This edition includes:
1. Coalition Update
Welcome to our last weekly news of 2020, the next edition will be with you on the 7th of January 2021.
As we come to the end of what has been an extraordinary year, we reflect on the immense challenges and difficulties so many of us have faced over the last 12-months. We are so proud of the way that our members, volunteers, board and staff have risen to all that 2020 has thrown at us. Throughout this year we have seen members continuing to campaign for the rights of the disabled community, a huge amount of coproduction work across health and care (in the most difficult of circumstances), the launch of our new social programme which has allowed so many of us to gain from peer support from other members and the development of our work with technology and digital inclusion through the Tech to Community Connect project.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a peaceful Christmas and to thank you for all that you do. We look forward to working alongside you all in the New Year.
Christmas Day! – Don’t forget the Coalition and Sight for Surrey are running two activities on Christmas day. If you would like to join us please use the details below. A BSL Interpreter will be provided at both sessions.
Don’t mention the ‘C’ word!
10.30 am – 11. 00 am
Join by zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3106670662
Join by phone: 0800 358 2817 (free phone)
Meeting ID: 310 667 0662
Full on Christmas!
12.00 noon – 1.00 pm
Join by Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3106670662
Join by phone: 0800 358 2817 (free phone)
Meeting ID: 310 667 0662
Friday Chat with Guy – Join Guy for a chat on Friday at 2.30pm.
Virtual Café – Join us for the last virtual café before the Christmas break at 11am on Monday.
Book Chat – Next Wednesday at 2.30pm the Book Chat group will read the Night Before Christmas and other seasonal stories. An Image of the words can be found here and narrated on YouTube here attached is a word document for those using screen readers.
BSL Group – The group meet on Tuesdays at 6.30pm. This Tuesday the group will learn festive signing songs. To join the group sign up here
Christmas Poem – Please take time to read this Christmas poem by one of our talented members.
2. Tech Update
Show and Tell Comes to the UK! – Show and Tell is an accessibility feature built into all Amazon Echo Show devices. It has been designed to identify any object, that contains text, by holding it in front of the built-in camera. This feature could really enhance the lives of blind and partially sighted people, as they will be able to hold food items, letters and anything else that contains printed information in front of the camera and find out what it is! Please read the document below for more details.
3. Physical and Sensory Impairment strategy – Surrey County Council would like your views on living in Surrey with a physical disability or sensory impairment to help shape our new strategy. We would be grateful if you could complete the survey detailed below. Surrey County Council is asking residents with physical disabilities and/or sensory impairments to share their views on the support available to them, and access to universal services. All feedback will be used to coproduce the council’s new Physical Disability and Sensory Impairment Strategy, which will drive the support and services offered over the next five years (2021-2026).
The council’s adult social care service wants to understand the need and experience of local residents, which will enable services to offer a more personalised approach while continuing to promote wellbeing and independence. If you or someone you know has a physical disability or sensory impairment (aged 18 or over), please do feed in your views and have your say. You can take part in the survey via Surrey Says.
Residents have until 31stJanuary 2021 to share their experiences and help shape the future support available. Alternative accessible formats such as easy read, braille, large print or plain text are available and can be obtained by contacting:
Phone: 0300 200 1005
SMS: 07527 182 861
If you have any questions about the strategy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
4. TIHM Monitoring Service Information Sheet – The new TIHM Monitoring Service uses remote digital monitoring devices installed in homes to collect information about people’s health and wellbeing. Health issues identified by the technology are flagged and followed up by a dedicated NHS Monitoring Team who provide swift advice and support. The aim is to reassure people about their health at this difficult time and, where needed, provide timely help. Please see the sheet below for more information.
5. Surrey Faith Links Newsletter – Please see the latest Surrey Faith Links Newsletter
6. Adult Social Care Coronavirus Briefing – Please see document below
7. Disability Rights UK E Newsletter
|A Christmas Message from our CEO|
|It has been the most extraordinary of years. Tens of thousands of Disabled people have lost their lives, while others have dug deep for resilience, invented new ways of coping, and advocated for rights and equality. This virus hit us hard. Harder than any other demographic. And as it progressed, it cloaked us, dismissed us as part of a death rate numbers game, and hid us from view as the wider public first panicked, then grew bored of lockdown, then clamoured to get back to normal before it was, and still is, safe to do so. From the Spring onward, phrases such as ‘underlying health conditions’ and ‘vulnerable’ were used by politicians and the media to speak about those who had died. These descriptions provided a layer of false security for the wider public. That ‘we’ are safe from the virus. ‘They’ are not. They, was us. While politicians and the media spoke about ‘The Disabled’, ‘The Elderly’, and ‘People with health conditions’ – to us, we are all of a tribe. Whether we are Disabled older people, whether we have physical disabilities, learning disabilities, sensory impairments, or chronic health conditions, we are all Disabled people. We are disabled by the way society treats us. We are a fifth of this country’s population and yet nearly two thirds of all Covid deaths were of Disabled people. The rate of risk for us, especially those of us with learning disabilities or dementia, was way higher than for the rest of the population. At the outset of the pandemic, it was clear that some Disabled people needed greater protection, yet our equal access to critical care was questioned, blanket letters asking people to sign Do Not Resuscitate notices were dispatched, our Care Act rights were reduced, social care was not prioritised, people with the virus were discharged into care homes, £20 a week extra was found to give to those new to signing up to Universal Credit, but not to those on legacy benefits, the welfare and educational needs of Disabled children were sidelined, and some of us were unable to shop for food. DR UK, alongside a host of disability and human rights organisations, has continued to fight hard for numerous injustices to be overturned, and for the rights of Disabled people to be upheld. After this campaign work, Disabled people were given assurances that we did have equal access to health care and that blanket Do Not Resuscitate letters were unacceptable. Reductions to Care Act rights were made in only a limited number of areas, and for a very limited amount of time. Supermarkets improved services for disabled customers during the first wave. We kept our voice loud throughout this worrying period, and continue to do so. Now, as we head into Winter, accessing social care and health services remains challenging, as does retaining employment and having enough money to live on. Many Disabled people have lost jobs or experienced reductions in hours, and many are experiencing extreme poverty. We will continue to raise these issues into next year. The corners of the cloak are being lifted, as the first vaccine has now been approved, and is now being delivered to those living and working in care homes. We campaigned hard for people with chronic health conditions who were not at the top of the list to be moved up the list. And this has now happened – this group has moved from sixth place on the list to fourth. This year Disabled people have quite literally had to fight for our rights and our lives. And we promise you that in 2021, all of us at DR UK will take forward the spirit of that fight, not just for survival, but so that we can thrive. We will be working hard with Disabled people, and Disabled People’s Organisations, to ensure that our voice is heard by Government and influences the forthcoming National Strategy for Disabled People. This will be a difficult Christmas for many, remembering loved ones we have lost, being separated from friends and family, and continuing to shield. All at DR UK will hold you in our thoughts. I wish you peace and happiness this Christmas and the hope of a better New Year. Kamran Mallick, CEO|
|Charities call for delivery charges and minimum spends to be scrapped for shielders DR UK is supporting calls for supermarkets to scrap delivery charges for people most at risk of Coronavirus this winter. Independent Age, the older people’s charity, has published a new report warning that many people are facing mounting costs as they struggle to access food over Christmas. The charity, which leads a consortium on food access during the pandemic including DR UK, is appealing for action as people who cannot shop in supermarkets due to health risks – and at the advice of the Government – are being unfairly penalised through delivery charges and minimum spends on online supermarket shopping. In April, supermarkets worked with the government to introduce priority slots for people of all ages at most risk from the virus, and many of these slots had no delivery charges. Since August, with the partial easing of restrictions, some supermarkets have been reintroducing delivery charges for all priority slots. Fears have also been raised that social distancing and other safety measures are not being properly enforced in supermarkets. Recent Independent Age / YouGov polling* shows that three quarters of people (77%) agree that those who are unable to shop in supermarkets due to their age or underlying health conditions should not have to pay online delivery charges. There is even more support for the removal of minimum spends on grocery deliveries. 81% of people agree that minimum spends on online orders should be scrapped for those who are unable to shop in supermarkets due to the health risk. DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “In November, DR UK asked all the major supermarkets to confirm their policies on help with food supply for shielders. This work has informed the consortium’s campaigning this Autumn and Winter. Not one supermarket now offers free delivery, and all have a minimum spend policy. “This is in effect a tax on Disabled people who do not have the option of safely shopping in person in their local shops to get best value. It is practically impossible for Disabled people who are living on benefits to afford these charges. “We join the calls for the removal of minimum spends and delivery charges. For Disabled people, these should be treated as reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act.” Read the responses DR UK received from supermarkets. Man dies after cancer services ‘slowed down’ to deal with Covid The death of a 27 year-old man from Leeds has highlighted the impact of Covid on non-Covid-related medical care. It took two months for Sherwin Hall’s leg pain to be diagnosed as stemming from a cancerous pelvic tumour. He had had to “beg” for an MRI scan. His wife LaTroya said had his cancer been found sooner, “it is likely he would still be here today”. According to the BBC, the couple were told that services had been “slowed down because of the Coronavirus”. A Panorama programme which aired back in the summer highlighted the ticking time bomb of untreated cancer patients, and estimated that between 7,000 and 18,000 people would die as ‘excess deaths’ – deaths which would otherwise not have occurred directly because of cancer, but because of delays in treatment. DR UK Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “Capacity in the NHS has shrunk drastically over the past ten years due to funding cuts. The pandemic has highlighted the shortage of staff and beds, with all hands to the pump in terms of ‘protecting the NHS’ by keeping as many people out of hospitals and as Covid-free as possible. If the NHS was at capacity before the pandemic, it is little wonder that doctors are now faced with the appalling choice of whether to save Covid or cancer patients.” Read more on the relationship between cancer treatment and Covid. 1.5 million children will need mental health support due to pandemic Last week, a debate was held in Westminster Hall about accessible and inclusive education for Disabled children. Dr Lisa Cameron, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Disability, of which DR UK is the secretariat, told MPs: “Children with disabilities have often been most affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. In terms of immediate impact, people with disabilities have accounted for six out of 10 deaths involving Covid-19, while Mencap’s social care survey has shown that seven out of 10 people with a learning disability have had their social care provision reduced as a result of the pandemic. “Looking at long-term consequences, the Centre for Mental Health estimates that 1.5 million children will need mental health support for conditions such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the pandemic. The NHS’s digital report anticipates a 50% increase in mental health problems for children and young people as a result of the pandemic. “When we account for the heightened immediate impact of Covid-19 on children with disabilities, coupled with the mental health consequences predicted for young people, it quickly becomes apparent that the wellbeing and inclusion of children with special educational needs and disabilities must be prioritised.” Read the transcript of the debate in full here. Pandemic highlights health inequalities for Learning Disabled People A Westminster Hall debate has been held on the impact of Covid-19 on Learning Disabled People. Christian Matheson MP told the debate: “Health inequality for people with learning disabilities has been evident for decades; even during non-Covid times, there were three preventable deaths every day. In 2004, it was reported that 37% of deaths of people with learning disabilities were preventable, and, in 2017, the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that 42% of people with learning disabilities died prematurely. “Despite clear data showing those disproportionate health inequalities, very little has been achieved in tackling the issue in the intervening years. The pandemic has highlighted the issues that many people with learning disabilities face and the lack of understanding in our society of their needs. Things need to change, and quickly; these are deaths that can be prevented and lives that should be lived. “The pandemic has provided a wave of challenges for the NHS and care systems; we do recognise the workers there for their hard work and their sacrifices. However, underlying the struggles faced by the NHS this year are 10 years of austerity and cuts to our public services. It is the most vulnerable who suffer most from these cuts. “In addition to the historic health inequalities, the pandemic has only made things worse and had an even greater, disproportionate impact on people with learning disabilities. They face reduced access to vital care and support, as well as to valued activities and day centres. Increased isolation and loneliness, during the lockdowns, have also had a profound effect on their mental health and will leave lasting effects on their health and wellbeing. “This isolation and loneliness is exacerbated because people with learning disabilities are less likely to have access to technology, which so many people relied on to stay in touch during the pandemic. Professor Jane Seale from the Open University found that, before the pandemic, there was evidence to show that people with learning disabilities already experienced significant digital exclusion, and that this had a devastating impact on their mental health and wellbeing.” Read the debate transcript. CQC releases Covid-19 and Whorlton Hall reports The Care Quality Commission, the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England, has released two reports. The first, a COVID-19 Insight report, looks at regional data on designated settings – these are care homes and other places where people with a COVID-positive test result can be discharged safely from hospital. The second report is the final part of the independent review by Professor Glynis Murphy into the CQC’s regulation of Whorlton Hall. The Whorlton Hall report makes a further five recommendations relating to: Services should not be rated as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ if they have used frequent restraint, seclusion and segregation. Services should not be rated as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ if they cannot show how they support whistleblowing and reporting of concerns. Trialling of the Group Home Culture Scale tool, to evaluate whether it helps inspectors determine which settings have closed cultures. Trialling of the Quality of Life tool to gauge whether it helps the CQC move from evaluating process, towards evaluating more relevant service user outcomes. Development of guidelines for when evidence of the quality of care should be gathered from overt or covert surveillance. Peter Wyman, Chair of the CQC, said: “Professor Murphy’s second report explores the international research in relation to the detection and prevention of abuse in services and makes additional recommendations for the CQC. The report has today been welcomed by the CQC’s board who will be considering how best to take forward the recommendations.” Read the Whorlton Hall report here. Government to scrap unconscious bias training The government is scrapping its unconscious bias training for all civil servants in England. The training was designed to help people to recognise patterns of discrimination or prejudice they may not have been aware of. The government alleges there is no evidence to suggest it changes the way people think about discrimination, and that it may backfire and create more hostility towards demographic groups which face discrimination. It is urging other public sector employers to end such training too. The Junior Minister, Julia Lopez MP, who oversees work in the Cabinet Office’s Equalities Hub which includes the Disability Unit, has released a written statement on why the training is being withdrawn. The statement says: “There is clearly a role for training to support a more inclusive workplace and Civil Service, evidence also suggests that even the broader category of ‘diversity training’ as a standalone exercise can undermine such efforts if it appears to be a “tick box exercise”. The Civil Service will therefore integrate principles for inclusion and diversity into mainstream core training and leadership modules in a manner which facilitates positive behaviour change. This new strategy will be published in the new year, and will reassert our commitment to being an inclusive employer with a stronger focus on engaging measurable action.” DR UK Head of Policy said: “The withdrawal of one scheme without the introduction of a new one shows a lack of commitment to Disability equality. It would surely have been better to have withdrawn this scheme after the implementation of the new, as yet to be announced, proposals. The government’s actions towards Disabled people this year have shown that it has a very long way to go in embedding a culture of inclusion.”|
|Support DR UK through Amazon Smile Like many charities, DR UK has been working harder than ever to ensure that the voice of Disabled people continues to be heard during the pandemic, especially given that it is Disabled people who have borne the worst of the pandemic’s outcomes. There is a simple thing you can do, with no extra cost to you, to help us to continue the work we do, speaking truth to power, as the UK’s leading Disabled People’s Organisation. Amazon has a charitable giving scheme called Amazon Smile. It works exactly the same way for a customer as a normal Amazon transaction, but if you buy through the Amazon Smile page instead of the normal homepage, Amazon will make a donation to the charity of your choice. Follow this link to Amazon Smile to log in and make DR UK your favourite charity, then use Amazon Smile each time you buy if you want Amazon to donate to us. DR UK Leadership Academy Programme The DR UK Leadership Academy Programme (LAP) is a career development programme for people in employment living with a disability or health condition. Each year since 2015, a range of employers have supported their disabled employees to attend the programme. 80% of participants have gone on to achieve new promotion opportunities, joined committees or disability networks and have seen an increase in their confidence, motivation and self-belief. The programme challenges limiting beliefs, real and perceived barriers and aims to remove any obstacles for their career development aspirations. We are now recruiting delegates for the new cohort starting in 2021, which this year will be run online via Zoom for the first time. If you’d like to apply or are interested in finding out more, please contact Katrina Morris on 020 3687 0778 or email email@example.com. Find out more about the programme. CQC seeking experiences on DNACPR notices The CQC wants to hear the experiences of people who have had a DNACPR notice, or had one reviewed, since the start of the pandemic in March. A DNACPR notice tells medical professionals not to attempt resuscitation of a patient. Complete the survey. EHRC human rights tracker: new features The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has launched new features on its online Human Rights Tracker, providing clear analysis of where progress has been made on human rights and where there is still a distance to travel for the UK and Welsh Governments in meeting international human rights standards. As the Brexit process is completed and we move into the recovery phase of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that these nations’ human rights records are transparent. We need to be able to quickly identify where improvements can be made to protect and uphold people’s rights. The new features are: Individual summaries of the actions that the UK and Welsh Governments have taken since 2016 in relation to thirteen human rights issues. These are issues that have been particularly affected by the pandemic – including social care, independent living and adequate standards of living. An assessment and rating of the progress the UK and Welsh Governments have made in meeting their human rights obligations for each issue. A simple to use at-a-glance overview of the state of human rights in Britain. Access the tracker. 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. These courses sell out fast so early booking is encouraged. 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 place. The DfE is recruiting The Department for Education (DfE), one of our strategic partners, has launched three new recruitment competitions for the School Teachers’ Review Body. It is looking for a new Chair, an Economist and a Board Member. Further information and details of how to apply for each role can be found here: Chair Board Member Economist Applications for all three must be sent in by midday on 15 January 2021. Get Yourself Active video timetable Get Yourself Active has now released the timetable for the new Active at Home videos 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. Get Ahead Read the latest Get Ahead newsletter on education and career opportunities produced by and for young people. You can access a copy on our website. 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 contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 0203 687 0784. ArtWorks Together: international disability arts competition ArtWorks South Yorkshire, an organisation working with people with learning disabilities, is one of our Tackling Inequalities Fund partners. They are looking for artists with learning disabilities to enter their first annual art competition and exhibition. This annual event will take place between March and May, and given current restrictions, will take place virtually this year. The exhibition will culminate in a month-long showcase in June, where the virtual exhibition will be projected for viewers at the prestigious Wentworth Woodhouse, a Grade I listed stately home in South Yorkshire. By applying you could be selected to exhibit in the exhibition or win a selection of fantastic prizes. The competition is open to anyone over the age of 16 (including people working as a group) who have any form of learning disability. Submissions will be accepted from 1 January until 23:59 12 February. For further details visit the ArtWorks website or email to email@example.com Head of Customer Proposition vacancy at Scope The Head of Customer Proposition is a new commercial, customer-centric senior leadership role at Scope. Its purpose is to deliver a highly engaging and differentiated customer experience and to ensure that the customer and community are at the heart of everything that the Scope retail team does. Apply before 15 January. View job advert. SPECTRUM job vacancies SPECTRUM, the Southampton-based Disabled People’s Organisation has a vacancy for a sales and marketing lead, and a business development manager. Find out more on the Spectrum website. RealSAM smart speaker call for content The RealSAM Smart Speaker offers a subscription service with access to thousands of books, newspapers, podcasts, radio stations and information from a range of UK sight loss charities via voice activated home assistants such as Amazon Echo’s Alexa or Google Home. For more information on how to get your content on to the RealSAM platform, visit the In Your Pocket website. Here to Help The Association of Charitable Organisations (ACO) is running the Here to Help (#HeretoHelpAlways) campaign. This is to raise awareness amongst key advice agencies and members of the public of the support that grant-giving charities can provide at this difficult time. As more redundancies hit and people find they are in need of financial support as a result of the pandemic and the government’s furlough scheme ending, ACO will be campaigning to raise awareness of the charities that could provide financial grants and wellbeing support to individuals who are struggling. Resources and more information about the support available can be found on ACO’s website. For more information about Here to Help, email Hannah Page at firstname.lastname@example.org. Simple living TV show: call for participants Five Mile Films is making a TV series, to be filmed sometime next year for a major British channel and is looking for people to apply to take part who might like to live a simpler life. The idea behind the series is about saying goodbye to smartphones, Zoom calls, social media, Amazon etc – all the distractions and pressures of normal life – to go and live a simpler life and learn what our modern life with its multitude of choices, has really given us. It wants to explore the idea of whether less choice might make us happier. It is looking for people of all ages and backgrounds to apply, and is especially keen to hear from Disabled people including people who work or live with a PA or carer – to take time out from their normal life and step into a different way of living for three to six months. Expenses such as bills and rent will be covered. Email email@example.com We’ll be back in January This is the last edition of e-news for 2020. We’ll be back at the end of the first week of January. DR UK will also be offline between December 24th and January 4th.|
|Our Helplines during the Christmas period|
|Our helplines are operating as follows: Personal Budgets Helpline Currently closed but operating on December 24 Closed from Friday 25 December to Tuesday 5 January Telephone: 0330 995 0404 Opening hours: 9.30am -1.30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Disabled Students Helpline Closed from Friday 25 until Tuesday 5 January Telephone: 0330 995 0414 Opening hours: 11am-1pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Welfare Rights Helpline for Member Organisations Closed from Tuesday 22 December to Thursday 11 January Telephone: 0203 687 0779 Opening hours: 10.30 to 12.30 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!|