Surrey Coalition of Disabled People

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21.01.2021 weekly update

Welcome to the weekly update.  This edition includes:

1. Coalition Update

2. Social/peer support groups coming up

3. Lockdown Message from SCC

4. Day Opportunities for Residents

5. Have your say on Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services

6. Spelthorne Committee for Access Now (SCAN) Newsletter

7. Research at the Home Office

8. Essex University Research Study

9. Adult Social Care Coronavirus Special Briefing

10. Disability Rights UK E Newsletter

1.  Coalition Update

Important information regarding your concessionary bus pass – in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, concessionary bus card holders can use their pass to travel at any time.  More here.

We are recruiting! – We have a number of vacancies at present.  These are listed on our website here.

There are a number of exciting opportunities to join us including:

  1. Technology Training Officer
  2. Tech to Community Connect – Surrey Downs and East Surrey
  3. Physical Activity Navigator
  4. Project Coordinator (SDR)

Listen to these updates – If you would prefer to listen to these updates (rather than read them) then you can now find them (and the quarterly Coalition News) in the following places:

By using your smart speaker

  • If you use an Amazon Alexa device, simply say: “Alexa, play Coalition weekly podcast”  
  • “Alexa, play Coalition Newsletter Podcast” (for Coalition news)  

By using a podcast app:

Listen via Apple podcast, or overcast, Tunein, Amazon music or Spotify. You can just search for “Surrey Coalition” in your chosed podcast player, or go to the links below:

By telephone (for people with no digital access)

Coming very soon!

A Reminder to please complete our survey to contribute your experiences of Covid! – We sent you a copy of the Covid Diaries which contained the experiences of our members from the first two lockdowns in 2020.  We would really like to add members experiences of the current lockdown to this document, so we have put together a really short survey for you to share your experiences.  We would like as many members as possible to complete the survey so we can provide valuable feedback to Health and Social Care services and also help us to ensure we are providing the support that our members need most.  Please use this link to complete the survey:  your experience during the Covid-19 pandemic  Angie Taylor (our Engagement Officer) is contacting all our members who do not have digital access so we hope to get a good picture of the experiences of our members.

2.  Social/peer support groups coming up

Virtual Café – Join our virtual café on Monday at 11am.  As well as the usual chat, we are making a return visit to Cronshaw Fold Farm for some sheepdog training and a tour of the farm.  We would love for as many of you as possible to join us.

Young Adults Group – A reminder that our Young Adults Group will take place on Wednesday 27th January at 11am.  The group requested a visit to the Cronkshaw Fold Farm for this months activity.  If you are a young adult and would like to join us please use this link.

Crafting on Tuesday – Gardens in a Teacup – Can you make a delightful crockery vista, you don’t need to use real plants, household items, origami, magazine cut outs, or gather fresh flowers and plants to make a miniature RHS scene. Join us with your entries as Angie curates a visit to the Surrey ‘Best in Show’  Meeting ID: 850 1118 1565  Password: 977093

Book Club – This week we looked at Six Dinner Sid, a short story of gluttony and lies. Next week we have the longer story PS I love you by Cecilia Ahern. Be aware this book deals with bereavement and cancer. This may make it difficult for some readers.  It has been made into a film which tracks the narrative of the book and this may be more accessible for some of you. It is available on Netflix and Amazon Prime at this time.  Meeting ID: 863 8371 8684 Password: 714472

If you want to be included in the book club newsletter please email

3. Lockdown Message from SCC

Please see attached document or use this link to access key messages from SCC regarding the National Lockdown and the help and support available.  Surrey County Council – National Lockdown stay at home (

4. Day Opportunities for Residents – SCC are establishing a new Older Person’s Strategy, part of this process is that SCC would like to understand more about what activities, groups and services people aged 60 years and over, who live or work in Surrey, care about the most or would like to make use of. These will be activities, groups and services that support people to work, contribute to their community and meet and socialise with others. SCC are particularly interested in what helps residents to stay healthy and active, feel safe, reduce loneliness and improves general wellbeing. If you are 60 years of age or over, SCC would like to hear your views.

The online survey is available here:  Day Opportunities Survey

If you require the survey in an alternative format, there are Easy Read, large print and standard text versions available to download from Surrey Says.  Or, for those who are unable to access the online versions or unable print the alternative versions; hard copies including a freepost envelope can be requested to be sent to you by telephoning or texting the following numbers:

Telephone: 0300 200 1005

SMS: 07527 182 861

If you are supporting someone to complete the survey, please if possible, enter the response on Surrey Says. However, if you wish to return a copy of the survey in hard copy, alternative versions are available either to download from the website or can be requested from Surrey County Council, using the contact details above.

The closing date for completed surveys is February 18th

For additional information on the survey, please use the following contact details:

Email: Telephone: 07815 116611 

5. Have your say on Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services – 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 and their family members or carers who have helped them access the service.

Members of Surrey Coalition attended two Patient Transport Service review Round Tables hosted by the CCG late last year. These were multi-disciplinary sessions with clinicians, NHS teams, and service user representatives discussing issues and possible solutions.

Based on the themes that emerged at the Round Tables, the CCG is launching a User Survey this week. It’s a quick, online survey of multiple choice questions. The survey is here. It closes at midnight on Sunday 7 March 2021. Please take five minutes to offer your experiences and suggestions.

You can see FAQs and minutes from the Round Tables on the Patient Transport Services web page HERE.

The CCG will also facilitate focus groups in February with service user groups. A summary of feedback from the focus groups will be shared on the web page, above, in March.

6. Spelthorne Committee for Access Now (SCAN) Newsletter

7. Research at the Home Office – Shazia, a Research Operations Recruiter in the Research Operations team has contacted us to help to recruit participants for research.  When services and digital platforms are revised within the Home Office, the Home Office try to make sure they are accessible. In order for this to be achieved the Home office try to reach out to as many people as possible with access needs.

The Home Office would like your help to recruit people with access needs to conduct research on the products that the Home Office are developing.

If this is something you would be interested in, please register here:

If your organisation would like to become part of the Home Office Research Network, or have any other queries related to assisting with research please contact, quoting JoinSTNK

8. Essex University Research Study – Are you able to assist with a research study at University of Essex in collaboration with University College London (DCAL), which explores deaf and hard of hearing people’s communication experiences during COVID-19 via an online survey. Further information is attached including recruitment text and poster, plus the survey can be found here:

The survey closes on 31st Jan.

9. Adult Social Care Coronavirus Special Briefing

10. Disability Rights UK E Newsletter

 News Round-up
Disabled People Still Facing Mask Discrimination – DR UK writes to Chair of Police Chiefs’ Council Police officers are still wrongly claiming that people with disabilities must carry paperwork proving they are exempt from wearing face coverings. Disability Rights UK has joined with Big Brother Watch, Mencap, the Royal National Institute for Deaf People and the Survivors Trust to write to the Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Martin Hewitt outlining concerns about the treatment of people who are legally exempt from the requirement to wear face coverings, citing “widespread confusion” among police officers. Government guidance has been contradicted by senior police figures including Ken Marsh, Chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation who told press: “If you have a medical reason for not wearing a mask, you now have to print off a clarification that proves you have an exemption.” No such requirement exists in law. West Midlands Police Force has twice had to apologise for its officers, after an asthmatic man was handcuffed and issued with a fine for failing to supply evidence of his condition, and another man was escorted out of a supermarket for having no proof of his exemption. A West Midlands Police officer was recorded telling an individual that supplying evidence of a disability would not prevent officers from issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice and that people would have to prove their exemption in court. The force has still not apologised for this,and issued a statement of support for the actions. A DR UK survey last year found that 60% of disabled people ‘feared being challenged if they did not wear a mask’. A recent Department of Health campaign stated: “you should never challenge anyone for not wearing a face covering. Not all disabilities are visible.” Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy at DR UK said: “At this time of rising panic about the virus, resulting in calls for increased enforcement, it is even more vital that all police officers understand that some disabled people are exempt from wearing face coverings, due to physical or mental conditions. Disabled people who can’t wear face coverings already experience high levels of anxiety and have faced hostility from members of the public. It is important that police officers demonstrate understanding and uphold the exemptions set out in the regulations. “We are urging police chiefs to clarify the legal exemptions on face covering requirements to officers, amid fears that disabled people will be disproportionately impacted by the latest crackdown on Coronavirus laws.” Read the letter to Martin Hewitt by clicking here. The letter can be accessed via a link at the bottom of the news article. New UK Poverty Report Recommends £20 Per Week Increase to Universal Credit Be Made Permanent – With The Lifeline Extended to Employment & Support Allowance The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) is insisting that the benefits system must be strengthened and that at a minimum, the temporary £20 per week increase to Universal Credit must be made permanent and extended to ESA and all other legacy benefits. In its annual UK Poverty Report, it highlights early indications of changes to poverty levels since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak, as well as the situation before the outbreak. JRF found that half of all people in poverty either have a disability themselves or live with someone who does, compared with a third of people in households not in poverty. Over half (57%) of people in receipt of income-related benefits live in families where one or more members is disabled, so that families containing a disabled person are disproportionately affected by poverty. Social security plays a key role in helping cover the additional costs of disability. The report says that the temporary £20 per week increase in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit have been enough to reverse the fall in the value of that part of these benefits seen since 2012/13, with the basic rate now 7% higher than in 2012/13 in real terms for couples and 16% higher for singles. However people still in receipt of the benefits that Universal Credit replaced, such as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), have been left behind. The report says: “Recipients of those benefits have not seen the temporary uplift. Their  benefits have lost around 9% of their value in eight years and at the same time people are facing increased difficulty in getting a job in a very depressed labour market and facing potential extra costs of coronavirus such as home schooling. “If the lifeline of the temporary increase in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit is not continued, these benefits will be 9% lower in real terms in 2021/22 than they were in 2012/13.” Read more hereComplete the Survey to Help Keep Universal Credit £20 per week Increase & Extend it to ESA Related to this, the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), of which DR UK is a member, has launched a survey to get up to date figures on how the current rates of benefit impact on disabled people, especially given the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and restrictions (and now with the new national lockdown in place). The DBC says: “In April 2020, the Government increased the rate of Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by £20 per week (a £1,000 a year). However,it did not increased ‘legacy benefits’ including Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support and Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) in the same way. “The Government has not yet said if it will keep the £20 per week uplift beyond March 2021. “The DBC is calling for urgent action to make sure the two million disabled people not receiving the £20 increase and others on legacy benefits are not left behind. “The Government should extend the Universal Credit £20 per week uplift beyond March 2021 and to extend it to legacy benefits. “To keep this campaign in the spotlight, we’d like to hear about your experiences during COVID-19 so we can show the Government what an extension of this £20 per week lifeline would mean to you. “Anything you’re able to share with us will help with this campaign to #IncreaseDisabilityBenefits.” The DBC survey is available to complete here, and will be open until 18th January 2021. Mental Health Act – Major Reforms in the Pipeline Major mental health reforms are being planned to empower individuals to have more control over their treatments. The reforms aim to deliver parity between mental and physical health services and put patients’ views at the heart of their care. The current mental health system is notorious for inequalities affecting black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and people with learning disabilities and autism, including disproportionate levels of detention. The Reforming the Mental Health Act white paper builds on the recommendations made by Sir Simon Wessely’s Independent Review of the Mental Health Act in 2018. The government will consult on a number of proposed changes, including: * introducing statutory ‘advance choice documents’ to enable people to express their wishes and preferences on their care when they are well, before the need arises for them to go into hospital * implementing the right for an individual to choose a nominated person who is best placed to look after their interests under the act if they aren’t able to do so themselves * expanding the role of independent mental health advocates to offer a greater level of support and representation to every patient detained under the act * piloting culturally appropriate advocates so patients from all ethnic backgrounds can be better supported to voice their individual needs * ensuring mental illness is the reason for detention under the act, and that neither autism nor a learning disability are grounds for detention for treatment in themselves * improving access to community-based mental health support, including crisis care, to prevent avoidable detentions under the act – this is already underway backed by £2.3 billion a year as part of the NHS Long Term Plan Mark Winstanley, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “The publication of the white paper to reform the Mental Health Act is a hugely significant milestone in a long struggle for change. Many people will take for granted their right to have choice and control over the medical treatment they receive. But thousands of people every year who are severely affected by mental illness and who are detained under the act lose those rights and temporarily their liberty. Sophie Corlett, Director of External Relations at Mind, said: “We are pleased the government has accepted the majority of the recommendations made in the Independent Review in their long-awaited Mental Health Act white paper. At the moment, thousands of people are still subjected to poor, sometimes appalling, treatment, and many will live with the consequences far into the future. Change on the ground cannot come soon enough.” Whilst there has been much support for the proposals, some mental health campaigners feel that there has not been a sufficient move away from enforced treatment and institutionalisation and that the proposals don’t fully implement the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. To read the White Paper please click here. Minister Outlines Recent Changes to Statutory Sick Pay Entitlement Rules In answer to a written parliamentary question, the Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson has outlined recent changes made to statutory sick pay (SSP) entitlement rules. Mr Tomlinson said: “Individuals are eligible for SSP, from day one – rather than day four where they are unable to work because they are: *Sick, displaying symptoms or have tested positive for coronavirus; *Self-isolating because they, or someone in their household (including an extended or linked household), is displaying symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus; *Self-isolating because they have been notified by the NHS or public health authority that they have come into contact with someone who has Coronavirus; *Self-isolating because they have been advised to do so by their doctor or health clinician before being admitted to hospital for planned or elective surgery; shielding because they live or work in an area where shielding is reintroduced and they have been *Advised to do so by their doctor or health authority …”  *The Minister did not answer a question regarding whether the Government  intends to raise the level of SSP. Read more hereShielding Guidance Updated The government updated its advice for shielders on Wednesday 13 January. You can find the latest guidance here.
Get Involved
We’re Recruiting a Fundraising Manager Disability Rights UK wish to recruit 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. To apply, please send your current CV together with a cover letter, outlining why you want this job and addressing each point in the person specification. The deadline is 9.00am on Monday 1st February 2021.  Should you wish to apply using another format, please contact us via or 020 3687 0785. Otherwise, applications without a suitable cover letter will not be considered. More details here. Journey to Adulthood – Free Webinar Disability Rights UK in partnership with the Thomas Pocklington Trust is running a free webinar on about the challenges facing vision impaired children and young people when moving through all forms of education, towards employment, and the initiatives and support available to enable positive and successful transition between settings. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session. The webinar will take place on 21 January from 10am until 11.30am. You can register to attend here. Benefits Training Courses  DR UK is offering 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.   These courses sell out fast so early booking is encouraged! 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  Click here for more information and to book your placePreparing for an Appeal Tribunal will be held on 25th and 26th 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.  As above, 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 – Thursday 25 February 9.45 – 12.45 
Part 2: Composing effective written submissions, preparing claimants for appeal hearings – Friday 26 February 9.45 – 12.45  Please click here for more information and to book your placeGet Yourself Active has now released the timetable and is starting to post videos for the new Active at Home series that have been developed alongside Sense and Durham University. These are accessible pre-recorded videos developed from research to support disabled people to get active at home during the Coronavirus outbreak. The videos have been designed using the experiences and feedback of 450 disabled people and people with long term health conditions. We would love for you to take part and also to share the timetable and YouTube channel with your network to ensure our videos reach as many disabled people as possible. Visit the Get Yourself Active Youtube channel. Free Online Anti-Hate Crime Training This online training series is free to all Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations’ (DDPOs) staff and volunteers, funded by Three Guineas Trust and Trust for London. The series of six online training sessions is aimed at all London Borough DDPOs (staff, volunteers and managers) of any frontline service for Disabled people. The series covers three topics: •  Intersectionality – 12 January and 28 January •  Hidden in Plain Sight – 2 February and 18 February •  Transport for All? – 2 March and 16 March The sessions are fully accessible, with BSL interpreters and palantypists. Find out more here. Silenced: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain BBC Two will be screening a new programme – Silenced: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain on Tuesday 19 January. The programme hosted by disabled cbeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell explores how modern attitudes to disabled people were first formed in the workhouses of Victorian Britain as well as looking at modern pioneers of equality such as John Evans, who was one of the very first people to move from a residential home into a home of his own, and Alia Hassan, who as part of the campaign for human rights brought the streets of London to a standstill in order to be allowed to get on a bus. More information on the programme can be found here. Ten Months into the Pandemic…. How Are We Doing? Be Human is hosting a webinar from 2pm – 3.30pm on Thursday 21 January for people who want to check in and find out how people are doing ten months into the pandemic. They hope to bring some helpful solutions or identify what would be useful going forward. Many people have said they would find it really useful to hear how others are surviving. More information here. You can register to attend here. The webinar will be recorded and added to the previous series of webinars which can be found at Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) DR UK is a member of the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) reference group. Its latest newsletter includes an update on redundancy processes – the EASS is increasingly hearing about those who are especially negatively impacted, including disabled people. It also covers the fall-out from the way exam grades were determined over the summer, questions about facemask usage and mental health during the pandemic. Read the newsletter here
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!
Available for just £18. Order now Available for just £4. Order now
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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