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11.02.2021 Weekly update

Welcome to our weekly email update.  This update includes:

1.  Coalition Update

2.  Social/peer support groups coming up

3.  Emergency patient Transport Focus Group Reminder

4.  RNIB LGBT+ History Month and Celebration Event

5.  Surrey Welfare Rights Unit Winter Newsletter

6.  Future of Transport: rural strategy – call for evidence

7.  Disability Rights UK E Newsletter

1. Coalition Update

The spring edition of Coalition news will be winging it’s way to you in the next few weeks. 

Coalition members continue to be working hard as part of various working groups looking at a number of strategies for health and care.  If you might like to get involved in some co-production volunteering then please do get in touch and let us know!

We are still keen to capture your experiences of having a Covid-19 vaccination so that we can feed these back.  You can give your feedback here:     

Vaccination programme

2.  Social/peer support groups coming up

We are very excited to announce that we have arranged two virtual trips this month for you to enjoy thanks to funding from Toyota and NSUN.  On Monday 22nd February at 11am during our virtual café we will be going on a virtual trip to Guildford Museum. There will be a virtual tour around the museum covering our Prehistoric and Roman Surrey gallery, our Saxon and Medieval gallery, our Trade and Industry display, our childhood gallery and our Gertrude Jekyll and Lewis Carroll gallery.  If you would like to join this trip please use this link.

Our Young Adults Group will meet on Tuesday 23rd February at 11am for a virtual trip to Birdworld!  The group will be given a private display followed by a question and answer session.  Please see attached flyer, if you would like to join this trip please use this link.

Craftivism – This week members focussed on stars and snowdrops using various forms of craft and we discussed our Craftivism ideas so far – 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. 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 everyone to take up the Covid-19 vaccine and to talk about how we can help with mental health projects and the NHS SMS Text number reminders and a logo design. Everyone is always welcome!

3.  Non Emergency patient Transport Focus Group Reminder

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. RNIB LGBT+ History Month and Celebration Event

It’s LGBT+ History Month, an annual event highlighting key moments in the civil rights movement for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and to celebrate the contributions LGBT+ people have made to all aspects of society. To coincide with this, we’re holding a UK wide LGBT+ History Celebration event where we can share stories and contributions from the community’s LGBT+ people, their families, friends, or allies.

Where: Online / over the phone (Microsoft Teams)

When: Wednesday 17th February 2021

What time: 6 – 7pm

As we listen to each others’ stories, we will also discuss how to move forward with the formation of social groups of blind and partially sighted people who are part of the LGBT+ community.

To join in or find out more, please contact:

Hazel Cross


If you have a story relating to LGBT+ History that you would like to share on Facebook, please do contact me.

5.  Surrey Welfare Rights Unit Winter Newsletter – Please see document below.

6.  Future of Transport: rural strategy – call for evidence

This call for evidence seeks views and evidence from all those with an interest in rural transport.

Following the Government’s Future of mobility: urban strategy, which was published in March 2019, the Department for Transport are now seeking views and evidence on what could be incorporated into a Future of Transport: rural strategy.

The consultation document has 3 sections:

  • the context of the Future of Transport: rural strategy
  • our assessment of the mobility trends in rural areas, and the emerging opportunities for rural environments that we’re witnessing in transport innovation – this section seeks views on whether we have identified these correctly and further evidence for these trends
  • consideration of the approach that the government could take to help shape these opportunities to benefit rural areas

This consultation is part of the Future of Transport programme, which aims to shape transport innovation and secure the UK’s position as a leader in the transport sector of the future.

7. Disability Rights UK E Newsletter

News Round-up
Disabled People’s Organisations call for the Disability Strategy to be delayed Disability Rights UK Our Voices group has written to the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, setting out a number of problems with the engagement process for the National Disability Strategy and asking that the launch of the Strategy be postponed, pending the full involvement of disabled people. The Group is made up of a number of Disabled People’s Organisations from across England, that are members of Disability Rights UK. The group came together at the start of the pandemic to represent the interests of disabled people and to enable learning and mutual support.   The letter urges the Government to put disabled people and Disabled People’s Organisations at the heart of engagement and offers to work with government to support the development of the National Disability Strategy. The letter criticises the disjointed and fragmented engagement process, pointing to a mixture of thematic meetings, regional stakeholder forums and a limited number of ministerial meetings with a DPO Forum. The letter is very critical of the current online consultation survey, launched on 15 January for a four-week period. It questions its relevance to developing the Strategy and highlights issues which make it unusable and inaccessible to many disabled people. The letter ends by calling for the launch of the Disability Strategy to be delayed pending full engagement with disabled people. Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy at Disability Rights UK said “25 years after the Disability Discrimination Act, a cross government strategy to tackle the systemic discrimination faced by disabled people is long overdue. However, for the Strategy to be truly effective in creating an inclusive society, the lived experience of disabled people has to be at its heart.” “Basing the National Disability Strategy, primarily on what government departments want to do, won’t result in an ambitious strategy, which challenges deep attitudinal and systemic barriers and creates a society where disabled people are equal.”    You can read the letter, which has been signed by the Chief Executives of several member organisations, by clicking here. Government reluctance to support the reasonable adjustments of disabled election candidates With shockingly low representation of disabled people in elected office, both across local authorities and in parliament, the government’s silence on establishing a fund to support the reasonable adjustments of disabled candidates is deeply troubling. The Elected Office Fund and then the Enable Fund, which have both existed in the past, were designed to support the reasonable adjustments of disabled election candidates. These funds allowed disabled people, who required additional support to enable them to campaign, to feel that they could stand for election. Government argues that political parties should meet the costs of reasonable adjustments, however, there is no evidence that they are doing so. Disability Rights UK has suggested to government that in the same way as Access to Work, the government could meet the costs of reasonable adjustments and then seek re-imbursement from political parties. This would remove the burden from disabled candidates of having to secure additional support from their local party organisations. Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy at DR UK said “At a time when the Government is poised to launch a National Disability Strategy, the failure to establish a permanent fund to support disabled people to stand for elected office is difficult to comprehend.” “Some disabled people need support to run an election campaign and there is a real danger that if that support is not easily available, either they or their local party, might feel it’s not possible for them to stand. “We would ask Government to urgently establish a fund to support disabled people to gain elected office, so it is in place for the May 2021 elections.” Pandemic Poverty: new DBC research report shows why the £20 per week UC uplift must be kept and extended A new report by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), a network of over 100 organisations, including DR UK, provides new evidence and lived experience from a survey of 1384 people claiming UC or legacy benefits: on what these difficulties and increased financial costs look like; and the importance of extending the £20 per week uplift to both UC and legacy benefits. Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Officer said: “By restricting the £20 per week increase only to Universal Credit the Government has discriminated against the millions of disabled people on other benefits. Even before the Covid-19 crisis, benefit cuts and austerity hit disabled people the hardest. The question a responsible Government should consider is: are those on UC, ESA, JSA and income support still facing significant extra costs due to the pandemic? The DBC research shows that the answer is a resounding yes – it finds two thirds (67%) of disabled claimants have had to go without essential items at some point during the pandemic So the £20 UC uplift must not just be kept and but extended to those on ESA and other legacy benefits”.  Read more on our website £20 week UC uplift must be kept and extended says APPG of MPs on poverty A report published by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on poverty asks for the Universal Credit (UC) top up, worth £1,050 a year, to be retained and extended beyond April 2021 and for the benefit cap to be suspended. The APPG says that it is evident from the findings of many organisations that the £20 uplift in UC and WTC has had a positive impact on the incomes of the poorest households in the UK: “Modelling carried out by Policy in Practice suggests that if the uplift was withdrawn, 683,000 households, including 824,000 children, would no longer be able to afford to meet their essential needs, with this number growing by 11% when the impact of the two child limit is taken into account.” Read more on our website Second secret DWP benefit death report could open door for bereaved families Ministers appear close to defeat in their six-year battle to prevent the release of secret reports into the suicides and other deaths of benefit claimants, after the release of findings from a second DWP investigation, the Disability News Service (DNS) reports. The family of Errol Graham, who starved to death in June 2018 after his employment and ESA and other benefits were wrongly removed, have been shown a summary of the DWP internal process review (IPR) that examined the circumstances surrounding his death. To read more on our website Pave The Way travel report launched Transport For All has launched a new report on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and the barriers to Active Travel. DR UK’s Rail Policy Advisor Stephen Brookes said: “Transport For All Pave The Way report highlights the fear Disabled people and representative organisations feel over the fact that our voices are being excluded from short and long term planning over Covid-19 and potential recovery policies. “We must not let new ‘street scene’ design and access to public services and transport policies set back the access rights for Disabled people so hard fought for over the last few years. There are real indications that rapid and short-term consultations are just not picking up or including all the needs of Disabled people and the results could have a seriously negative impact on our future lives.”
Get Involved
Watch Al Jazeera documentary series, People and Power As part of the Al Jazeera documentary series People and Power they have made two films, about the experiences of disabled people during the COVID Pandemic. After broadcast on Wednesday 3 February and Wednesday 10 February Al Jazeera will make the films available online at and Liberty evidence to the Independent Human Rights Act Review (IHRAR) panel Liberty are asking people who have experience of using the Human Rights Act in court to send a letter to the review by completing a short survey by Wednesday 10 February. Click here to take part in the survey For any questions relating to this letter please get in touch with Ayaz Manji in Liberty’s Policy and Campaigns team on or 07545884726. Event on how to master an honours nomination (with BSL interpretation) We all know a community hero who deserves an honour but how do they end up on the honours list? In the New Year’s Honours List 65% of awards went to people who had done outstanding work in or for their local community. Join this one hour session for a behind the scenes look at how the honours system operates, and get top tips on what to include in your nomination. Click here to sign up to attend the event National Academy for Social Prescribing are recruiting The National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) is seeking a National Physical Activity Lead to support the co-ordination of NASP work programmes and learning nationally and across regional physical activity teams. Apply by 1st March 2021. Click here for the job advert New free training from Media Trust Media Trust is currently running a range of free training for charities. The first three webinars, in partnership with Google Digital Garage, covers social media strategy, writing for social media and Google Analytics. You can sign up for its free Digital Comms Programme in partnership with here On some elements of the programme, priority spaces will be given to charities that support Work and Learning and Online Safety. Media Trust would also like to better understand the challenges charities are facing around communications to better tailor its training. You can fill in a short survey here Email Paige if you need further help at   Mind Jigsaw II Peer support and community based groups national survey Do you take part in peer support or are you a community-based group? Mind want to hear what peer support looks like and how it can be supported to flourish by being involved in an interview or through completing this survey . If you’d like to be interviewed, please email with your name and why you’re interested- you will be reimbursed for your time.  They are particularly interested in hearing from people from BAME and/or LGBTQI+ community, young people (18-25), people living in deprivation, and gender specific groups and advocating their views. This is part of a wider peer led research project called, Jigsaw II.  More information about the project can be found here   Get Yourself Active at Home Are you looking for new ways to get active at home? Get Yourself Active has been sharing videos for its new Active at Home series that have been developed alongside Sense and Durham University. These are accessible videos to support disabled people to get active at home during the pandemic and include a variety of activities such as seated dance, strength and cardio workouts. The videos have been designed using the experiences and feedback of 450 disabled people and people with long term health conditions. Click here to access the YouTube channel and view the videos so far. 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 Elliot on 0203 687 0771. Improving post-16 outcomes for disabled young people in education, training and employment The coronavirus outbreak is currently causing huge upheaval to everyone’s lives, but especially to the lives of disabled people. It is a particularly challenging time for disabled young people seeking education, training and work. We are running our annual DR UK /DSU free conference for careers and enterprise advisers, job coaches, teachers, employers, family carers and others working with disabled young people. Register here for Thursday 25th February 2021 Register here for Friday 26th February 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. Preparing for an Appeal Tribunal will be held on 25 and 26 February. 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 25 February 9.45am – 12.45pm Part 2: Composing effective written submissions, preparing claimants for appeal hearings – Friday 26 February 9.45am – 12.45pm  Please click here for more information and to book your placeIntroduction 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.  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.  
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
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