Surrey Coalition of Disabled People

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31st January Weekly Update

Dear Members

Welcome to the weekly update.  This update includes:

  1. Coalition Update
  2. Social/Peer Support coming up
  3. Can you help?
  4. NHS service provision issues
  5. Parliament UK research
  6. New Sight for Surrey leaflet
  7. Free bipolar on line conference
  8. New SEN football club at Brooklands college
  9. Guildford Conquest Art
  10. Brighton – Three Bridges Major Work 19-27 February
  11. Romance Fraud Case Study

1.  Coalition Update

Listen to the weekly update! – If you would prefer to listen to the weekly update you can do so by clicking below.

Please complete a short survey about our social activities! https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/3DX9DJY

Wheelchair Market Study Focus Group – We have been contacted by Frontier Economics who are working on behalf of Motability and the Wheelchair Alliance to conduct a market study on wheelchair provision in England. 

As part of this study, Frontier Economics are conducting qualitative engagement with various stakeholders. They would be very grateful if you were able to help us with the research, particularly by bringing in the user perspective. They would like to conduct a focus group with users in the Surrey region about their experience of wheelchair services.

They would be looking to conduct the focus group the w/c the 31st January. The focus group would be carried out by two representatives from Frontier Economics virtually over Teams, or an alternative virtual platform and would last for an hour.  Please let Yasmin know as soon as possible if you would like to take part in the focus group. (yasmin.broome@surreycoalition.org.uk)

Well done Ted! – Ted, one of our members continues to campaign for better loop and SMS provision and 2022 has started with a success!  Following messages from Ted to Wakehurst, the Visitor Experience team has been looking into this. As a result, Hearing Loops should become available shortly!  Well done to Ted for his tireless campaigning on this issue.

2.  Social/Peer Support coming up

Get More Active Update

Surbiton Hockey Club are running a weekly Walking Hockey session every Friday at 10am. The first session is free so why not go along and give it a try! Details are on the attached flyer.

In the 2nd of our series on parkrun, you can find out more about volunteering at parkrun and becoming a high-vis hero! Please see our blog, or join us on Friday at 11.30am here to find out more!”

3. Can you help

A Social work trainee working with Surrey County Council (SCC) who is in the process of completing her Social Work Degree at Chichester University has contacted us. She would like to interview one of our members for an assignments to identify a particular disability and explore the impact this has had on the individual throughout their life and link that with social work. For reassurance, the University insists that the person discussed in the essay is anonymous.  Please let Yasmin know if you are able to help with this. (yasmin.broome@surreycoalition.org.uk) If possible she would like to conduct the interview in early / mid Feb.

4. NHS service provision issues

Disability Rights UK are continuing to hear of cancelled hospital appointments, and problems accessing care services when so many care staff are off with Covid and family caring responsibilities, so it remains important that the authorities who can make a difference to people’s lives stay informed of how the NHS and care services are performing for Disabled people and their families.

The responses can be positive or negative, include anything from GP appointments, to dental services, to care home cleanliness – the CQC want to hear from disabled people and ‘Tell Us About Your Care’ has been pivotal in providing evidence for several years now. Please add your voice through the webpage by explaining your experiences over the last couple of years.

5. Parliament UK research

If you are a UK resident, we want to find out how you engage with politics and UK Parliament, and about anything which stops you from doing so. Please sign up to have your say by 7th February and help shape future public engagement work. Those selected to take part will receive £40 as a thank you. https://research.audiencesurveys.org/s.asp?k=164276239942&mc_cid=6ca2ca2106&mc_eid=efd9607e92

6. New Sight for Surrey Leaflet

Sight for Surrey have produced a new leaflet summarising their services.   Please see attached document.

7. Free bipolar on line conference

The Bipolar UK community will come together for their second virtual conference. It will be held online on World Bipolar Day, Wednesday 30 March 2022. Join them for an exciting programme of free seminars, discussions and workshops. Bipolar UK will also be launching the final report from the Bipolar Commission, their research project which aims to improve the quality of services and reduce the rate of suicide for people with bipolar in the UK.  A full line-up of speakers and sessions will be announced soon! Register here and save your free place today.

8. New SEN football club @brooklands College

There is a new SEN football club recently set up within Brooklands College. The club is aimed at those with social well-being issues has been in operation in south London since May 2021 with the aim of bringing it to Surrey to encourage those with social well-Being issues to communicate with like-minded individuals through the medium of sport. Please see the attached poster for more information.

9. Guildford Conquest Art

Guildford Conquest Art is a charity inspiring people with disabilities and long term health issues to discover their creative energy and build self confidence through art. A group meets on the 1st & 3rd Wednesdays of the month at St Catherine’s Village Hall, Chestnut Ave, Guildford GU2 4HD. All tables are socially distanced. Masks worn unless sitting down – all attending are encouraged to use a Rapid Lateral Flow test before the session. First session FREE – thereafter £2 a week plus £10 annual subscription to Conquest Art. Accompanying carers are very welcome at no extra charge. If you or someone you know would benefit from this friendly supportive group please call 07790 893 622 or email enquiries@conquestart.org For more information visit www.conquestart.org

10. Brighton – Three Bridges Major Work 19-27 February

From Saturday 19 February to Sunday 27 February 2022 the railway will close between Three Bridges & Brighton and Three Bridges & Lewes while major works take place.  Network Rail engineers will use the line closure to rebuild Copyhold Junction near Haywards Heath and replace track at Burgess Hill, Preston Park and in the Clayton tunnel.  A new underpass to provide a safe route under the railway will be built at Hassocks, sections of cutting and embankment will be stabilised at four locations, drainage is to be rebuilt in the Balcombe tunnel, and there will be enhanced maintenance and inspections across all closed track.  More information on the work is available here

11. Romance Fraud Case Study – please read this important case study, raising awareness of romance fraud

2020 was a difficult year for all of us, but Jane* had a more difficult time than most. Over the course of a couple of months she suffered a series of bereavements when first her sister, then her brother, then her husband died in quick succession. In December 2020 she was picking herself back up from this devastating loss when she received a friend request from John* on Facebook. He wasn’t someone she knew, but he wanted to connect with her, and after several hard months Jane was happy to have someone to talk to.

Jane was no stranger to forging meaningful connections online. 18 years ago, after meeting and starting up a relationship online, she boarded a plane for the first time in her life and flew nearly 4000 miles to meet the man who would become her husband. Originally from the United States, Jane met her British husband online, so she initially felt comfortable talking to John on Facebook.

John told her that he was a Brazilian doctor working in Iran. He was widowed, like Jane, and his wife had died of cancer. He was raising his nine-year-old son alone but spent a lot of time apart from him due to his work. He claimed that his son was currently attending a boarding school in Canada.

John soon asked Jane if she wanted to move on to Google Hangouts to continue their conversations. He claimed that the military didn’t like them using Facebook while they were working. Jane was aware of Google Hangouts but had never used it before. She made the jump and soon John was talking to her about the future, telling her that he was looking for a wife and a mother to his son.

Then John started to ask Jane for some favours. He initially told her that he needed minutes for internet time so he could speak to his son. He claimed that he couldn’t go off base to purchase them himself, and asked Jane to buy him an Amazon card for internet access. Jane refused, telling John that she didn’t have the money to buy him minutes. Besides, she pointed out, she didn’t really know him either.

Next, John asked her for an Amazon gift card so he could buy his son shoes. Jane refused again, suspicious that a man earning a doctor’s salary who was able to send his son to boarding school couldn’t afford to buy him shoes.

John changed tactics. He told her that he had some items stored in a shipping container in Hong Kong. They were closing the storage down and he wanted to send it to her so she could store or send it on for him. Jane asked him what the items were, and the answer shocked her.

“I received a picture of someone shining a flashlight on a box of American dollars,” she said. “It was silly money, at least ten thousand dollars.”

Jane was concerned that, if she accepted such a consignment, she could get into trouble with customs and even face deportation back to America. In response, John upped the emotional ante. He told her that he only had three months left of his deployment to Iran, after which he planned to go home via the UK so he could spend some time with her. He wanted Jane to meet his son and reiterated his plans for their future together.

Concerned and not convinced, Jane spoke to her local pastor. Her story was sadly a familiar one to him, and he told her that she was being scammed by John. He advised her to end the relationship and cut all contact. Jane did as he advised and blocked John on Facebook and Google Hangouts, but not before she took her chance to confront him.

“I said, ‘I know what you are, you’re trying to scam me. What you’re doing is not right,’” Jane recalled. She refused to send John money and blocked and reported him on Facebook and Google Hangouts. However, in an unfortunate twist, when she phoned a number she believed to be Google Hangouts to report John, she was told that she needed to allow them access to her computer to download computer software that would eliminate contact between her and John. She did this and paid £199 for them to download two programmes onto her computer. It was only on reporting John to Action Fraud that Jane realised she had been a victim of a secondary scam too.

Fortunately, Jane’s bank recovered the money she had lost through the computer scam. However, the whole experience has had a long-lasting impact on her ability to trust others. She is wary when answering the phone and no longer feels like it’s safe to be on the internet, only using her Facebook account to keep in touch with relatives in the United States.

When asked what she would tell someone else who was entering into a relationship with someone online, she said, “In today’s society I would tell somebody you need to meet the person face to face. Do your research. Go online and try to find any information on this person. Write down everything they tell you and look it up.”

Jane is not alone. In Surrey, there were 220 reports of romance fraud in 2021, with a total combined loss of £3.79 million. 59% of victims lived alone, like Jane, and gift cards were one of the top three payment methods, along with bank cards and bank transfers.

Bernadette Lawrie, Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer for Surrey Police said, “With more and more people turning to online platforms to form relationships this cruel and heartless crime is on the rise. 

“Fraudsters prey on the loneliness of victims, targeting and grooming them for the purpose of exploiting money. 

“Since the pandemic we have seen increases in this fraud type. Criminals have used the fact that social interactions and connections have been reduced as an opportunity to strike up online relationships with those at their most vulnerable before defrauding them and stealing their money.”

Protect yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to romance fraud – think DATES:
Don’t rush into an online relationship – get to know the person, not the profile: ask plenty of questions.
Analyse their profile – confirm the person’s identity. Check the person is genuine by putting their name, profile pictures or any repeatedly-used phrases and the term ‘dating scam’ into your search engine.
Talk to your friends and family – be wary of anyone who tells you not to tell others about them.
Evade scams – never send money or share your bank details with someone you’ve only met online, no matter what reason they give or how long you’ve been speaking to them.
Stay on the dating site messenger service – don’t use email, phone, social media or other messaging apps until you’re confident the person is who they say they are.
If you or someone you know is vulnerable and has been a victim of fraud, report it to Surrey Police online via our website: www.surrey.police.uk

You can also direct message Action Fraud via our social media channels or call 101.

You can also report fraud or attempted fraud by contacting Action Fraud at http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040.

In an emergency, always call 999.

(*All names have been changed)

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