Surrey Coalition of Disabled People

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04.02.2021 weekly update

Welcome to the weekly email update.  This edition includes:

Audio summary update

1.  Coalition Update

2.  Social/peer support groups coming up

3.  Non Emergency patient Transport Focus Group
4.  Call to prioritise disabled people in sport and leisure as new research reveals huge pandemic impact

5.  Social work Action Group

6.  Spelthorne Committee for Access Now (SCAN) Newsletter

7.  Be my Woking Food bank Valentine – online appeal

8.  Fraud Newsletter February 2021

9.  Disability Rights UK E Newsletter

Audio summary update mp3 file

1.  Coalition Update

As you know Coalition members have paid a virtual visit to Cronkshaw Fold Farm on a number of occasions and members have also enjoyed some ‘goat therapy’!  It seems we were not alone and this experience has been hugely popular during lockdown.  We thought you might like to read how people from all over the world have been enjoying some goat company and how the farm has managed to make £50, 000 from these goat interactions here!   

You will read further down in this update the stark results of the most recent survey from the Activity Alliance.  We are working with SILC to support our members in getting the information they need to get and stay active during the pandemic.  We are currently recruiting for a Physical Activity Navigator and would welcome you helping us to spread the word!  Anyone interested in this vacancy can find out more here: Physical Activity Navigator | Surrey Coalition of Disabled People | |

Do you know someone with no email access who would like to hear the weekly news?  If so, please share with them the attached guide to accessing our communication so they can see the phone number they can call to listen to the weekly news.  There is also the information you need on there to access the weekly news through your amazon echo device or through a podcast service.    

Link to the information:

2.  Social/peer support groups coming up

Virtual café – Join us in our virtual café on Monday at 11am.  The café is a great way to make friends, chat, ask for advice and relax!  This week we discussed our current TV favourites including the Serpent, Finding Alice and Celebrity Home Cook. 

Craftivism – This week members focussed on Chinese new year and discussed Craftivism – Craftivism is a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper & your quest for justice more infinite. Next week: Join us for Stars, Snowdrops and Craftivism on Tuesday at 12pm. The BBC aired a programme about craftivism on Monday on BBC4.  Please use this link to watch it  The group are keen to compile a list of future craftivist projects to work on, on the list so far is a campaign to encourage care workers to take up the Covid-19 vaccine. 

3.  Non Emergency patient Transport Focus Group

Do you have a Visual or Hearing Impairment or are Wheelchair User and use Non-Emergency Patient Transport? Have your say this month in an online focus group with NHS commissioners

Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) commissions non-emergency patient transport services for residents within the local catchment area. The CCG is currently reviewing these services and wants to hear the experiences of service users.

The Patient Transport procurement team is hosting online focus groups in late February and early March and is looking for service users with visual impairments and hearing impairments or wheelchair users to take part. These sessions are to understand the specific needs these communities have. Your feedback will help inform the new service specification. If you like to take part contact for more information.

The CCG hosted five Round Table discussion late last year on patient transport issues. These were multi-disciplinary sessions with clinicians, NHS teams, and service user representatives. You can see FAQs and minutes from the Round Tables on the Patient Transport Services web page HERE.

There is also an online Patient Transport Survey for all service users, their carers and families. It’s a short survey with multiple-choice questions. You can complete it here. It closes at 11.59pm on Sunday 7 March 2021. Please take five minutes to offer your experiences and suggestions.

4.  Call to prioritise disabled people in sport and leisure as new research reveals huge pandemic impact – Activity Alliance is urging decision makers in sport and leisure to prioritise disabled people as they strive to recover from the pandemic. The leading voice for disabled people in sport and activity is seriously concerned about the potential long-term damage on the nation’s least active. The call comes on the day the national charity releases their latest Annual Disability and Activity Survey. The new research shows twice as many disabled people felt that coronavirus greatly reduced their ability to do sport or physical activity compared to non-disabled people.

Evidence shows disabled people’s lives have been the hardest hit by COVID-19. Accounting for two-thirds of the deaths from coronavirus, this is a national crisis for public health and one that is being felt most sharply by disabled people. It has led to many disabled people, who count for one in five of the population, feeling more fearful and ignored. 

The stark impact of this crisis on disabled people’s attitudes towards sport and activity is clear in Activity Alliance’s latest Annual Survey. This unique survey explores disabled and non-disabled people’s activity and views to help grow insight and shape future opportunities.

Activity Alliance exists to reduce the fairness gap between disabled and non-disabled people’s activity levels. Prior to the pandemic, collectively we were starting to close this gap, with more disabled people recorded being active than ever before. Yet, disabled people are still twice as likely as non-disabled people to be inactive.

This year’s survey results show how the pandemic is not only widening existing inequalities for disabled people but creating new ones too. Key findings include:

  • Disabled people felt that they do not have the opportunity to be as active as they want to, compared to non-disabled people (29% vs 44%).
  • Almost a quarter stated that they had not received enough information about how to be active during the pandemic (23% vs 13%).
  • Respondents said the lack of activity has led to both their physical and mental health being harder to manage. Feelings of loneliness and social isolation were frequently voiced.
  • A fear of contracting the virus, the impact on their health, a lack of space and support to be able to exercise safely at home, have become significant barriers for disabled people.

The Annual Survey follows Sport England launching their 10-year strategy, Uniting the Movement, which highlights their ambition to tackle inequalities, especially for inactive people. They pinpoint the need to invest in those who need it the most, with fairness and equity at the heart.  The full report is available to view at

5. Social Work Action Group – one of our members has asked us to share the following information with you. 

I am part of a group called the Social Work Action Group (SWAG for short!). We are a group of people with various experiences of social work; people who have had a social worker, carers, care experienced people, social workers, social work academics and student social workers. I am the rep for Disability.

We aim to bring meaningful change into social work culture,  education and practice. We want to work to make the social care systems better for everyone.  We are about to launch a campaign around language in social work. And we are looking for a few people to help us make videos for social media and social work news sites.

You will be given 4 questions to answer how you like around language, with details of how to record.  

If you are interested please contact me  Follow us on Twitter @swactionuk

6. Spelthorne Committee for Access Now (SCAN) Newsletter – Please see attached document

7. Be my Woking Food bank Valentine – online appeal – The aim is to collect online donations that will be used to purchase essential food for Woking families in need, but also – crucially- to send a Valentines Day message. As well as helping with stocks of food, Woking Food Bank also want to provide Valentines Day chocolates and treats. Given the situation everyone is in, they hope this can help ‘spread the love’ to everyone in Woking this February. Once the donations are collected, they’re asking for volunteers to help put together the food and deliver to the Woking Foodbank.  Please use this link for more details.

8. Fraud Newsletter February 2021 – Please see attached document

9. Disability Rights UK E Newsletter

An open letter from our CEO 
100,000 deaths from Coronavirus. Two thirds of deaths are Disabled people’s. This week marks the sobering milestone that the UK has lost 100,000 lives to Coronavirus. 40% of deaths were care home residents. 30% of these people died in care homes, and a further 10% were taken to hospital where they died. We hear that care home residents are older people, as if that somehow mitigates their deaths. Older people in care homes are Disabled, whether that is through age, Dementia, sensory impairment, or physical or learning disabilities. These people were Disabled people, and they need not have died. According to data from the Office of National Statistics, 59% of all deaths have been those of Disabled people. This statistic is largely hidden from public view. It needs extracting from the data. You won’t find it in newspaper headlines or TV broadcasts. Because to print it out loud, to show the devastating effect of this virus on a singular demographic, is something nobody dares to say out loud. We will say it out loud: almost two-thirds of those who have died from Coronavirus were Disabled people. Some people talk about this pandemic as if it is a war. We are not at war. This is a pandemic, run riot, in peacetime. The lives lost are not those of people knowingly going into combat. They are the lives lost of civilians, peaceably going about their day to day business. It is worth noting that even in wartime, in World War II, 70,000 civilian lives were lost. In this pandemic peacetime, the figure is already a third higher than that. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation. He said: “I think on this day I should just really repeat that I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost and of course as I was Prime Minister I take full responsibility for everything that the Government has done. “What I can tell you is that we truly did everything we could, and continue to do everything that we can, to minimise loss of life and to minimise suffering in what has been a very, very difficult stage…” We do not share the view that the government did everything it could to protect the lives of Disabled people. It knew that thousands of us lived in care homes, supported living settings, and received care and support in our own homes, yet  not enough was done to protect and support us. That is why we are calling for a full Inquiry into the pandemic. An Inquiry which will look forensically at every decision made. An Inquiry that will hear from every family who experienced a loss. An Inquiry that will hear from every Disabled person who bore the extremes of this virus, and from every Disabled person still bearing the weight of Long Covid. We know that the death toll has still not reached its peak. Action is what matters now. Our country needs to heal. Both medically from the virus, and socially, from the decisions that have been taken to lead us to this point. An Inquiry is as vital for our minds as vaccines are for our bodies. Kamran Mallick, CEO 
News Round-up
Thousands of Disabled people risk losing PAs and carers in Brexit rule change Thousands of Disabled people face losing their carers and personal assistants according to new research which shows that nearly 15% of EU employees are unaware that they must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for a new post-Brexit immigration status before June 2021 or be stripped of their rights to work and live in the UK. The report by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) highlights that a third of those surveyed were unaware of the risks and half were unaware of the deadline for applications.   There are around a quarter of a million non-UK nationals working in the care industry in the UK – around 16% of the sector’s workforce. Just under half of these are EU citizens. DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “This is a consequence of Brexit which has been known about for a long time. More needs to be done to ensure that all those affected are aware that they need to take action. Losing this level of care staff would be catastrophic for Disabled people.” Benefits system errors ‘predominant factor’ in Disabled claimant’s death Errors in the benefits system were the ‘predominant factor’ in Philippa Day’s death, a Coroner has found. Recording a narrative conclusion into Philippa’s death, Assistant Coroner Gordon Clow noted problems including the fact she was told to go for an assessment despite being eligible for a home assessment, and the lack of control staff had to be able to change automated letters being sent to her. While not ruling that the chain of events involving the DWP led directly to her suicide, he said: “…it was, at the least, Philippa Day’s intention to place her life at risk and to cause herself serious physical harm. It is not possible to determine on the available evidence whether or not it was her intention to thereby end her life.” He is recommending changes at both the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Capita, which undertakes work on behalf of the DWP. Philippa died after being in a coma for two months after she was found collapsed at her home in August 2019. A letter was found next to her rejecting her request for a benefits assessment to be carried out at her home. Philippa was Disabled. She had a personality disorder and diabetes and had been claiming Disability Living Allowance for her diabetes for a decade, but began a claim for PIP in November 2018. The application form was apparently lost by the DWP and Philippa’s DLA payments were stopped in January 2019. They were not reinstated or replaced by PIP for almost six months and Philippa fell into serious debt. The court heard about a call by Philippa to the DWP in which she cried while describing her poverty and debt. She said she was “literally starving and cold… I have nothing to eat… I genuinely can’t survive like this for much longer”. The agent who took the call said she did not raise the call with Philippa’s case manager and did not follow the DWP’s six-point plan on suicidal statements. The agent said she had heard many claimants crying and saying similar things.  The court also heard that inaccurate record-keeping on Philippa’s case had affected its progress. A community psychiatric nurse told Capita that a face-to-face interview at an assessment centre scheduled for Philippa was causing immense distress. Capita refused to offer a home assessment. Philippa’s family told the inquest that they believe the difficulties she had with both the DWP and Capita were the reasons she tried to take her own life. DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “An independent Inquiry into benefit-related deaths is long overdue. Philippa’s story is heartbreaking and reveals gross incompetence by the DWP and Capita. The DWP must take responsibility for safeguarding. It is in contact with millions of Disabled people with a variety of complex physical and mental conditions. It needs to put care at the heart of its processes to ensure it actively supports our needs and protects us from systemic harm.” DR UK warns Severe Disability Premium claimants to ‘seek robust advice’, as UC changes take effect From Wednesday 27 January a two-year moratorium on moving people who claim Severe Disability Premiums (SDPs) to Universal Credit (UC) has come to an end.   This means that people on the old-style benefits can now choose to move to the new UC if they so choose, but some will be moved over due to a “change of circumstances”, such as moving house or changing relationship status. The changes affect half a million people. Despite Ministers repeatedly saying most people will end up better off under the changes, charities are aware of a number of people who will end up worse off as a result of shifting over to UC. SDP claimants who move to UC get monthly transition payments of £120, £285 or £405 – but these will now change if a claimant is awarded a new or larger element of another part of UC (such as housing benefit). It is impossible for claimants to work out what the shifts in their income will be in real terms without going through the process of actually declaring changes and being awarded the potentially different sums, for better or worse. DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “SDPs are essential for covering the costs that Disabled people face to enable us to live independent lives. Adaptations and disability aids come at a premium, and these benefits help to cover those additional costs. “It is unacceptable that they were allowed to fluctuate under the Universal Credit system instead of being ringfenced. “Not knowing how much money people will have causes increased stress and anxiety. Disabled people are already under the most stress and risk during the pandemic. We could do without this major change right now. “Therese Coffey, Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions is urging people to switch to UC. We would strongly urge people to seek robust advice before switching. If people choose to switch to UC, there is no going back.” Disability Unit fails to provide adequate offline consultation help Disability Rights UK is seeking urgent clarification from the government’s Disability Unit about how Disabled people who are offline can respond to its consultation survey on the National Strategy for Disabled People. The consultation was only formally launched in the middle of this month. Disabled people only have until 13 February to use the consultation survey to influence the Strategy. DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “Due to Covid, plans for in-person events around the country to capture Disabled people’s views on the forthcoming Strategy have had to be cancelled, and online events by the Government have been limited and poorly advertised. While Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) have been feeding into this consultation, Disabled individuals have not had the same level of awareness of the Strategy to respond. “There are 14 million Disabled people in this country. Not everyone engages with DPOs. Not everyone is aware of this consultation survey, and not everyone is online to find out about it on the website. “We are aware of people who are deeply frustrated that they cannot respond because they are not online and cannot get online to view any alternative formats. There is no clear offline route to contact the Disability Unit to request them. “The Disability Unit should not rely on the internet for communicating with Disabled people. It should publish a phone number that Disabled people who are not online can ring to find out more about this consultation, to request alternative formats, and to verbally submit their views.” You can find the consultation survey online here. Women and Equalities Committee report published The Women and Equalities Committee has published its second special report – Unequal impact? Coronavirus, disability and access to services: interim Report on temporary provisions in the Coronavirus Act: Government Response to the Committee’s First Report. You can read the report here. Kickstart employment scheme changes to benefit young Disabled people On 25 January, the Government made changes to the Kickstart scheme. The Kickstart scheme provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24 year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment. Employers of all sizes can apply for funding which covers: ·         100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of six months ·         associated employer National Insurance contributions ·         employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. By removing the limit requiring that employers create a minimum of 30 vacancies in order to be able to apply directly, they have now made it easier for employers of all sizes to join the scheme. This is good news for Disabled young people who prefer to work with small and medium sized enterprises, as the 30 vacancies threshold was considered a barrier to making an application for many employers. View the changes to the Kickstart scheme here. Find out about the Kickstart Scheme here. Sport England’s new strategy focuses on reducing inequalities in sport and physical activity Sport England has launched its new strategy – Uniting the Movement – a ten year vision to transform lives and communities through sport and physical activity. The new strategy sets out how the sport and physical activity sector needs to change so that people can be given the opportunities they need now and in the future. More than anything, it seeks to tackle the inequalities we have long seen in sport and physical activity. The strategy identifies that for certain people – like Disabled people, people from lower socio-economic groups and people from Black and Asian backgrounds, there is a clear pattern of low levels of activity and so there will be a sharp focus on providing more opportunities for those who are being left behind. For too long, people with the most to gain from being active have been the least able to take part. As a result of the huge disruption 2020 has caused, and the inequalities it has reinforced or even exacerbated. DR UK welcomes Sport England’s drive to do things differently and confront these inequalities head on, providing opportunities to people and communities that have traditionally been left behind, and helping to remove the barriers to activity. DR UK pushes for Covid transport resolutions Changes to transport during the pandemic have had a serious impact on Disabled people. Disability Rights UK has studied the transport focus report on Covid and transport and has noted some serious issues which we will be pushing for resolution on: *Train and bus companies need to ensure that passengers better understand and follow rules on face covering exemptions *Disabled passengers often feel ‘trapped’ and unsupported in an enclosed space with limited ventilation or realistic opportunity to leave if they feel unsafe. Travel assistance must be more clearly available. *Cleaning standards must become a norm once transport recovers – historic standards have not been high enough. *Operators must improve the quality and availability of information about how busy services are expected to be and where disability seating or spaces are located. *There is a need for new, cheaper, simpler and easier-to-buy tickets that will suit the way passengers expect to travel in future and, when the time is right, help to rebuild passenger numbers and revenue. Disability Rights UK’s Rail Policy Advisor, Stephen Brookes said: “these will be part of the rebuilding of confidence to travel. Otherwise we will see an increase in isolation in some areas for Disabled people.” Overcoming vaccine hesitancy in diverse communities – DR UK Ambassador blog Clenton Farquharson’s family have had many heated debates about the new COVID-19 vaccines and whether or not to take them. Clenton believes this is a common worry among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, fuelled by misinformation and a shortfall in efforts to assuage concerns about safety. He has written for the government’s Social Care blog to counter these issues, encourage honest conversations and present a short video demonstrating how getting a COVID-19 vaccination is no big deal at all. Read the blog here.  
Get Involved
We’re recruiting Disability Rights UK is recruiting a Fundraising Manager. This newly created post is designed to build our digital fundraising, grow the number of individuals actively supporting DR UK and increase income from trusts and foundations. You will be asked to come up with as many effective, innovative and engaging fundraising approaches as possible to help achieve these aims. Further information, including the job description and person specification, can be accessed by clicking here. Join Mencap’s campaign to get Learning Disabled people into vaccine group six Evidence from Public Health England  (PHE) shows that people with a learning disability in England have died from Coronavirus at more than six times the rate of the general population. 65% of people with a learning disability who have died from diagnosed or suspected Coronavirus in England had a mild or moderate learning disability.  Despite this, not all people with a learning disability are being prioritised alongside other vulnerable people for Coronavirus vaccines. Currently, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have prioritised adults with Down’s Syndrome (priority group four) and people with severe and profound disabilities (priority group six) to receive the vaccine. Mencap is calling for all people with a learning disability to be included in at least priority group six, regardless of the severity of their needs. If you are in England, you can email your MP through this link, and ask them to raise this issue with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock. If you are in Wales, you can take action by signing the petition to Senedd Cymru, calling for all people with a learning disability to be prioritised. Sign the petition today. New year, new me, new job employment advice webinars Blind Ambition and RNIB are launching a series of free weekly employment webinars. The first event is on goal setting for visually impaired people on Wednesday 3 February from 8pm-9pm. Register here or email for updates on future sessions or any issues with registration. Disability Rights Advice TV Chris Fry of Fry Law is running a new advice stream online through a number of channels. From 6pm to 7.30pm every third Thursday of the month, he will be joined by senior thinkers and influencers on disability law and policy. The next session is on face masks and jabs on 18 February. The channels are not affiliated with Disability Rights UK, but DR UK Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi did participate in the January session. Find out more here: Ones to watch The BBC has run two brilliant documentaries this month, both of which are available to view on the iplayer. Cerrie Burnell’s Silenced: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain charts the roots of prejudice and the fight for rights from Victorian times to the present day, while Targeted: The Truth about Disability Hate Crime lays bare the day to day violence and abuse Disabled people endure across the UK. Benefits Training Courses DR UK is pleased to offer two online courses in partnership with the Benefits Training Company. Each course costs £112.50 + VAT per person for DR UK organisational members. After booking you will receive a Zoom link and supporting materials by email.  Preparing for an Appeal Tribunal will be held on 27 and 28 January. This course is aimed at professionals who work in advice or advocacy who need to know about how to prepare an Appeal Tribunal. A working knowledge of Personal Independence Payment and the Work Capability Assessment is assumed. The course will be run in two parts, using Zoom and facilitated by an experienced benefits trainer. Part 1: Assessing the case, reviewing the DWP decision – Wednesday 27 January 9.45 – 12.45 Part 2: Composing effective written submissions, preparing claimants for appeal hearings – Thursday 28 January 9.45 – 12.45 Please click here for more information and to book your place.  Introduction to Welfare Benefits will be held on 10 and 11 February. The course is aimed at professionals who work in advice or advocacy who need to know more about – or need a refresher on – changes to welfare benefits and social security. As above, the course will be run in two parts, using Zoom and facilitated by an experienced benefits trainer. Part 1: The structure of the system and the importance of health & disability benefits – Wednesday 10 February 9.45 – 12.45 Part 2: Universal Credit, the wider benefits system and maximising income – Thursday 11th February 9.45 – 12.45 Please click here for more information and to book your placeAphasia podcast The INCA project is investigating innovative technologies that will empower people with aphasia to create, curate and access digital content. This multi-disciplinary project involves human-computer interaction researchers, speech and language therapists, academia and charity working together. Aphasia, which affects 350,000 people in the UK can affect people’s ability to speak, to understand speech, to read and to write. In severe cases, people may be able to speak only a few words or may have very limited ability to read and write. The overall objective of the INCA project is to investigate, co-design and trial digital content creation and curation tools for people with aphasia. The East London Inclusive Enterprise Zone along with University College London has released a podcast with Doctor Abi Roper, speech and language technologist at City University and co-creator of the Inca app. Listen to the podcast on Soundcloud. CiLK survey

Centre for Independent Living Kent is running a survey to better understand Disabled people’s issues across the county. It is aiming to reach 5000 participants. You can complete the survey here:
Our Helplines 
Our helplines are operating as normal: Personal Budgets Helpline Telephone: 0330 995 0404
Opening hours: 9.30am -1.30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays Disabled Students Helpline Telephone: 0330 995 0414
Opening hours: 11am-1pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays Welfare Rights Helpline for Member Organisations Telephone: 0203 687 0779
Opening hours: 10.30am-12.30pm Tuesdays and Thursdays
Handbook and Updater Price Reduction
Handbook reduced to £18 and Updater reduced to £4 Every aspect of life has been touched by the coronavirus outbreak. The benefit system is no different.   The changes wrought on it over the past few months have been unprecedented. In particular, the way that things are done has changed from one week to the next: offices close down; phone and virtual contact becomes the norm; support comes and goes; and policy is decided just before it is introduced.   Don’t panic! We can keep you up to date on all the changes to the benefit system through our Updater.   Every issue of Updater contains not just the latest amendments, but all the changes that have occurred since the Handbook was published in April. It’s never too late to subscribe!
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