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WORK WELL, LIVE WELL
How to balance your working life with your disability
January / February 2017
Our hopes for 2017 Celebrities, charities and big businesses share their new year wishes
ACCESSIBLE DAYS OUT
The very best events and activities across Britain this season
WIN a product bundle from Dycem worth £500!
The author, presenter and charity founder on turning her life around – and using her position to help others
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forget can’t – think can
PUBLISHER Denise Connelly firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR Lindsay Cochrane email@example.com STAFF WRITER Kirsty McKenzie firstname.lastname@example.org EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS Rachael Fulton Tim Rushby-Smith Alisdair Suttie DESIGN AND PRODUCTION Lucy Baillie email@example.com SALES Marian Mathieson firstname.lastname@example.org PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Lisa McCabe email@example.com ENABLE MAGAZINE www.enablemagazine.co.uk DC Publishing Ltd, 198 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4HG Tel: 0844 249 9007 Fax: 0141 353 0435
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e o and we ome to t e first ssue o nab e a a ne or Before I get started telling you what’s on offer this edition, I’d like to take a quick moment to say thank you to the Enable team. This issue has been a funny one, as I’ve been stuck in hospital for the most part (I’ve bullied my mum into bringing my laptop in to me so I can work). After two years of trying to manage my increasingly dramatic symptoms, work and having a life in between, the doctors have finally got to the bottom of my Crohn’s issues and I’m in the midst of receiving the right treatment that’ll hopefully get things back under control. While I’ve been recuperating with the best the NHS has to offer, the whole team in the office have really rallied together to make a fantastic issue of Enable in my absence – and I cannot thank them enough for all their hard work. So thank you to every one of you for all your support, understanding, and for being the very best in the business! As I’ve discovered, working with a disability isn’t always straightforward – and that’s something we’ve been exploring this issue! In our employment and education section, we’ve been finding out about your rights in the workplace, and what employers can and should be doing to ensure disabled employees can do their job. Elsewhere, we’re taking a look at what college has to offer, plus we’ve got some top tips for those of you using the new year as an excuse to reboot your working life. Someone who’s overcome some major challenges to pursue a new path and help make a difference in the lives of others is this issue’s big interview – Katie Piper. The model, TV presenter and charity founder took some time out of her busy schedule to talk about her work supporting burns victims with Enable’s Kirsty McKenzie. She’s an incredible woman, so turn to page 16 to read it all now. Elsewhere, we’ve been asking our favourite celebrities, personalities, broadcasters and charities what they’re hoping to see in 2017. Check it all out on page 10, and tweet us what you’re wishing for now! Use the hashtag #Enable2017 to get involved. My hopes for this year? A calmer, more sensible year would be lovely – one free from questionable political decisions, hatred and discrimination to create a fairer, more equal, happier society for all. I’m all for dreaming big! And on that note, I wish you all the very best for the year ahead – let’s make it a great one. Until next time,
Lindsay Cochrane, Editor
i Enable Magazine
35 ACCESS HOUSING This issue, we’re dedicating the middle section of the magazine to the topic of housing and how to get a property that meets your needs.
51 SUPPORT FOR SINGLE PARENT CARERS Parents of children with special needs are more likely to separate – so what support is out there to help single mums and dads get through?
71 DISABILITY ON THE HIGH STREET More and more retailers are wising up to the power of the Purple Pound – so who’s going the extra mile for disabled consumers?
©DC Publishing Ltd 2017. 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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ACCESS HOUSING This issue, we’re turning the spotlight on all things housing, whether you’re renting, buying or looking for a supported living arrangement. From knowing your options to understanding mortgages, adapting your home to the organisations that can support you, we’ve covered it all. Check it all out from page 35.
Interviews 16 KATIE PIPER The charity founder and TV presenter talks to Enable about the incident that changed her life. 23 RUBY WAX Comedian and author Ruby tells Enable all about her new mindfulness guide to help manage stress.
Life 10 OUR HOPES FOR 2017 Our favourite celebrities, campaigners, charities and businesses share their new year wishes. 14 THE WORLD CHANGERS The Enable team round up the individuals set to make waves in 2017. From actors to inventors, prepare to be inspired. 19 HERE COMES THE BRIDE Following the festive proposal season, January is the time to get planning that wedding! But how do you go about it when you have a disability? We find out.
54 ACCESSIBLE ADVENTURES Suffering from cabin fever after a few months trapped in the house? Check out our roundup of the best accessible days out, activities and holidays. 56 DISABLED ACCESS DAY 2017 The annual event is back – and promising to be bigger than before! 64 THE DIARY Our roundup of the best events to check out this season.
Motoring 60 THE REVIEW We take the new Ford EcoSport out on the road – how does it measure up?
Care 26 RECRUITING YOUR OWN PERSONAL ASSISTANTS Skills for Care offer some advice to get you on track to becoming an individual employer. 28 INNOVATION IN CARE We find out about the state-of-the-art care facility giving tenants back their freedom and independence.
Carers 51 SUPPORT FOR SINGLE PARENT CARERS What help is out there to support mums and dads who are parenting solo? Carers UK shed some light.
31 THE £30-A-WEEK BENEFIT CUT SET TO HIT THOUSANDS We investigate the real meaning of the changes to Employment and Support Allowance set to come into play.
66 TOMORROW’S TECHNOLOGY We look into how advances in technology are making massive changes in the world of prosthetics and orthoses. 71 DISABILITY ON THE HIGH STREET What are retailers doing to meet the needs of disabled consumers?
Employment and education 76 THE GOLDEN RULES OF JOB HUNTING If 2017 is the year that you shake up your career, follow these steps to get on the road to success. 78 WORK WELL, LIVE WELL How employers can support you and your health needs in the workplace. 80 BIG BUSINESS The winner of the 2016 Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs talks to Enable about his success.
THE LATEST PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES MADE TO FEEL ‘UNWELCOME’ MENCAP IS CALLING ON the public to offer more support to parents of children with a learning disability, after a survey of 1,000 parents revealed that 70% have felt unwelcome in public with their child. The survey’s findings show that almost two-thirds of parents also miss social engagements and 21% have been asked to leave public spaces with their disabled child. Some individuals confessed that they had missed important events such as family weddings, or had been told to segregate their children at events so as not to disturb other guests. Mencap is asking members of the public to think first and reserve their judgment of children with learning disabilities. They want the public to offer support to families with children who have learning disabilities in order to reduce feelings of social isolation. A new online community, FamilyHub (www.mencap. org.uk/familyhub), has been launched to provide support for parents who feel socially isolated or who wish to engage in peer-to-peer support with other parents. Rossanna Trudglan, head of campaigns at Mencap, said: “Public attitudes may have improved in the 70 years Mencap has existed, but as a society we should feel ashamed to have such little acceptance of children who may sometimes act differently to others. “It’s heart-breaking that not only are children with a learning disability being dropped off
birthday invite lists or being asked to stay in the garden away from other children, but almost two thirds of parents have felt forced to miss social engagements, such as their best friend’s wedding. The good news is that solving this can be easy, inexpensive and life-changing for parents. “If the public can think and not judge when they see a child behaving differently and instead offer support and acceptance, this suffering could end overnight. “For anyone worried about how to react around children with a learning disability, we urge people to pause and realise it’s okay to feel awkward, but to still engage and help end this isolation so many parents are feeling.”
Disabled Diver Invents First Self-Propelled Submarine Wheelchair DIVING ENTHUSIAST IGOR SKIKEVICH, 51, has designed what he believes to be the first ever affordable, self-propelled submarine wheelchair. Skikevich has signed a deal with a factory to start mass-manufacturing his invention, which will give wheelchair users the freedom of underwater exploration at a fraction of the previous cost. The specially-designed wheelchairs have enginepowered propellers attached, allowing users to cover more distance when diving. The diver’s oxygen tank is mounted onto the back of the wheelchair and special straps keep the diver securely in place. The wheelchairs are expected to sell to the public for approximately £860, much cheaper than a previous iteration designed by British artist Sue Austin, which cost around £7,400.
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‘More respect’ for disabled air passengers THE CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY (CAA) says that airports should do more to ease the stress of travelling for people with hidden disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s, autism and dementia. In order to alleviate anxiety within airports, the CAA suggests that ‘open days’ be held so that travellers can familiarise themselves with the airport environment. The CAA’s new guidelines call for security staff to undergo awareness training so that “people with hidden disabilities must never be separated from a parent/friend/ accompanying person during a security search, and security staff must explain prior to the search what screening will take place and make any necessary adjustments”. There should also be ‘quiet routes’ established within airports that allow people to bypass the noise and bright lights of the shopping area, making the journey through the airport much simpler and less stressful. They are also being asked to offer people with hidden disabilities
the option of wearing a form of identification, such as a lanyard or bracelet, so that staff are easily alerted. Of the 700,000 passengers who pass through a UK airport on an average day, approximately 7,400 have a disability or reduced mobility. All are entitled to free assistance under EU law.
POWER 100 LIST CELEBRATES UK’S MOST INFLUENTIAL DISABLED PEOPLE BRITAIN’S MOST DECORATED PARALYMPIAN, Dame Sarah Storey, is the UK’s most influential disabled person for 2017 according to the recently-released Power 100 List. She was followed in second place by broadcaster Alex Brooker, best known for his work for Channel 4. Other television personalities to make the top 10 for 2017 were Ade Adepitan (#6) and journalist Andrew Marr (#8.) The Power 100 List, created in collaboration with Powerful Media and The Shaw Trust, aims to celebrate the work of influential disabled people in the UK across all industries. Released to mark the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Power 100 List is an annual publication which marks the contribution of people in the public eye who have a disability or impairment.
2,000 disabled people wrongly declared fit for work in space of three months
Disability charities have voiced concerns that the increase in appeal numbers is evidence that the assessment process is simply not working. In April 2017, the Employment and Support Allowance rate will be cut by £30 for new claimants who are incorrectly categorised by the tests.
PIC: © ONEDITION
ACCORDING TO DEPARTMENT FOR Work and Pensions (DWP) figures, the department wrongly declared approximately 2,000 disabled people fit to work over a three-month period. Appeals against DWP decisions are on the rise compared to the previous quarter, despite an overall decrease in caseload.
We as ed our a our te n uent a ns rat ona d sab ed eo e am a ners ar t es b name bus nesses and e ebr t es to s are t e r o es or t e mont s a ead
Our hopes for 2017 “We have an unprecedented opportunity in 2017, with greater awareness of the unacceptable human and financial costs of inequality and a growing consensus about how equality for disabled people can be achieved. My hope is that in making these issues mainstream and achieving a step change in progress, we can help focus other nations on this too.” Penny Mordaunt, The Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health
“For Cornerstone, 2017 promises to be an exciting year as we prepare to go on a new organisational journey. The overarching goal remains to keep the people in our care at the heart of everything we do through a strategy of increased involvement and dialogue. This will allow us to provide support to more people with disabilities and help them to live a valued life – the life they choose.” Edel Harris, CEO of Cornerstone
“Moving into 2017 there are so many unknowns that now more than ever the disabled community must work together to help continue the fight for inclusivity, access and change. In the midst of so much discrimination and fear, it’s important that we continue to fight for our rights and look out for one another. We must be loud and proud of what makes us different, and identify opportunities to help improve the lives of those around us. Personally, I hope 2017 takes all we have learned and compounds it, to accelerate change.” Sophie Morgan, presenter and campaigner
“In 2017, we want to see a greater step towards getting more disabled people active. We need to hear that many more organisations are embedding important policies so that sport and activity opportunities work better for disabled people.” Barry Horne, chief executive of the English Federation of Disability Sport
“Regardless of disability, whether it is mental or physical, my hope as always, is the opportunity for acceptance, development and the essential help that is required to enable individuals to live as close as possible to a ‘normal’ life. Equal opportunities and rights to care, education, housing and employment help prevent stigma in the UK and the world, building a foundation of inclusion in society.” Katie Price, television personality
“It’s a no-brainer really – 2017 should see equality for disabled people, whether that’s in work or in leisure. Discrimination by employers has to end; abuse and harassment has to end; unequal access to public services and public transport has to end. Can all this be done in 2017? I sincerely hope so.” Cathy Newman, presenter, Channel 4 News
“I would like to see a change to the system of how disabled people are tested for benefits. Instead of categorising what they can’t do, it would be amazing if a system could be created that was able to look at what someone could do with the support that they were given.” The Baroness Grey-Thompson, DBE, DL
“In 2017 we’d like to see greater involvement of people with disabilities in all walks of life. At BT we are proud to help enable social change and want to give people with disabilities every opportunity to develop. A great example of this is our partnership with the Premier League using the power of sport to make a difference.” David Barrett, senior inclusion and accessibility manager at BT
“That the lessons of the Paralympics will burn like a beacon, bright across society inclusion, equality, and parity of access with the whole of society in the UK. Most specifically that parity of access will be provided at every level of employment, education and leisure.” Jon Snow, newscaster, Channel 4 News
“Working collaboratively with specialist education provider National Star College, Steps into Work is a demonstration of our commitment to supporting diverse employment needs. To date, we have supported a number of students through the programme, with 85% going on to secure employment. We hope that in 2017, we can help even more people achieve their goal of a fulfilling career.” Janet Hogben, chief people officer, EDF Energy
“As Official Legal Services Provider to the British Paralympic Association, we share its vision, through sport, to inspire a better world for disabled people, and we are proud to be working together in the hope that in 2017 those who are disabled will have the opportunity to fulfil their dreams.” Nicholas Cheffings, chair of Hogan Lovells
Katie Piper, author, presenter and founder of the Katie Piper foundation
“Through our sponsorship of ParalympicsGB, Allianz has been championing those who dare to believe – focusing on what people can do, rather than what they can’t. It’s important to build on this positive momentum throughout 2017; by continually improving our insurance products for all and by continuing to make Allianz a great place to work for employees of all abilities.” Richard Foulerton, CSR manager at Allianz “I’d like more opportunities for people with a learning disability to get into work and have a paid job. Assessments for benefits need to improve as well. There needs to be more individual support, such as easy-read letters and forms, to make sure people can understand the process and are given the support they need.” Ismail Kaji has a learning disability and is parliamentary support officer at Mencap
OVER TO YOU What are YOUR hopes for 2017? Tweet us, @EnableMagazine, using the hashtag #Enable2017
PICS: © CHANNEL 4; SKY LIVING; EDF ENERGY
“My hopes for 2017 are to see more and more inclusion and integration in design for disabled people. From service design, to product design, to the built environment around us, I believe that if design is thought about from the ground up to be inclusive and accessible to as many people as possible, then it begs the question – is that person still disabled, if the environment around them allows them to do anything an able bodied person would?” Alex Papanikolaou, Stelios Disabled Entrepreneur of the Year
“2016 has been a fantastic year. I was thrilled to see some of our top Paralympians go to Rio and make us so proud to be British. I hope that in 2017, via the media, we continue to see disabled people represented in our community, displaying their strengths, talents and expertise. As a mother also living with a disfigurement, it restores my faith in society when those people with visible differences can be seen as the hero, the overachiever and, in fact, glamorous and desirable. I hope 2017 and onwards marks the end of seeing those with a disability as weak or less likely to succeed.”
NEW YEAR, NEW YOU HEALTHY LIVING Losing weight and being healthier is a common resolution come 1 January. And it doesn’t have to be as tough as you’d think. Making small changes can make a huge difference – so reach out to your GP to see how you can tackle your goal in the healthiest possible way. In terms of fitness, health clubs around the country are becoming more accessible than ever – check out the EFDS Inclusive Fitness site (www.efds.co.uk/inclusive_fitness) to find an accessible gym near you. If you’d like to get social and sporty at the same time, why not join a team sport? Try using the Deloitte Parasport site (www.parasport.org.uk) to find a club in your area. MONEY MATTERS Pinching pennies post-Christmas? Look into your current outgoings to see where you can cut back – maybe you could spend less on shopping and utilities, or you could find a better deal on things like your broadband and insurance. Make sure you’re getting
A new year always brings lots of chance, excitement and – above all – hope. We line up our top resolutions to make sure 2017 is your best year yet
PAY IT FORWARD CAREER SWITCH UP It always feels good to give back. Fancy a change of pace? There’s no Volunteering is a great way to stay better time to take a leap of faith and active, meet new people and make a switch things up than in the new year. difference in the lives of others – and In fact, changing careers is one of the it looks pretty great on your CV too. most common resolutions that people On a volunteering placement, you’ll make. Whether you are unemployed, learn a whole host of new skills, boost in education or currently working – the your confidence, make new time for change is now! Start connections – and best of looking at job sites, or get in YOUR VIEW all, there’s no end to all the touch with a recruitment What resolutions are options out there. agency or Jobcentre Plus. you making this year? From working in a charity You can also look to Share with us on Twitter, shop to volunteering specialist organisations @EnableMagazine! with a befriending such as Shaw Trust (www. scheme, organising charity shaw-trust.org.uk) to chat to someone about your fundraisers to marshalling at a local fun run, there are options. plenty of opportunities to do some good near you. Check out any benefits you’re entitled to as well www.volunteering.org.uk or (use www.entitledto.co.uk to check) – www.timebank.org.uk to see how there could be something out there to you can help in your area, or get in boost your income. If you do have any touch with specialist organisations like cash left over at the end of the month, Volunteering Matters try popping it into a savings account – (www.volunteeringmatters.org.uk) who having a little pot of cash stored away offer special supported placements for can make the world of difference. disabled people.
WORLD CHANGERS Present n a eb
nab e s o fi a Wor d an er s st t e to nd dua s w o ans to an e t e wor d or eo e w t d sab t es n
15. Carolina de Oliveira The TV host became a social activist and mental health ambassador after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder six years ago.
14. DALIA SABRI Dalia partially lost her sight as a result of a medical mistake when she was a child. She now works as a music teacher with plans to launch an orchestra for visually impaired children in 2017.
13. Natalia Ponce de Leon A victim of a brutal acid attack, Natalia became a national icon after she changed the law penalising such attacks in Colombia.
12. JOSH QUIGLEY After years struggling with depression and surviving a suicide attempt, Josh is currently cycling the world solo in a bid to raise awareness of mental health issues.
11. WARWICK DAVIS Warwick, who was born with dwarfism, is known for having played much-loved characters on film and stage. From ewok Wicket in Return of the Jedi to Griphook and Professor Flitwick in the Harry Potter series, he’s also scheduled to appear in both of Disney’s upcoming Star Wars reboots. But it’s not all about the silver screen. Warwick will continue to host his daytime ITV game show Tenable in 2017 as well as working to grow his charity Little People, an online resource dedicated to providing support and information to people of short stature and their families.
10. Nicholas McCarthy Born without his right hand, Nicholas was told he would never have a career in music. But after seeing a friend play Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata, 14-yearold Nicholas was determined to fulfil his dream of becoming a concert pianist. He became the only left-hand alone pianist to graduate from the Royal College of Music in its 130-year history and is an original member of the British Paraorchestra – performing alongside Coldplay at the London Paralympic Closing Ceremony back in 2012. Following the success of his debut album Solo, Nicholas will play at the Royal Albert Hall in March 2017.
Life 5. Penny Pepper
9. DEEPIKA KURUP The vast majority of disabled people worldwide are living in the poorest communities in low and middle-income countries, where poverty is both a cause and a consequence of disability, and a lack of access to water is a major issue. After being inspired by a trip to India, where she noticed a human need for the vital resource, 12-year-old Deepika began to develop a way to clean water with sunlight. Her initial idea won her the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist award in 2012, and now in her second year at Harvard, she is working on her latest prototype.
8. Bella Hadid
PICS: © BBC; PAUL MARC MITCHELL; INSTAGRAM/BELLA HADID; EDWARD COOKE FOR COMPLEX UK; TWITTER/PENNY PEPPER; ABC/BOB D’AMICO; JAMES BROOME PHOTOGRAPHY
The Victoria’s Secret model may have the world at her feet – but Bella says that her picture perfect life doesn’t always tell the whole story. Behind the scenes she struggles with the daily physical distress of living with Lyme disease— an illness that she shares with her mother, Yolanda, and her brother, Anwar. As the number of people with the disease continues to grow, Bella’s openness about her own battles with the illness has become more crucial than ever before.
4. MICAH FOWLER It’s hard to believe that in 2017, it is still rare to see a disabled actor on screen – fewer than 2% of actors on our TVs are themselves actually disabled and a shocking 95% of disabled roles are played by actors without disabilities. But Micah Fowler wants to help change all that. The 18-year-old star has won rave reviews for playing JJ – who, like him, has cerebral palsy – in the hit American sitcom Speechless. Through his acting he wants to encourage viewers to look beyond the physical limitations of disabled people.
3. Kadeena Cox Nominated for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, Kadeena Cox, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis two years ago, has had an incredible 2016. Picked to be GB’s flag bearer at the Paralympic Closing Ceremony, she also became the first British star to win titles in two sports (cycling and athletics) at the same Games since Seoul 1988. In 2017 she’ll be balancing a university degree alongside her work with Leonard Cheshire Disability, aiming to increase opportunities for disabled people to access sport.
7. Nicolas Hamilton Nicolas is the first disabled driver to compete in the Touring Car Championships. Nic, brother of Formula 1 World Champion Lewis, races in a specially modified car. Until a few years ago Nicolas, who has cerebral palsy, was using a wheelchair and unable to push 20kg. Now he pushes over 200kg and is part of Channel 4’s F1 presenting team – and 2017 is set to be his best year yet.
As a poet, author and disability rights campaigner, Penny knows a thing or two about challenging the status quo. She first came to our attention in 2012 following the release of her taboo-breaking book Desire Reborn and now her longawaited memoir, First in the World Somewhere, will be published in autumn 2017, having received funding on the awardwinning crowd funding publishing site Unbound.
6. SHAUN ROSS As a black, gay male model with albinism, Shaun has struggled against prejudice and discrimination all his life. But he has helped to redefine beauty standards, starring in major fashion campaigns and featuring in music videos for the likes of Katy Perry and Beyoncé. The 23-year-old also initiated the In My Skin I Win movement, promoting selfacceptance.
2. Henry Fraser Fraser was a 17-year old sport fan on holiday with friends when a freak accident left him with a broken spinal cord and paralysed him from the shoulders down. While lying bedbound last year, Henry taught himself to paint on his iPad by putting the stylus in his mouth. He is now a renowned mouth artist and motivational speaker, with A-list fans including Thierry Henry and JK Rowling.
TURN OVER FOR OUR NUMBER ONE WORLD CHANGER www.enablemagazine.co.uk
“Confidence is something everyone has and I really want people to realise that – it’s inside of all of us; it’s just finding it”
Confidence: The Secret by Katie Piper is out now, £12.99, Quercus.
“Something bad happened to me but I wouldn’t let it define me” Survivor, philanthropist, author and documentary maker – there’s no stopping Katie Piper. Number one on our World Changers List sits down with Enable’s Kirsty McKenzie to chat about ero sm onfiden e and w y s set to be er most m ress e year yet
rave, heroic, inspirational, confident – it’s not hard to come up with words to explain why Katie Piper tops our World Changers List. “I am incredibly honoured to be associated with those words. My heroes and inspirations are broad – my hero is my mum but also the incredible volunteers of my charity,” says Katie. “My story has been told but I dealt with the situation that happened to me in the only way I could – patience, strength of mind and positivity. That said, it wasn’t always like that – of course there were some very dark times. But what I did have was strength of mind and a loving circle around me.” LIFE-CHANGING The dark times began in March 2008 when her vengeful ex-boyfriend Danny Lynch, angry because she’d tried to split up with him the day before, arranged for sulphuric acid to be thrown in Katie’s face. Her life would never be the same again. Both he and his accomplice, Stefan Sylvestre, have been jailed for life, with their most recent applications for parole denied. Meanwhile Katie, now 33, has endured near constant operations since her attack. The acid effectively melted her face away. Her eyelids and part of her left ear were destroyed, she was blinded in one eye, and her oesophagus was burnt after she swallowed some of the acid. For a year following the attack
she had to be fed through a tube, and for two years she wore a clear protective facial mask. Now, almost 10 years on, she still has to return to the hospital for maintenance operations. Yet Katie has built a whole career out of turning a terrible experience into something positive. She now heads her own charity, the Katie Piper Foundation, which works to change attitudes towards disfigurement and to help people living with it. And 2017 is set to be her busiest year ever. On top of being a mum to two-year-old Belle, she hopes to open her first UK rehab centre in Liverpool next year, has just signed a new twoyear deal with Channel 4 and penned a fifth book, Confidence: The Secret. But despite her list of achievements and the horrors she has faced, Katie believes that absolutely anyone can overcome their difficulties. “Everyone has it in them – everyone,” she says. “I am not special – yes, something bad happened to me but I wouldn’t let it define me.” CATHARTIC She says the writing process has been cathartic, having put pen to paper in the aftermath of her attack as a way to express and understand her emotions. Since then she has written four hit books – everything from memoirs to a selfhelp guide. “I absolutely love reading and writing. In fact, I am constantly writing,” admits Katie. “This is my fifth book and I must say probably the most enjoyable
as it’s my most positive book. It’s realistic but also pulls on positive tips to improve your life. My other books, especially my first, were a struggle to write as I had to relive a lot of things I’d rather forget.” Katie says she decided to write this book to celebrate the people she’s connected with through the charity she set up just six months after her attack. “They’ve inspired me so much and found their own helpful ways to deal with their experiences to become more confident,” explains Katie. “Confidence is something everyone has and I really want people to realise that – it’s inside of all of us; it’s just finding it.” DISCOVERY But Katie admits it took her a long time to discover her own. “It hasn’t been easy, it’s been a struggle and for many years confidence wasn’t a thing I could associate myself with,” she says. “My friends, family and people around me have given me the confidence to become the best I can be. In the attack, I lost control and someone took something from me in those moments, my appearance and my health. That said, no one could take my soul, and no one could take my strength of mind. I control those things – in difficult situations often with physical injuries this is all you have, so I really pulled on that.” Confidence: The Secret by Katie Piper is out now, £12.99, Quercus.
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January is one of the busiest times for wedding planners after a raft of Christmastime proposals – but when you or your partner has a disability, it can be an even bigger challenge. We take a look at the issues disabled couples often face, with one disabled bride sharing her experience
GETTING TO THE CHURCH on time, remembering your vows, not tripping up over that gorgeous dress... But what if these aren’t your biggest potential problems on your big day? Wedding planning is stressful at the best of times, but when you or your fiancé has a disability, certain worries can seem even bigger than the day itself. Wheelchair ramps, accessible toilets, lifts and parking bays – the list of requirements and potential obstacles can seem never ending. But it’s important to keep in mind that you are not alone, and while creating your dream day might take a bit of effort, you can make it happen. “There is a reason why many people regard a wedding as the most important day of their life,” says Katie McCarthy, wedding planner at One Great George Street, an accessible wedding venue in London. “For many, it symbolises the official union of both the bridal couple and their respective families so it is vital that everyone who attends, regardless of abilities or age, is able to fully enjoy this symbolic event without any restrictions or feelings of discrimination.” COMFORT But where to begin? For visually impaired bride Elsa, it all started with the venue. “It was important for me to feel comfortable in the space,” explains Elsa, who is blind in her right eye and nearsighted in the left. “I was concerned that most wedding venues wouldn’t be accessible to me as a low vision bride – and I was right. It took a while to find a venue that was accessible, both in terms of the space, but also in terms of the staff being aware of my needs.” At first Elsa couldn’t believe the opposition she faced as a visually impaired bride. What should have been an exciting and happy time turned into a daily uphill battle – particularly as she is not able to drive. “Without a car, getting
married can be complicated,” says Elsa. “Lots of taxis and phone conversations with people who don’t understand that you can’t get to them.” Worst of all, some venues wouldn’t accept that Elsa was the one getting married. “There were a few venues that didn’t believe the bride was disabled,
or assumed that I was helping plan the wedding for someone else,” says Elsa. “The ultimate decision my husband and I made was that we wouldn’t book services with anyone who didn’t take me seriously – we would only work with people who were friendly and accepting right off the bat.”
LOOK ABOUT Eventually Elsa found her dream venue in her favourite museum. As it was a public venue, it was required to meet access standards and allowed her and her family easy access throughout the day. Accessible venues may seem impossible to find at first, but they are out there. Look out for buildings with lifts and ramps to all function areas, and bedrooms specifically tailored for guests with limited mobility if it doubles up as a hotel. Phone the venue and speak to someone about the options available and ask if they can make adaptations to suit your needs. It’s also worth remembering that you are free to put your own stamp on the day. After all, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable and happy, so if skipping a church ceremony and spending the whole day at one location suits you best – go for it. “And don’t be afraid to think outside the box,” suggests Ariel Meadow Stallings, founder of the wedding site Offbeat Bride (www.offbeatbride.com). “If you’re searching for venues or services, try not using the word ‘wedding’ and see what you can find – you might be surprised.” Ariel adds: “While it can be hard for anyone dealing with a disability to find venues and services, if you feel like you’re having to do too much educating or advocating with vendors, it’s OK to let
TOP TIPS FOR AN ACCESSIBLE WEDDING Insist on checking all the venue’s facilities. The bridal suite might look amazing in the photos but make sure the room will be able to accommodate all your needs. Making sure your guests are comfortable is just as important as making sure your own accessibility needs are met. Keep a list of any additional requirements and tick them off when chatting to your venue. Schedule plenty of breaks. It can be a long day so try to fit in twice as many as you think you’ll need and start early in the day.
them know it’s just not going to work, and find someone else. Your time is precious!” TRADITION And the venue isn’t the only place you can skip on tradition. For Elsa, navigating the day in a long, puffy dress was a definite no-no. “I can’t really see white on white detail, so I decided to wear a short purple dress as I’d be able to see the dress better and avoid any potential tripping,” say Elsa. “Some members of my husband’s family were upset that I didn’t choose to wear white, but I stood firm on that.” She also chose to walk down the aisle alone but for her cane. “My cane has always been a constant companion for me,” explains Elsa. “It was important, even if some people didn’t like it.” “Who cares what other people think?” agrees Ariel. “Marriage is an institution that’s steeped in expectations and tradition, and that can be a heavy burden. Folk can feel like they’re sacrificing who they are to fit in with what’s expected of them. “Taking ownership of what your wedding looks like can be a metaphor for taking ownership of what your marriage looks like – and what your life looks like.”
Make an ‘essentials’ kit with any spare meds or chargers you might need and give it to someone trustworthy. Get creative! Flowers on your wheelchair, plush carpets over ramps – there are no rules! If you come across a vendor who is being difficult about adaptations? Forget about them and move on. Accessible venues and services DO exist – so don’t give up!
THE POSTER GIRL FOR MENTAL HEALTH From actress to comedian to writer to mental health advocate – Ruby Wax has had a career like no other. The best-selling author sits down with Enable’s Lindsay Cochrane to talk about her latest release, helping the public take control of their mental wellbeing
PIC: © STEVE ULLATHORNE
ver the years, Ruby Wax has gone from stand-up comedian and celebrity interviewer to, in the words of her Twitter bio, a poster girl for mental health – and not just metaphorically. “Mental health was [the basis for] my first show,” she says. “And there were posters for it! I got a successful tour out of it. If someone else gets caught [with mental health issues], they might lose their job. Mine worked out.” The US-born comic has spent most of her life battling with depression – and she’s not shied away from sharing her experiences with the public. As well as her Sane New World tour in 2015 and accompanying best-selling book, she campaigns for better mental health care, and now she’s released a second book seeking to give the public the tools required to deal with their own mental state.
THE SCIENCE A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled taps into the coping technique which has aided Ruby in managing her own mental health over the last decade. Not content with just practising mindfulness, a psychological process which helps individuals to focus on the present, Ruby decided to study it – so she went to Oxford University to get herself a master’s in mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy. “I wanted to study it because of the evidence,” Ruby says. “I was interested in what happens in the brain. That was my real interest rather than just practising. So I took it one step further. “I don’t think they’d teach it at Oxford if it was all about ringing bells! The reason why I do it is because of the science of it. It has the best benefits for anxiety, stress, wellbeing, for kids. It has the best results. Otherwise, I’d be hugging trees.” Ruby took her final dissertation, tweaked it, injected some humour, and Frazzled was born – all with approval from her university professor. The book, which introduces the basics of mindfulness and explains the science behind it, isn’t just for those with diagnosed mental health conditions. MORE THAN MINDFULNESS “It isn’t always about mindfulness,” Ruby adds. “It’s about the elusive – why are we so frustrated about happiness, why envy gets in the way, why we’re so competitive. All those things where you think, ‘Why am I like this?’ I explain that from a neuroscience point of view and in terms of evolution. It’s not just a mindfulness book.” Ruby isn’t the first to release a selfhelp guide – but she is the first to make the practice accessible, which saw the title become a number one bestseller when it was released last year. So what exactly is much-talked-about mindfulness all about? “When your mind is going into a red mist and you can’t think clearly and your brain is scattered, it’s a way of spring cleaning it,” she says. “The same way if you wanted to get a six-pack, you’d start doing sit-ups. Nobody has a blank brain – that’s impossible, unless you’re dead. But it does lower the volume so that you can get on and do what you want to do.”
“We miss a lot of life because our brains are always thinking of the past and going into the future. For me, it’s a relief to know it’s not just you” BETTER EQUIPPED Depression has been a part of Ruby’s life for decades now, but practising mindfulness, she says, gives her the opportunity to clear her mind when things get overwhelming. She hopes that by sharing her take on mindfulness, the public will be better equipped to take control of their own emotional state. This year, following the success of her Sane New World tour, she’s taking Frazzled on the road to teach the public more about the practice. “The audience will learn to tame their minds, but they’ll be entertained at the same time,” she says. “It’s a tour which goes through how we miss a lot of life because our brains are always thinking of the past and going into the future. For me, it’s a relief to know it’s not just you.” In the second half of her shows, audiences are given the opportunity to speak – and Ruby was struck by just how important this conversation was. Last year, she took her crusade to help the public manage their mental health and emotions one step further when she teamed up with Marks & Spencer to pilot the Frazzled Cafe. In London and Brighton, two M&S cafes closed their doors to host walk-in sessions with a trained mental health facilitator for anyone feeling overwhelmed by their mental state and the stresses and challenges of modern-day living. TALK-IN SESSIONS “It’s not for people who are mentally ill – we’re not therapists,” Ruby says. “But it’s for everybody out there who feels frazzled and doesn’t want to be a burden on their family, or they don’t want to talk to their partner. They meet in groups of 20 and it’s an ongoing meeting, there’s coffee – it’s all free. It’s very much like Alcoholics Anonymous
for people who are stressed.” The cafes offer a ‘talk-in’ that’s based around face-to-face contact and sharing stories in a safe environment. It’s not about mindfulness, but rather making sure that those who aren’t feeling OK have a place to go where they don’t feel as alone. The idea is simple and, better still, it’s cost-effective – one of the biggest barriers faced by mental health care in the UK. The pilots have been a roaring success, and in April of this year, Ruby’s going to be rolling out more nationwide, with the support of Marks & Spencer. For Ruby, sharing her own mental health experience has become so much more than educating the public on depression. Through her book sales, tour audiences and now the cafes, she’s encouraging the public to get talking, to take control of their mental state and – most importantly – ask for help and know they aren’t alone. “You can’t wish for more therapists and more doctors, because they’ll just give you more pills,” she says of her hopes for mental health in the UK. “Either they start putting money into really studying the brain, or they come up with more things like mindfulness to help people manage their mental health.”
A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled is out now in paperback (£8.99, Penguin Life). For further details about the Frazzled tour, visit www. rubywax.net/tour. Frazzled Cafes launch on a wider scale in April. Please visit frazzledcafe.org to sign up and register your interest.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH SKILLS FOR CARE
Recruiting your own personal assistants Giving you more choice and control over your care and support If you want a more personalised approach to your care, what about hiring your own PAs? We find out more about the process from Skills for Care IF YOU GET A personal health budget or direct payment, employing someone to help with your care, such as a personal assistant (PA), can help you live independently in your own home. It can also give you more choice and control over who supports you and the tasks they do. It means you become an employer, responsible for matters such as wages, pensions and training for your staff. Skills for Care has lots of free online information to help you employ your own carers at www. employingpersonalassistants.co.uk. Here are five tips to help you get started. 1. Find the right person for the job “Don’t employ a PA because you’re in a rush; it’s important you find the right person for the job,” says Lesley St George, an individual employer.
Recruiting PAs who have the right values will help you to do this. Think about what values you want your PAs to have and include them in job adverts, job descriptions and interviews. There are examples to help at www.skillsforcare.org.uk/values. 2. Know where to advertise in your local community Take advantage of opportunities in your local community to widen your pool of recruits, for example, by speaking at a local careers fair or getting involved in a care sector routeway with your Jobcentre Plus. This guide will help you think of different ways to advertise your vacancies to target different people: www.skillsforcare.org.uk/target. 3. Write a contract of employment This will make sure you and your PA are clear about each other’s responsibilities and will help you in situations such as if you go into hospital or if your PA has to take time off sick. There is a list of things you should
include at www.skillsforcare.org.uk/ contract. 4. Provide a thorough induction This is a great way of explaining what you want your PA to do and introducing them to your environment. There is a step-by-step guide about what to include in your induction at www.skillsforcare.org.uk/PAinduction. 5. Apply for funding to train your PAs Training can improve the skills and confidence of your PAs, and mean they provide better care and support. Nadia Clarke employs a team of PAs and used Skills for Care funding to provide bespoke training on manual handling and first aid. She says: “I know that the PAs that have had the bespoke training are safe to help me and this also makes me feel safer.” Find out more at www.skillsforcare.org.uk/iefunding.
i Find out more at www.employingpersonalassistants.co.uk
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INNOVATION IN CARE A new, state-of-the-art facility in Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway, is putting people in charge of their own support. We caught up with Community Integrated Care’s Heather Birnie to find out about new ro e t School Close
FOR 30 YEARS, Mansefield House in Kirkcudbright was home to nine people with varying learning disabilities. It was a traditional registered care home with communal facilities and living environment. People supported at the property had formed great friendships with each other and enjoyed living in the property. But, as their needs changed, it was recognised that a more modern and adaptive property could better promote their independence. They could also benefit from moving from registered care to ‘supported living’, a social care model that would make them tenants in their own home and give them greater control of their support. In 2016, Mansefield closed its doors as the care home and its residents were given a new lease of life. All nine moved to a new, purpose-built facility where they
each have their own self-contained flat to take care of, rather than just a bedroom in a shared house. They now receive personalised support tailored to their individual needs. These days, the residents do their own household chores, choose how they spend their care budget and enjoy a life in the community that previously they could never have imagined. The new, modern living environment cost over £1 million and has provided a brand new landscape and approach to community care. PERSONALISED “Mansefield House was a beautiful home, but it was tiring,” says Heather Birnie, service leader at Community Integrated Care. “We worked with housing provider Loreburne Housing Association and Dumfries and Galloway Council to create a
better facility and School Close was born. Two years down the line, everyone is in their own purpose-built flat with their own care package and support, leading the life they want to lead. At Mansefield House, we had a great team that worked hard to make sure the residents got out and about, but with this change to supported living we can be even more personalised. They have their own budget. They go swimming, they can nip up to Glasgow on the train, it’s fantastic.” School Close combines new technology and a more flexible approach to care, making life more enjoyable and independent for the people they support. New technology helps keep residents safe, as each flat is fitted with door sensors to alert staff should there be any problems. Intelligent epilepsy bracelets that utilise geolocation software are able to inform staff if tenants are having a seizure when they are out and about, pinpointing their exact location so that help can be sent. Safe zones in the community displaying ‘Keep Safe’ badges in their windows are there as a point of refuge for tenants if they become unwell or frightened while they are out exploring the town. “One tenant came to us from an institutional care setting,” says Heather. “Her whole life, she hadn’t had control, and if you asked her to contribute in household tasks she was reluctant. Now her new flat is immaculate and she has her washing on. She thinks, ‘This is mine.’ That’s the difference. They take
“These people are living the lives they are entitled to. Everyone wants to have their own front door, that’s why we spend our lives working – to call somewhere home. Now they have it” pride in their homes. They got to see School Close being built, got to pick their own carpets and furniture – that took away a lot of the anxiety.” INDIVIDUAL NEEDS Each tenant has a flat and personalised support package which suits their individual needs, allowing them to take ownership of their own living space and finances. The impact of this personalisation on individual wellbeing in such a short time has been huge, with many tenants who were once shy and reserved at Mansefield now embracing a new life of independence. “It’s absolutely amazing to see the impact on tenants” says Heather. “One of the girls is going out on her own much more, enjoying visiting our town centre independently. We struggled to motive and engage one elderly person we support - now she’s out every day! She’s
away out just now, at the cafe for lunch. She’s far more animated and excited now.” Taking more ownership of their finances is a steep learning curve for the tenants. Heather admits they still have a long way to go in terms of budgeting, with some tenants wanting to go out for lunch every day now that they have new-found freedom, but with support from Community Integrated Care they are learning the skills needed to run a home and live independently. SUPPORT “Don’t get me wrong, there’s been some disasters with the washing,” jokes Heather. “But we’re getting there. These tenants have their own flats, the support is there if they need it.” Prospective tenants are referred and assessed through the social work department for their eligibility to live independently, before getting the opportunity to live in their own flat run by Community Integrated Care. “School Close is a fantastic project,” says Heather. “The people we support are living the lives they are entitled to. Everyone wants to have their own front door, that’s why we spend our lives working - to call somewhere home. Now they have it.”
i For more information on School Close, or any of Community Integrated Care’s services, head to www.c-i-c.co.uk
BENEFIT CUT set to hit thousands In April, big changes are being introduced for Employment and Support Allowance, with a hefty cut coming in for all new applicants in the work-related activity group. But what impact will this have? Kirsty McKenzie investigates
LOUISE LOVED HER LIFE. A popular business teacher at a local school and a fitness fanatic in her spare time, she spent the school holidays visiting Spain on cycling trips up to three times a year. But one day the unthinkable happened. Louise fell off her bike in 2008 while on holiday in Majorca and had to have three operations in a foreign hospital, plus two more when she returned home. She’d broken her shoulder in four places, suffered a blood clot and nerve damage from the accident and had to take a year off work to recover. During the months of surgery and rehabilitation, medics tested her for a series of conditions and two years later she was eventually diagnosed with MS – a disease that affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. GETTING ON “After the accident – but before I was diagnosed with MS – all I wanted to do was just go back to work. I felt like a fraud,” says Louise. “I felt like I should just be back at work and getting on with it – and that’s how the school make you feel, they just want you working.” Despite reducing her hours, the symptoms eventually became too much and Louise finally quit her teaching post. She now relies on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to get by. Like millions of other British people living with disabilities and long-term illnesses, Louise’s health means she might never be well enough to return to work. Even if she could, finding an employer prepared to support her
through ill health could prove impossible. That’s why her ESA is so important to her – every penny counts. “I need massages because I’m always in pain and I have to pay for it – so the ESA helps to cover that,” says Louise. “A lot of people will think that’s a luxury but for someone with MS it isn’t. It’s a necessity. And ironing – I know everybody hates ironing – but with my shoulder and my MS I need to pay for someone to do that for me. Things like that, if the money went, I wouldn’t be able to do the most basic things.” Despite Louise and hundreds of others voicing their concerns, the government believe a cut in funding will ‘incentivise’ people to find a job. As of April this year, funding for new claimants placed in the work-related activity group will be cut by £30 a week. STRUGGLING “I know tonnes of people just in this area who are newly diagnosed – and they are struggling,” says Louise. “I feel as if a lot of people who are newly ill or newly diagnosed, they are all just trying to face the demon of their disease while struggling with the financial side but the support is disappearing. “I was lucky – I’ve got my ESA and I
paid into my public pension. But even with my pension – there is still the mortgage, there’s still the bills – and bills never go down, they just go up.” Currently people who are considered to be too ill to work by the government’s work capability assessment are put into two groups – those deemed permanently unable to work are moved into the “support group” and paid £109; while those who are too unwell to work immediately but could be capable of
70% of disabled people say the cut to ESA would cause their health to suffer work in the future are put in the workrelated activity group (WRAG) and given £102 a week. But, as of April 2017, new ESA WRAG claimants will see a cut of £30 – almost a third. Existing claimants will receive the same amount – for now. But if they do go back to work, stop receiving ESA, and then have to come out of work again, they’ll go onto the new rate.
IMPORTANT The change is expected to bring £1.4bn of savings to the government by 2020, but the cuts mean that new claimants will effectively receive the same amount as Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants. This levelling has not been missed by critics – they say the extra money was important as it acknowledged that these people are likely to be unemployed for longer than other job seekers who are not struggling with disabilities or health difficulties. “We know that people in the WRAG aren’t currently fit for work and many of them face some very significant barriers and high extra costs,” Laura Wetherly, acting policy manager (welfare and employment) at the MS Society and co-chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium, the national coalition of over 60 different charities committed to working towards a fair benefits system. “They can often face additional costs for heating and electricity because they are staying in the house more, and for things to help manage their conditions. They are going to be out of work for longer than non-disabled people so it is really important that any financial help they receive recognises this.” The DBC also find it hard to comprehend the government’s justification that the cut will incentivise people to step up their job search – instead, there is a clear indication that the cuts will only worsen the health of claimants. “Almost 70% of sick and disabled people the DBC surveyed said this cut to ESA would cause their health to suffer, and just under half said they would probably not be able to return to work as quickly,” explains Laura. “What we found is that without the current rate of support there is a real concern that their health could suffer, they’ll be out of work even longer and they won’t be able to cover the cost of vital things such as food and electricity. “It’s very likely to push a number of disabled people further from work rather than helping to think about a return to work in the future. We are deeply concerned that disabled people will be pushed further from the workplace and closer to or deeper into poverty.”
i Find out more about the Disability Benefits Consortium’s work at disabilitybenefitsconsortium.wordpress.com
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MAKE A CHANGE
What to do if your home doesn’t meet your access requirements
ACCESS HOUSING From letting to buying, how to find the home that meets your needs – and your budget
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS
Regardless of your income, there’s a housing situation that’ll meet your needs – we find out more
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CAN I GET A MORTGAGE?
We speak to the experts to find out more about home buying opportunities, whatever your financial situation
THE SUPPORT NETWORK
Need help with your living situation but don’t know where to start? We round up some helpful organisations
Whether youâ€™re wanting to rent, buy, move or adapt, look no further. We line up all the best housing options available to people with disabilities PACKING UP BOXES, switching address, leaving behind memories and moving to a new area to settle into a new life â€“ the idea of moving home can sometimes feel completely overwhelming. But with more than 23% of disabled adults currently living in unsuitable housing, it might be worth considering what other options are out there. If you are living in inaccessible accommodation, or not feeling confident in your own home, now could be the time to make a change to your housing. THE FIRST STEP If you are ready to take the next step, contact your local social services department to request an assessment of need and see what housing is available in your area. For a lot of people, renting is often their best bet, and council housing is an affordable way to do it. Typically, renting from the local authority shaves around 20-33% off rental prices and can give tenants greater long-term security. Housing associations also provide affordable rental properties and some associations specialise in housing for people with disabilities, including wheelchair accessible properties, supported housing and specialist
services. Moat Homes is a housing association in the south east of England that works to provide advice for people within the community, whether you are interested in a new home or would like adaptations made to your current one. Head to www. moat.co.uk for more information. Living further afield? Find local housing associations at www.gov. uk. If you are already in social housing but your home no longer suits your disability needs, you can apply for a home exchange via HomeSwapper. In order to apply you must rent your home from your local housing association or council, and live in permanent, self-contained accommodation such as a flat or a house. If you find someone in a similar situation who has a house you could swap to, you must gain permission from both landlords. Find out more about the scheme at www.homeswapper.co.uk.
23% of disabled adults live in unsuitable housing www.enablemagazine.co.uk
GOING PRIVATE Renting privately may also be an option. In England alone, more than nine million people now rent privately. The reason? Lots of people find renting privately is the simplest and quickest way to get a home, plus you have more choice about when and where you move. You can speak to your local housing services department about what adaptations need to be made to your home, so your home may be altered to suit your needs. Disabled Facilities Grants vary in value, often depending on where you live, but these are generally used to make alterations like the installation of stair lifts or a downstairs bathroom. Find out more at www.gov.uk/disabled-facilities-grants. But bear in mind, unlike with social landlords, private landlords don’t have an obligation to make adaptations – so if you need lowered surfaces or grab rails installed, they can refuse. BUYING Of course, if you own your own home, you can adapt as you choose. But saving up for a deposit can be tricky. If you don’t have the cash, investigate shared ownership and help to buy schemes. Find out more at www.helptobuy.gov.uk.
CARE FACILITIES There are also residential care homes and supported housing that provide care and support for a variety of ages across a range of disabilities. If you no longer feel like independent living is an option, then accommodation with support might be your best option. Local authority help with the cost of residential care is means-tested but you are free to make your own arrangements if you can afford the long-term cost. However, it is worth asking your local authority for a financial assessment, because they might pay some or all of your care costs. The Age UK and NHS websites both have a range of guides and fact sheets which can help you choose the right care facility plus information on how you can pay for residential care and any help that may be available. You can check out all the information available online at: www.ageuk.org.uk and at www.nhs.uk Your home should be a happy place – somewhere that you feel safe, comfortable and confident. Whatever your needs, there are ways of gaining more independence in terms of where and how you live. And the best news? Support is out there. Get in touch with your local authority now to see what options are available to you.
KEY CONTACTS ABILITY HOUSING
www.abilityhousing.org Ability Housing Association is a Registered Provider (RP) that specialises in providing people with housing and support services that enable them to live more independent lives.
ACCESSIBLE PROPERTY REGISTER
www.accessible-property.org.uk The Accessible Property Register specialises in promoting wheelchair accessible and adapted properties, and wheelchair accessible holiday accommodation.
www.habinteg.org.uk Habinteg is a housing provider offering and promoting accessible, adaptable and affordable homes.
THE HOUSE SHOP
www.thehouseshop.com Find, buy, rent or sell accessible homes that have been built, adapted or modified for wheelchair users.
HOME OWNERSHIP FOR PEOPLE WITH LONG-TERM DISABILITIES
www.ownyourhome.gov.uk HOLD is a route into shared ownership for disabled people.
www.sanctuary-group.co.uk Sanctuary offer a range of services to meet your housing needs, operating a housing association, care homes and supported housing in England and Scotland – so they’ll have something to meet your needs.
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E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 0845 359 6387
E: email@example.com T: 0845 359 6387
Or register at moat-theboardwalk.co.uk
Or register at moat-kidbrookevillage.co.uk
As a charitable housing association, Moat supports the development of mixed tenure communities and is proud to provide homes for affordable rent and shared ownership across the South East of England. We are here to guide you through the process and to help you ﬁnd a suitable and affordable home. Artists’ impressions are indicative only. We welcome discussions with you if you or a member of your household is registered disabled. We shall do our best to accommodate your needs within the ﬁt-out, provided this comes within the build/construction programme. Eligibility criteria apply *On selected apartments. **Sources: Compass travel & tﬂ.gov.uk
PLACE LIKE HOME Supported housing offers not only suitable accomodation, but a care package too. One service user shares how their living situation has changed their life A DONCASTER MAN WITH learning disabilities has re-established contact with his daughter following the intervention of support workers. Raymond Revill, 54, a resident of Sanctuary Supported Living’s (SSL) Byron Road, had for years been sending presents and packages to his daughter at an out-dated address and not receiving a reply. Unbeknownst to Ray, who can’t read or write, his daughter’s social worker, who receives post on her behalf, had changed address. When SSL’s support workers at the scheme learned of the problem, they worked with Ray, his daughter’s foster parents and her social workers to find the new address, made sure his post was correctly labelled and got him back in touch with her. HAPPY Since re-establishing contact with her father, Ray’s daughter now visits him regularly at Byron Road. “I’m glad I get to see her again – she is my only daughter and it makes me so happy every time I meet her,” Ray says. “If it wasn’t for the help Helen gave me to find out what happened, I wouldn’t even be able to talk to her right now, let alone meet her; it’s made such a difference.” “Ray is a much-loved resident here at Byron Road and he really considers it his home – he classes himself as ‘part of the furniture’, in his own words,” says project
worker Helen Thompson. “It was upsetting, therefore, when we heard that he wasn’t getting any responses back from his daughter. Thankfully, it just took a sit down, a chat and a look at his post to sort it out. It’s lovely to see him back in touch with his daughter once more.” PERSONALISED SUPPORT Ray first came to Byron Road after moving from another supported housing scheme in the area. Prior to that, he had fallen into rent arrears and been financially exploited, resulting in a period of homelessness. Once referred to Byron Road, staff were able to draw up a personalised support plan, which included help with money management to help him keep on top of his rent payments. Since moving in, he has also received help in cooking meals from scratch, is learning about wellbeing and mindfulness, has been getting involved in gardening and is also looking to return to his passion for fishing by joining a local group. “Ray is someone who’s naturally
generous; he enjoys helping people, and he really likes being part of the community at Byron Road,” Helen adds. “He deserves to be happy and seeing him in contact with his daughter once more makes our job worth doing.”
i Find out more about Sanctuary Supported Living at www.sanctuary-supported-living.co.uk
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CAN I GET A MORTGAGE? Getting on the property ladder doesn’t have to be an m oss b e dream We find out more rom t e e erts FOR MANY, OWNING A home seems like a far-off notion. Home ownership in England is at its lowest level in 30 years, with only 64% of households owning their property. And while facts like this are discouraging, it shouldn’t put you off the idea of buying your own home. There are lots of schemes and support networks out there to help you get a foot up on the property ladder – even if you have a low income or receive benefits. EVIDENCE “To get a mortgage, you need to demonstrate evidence of income, and any outgoings you have,” says Andrew Johnson, money expert with the Money Advice Service. “For people on low incomes and people on benefits, that does make it difficult for a lender to be able to assess the individual’s credit-worthiness. But it’s not impossible.” Lenders will take a look at how likely it is that you’ll be able to cover your repayments, as well as your bills and day-to-day living costs, but they’ll also take into consideration if you’ll be able to continue to make these payments should your personal circumstances change or if interest rates rise. And you could still be a candidate if you’re claiming benefits.
“The issue that a lot of people will have if they’re on benefits is that a large part of that benefit may come as housing benefit,” Andrew points out. “Someone who’s successful with a mortgage application will lose that benefit. The other issue is the need to have a deposit. If you’re on benefits, you can start to lose your income from benefits potentially from £6,000 of savings. Average house prices are around £240k – a 10% deposit equates to 20-odd thousand pounds, which would affect your benefits.” If the deposit is your main hurdle, there are government savings schemes to investigate too, where they’ll pay into a savings account in accordance with how much you’re saving up. BOOST “There’s the government’s Help to Buy ISA,” Andrew says. “If you’re a first-time buyer, the government will allow you to save up to £200 a month towards your first home, and they’ll also boost your savings by up to 25%. The government have also introduced what’s called a
Lifetime ISA, which launches in April.” To find out more about these savings schemes, head online now to check out the terms and conditions. The government’s Help to Buy scheme helps those with a smaller deposit, usually of 5%, to purchase a home. You could also look into shared ownership, where you purchase between a quarter and three quarters of the property, or Right to Buy in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, where you might be able to buy your council or housing association home at a reduced rate. “Different lenders will have different criteria, but having a disability should not be counted against an individual making a mortgage application,” Andrew adds. “It should be based on your ability to meet your financial commitments.”
i For free, impartial advice and information on mortgages and other financial issues, head to the Money Advice Service website at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk or call the helpline on 0800 138 777.
SUBSCRIBE TO ENABLE TODAY Get the new year off to the right start with a subscription to Enable Magazine – at a special discounted price to celebrate 2017 THERE’S A FEW REASONS why Enable is the UK’s favourite disability magazine. Our big-name interviews, informed political features, special focuses each issue, great competitions and thoughtprovoking articles – we deliver all this and much more every other month. If you like what you’ve been reading this edition, you can get it all direct to your door with a subscription to the magazine. And this issue, we’ve got a special discounted rate!
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HOME IMPROVEMENTS Adapting your home to suit your health needs can seem like a daunting project, but there’s a wealth of products and guidance available to make things easier. Here we take a look at some of your options SO YOUR HOUSE OR flat needs adapted to suit your needs, but where do you begin? Making yourself comfortable at home is crucial for your overall physical and mental wellbeing, so finding out which areas of your house require attention is a great place to start. There is a world of adjustments available that could make your home life that little bit easier, so it’s important to identify your needs within the home and search for the solutions that are right for you. You can get advice from a professional by asking that your GP refer you to an occupational therapist, or your local council can send an OT out to assess your home. FUNDING One of the main concerns with any major adaptation work in your home is cost. If your personal finances limit you in adjusting your home, you may be able to receive funding from your local authority. If you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland you may be eligible for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) from your local council for adaptations. Your eligibility for the grant is gauged
on your household income and any savings over £6,000, and the maximum amount you are entitled to depends on which of the three countries you live in. In Scotland, the financial help available depends on whether you are the tenant or the homeowner of the property. Local authorities in Scotland are able to provide loans, subsidised loans, grants and practical assistance to people who need help adjusting their home. Your local authority is your first point of call to find out what funding is available to you when adapting your house, and they can provide you with support and guidance throughout the process. In each case, regardless of where you live in the UK, an occupational therapist will visit to assess your needs and work out which adaptations suit your circumstances best. If you don’t feel you need major construction work done to your home, most adaptations under £1,000 (under £1,500 in Scotland) should be provided for free by your local authority, without the need for a grant or loan. There are also charities which may be able to help fund the adjustments you need. The ACT Foundation helps disabled or
elderly people living in poverty with up to £2,500 in individual grants, which you could use towards adapting your home. You can find out more at www.theactfoundation.co.uk. HOME IMPROVEMENT AGENCIES For additional advice on adapting your home, you may want to contact a home improvement agency. These organisations are not-for-profit and do exactly what it says on the tin – they improve people’s homes by helping those with disabilities or health issues take steps to adjusting their house, guiding them towards a fully-adapted property. They can give you practical help when it comes to the administration of adjusting your house, from getting architectural surveys completed to comparing quotes from tradesmen. If you are the recipient of a DFG and plan on making major structural changes to your home, you will be responsible for arranging Planning Permission and Building Regulations Approval and paying for this with your grant money. Home improvement agencies can help arrange this for you and advise you on how best to plan your adaptations. To find your local home improvement agency, head to www.foundations.uk.com. PLANNING Once you’ve sorted out where your financial support is coming from and have a handle on the administrative side, you can begin to properly plan the adaptations for your home. Companies such as Viva Access provide a home adaption service, in which a specialist occupational therapist guides you through the process of changing your home. They help from the initial idea and assessment stage through to visualising the designs and consulting with architects and builders. They can provide written reports with recommendations for adaptations, create design briefs and make architectural drawings to assist with planning. Fees on the service vary and can be discussed
If your personal finances limit you in adjusting your home, you may be able to receive funding from your local authority with a representative to assess your needs. Find out more online at www.viva-access.com. PRODUCTS If your physical mobility is affected, you might be interested in exploring the options of stairlifts, installing handrails or perhaps installing a downstairs toilet. Taps, shower controls and lighting can all be adjusted to make them easier to use. You could even explore the possibility of installing a wet room in your home, allowing for greater space and accessibility when using the shower. For wheelchair users, doors can be widened to accommodate the size of your chair and ramps installed to help you move in and out of the property.
If you struggle to get in and out of bed or off the settee, electric riser-recliner furniture could be a great option. Age UK provide online and print guides for buying stairlifts, riser-recliner furniture and kitting out your bathroom to make it more accessible. The guides advise what to look out for during your purchase to make sure you pick the products that are right for you. Sites such as www. stairliftreviews.co.uk can also give you competitive, no obligation quotes in your search for adapted equipment. Whatever your circumstances, making adaptations to your property doesn’t have to be a headache – support is out there to get you through. Knocking on a few doors could help you achieve the comfort, safety and security you deserve.
THE SUPPORT NETWORK Need support with your housing situation? There’s a range of organisations out there who can help you, whatever your circumstances. Keep note of these crucial contacts for your time of need SHELTER
www.shelter.org.uk 0808 800 4444 Shelter is a nationwide charity which helps millions of people dealing with bad housing and homelessness. They can offer support, advice and even legal services if you find yourself in difficulty. Shelter responded to over 5 million requests for help last year – so don’t be afraid to reach out.
CARE AND REPAIR
ENGLAND: www.careandrepair-england.org.uk SCOTLAND: www.careandrepairscotland.co.uk WALES: www.careandrepair.org.uk Local authorities nationwide have Care and Repair Services, which offer independent advice and assistance to help older and disabled people repair, adapt and improve their homes so they can live comfortably and securely. From helping you plan major adaptations to changing a light bulb, it’s worth putting your local service in your phone book.
www.citizensadvice.org.uk 03454 04 05 06 As well as offering their consumer advice line, Citizens Advice have offices across the UK, alongside a wealth of information available online. From
housing to benefits, understanding your rights to arranging support, anything you need assistance with? Citizens Advice’s trained advisers can help you along the way– all for free. Get in touch with any concerns.
THE ACCESSIBLE PROPERTY REGISTER
www.accessible-property.org.uk The Accessible Property Register lists accessible homes for sale and to let across the UK, as well as listing accessible holiday homes – so your needs will be met whether you’re at home or away! If you’re planning on moving yourself and your current property has suitable access features, you can also list it on the site for others to check out.
If you need financial support with your housing situation, you may be entitled to Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction. These are paid for by your local council, so contact them directly to find out more about claiming.
HOUSING OMBUDSMAN SERVICE
www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk 0300 111 3000 The Housing Ombudsman Service is an independent organisation which deals with complaints about housing organisations that are registered with them, resolving disputes between tenants and leaseholders of social landlords and any voluntary members. The service is impartial, and totally free as well.
DISABLED FACILITIES GRANTS
www.gov.uk/disabled-facilities-grants Disabled Facilities Grants are available to help you make adaptations to your home. They’re mostly used to widen doors, to install stairlifts, adapt heating systems and lighting controls or to install a downstairs bathroom. How much you get depends on where you live – and landlords can apply too to make adaptations to suit your needs. To apply, go through your local authority.
“Shelter responded to over 5 million requests for help last year – so don’t be afraid to reach out”
SINGLE PARENT CARERS There are almost 800,000 disabled children under the age of 16 in the UK – and in many cases, one parent is left to raise the child alone, getting by with little or no to support when, in some cases, that’s exactly what they need. We take a look at the services and initiatives designed to give you and your child a helping hand
BEING A SINGLE PARENT can be a complete minefield – from tighter incomes to managing childcare options, there’s a lot to think about. But for thousands of single parents in Britain, there’s the added pressure in the form of caring for a disabled child alone. Raising a child with a disability can put strain on a relationship at times, and some studies have shown that parents of disabled children are more likely to separate. While not true for everybody, the Families and Children Study found that the majority of parents who have a child with special needs end up raising that child alone – and juggling life as a single parent and carer can be overwhelming. Knowing where to turn to for help can be a lifeline for a lot of families. But most don’t know where to start. According to statistics from Contact a Family, only 8% of families with disabled children receive support from their local authority. HELP IS AVAILABLE “People quite often talk about the love they have for their children which is very deep and very enduring,” says Emily Holzhausen OBE, director of policy at Carers UK. “They want the best for them but they don’t want life to be so hard. It’s important for parents to know that help is out there.” The first step, explains Emily, is to get assessed. Whether your child was born with a disability or long term health problem, or a diagnosis came later in their life, it is crucial that you ask your local authority for a needs assessment. A local authority representative will then visit you at home to find out more about your
child and their health, social care and education needs. They’ll then be able to explain to you what you qualify for – anything from short breaks, holiday schemes and care homes through to aids, adaptations and financial support. You also have the right to have your own needs assessed too. “Parents have needs of their own,” says Emily. “They are humans, not just people who are supplying care to a disabled child. That’s why it is so important to have a parent assessment that recognises their needs rather than always looking through the lens of the child.” Thanks to the Children and Families Act, the local authority now has a duty to promote your wellbeing, as well as aspects of your relationships, as part of your carer’s assessment. FINANCE The total cost of bringing up a child with a disability is three times higher than for a non-disabled child, and with over half of families caring for a child with a disability living in or at the margins of poverty, financial support is crucial. Following your assessment, you may be entitled to funding to pay for your child’s care. You can ask to receive this as a Direct Payment which gives you more flexibility as to how it is spent. Make sure you are getting all the funding you are entitled to – you may be able to claim for extra Child Tax Credit or Disability Living Allowance, as well as Carer’s Allowance. FURTHER SUPPORT For children with special education needs, you’ll be entitled to get an Education Health and Care plan drawn up for your child, which makes sure all agencies are working together to achieve specified outcomes. With an EHC plan, you’ll have a say in how your child is supported and you’ve got more choice and control over aspects such as what kind of school they attend. “The best thing you can do for you child is to speak up,” says single mum Shirea White. Five years ago, when her five-year-old son Cole was diagnosed with autism, Shirea felt something wasn’t right. “I knew there was something else going on because he was always clenching his fists,” explains Shirea. “I just kept going back and telling them I wanted to get him checked for
“The total cost of bringing up a child with a disability is three times higher than for a non-disabled child”
something else because I didn’t think it was autism. Finally a specialist saw him and within two minutes he diagnosed Cole with a rare condition called fragile X syndrome. It felt amazing to finally get the right diagnosis because it meant I finally started getting the right help.” Talk to your GP, paediatrician or community nurse about any concerns you have – no matter how small. They can help refer you to a specialist or connect you to local organisations that can offer support to you and your child. TAKE A BREAK When caring for a loved one, it’s easy for your own health and wellbeing to take a back seat. But studies show that when single parents of disabled children don’t take breaks it can have a serious long term impact on their psychical or mental health. For Shirea, managing her son’s condition has become a full-time job. Keeping fit while Cole is at school helps Shirea to manage her stress and feel in control. “If I’m not healthy and happy then neither is Cole, it’s as simple as
that,” says Shirea. “I go to the gym about five times a week – any time that Cole is out, I go to the gym. It just makes me less stressed – I wake up feeling fresh and I feel like I can do anything.” So whether it’s time at the gym or finding out more about respite care, it’s important to know that it’s OK to sometimes put your own needs first. There are hundreds of reasons why being a single parent is hard – but with all these excellent services available, being alone doesn’t have to be one of them.
i Contact a Family www.cafamily.org.uk 0808 808 3555 Carers UK www.carersuk.org 020 7378 4999 Newlife Foundation www.newlifecharity.co.uk 0800 902 0095
PICS: © JOHN CUTHBERTSON /DISABLED RAMBLERS; CALVERT TRUST; REVITALISE
From grand days out to mini breaks, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to things to do and places to see in the UK – and beyond! And accessibility is much better than you’d expect. We take a look at all the top accessible holidays and days out for 2017
ACCESSIBLE ADVENTURES 54
Life THE DAYS ARE COLD, the tinsel has been taken down and the trees are lying abandoned at the side of the road. It’s easy to think that all the fun stops at Christmas but really – this is only just beginning! After seemingly endless weeks of dark nights and frosty days, hibernation starts to look like the most attractive option. But believe it or not, spring is right around the corner, so what better time to start planning your great escape? The UK is home to some of the world’s best holiday homes, historical sites and accessible attractions to get you excited about the year ahead – so what are you waiting for? GO OUTDOORS The roads still might be icy, but Mr Frost won’t be hanging around much longer. One of the best things to look forward to once the weather starts to warm up is the opportunity to get out and about – and with the UK playing host to some of the world’s most jaw-dropping scenery, there is no excuse not to get outside and explore. From magnificent mountains to picturesque towns, Britain has it all – and it might just be more accessible than you’d ever expect. A number of Britain’s woodland trails have been adapted to accommodate wheelchairs and scooters, meaning everyone can get the chance to be close to nature. Search for accessible trails at www.walkswithwheelchairs.co.uk or contact organisations like Disabled Ramblers (www.disabledramblers.co.uk) to find out about walking groups in your area. ADRENALINE-PUMPING ACTIVITIES Not enough action for you? Don’t worry, the great outdoors offer plenty of opportunities for those seeking adrenaline and adventure. Calvert Trust offer funpacked holidays for disabled people, their families and friends, and have three centres across the UK: Exmoor, Kielder and the Lake District. All three provide a range of fully accessible outdoor activities, such as cycling, canoeing, zip wire, abseiling and more. All staff are trained and have the equipment needed to make the sports adaptable and fun for all. There’s even the option to stay for a holiday if one day isn’t enough. Find out more at www.calverttrust.org.uk. And for the real daredevils out there, there’s always iCan. All of iCan’s experience days are designed with access in mind, whether it’s white water rafting, skydiving or even driving a supercar. Basically, if you can dream it, these guys can make it happen. All you need to do is tell their team about your requirements and they’ll do their best to adapt their
TOP 5 ACCESSIBLE ATTRACTIONS as ranked by Saga
ZSL LONDON ZOO Nearly all enclosures and halls are fully accessible, including disabled toilet facilities and wheelchair hire.
EDINBURGH CASTLE There’s a courtesy vehicle at the main reception plus a lift, toilet facilities and Braille guides.
BRIGHTON PAVILION Access to the seaside couldn’t be easier thanks to disabled parking bays and level access along the pier.
TITANIC BELFAST The inclusive venue offers integrated loop systems for hearing impaired visitors throughout all nine interactive galleries.
CADBURY WORLD, BIRMINGHAM A large print guide is available and concessions are offered for visitors with disabilities and there are audio and touch tours.
activities and equipment for you – no matter what your age or ability. Get more information at www.icanexperiences.co.uk. HOLIDAY MODE If it’s the idea of sun, sea and the chance to escape Britain that really appeals, there is a host of websites out there to help make your dream holiday happen. Limitless Travel (www.limitlesstravel.org), Access Travel (www.access-travel.co.uk) and Disabled Access Holidays (www.disabledaccessholidays.com) all provide accessible holiday solutions for people with disabilities. Closer to home, Revitalise have three centres in England offering accessible respite care holidays and short breaks for disabled people and carers, with 24-hour on-call nursing care, volunteer support and fully accessible features. The organisation runs themed weeks throughout the year, as well as offering brilliant excursions and entertainment. Find out more at www.revitalise.org.uk. CLOSER TO HOME It doesn’t all have to be high-spirited adventures or extended getaways – sometimes a day out in your local area is all you need to recharge your batteries. Luckily Britain is home to some of the most astonishing art galleries, museums, gardens, theatres and shopping centres in the world – so culture vultures never have to go far to get their fix. Many attractions offer free carer tickets or concessionary rates for disabled visitors. Always call ahead to enquire about special offers and to find out about everything access – from easy parking to accessible loos. AND EVERYTHING ELSE Still not sure where to start? There are some fantastic resources online, where you can find key details about popular attractions and read honest reviews from others who’ve visited. Disabled Go (www.disabledgo.com) and Euan’s Guide (www.euansguide.com) both provide useful information from disabled daytrippers. Visit their sites before you hit the road and check what attractions are worth the trip. And don’t forget to take a look at The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain for some inspiration. This wonderful resource includes guides and reviews on everything from the Warner Bros. Studio Tour (wbstudiotour.co.uk) to Royal Yacht Britannia (www.royalyachtbritannia. co.uk) and Eureka! The National Children’s Museum (www.eureka.org.uk). You can download it in its entirety for free at www.accessibleguide.co.uk.
DISABLED ACCESS DAY 2017 WITH OVER 1.3 BILLION disabled people across the globe, ideally every day would be Disabled Access Day. Sadly, this is not yet the case – even attractions which claim to be accessible don’t always have everything we need. All too often, it can prove too much hassle and you can find yourself asking: “Is it even worth trying something new?” “We understand that not every venue meets everyone’s requirements,” says Disabled Access Day coordinator Ryan McMullan. “We see this as a work in progress and hope one day that venues are as accessible for disabled people as possible. But we believe in the spirit of trying something new out as well as going back to places to see if they are as still as good or have improved.” AWARENESS Now in its third year, Disabled Access Day aims to encourage disabled people and carers to get out and try a new attraction or venue in their area. Organisers hope the event will help to raise awareness of the importance of disabled access and encourage conversations between disabled people, businesses and venues. Across three days and multiple venues nationwide, the event encourages organisations that offer great accessibility to create an opportunity for disabled people to feel confident exploring somewhere they’ve never been before. “It’s all about visiting somewhere new, whether that’s a cinema, a gallery, museum
For the third year running, Disabled Access Day returns from 10-12 March to encourage disabled people, their friends and family to try visit somewhere new in their ommun ty We find out w y t s s one event not to be missed
or anywhere else,” says Ryan. “It’s also an opportunity for venues and businesses to showcase their accessibility, try something new and engage with new customers.” Last year over 10,000 people and 1,000 venues took part – from cafes that offered free coffees to the wide range of attractions and theatres who ran special offers on admission rates on the day. But this year, they’re hoping to make it bigger than ever. EXCITED “We are talking to a number of new and previous venues that are currently in the process of planning their events,” says Ryan. “We are extremely excited by the ideas and quality of the events and look forward to sharing them at the beginning of 2017.” And you don’t need to be limited to venues officially taking part – it’s all about doing something you want to do. Think about where you want to go and contact the venue in advance. If they sound unsure, put them in touch with the DAD team – organisers will be more than happy to help offer advice and suggestions. “We are always here to answer any questions or queries you may have and we are always happy to act as a soundboard we love hearing new ideas!” For both individuals and groups, the event offers a fantastic opportunity to connect with your local community, meet new people and experience new adventures. So the big question now is: “Why NOT try something new?”
i Find out more about the event and download tips and resources for free at www.disabledaccessday.com
“DO YOU MIND?” Aut or and ourna st m us by m t re e ts on w den n t e on ersat on around d sab ty but always understanding your timing AS I WAITED IN line to purchase a bottle of wine in the local off licence recently, I found myself the subject of another customer’s curiosity. Despite his having only just entered the shop and my desire to leave it as soon as possible, it appears he’s in the mood for a chat. “Alright, mate,” says he. “Hi,” I nod briefly. And then it comes. No preamble. He just dives straight in. “What happened to you, if you don’t mind me asking?” CHOICES Well, that’s a toughie. If I do mind, it’s too bloody late now. I have to choose either to share the details of my disability with a complete stranger, or create a moment of awkwardness by telling him to mind his own business. I’m sure we have all encountered this kind of curiosity. More often than not, it’s not intended to offend, but comes more as an impulsive outburst that is ill-conceived. It’s based on a huge assumption, for starters. Supposing nothing ‘happened’ to me. If I had been in a wheelchair all my life, how awkward does this question become? What if there was no accident, no moment
for him to ‘imagine for himself’ to help him understand? What if I just say “nothing”? If something did ‘happen’, what if it was of a distressing nature? A violent assault, or a car crash that involved the loss of loved ones? What if I had sustained an injury as the result of a failed suicide attempt? CONVERSATION I am a strong advocate of open and honest conversations about disability. It is a valuable way to widen awareness and understanding, as well as being a great way to remind everyone that we are all just people. However, the timing is important. I need first to have some kind of ‘normal’ conversation, to exchange pleasantries, perhaps talk about other topics, and build up to the, “Please don’t think me rude, but…” Otherwise I become the living embodiment of the blue badge;
defined by my wheelchair and weighed down with the baggage of whatever misconceptions the questioner may have about disability. Meanwhile, back in the shop… “What happened to you, if you don’t mind me asking?” “Oh,” I say. “I was just an idiot.” He looks uncomfortable; suddenly awkward. “Yep,” I continue, pointing to a sticking plaster bound around my thumb. “I was trying to open a shrinkwrapped pack of batteries with a craft knife and my hand slipped.” Clearly confused, he smiles nervously. I pay for my wine and leave.
Looking Up by Tim Rushby-Smith is published by Virgin Books
10 YEARS of the Motability Scheme’s One Big Day events
The Motability Scheme is celebrating 10 years of successful One Big Day events by returning to Manchester, the city where it all started, to host The Big Event in 2017.
THE BIG EVENT WILL take place at EventCity at the Intu Trafford Centre on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 May 2017. The flagship, two-day event will showcase the UK’s biggest display of cars, scooters and powered wheelchairs available to disabled people. There will also be plenty of helpful Motability Scheme advisors to chat to, including representatives from Scheme partners, RAC, RSA and Kwik Fit. A wide variety of cars – including a range fitted with popular adaptations – will be available to test drive, allowing visitors to discover which vehicle best suits their needs. The show also offers free entry, free parking and a complimentary cup of tea or coffee. Asked why the events continue to attract so many visitors 10 years after they started, One Big Day Event Manager Alison Beasley, commented: “Our One Big Day events really offer something different, they
enable disabled motorists to find out everything they need, all in one place. Visitors can do everything from gathering practical advice about the vehicles available through the Scheme, to the hands-on experience of a test drives. There’s also lots of entertainment to keep younger visitors happy, with free face painting, balloon modelling and meeting the Motability Scheme mascot, Billy the Bear. It’s a great day out!” Find out more about The Big Event online at motability.co.uk/ thebigevent and for the latest announcements, pictures and videos, visit the ‘Motability Events’ Facebook page.
i For more information on leasing a car, scooter or powered wheelchair through the Motability Scheme, visit motability.co.uk or call 0800 953 7000.
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Ford EcoSport A recent update has improved the Ford EcoSport, making this Fiestabased compact crossover more worthy of consideration in the face of strong competition. We call on Alisdair Suttie to put it through its paces
INSIDE Cabin quality has improved significantly over the original EcoSport interior, so there’s a more substantial feel to the controls your hands come into contact with. Reach a little lower down and some of the other plastics still feel hard and scratchy, but they’re durable. There’s no quibbling with the driving position, however. It offers the raised seating typical of this crossover class that makes it easy to step into the Ford and there’s excellent vision all-round. Some might find the seat a little narrow, but comfort is better than in most rivals. With most of the controls borrowed from the Fiesta, the EcoSport has the same strengths and weaknesses. The positives are clear: main dials and simple heater controls. On the downside is the fussy design of the infotainment switches. Rear seat space is adequate for two adults, but the boot is on the small side, even for this sector. It’s also hampered by a tailgate that’s side-hinged on the left, making access trickier than it should be and you’ll need sufficient space behind to open the door.
EQUIPMENT Three trim levels are offered with the EcoSport. Zetec is the starting point and comes with 16inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, electric windows all-round and Ford’s SYNC infotainment system that includes smartphone connectivity. Move up to the Titanium and you enjoy 17-inch wheels, roof rails, keyless entry and ignition, half-leather seats, cruise control and automatic wipers and headlights. The top of the line Titanium S comes with its wheels, roof and door mirrors finished in black, and there’s rear privacy glass and an uprated stereo with DAB digital radio.
MOTABILITY CUSTOMERS The Ford EcoSport is available on Motability, from zero Advance Payment plus your total weekly allowance.
DRIVING Ford provides a choice of three engines in the EcoSport. The turbocharged three-cylinder 1.0-litre is available with 125 and 140bhp, both of which deliver 52.3mpg and 125g/km carbon dioxide emissions. We’d stick with the 125bhp unit as the more potent version is only offered in the top-spec Titanium S. This engine has plenty of pep for easy driving and the five-speed manual gearbox has a clean, crisp shift. A non-turbo 112bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine comes with manual or automatic gearbox options. It’s not as much fun to drive as the 1.0-litre motor, nor as frugal at 44.8mpg and 149g/km, but it’s on a par with key rivals. As for the 95bhp 1.5 turbodiesel, it delivers 64.2mpg and 115g/ km, but you need to work the manual box more than you’d expect. The updated EcoSport sits 10mm lower than before, so it handles well with no ill effects on ride comfort. It also steers keenly and feels more alert than its competitors on twisty roads. In town or on the motorway, refinement is decent with only some wind rustle from door mirrors.
To find out more about the Motability Scheme, head to www.motability.co.uk.
SUMMARY Ford’s updated EcoSport is a much better car than before. Keen pricing and a fun drive are only marred by that daft rear door design. Worthy of consideration now? Definitely.
product roundup SAD DAY LIGHT
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a medically recognised condition that can make winter especially hard for some people. CareCo’s medically-approved SAD Day Light uses clinically proven LED technology to replicate natural daylight and alleviate the symptoms of SAD. With 10,000 lux of light, it’s flicker and UV-free, and can be used anywhere in the house. Get it: CareCo, £53.99 (www.careco.co.uk)
This cleverlydesigned mug keeps the vessel glued to any flat, nonporous surface, resisting knocks and bumps – saving any splashes and spills. Available in a range of attractive colours too. Get it: Good Life Guide, £15.99 (www.goodlifeguide.co.uk)
FLEXZI GADGET HOLDERS Flexzi is an adjustable support system for buttons, iPads, smartphones, cameras, remote controls, sat-navs and more. Available with single, double or triple arms, they come with different stability options, including table-top stand, lightweight clamp, or heavy duty clamp that’s ideal for off-road wheelchairs. Get it: MERU, from £38 (www.meru.org.uk)
STELLA TOP The Able Label is a specialist provider of adapted women’s clothing, designed to make dressing easier for those with dexterity or mobility issues – with a focus on style! The long-sleeved Stella top is one of their best sellers, opening at the front to avoid overhead dressing, with open and close Velcro fastenings at the front. Check out the whole range online now. Get it: The Able Label, £47.50 (www.theablelabel.com, 01622 828 994)
AMPLICOMMS TV200 WIRELESS HEADSET If you have to crank up the volume on your telly, a TV listener will help you listen in without annoying your family or neighbours. This wireless headset lets you choose your preferred volume, even if the television’s sound is turned off. You can take it as high at 112dB – as loud as a rock concert – whilst tweaking the tone and balance controls for clarity. Get it: Hearing Direct, £59.99 (www.hearingdirect.com, 0800 032 1301)
THE DIARY • 28 JANUARY
ADAPTED SPORTS TASTER SESSION – RACERUNNING AND FRAME FOOTBALL English Institute of Sport, Sheffield www.cpsport.org Still got Paralympic fever? Then head down to meet CP Sport who will be hosting a sports day in Sheffield on 28 January. As the country’s leading disability sports organisation, their aim is to help support people with cerebral palsy to reach their full potential. Experienced coaches will be on hand to assist participants in fun-filled activity sessions and help you learn new tricks and skills. It’s the perfect opportunity for current and new sports fans to develop their fitness, meet new friends and have some fun. • 29-30 JANUARY
Manchester Central www.iicshow.co.uk The IIC Show is a supersized disability resource and shopping event which hosts a wide range of exhibitors in the fields of healthcare, law, tech, leisure, mobility and social care. As well as meeting the exhibitors, you’ll have the chance to test all the latest in cutting-edge technology, see assistance dog demonstrations and attend informative talks. • 4-5 FEBRUARY AND 7 MARCH
MATILDA – ACCESSIBLE PERFORMANCES
The Comedy Store, London www.thechildrenstrust.org.uk Following his sell-out charity show in 2016, comedian Tim Vine is back to host a night of hilarious fundraising for The Children’s Trust. The charity is the leading organisation for children with brain injuries, which focuses on providing support for kids and their carers. So get your tickets and get ready to giggle for a good cause. • 7-8 MARCH
NAS PROFESSIONALS CONFERENCE
• 10-12 MARCH
DISABLED ACCESS DAY Events Nationwide www.disabledaccessday.com Why not try something different in 2017? This three-day event encourages disabled people and carers to visit somewhere new in their area to test out its accessibility, from sports stadiums to cafes. Getting out your comfort zone is a great way to challenge yourself – and local business owners. Across the UK, over 100 venues have signed up to take part, and getting involved yourself couldn’t be easier. Head to the website to find out more. PICS: © ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY /MANUEL HARLAN
Cambridge Theatre, Earlham Street, London uk.matildathemusical.com Roald Dahl’s best loved book comes to life on stage. Join Miss Honey, Miss Trunchbull and the magical Matilda for a captioned performance on 4 February, and audio described performance on the 5th, as well as a signed performance on 7 March. Guide dogs are allowed inside the auditorium, with staff that are happy to dog-sit for three dogs per performance in the manager’s office. They will also provide introductory notes on CD to anyone who needs it in advance – just ask for this service when you book your tickets or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• 6 FEBRUARY
CHILDREN’S TRUST COMEDY NIGHT WITH TIM VINE
Harrogate International Centre, Yorkshire www.autism.org.uk This annual two-day conference is a unique opportunity for professionals working with those with autism to discuss development and share learning. Hear the latest information from experts in the field and learn from case studies illustrating best practice. With four different seminar streams to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
* If you have any events coming up in March or April, email us at email@example.com with the details for inclusion in next issue’s diary.
LIFELIKE Bionic ankles and knee joints can now recreate lost muscle and tendon function, and artificial hands can grip and grasp objects by reading sensors placed upon the skin. Silicone technology can replicate lifelike skin, freckles, veins and fingernails on a prosthetic arm and can match to your skin tone using an iPad app. “Microprocessor smart technology fitted
in knees, feet and hands has transformed this industry in the last few years,” says Abdo S Haidar, lead prosthetist at The London Prosthetic Centre. “Knees and feet understand the position of the body in space and react accordingly to that. The knee can offer resistance, reducing the risk of falls when needed and can swing similarly to the sound side. Feet such as the emPOWER foot can produce push-off power during gait, enabling amputees to walk uphill, upstairs or walk longer distances with reduced energy consumption and effort.” Technology in all aspects of prosthetics has come a long way from the clunky artificial limbs of previous decades, and 3D printers can now produce functional, innovative prostheses. Superhero Cyborgs, a programme run by American design firm KidMOB, recently taught children with upper limb differences how to design and 3D-print their own prosthetic arms. The results leaned more towards ‘fun’ limbs than functional – one child designing hers to shoot glitter – but the initiative shows how far the accessibility of prosthetic technology has come, and how much further it can go.
PICS: COURTESY OF DM ORTHOTICS AND OTTOBOCK
MODERN TECHNOLOGY HAS TRANSFORMED the world of prosthetics and orthotics, allowing the development of artificial limbs and musculoskeletal support systems which have a lifechanging impact on their users. Advances in propulsion technology, socket design and bionics have made everyday tasks such as climbing stairs and doing housework much easier for those with limb loss. Recent developments have aided worldclass sportspeople, forged artificial legs for champion sprinters and helped support the Paralympic GB athletes beneath their uniforms. Individuals have been able to return to old hobbies, such as horse-riding and snowboarding, or taken up new activities they never thought possible.
Advances in prosthetics and orthotics are changing the way people live their everyday lives. Rachael Fulton spoke to e erts n t e fie d to find out what the future holds for those with limb loss, from silicone skin to bionic ‘feeling’ hands
ADVANCES “Amputees can now invest in a silicone cosmesis if they prefer a more natural look,” says Emma Gillespie, prosthetics market manager at Ottobock, one of the country’s leading manufacturers of prosthetic limbs, orthotic supports and wheelchairs. “The advances in silicone technology have meant that the options have become very lifelike. They can be customised to individual skin tones and can even include tattoos and hair.” Not only can modern-day artificial limbs move more efficiently and appear lifelike, in future they may even be able to return the sense of feeling to their users. Engineers at DARPA, an agency of the US Department of Defense, are pioneering ‘feeling’ neurotechnology in their prostheses by stimulating nerves throughout the body to mimic the sensation of touch. In their trials, volunteers have been able to identify which finger on their prosthetic hand is being touched. “The aim is to create something that is comparable with the look and abilities of a biological arm,” says Emma. “The way research is currently going, advances may be seen in areas which use electrical impulses like targeted muscle reinnervation. This is still fairly new technology and has huge potential for amputees. Improving the interface
“The aim is to create something that is comparable with the look and abilities of a biological arm” Emma Gillespie, Ottobock between the patient’s residual limb and their prosthesis would be another huge advancement in prosthetics. This in turn would allow the prosthesis to behave much more like a biological limb and improve fine motor skills.” There have also been major advances in the field of orthotics. DM Orthotics create custom-made, dynamic equipment to help rehabilitate people with musculoskeletal, postural and neurological conditions. Their products support athletes through the gruelling physical test of the Paralympics, but also improve day-to-day conditions for people living with disabilities such as scoliosis. Their suits combine traditional tailoring and modern technology to give crucial support in all the right areas. CHALLENGING “At DM, we are challenging the historic preconceptions of how people with scoliosis should be treated when it comes to braces,” says Martin Matthews, managing director and clinical specialist orthotist at DM Orthotics. “There have been huge changes in the technology in
recent years, moving from rigid, plastic spinal braces towards dynamic materials – products that greatly improve an individual’s quality of life.” Kids with scoliosis are no longer confined to boxy back braces, but rather can be fitted with special suits which support their spine and aid their movement – and they can pick their suit to match their football colours or favourite TV characters. DM’s E-step for those with drop foot is the latest advancement in orthotic tech. The sock material and structure provides support at the ankle, while neurological signals transmitted into the body allow for a more natural gait. The current is now able to go straight into the limb via the sock, rather than through sticky pads attached to the skin as before. “We’re now looking at the dream of 10 years ago with E-step, the interface between skin and sock,” says Martin. “We’re a global leader in our field and we’re moving towards providing the technology for all over the body, not just lower limb. We’re bringing it to over 25 countries, so it’s not just the technology that’s evolving – there’s greater availability too.”
i Ottobock www.ottobock.co.uk DM Orthotics www.dmorthotics.com The London Prosthetic Centre www.thelondonprosthetics.com
WIN A DYCEM PRODUCT BUNDLE This issue, we’ve teamed up with Dycem to give you the chance to win a stash of their nifty non-slip products, valued at £500 NAVIGATING THE HOME WHEN you have a disability can be tricky – but fortunately, there’s a vast array of products to make life that little bit easier. Dycem have been coming up with innovative solutions for daily dilemmas since 1966 – and their non-slip range of gripping aids are used in homes up and down the country. If you have difficulty gripping or with stability, Dycem have lots of products to meet your needs. Highlights include the handy Multipurpose Reel, which provides unrivalled and unbeatable grip
in a number of different ways. It can be cut to any shape or size and stuck onto objects to prevent movement, spillages and to protect your surfaces. The nonslip Netting is another handy invention which provides a non-slip base for many different items. Dycem products are real everyday essentials – and this issue, we’ve got a selection of goodies to give away.
i Dycem www.dycem-ns.com
This issue, you could be in with a chance of winning this fantastic bundle of Dycem products: • 1 Multipurpose Reel (40cm x 15m) • 10 non-slip Placemats (25cm x 35cm, 5 pink and 5 lime) • 6 non-slip Coasters • 2 Jar Openers • 2 Bottle Openers • 1 pack of Netting
HOW TO ENTER
To be in with a chance of winning this great prize, simply answer this question: IN WHAT YEAR DID DYCEM LAUNCH? A. 1966 B. 1986 C. 2006 Send your answer, along with your name, address, daytime telephone number and address to: Dycem Competition, Enable Magazine, DC Publishing Ltd, 198 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4HG, or email your details to competitions@ dcpublishing.co.uk. Good luck!
TERMS AND CONDITIONS: All entries must be received by 28 February. One entry per household. Open to UK residents only. Prize is one Dycem product bundle only, comprising Multipurpose Reel, Placemats, Jar Openers, Coasters, Non-slip Netting and Bottle Openers. The prize is not transferable to another individual, no cash or other alternatives will be offered and will be delivered to the address provided by the winner. The winner will be drawn at random. The publisher’s decision is final.
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DISABILITY on the high street With three quarters of disabled people saying they’re being forced to shop online due to poor access and lack of provision, what does the high street need to do to get disability smart? We take a look at what retailers are doing to up their inclusion game
IT’S ESTIMATED THAT HAVING a disability can cost as much as an extra £550 a month – that’s covering transport, specialist products, medication, support... The list goes on. Often, the items needed by those with disabilities are only available from specialist retailers. With less demand, they also tend to be more expensive – and ordering from websites and catalogues often comes with additional shipping costs, which can really add up. And while specialist companies do a fantastic job, it can make life a bit limiting for those with special needs. Going to your local shopping centre to pick up that gripping aid, navigating your local high street, buying an outfit for a
wedding that won’t get caught in the wheels of your chair, and being able to shop in the same stores as your friends are often completely out of the question – and there’s little representation of disabled people in the shops you come across to boot. SPENDING POWER So why aren’t high street stores doing their bit to include people with disabilities? The Purple Pound – the term given to disabled people’s spending power – is worth and estimated £20 billion. And these shoppers aren’t going to want to invest solely in specialist products with a clinical feel to them. Disabled consumers want access to
mainstream, on-trend products too – they want to be able to enter any high street store and know that their needs will be met. Fortunately, some retailers are wising up to this, with some launching new product ranges in their stores to help disability enter into the mainstream. Last year, Argos launched a focus on independent living aids for older and disabled people. Now, you can purchase everything from riser-recliner chairs to powerchairs on the high street, with products available to deliver to your home or to collect from Argos stores. “When it comes to what keeps us feeling young, being active is key and as a leading health and fitness retailer we have a range of products which allow people to take steps to look after themselves,” said an Argos spokesperson. “Our Independent Living range is designed to help people out around the home or when they are out and about.”
EXPANSION And it’s heartening to see household names like this expanding their ranges to make sure people with disabilities, of all ages and needs, are included and visible. In 2010, department store Debenhams made the move to include disabled mannequins in their displays, using the Mannequal wheelchair designed by TV presenter, campaigner and model Sophie Morgan. Adidas too took on some of the chairs for their flagship store. Matalan last year employed a child model with Down’s syndrome for their catalogue, while in the world of highend fashion, design duo Teatum Jones announced in September that they would be working closely with a number of Paralympians to ensure their next collection is disability-friendly. While we’re a long way away from seeing disabled models in every ad campaign and wheelchair-friendly fashions adorning the rails in our favourite stores, progress is being made – and with such high-profile retailers taking these steps, surely it’s only a matter of time before the rest follow.
BUT WHAT ABOUT ACCESS? While disability may be becoming more visible and catered to in mainstream stores on the high street and in shopping malls, how does physical access fare for those hitting the shops? We took to Twitter to find out your views*... Nicholas McAtamney (@NickyThomas77) The public seating in Belfast city centre is awful – too little of it and too low, and vehicles parked over dropped kerbs. TopladyTalks (@lynleyx) So many difficulties – lack of dropped kerbs/cars blocking them, pavements full of signs, aisles in shops too narrow... Abby Westguard (@AbbyBradley89) Acceptable in main towns, but the lack of dropped kerbs in many places make it extremely difficult as a wheelchair user. Lorna Fillingham (@spamina1) Won’t be taking my daughter anywhere that doesn’t have a Changing Places toilet. Most high streets and shopping centres don’t have one. Sarah Jane Brisdion (@SazBrisdion) Terrible for most families like mine – with hardly anywhere providing suitable toilets with bench and hoist it’s impossible! Flourishing Warriors (@flo_warriors) Lack of ramps and lifts, no clear aisles, NO Changing Places bench and hoist toilet facilities make shopping a nightmare. Laurence standup4MS (@standup4MS) It is not easy to go shopping and access shops or loos. It is not easy to go out on the spur of the moment.
* SOME TWEETS HAVE BEEN EDITED FOR CLARITY
DEMAND The range has made independent living products much more accessible – and it’s helping to bring disability into the everyday. And Argos aren’t the only ones going the extra mile. Marks & Spencer have won praise for a couple of innovative ranges recently, including larger-sized sleepsuits for older children – and it all came about after listening to customer demand. “Listening to our customers is a really important part of my job. Our customer services team got in touch with me as they had been contacted by one of our customers, Rita Kutt, who had put forward the idea of expanding our sleepsuit range for children, like her grandson, who have specialist needs,” explains Natalie Carroll, M&S kidswear buyer. “The fact that she had identified a wide customer base that M&S had the opportunity to support was something we couldn’t ignore. We worked really closely with Rita and other families on adapting some of our sleepsuits and bodysuits so that they are suitable for older children – getting their input was absolutely essential.” M&S have also introduced an Easy Dressing range targeting children with autism and learning disabilities. The range of school uniforms has done away with tricky zips and buttons to make
getting changed a far easier process. “The most popular item has been the boys’ trousers, which are a ‘pull up’ style, so no fiddly zips or buttons, and we removed the back pocket and put the care label inside the side pocket for comfort – we have sold 4,000 pairs!” says Charlotte Hunt, kidswear technologist. “We’re delighted with customer response and we plan to expand the range for next year with a greater choice of colours and fit options.”
Employment and education
COLLEGE CONFIDENCE LOOKING TO MAKE A change in 2017? Further education can be a great way to develop new skills, broaden your career options or prepare for higher education. Being disabled or having a specific learning difficulty needn’t limit your choices, and college can provide all the support you need to achieve your goals, both educationally and personally. In the UK alone, there are 371 colleges preparing 2.7 million students with valuable employability skills, helping to connect them with exciting career opportunities. Whatever your age, ability or interest, there is sure to be a course out there that is perfect for you. SUITABLE STUDY Options include subjects covering the basics of reading, writing and numbers, independent living, GCSEs and A-levels, right up to a degree if they have higher education institute status. Whether you’re hoping to pick up qualifications in traditional subjects, opt for an HNC, BTEC or HND or take distance-learning classes, there will be a subject area that fits your interests, and which can boost your CV. From hospitals to hospitality, the right college course could act as the perfect stepping stone to get you on the path to success. Some education providers do a January intake, with courses starting towards the end of the month, so look into what’s on offer in your area now. Classes run full-time, part-time, and even some in the evenings and at weekends, so you can get something lined up to fit around any commitments you might already have.
GETTING SUPPORT Colleges have to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ so that people with disabilities or learning difficulties aren’t at a disadvantage. Before you enrol in a course, speak with the institution’s disability services to find out what they can do to assist you and how you go about applying for support like extra help or specialist software. You can also call Disability Rights UK’s disabled students helpline on 0800 328 5050. You may be entitled to claim extra financial help too. There is financial support available for disabled students to cover the cost of any adaptations you may need, like Disabled Students’ Allowance. DSA can provide financial help if you need personal care or have difficulties travelling to college because of your disability. Find out more at www.yourdsa.com. With so much support on offer and so many opportunities to pursue, college could give you the boost to pursue that dream job, develop your confidence or build the skills you know you need. Start doing your college homework now – it could be the most important lesson of your life.
Further education colleges nationwide have a range of different courses on offer that’ll boost your career – and your onfiden e o w at does your local FE institute have to offer? We’ve got the answers
FE FACTS 17%
of students on further education courses and skills provision have a learning difficulty and/or disability.
adults study or train at college.
16 to 18-year-olds choose to study at college (compared with 433,000 in schools).
people study higher education in a college setting. UK colleges provide undergraduate and postgraduate level courses; 86% teach foundation degrees.
“Whatever your age, ability or interest there is sure to be a course out there that is perfect for you” www.enablemagazine.co.uk
Employment and education
1. GET ORGANISED Before you start applying for jobs left, right and centre, update your CV, go through your exam certificates and qualifications and round up everything you have that employers would want to know about. That way, when it comes to tackling an application form, you have all the info ready.
2. TAILOR YOUR CV Do NOT send out the same application for every job going. Tweak it to match the job description for the role you’re applying for, highlighting exactly what they’re looking for. Likewise, personalise your cover letter for each post.
3. Apply for what YOU want Don’t apply for a job just because it’s a job. Worst-case scenario – you get rejected for a job you didn’t even like the look of. Best – you end up in a job you hate. Either way, it’s not worth it.
4. LOOK AROUND Don’t just stick to the usual job boards or your local Jobcentre Plus when you’re on the job search. Investigate specialist sites targeting disabled people such as Evenbreak (www.evenbreak.co.uk) or Disability Job Site (www.disabilityjobsite.co.uk). Approach employers that interest you directly too – quite often, vacancies aren’t advertised so it’s about being active, eager and in the right place at the right time.
5. ASK FOR SUPPORT If you need help or specialist access during the application process, whether that’s to fill in the form or to attend the interview, don’t be afraid to ask. The company’s response will tell you a lot about what they’re like as an employer and whether they’ll be a good fit for you.
The golden rules of
JOB HUNTING If you’re using the new year as an excuse to kick-start your career, we’ve rounded up a few basics to keep in mind as you head off on the job hunt. Take note, and you’ll be on course to career success in no time
6. Research Look out for companies who promote themselves as ‘disabilityconfident’ or ‘disability-smart’ – if they’re shouting about what they do for disabled employees, that means they have the know-how and the facilities to accommodate your needs. Check out the Business Disability Forum’s member and partner lists for inspiration at www.businessdisabilityforum.org.uk.
7. DON’T DISCOUNT Never look at an organisation and automatically assume they won’t be interested in you because of your lack of experience, your disability, where you’re from – whatever the reason, you don’t know unless you try.
8. Bring in the experts Contact a recruitment agency or disability employment specialist to help you get on the path to career success. Organisations like Shaw Trust (www.shaw-trust.org.uk) and Remploy (www.remploy.co.uk) can offer lots of great advice, training and information to get you on the right path.
9. GET FEEDBACK If you apply for a job and hear nothing, ask for feedback. It’ll help you further down the line, so you know what not to do or say in the future.
10. NEVER GIVE UP Looking for a job can be disheartening – and if you keep getting rejected, it’s even worse. But learn from the experience, spruce up your CV each time and keep trying!
Employment and education
Working life can be challenging when living with a disability or long-term health condition. We spoke w t sab ty ts to find out more about t e an es t at ou d m ro e your e n t e o fi e
WORK WELL, ACHIEVING A WORK-LIFE-HEALTH balance is crucial for any employee, yet it can be more complicated with the addition of a disability or illness. Demanding work schedules, inaccessible office spaces and unsuitable equipment can all take their toll on productivity, creating issues for those who are managing symptoms or dealing with deteriorating health. Yet these challenges are not insurmountable, and help is at hand. Although different organisations have varying approaches and budgets when it comes to helping disabled staff, you might be surprised by what’s available to you when you need support most. “Often, individuals might need help because the circumstances of their job change,” says Philip Connolly, policy and development manager at Disability Rights UK. “It’s important that workplaces set a culture of disclosing and discussing any issues, so that line managers know what everyone’s individual needs are.” FLEXI WORKING Flexible working hours can help people living with a long-term illness or disability. Being able to start later or earlier in the working day, while still completing your required weekly hours, can be a good way to adapt your work schedule in line with your health. It’s worth finding out if flexi-time is available within your role, or whether it would be suitable for you to work from home. “It can vary on the individual, but, for example – if you have a mental health condition and aren’t able to travel at rush
hour or peak traffic periods, flexi-time or the option of working from home can really help,” says Philip. Those who have the option to work from home will be able to complete their duties without having to negotiate travel to and from their job, or deal with any access issues in the office. Employers may also make allowances for doctors appointments, or allow for longer periods of rest during the working day to accommodate symptoms. SICK LEAVE If you develop a health condition or disability during your career which means you might be absent from work, you may be able to receive statutory sick pay. The weekly allowance of statutory sick pay is £88.45, paid for up to 28 weeks, and this is the minimum required by law. Some employers have their own, more generous sick pay schemes, which will provide you with better remuneration during your absence from work. If you still can’t work after 28 weeks of absence, you can apply for Employment and Support Allowance for financial
“It’s important that workplaces set a culture of disclosing and discussing any issues, so that line managers know what everyone’s individual needs are”
support. Your employer is not required to pay you extra sick leave if your absence is disability-related, but you may ask them to extend your sick pay, take extra time off as annual leave or to receive ‘disability leave’. If you are granted disability leave, you can use it to take unplanned time off work relating to your condition (which would otherwise be recorded as sick leave) and take time off to receive treatment or recover from treatment. Not all organisations offer disability leave, but if you are a member of a trade union, they may be able to negotiate it with your employer for you. ADAPTED EQUIPMENT If your disability or illness affects your ability to use the standard equipment in your workplace, your employer is expected to make reasonable adjustments to make things easier for you. This could include an adapted keyboard, chair, or a desk that is less likely to impede your productivity or make you uncomfortable.
“Each case is different, but I knew once of a line manager who was supporting a person losing their sight,” says Philip. “In the first stages, he helped her with screen magnification, then later visual markings for steps, and when she needed to get a guide dog, she was given time off to train with it. There was a new reasonable adjustment at every stage of the process. It’s important that line managers know how to support someone with a deteriorating condition.” Employers can get access to funding to help with these adjustments too, in the form of Access to Work – which means they don’t have to worry about costly adaptations or equipment. You can find out more about the fund, and how to apply, at www.gov.uk/ access-to-work.
ADDITIONAL SERVICES Your workplace may also be able to provide additional services, such as an interpreter for someone with a hearing impairment, or documents with larger typeface for those with sight problems. If you recognise a reasonable adjustment or service that could be made to your working environment, discussing these with your employer could help evolve your workplace to be more suitable to your needs. “Not all people need reasonable adjustments, and many office environments are already fairly accessible,” says Philip. “But if people need reasonable adjustments, it’s important that they make their employer aware of these - whether that’s directly, through a union or through a colleague.”
ON THE JOB CLAIRE MCGUIRE, 30, wishes she had asked for more help at the beginning of her career in TV production. As a freelancer for the BBC, she received partly subsidised taxi fares to and from work to help with the symptoms of her cerebral palsy, a gesture which helped improve her working life. “Now that I’m older and aware of what’s available, I wish I had asked for help and made things a bit easier for myself,” says Claire. “I thought people would think negatively of me, but it definitely would have made things easier to admit I needed more help. I’d advise anyone in the same situation to be honest with their line manager, discuss how your disability affects you and what it is you need – there’s help out there.”
For more information on your rights, visit www.gov.uk/rights-disabled-person
Employment and education
BIG BUSINESS Born with Athetoid cerebral palsy, Glasgow-based Alex Papanikolaou always had an entrepreneurial s r t At e was fi n eo e s om uters or a tenner and years ater e was announ ed sab ed ntre reneur o t e ear by easy et ounder te os We ta to t e man be nd t e r e “I LOVE THAT EVERY day is different. I can be in the office or I could be travelling to Europe to meet suppliers. I love that I’m always travelling; it’s always something different.” Being able to stay on the move has always been a key motivator for Glasgow businessmen Alex Papanikolaou. The 26-year-old founder of Freedom One Life – a business that develops power wheelchairs that offer users greater freedom, support and reliability – was recently awarded the prestigious Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs, run in partnership with Leonard Cheshire Disability. Alex first came up with the idea for his business three years ago when he returned to the UK after spending five years travelling across 40 different countries. IDEA “The idea came from my own problems with the motor market,” explains Alex. “Wherever I went, the chair was stopping me from doing what I
wanted rather than supporting me. This chair ran my life – there was always something wrong with it. I was always either charging it or constantly getting a flat tyre. Every problem you can imagine, I had it a million times.” Turns out Alex wasn’t alone. Hundreds of other powerchair users were frustrated by the lack of reliability, flexibility and endurance on the market. But Alex had an idea to change all that. His designs are slicker and lighter, using modern materials and cuttingedge engineering. Unlike competitors’ products that need charged twice a day, Freedom chairs only need charged once a week. “I charge mine every Sunday and I forget about it all week. I can go to work, I can go to London, I can go anywhere and it will work.” Alex adds: “The way we see it, half of our company is the chair, and the other half is the service we give to people. It’s all about having the right product and the right service to back it up. Our goal is to keep people moving.”
PERK After three years of hard work and four prototypes, Alex was delighted to win the Stelios award in December, set up by easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou to recognise the country’s most talented disabled businesspeople. And the £30,000 prize money is a nice perk too. “We’ve come such a long way,” says Alex. “People often say, how did you do this, how did you start when you don’t have any money? I always tell them it’s about small steps. I think that the money will come if you have a great idea. It might take time, but it will come.” For Alex, the next step is to grow his team and focus on the future ahead. “I still love to travel and there are so many places I’d love to go. But,” he smiles, “it’s all business now.”
i Find out more about the Freedom One wheelchair at www.freedomonelife.com
The young FUNDRAISER When Harriet Johnston, 24, started blogging about her mum’s devastating cancer diagnosis she had no idea her posts would help to raise over £6,000 for charity. Harriet tells us more about her journey
HARRIET WAS ONLY 21 when her mum was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. “I was completely overwhelmed,” she says. “I would go home and there would be pills all over the place, my mum in hospital. I was trying to keep everyone’s spirits up while trying to also function myself and I just broke down and wrote a blog post.” That blog post developed into a ninemonth fundraising challenge that saw Harriet raise almost £4,000 initially for various cancer charities. On her successful blog, The Mum Project, Harriet posted a different challenge each month in an attempt to raise as much money as possible. From becoming a vegan to wearing only one dress for 30 days, there’s not much Harriet isn’t willing to try in the name of charity. “Sometimes when I pressed post I’d think, ‘I don’t know if I should share this’, but every time I got such a great response. People were telling me they were there for me, telling me I could do it. Sometimes I think that showing that vulnerability helped because they were able to understand the reality of my situation.” ADJUSTING Not that sharing her life on social media didn’t have it’s downsides. Harriet feared that people had become so used to her stories that they almost became desensitised. “They just accepted that cancer was a part of my life,” says Harriet. “But I don’t think like that – it’s not normal to go into hospital and to worry how long your mum has to live. I’m still adjusting to the fact that that is something I have to deal with every day.” Looking back, Harriet can’t believe how far she’s come. “Three years on I’ve raised
over £6,000 - £10,000 is the next goal.” But Harriet admits none of it would be possible without kindness of others. “It really isn’t about me – it’s about the people that helped me,” says Harriet. “From friends organising open mic nights to driving miles to pick up doughnuts for my cake sale – all those people taking time out of their day to help is so special.” Last summer Harriet and her mum planned to walk the West Highland Way together to raise funds for Cancer Now. But tragedy hit once again when weeks before the event, doctors shared the devastating news that her mum only had months to live. “We were about to cancel the whole thing when two of my best friends said they would walk the 96 miles for us. They helped us raise over £1,000. It’s stuff like that – when you realise you are not alone, it means everything.” POSITIVITY Despite the doctors’ predictions, Harriet’s mum’s battle against cancer continues and the family are currently investigating further treatment options. “When it comes to cancer, nothing is predictable,” says Harriet. “But I genuinely think if you surround yourself with love and positivity and things that give you hope, no matter how hopeless the situation feels, you can get through it. If that hope comes in the form of fundraising, great – whether it’s £100 or £15, it doesn’t matter. That £15 will do something and help someone.”
i Follow Harriet on her journey at themumproject.wordpress.com
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