Surrey Coalition of Disabled People

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04.03.2021 weekly update

Welcome to the weekly email update.  This edition includes:

1. Coalition Update

2. Social/Peer Support coming up

3. Sad News

4. Budget briefing

5. Citizen insight on the Surrey Shared Care Records

6. Draft Surrey All-Age Autism Strategy now live on Surrey Says

7. A320 North of Woking (Ottershaw to Chertsey) highway improvements

8. Fraud Newsletter March 2021

9. Spelthorne Committee for Access Now March Newsletter

10. Disability Rights UK E Newsletter

1.  Coalition Update

Friday Virtual Café postponed – Due to circumstances beyond our control we have had to postpone the launch of our new virtual café this Friday.  We hope to launch this very soon, so please look out for information on this in the weekly update.

Disability Empowerment Network – Our quarterly DENS meetings begin again next week with the North and South West DENS meeting on Zoom.  They will both have presentations on the Census and a discussion on the new Physical and Sensory Impairment Strategy.  If you live in North or South West Surrey and would like to join your local DENS meeting please let Yasmin know.

Save the date!  – The Coalition will jointly host a workshop for people with a hearing impairment to coproduce the new Physical and Sensory Impairment Strategy.  The workshop will take place at 10.30am on Thursday 18th March. If you have a hearing impairment and would like to join this workshop please let us know.

2. Social/Peer Support coming up

Virtual Café – We welcomed John from Connevans to our tech room this week who gave information and advice about tech equipment available for people with a hearing impairment.  We hope to host more of these information sessions in the future.  We had a great discussion in our chit chat room which included a debrief on our recent excursions to Guildford Museum and Birdworld.  If you fancy a chat or need some tech advice, please join us on Monday at 11am.

Weekly Quiz – Every Thursday the Coalition hosts a quiz, the topic of the quiz varies but we have had a quiz on music, spring, arts and culture and many more topics.  If you would like to test your knowledge and have fun at the same time please join us on Thursday at 2.30pm

3. Sad News

It is with great sadness that we must inform you of the deaths of two of our members.   

Very sadly, Don Illman passed away on Wednesday 24th February 2021.  

Don had been suffering from pancreatic cancer and had been in East Surrey hospital for over a month. Despite his illness Don continued his daily conversations with a number of his close friends and neighbours, and even had a couple of visits allowed.  In these difficult times Don retained his fighting spirit and as always remained sharp of mind and sense of humour. 

For over 40 years Don campaigned and fought for improvement in the provision of mental health services serving as a Governor for Surrey and Borders Partnership for a number of years and Chairing numerous mental health groups from the days of the Surrey LINk and the LIT and more recently as Chair of the Independent Mental Health Network and the E&M Mental Health Stakeholder group.  Don will be missed by all who have known him over the years, but he leaves a legacy of improved care, equity and standards across Surrey’s mental health provision.

We are very sad to say that David Revie, a passionate member of the Hard of Hearing Forum, North DENS and many other groups including Spelthorne Committee for Access now, has passed away.  David was such a great character and a real champion for the rights of those with a hearing impairment.  David also did what he could to encourage people to check in on each other, his concern was for those living on their own.  Until recently David was sending his own lockdown log to check in with us and to share news.   David will be very much missed by all of us here at the Coalition.

4. Budget briefing

Surrey Welfare Rights Unit have produced a very quick summary of the social security announcements in yesterday’s budget.  Please see the attached document for more details.

5. Citizen insight on the Surrey Shared Care Records

Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership and Healthwatch Surrey would like to recruit patients to provide their insights to help produce an information video about the Surrey Care Record (SyCR). The Surrey Care Record (SyCR) is a local, digital shared care record for health and care professionals across Surrey Heartlands. It allows the secure sharing of patient data between authorised health and care professionals for the purposes of delivering safer, quicker, and more coordinated local health and care services.

  • Do you understand how your health information is stored and accessed by your health care professionals?
  • Do you have a story to tell about a health care experience which was affected by the way your information was shared?

Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership and Healthwatch Surrey would like to hear your stories and views to help us produce Surrey Care Record public information communications including a short video.

For more information:


Call: 0303 303 0023

Text: 07748 444146

6. Draft Surrey All-Age Autism Strategy now live on Surrey Says

The draft Surrey All-Age Autism Strategy is now live on Surrey Says for comments.  The team have tried to make sure it reflects the huge amount of input from the consultation last year and want to continue building the Strategy based on the insights of everyone who will be affected by it, so please do take a look and add your comments. The closing date for input is 16th March.  

7. A320 North of Woking (Ottershaw to Chertsey) Highway Improvements

Surrey County Council (SCC) is working on planned improvements to the A320 north of Woking, between Ottershaw and Chertsey.  This is to help manage expected increases in traffic over the next 10 years and improve facilities for cyclists, pedestrians and public transport users.  SCC want to hear your experience and concerns when travelling along the route.  SCC are asking for your views in two stages.  For this first stage SCC will use your feedback to help shape improvements.  SCC will seek your views again later in the spring when the schemes emerging design is published.  The survey can be found here

8. Fraud Newsletter March 2021

9. Spelthorne Committee for Access Now March Newsletter

10. Disability Rights UK E Newsletter

Day of action for benefit uplift: Monday 1 March
The government is expected to extend the £20 uplift to Universal Credit for another six months in next week’s Budget (3 March). People on Universal Credit, including two million new claimants as a result of the economic impacts of Coronavirus, were given an extra £20 per week to live on at the start of the pandemic. However people who had not transferred over to Universal Credit, and stayed on ‘legacy’ benefits, many out of fear that they will be worse off if they switch, have not received the £20 uplift. We know how serious the impacts of this have been for Disabled people living on legacy benefits, as lockdown living and shielding costs have increased. Out of work benefits in the UK are well below the amount needed for a decent standard of living. All benefits need to be significantly increased, not cut. Disability Rights UK is supporting Disabled People Against Cuts’ Day of Action on 1 March. On the day, you can: Take and share selfies using the hashtags #20More4All Put up and share posters and stickers or email and ask them to post you some. Use a template letter to email your MP to tell them why it is important that the uplift is extended to legacy benefits. (If you email your MP, please copy in so that the letter can be forwarded to both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We want to deliver as many letters and expressions of concern on this issue as possible before the 3 March Budget.) Disabled people on legacy benefits who haven’t had the £20 uplift and are struggling to manage financially and are willing to speak to the media can email You can have your say anonymously about your experiences and what the uplift means to you by filling in this quick and easy survey.  You can sign and share these petitions: Don’t Leave Disabled People Behind | 38 Degrees Keep the £20pw Universal Credit lifeline and extend to those on legacy benefits – Petitions (
News Round-up
Roadmap sees shielding continue until end of March Care home residents will be able to be visited indoors by, and hold hands with, a single named individual from 8 March, but shielders will be asked to continue shielding until 31 March despite schools reopening, according to the ‘roadmap’ set out by Boris Johnson this week. The plan sets out key dates for reopening the country: 8 March, when schools reopen and care homes can open up to singular named visitors; 12 April, when leisure facilities and outdoor hospitality may reopen; 17 May when indoor contact and venues may reopen with limits; and 21 June when larger groups and events may be allowed. All dates are dependent on the outcomes of monitoring for vaccine take up, vaccine efficiency resulting in less hospitalisations and deaths, surges in the NHS, and new variants emerging. The Cabinet Office confirmed that all shielders will receive letters by the middle of March. Read the roadmap here. Special Needs Jungle has produced a grab and go version of the back to school guidance for families with children in SEND settings. People with learning disabilities to be prioritised for vaccinations The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations has confirmed that everyone with a learning disability will now be prioritised for vaccination under group 6. Vaccination priority group six had only included people with ‘severe’ or ‘profound’ learning disabilities. The announcement on 24 February now means that everyone with learning disabilities is covered. Jackie O’Sullivan, Executive Director of Communication, Advocacy & Activism at learning disability charity Mencap, said: “This is a hugely welcome announcement, and fantastic news for people with a learning disability. Now everyone on the GP Learning Disability Register can get access to the COVID vaccine. “It’s now crucially important that everyone with a learning disability checks that they are on the register and asks to go on it if they are not. Being on the register has many benefits and entitles people to annual health checks and prioritisation for future vaccinations, as well as allowing them to get the COVID vaccine and be confident they are protected.” DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “People with learning disabilities are six times more likely to die from coronavirus than people without learning disabilities. It is hugely welcome news that everyone with learning disabilities can now be urgently protected by vaccination. We are relieved and glad that the JCVI and government has listened to Disabled people’s groups about the importance of valuing the lives of people with learning disabilities, and has taken action to prioritise vaccinations.” Mencap has easy read guides to the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, including how to join your GP’s learning disability register to make sure you are offered it in group 6 available from  Covid ‘putting a rocket under’ children’s poor mental health outcomes New data reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry shows that 7% of children have attempted suicide by the age of 17 and almost one in four say they have self-harmed in the past year. There are fears that these figures have risen even higher during the pandemic. The figures are taken from analysis of the lives of around 19,000 British children born at the start of the millennium as part of the millennium cohort study. Scaled up to the whole population, that means that 52,427 17-year-olds could have  attempted suicide at some point in their lives and 170,744 could have self-harmed in the 12 months before Covid hit. Dr Bernadka Dubicka, chair of the the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ child and adolescent mental health faculty, said the findings are part of a long and “really concerning trend”. Study author Dr Praveetha Patalay said: “Our study highlights large inequality in these adverse mental health outcomes at age 17, with women and sexual minorities being particularly vulnerable, potentially reflecting the greater disparity in the pressures they face, and highlighting the need for support that is sensitive to the challenges experienced by them during adolescence… There is definitely a need to provide more, better and earlier support for young people to prevent their mental health difficulties from getting so severe, but equally we really need to think about why young people today are struggling so much.” 41% of all admissions to hospital for self-harm were teenagers. The report said: “Age 17 marks an important age before many key life transitions, including the ending of compulsory education and moving away from home. With the ending of support from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) around this critical age, many young people fall through the gaps between CAMHS and adult mental health services, potentially further worsening outcomes at the precise time when support is most required. These findings underline the urgent mental health support need in this generation.” In 2018, 759 young people took their own lives in the UK and Republic of Ireland. DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “It is highly likely the pandemic will have put a rocket under these terrifying figures. Children’s mental health is the elephant in the classroom for so many schools and local authorities. Mental health is as much a disability as physical, sensory and learning disabilities. Yet too often, it is framed as a nice to have, or something that can be resolved with a bit of talking and a bit of yoga. The lifelong impacts of poor mental health in childhood are huge. The government needs to invest heavily to reverse this crisis and set up frameworks to protect children on an ongoing basis now.” Decades of failure leaves half of disabled benefit claimants in poverty New analysis published by Scope shows that: almost half of all people in poverty are either disabled or live with someone who is disabled; there are 1.8 million more people in poverty living in a family that includes a disabled person compared with 15 years ago; the disability employment gap remains above 40 percentage points for many disabled people; and over a million disabled people who are out of work say that they want to be in employment, the analysis shows. James Taylor of Scope said: “It doesn’t have to be this way. A welfare system should be there to provide support to disabled people in and out of work, to help offset the financial penalty of being disabled, and ultimately to improve lives. In the short term, we need urgent changes to make sure disabled people are getting the support they need.” Read the full story on our website. PIP assessment recordings to be allowed The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has agreed that Disabled people will be allowed to record their assessments for Personal Independence Payments (PIP). Responding in a letter to the Right to Record action group of Disabled campaigners in Barking and Dagenham, the DWP said that audio recording should be available when face-to-face PIP assessments resume after the pandemic. People being assessed will have to request that the assessment is recorded. Recording will not be automatic. In the letter, the DWP said: “We have recently started working with both assessment providers [Capita and Atos]… to find a suitable method of audio recording which we hope to have in place with the reintroduction of face-to-face assessments. “This will remove the need for claimants to source a device which meets the required specifications to bring to their assessment, as the assessment provider will record the assessment on the claimant’s behalf.” It adds that audio recording of telephone PIP assessments has been available for some people through Atos since 21 September 2020 and through Capita since 30 November 2020. DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “This move will help claimants ensure that what they have said has been accurately recorded and taken into account. Over half of claimants who need to go to Tribunal win their cases. This move will help those who have to go to Tribunal to be able to present solid evidence to support their claims, and hopefully reduce the numbers of Tribunals that claimants have to go through.” Read more at Disability News Service. People deprived of liberty due to misapplication of Mental Health and Capacity Acts A new report from the King’s Fund shows that people are being unlawfully deprived of their liberty because professionals are incorrectly using the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) or the Mental Health Act (MHA) according to their role or training, without considering the individual case. Respondents said the codes of practice for the two Acts and their respective case law were difficult to understand and keep up to date with. The MCA was seen as having fewer safeguards, but was seen as being better for protecting people’s autonomy, whereas the MHA was seen as more restrictive. Read on the Community Care website. Lack of tactile paving ‘a factor’ in death of visually impaired man A lack of tactile paving was a contributing factor to the death of a partially sighted man who died after falling from the platform on to the track at Eden Park station, London, in February last year. A report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) found that around half of mainline railway stations do not have tactile paving, which can alert visually impaired people that they are close to a platform edge or kerb, and up to 15% of accidents where people fall on to the track involve blind or partially sighted people. Stephen Brookes, DR UK Rail Policy Adviser said: “DR UK has been pressing upon the rail companies and train operators that safety is of paramount importance when they apply arrangements and facilities needed to provide accessibility for all Disabled passengers. “This incident demonstrates that there appears to be no consistent policy on the provision of tactile strips, despite their clear importance to visually impaired people who value the opportunity to travel independently, without reliance on staff. Lives cannot be put at risk by having to wait until such stations are fully refurbished to install tactile strips. The fact that 40% of stations have no tactile markings is putting people’s lives at risk and there needs to be an emergency plan to put this right.” Further information on railway stations can be found on the RNIB website. View and sign the RNIB petition. ESA calls for Disabled astronauts The European Space Agency (ESA) is encouraging applications from Disabled astronauts for its latest recruitment drive. The ESA is looking for four to six new recruits, and has asked the International Paralympic Committee to assist with selection. Applicants must have a master’s degree or higher in Natural Sciences, Medicine, Engineering, Mathematics or Computer Sciences, or be qualified as an experimental test pilot, and must speak a second language fluently. The ESA says that people with lower limb difference or restricted growth who may not have been eligible to apply before should consider applying this time round. “We’re not looking to hire a space tourist that happens also to have a Disability,” ESA Director Dr David Parker told the BBC. “This individual would do a meaningful space mission. So, they would need to do the science; they would need to participate in all the normal operations of the International Space Station (ISS).” Those selected would be part of a feasibility project to improve on safety and technical support, with the intention to make ‘para astronauts’ a future reality. Autistic graduates more likely to be unemployed –  ACGAS report Graduates disclosing autism are least likely to be in full time employment and most likely to be unemployed according to new research by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS). Autistic graduates are the least likely of all Disabled graduates to be employed on a permanent contract and are most likely to be employed on a fixed term, temporary or voluntary basis.  The AGCAS report, What Happens Next? examines the outcomes of Disabled graduates and provides real evidence of the effect of a Disability on a graduate’s employment prospects.   The report found that there remains a gap in employment levels between Disabled and non-disabled graduates at all levels. At all qualification levels, there are more Disabled graduates employed on a short-term contract, a temporary contract or zero hours contract than non-disabled graduates.  Read the report on the ACGAS website.
Pre-order your new Disability Rights Handbook today for dispatch at the end of April 2021
Updated for 2021/22 including: Benefits for people living with health conditions, injury or disability and for carers, children and young people How the system works, how to claim and how to challenge a decision Support for people in education or work, not in work, looking for work or in retirement Getting and paying for care and support services ORDER NOW
Get page-by-page updates as legislation changes throughout the year. Published bi-monthly from June 2021 to February 2022 it will arrive in your email inbox in an easy to print A4 PDF format. ORDER NOW The same handbook just in an accessible word document format to allow searching. Delivered to your email inbox within 3 days of ordering. This will be available from May 2021.  ORDER NOW
Get Involved
Help DR UK with easyfundraising easyfundraising is a quick and easy way to raise money for Disability Rights UK. Shop with any of over 2,000 well known retailers listed on and a percentage of what you spend is passed to Disability Rights UK at no additional cost to you.  Retailers include Amazon, M&S, Vodafone, eBay, Tesco, Viking and many more. Please register to support us today.  Government webinars for PAs The government has released new information for PAs in relation to testing for  Coronavirus. Read more, and sign up for live webinars. Benefits training courses   DR UK is offering two essential online courses in partnership with the Benefits Training Company. Each course is run in two parts, using Zoom and facilitated by an experienced benefits trainer.  Introduction to Welfare Benefits will be held on 27 and 28 April. 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.   Part 1: The structure of the system and the importance of health & disability benefits – Tuesday 27 April 9.45am – 12.45pm. Part 2: Universal Credit, the wider benefits system and maximising income – Wednesday 28 April 9.45am – 12.45pm. Please click here for more information and to book your place.   Preparing for an Appeal Tribunal will be held on 29 and 30 April. 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.    Part 1: Assessing the case, reviewing the DWP decision – Thursday 29 April 9.45am – 12.45pm. Part 2: Composing effective written submissions, preparing claimants for appeal hearings – Friday 30 April 9.45am – 12.45pm. Please click here for more information and to book your place.   These courses sell out fast so early booking is encouraged. 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.    Free webinar: How to do inclusive, accessible recruitment Learn from Michael Vermeersch, Digital Inclusion Lead at Microsoft about how his organisation approaches inclusive and accessible recruitment practices, and how it communicates with potential candidates about being an inclusive employer. AbilityNet’s Head of HR, Mairead Comerford, will also share in this webinar the best ways to avoid discrimination and unconscious bias within the recruitment process and there will be an interactive session where you can evaluate your own recruitment processes to identify strengths and areas for improvement.  The webinar, at 1pm on Tuesday 2 March, is relevant to those working in careers advice, HR and recruitment, and Diversity and Inclusion, but is also an insightful session for Disabled applicants and anyone looking to generally expand their knowledge about how to ensure a more inclusive and accessible workplace overall. Register for this webinar. Call for user-led organisations to apply to the Tackling Inequalities Fund: Disability Rights UK (DR UK) is one of the National Delivery Partners for Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund. The fund aims to reduce the negative impact of Covid-19 and any widening of inequalities in participation rates in sport and physical activity. The Get Yourself Active team at DR UK is accepting applications from User Led Organisations (ULOs), or organisations which can demonstrate a user-led project idea, that supports disabled people, and/or people with long-term health conditions, to keep active in a Covid-19 safe environment and in a way that is right for them. For more details about the fund, including how to apply, please e-mail or call 0203 687 0771. Get Yourself Active at home Are you looking for new ways to get active at home? Get Yourself Active has created a new section on its website to help you find the resources you need to stay active during this time. On this new section you can find the accessible and inclusive exercise videos created in partnership with Sense and Durham University, which are also available on the Get Yourself Active YouTube channel. There are also a number of other useful resources from partner organisations that have been collated, from videos to downloadable toolkits and worksheets. View the new Active @ Home section. Performers and writers: free zooms on script accessibility Extant’s Pathways Writers group for visually impaired people is running zoom sessions from 10-11.50am and 12-1.30pm on Monday 1 March. The sessions will look at making scripts accessible for blind and visually impaired artists. Email to book (let them know about any accessibility requirements) or email for more details. ELIEZ workshop on Accessible Communications At 2.30-4.30pm on 25 February, the East London Inclusive Enterprise Zone is running a free workshop on zoom on accessible communications. You can use this Eventbrite link to book. You can also listen to the final episode of the ELIEZ Inclusive Innovators podcast series featuring Prof. Mikko Koria from Loughborough University London. Listen on Soundcloud. National Strategy on Disability survey – petition An emergency petition asking Disabilities Minister Justin Tomlinson to stop the Government’s Disability Strategy Consultation Survey and replace it with a proper six month consultation period was submitted last week. The petition has been kept open and now has 109 supporting organisations. The updated petition letter will be sent to the Minister very early next week. If you would like to support the petition, email Sarah Gayton at the National Federation of the Blind of the UK at with a ‘YES’ and the name of your organisation in the subject line by the end of Friday 26 February. Gritty Talent diversity app Gritty Talent is tired of the UK media industry often only including the same types of people. It has launched an app as part of its ongoing work to make the UK media more inclusive by helping to amplify voices from under-represented groups. The Gritty Talent team is looking for a diverse range of people with potential for TV work. It would like to know about: Experts and academics who would be interested in taking part in news interviews and documentaries. Budding reporters and presenters such as vloggers or podcasters. People with a particular practical skill, profession or hobby. As examples this might be a vet for an animal series, a builder for a home makeover programme, or a foodie for a cooking show. If you, or someone you know, would like to find out more about getting connected to TV industry opportunities, plus free media training, you can find out more at: or email or phone 0117 313 6676.

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