be interesting to see how they fulfil that and just fill everyone who has dwarfism with confidence.”

                      She also believes the show’s inclusivity will help young children.

                      “When you have dwarfism you can be on your own – the only one in the school, the only one in the town.

                      “But when you have somebody as big and vibrant on Strictly showing that maybe we have to adapt but we are still good, still able, it really does help the community to see that and for others to appreciate it.”

                      Swimmer Ellie addressed the height difference ahead of her first show.

                      She said: “Yes, I’m nervous about what it’s going to be like. Nikita and I were chatting about it yesterday and we’re going to just see.

                      “It might look different, and my partner’s going to be tall and we’re probably not going to be able to hold the same poses, but I’m sure it’s going to work.”


                      DWP Officially Confirms Automatic 12 Month PIP Extensions

                      September 28, 2022

                      With many thanks to Benefits And Work.

                      The DWP has today officially confirmed that PIP claims awaiting a review will be automatically extended by ‘up to 12 months’, as Benefits and Work revealed at the beginning of this month.

                      The official confirmation came in the latest edition of the DWP newsletter, Touchbase.

                      The full text of the announcement is as follows:

                      “This month we have started automatically extending existing PIP claims awaiting review by up to 12 months. This will happen 35 days before the award end date. 

                      “The extension provides greater certainty for claimants and in particular help with continuing to access other support, e.g. a blue badge for parking. 

                      “From 31 October, a letter will be sent automatically to claimants confirming continuing entitlement for up to 12 months. Until then, we will update claimants by text message that their award reviews have been extended and will remain in payment.

                      “Anyone needing written confirmation before 31 October can contact the helpline on 0800 121 4433 and we will issue a notification of entitlement. Otherwise, claimants do not need to contact us unless their circumstances change. 

                      “In line with our usual process, we may review claims before their new end date and if so, will write to claimants to inform them. PIP payments will be received as normal until we complete the review of a claim. If we have not completed the review by the extended award date, we may extend the end date of the PIP award again and will write to claimants to tell them about this. 

                      “Please share this information within your organisations.”

                      Family Of Man Who Waves At M6 Traffic Keen To Meet Toy Giver

                      September 27, 2022

                      A family said they would love to thank a lorry driver in person after he left a gift for a disabled man who likes to wave at traffic.

                      The toy postal lorry was left by a Royal Mail worker for Alex Chesters who he regularly saw waving at him from a bridge over the M6 near Stafford.

                      Mr Chesters’ father, Darren, said they have thanked the driver online but they would like to meet him.

                      “I don’t think he realises what a difference he’s made to Alex’s life,” he said.

                      £150 Cost Of Living Payments – Vast Majority To Go Out This Week

                      September 27, 2022

                      With many thanks to Benefits And Work.


                      The DWP have announced late on Friday 23 September that most people will receive their £150 cost of living payment next week, rather than this week as had originally been expected.

                      When the DWP originally announced their timetable for payments they said that they would begin paying from 20 September. 

                      However, whilst the department claims ‘some people have been paid this week’ Benefits and work has heard from just one person that they have received the payment and the story seems to be the same across many online forums.

                      The DWP still say that the vast majority of claimants will be paid by early October.

                      The latest announcement by the DWP was made in their Touchbase newsletter sent out at around 5pm.  It reads:

                      “Over the next few weeks, six million disabled people in the UK will receive a one-off £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment as part of the Government’s Help for Households support.  Those who had confirmed payment of their disability benefit for 25 May don’t need to do anything and will receive the £150 automatically by their usual payment method, with the vast majority to be paid by early October. While some people have been paid this week, the majority of people will be paid next week. Anyone who is awaiting a payment should therefore wait until early October before getting in touch with the Department.

                      “Our Disability Cost of Living Payment toolkit for stakeholders includes everything organisations need to communicate the Disability Cost of Living Payment with a range of resources such as easy read information sheets, suggested newsletter and social media copy, FAQs and a British Sign Language information video and wider Help for Households information.” 

                      Claimants likely to be eligible for the £150 payment are those who, on 25 May, were eligible for:

                      • Disability Living Allowance,
                      • Personal Independence Payment,
                      • Attendance Allowance,
                      • Adult Disability Payment (Scotland),
                      • Child Disability Payment (Scotland),
                      • Armed Forces Independence Payment,
                      • Constant Attendance Allowance,
                      • War Pension Mobility Supplement.

                      Why I Left A Toy Royal Mail Gift On A Motorway Bridge’

                      September 26, 2022

                      A lorry driver who left a gift on a motorway bridge for a disabled man who likes to wave at traffic said he was simply returning a kindness.

                      The Royal Mail worker, who wished to be identified only as Richard, left a toy postal lorry for Alex Chesters whom he would see from the M6 near Stafford.

                      He came forward after the gesture overwhelmed Mr Chesters’ family, whose online post on the surprise went viral.

                      Richard said being waved at from the bridge would brightened his day.

                      The driver, who was regularly acknowledged by Mr Chesters during his route between Chorley and Bristol, said: “It can be a bit lonely and boring when you’re driving on your own.

                      “When you see him, it can just put a smile on your face – it really lifts your mood.

                      “All he’s doing is standing on a bridge waving, I don’t think he realises how much he changes other people’s moods.”

                      The 33-year-old saw Mr Chesters, 27, waving from the bridge at the same time each day for a week.

                      When a family trip to Gloucester meant he would be passing the bridge off shift, Richard ordered a toy replica of his Royal Mail lorry and left it tied to the spot with a handwritten note.

                      “I dropped it off on Monday [last week] and they found it on the Saturday,” Richard said. “I could see it strapped to the fence all week.”

                      It turned out Richard’s gift was left during the only week Mr Chesters had not visited the bridge, leaving the family amazed by its appearance when they returned.

                      They said they were brought to tears by the act and wanted to shake the mystery gift-giver’s hand.

                      “I wasn’t expecting anything of it,” Richard said. “But I forgot the power of Facebook.”

                      Before long, the story was being shared far and wide and that was when Richard came forward to explain his gesture. He said it was “nice to see some of the comments” online.

                      Richard said he had been neither aware of Mr Chesters’ disability, quadriplegic cerebral palsy, or that the vehicle was the lorry fan’s favourite colour – red.

                      He added he was working different shifts over the coming weeks so would not be heading past Stafford, but when he returned to the route, he would be keeping an eye out for his waving friend.

                      Ellie Simmonds Wants To Prove That Dancing Is For Everyone

                      September 23, 2022

                      Ahead of her upcoming run on Strictly:

                      The Paralympic swimming star has been finding her feet both on set and behind the scenes.

                      “With [having] dwarfism, I was able to go down to the studio just to make sure that things can work for me, even something simple like they’ve given me lower rails so I can put my outfits on. We get physio support and psychology support, too.

                      She says she and her [yet to be announced] dance partner will be learning together.

                      “He’s never danced with anyone with dwarfism before. And I’ve never danced before in my life. We’re just… going to adapt. Like if I have to hold him differently, I’ll hold him differently… but I think if I can do it… people watching from home can realise they can adapt. Dancing is for all.”

                      Gig Buddies: Volunteer Plea For Disabled People’s Social Lives

                      September 23, 2022

                      Gig Buddies: Volunteer plea for disabled people’s social lives

                      By Gemma Dunstan
                      BBC News

                      • Published
                      • 3 hours ago


                      Sophie and Gareth enjoy going to the pub, wrestling and drag shows

                      A scheme matching people who have learning disabilities with volunteers to go to concerts and social events is struggling to recruit enough volunteers.

                      Gig Buddies Cymru is currently able to help only half of its 129 clients.

                      Sophie Scheeres, from Cardiff, who has Down’s syndrome, said losing support would leave her “lost and upset”.

                      Sophie, 30, who has a buddy in Gareth Pahl, from Powys, said: “I meet more people and get to be more confident”.

                      The group said people who deserve a normal social life at night are being left out.

                      “It’s so normal for people to stay up and out past 9 o’clock and it’s important we make it normal for people with learning disabilities to do the same,” said Heather Graham, a Gig Buddies ambassador from Denbighshire.

                      Loneliness and isolation

                      Research from the charity Stay Up Late found that by 8:30pm on a typical Friday, 69% of people with learning disabilities were either in bed or ready for bed. Only 7% were actually out.

                      Gig Buddies was set up in 2018 by the charity Learning Disability Wales to try to reduce loneliness and isolation for those who may face challenges when going out.

                      It has doubled in size since 2019 but as a result, is struggling to keep up with demand, with 39 on a waiting list to join the already oversubscribed service.

                      Heather Graham head shot in park
                      Image caption, Heather Graham, a Gig Buddies ambassador, is frustrated people who need the support can not get it

                      “We desperately need more volunteers,” Ms Graham said. “It’s frustrating that we can’t provide our service to everyone who wants to be a part of it.”

                      She said the scheme is “about friendship not paid support”, allowing those with learning disabilities to go out and have a good time.

                      Gareth Pahl, 39, has been a gig buddy to Sophie for three years.

                      Sophie and Gareth in a cafe
                      Image caption, Gig buddies Gareth and Sophie have developed a strong bond and friendship

                      They enjoy going to the pub, wrestling and drag shows – which is something they both take part in on stage.

                      Sophie said without the scheme she would feel “lost, upset and a little bit confused”.

                      “It’s not like being matched with a person,” Gareth said, “it’s like being given a new best mate.

                      “My biggest worry was about time, but it’s only one night a month, but as our relationship grew we tend to do everything together now,” he added.

                      Both called the scheme “amazing” and encouraged others to give it a go.

                      Applicants may need to provide references and undergo police checks and training.

                      ‘Less social’ since the pandemic

                      Wayne Crocker, head of Mencap Cymru, which also provides personalised support to people with learning disabilities, said there was a “critical” need for projects like this since the pandemic.

                      “As we come out of Covid 9/10 parents tell us their sons and daughters are less social,” he said.

                      Research from Mencap indicated 88% of families and carers said their loved one always, or very often, felt sad. Some 82% felt lonely because they were rarely able to leave their homes.

                      There’s an issue with day services still not reopening,” Mr Crocker said, “so they’re not socialising and losing lots of people skills they had developed.

                      The Family Of Six In A One-Bedroom Flat Due To Inaccessible Social Housing

                      September 22, 2022

                      A family of six have been living in a one-bedroom flat because the social housing they were assigned was inaccessible to their disabled child.

                      Seven-year-old Joel Verala uses a wheelchair and is fed by a tube due to quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

                      The house has three bedrooms but the family have been told the adaptations he needs could take a year.

                      Croydon Council said it had always informed the family the work would take “some months to complete”.

                      Joel’s mum, Souskay Verala, describes her son as a “happy boy” on the BBC Access All podcast.

                      “He likes stories read to him, he loves his siblings playing around him, as well as walks outside,” she says.

                      The family – Souskay, her husband and three children – were excited to be offered the three-bedroom council property in March having lived in a small flat for the previous six years.

                      But, though the new house was described as “suitable” for their needs, they maintain it needs adapting before Joel can live there. That includes a lift between floors, widened doors to enable his wheelchair to move through rooms, ramps into the property and hoists.

                      The planning application for the work is yet to be approved and the Veralas have been told it could take at least another 12 months for the work to be completed.

                      The council said the family could move in as Joel could stay on the ground floor.

                      It said: “We worked closely with this family, their doctors, and our children’s social care and housing teams to find them the right home. We continue to work with them so they can make full use of their new home and are committed to progressing necessary works.”

                      2px presentational grey line

                      Listen to Access All on BBC Sounds

                      In the latest Access All podcast, Nikki Fox discusses Joel’s access needs and the family’s difficult housing situation with mum Souskay Verala.

                      Paralympic skier Millie Knight talks about her new sporting venture – making the England team in karate. She explains how she tackles both sports with 5% vision.

                      And Nikki goes to the blue badge queue where disabled people are queuing to see the Queen lying in state.

                      Souskay says the family felt they had no choice but to accept the new bigger house and move out of their original small home. “We didn’t want to go there, but we have been waiting for so long [for a house],” she says.

                      But despite already paying rent and council tax on the property given to them, the family felt they could not move in while it remained inaccessible to their son and would prevent him from thriving.

                      Instead, the family of five moved in to the one-bedroom flat where Souskay’s mother lives.

                      As well as having six people in the small property, space is further compromised by Joel’s sizeable medical equipment, including wheelchair and specialist bed.

                      “It’s very difficult for me to see my mum like that. She has a bad back and knees and she’s sleeping on the sofa,” Souskay says. “It’s very stressful and I’m very anxious.”

                      Christina McHale, from housing association Habinteg which specialises in accessible and adaptable properties for disabled people, says living in an accessible property is crucial to someone’s quality of life and development.

                      “Frequently we hear about the transformational effect that it has on people’s health and wellbeing at whatever age they are, and the independence and dignity which comes from having a home that meets their needs.”

                      Souskay is also worried about the impact their housing situation is having on her two other, younger, children. She had moved them to a school closer to the new property but, as they don’t yet live there, it presently means a journey of more than 30 minutes each way. And while her husband works full-time, Souskay is Joel’s main carer.

                      Christina says when it comes to children’s access requirements, not enough thought is always given to the fact children grow and their needs change rapidly.

                      Souskay is not alone in facing such predicaments. While Croydon Council is footing the bill for Joel’s adaptations, lots of disabled people use a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) to fund necessary enabling changes. Grants of up to £30,000 can be awarded in England.

                      Legally, the work should be completed within 12 months, but for many the process takes far longer.

                      In 2020, national disability charity Leonard Cheshire found 67% of councils failed to complete the work within a year while 23% took longer than two years.

                      And in 2018, the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that the average waiting time for an accessible property was 25 months.

                      Habinteg has been working with Homefinder UK, a non-profit organisation focused on matching social housing with the right people to try and improve the current situation.

                      They have recently developed the Accessible Now register which Homefinder’s CEO, Ninesh Muthiah, describes as a way “to improve access to either fully wheelchair accessible social housing or partially adapted housing”.

                      It uses occupational therapists to assess the properties before they are advertised and matched with people who need the adaptations available, although it can mean relocating out of area which is not always welcome, especially if you have a well established support network.

                      But Ninesh says, nationally, there are currently big “barriers” to accessing adequate social housing.

                      “Supply is the biggest challenge,” he says. “There’s been a lot of issues post-Covid and post-Brexit because organisations can’t do repairs ‘as quickly as possible’ and they can’t get materials or labour.”

                      But changes are on the horizon.

                      Earlier this year the government announced that all newly built properties must meet the “accessible and adaptable” criteria, sometimes known as the Lifetime Home Standard.

                      This includes building properties with wider doorframes for wheelchairs to get through, strong bathroom walls for rails to be fitted as residents age and in larger properties the ability to convert the downstairs toilet into a wet room.

                      But for Souskay the changes have come too late and the situation is having a huge impact on her entire family.

                      “I love my mum. But we need our space. I want to feel that I have a family and I have a place on my own, and I enjoy being there.”

                      What Cost-Of-Living Help Are Disabled People Getting?

                      September 21, 2022

                      Up to six million disabled people are starting to receive cost-of-living payments worth £150.

                      This is the latest part of a support package which was announced in May.

                      The government has also said energy bills for a typical household will be limited to £2,500 for two years, from 1 October.

                      What is the payment for disabled people?

                      Up to six million people on the following disability benefits are receiving £150 from 20 September – potentially on top of an earlier £650 payment:

                      • Disability Living Allowance
                      • Personal Independence Payment
                      • Attendance Allowance
                      • Scottish Disability Payments
                      • Armed Forces Independence Payment
                      • Constant Attendance Allowance
                      • War Pension Mobility Supplement

                      None of these cost-of-living payments affect the tax you pay, or the benefits or tax credits you receive.

                      Who is getting other cost-of-living payments and when?

                      Two payments totalling £650 are also being made to more than eight million low-income households who receive the following benefits:

                      • Universal Credit
                      • income-based Jobseekers Allowance
                      • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
                      • Income Support
                      • working tax credit
                      • child tax credit
                      • pension credit

                      The first instalment of £326 was paid to about seven million of these people between 14 and 31 July. The payments were made automatically into bank accounts – usually marked “DWP Cost of Living”.

                      The 1.1 million people who only receive tax credits, rather than any of the other benefits, had to wait longer.

                      Their first payment was also automatic, and was paid straight into bank accounts by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) between 2 and 7 September. This was identified differently, with the letters CL and their National Insurance number.

                      All eight million will receive their second instalment of £324 later in the year. The first group will receive the money in the autumn, and the smaller group of 1.1 million in the winter. No exact dates have yet been confirmed.


                      Worried about energy bills? The BBC’s Colletta Smith tells you – in a minute – about four discounts and payments that could help

                      People are not eligible for these payments if they receive New Style Employment and Support Allowance, contributory Employment and Support Allowance, or New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance – unless they get Universal Credit.

                      Anyone who thinks they are entitled to the help, but has not received it by the middle of September, should contact the office that pays their benefit or tax credits.

                      Those who could miss out include the 850,000 pensioner households which the government says do not claim Pension Credit, which is a gateway to these extra payments.

                      Other eligibility details are outlined here for people in England, Wales and Scotland, and here for people in Northern Ireland.

                      Cost of living support graphic

                      How will the £400 energy discount be paid?

                      All UK households will get a grant which will reduce energy bills by £400 from October.

                      In other words, from October, everyone’s energy bill will be cut by £400. This will be applied over six months, with a reduction of £66 in October and November, and £67 every month between December and March 2023.

                      The discount will be made automatically by energy suppliers in England, Scotland and Wales. There is no need to apply.

                      Chart showing how you get your £400

                      Direct debit and credit customers will have the money added to their account. Customers with pre-payment meters will have the amount applied to their meter, or receive a voucher.

                      Separate arrangements are being made for households in Northern Ireland, which has its own energy market, but details are not yet confirmed.

                      What extra help will pensioners get for winter fuel bills?

                      Households that receive the Winter Fuel Payment – which is worth £200-£300 and is paid to nearly all homes with at least one person of pension age – will receive an extra £300 in November or December.

                      That should cover nearly all pensioners across the UK.

                      Lower-income pensioners who claim pension credit, will receive the money in addition to the £650 support for those on benefits which is mentioned above.

                      This means a small group of pensioners with disabilities will receive a total of £1,500 when all the payments and discounts are combined.

                      What else is the government doing to tackle energy prices?

                      At the beginning of September, Prime Minister Liz Truss outlined plans to limit the 80% rise in domestic energy bills that had been due in October when the latest energy cap took effect.

                      Customers will still pay for the gas and electricity they use. But the government’s new Energy Price Guarantee will limit the price that suppliers can charge for each unit of energy.

                      For a typical household – one that uses 12,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) of gas a year, and 2,900 kWh of electricity a year – it means an annual bill will not rise above £2,500 from October.

                      Without this intervention, that annual bill would have been £3,549 a year. Last winter it was £1,277 a year.

                      This guarantee will last for two years.

                      The government has pledged to provide the same level of support to households in Northern Ireland, which has a separate energy market.

                      It is also due to set out measures to protect businesses from steep energy price rises for six months.

                      What other payments have already been made?

                      About 80% of households are already receiving a £150 energy rebate, often through their council tax bill.

                      How it is paid depends whether you pay your council tax by direct debit and where you live in the UK.

                      Some people were given fuel vouchers through the Household Support Fund which is distributed by local councils.

                      Councils had until September to make the payment, but BBC research found that more than three million households in Britain were still waiting on 1 July, including many lower-income households.

                      How is the extra support being funded?

                      The government has not yet said how much the new price guarantee will cost. However, industry analysis suggests the bill could be between £130bn and £150bn.

                      The money to cover the cost will be borrowed by the government,

                      The support package which was previously announced is being funded through a windfall tax – officially called a temporary levy – on energy companies (not your domestic supplier). It is expected to raise about £5bn over the next year.

                      Companies which extract oil and gas are making much more money than they were last year.

                      This is partly because demand has increased as the world emerges from Covid, and partly because of supply concerns due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

                      Firms which generate electricity may also be taxed more in the future.

                      The levy will cover some, but not all, of the bill for the government.

                      Will the cost of living keep going up?

                      Prices have been rising at a faster rate than at any time in the last 40 years, largely driven by soaring energy costs.

                      Official forecasters say that the rate is set to accelerate. Prices are not expected to fall next year, but the rate of increase is expected to slow.

                      The government’s energy plan offers two years of certainty for households, but only six months for business.

                      What happens to inflation in the long-term depends to a great extent on the war in Ukraine, and its wider impact on energy supplies.