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enable Forget can’t - think can!

March/April 2016


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The countdown to the Paralympics is on

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OFFICIAL FUEL CONSUMPTION FIGURES FOR JEEP RENEGADE RANGE MPG (L/100KM): EXTRA URBAN 47.9 (5.9) – 70.6 (4.0), URBAN 32.5 (8.7) – 55.4 (5.1), COMBINED 40.9 (6.9) – 64.2 (4.4), CO2 EMISSIONS: 160 – 115 G/KM. Fuel consumption and CO2 figures are obtained for comparative purposes in accordance with EC directives/regulations and may not be representative of real-life driving conditions. Factors such as driving style, weather and road conditions may also have a significant effect on fuel consumption. Vehicle shown is Jeep Renegade 1.6 E-TorQ EVO Sport available with NIL Advance Payment with optional Alpine White paint at additional cost. Advance Payments are correct at time of going to press and subject to orders being placed between 1st January and 31st March 2016. Not available in conjunction with any other offer. Terms & Conditions apply. Offer may be varied and withdrawn at any time. Jeep® is a registered trademark of FCA US LLC.

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forget can’t – think can

PUBLISHER Denise Connelly EDITOR Lindsay Cochrane EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS Amy Clarke Matt Davis Rachael Fulton Kirsty McKenzie Tim Rushby-Smith DESIGN AND PRODUCTION Gillian Smith SALES Claire MacDonald Dorothy Martin

ENABLE MAGAZINE DC Publishing Ltd, 200 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4HG Tel: 0844 249 9007 Fax: 0141 353 0435


Hello, and welcome to the latest issue of Enable! You may have noticed we’re looking a little chunkier – and we’re not even going to take offence! Due to popular demand, we’ve gone supersize this March, with some extra pages and even more stories to share with you. And what great stories they are! The team and I have been working hard over the last few weeks to bring together fascinating real life experiences, the latest news and inspirational interviews – there’s so much for you to get stuck into this issue. First off, check out our focus on autism-friendly entertainment. From cinemas to theatres, organisations nationwide are upping their game to provide activities that cater for those with autism spectrum conditions – find out more on page 10. In sport, we’ve got some facts and stats surrounding the Paralympics to get you geared up for the Games, plus we’ve got some insider tips from a Paralympian and Paralympic coach to find out how to take a hobby to professional level in the world of adapted sport. Elsewhere, we’ve been finding out about Britain’s hidden homeless population – those living in inaccessible accommodation that doesn’t meet their needs. Charity Shelter told us more about this massive problem, and how you can get support if you struggle in your home. With the new season within reach, we’ve got a special 12-page pull-out-andkeep section with a focus on accessible springtime too. Access Spring, supported by Haven, takes a look at exciting outdoor activities, accessible exercise options, gardening inspiration and the benefits of getting outdoors for your mental and physical health. Check it out from page 37. We’ve also been finding out about the Motability scheme, discovered what support is out there to help carers, got the latest from columnists Tim Rushby-Smith and Matt Davis and lots more! Don’t miss our fantastic competition on page 23 either – you could be off for a long weekend in the picturesque Hampshire countryside with a stay at Wollops Wood Cottages. Get entering now. I really hope you enjoy this issue of Enable – let me know what you think by emailing Here’s to a happy, healthy spring! Until next time,

Lindsay Cochrane, Editor



You don’t have to wait two months for the next issue of Enable – we’ve got digital channels too!


The website: We’ve got regular updates from charity partners and organisations every day.

Twitter: @EnableMagazine Follow us on Twitter for disability news headlines from across the web, and updates from Enable HQ.

Facebook: Search for Enable Magazine On Facebook, we’ve got competitions, news headlines and inspirational stories from around the world.

©DC Publishing Ltd 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or used in any way without prior written permission from the publisher. The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of DC Publishing Ltd. The publisher takes no responsibility for claims made by advertisers within the publication. Every effort has been made to ensure that information is accurate; while dates and prices are correct at time of going to print, DC Publishing Ltd takes no responsibility for omissions and errors.

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What’s inside


Life 10 AUTISM-FRIENDLY ENTERTAINMENT Attractions nationwide are going the extra mile to make their facilities more accessible for people with autism spectrum conditions.

Family 66 ADJUSTING TO LIFE WITH A DISABLED CHILD Mum Michelle Kirkpatrick shares her family’s journey with son Duncan – and why she wouldn’t change her little boy for the world.


Spotlight 50 BRITAIN’S HIDDEN HOMELESS Enable takes a look at the country’s accessible housing crisis.

82 THE NURSES MAKING LIFE EASIER FOR PEOPLE WITH SPINAL CORD INJURIES Spinal Injuries Association’s pioneering new project promises to make huge changes for SCI patients.


Matt Davis shares what his company is doing to create opportunities for people with autism.

49 DIG IT! Tim Rushby-Smith reflects on the fun to be found in your garden.

64 THE POWER OF ONLINE CAMPAIGNING Mencap’s Amy Clarke shares why she feels making your voice heard online matters.

Interview 34 KELLY KNOX: “THERE’S NO STOPPING ME!” The model shares her ambitions for a more inclusive society. 4


Employment and education 76 COLLEGE FOCUS: AMBITIOUS COLLEGE We found out more about the exciting new first-of-its-kind FE establishment in London.

78 A HEALTHY CAREER PATH The NHS is one of the UK’s biggest employers – so what opportunities are out there?


Two service users tell us about their experiences in social care.

United Response’s student housing project is giving young people with learning disabilities the complete college experience – in their local communities.



69 WHO CARES FOR CARERS? What support is out there to help unpaid carers carry out their vital role? Enable finds out.

73 EMPLOYERS FOR CARERS Balancing work and caring is a hard act – but some employers are starting to up their game in terms of support.


This issue, we’re shining the spotlight on the new season – giving us a million and one reasons to get out and about and embrace the outdoors. Supported by Haven, Access Spring takes a look at the activities you could be enjoying this spring and the positive impact of getting out and about for people of all abilities.

14 RIO 2016: THE FINAL COUNTDOWN With six months to go until the 2016 Paralympic Games kick off, we’ve got some facts and stats to get you in the sporting mood.

16 FROM AMATEUR TO ATHLETE If you’re sport mad, how do you turn your hobby into a career? A Paralympian and Paralympic coach give us some tips.

Motors 55 GETTING YOU BACK ON THE ROAD The Motability Scheme has changed thousands of lives – so what’s it all about and how can you sign up?


58 THE REVIEW: DS3 This issue, we took the DS3 out for a spin. How does it measure up?

Care 28 UNDERSTANDING TELECARE Telecare systems are giving people up and down the country extra security, safety and reassurance in their home. We found out about some of the services on offer.

Win a weekend at Wollops Wood Cottages We’ve teamed up with Wollops Wood Cottages to offer you a long weekend in one of their accessible properties – turn to page 23 to find out more.

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One in three live music events give no access information on their websites for deaf and disabled people, according to a report from Attitude is Everything. 280 mystery shoppers were asked about their experiences at 386 UK gigs. The resultant report showed that 60% of people were put off buying tickets because they couldn’t find information on things like hearing loop stations and wheelchair ramps at venues. Attitude is Everything chief executive Suzanne Bull said: “Digital has revolutionised the live sector and how music lovers buy tickets, find information and share their experiences. “A lack of decent online access information websites has become a constant source of frustration to millions of disabled fans.”


Appeal court rules bedroom tax unlawful THE SO-CALLED ‘bedroom tax’ has been declared unlawful by the Court of Appeal. Two cases – one of a victim of extreme domestic violence and the other, grandparents of a severely disabled teenager – were ruled to amount to unlawful discrimination. Bedroom tax, or the spare room subsidy, sees families have their housing benefit reduced by 14% if they have one spare room, and tenants with two spare rooms will lose 25%. Both families were deemed to be ‘under-occupying’ their homes. However, the first case, a single mother known as A, was using her ‘spare’ room as a panic room to protect herself from a violent ex-partner, while the second family, the Rutherfords, had theirs specially adapted to provide overnight care for their disabled grandson.

Vicky McDermott, chief executive of Papworth Trust, said: “Ensuring disabled people do not lose out under the bedroom tax policy has long been a priority for Papworth Trust. “We heard from families who were considering downsizing, even though it would mean their quality of life would drastically suffer, while others saw their spare room as a crucial lifeline to sleep carers or house disability equipment like wheelchairs and hoists. “So we are delighted with the Court of Appeal ruling and how it will directly help Paul, Sue and Warren [Rutherford] as well as disabled youngsters and their families in the future.” The Department for Work and Pensions has said that it will appeal the decision, meaning there will be no immediate changes to policy.

LACK OF EARLY SUPPORT PUTS YOUNG CARERS AT RISK SCHOOLS AND LOCAL authorities are failing to provide thousands of young carers with the support they need according to a new report. The Children’s Society’s There’s Nobody, Is There…? report shows that young carers, some as young as nine, often aren’t getting support in place until they’ve reached crisis point. Nearly half of young people interviewed said they didn’t feel like they got enough support and, in some cases, it was only when they experienced problems with their own physical or mental health that someone stepped in. Even then, the help offered was often inadequate.

The last census showed that the UK is home to 166,000 young carers, but it is believed that the actual figure is much higher. Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said: “This report shows that while some things have got better for young carers, such as improved legislation, there are still barriers to children getting the right support at the right time. Schools, councils and GPs need to be continually and sensitively asking the right questions to make sure young carers are not slipping through the cracks.”

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the latest PIC: ©LUCA_DAVIDDI

Lego release first disabled mini-figure

LEGO HAVE ANSWERED a public call for greater representation of disabled people in children’s toys by releasing it’s first wheelchair-using mini-figure. The inch-tall plastic toy will be a part of the Fun in the Park set which will be on sale in June. The beanie-wearing character has been welcomed with open arms by campaigners. Journalist Rebecca Atkinson, who launched the Toy Like Me campaign calling on toy manufacturers to consider disability in their ranges, said she was “beyond happy” with the result. “Lego have just rocked our brick built world and made 150 million disabled kids, their mums, dads, pet dogs and hamsters very, very happy,” she said. “We’re all conga-ing up and down the street chucking coloured bricks like confetti! But on a serious note, this move by Lego is massive in terms of ending cultural marginalisation, it will speak volumes to children, disabled or otherwise, the world over.” Find out more about the campaign at

YOUNG PEOPLE WITH A LEARNING DISABILITY STUCK AT HOME A new survey carried out by learning disability charity Mencap has found that almost one in three young people with a learning disability spend less than an hour outside their homes on a typical Saturday due to public attitudes. The survey of 18-35 year olds with a learning disability found that a worrying number of respondents struggle to socialise as much as they would like to. Almost half reported that they don’t think they spend enough time with their friends, hile almost one in fi e feel cut off from other people. Of those who were too worried to leave the house, 33.7% were worried


about being bullied, while a quarter were worried that they would be laughed at for leaving the house. Ciara Lawrence, a Mencap campaigner who has a learning disability, said: “Due to getting the right support I now have a full-time job, I am married and have a good social life. But I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve seen people with a learning disability laughed at in my local pub, being stared at and bullied in supermarkets and made to feel awkward wherever they go, for no reason other than discrimination.” Neil Dando, 31, a talented musician who is often afraid to leave his house

since he was a victim of hate crime, said: “For me having a learning disability seemed to mean other people think they can get away with treating me differently and bullying me without any consequence. It started off with small things and then meant I was too afraid to leave my house and had to move.” Mencap are encouraging the public to sign up for their Sidekicks programme, looking for volunteer champions for people with a learning disability, supporting them to lead the life they want to. Find out more at www.mencap.

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Happy cinema-goers


rganising a big day out can be tricky, especially when someone in your family is on the autism spectrum. When children and adults have complex needs and behavioural issues, even a simple trip to the cinema or a museum becomes complicated. Will the theatre performance overload their senses? Will queuing for rides trigger tantrums? What if they disturb other cinema guests? Thankfully, help is at hand. Venues across the UK are becoming increasingly aware of the thousands of autistic people who love to use their facilities. Museums, theme parks and outdoor play areas are just some of the locations that have begun adapting to make safe, welcoming environments for autistic guests. From ‘relaxed’ theatre performances to special cinema showings, there are now more inclusive events for families to enjoy than ever before.

What could be more magical than Roald Dahl’s story of a girl who moves objects with her mind? Award-winning theatre show Matilda the Musical is a fabulous spectacle for children and adults alike, and has hosted two ‘relaxed performances’ for people with autism and special needs. During relaxed performances, the theatre’s house lights remain on throughout the show and audiences are warned when to expect loud noises on stage. Check out the next relaxed performance on 16 June at the Cambridge Theatre – get details from If you’d prefer an all-singing, all-dancing trip to the Serengeti with your family, The Lion King was the first-ever West End production to create an autism-friendly showing. Trained staff are on hand to assist visitors throughout the performance and there are special quiet areas and activity zones should anyone need to relax during the show. Head to for more information.

On-stage action from Matilda the Musical

AUTISM-FRIENDLY ENTERTAINMENT Across the country, venues are stepping up their accessibility game for autistic guests. From theme parks to stage shows, we look at the best autism-friendly entertainment in the UK


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Life THEME PARKS For some people with autism, the concept of queuing can be impossible to comprehend, which makes waiting for rides at theme parks or playgrounds difficult. With this in mind, several parks across the UK have created a safe space for autistic people to enjoy the same sorts of rides and activities as other guests at their own pace. The Thames Valley Adventure Playground ( is tailored specifically for children and adults with special needs. With a packed schedule of events and playday facilities throughout the year, the park caters for people with wide-ranging abilities and needs. It allows their families and carers to join in the fun too. The adventure playground also has the option for short break stays to offer families some respite. Family-friendly Folly Farm in Pembrokeshire ( has lots of activities for children to get involved in, regardless of their ability or disability. Trained staff are on hand to help visitors enjoy the rides, including their exciting big wheel. There’s also lots of animals in Cwtch Corner that your young ones can make friends with. It’s always wise to take evidence of a person’s disability with you so that staff can make allowances on the day out.

INDOOR CLIMBING It might not be a hobby you’ve considered trying, but indoor rock climbing can be extremely therapeutic for people with autism. The activity helps with motor skills, relationship building and is also a great way to tone muscle. Craggy Island in Guilford ( is an indoor climbing centre that caters for autistic visitors, providing one-on-one sessions with trained instructors. Not only is the activity fun, it also helps with issues such as trust and social interaction. The instructors are used to teaching climbers with additional support needs. Glasgow Climbing Centre ( also actively encourage the inclusion of autistic visitors because of the therapeutic nature of the sport. Book in with an instructor for a training session and see the improvements that can be made through this adventurous activity.

RAF Museum

MUSEUMS London’s RAF Museum ( uk) has won awards for its work adapting the venue to be suitable for visitors with autism. The museum has devised an autism-friendly trail to allow guests to familiarise themselves with the area and its signage, preventing any surprises. There’s also a dedicated quiet space for any visitors who need to relax mid-visit, and its staff and volunteers undergo an autism awareness training programme to make them better equipped to cater for guests. Many venues, such as Manchester Art Gallery (, have also begun to open their doors early to allow a calm, relaxing environment for autistic visitors. The gallery holds free monthly sessions aimed at autistic kids between ages five and 16, with families and siblings also welcome. The early morning sessions and informal sensory-based workshops allow visitors to explore the exhibits and play with light, sound and clay in calm surroundings.

GOING TO THE MOVIES Big screen blockbusters can be over-stimulating for those on the autism spectrum, so it’s wise to head to an autism-friendly showing at the cinema. In these special screenings, lights are usually kept on at a low level and the volume is reduced. There are no trailers or advertisements before the film and increased levels of movement and noise from the audience is expected. Charity Dimensions ( has partnered with leading cinema chains Odeon, Vue, Showcase and Cineworld to provide autismfriendly screenings on a regular basis. Most of the films target younger people, but Odeon also provide films for older people on the spectrum in selected cinemas. With over 250 cinemas offering these specially adapted screenings, there’s bound to be something in your area. Get online to see what’s on near you now.

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wholesome and positive strategies afoot. However, as I depressingly witnessed at a well-publicised, well-attended advertising industry diversity evening recently, there is one glaring omission. Which is representation of – or dialogue about – any form of disability. Physical or mental. I sat bewildered as the ensemble tackled (admittedly very important) issues without a single mention.

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS matt davis Dad Matt Davis – whose son Isaac has autism – explains what his company is doing to create opportunities for people on the autism spectrum I WORK IN ADVERTISING, an industry perhaps renowned for fickleness, exaggeration and things falling in and out of fashion. But the latest buzzword is actually causing rare alarm bells – and remarkably quickly. Perhaps all-out panic if it’s not adequately addressed. The word is diversity – primarily lack of. In an industry populated by liberalminded, creative people, it’s quite an anomaly. Or is it? The barriers to entry are high. The industry is resolutely London based. And we fish from a tenaciously threadbare pool of specific and exclusive talent. Location and seemingly demographic are traits

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that trump all others without necessarily meaning to. Minimal starting salary and work placements make for further hurdles. Once in, all the currencies that shouldn’t be become important – namely, who you know and networking skills.

EXCUSES The industry has grown tired of these excuses, it seems overnight, and a pressing need for a better way has tipped things. Just by shining a light, a dam has opened, and goodwill and desire for change is bursting through. And the pledges to approach gender equality, BAME representation and general practice are gaining traction, with

SOLUTION The fact that disability is not even a consideration – not even in the narrative – makes me question the sincerity of this attitude to diversity at all. But instead of suffocating myself in the slight stench of self-serving behavior, I have endeavoured to search around for solutions. As a partner in an advertising agency I can do this, and indeed have a responsibility to. While focusing on one group is perhaps not ideal to properly approach diversity and disability, I have made the decision to look at the particular condition of autism. Of course, I have a personal connection, but two facts have contributed to my decision. First, autism and the workplace is a massive issue, with just 15% of autistic people currently in full-time employment. If, as a society, we act, the results will be phenomenal; if we don’t, they’ll be catastrophic. Second, Ambitious about Autism are doing something about this – working in depth to raise awareness, promote opportunities, educate businesses, place young people and so much more. The benefits that can be brought to the workplace go beyond qualities such as high attention to detail, honesty, loyalty, punctuality – each person is individual and can bring unique skills as varied as any group. Many people on the spectrum are skilled in IT and computing, but different skills apply to different people. My company has started the process of finding a person with autism to work, integrate and add value to our business. I can’t wait for the journey to begin.

Matt Davis is a parent patron for Ambitious about Autism,, the national charity for children and young people with autism. He blogs about his family’s life at Follow Matt on Twitter at @copyiswritten.

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N O - O B L I G AT I O N


C O N S U LTAT I O N 29/02/2016 12:02

Sport This year will be the th

15 Summer Paralympic Games

22 different venues will be spread across 4 different regions in Rio

The Rio Paralympic Games will take place over

11 days from 7-18 September

The Paralympic Games will be taking place in South America for the

FIRST time ever

528 events

are scheduled in

22 different sports

2 new sports

feature this year – triathlon and canoeing

RIO 2016: THE FINAL COUNTDOWN With six months to go until the Paralympic Games kick off in Rio on 7 September, we’ve pulled together some facts and figures so you know what to expect ahead of the world’s biggest parasporting competition

In the UK, Channel 4 will be broadcasting the Games, promising

500 hours of coverage 25,000 volunteers on the ground in Rio will be helping to make the event a success


events are womenonly

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events are men-only

it’s 56 years since the first official edition of the Paralympic Games, which took place in Rome in 1960

38 events are mixed gender

SIX different flames will participate in the Paralympic torch relay – five starting the journey in the five regions of Brazil, and the sixth coming from Stoke Mandeville, the home of the Games

Turn to page 20 to see how you can support ParalympicsGB ahead of the Rio Games.

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he Paralympic Games will descend on Rio de Janeiro this summer, bringing over 10,000 athletes from 206 countries to compete in South America’s very first Games. For competitors, the 17 days of medal events sees the culmination of years of training, gruelling exercise regimes and unshaken determination. Athletes and coaches are under pressure to bring home gold, silver and bronze to make their home nations proud and ensure all their hard work has been worthwhile. So how does the journey begin for Paralympic athletes, and how do amateur sportspeople transform into Paralympic heroes? “The first point of call is always your local club,” says Paralympic head coach Paula Dunn. “If there aren’t any clubs for your sport in your area, contact your local governing body if you want to get involved. “Few people begin a sport and think, ‘I’m going to be an Olympian or Paralympian’, but you never know where an interest in your sport might lead or what talent you might have. You are drawn to the sport and you’re interested in it – that’s the first step. It doesn’t matter whether you are disabled or not; you don’t know where sport might take you.”

Co Gam mpeting es i in t for d s the ulti he Paral how isabled s mate ach ympic d p i ama o you m ortspeo evemen t p a t e k l u e, e r Para lymp to athlet the jump but e? ic h fro and Para ead coa We spok m lymp e ch Pa to ia ul to fin n Jordan a Dunn d ou How t e


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“Different people approach sport differently,” says Paula. “If a disabled person has no experience of sport it will be a gradual build-up of training, but if they perhaps attended mainstream school and were used to PE classes, they will have more of a foundation for sport and can train more quickly.” Paula knows all too well the demanding schedule that Paralympic athletes face. Competitors are expected to be in peak physical fitness and train relentlessly while also facing the day-to-day challenges of their disability, and perhaps even holding down a job and family commitments.

“People like Hannah Cockroft – these positive role models are setting an example for others” EXCITING

OPPORTUNITIES Although it’s trickier to get noticed by coaches in disability sport, opportunities exist for individuals to begin training to a high level if they show signs of talent. Most coaches are based in larger cities, meaning that sportspeople living in remote areas of the country are less likely to grab the attention of a coach. This is another obstacle for disabled athletes to overcome, but is not insurmountable. “You might be the only disabled person in your region,” says Paula. “In big cities it’s easier – easier but not easy. The accessibility and avenues are definitely increasing, but these are some of the challenges faced by disabled athletes.” If a sportsperson shows talent and meets an appropriate coach, a tailored schedule is drawn up to suit the athlete’s needs before training begins.

“It’s a very exciting time for disability sport,” says Paula. “These athletes are at the top of their game; they train constantly. They’re really high quality athletes. “The more we show how incredible these athletes are, the more role models come out of the sport and people are inspired to get involved. We’ve got so many young, exciting role models coming out of disability sport at the moment. People like Hannah Cockroft – these positive role models are setting an example for others.” Paula’s personal Paralympic career highlight came in 2012, after years of training her women’s CP relay team. Paula put the team together herself, despite doubts from her peers, and led the team to a bronze win at the 2010 World Championships and then later at London 2012. “There were women with learning disabilities, weaknesses in the knees – so many complex disabilities,” says Paula. “It was very challenging to work out the best way to progress, but I did. To then come out in London in our home games in 2012 and win a Paralympic medal, that was a great achievement.” One athlete who understands the gruelling training regime expected of Paralympians is Welshman Jordan Howe, a young sprinter who took to the track at London 2012.

Jordan was born with cerebral palsy, but has never let his disability restrict his keen interest in sport. Not only has he grown into an incredible track athlete, as a youth swimmer he competed at national level as a member of the Dragons Disabled Swimming Club.

TALENT During his time as a swimmer, Jordan was spotted by Anthony Hughes, performance manager at Disability Sport Wales, who approached him about beginning a career in athletics. “He’d wanted to meet me for a while and when we finally did, he asked a couple of questions then asked me to do a running drill for him,” says Jordan. “He said I was talented and we started talking about getting into athletics.” Jordan was soon training as a sprinter and, at the tender age of 16, preparing for his first Paralympic Games. “Competing at the Paralympic Games at 16 is the greatest thing I’ve done in my career,” said Jordan. “It’s a huge thing to be able to say you’ve represented your country at the Games at that age, and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family and friends. “The training is really tough – it steps up a lot ahead of the Games. You have to train hard, improve your performance and also take the time to heal and have treatment. It’s a huge step up in training but it’s all worth it in the end.” Competitive sport has also massively improved Jordan’s self-confidence. Through various sporting achievements and events he has managed to overcome his natural shyness and credits his chosen career with boosting his self-esteem. “Before, I didn’t want to chat to anyone, I was really shy,” says Jordan. “Sport can really help people with disabilities become more confident. If people make you feel welcome and make you feel like an athlete you feel more comfortable. “I look at myself as a normal person, I do the same things as everyone else. If you want to get into sport and you have it in your head that you want to do it, do it. It’s changed my life.” Discover sporting opportunities in your area at

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ParalympicsGB has launched a massive new fundraising campaign ahead of this year’s Games to help our athletes shine on the world’s stage. We found out more about the new initiative and how you can get involved

SUPERCHARGED FOR RIO 2016 THE PARALYMPIC YEAR is finally here – and within days of the new year kicking off, the British Paralympic Association launched a major new campaign asking the public to show their support for our Paralympians ahead of Rio. Supercharge ParalympicsGB is the BPA’s first public facing campaign to raise funds for ParalympicsGB, Britain’s team of athletes heading out to compete in the Rio Games.

CHALLENGING With standards increasing in Paralympic sport by the day, the team face their biggest challenge yet. With a decade of long-haul travel ahead – with Games taking place in Rio, Pyeongchang, Tokyo and Beijing – it’ll be more challenging and expensive than ever before for the BPA to support our athletes and help them achieve their Paralympic dreams. Supercharge ParalympicsGB will take previous fundraising efforts to the next level, encouraging sports fans to up the ante to help our athletes in Rio and beyond. The funds will be used alongside funding already received from the National Lottery and BPA’s commercial partners to help prepare the team for this


year’s Games and future events. The campaign has received backing from a group of famous faces, including former star Paralympian and BPA patron Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. She said: “The team needs as much support and preparation as possible in the final crucial months of preparation to win those medals and ensure Great Britain continues to be a leading force in Paralympic sport over the next decade. I am delighted to be part of this campaign to ask the British public to give its support.” Fellow supporter Eddie Izzard added: “London 2012 showed the nation that the Paralympic Games and the ParalympicsGB team are the most inspiring team in the UK. Their success this summer will inspire the nation, continue to challenge perceptions and ultimately help create a better world for disabled people. But to do that the public needs to get behind the team and help to fund their success through donations and fundraising.”

a straightforward donation online, or, alternatively, you can go the extra mile and arrange a fundraising activity or event, getting family, friends and colleagues involved – there’s lots of inspiration on the Supercharge ParalympicsGB site at Download the fundraising toolkit to get access to all the information you need. The funds raised will go towards a range of different things which will boost the athletes’ chances in the Games, from the preparation camp to nutrition and kit. Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of the British Paralympic Association, said of the launch: “We want to leave no stone unturned in our efforts to win medals and make the nation proud in Rio and beyond. That means getting the public and our partners involved to help to Supercharge the team to make the ParalympicsGB team as successful and inspiring to others as possible. How far all our athletes go depends on you!”

GET INVOLVED You can help ParalympicsGB in one of two ways. First of all, you can make

Find out more about how you can support ParalympicsGB at supercharge.


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WIN A WEEKEND AT WALLOPS WOOD COTTAGES Get away from it all this issue with an accessible break in Hampshire BRITAIN IS HOME TO hundreds of beautiful getaway destinations – and Wallops Wood Cottages in Hampshire are definitely among the best. Located in the South Downs National Park in the Meon Valley, just 12 miles from Winchester, the multi awardwinning ground-floor self-catering cottages, sleeping 6-8 people, offer excellent accessibility and both children and pets are welcome. With underfloor heating, wood burners, individual gardens with hot tubs and a stunning view, the cottages offer a comfortable year-round base for walking, cycling and sightseeing, or just relaxing with friends or family. Book a long weekend to get away with friends, a multi-generational family gathering or plan a break to coincide with one of the many wonderful events in the area like Goodwood Revival, Grange Park Opera, the America’s Cup racing, the Hampshire Fare Food Festival or the Winchester Christmas Market. Katherine and Andrew Graham, co-

owners of the cottages, were delighted to win Gold in the Access for All Tourism category and Silver in the Self-Catering Provider of the Year at The Beautiful South Awards 2015. All five cottages have been individually rated M1, M2, M3, V1 and H1 under the National Accessible Scheme and staff undertook Welcome All training. With beautiful accommodation and plenty of activities and events going on in the picturesque surrounding areas, Wallops Wood promises a fantastic break for all the family – and this issue, one lucky Enable reader can enjoy it all! We’ve teamed up with Wallops Wood Cottages to offer one reader a long weekend stay in a three-bedroom cottage.

i Wallops Wood Cottages 01489 878 888

TERMS AND CONDITIONS: All entries must be received by 30 April 2016. Prize is 3 nights in a 3-bedroom cottage at Wallops Wood Cottages only, to be taken before 31 December 2016, excluding bank holidays and school holidays and subject to availability. The prize is non-transferrable, non-exchangeable and there is no cash or other alternatives. The winner will be required to pay a £250 breakages deposit at the time of booking which is fully refundable following your stay. The prize excludes the cost of any supplementary packages booked. Transfers, transport, meals and entertainment are not included. One entry per household. If you do not wish to be contacted by Wallops Wood Cottages, please write ‘opt out’ on your entry. The winner will be drawn at random. The publisher’s decision is final.

• HOW TO ENTER To be in with a chance of winning a three-night stay for up to six people at one of Wallops Wood’s accessible cottages, simply answer this question:


A) THE BROADS B) NEW FOREST C) SOUTH DOWNS Send your answer, along with your name, address, daytime telephone number, email address and where you picked up your copy of Enable to: Wallops Wood Competition, Enable Magazine, DC Publishing Ltd, 200 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4HG, or email your details to competitions@ All entries must be received by 30 April 2016. Good luck!

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Get in touch Want to have your voice heard? Write to us: Your View, Enable Magazine, DC Publishing Ltd, 200 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4HG or email

YOUR VIEW nable readers take to the oor to tell us what they think of the latest news headlines and what’s going on in the maga ine LOOKING GOOD! HOLIDAY INSPIRATION •As ever, •Thanks I was really pleased to to Enable’s

ABOARD? •I wasALLinterested to read your

see the latest edition of Enable drop through my letterbox – and even more pleased when I saw the fantastic new look! Enable has always been head and shoulders above the rest, but with its slick new look, it’s gone even further. It’s always a joy to read, and now it looks even better too. Well done, team!

story about Beth Burton [Me and ME, Jan/Feb 2016], who struggles with chronic fatigue syndrome. I too have ME and it’s often misunderstood how debilitating it is. It’s great to see the condition being covered in the media in a sympathetic light – hopefully it’ll help people like Beth and I gain greater understanding from those around us.

article on accessibility in public transport in the most recent edition of Enable [Improving Public Transport for Disabled People, Jan/Feb 2016]. As a wheelchair user, I was not surprised to see that 70% of young wheelchair users aren’t able to travel as independently as they’d like to. Until recently, I really struggled with transport in my area – and I used to be too scared to ask for support as I felt like a hindrance. However, by reaching out and asking for help, I’ve now found that I can get from A to B with relative ease – even if it takes a bit of forward planning. I’m now a well-known face at my local train station and staff are more than happy to help. It’s encouraging to see transport providers keen to go the extra mile – I just wish it was this way nationwide.

Mrs J Jackson, Aberdeen

Mel, Lincolnshire

D Potter, Newcastle

fantastic travel section last issue [Access Travel, Jan/Feb 2016], I have taken the plunge and booked a summer break for my family and I! It’s our first holiday since my daughter, who has cerebral palsy, was born six years ago. After lots of research, consideration and contacting the companies recommended by Enable, we’re off to the Canary Islands for a week of sunshine. The booking process wasn’t as stressful as I’d thought, and the specialist tour operator was incredibly helpful – I’m confident we’re going to have the relaxing break we all deserve. Sandy Matthews, Cornwall

SPOTLIGHT ON ME •I really enjoyed Enable’s


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Welcome to BarrierFree Germany! For a unique chance to win a 3 night accessible trip to Brandenburg or to discover why Germany is the perfect BarrierFree Destination, simply visit the German National Tourist Office and Hotel Haus Rheinsberg at NAIDEX 2016, stand L11 & M16, or to win register online at :

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28/02/2016 18:15

The Mental Capacity Act and unwise decisions Tom Hall, Associate Solicitor at Hyphen Law, a specialist law firm which provides Court of Protection services and advice on Personal Injury Trusts, gives an overview of the Mental Capacity Act and the decision-making process for those who may lack the capacity to deal with the management of their property and affairs.

What is an unwise decision?

Assumption of Capacity

I’m going to quit my job, sell all my possessions and invest the proceeds in potatoes. Many people may consider this to be an unwise decision, but what if I have a burning desire to run a chip shop? Who is to say whether it would be a success or not?

A person must be assumed to have capacity unless and until such time as it’s established that they don’t. Section two of the MCA says that they will lack capacity if, at the material time, they are unable to make a decision because of an impairment or disturbance of the mind or brain. It doesn’t matter if the disturbance is permanent or temporary.

Ultimately, the issue of whether a specific decision, made at a particular time with any given set of circumstances, is ‘wise’ or ‘unwise’ is wholly subjective. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 The Mental Capacity Act (‘MCA’) looks at the issue of unwise decision-making in the context of whether it may indicate that someone lacks the capacity to make decisions. The key issue with decision-making is whether a person has the capacity to make a specific decision, at any given time. Just because someone makes what some of us may consider to be an ‘unwise’ decision, doesn’t mean they lack capacity to make it, although decisions which are consistently unwise may be a clue that something is not as it might be. Since the introduction of the MCA in 2007, if a person lacks the capacity needed to make decisions concerning all or part of their own property and finances, the Court of Protection may choose to appoint a Deputy to make all or some of those decisions on their behalf. A Deputy is often given very wide powers but this goes hand in hand with a duty to only use those powers to make decisions when the person involved can’t make those decisions for themselves. This is because Deputies operate in a world where capacity is time and decision specific. So, on each occasion where a decision is needed in relation to a person’s property and affairs, the Deputy has to consider whether that person might have the capacity to make the decision at that particular time. If they do have capacity, then they must be allowed to make it.

They will be considered to be unable to make a decision if they can’t understand and retain (even if for only a short time) information relevant to the decision, use or weigh that information as part of the decision-making process and communicate their choice by talking, using sign language or any other means. What does this mean in practical terms? What this means in practice is that the Deputy may need to give some careful thought to the way in which information is communicated, the environment in which it’s delivered and the timing of the delivery. Relevant information will include the reasonably foreseeable consequences of deciding one way or another or failing to make the decision at all. A person can’t be treated as unable to make a decision just because the decision they make is unwise, although repeatedly unwise decisions may indicate a lack of capacity in a particular area. The MCA is designed to empower people to make their own decisions as far as possible which can only be a good thing. At the end of the day, if someone really wants to be their own boss and open a chip shop, that is their own individual choice. And who doesn’t enjoy chips?

For more information visit:

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Tom Hall Associate Solicitor Tom joined Hyphen Law in 20 2 and is an expert on Deputyship services and Personal Injury Trusts. He regularly provides advice and assistance to clients in all aspects of creating and managing Personal Injury Trusts. Tom also acts for clients who have mental capacity issues, often as a result of sustaining serious brain injuries due to accidents or clinical negligence. The financial wellbeing of his clients is Tom’s key focus and his extensive knowledge ensures that he can advise on a whole range of financial issues including state benefits and other statutory funding entitlements, as well as funding for care. Tom has an in-depth understanding of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, how it applies to individuals and the importance of assessing mental capacity on a decision by decision basis. As a specialist in Personal Injury Trusts and Deputyship services, he is regularly invited to speak at conferences and events. He is an affiliate member of the Society of Trust and state Practitioners. Much of Tom’s spare time is taken up with his new baby son but he has also helped to raise thousands of pounds for the national brain injury charity Headway.

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About Hyphen Law Hyphen Law is a national team of highly experienced, dedicated specialist lawyers and support staff working solely on Court of Protection cases relating to property and affairs. Its expert team works with Case Managers, Solicitors, families and carers to deliver tailored Deputyship services and Personal Injury Trusts. For more information visit:

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PENDANT ALARMS One of the most popular options, pendant alarms are worn around your neck or can be attached to a strap to wear round your wrist. If you find yourself in a situation where you need support – perhaps you feel unwell or you take a fall – you can push the button on the alarm so that an external contact centre will be alerted and someone will come to your home to check on you. The alarm sends signals to a ‘base unit’ which you plug into the mains and connect to your phone line.



Telecare For elderly and disabled people up and down the UK, telecare is offering a great alternative to traditional forms of support, both in people’s own homes and residential care settings. These clever gadgets and gizmos connect service users to a contact centre at the touch of a button, or monitor movements in the home – reducing the need for care workers or family members to pop in and check how they’re getting on. Here’s an overview of some of the products on the market ensuring people are safe and secure at all times

An alternative to the pendant alarm, which you have on your person all the time, is a pull cord. Pull cords or alarm buttons will be fixed to the ceiling or a wall and send a message to a base unit when pulled or pressed. These will be positioned in rooms where you’re likely to come up against challenges, such as the bathroom.

PERSONAL LOCATORS If you’re prone to getting lost, or you’d just like a bit of reassurance that someone knows where you are, pop a personal locator in your pocket or bag when you nip out and your loved ones will be able to track your whereabouts by going online.

1.7m people benefit from telecare and telehealth services in the UK TELECARE SENSORS A variety of different products exist which use sensors. Smoke and heat alarms, for instance, can be a big help for people with dementia, learning disabilities or memory issues who might be prone to leaving their dinner in the oven too long. Bed and chair occupancy sensors let the monitoring centre know if you’ve been in bed or in your armchair for too long – or if you haven’t returned to it. You can also get fall detectors which are worn round the neck or waist and automatically let the call centre know if you’ve had a fall.

ACTIVITY MONITORING Some telecare systems operate with sensors around the home which can detect heat or movement as you go about your daily business. They log what you’re up to and generate a chart which maps your activity – and relatives or neighbours can log in online to see what you’ve been doing. Some systems will send a text or email to relatives to let them know of any trends for concern. If they’re worried, they can give you a call or arrange for someone to check in.

i Disability Living Foundation




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Care and support:

success stories Getting social care support can be a huge step – and for many service users, it changes their life for the better. With person-centred support plans helping care staff support individuals both in their own homes and residential care settings, there’s a service to suit all needs, wants and abilities. Two service users share their experiences of care with Enable

RACHEL RUSOLO: EMBRACING INDEPENDENCE achel li es in her own at in a specially designed residential care home in anchester run by care pro ider egard In Crumpsall, Manchester, a large Victorian property has recently been transformed into a specialist residential care home, providing care, support and independence for people with mental health problems, moderate learning disabilities or autism – and 22-yearold Rachel Rusolo is one of the residents benefiting from this fantastic service. Rachel, who has a mental health condition, is living in one of the six self-contained flats in a new unit at Homeleigh care home. After staying in hospital for a few months, Rachel was supported to make the move to Homeleigh,where she was involved in decorating her own flat to make sure it truly felt like home. Rachel’s mum Sally has been delighted by how staff have “gone out their way to make Rachel feel welcome”, saying: “You all have made my daughter a lovely cosy home and Rachel is thrilled to bits.” Rachel’s care package includes one-to-one support, with background support on hand 24 hours a day. Diane Carole, customer relationship manager for Regard, said: “Rachel is absolutely delighted with her


new flat and says that it has the biggest bedroom she has ever had. “She is just over the moon. Her family live just three miles away, so she has the reassurance that they are nearby, but is enjoying her freedom at the same time and the chance to make new friends. “We cut a door through into the main building, so she has direct access and can mix with the other service users and join in activities whenever she feels like it. She has already struck up a number of friendships.” Residents at Homeleigh are supported to develop more independent lifestyles. With a large kitchen where service users are encouraged to cook, and a large landscaped garden, there are plenty of opportunities to socialise and be a part of a wider community too. To find out more about Homeleigh and Regard’s other care homes and supported living services, head to, or call 0800 480 0313.

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JAMES BROOKS: THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD STAFF ames li es in his own at under a supported li ing arrangement with ommunity ntegrated are in iddlesborough James Brooks spent much of his childhood in foster care, being passed from home to home with no real continuity or stability – something he really craved. James, who has learning disabilities, defines his upbringing as a sad experience, and as he transitioned to adulthood, he was after something more consistent and, most importantly, happier, which met his wants, needs, likes and preferences. Last year, he moved into a supported living setting with Community Integrated Care, a not for profit care provider operating UKwide. In supported living, James gets to live independently in his own home, with support on-hand from a fully-trained care team. “The staff here are around if I need them,” James explains. “They’re 24 hours, so if I need help with anything, they’re always here. I helped to interview the staff, so I got to make sure I liked, them. I wanted them to share some of the same interests as me, so it’d be easier for me to get on with them if they liked the same things I liked, so they could take me places like concerts and holidays and weekends away.” Music fan James has seen his life change in the last year. Before getting support through Community Integrated Care, James had never been on public transport on his own, but now he’ll regularly take the train to Durham solo after rigorous travel training. Care staff regularly accompany him to concerts, they aided him in his ambitions of joining a band and even helped him plan and go on a trip to New York earlier this year. “It was really brilliant,” he says. “We went to the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty,

Ellis Island, a night tour of Brooklyn, Madam Tussauds. We did everything! “I didn’t think I would ever go to New York. I thought I’d never have the money to go. I’d need a lot of help. I didn’t think it would be possible. But with the staff I’ve got here, it was.” James now attends college, as well as working as a peer reviewer for Community Integrated Care. James is one of CIC’s service users who helps assess their services and feed back to bosses what he thinks of the level of care that others are receiving. “It’s kind of like you go around assessing people’s quality of life, based around their care, the activities that they do,” he says. “For me, good care is about the staff team, and that the staff team look after that person really well. They give them the best support that they can give them. It helps if they have the same interests as that person and get on well too.” Find out more about Community Integrated Care’s services at, or call 0845 543 9911.

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Meet the expert

the mental health OT There’s much more to occupational therapy than helping people with physical disabilities go about their daily lives – the profession is vast and varied as Rachel Booth knows all too well. The OT, who works in a hospital psychiatry ward, tells us about her job IF YOU THINK about the word ‘occupation’, occupational therapists are helping people with a physical problem and giving them pieces of equipment or tools in order to do ‘occupations’ – maybe getting in and out of bed, going for a shower, eating a meal. And in mental health, it’s very much the same. It’s about what difficulties people are having and how we can help them do that. I have a sister who has mental health problems, so I’ve grown up with that around me. It wasn’t something that I feared. When I started university, I was quite surprised by how many of the class didn’t know that OTs worked in mental health, and only about two of us wanted to go into it. By the end of the course, a lot more of us were wanting to go into the field. AS TOLD TO LINDSAY COCHRANE

OVERCOMING DIFFICULTIES I work in acute psychiatry, so I’m working with people who are very unwell and have come into hospital for whatever reason. As an occupational therapist, I use their everyday occupations and activities to assess what difficulties they’re having, and

My job is about what difficulties people are having and how we can help them do that how we can overcome them. With quite a lot of mental health problems, you struggle with motivation, you’re not able to concentrate on things, make simple decisions or even communicate. You’ll also get people who, although they’re unwell, can manage all of those day-to-day tasks, but we need to make sure that they maintain them. A typical day starts with checking my emails. Then we have a ward round, which lasts half an hour, and we’ll discuss all of the clients on the ward, what’s changed in the last 24 hours and what the plan is. After that, we might have one-to-one meetings with the patient, often with family members and the consultant.

ASSESS Depending what day it was, we might take some patients into group work – it might be art, pottery, music. This lets us see how they’re doing, and has therapeutic benefits too. In the afternoon I’ll do assessments, then I’ll be writing reports on how somebody is functioning and what recommendations I have for discharge – whether they can live independently or need a level of support in place. I really enjoy my job. What I like most is seeing somebody that’s really unwell and really struggling coming to a group session and achieving something. We have an art exhibition once a year, and anyone who produces a piece of artwork can go into the exhibition. There was one young lady who used to come to group and wouldn’t do much. But one day she came, put some glue on the page and stuck some buttons on it. I knew what it had taken to get her there – it was my favourite piece in the exhibition. Seeing those little improvements in people is really, really good.

i College of Occupational Therapy




rowing up, Kelly Knox didn’t feel any different to her peers. She liked the same things they did, took part in games with them, went to a mainstream school, got up to mischief and never stopped for a minute to consider she might not be like them – despite being born without her left forearm. “Even though I was born like this, I never really saw myself as a disabled person,” she says. “I never knew disabled people. I didn’t really feel any different.” From the age of seven, she refused to wear a prosthesis, feeling it held her back – and to this day, now 31 and having given birth to her first child last year, she just finds a way to do things. “Before I had Jenson, people would ask, ‘How will you change a nappy?’” she recalls. “I’ll just do it, like I do everything else in my life. Disabled people, naturally, are creative people because we have to be. That’s the way you do things in everyday life. I can do most things, just in a completely different way to someone who has two hands. There’s no stopping me!”

ALL CHANGE And that seems to be Kelly’s mantra in life – there really is no stopping her. Raised in east London, Kelly had a normal upbringing, but all of that changed in 2008 when she went from working an office job to appearing on television screens up and down the country, participating in Britain’s Missing Top Model on BBC Three. “When I saw the competition, it was like, ‘Are you beautiful, disabled and see yourself as the next Kate Moss or Naomi Campbell?’” she says with a laugh. “I didn’t see myself as that, but I thought, ‘This could be really fun.’ I’d never done anything like that before – no reason why, I just hadn’t considered it.” Despite entering for a bit of fun, Kelly went on to win the show – and what


“Disabled people, naturally, are creative people because we have to be. That’s the way you do things in everyday life” started as a bit of fun became something much, much bigger. “Once I got involved, I realised the ignorance there was surrounding disability,” she says. “Suddenly, in this house with lots of disabled people, trying to do something that had never been done before – having a disabled model working in fashion – it really opened up my eyes to the social barriers disabled people face, the negative attitudes and the way society perceives disability and beauty. It was a huge learning curve.”

UNDER-REPRESENTED Kelly soon realised how underrepresented disabled people are in all areas of life. In employment, politics,

fashion, the media – they simply aren’t there. And she wanted to change that. This year, Kelly’s taking on the role of ambassador for a major sporting event hoping to overcome barriers like these. Parallel London is the UK’s first fully inclusive mass participation run for people of all abilities. Taking place at Queen Elizabeth Park in London on Sunday 4 September, people of all ages and abilities are invited to pull on their running shoes and get involved. “I hope lots of people have got really excited and signed up,” she says of the event. “I’d like to see all different types of people there – different races, sizes, ages, abilities. Parallel London is all about togetherness and inclusion and empowerment. To see all different types of people together and taking part is empowering in itself.” Kelly will be taking part – taking her son along to enjoy the fun too. Staying fit and active is important for Kelly – not just for her modelling career, but in terms of wellbeing and as a social opportunity too. She’s lucky, she says, as she’s been able to access sports facilities easily, attending classes regularly at her local gym. Not all disabled people are as fortunate. A Parallel London survey found that 69% of disabled people face barriers accessing fitness and leisure facilities, with 94% believing more should be done to make them more accessible.

BENEFICIAL “I think disabled people want to be active, and it would be most beneficial to them to be active,” Kelly says. “It’s good to be able to go to the gym, get active, meet different people. That’s why I like doing classes, I’ve made quite a lot of friends. It’s not just the fitness side, it’s the social side. That’s as important I think. “An event like this will help people to be more confident. People entering it might

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Kelly Knox:

“There’s no stopping me!” She came into the spotlight back in 2008 when she won Britian’s Missing Top Model on BBC Three – and Kelly Knox has been using her position to promote a message of equality and inclusion ever since

have been excluded from a traditional gym. The event might make them more confident to do things in the future. If you want to do 100m, that’s fine. If you want to do a 5k, that’s fine. It’s completely up to you what you would like to achieve out of the event. It’s a good platform for people who maybe haven’t tried anything before, and maybe want to continue.” While Parallel London is one day out of the calendar, Kelly is hopeful that the event can inspire people to get out there, get active and be involved in their local community – and maybe even further afield, impacting on the media, advertising and society at large. “Society either sees disabled people as superhumans, like a Paralympian, or as a benefits scrounger,” she points out. “There’s no middle ground, where a disabled person can just be a normal human being. I would like to see equal opportunities for disabled people. A place where they can feel free to be themselves. To feel confident in their own skin. To know that they are worthy, as much as any other person in this world. Modern Britain is a diverse place, and disability is a part of that.”

i Kelly is an ambassador for Parallel London, a mass participation run for people of all ages and abilities, taking place on Sunday 4 September at Queen Elizabeth Park, London. Find out more at

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Getting the most out of the season ahead

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here’s more to the new season than uffy bunnies chocolate eggs and chirping chicks it’s great for your health too

SPRING INTO GOOD HEALTH! AFTER MONTHS OF darkness, miserable weather and a generally gloomy atmosphere, winter is over and the new season is upon us. And what does that mean? More opportunities to get outdoors! And while you might think that getting out and about and partaking in outdoor activities is an access nightmare, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. From accessible woodland trails to inclusive sports clubs, there’s plenty you could be getting stuck into this season – and the benefits are limitless. Here are a few things that the great outdoors can help with…

• IMMUNE SYSTEM First off, it can boost your immune system. Ming Kuo, a researcher from the University of Illinois, found that being at one with nature puts the body into ‘rest and digest’ mode. Feeling content and safe isn’t just good for your mental state, but it lets your body invest more resources in your immune system rather than wasting energy on stress.


We need to get outdoors to boost our vitamin D levels too. We get most of the vitamin D that our bodies need to strengthen our bones via sunlight – so when those April showers pass, get out there and soak it up! Make sure to use sun cream with an SPF on particularly bright and warm days to avoid skin damaging sunburn.


Getting outside helps you sleep better too. Being active and inhaling a bit of fresh air, as opposed to sitting inside with the remote in your hand, will tire you out and lead to a better night’s sleep and a more energised body and mind for the following day.

• MENTAL HEALTH It’s good for your mental health too – from theories that the very smell of the outdoors boosts our mood to studies showing the benefits of outdoor exercise over indoor, there’s lots of evidence to show that being outside is good for your mind. Turn to page 41 to find out more. And this is just scraping the surface of the ways in which getting out and about is good for you. So how do you go about it? Keep reading to find out more about the accessible activities that you can embrace for a happy, healthy spring.

WHAT’S INSIDE 41 BOOST YOUR MENTAL HEALTH We’ve been finding out more about the advantages of getting outdoors for your mental health. 42 PLANT. THRIVE. GROW. Charity Thrive tell us more about the benefits of getting your hands dirty in the garden and embracing nature, whatever your age or ability. 44 SPRING INTO SPRINGTIME The country is home to plenty of fantastic outdoor activities – and they’re a lot more accessible than you might think! 46 GET MOVING Want to improve your health and fitness? Embrace the new season and take part in some outdoor exercise.

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Spring has finally sprung and as the weather gets kinder, it’s the perfect time to get outdoors and green-fingered in the garden – for the sake of your mind in particular. We take a look at how blossoming flowerbeds can be bloomin’ marvellous for your mental health


Boost your mental health in the great outdoors AS WE SHAKE off the dark, wet winter months, it’s a great time to get those gardens blossoming. Whether you prefer bright beds of yellow daffodils or growing your own runner beans, the spring months are the perfect time to spruce up your back garden. It’s not just the view from your window that will improve either. Gardening has been scientifically proven to boost mental wellbeing, lower blood pressure and increase brain activity.

GET OUT THERE “People are so divorced from nature these days,” says Kevin Dunn, service manager of Scottish Association for Mental Health’s horticultural projects in Dundee. “People with mental health issues tend to be even further removed from nature – they are perhaps stuck at home, staring at the walls and watching daytime TV. Often the only contact they have with people is with their carers. “With our gardening projects, service users make new friends and it’s great

for confidence building. They benefit from the endorphins you get from physical activity, and also get a boost in serotonin – believe it or not, the sun does come out sometimes!”

FOCUS Gardening makes an impact on a chemical level, but also on an emotional one. Kevin has lived with bipolar disorder since 2006 and finds that gardening has focused his attention and assisted him with managing his mood swings, as well as giving him an emotional boost. “Being out in the garden and being occupied, thinking and planning which plants or colours should go where, it really gives me focus when I could otherwise be quite scatter-brained,” he says. “There’s also emotional feelings that come with it. There was a frosty autumn morning we went out and there was a low mist over the garden, with the colours of the plants just popping through the mist. Slowly the mist started clearing, the birds started singing and we began working on the garden. It was a great feeling.”

CHANGE Kevin oversees SAMH’s community gardens and gardening projects in Dundee, one of which is run from Dawson Park. Service users grow plants and nurture their own vegetables, which they then gift to members of the public while they enjoy a walk in the park. “We always notice a big change in people in the first month,” says Kevin. “We had one guy who was uncommunicative, nervous and anxious at first. He did two days in the garden and the following week came in full of the joys of spring. He still has his own crises to deal with, but he says he now deals with them differently.” It doesn’t matter what your skill level is or what shape your mental health is in, gardening can help you learn transferable skills, make friends and get the holistic benefits of being out in the great outdoors.

i Scottish Association for Mental Health 0141 530 1000

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So gardening is great for your mind – but did you know it’s also now more accessible than ever before? From adapted tools to thriving community gardens, we give you some great reasons to get digging GARDENING IS A rewarding hobby with wide-ranging benefits, from improving your health to making your neighbours jealous of your gorgeous geraniums. Whether your disability is mental or physical, a touch of horticultural therapy is proven to boost your overall wellbeing and reconnect you with nature. “Gardening can give individuals a great sense of accomplishment,” says Neil Wilcox, information officer at disability gardening charity Thrive. “There’s a sense of achievement involved when you sow a seed, nurture it, watch the plant grow and perhaps then harvest it to be cooked in the kitchen.”

GET PHYSICAL Physical exercise is another advantage of working in the


garden. Horticultural therapy is applied to assist in stroke recovery, building up muscle strength to aid rehabilitation. It can be applied in the same way for a broad spectrum of disabilities, utilising and training muscle groups without being too strenuous. “There are loads of physical benefits to gardening,” says Neil. “It helps just being outside, moving around and improving your muscle tone and stamina. It can also increase your flexibility and strength, or make up part of a programmed recovery from traumatic events.” If your disability prevents you from getting into the great outdoors or downstairs to the back yard, table-top gardening is also an option. You can have homegrown blooms



in your living room or even grow your own herb garden on a kitchen counter. “You can always grow cress or salad leaves on a windowsill,” says Neil. “Or plant some bulbs in a pot and watch them flower. There are great passive effects to being surrounded by nature, and with gardening there’s a real sense of working the land and learning to appreciate our living planet. There’s a great feeling of being connected to nature.”

MAKING FRIENDS There’s also a social aspect to this greenfingered past time. Community gardens and horticultural therapy programmes are cropping up around the country, bringing people together to learn new skills and make new friends. Thrive offer gardening groups for people with disabilities and learning difficulties, making the growing of flowers and vegetables more accessible and rewarding for disabled participants. “The social aspect of gardening is really important,” says Neil. “In my own experience as a horticultural therapist, it’s interesting when you see individuals getting used to working within a group. You can see a dramatic change, particularly in individuals with autism or mental health problems. People become more able to cooperate with others, challenging behaviour is reduced and people begin to feel less isolated.” Perhaps you were a seasoned gardener earlier in your life, but nowadays find yourself restricted by your disability? Adapted gardening tools, such as extra support cuffs and grips, make the experience far more accessible. Thrive’s Carry On Gardening website ( uk) offers product advice as well as top gardening tips for disabled people. “Have a go!” says Neil. “Start off with a small project – gardening in pots or containers, or a small area of the garden. Easy does it.”

i Thrive 0118 988 5688

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Springtime has arrived and with it a little more sunshine, so it’s time to stop hibernating and get out in the great outdoors. Here are some accessible days out for all you outdoorsy types




hether you prefer cliff-side walks or sailing out on open water, outdoor activities have holistic benefits for mind and body. After a winter spent cooped up away from the cold, spring has arrived and we can get outside and re-connect with nature. There are plenty of adventures to enjoy across the UK, regardless of your ability, whether you want an activity holiday or just a great day out. We’ve selected some of the best ways for you to get outside, expending pent-up energy this spring.

ACTIVITY HOLIDAYS For the seriously adventurous, a multiactivity break in the countryside is the ideal getaway. At Calvert Trust, you can take part in loads of exciting sports including canoeing, abseiling and climbing while under the careful supervision of adventure experts. After an exciting day’s activities you can relax in Calvert Trust’s hydrotherapy pool or sensory room, or perhaps enjoy the company of your new friends at one of the Calvert Trust discos. You’ll need to take a carer or activity buddy with you, as individual supervision is not available at Calvert. For more information visit

WALKS WITH WHEELCHAIRS There are beautiful, wheelchair accessible trails to be enjoyed around the UK – you just need to know where to find them. The Cotswolds is a beautiful area of the country and boasts a series of 15 short routes that are wheelchair and power scooter accessible. You can get out in the fresh air and enjoy the stunning scenery, from the highest point at Cleeve Common to the spectacular aqueduct. Find out more at If you prefer to be close to the coast, the trail along Baggy Point in North Devon is wheelchair friendly, and will take you along the headland to enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the ocean. Make sure you plan your journey well in advance to ensure you select the correct trail. Check it out at

GRAND DAYS OUT: The UK is home to hundreds of amazing, accessible days out, from a walk round baggy point (top right) to horse riding with RDA (below left)

CAVING Helmets and head torches on – it’s time to explore the incredible caves of the Yorkshire Dales. The Bendrigg Trust takes groups of disabled adventurers into the caverns to learn more about the secrets of these natural wonders. Bendrigg also give visitors the chance to go gorge walking, although this is a little more demanding and needs adventurers to have good climbing skills. If you’re steady


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on your feet and love adventure, the gorge walk lets you scramble up streams and a wet gulley. For more information, visit

ZIPWIRE Not for the faint-hearted or fearful of heights, this activity requires an adventurous spirit and a love of speed! You can feel the fresh air whipping by as you zoom along the wire at the QE2 Activity Centre in Southampton. The zipwire is accessible for just about everyone, and is just one of many exciting activities available at the centre. There is also a rope course, climbing wall and the opportunity to explore the centre’s natural surroundings with a bushcraft course. Check it out at ORIENTEERING How’s your map-reading? If you have a keen sense of direction and are great at problem solving, orienteering might be the activity for you. Trail orienteering [Trail-O] is specifically designed to make the sport accessible for physically disabled players. Rather than chase around the woods looking for control points, these are identified from a distance. This puts disabled and able-bodied players on an even playing field. Get googling to find a Trail-O course near you. HORSE RIDING Giddy up! It’s time to get in the saddle and enjoy the great outdoors on horseback. Riding for the Disabled Association helps disabled people have fun with horses. There are groups across the country that can help you learn how to ride in a safe and comfortable environment. Horse riding has huge therapeutic and physical benefits for the rider, as it helps strengthen core stability and improve balance and co-ordination. Find out more at PIC: © THE TENNIS FOUNDATION

CYCLING There are few better ways to enjoy the countryside or city parks than on the back of a bicycle, and charities like Get Cycling

make it possible for disabled people to experience this fantastic activity. Not only will you expend lots of energy and tone your muscles, you’ll be able to get outside in the fresh air. There are tandem bikes and family bikes available if you want to share the cycling experience with your loved ones or carers. Why not see if there’s a local inclusive cycling club nearby, or try out one of Get Cycling’s bikes at their test centre in York? To see if there’s a bike out there for you, visit www.getcycling.

TENNIS If you haven’t tried playing tennis before, this might be the perfect time to get out onto the court. Wheelchair tennis is getting more and more popular, but you don’t have to be a wheelchair user to play the inclusive version of the sport. If you’re a beginner, The Tennis Foundation runs four tennis camps for people with disabilities, ranging from physical impairments to hearing and visual impairment. They won’t only train you on the court, they’ll also advise of local venues for you to continue your new hobby after the camp finishes. To put the ball in your court, visit SETTING SAIL There are few sports as invigorating as sailing, whether you’re setting out on a local lake or braving British seas. RYA Sailability introduce over 53,000 disabled people to sailing every year and support new sailors with information, adapted boats and activities. It’s an activity that’s widely accessible for wheelchair users, people with hearing and visual impairments and other disabilities. If you’d like to learn your port from your starboard and get out on the water, contact Sailability for advice and guidance. You can find out more about Sailability at

i There’s an endless number of accessible days out available throughout England. For short break guides, accessible accommodation and award-winning places to stay and visit, go to

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GO FOR A STROLL A simple walk comes with plenty of health and fitness benefits – regular walking has been shown to reduce risk of chronic illnesses, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and even some cancers. The fresh air is good for you too, improving your mood and wellbeing – so even if you can’t physically walk, getting out there will give you a boost. Liven up your walk by picking a picturesque, accessible route – check out the Woodland Trust site for inspiration ( or get in touch with the Disabled Ramblers ( to turn your walk into a social activity.

Outdoor exercise has been scientifically proven to boost your mood and relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression

WANNABE ATHLETES ParalympicsGB do brilliantly well in the athletics strand of the Games – and you can too! You’ll find accessible athletics clubs nationwide, offering a wide range of track and field activities for you to try out, including wheelchair racing, sprinting and long-distance, shotput, discus, javelin, high jump and triple jump – and they’re open to men and women in all impairment groups. Join a local club and get going!

GET MOVING ith the colder months a thing of the past well sort of you’ e no excuse not to take your fitness regime into the great outdoors. We take a look at some of the easiest accessible exercise options for spring

RUN FOR IT Move your pace up a gear and get running. Pound pavements in your local area or join a running club to meet like-minded people. Parkrun ( have groups nationwide, welcoming people of all abilities – just check out the route your local group follows to suss out if you can manage it. Take it a stride further and get in training for an organised running event, whether that’s a 5K or a marathon – and use it to raise funds for the charity of your choice.

BULL’S EYE! If Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games is your idol then archery could be for you! This test of accuracy and focus is great for improving your strength, coordination and even helps to beat stress – concentrating on the task at hand helps to put your other worries to the back of your mind. Fun fact – archery was one of the original sports in the Paralympic Games back in 1960. Find out more at

CAN YOU CANOE? Paracanoeing is going to be included in the Paralympics for the first time this summer, so why not get in training yourself? Water sports are much more accessible than you think – and come with plenty of health benefits. Canoeing can help build your upper body strength as well as your grip, and it’s great for cardiovascular fitness too – a Manchester Metropolitan University study showed that canoeists have stronger hearts than those who don’t participate in the sport. Get more info from

i Find a sport that’s suited to your ability at the Parasport website, Simply input your disability and you’ll get an array of activities to try out!


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DIG IT tim rushby-smith im ushby mith re ects on what he gets out of his garden and encourages you to get out there and en oy e erything your own has to offer FILL THOSE LUNGS, feast those eyes – the outdoors is beckoning, offering nourishment for the soul. Before my spinal cord injury, I always worked outdoors. After many years as a telecoms engineer, I ran a garden design and construction business with my wife Penny, and also trained as a tree surgeon (it was a fall from a tree that resulted in my paraplegia). After my injury, I went through a painful period of adjustment, as I had to let go of many of the activities I loved. But what I did hang onto was that sense of ‘outside’ as a refuge, a place to recharge.

SOLAR POWERED Like all humans, I am solar powered. There’s no doubt that the way I interact with the outdoors has changed, but there is still plenty to enjoy, and over time I have


learned to focus on the things that I can still do rather than dwell on those I can’t. This is especially important as a parent. I want my children to love the outdoors, and the garden provides a great opportunity to share this passion with them. By using raised beds, large pots or just sitting on the ground, I can share

“Even the worst day in the garden is a day spent in the fresh air, and the rewards can be enjoyed in the kitchen” the weeding and planting of vegetables. With a set of long loppers, I can do a bit of pruning. I’ve even managed to strim the odd bit of grass without losing any toes.

INFECTIOUS There is certainly something infectious about the results of gardening. Virtually every child (or adult come to that) will

struggle to resist sweeping their hand through a bush of lavender and smelling the heady scent, let alone picking a sugar snap pea and crunching into it. There are certainly some elements of gardening that will remain impossible. I am unable to negotiate the chickens’ enclosure without ending up with tyres full of chicken poop, and I’ve lost count of the number of times that I have over-reached and ended up disappearing head first into the bushes. But even the worst day in the garden is a day spent in the fresh air, and the rewards can be enjoyed in the kitchen. There is real pleasure to be had in picking your dinner just minutes before it reaches the plate. So if you have any outdoor space, use it. Even if it’s only a balcony or a window box, now’s the time to plan. Think about what you can grow and what you can do to make things easier. If you only manage to grow a single cherry tomato, that one juicy bite will make it all seem worthwhile.

Looking Up by Tim Rushby-Smith is available from Virgin Books

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Homelessness isn’t reserved for those sleeping rough or moving from hostel to hostel – there are thousands of Brits facing a different type of homelessness all together, and many of them have disabilities e find out about the plight they’re facing, and how to get support




heila wakes up every morning in the cosy comfort of her cramped living room. She moves herself from her bed, which dominates the room, to her wheelchair and heads for the commode in the corner. Back in her chair, she’ll wheel her way to the kitchen, catching the doorframe as she goes, to wash in her kitchen sink before preparing her breakfast. Her toast balanced in her lap, she heads back to the living room, switches on the TV and settles down for the day. An entire second floor exists above her which she hasn’t seen in years. She can’t get outside until her daughter stops by after work – the steps at her front door are far too steep – but she won’t be there today, because she has to take the kids to swimming club. Sheila is effectively trapped in her own home, confined to two rooms.


NOT UNCOMMON Sheila isn’t a real person, but the story isn’t unrealistic. Up and down the country, disabled people are living in inaccessible accommodation like this, whether it’s a council house, social rented, privately rented or owned. And these people are – by definition – homeless. Homelessness isn’t a term used solely for people sleeping rough, begging in the streets or moving from hostel to hostel. Someone like Sheila, with a roof over their head and surrounded by their possessions, can be defined under the Housing Act 1996 as homeless. “Under the Act, being homeless can mean a number of things,” explains Nadeem Khan, a helpline operator for housing and homelessness charity Shelter. “You can be classed as homeless if you don’t have a legal right to live anywhere in

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the world. If you’re temporarily living with family or friends. When you’re sleeping on someone’s sofa, you’re classed as homeless. You can also be classed as homeless if it’s not reasonable for you to continue to occupy your accommodation – it might not be reasonable regardless of your legal right to live there, because let’s say you’re at risk of harm or you have a disability or a medical condition.”

HIDDEN HOMELESS And, as a result of the access issue, many disabled people could be termed as homeless. There’s a small army of ‘hidden homeless’ people across Britain facing issues like this. They’re living in inaccessible accommodation, housing they struggle to pay for, sofa surfing – essentially, they don’t have somewhere suitable to live. So even if you do have somewhere to stay, you can register as homeless if it doesn’t meet your needs, or sign up to your local authority waiting list for appropriate accommodation – and more and more disabled people are doing this. According to research published by Leonard Cheshire Disability last year, while the number of people on council housing waiting lists has gone down by 21% in the last five years, the number of disabled people on these lists has increased by 17% – one in seven people on waiting lists have a disability today compared to one in 11 previously. There’s no data on the number of accessible houses in Britain, but the fact that more disabled people are in housing limbo might suggest that there’s not enough to meet the needs of the public. “[Councils and social housing providers] can’t discriminate against people who have a disability,” explains Nadeem. “So if they do accommodate someone with a disability they have to make sure that there’s suitable access or allow the adaptations to take place to the property, providing an assessment has been carried out by social services.”



However, the assessment of need doesn’t guarantee you a home. “If we’re talking about someone who was homeless and has a disability, having a disability doesn’t automatically entitle you to be rehoused,” Nadeem explains. “The council has to decide whether or not you’re vulnerable because of it.” As a result, accessible properties are sometimes going to people who don’t necessarily need them, because their situation might be deemed more urgent than someone who perhaps would need an accessible property. If they’re moving you into temporary accommodation until more appropriate housing comes up, they do, however, have to make sure it meets your needs. “If they were looking to rehouse someone with a disability, any kind of emergency accommodation or temporary accommodation or even long-term housing has to be suitable for their needs, and they have to take into account things like access,” Nadeem says. “For someone who uses a wheelchair, for example, accommodation which they can’t get their wheelchair through or doesn’t have a ramp isn’t going to be suitable. If a council doesn’t make a move to meet your needs, you can always request a review into its suitability or even challenge it via judicial review if it’s emergency accommodation.”

Another major challenge in housing is faced by those who are renting privately. While council and social housing providers have a duty to make adaptations, private landlords don’t face the same pressures – so people who develop a disability or whose needs change during their tenancy might find themselves living in an inaccessible property with a landlord refusing to do anything about it. “We get a lot of people on the helpline who do experience this issue, and we always advise them to apply as homeless with the council, and we advise them to register to be on the waiting list for social housing,” Nadeem says. “If they are offered something on the waiting list, again, it should be suitable and accommodate their needs.” If you find yourself in a difficult situation in terms of housing, support is out there. Shelter’s helpline service, which is open 365 days a year, is manned by trained advisers who can offer advice and support, whatever your situation, and direct you towards local services. “In the main, we do look at referring to social services or advise clients to approach social services for that support,” Nadeem adds. “And there’s a variety of organisations like Scope or the Disability Information Advice Line, which is manned by people who are disabled – they’re there for advice and support too. There’s a variety of services available.” Whatever your situation, and wherever you are, nobody should have to struggle to make ends meet, hop from sofa to sofa each night or not know if they’re going to have somewhere to stay next month. So don’t struggle silently – get in touch with your local social services, explain your situation and see what help is out there. After all, home is where the heart is. And you have every right to make sure yours is a happy one.

i Shelter’s free housing advice line is open Monday-Friday from 8am to 8pm, and from 8am to 5pm on weekends. Call 0808 800 4444 for support, or head to the Shelter website at


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GETTING YOU BACK ON THE ROAD The Motability Scheme is one of the most useful resources available to disabled people – but what’s it actually all about? We take a look at how the Scheme works

WITH PUBLIC TRANSPORT not as accessible as it should be, a car almost becomes an essential for disabled people who want to get access to work, leisure activities and travel opportunities. But motors are expensive – and running a car becomes even more costly when you take road tax, insurance, breakdown cover and petrol into account. Team this up with the already increased costs that having a disability brings, and you’ve got an expensive situation on your hands. Which is where the Motability Scheme comes in. Masterminded by Lord Sterling of Plaistow and Lord Goodman back in 1977, the Scheme exists to overcome such barriers to car ownership for disabled people, allowing people to

lease a car for a three-year period using certain welfare benefits.

WORRY-FREE “We talk about it as being a worry-free, all-inclusive motoring package,” explains Rachael Sweetland from Motability Operations. “That package has everything you need, from the car itself to insurance, breakdown cover, we’ve got a UK call centre so if you have any troubles at all, you can give us a ring, servicing, maintenance – all that is in the package, and you really don’t have to think of anything else other than putting petrol in your car and hitting the road.” To be eligible to apply, you have to be in receipt of one of the following benefits:

the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance, the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment, War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement or Armed Forces Independence Payment. Your lease is made up of two parts – your weekly rental, which comes from your qualifying benefit, and a one-off Advance Payment on certain models. “About 500 cars are available just for exchanging your allowance on its own,” explains Rachael’s colleague Delia Rae. “If you want a higher spec or higher performance vehicle, the difference between what the cost is and what you pay through your allowance is made up through what we call an Advance

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Payment. You pay a lump sum at the beginning and then you can upgrade the vehicle at your taking, which extends choice up to 2,000 vehicles. About twothirds of our customers do that and pay the Advance Payment. They like to have that extended choice.”

FREEDOM At present, 640,000 people are signed up to the Scheme, enjoying the freedom it gives them. With over 2,000 makes and models available, from major manufacturers including Nissan, Peugeot and Ford, there’s plenty to choose from, and you can get certain adaptations as part of your package too if required. “There’s a big range of adaptations – about 400,” Rachael explains. “And 150 of those, mostly the ones that are there to help you to drive, are available as part of the package at no extra cost. They can be as simple as a steering wheel ball or a left-foot accelerator. We work with convertors who supply those. They’ll come out and do an at-home assessment with them, and figure out what would work for the customer, to fit their lifestyle and disability needs. They’ll go through their range of wheelchair accessible vehicles and see what would be best for them.” Applying for the Scheme is easy. Simply call the Motability team on 0300 456 4566 to get more information, or pop into your local Motability dealership for a chat. “There’s no extra credit checks or anything like that, nobody looking at your condition again,” Delia adds. “As long as you can drive yourself or name up to two drivers, and the driver checks out, you can get onto the Scheme. That means that people who have been through the hassle and stress of lots of assessments and all that sort of thing don’t have to go through another one.” With the brand new 16 plate motors available now, there’s never been a better time to get investigating what the Scheme could do for you. So move things up a gear and start making enquiries now.

i Motability 0300 456 4566


TOP THREE: MOTABILITY MOTORS With over 2,000 makes and models available on the Scheme, choosing what’s right for you can be tricky. Here are three of our favourite cars available now

SMART FOURFOUR 1.0 PROXY 5DR Smart are perhaps best known for their dinky cars seating just two people, but the fourfour is a great choice with a surprising amount of space. The five-door, 1.0-litre engine version has room for four adults and enough power to make for a great little city car.

On the S cheme: £49.75 we ekly renta l, no Advan ce Payme nt


On the S cheme: Total Wee kly Allowa nce, no Advan ce Payme nt

If you want a practical, spacious car, the Qashqai is for you! Nissan’s small SUV is one of the leaders in its class, with impressive cabin space, a big boot and plenty of nice extras like dual-zone climate control, alloy wheels and automatic lights and wipers.

SEAT LEON 1.6TDI SE TECH PACK 5DR Seat’s Leon is a great family car which delivers in performance, looks and value for money. Plenty of head and legroom up front, and backseat passengers are guaranteed comfort too – and with a 380-litre boot, you’ll not be disappointed when transporting lots of equipment!

On the S cheme: Total Wee kly Allowa nce, no Advan ce Payme nt

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Join us at The Big Event Experience the UKâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest display of vehicles available on the Motability Scheme at EventCity, Manchester. Over 100 cars from 28 different manufacturers

Over 40 scooters and powered wheelchairs


Over 45 cars available to test drive including 18 fitted with adaptations Free entry, free parking and a FREE tea or coffee in a fully accessible indoor venue

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Phoenix Way, off Barton Dock Road, Manchester, M17 8AS


Over 35 adapted cars and Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

EventCity, Manchester

Friday 13 and Saturday 14 May 2016 9am to 4pm

Find out more at or call 0800 953 7000 Please quote MO711D * To test drive the cars you must bring your full UK driving licence and sign our test drive declaration on the day. Full Terms and Conditions can be found at The Big Event is organised and hosted by Motability Operations Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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The Citroen DS3 is no more – it’s now simply the DS3, and part of a more sporty and luxury-oriented offshoot DS Automobiles. What this means in reality for the DS3 is the removal of all Citroen badging, revised looks and improved equipment. There are also some new engine options to offer better economy and performance – but how does it drive? Alisdair Suttie puts it through its paces

MOTABILITY CUSTOMERS The DS3 is available on the Motability Scheme, starting at £56.75 weekly rental with no Advance Payment. To find out more about the Scheme, head to

EQUIPMENT There are five trim levels for the DS3, starting with the DSign, which comes with LED daytime running lights, cruise control, air conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connection and door mirror covers finished in the same colour as the roof. The DStyle adds climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, interior mood lighting and a gloss black finish for the dash and gear knob. Satellite navigation comes with the DStyle Nav, while the DSport gains unique alloy wheels and a rear spoiler. There’s also the Ultra Prestige with rear privacy glass and leather steering wheel.

The review:

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INSIDE The big news inside the DS3 is the arrival of a seven-inch colour touchscreen that provides quicker, easier access to its functions. This lets the driver connect their smartphone to the system simply and use any app via the car, so music, emails and even the internet are all accessible. To maximise this new feature, there is the MyDS app that can be downloaded for free. Aside from the technology, the DS3’s cabin serves up the same space and comfort as before. For the driver, this means a good driving position with lots of adjustment and decent all-round vision. In the back seats, there’s enough space for kids, but adults will find it a little cramped, and the DS3 Cabrio, which claims to be a five-seat open-top, will be too snug with three crammed in there. Boot space remains unchanged and the DS3’s 285-litre luggage capacity is on a par with most rivals, such as the MINI or Ford Fiesta.

DRIVING There’s quite a range of engines in the DS3, from the frugal to the punchy. At the frugal end resides the PureTech 82 and 110 1.2-litre petrol motors, which offer up to 62.8mpg and 104g/km of carbon dioxide emissions. If you want even more efficiency, the BlueHDi turbodiesel engines provide up to 83.1mpg and 87g/km of CO2 output. The diesels can be ordered with an automated manual gearbox, though the standard manual is a much better bet. If outright running costs are not your primary concern, the turbocharged 1.6-litre PureTech THP 165 engine is by far the most fun in the DS3. It gives nippy performance of 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and can still offer up 50.4mpg. Whichever engine you choose, the DS3 is fun to drive on twisty roads and city streets alike. The ride is on the firmer side, much like a MINI’s, to underscore the DS3’s sporty nature, while the open-top model is noisier than the hatch at higher speeds. With the roof lowered on the convertible, wind buffeting is not a problem thanks the way the sides of the DS3 remain in place at all times.

SUMMARY The transition from Citroen to DS3 is a relatively mild one for this stylish supermini. It retains all of its original appeal while adding more equipment. Low running costs for most models combine with an entertaining drive, but just make sure you can live with the firm suspension.

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product roundup SOFT-TOUCH™ SITTERS


The Special Tomato™ Soft-Touch™ Sitters live up to their name, making a comfortable alternative seating solution for children with mild to moderate postural needs. The optional Floor Wedge kit features a rigid base onto which the seat can be attached. This provides stability and lifts the sitter slightly off the floor. This is an ideal solution to bring children down to the same level as their peers while playing or during circle activities. Get it: Special Tomato™ by Moorings Mediquip, POA (www.specialtomatouk., 0800 031 6571)

The Applicomms PowerTel 92 is designed for people with conditions such as vision or hearing loss, reduced dexterity, dementia, Parkinson’s and other motor neuron disorders. The six changeable picture buttons are perfect for people who get confused or forgetful, or struggle to dial on a conventional phone – and there’s a pre-programmable SOS button for emergencies too. Get it: Hearing Direct, £54.99 (www., 0800 032 1301)

DA VINCI TRAIL RIDER The Trail Rider is a powered front wheel attachment that, once fitted to your manual wheelchair, turns it into an off road vehicle. The docking clamp system for attaching and removing the Trail Rider allows you to turn your manual wheelchair into a powerful off road trike in less than a minute. Now with new easy to use docking system and upright stand. Get it: Da Vinci Mobility, from £2,895 (,

AERGO Aergo is the world’s first automatic posture support. Using slim inflatables to automatically react to slumping and poor alignment, Aergo’s patent pending technology puts independence and control back in the users’ hands. For people with varying postural needs, from cerebral palsy to scoliosis, Aergo allows for 24-hour support without a caregiver or therapist on hand. No more bulky and uncomfortable wedges, just a simple, flexible and discrete solution. Get it: Aergo, POA (,

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01472 566 566

Safe and Reliable Accessible Transport Solutions. Whether it is Flooring Systems, Wheelchair Lifts, Ramps, Wheelchair Tie-downs or Occupant Seatbelts; we offer quality products and on-time delivery worldwide.

Call 01935 827740

Ask our support team for more details.

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Ricoh Arena, Coventry, 0161 607 8200 One of the largest free exhibitions dedicated to children and young adults with disabilities, Kidz to Adultz in the Middle will play host to over 120 exhibitors, offering advice and information on everything from funding to seating, toys to sports. Check out the seminar programme too, packed with information and inspiration for parents and professionals. 12 MARCH •DISABLED ACCESS DAY Nationwide Backed by access review site Euan’s Guide, Disabled Access Day is all about challenging disabled people nationwide to get out and try something new in their area or further afield! Attractions and venues across the country will be hosting events in honour of the day to showcase their accessibility – so head to the Disabled Access Day site now to see what’s on near you and get planning that day out.






Various locations, 01296 395 995 WheelPower’s Primary Sports Camps offer young wheelchair users the perfect opportunity to explore their sporting chances in a completely inclusive environment. For kids aged six to 11, there will be events and activities taking place in Stoke Mandeville (12 March), Redbridge (17 March) and Sutton (18 March). Book your child’s place now.

gallery@oxo, Oxo Tower, London QEF is holding a new exhibition in London, examining changes to assistive technology, mobility aids and support for disabled people over the 80 years in which the charity has been operating. This promises to be a fascinating exhibit, showing how far we’ve come – and letting you decide how much further we still have to go in terms of inclusion and attitudes. Admission is free, and the gallery is open from 11am to 6pm daily.

NEC, Birmingham, 0203 033 2500 Naidex is the UK’s biggest disability, rehabilitation and homecare exhibition, welcoming over 200 exhibitors from around the world to share their products, knowledge and information. There’s a fascinating seminar programme running alongside the exhibition too. This year, Tuesday the 26th will be for trade and healthcare professionals only, with the doors opening to the public on the Wednesday and Thursday. Register for your tickets online today.


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If you have an event coming up in May or June, email us the details to

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Join us at Naidex 2016

Discover the latest innovations in independent living, test the newest designs and source tailor-made products to make your life easier. Take advantage of the unique opportunity to share experiences with like-minded others and benefit from expert advice all under one roof. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve introduced a Trade and Healthcare professionals only day for a more streamlined show. You, as a consumer, are welcome to join us on day 2 and 3 of the show.

26th April 2016 Trade & Healthcare ONLY 27th-28th April 2016 Trade, Healthcare & Consumer

Register today at Independence. Together. 63_Enable.indd 63

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AMY CLARKE Amy Clarke, who works on Mencap’s digital team, shares why she feels it’s important for people with a learning disability to make their voice heard PEOPLE WITH A learning disability have a right to a decent life, but we still face barriers. We can, however, take action to help overcome these barriers. Another word for this is campaigning. You can campaign by sending letters or visiting your MP, but campaigning online is the newest way to get attention for a cause from the public and from people making important decisions. It’s so important for people with a learning disability to have a say and fight for his or her rights.

GET HELP It’s good to get help from organisations like Mencap with campaigning so that reaching

the public will be more efficient, especially online. A lot of people share things like blogs, tweets and videos to highlight what needs to be done. People with all disabilities should campaign online, as it is a modern way of reaching an audience and getting yourself heard. From signing online actions to making a plea on social media, or even making videos to raise awareness about the cause, there are lots of actions to take online. As a charity, Mencap campaign on causes like learning disability healthcare and benefit cuts. I have tweeted about most campaigns that Mencap run, and I do e-action forms to send a message to my MP. This means he can deal with a serious matter that I care about, and he may reply or his PA might. Social media is available 24 hours a day, so causes can get heard all the time. I have a learning disability and use social media quite well, so I share important causes online.

CAUSES I work in the digital team at Mencap, but I also like to know what causes will be put forward to be campaigned about for people with a learning disability. At the moment there are a lot of plans to change benefits being discussed in Parliament, so Mencap’s campaigns team are fighting against cuts. The Hear my voice campaign was launched last year and people with a learning disability sent their stories to their MPs, asking them to listen. It had a huge following with the public and MPs, especially over election time last year. It’s on the Mencap website, which is very accessible, with videos to watch and blogs to read. As a person with a learning disability, I feel Mencap campaigns are very accessible. We put the reading matter into easy read and have a lot of videos and pictures to look at. I assist with this by inspecting any new material to check for accessibility. Mencap believes in empowerment and that people with a learning disability must have their voices heard on what is important!

i Start your campaigning journey online today at


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Four ways to maintain your independence

Walk-in homelift

Wheelchair lift

Straight & curved stairlifts


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ADJUSTING TO LIFE WITH A DISABLED BABY Finding out your unborn child has a disability is a daunting time for parents, one often followed by a lifetime of challenges. Mum-of-three Michelle Kirkpatrick tells achael ulton about the first years of her son uncan’s life and why she wouldn’t change him for the world



hen Michelle Kirkpatrick was seven months pregnant with her first child, doctors broke the news that the baby had a bilateral cleft palate. The disability would affect Duncan’s speech and ability to feed, but that was not the extent of his health issues. He was born with a hole in his heart and a condition called dextrocardia too, meaning that his heart was on the wrong side. After a traumatic birth and emergency C-section, Duncan was rushed from Cresswell Maternity Hospital in Dumfries to the Queen Mother’s Maternity hospital at Yorkhill in Glasgow. “The next morning we were told he might not make it,” recalls Michelle. “We spent the first 10 weeks in hospital with him. It was so difficult. My husband was working at that time and I had to face a lot of it by myself. It was really hard to go through, but life still has to go on.”

TRANSFORM After time spent in the high dependency unit at Dumfries Hospital, Duncan was brought home. He had his cleft palate corrected at four months old, a major operation which would transform his quality of life. “It was the strangest feeling when he went in for the operation,” says Michelle. “You feel helpless. You would rather be the one going through it. “After he had his palate corrected, I held him, looked at his face and burst into tears. I was physically shaking – he looked so different. It’s truly amazing what can be done.” At home, Michelle had to adjust to the challenges of life with a disabled baby. When Duncan struggled to feed from bottles, Michelle was shown how to insert a nasogastric tube into his nose. Although nervous in case she misjudged the distance between his throat and stomach, Michelle knew that inserting the tube would save her baby’s life. “I was really scared in case I did something wrong, but on the other end of the scale, if I didn’t do it he wouldn’t be here,” Michelle says. “You overcome your fears in times like those, you don’t realise you are able to do something until your child’s life depends on it.”

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PLENTY OF PRACTICE Michelle soon had lots of practice inserting the tube, as she’d given birth to a very active little boy with a habit of pulling it out. “He was a wriggler when he was little!” says Michelle. “He kept kicking the nasal tubes out, so I got used to putting them in pretty quickly.” Over the years, Michelle and husband Alastair adjusted to Duncan’s needs at home with the support of community nurses and health workers. Now 12, Duncan has limited speech and learns at a much slower pace than other children his age, but attends the local primary school in Castle Douglas and will start secondary school later this year. Speech therapists, carers and sessions in both physiotherapy and hydrotherapy have all assisted Duncan to live a full and happy life. His mum also sought comfort from Oakfield, a respite centre near Dumfries, which allows her and Duncan to have some down time. “I just try to keep life as normal as possible,” said Michelle. “We had stair gates and bed rails fitted in the house, but one of the main things I worried about was trip hazards. Duncan is partially sighted so I always worry that he will trip over something. Every time I see something on the floor I panic that he won’t see it and he’ll trip. He doesn’t understand that certain things might hurt him.”

“Duncan is still a human being with feelings. No one in the world is the same; you can’t judge people with disabilities”

FAMILY LIFE Duncan now has two little sisters to keep him company, Keighla, five, and threeyear-old Caitlyn, who look out for their big brother. “The girls really bring him on a lot,” says Michelle. “He’s a huge part of our family. If he’s not there, the girls will ask after him. They really miss him when he’s not around.” Although Duncan has had an operation every year of his life, including major surgery to close the hole in his heart, he remains a cheery young boy who loves horse riding and music. The family face daily challenges with Duncan, but are determined to lead a normal life and to treat every member of the family with the same respect. Duncan’s life may have had a rocky start, but now his disabilities and care schedule are just part of the Kirkpatricks’ happy household routine.

STABILITY Michelle remains conscious of outsiders’ perspectives of the family’s situation, but she continues to encourage equality and stability at home to give Duncan the best possible start in life. “I just get on with things and try to make sure that everyone is treated the same,” said Michelle. “I’m so protective of people taking the mickey out of him. These sort of challenges can happen to anyone; it upsets me that people can be so judgmental. “Duncan is still a human being with feelings. No one in the world is the same; you can’t judge people with disabilities. “I never thought I would have a disabled child, I never thought life would be this way, but I love the wee man to bits. I adore him. He’s a lovely, happy little gentleman and I wouldn’t change him for the world.”

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Carers BRITAIN IS HOME TO an estimated 6 million carers. Some of these family members and friends have given up careers, relationships and family to work up to 24 hours a day to manage the needs of a loved one, all unpaid. While it can be rewarding work, being a carer can bring its own problems. Kayleigh McGrath, senior policy and public affairs officer at Carers UK, says: “Putting the needs of their loved one first often means carers struggle to find time to exercise, eat healthily or even go to the dentist or doctors. And in turn that has a really big impact on their health and wellbeing.” A survey by Carers UK discovered that one in nine carers has suffered a complete breakdown, meaning the person they care for has to be hospitalised or taken into emergency social care. Kayleigh warns mental health is a particularly pressing issue – over half of carers report having suffered depression because of their caring role. Research has also found that carers are vulnerable to stress, anxiety, loneliness and depression.

WHO CARES FOR CARERS? Despite the fact that over 6 million people care for a friend or relative, the UK’s carers are still vastly under-supported. So what help is out there irsty c en ie finds out

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DRAINING “It can be incredibly draining,” says Ann, 53 from Hampshire. Three years ago she sold her home and moved in with her 94-year-old mother, Joyce, to care for her full-time. “My mum has dementia so my day can often be incredibly monotonous,” says Ann. “It can be a struggle to hold a conversation with her. In some ways she is not really my mum any more; I have become her carer rather than her daughter.” In the past Ann struggled to care for her mother following a back injury. “Friends had to come to help me carry her up and down the stairs because I couldn’t manage,” says Ann. “We were told we were entitled to 90% funding for a stair lift, only to be told the chair wouldn’t be installed for six to 18 months. “I was distraught – I knew if we didn’t get the chair soon my mum could die; she had already fallen and hit her head several times.” Ann was told if she paid privately the chair could be installed within three weeks. “We used my mum’s life savings to pay for the chair. But what was the alternative? I knew I had to pay if I wanted my mum to live.” EXHAUSTED Recently, Ann’s brothers employed a care assistant to take off some of the pressure of caring 24/7. “They saw how utterly exhausted I was. And we’re in a fortunate enough position that we can afford to bring in extra help. The Carer’s Allowance is a disgrace. At 64p an hour it is only five per cent of the minimum wage. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for those without support.” For many carers, the limitations of Carer’s Allowance is a huge concern. Those who care for an elderly, disabled or ill person for 35 or more hours a week are entitled to claim carer’s allowance (currently £62.10 a week) if they earn no more than £110 a week in other work. The allowance can only be claimed by one carer per person cared for, even


when two parents care for a child. The same amount is paid regardless of the number of people that a carer looks after. The 6.4 million people in the UK providing unpaid care save the economy £119 billion every year, yet almost half of UK carers are in debt. Of those who are in debt, 85% say they are suffering mental health problems as a result. Charlotte Argyle, carers programme manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, says much of the problem stems from people being unprepared

The 6.4 million people in the UK providing unpaid care save the UK economy £119 billion every year yet almost half of UK carers are in debt for the financial toll an illness or disability can have. “Often people don’t have the time or headspace to process what is happening or how to deal with it practically,” says Charlotte. “It can be a lot of travelling to and from the hospital, time off work and then more time off to provide care to deal with the side effects of treatment.”

IDENTITY Roxanne, 30, from Rotherham, is a qualified dance and movement psychotherapist and is a full-time carer for her older sister, Kelly, who has Down’s syndrome. She says she has always found it difficult to identify as a carer. “I just see Kelly as my sister and one of my best friends,” says Roxanne. “Technically I have always been a sibling carer but never thought of myself as being defined in that way.” While assisting and providing care

to a loved one during an illness seems an obvious step for most families, Carers UK’s Kayleigh says one of the biggest challenges a carer will face is recognising their needs and their rights. “Once people recognise their role and realise that they are carers, they can access a huge amount of support,” she says. “Only a third of carers knew straight away that they were providing the role of a carer.”

LIMITING Charlotte at Macmillan says people can find the term ‘carer’ too limiting. “We’ve found that moving away from the language of ‘carer’ and ‘caring’ can really help when trying to raise awareness.” Instead she recommends that people use the phrases like ‘looking after’ – terms that everyone is comfortably using every day. “Anyone who needs help with their role or advice about what benefits they are entitled to should contact a local carer’s centre or their local council,” says Kayleigh. “There they can find advice on funding options and benefits available if they are struggling with money.” While being a full-time carer can be a challenge at times, thanks to the support that Roxanne receives, she finds it easier to enjoy the time she gets to spend with her sister. “Kelly’s laughter, smiles and unique personality make me very happy,” says Roxanne. “It’s also great that we are able to influence how people see disabled people and their families. People need to begin to see carers as individuals – not all carers and those they care for are the same.”

i Carers UK 0808 808 7777 Macmillan Cancer Support 0808 808 0000

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A NEW INNOVATION IN DISABILITY SCOOTER DESIGN The real beauty of the Electrokart Ranger is the ease with which you can take it apart. No other buggy folds away to be as neat and compact as the Ranger. It dismantles simply, in no time at all, to fit neatly into the boot of most saloons and all hatchbacks. This off road mobility scooter is rugged built quality, constructed from high quality steel tubing, phosphated and epoxy coated to give longer life and all weather protection. Adjustable steering column adjusts for comfort and easy, step-on access, with comfortable steel backed, foam filled and weatherproof bucket style seat as standard. With 2 x braked motors for safety.

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Kidz to Adultz in the Middle Thursday 10th March 2016 Jaguar Exhibition Hall, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, CV6 6GE

9.30am – 4.30pm FREE event for children & young adults up to 25 years with disabilities and additional needs, their families, carers and the professionals who support them. 100+ exhibitors / FREE CPD seminars Information on mobility, seating, bathing, transport, housing, SEN, education, employment, vehicles, funding, services, transition, communication, The Care Act and much more Children Welcome! Along with all the usual paediatric elements of our events and to mirror the recent changes in The Care Act 2014 and The Children & Families Act 2014, the Kidz exhibitions have expanded their remit to support adults up to the age of 25 years. This will include exhibitors from housing, higher education, employment fields, domiciliary care services, personal budget brokers, accessible, holiday, travel options and so much more.

Dates For Your Diary •Kidz to Adultz South 9th June 2016 - Rivermead Leisure Complex, Reading New event •Kidz to Adultz Wales 7th July 2016 New venue House of Sport, Cardiff •Kidz to Adultz Scotland 15th September 2016 Royal Highland Exhibition Centre, Edinburgh •Kidz to Adultz up North 17th November 2016 EventCity, Manchester

For FREE Visitors Tickets or to register your interest 0161 607 8200 Established in 1897, Disabled Living is a charity registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales. Registered Charity number 224742

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BALANCING PAID EMPLOYMENT with a demanding care schedule is no easy task, yet one in nine people in British workplaces must juggle caring for someone older, disabled or seriously ill while also maintaining a paid job. The stress of this balancing act combined with restrictive working conditions leads one in six working carers to leave paid employment, or to reduce their hours to accommodate their role as carer. The Markeys from Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, are just one of the thousands of families balancing paid employment with caring for a loved one. Both Margaret and Sean Markey work full-time in the public sector; Margaret as a nurse for the NHS and Sean as a primary school teacher. At home they care for Margaret’s mother Phyllis, who has Parkinson’s disease. In order to support Phyllis, Margaret and Sean built a ‘granny flat’ beside their own house and began caring for her with the support of relatives and a selection of private and NHS carers.

NOT EASY “It’s not easy to balance work and care,” says Margaret. “I have one day a week in which I work 11am-4pm rather than 8.30am-5pm, so that I can make sure Mum is on the bus to daycare in the morning and I can be at home when she gets back.” This day of flexible working hours helps Margaret manage her mother’s care schedule, but is just the tip of the iceberg. Margaret often uses annual leave in order to attend appointments or deal with emergencies. Now in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s, Phyllis needs round-theclock care and is on the highest level of care package delivered by their local hospital trust. The demands of her condition mean that a team of NHS nurses and private carers work alongside Margaret and her relatives to keep Phyllis well and living at home. The private carers are paid for through Phyllis’ pension and money from the Carer’s Allowance. They keep Phyllis company through the day because she is afraid to be alone.

EMPLOYERS FOR CARERS Workplaces around the country are becoming gradually more supportive of carers, allowing for a better balance in their work and home lives. We spoke to Carers UK about improving working conditions and carer Margaret Markey about her own experiences

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GRAND DAYS OUT: The UK is home to hundreds of amazing, accessible days out, from a walk round baggy point (top right) to horse riding with RDA (below left)

“We are doing everything we can to have Mummy stay at home; we don’t want to put her in a care home,” says Margaret. “The support from work could be better. If I have to cover hospital appointments or be at home for the GP to visit the house, I have to take holiday leave. That’s difficult because, as a full-time carer and full-time nurse, my holidays are so precious to me.”

LACK OF AWARENESS Margaret also believes there is a lack of awareness of the demands that caring for an elderly person brings within the workplace. As a nurse, she sees first-hand the wealth of individuals struggling to support elderly and infirm people within the community. “The ideal situation would be better recognition of people caring for the elderly,” says Margaret. “People recognise caring for children, but they don’t seem to have the same reaction for caring for older people. “When you have kids you are usually younger – when you’re older and looking after someone you tire more easily. Parenthood brings its own worries, combined with caring for your own parents. I’m only one of many, many people who do this.” Despite current challenges within workplaces, the situation is gradually improving across the UK. Through Carers UK, Employers for Carers help assist workplaces in supporting carers within their workforce. With several major employers signed up to the forum, their mission is to make working life less challenging for those caring for people at home. Carers UK also provide valuable information on carers’ rights, help individuals seek support from HR departments and ascertain what help they are entitled to. The increased visibility of carers within the workplace is crucial for opening up discussion on flexible working conditions. SUPPORT Benefits such as carer leave allow workers to take sudden absence in case of emergency, enabling them to attend to their loved ones if there is an accident at home, or if perhaps their alternative

FAMILY UNIT: Margaret with her mum Phyllis and brother Vincent

“People recognise caring for children, but they don’t seem to have the same reaction for caring for older people” Margaret Markey

care provisions have fallen through. Longer-term help, such as flexible working hours, allow for efficient care scheduling and a more effective work and life balance. “Carers often don’t have peace of mind when it comes to appropriate, reliable and consistent care while they are at work,” says Chloe Wright, policy and public affairs manager at Carers UK. “They also suffer from isolation in the workplace. Employers are used to chatting about childcare, but care of an ill relative or elderly person is less often spoken about. This can be very isolating for carers. Also, people normally think of themselves as a

brother, daughter or spouse before they think of themselves as a carer, which may prevent them from seeking help.” Carers UK help support carers by providing information on their rights in the workplace, as well as working to educate employers on how to help carers in their workforce. By raising awareness of the millions of people taking care of elderly or infirm relatives at home, Carers UK hope that employers evolve their benefits packages to support carers. “Things like maternity leave and paternity leave are advertised when you first get a job, but companies should also advertise help for workers caring for elderly, disabled or ill relatives,” says Chloe. “If employers are more upfront about how they are willing to accommodate carers in their workforce, this might help carers identify and come forward to receive support.”

i Carers UK 0808 808 7777 Employers for Carers

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Employment and education

he first day college for young people with autism and complex needs in ondon mbitious ollege is already making a massi e difference for learners in the capital e found out more about what the establishment has to offer


Ambitious College FEWER THAN ONE in four young people with autism carry on with their education after school – something which charity Ambitious about Autism are keen to change. In September 2014, the doors of Ambitious College’s two campuses opened in London, ready to provide a further education service for young people with complex autism in the capital. “We’re a day college based in London, specifically for young people with complex autism,” explains Linda Looney, vice principal of Ambitious College. “We provide further education and employment support for young people aged between 16 and 25. Our vision is to support those young people to be able to transition to adult life, but to remain within their local community too.”

FOCUS The college’s curriculum is based on the Preparing for Adulthood Pathways, focusing on employment, independent living skills, community inclusion and good health and wellbeing. “Within that, we embed functional

literacy, numeracy, ICT and behaviour skills,” Linda explains. “Each learner then comes to us with an Education, Health and Care plan, and specific learning aims are pulled out through that and our assessment process. They will have an individualised study programme, which is designed to help them work to their own individual learning needs.” What makes Ambitious College stand out is its co-location model. Located on the same grounds as two mainstream colleges, students have the opportunity to learn in a mainstream environment, sharing resources and learning outside of their specialist environment too. “It opens up opportunities for our learners – to be able to access mainstream provision with the right support when they ordinarily wouldn’t be able to do that,” Linda explains. “It’s inclusive in every way. Our learners are included, but then there’s aspects of reverse inclusion. Mainstream college learners get the opportunity to work alongside and meet young people with autism, learn a little bit about autism and spread the message.”

FUTURE FUNDS The College is off to a great start, thanks to generous donations through the charity. The College is currently temporarily sharing campuses with Barnet and Southgate College in north London and the Southall Campus of Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College – and £4.4m is required to help move to permanent residences in Tottenham, as part of Conel, and Isleworth, as part of West Thames College. “It’s a really pioneering project, and what’s really great is that by 2020, the college will be self-financing,” explains Jessica Dallyn, appeal director on the fundraising side. “What we’re looking for is that injection of cash now so that long-term, it won’t be reliant on voluntary income, but we do need that voluntary income initially.” To offer your support to Ambitious College, you can donate online at, or phone 0208 815 5433.

i To find out more about studying at Ambitious College, head to


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THIS IS WHO WE ARE. We are very proud to be recognised as a Stonewall top 100 employer.

We’re looking for people with the right set of skills. Individuals who know what they’re doing and can really contribute to BBC Digital – no matter what their background. So if you think you’ve got something special to offer, we want to hear from you. Search

Employment Opportunities Know what you want to pursue as a career, or looking for ideas? Interested in employment or placement opportunities? NHS Lothian is responsible for providing healthcare services to a population of more than 800,000 people. We have a wide range of jobs at entry and qualified level and offer great opportunities for career development – and much more. We recognise the value that everyone brings to our organisation. Through our ‘Job Interview Guarantee’ we will consider you on your abilities and guarantee an interview where you meet the essential criteria for the post. We actively support a range of different groups to gain or get back into employment. The types of careers we offer include:

Management and administrative

Treatment and care

Information and IT

Dentists, Doctors, Health Visitors, Healthcare Assistants, Midwives, Nurses, Allied Health Professionals, and many more…

Trades, skilled and support Caterers, Domestics, Chaplains, Drivers, Electricians, Porters, Fire, Safety & Security Staff, Maintenance, and many more…

Accountants, Clerical Officers, Communications, Human Resources, Medical Records, Receptionists, Secretaries, Telephonists, and many more…

Scientific and technical Clinical Scientists, Laboratory Staff, Medical Technologists, Medical Photographers, Technicians, and many more… Analysts, Librarians, Audio Visual Technicians, Computing Staff, Information Manager, IT Trainers, and many more… All our vacancies are advertised on: and more information on NHS Lothian can be found at

Come and see what we can offer for your career in healthcare Enable advert NHS Lothian NHS Lothian 2014.indd 1

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Employment and education

NHS JOBS: A HEALT The NHS is one of the UK’s biggest employers – and there are job roles available for people of all ages, stages and abilities, whatever your interest. So how can you get involved? We take a look at some of the opportunities that are out there


he National Health Service is, without a doubt, one of the UK’s greatest assets. As well as providing free healthcare for the country’s population, it has also provided thousands of job opportunities for people of all ages, abilities, interests and specialisms since its inception in 1948. Across NHS England, NHS Scotland and NHS Wales, over 1.6m people are employed in the health service, in roles from housekeeping to IT, portering to medical consultants, working in hospitals, dental surgeries, specialist medical practices and GP surgeries nationwide. There’s something for everyone in the NHS – whether you’re coming straight from school, you’ve got years’ worth of work in another area behind you or you’ve got a degree to your name, there’s an opportunity to make your mark in an organisation that changes lives every day. Here are some of the fields in which you could get started…

ON THE JOB WITH PROJECT SEARCH The NHS has opportunities for everyone – and in some parts of the country, NHS trusts and boards are going above and beyond to ensure that disabled people are getting their chance to be involved 78

Project SEARCH provides employment and learning opportunities within the NHS for young people with disabilities in Edinburgh. The project – run in partnership with City of Edinburgh Council, NHS Lothian, Edinburgh College and Intowork – lasts a full college year, and sees young people work their way through three different internships while studying towards a qualification. William Duff, 19, from Edinburgh, has

recently landed a job with NHS Lothian after successfully going through the Project SEARCH programme. William, who has learning disabilities and borderline Asperger’s, says: “I heard good things about it from a friend of mine who had done it the previous year. He thought it was really good, so I applied.” William has worked his way through the three internships, each lasting 10 to 12 weeks, including portering and delivering meals to patients.

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Employment and education

LTHY CAREER PATH DOCTORS Doctors require a degree in medicine, followed by years of training in the specialty they choose to follow for their career. A medical degree requires top grades from school and four to five years of study – it’s hard work, with long hours but you do get to save lives for a living. Specialisms include anaesthesia, oncology, radiology, reproductive health, emergency medicine, general practice, intensive care, surgery, medicine, paediatrics, pathology – a massive range of fascinating areas of work and study. NURSING In hospitals and community settings, nurses are often at the heart of medical care. With different specialities on offer, from adult nursing to surgical theatre, this is a really varied job where no two days are the same. You’ll need a nursing degree from an approved institution, which involves several placements in different settings. HEALTHCARE SCIENCE In labs up and down the country, scientists are analysing data to make diagnoses and discoveries that’ll move modern medicine further forward. If you’ve got an interest in science, you can get into lab work with a relevant diploma, degree or through an apprenticeship scheme.

“Every day, you work from half past nine until quarter to three,” he explains. “We’ve got class nine till 9:15 – you sign in, get registered – then class from 3 to 4 to prepare us for SQA exams.” Classroom learning is supported by a tutor and job coach based in the hospital, who provide learning support, helping students work towards their qualifications and to learn

CLINICAL SUPPORT STAFF In the wider healthcare team, there’s a huge number of roles – cardiographers, dieticians, nutritionists, occupational therapists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, podiatrists, healthcare assistants, social workers, speech and language therapists… There’s a massive range of roles out there in hospital and community settings.

Over 1.6m people are employed by the NHS MANAGEMENT There are non-medical roles in the NHS too. In management, the NHS needs specialists in all areas. You’ll find managers in GP surgeries, estates, communications, purchasing, admin, HR, facilities and hotel services, overseeing staff, budgets and efficiency, ensuring their department is meeting targets and expectations. ADMINISTRATION There’s a plethora of admin roles in the NHS. In GP practices, huge city hospitals, rural medical centres, dental practices and beyond, admin staff are required to help keep things organised and running smoothly. Health records staff, personal assistants and medical secretaries, receptionists and telephone operators are all crucial members of the team.

skills that will help them on placement. The project is hugely successful, with 60-100% of participants each year going on to secure full-time work. William started a job with the NHS at the end of February, working as a stores assistant. “I’ll be taking stuff from the base up to the wards in the different parts of the hospital, getting signatures for deliveries

DOMESTIC SERVICES There’s more to a hospital stay than your medical care – there’s a huge team of men and women working to make sure you’re comfortable, clean, fed and watered too, including catering managers, catering staff, housekeepers and linen services. SUPPORT SERVICES Drivers, security staff, stores and distribution staff and porters are also key members of the NHS framework, ensuring everyone and everything gets to where it should be, and that everyone is safe. And this is just touching on some of the roles that are on offer. As a large, diverse and inclusive organisation, there’s scope for progression in the NHS, and staff are well looked after, with support frameworks in place – so you don’t have to worry about your disability or care responsibilities working against you. Whatever your skills, qualifications, interests and ambitions, the NHS could be your perfect workplace. Get onto the NHS careers site now to see what’s out there for you.

i NHS Careers Health Careers

and stripping and sorting out different deliveries from the pallets,” he explains. “Project SEARCH has improved my confidence. When I came, I wasn’t really much of a speaker. It’s helped me understand the workplace and how to treat different colleagues.” Recruitment for Project SEARCH takes place in April each year. Find out more at the project’s Facebook page – projectsearchedinburgh.

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Employment and education

social opportunities, student housing and support, all in their local area. “Our philosophy for all our transitions services is that all young people should have the opportunity to progress and to reach their potential. For the student housing project, we really wanted to mirror the mainstream experience for students with a disability,” Amie says. “Students go off to university, they live in halls of residence and they make friends for life. Sometimes, people with learning disabilities don’t have the same opportunity to access that.”

Transitioning to independence United Response’s student housing project in West Cheshire is making a huge difference in the lives of young people with learning disabilities and autism FOR YOUNG PEOPLE with learning disabilities, residential college is often the next step as they transition from school to adult life. While this can bring huge benefits – teaching independent living skills, social skills and working towards possible employment – it can be an expensive method of transition, costing local authorities up to £120,000 a year per student. It can also be challenging for young people who often move away from their hometown to attend college, meaning they are often at a loss when they finish their course and return home.

UNIQUE PROJECT “Young people were going back to their

hometown and all the connections they’d made at residential college weren’t being maintained, and some of the skills they had learned weren’t easily transferrable – they were going two steps back almost,” explains Amie Dobinson, development coordinator at United Response, the care and support charity for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and physical disabilities. In the north west, the charity has been working in partnership with West Cheshire College and Chester and West Cheshire Council since 2013 to provide a unique transitions project for young people aged 18-25, combining learning, employment,

OUTCOME-FOCUSED The project is entirely outcomefocused, with each student working on their own individual pathway – the students choose where they live, who supports them and what they want to achieve. The overarching aim is to build independence for the future, with students developing their independent living skills, making close friendships and moving towards paid work, all while they study and gain qualifications at a local college. “We have achieved some excellent outcomes already,” Amie says. “For example, all the students have had meaningful work experience and some now have paid jobs – one student set up his own social enterprise. They can all access their local town independently, and two of the young people recently cooked a three-course meal for their next door neighbours.” While residential college is expensive, the student housing transitions model is a cost-effective alternative, costing approximately £40,000 per student each year, exceeding all outcomes and goals. “The project is inclusive, it’s completely outcome-focused and it’s about personal progression for young people,” Amie adds. “Transition sets the direction for the rest of that young person’s life, so if we can get it right now and if we can get all the partners on board, we can really achieve something different, inspirational and really creative.”

i United Response 020 8246 5200

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Adjusting to life with a spinal injury is a massive undertaking – which is why Spinal Injuries Association have launched a new service for patients, their family members and healthcare professionals to help reassure, educate and inspire

Charity Spotlight

THE NURSES MAKING LIFE EASIER FOR PEOPLE WITH SPINAL CORD INJURIES THE UK IS HOME to 40,000 people with spinal injuries. That’s 40,000 people facing a similar set of challenges, with complex care needs, dotted across the country. Spinal injury is life changing – and it can be devastating, physically and emotionally, both for the person affected and those around them. When you first acquire an injury, it can take a lot of getting used to, and while things get easier with time, there will be additional complications which crop up. Which is why Spinal Injuries Association has launched its new nurse advocate service. With funds raised by the charity, SIA have hired two specialist nurses – Debbie Green, who’s working in the south of England, and Carol Adcock in the north. “Between them, they have about 50 years of experience in nursing patients with spinal cord injury, and experience in a similar role, as outreach workers,” explains Jamie Rhind, SIA’s outreach manager (pictured above, left). “I don’t think we could have recruited two more experienced individuals – they’re so well respected, both in the world of spinal cord injury and healthcare more widely.”

THE ROLE Debbie and Carol’s role has several functions. Firstly, they’ll be working with newly injured people who are being cared for in non-specialist settings. They’ll also be providing education – for carers and healthcare professionals – to make sure that everyone is clued up and appropriately trained in areas like moving and handling, bladder and bowel management and pressure ulcers, both in hospitals and at the charity’s regular study days. They’ll also act as advocates for SIA members who go into hospital postinjury for an unrelated issue, to liaise with the hospital and make sure that staff are clued up on working with patients with spinal injuries. When you consider that only around 1,000 people sustain a spinal injury annually, and divide that amongst all the hospitals we have, some medical centres might not encounter someone with a spinal injury for months or maybe even years at a time. “You can’t expect the members of staff in these settings to be experts in caring

for people with spinal cord injury,” Jamie says. “But we want to make sure that anyone at any time in any department, whether it’s a new injury or a longer standing one, can ensure the best possible quality of care.”

IDENTIFYING The nurses will work closely with SIA’s outreach team, who offer a peer support service nationwide, to identify individuals and non-specialist medical settings which need additional support. People who feel they might benefit from support from the nurse advocates – whether that’s to talk about concerns over the quality of their care or questions about their condition – can also phone the helpline on 01908 604 191. “First and foremost, it’ll be about working with the patients, offering them reassurance,” Jamie adds. “It will ensure that the risk of them developing secondary complications related to their injury will be reduced. We can ensure that people have the best possible chance to rebuild their life after spinal cord injury.”

i To find out more about the nurse advocate service, or to make a donation towards Spinal Injuries Association’s work, head to


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