news Meeting new challenges
Meet Mike Smith
Fighting to get to college
Start planning for Christmas
Livability is the new face of John Grooms and the Shaftesbury Society
John Chamberlain writes
Dear friends, This autumn is an exciting time for Livability. We've sadly said our goodbyes to Mary Bishop, and we welcome Mike Smith. Mike brings huge amounts of experience, as well as passion for disabled people, so I'm sure that you'll see new ideas and exciting developments in the months ahead. This autumn is also a challenging time for us. The new government has started to make cuts to public spending. These are going to affect us all, but particularly those who are already the poorest and most disadvantaged. This edition of Livability News tells two stories of how we are responding to the new economic challenges we are facing. At Hinwick College, staff are working with students' parents to fight proposed cuts by the local council. Meanwhile at York House, when there was no budget for redecoration, staff literally got on their bikes to do it themselves. When I hear stories like this, I am proud to be part of Livability. Despite real financial pressure, our staff go the extra mile to ensure that those we work with receive all the support they need to lead lives of fulfilment and opportunity. I hope that you feel proud too - proud of your role in supporting Livability. Without your help, none of this would be possible. Thank you
John Chamberlain Director of fundraising and communications 2
Mike Smith: a new era for Livability Livability has appointed a new chief executive: Michael Smith OBE. Mike has considerable experience of working with disabled people – his previous job was as chief executive of Mike succeeds Mary Bishop as Enham, a Hampshire-based chief executive disability charity. He is passionate about enabling people to live independent lives. He will start work in October, and you will hear more from him in the next edition of Livability News.
Service users get interviewing As part of the interview process for Livability’s new chief executive, all the candidates faced a panel of our service users. They were invited to ensure that the new leader would understand the needs and concerns of disabled people. Each candidate was quizzed about their experience of working with disabled people and their commitment to ensuring that service users are at the very heart of Livability’s work. Their thoughts were fed back into the selection process, which eventually resulted in the job being offered to Mike Smith
DIY makeover for York House Helen Holt is up to her eyes in wallpaper paste. As manager of Livability’s York House, in Osset, Yorkshire, she and her team are taking a hands-on approach to their building’s much-needed renovation work. “We’re in a right old pickle,” she laughs. “It’s like decorating at home. Everyone’s enjoying themselves.” It’s a story worthy of a TV makeover show, but the twist is that York House’s 23 adult residents, most of whom are profoundly disabled, didn’t move out for a week while a team of experts moved in. Instead, they did a lot of the decoration work for themselves.
Lots to talk about: Mike and service user Gemma
Gemma interviews Mike
“We needed to decorate because the place had become shabby,” Helen explains. “It was like a house that used to be grand, but was falling apart. Yet there was just no money in our budget to spare for this project.”
Gemma: What are the most important things for a disability charity to focus on? Mike: First, to give options and choices to disabled people. It’s not up to Livability to define what disabled people should do – we offer the options so they have the choice. Gemma: I agree! I don’t like it when just because you’re disabled, you have to be told to “do this, do that”, or “go to this place”. That’s wrong. Mike: Yes, you can almost compare Livability’s work to being in the hospitality business. We have to offer attractive choices that cater to what people actually want.
For Helen, things felt desperate. She says, “The living room carpets were worn, the curtains were faded by the sun, and the furniture was battered after years of being bashed by wheelchairs.”
We're excited to welcome Mike and can't wait to see how he leads Livability into the future.
The residents of York House were involved in the renovation right from the beginning. They got together
She called a staff meeting and asked for ideas. The team decided that they would take on the challenge - raising the money and doing the renovations themselves. Together, the staff of York House organised a 68-mile cycle ride and raised £1,600. Other local fundraising initiatives sprang up and eventually they met their target. Soon work was able to begin.
Enjoying their new-look home: residents at York House.
to choose new colours and decide how they wanted their home to look. Helen printed out pages from eBay and ran a folder so that everyone could vote on their favourite items of furniture and bid for them. The results speak for themselves. Resident Greg says, “The new decoration is lovely and a lot more homely”. And fellow resident Andrew says, “I helped put the tables together and am happy that I had an input”. Now that the new tables are in use, the residents are experiencing a renewed sense of pride in their home. “I heard one resident say to another, ‘Put a mat under your cup before you put it on the table’,” says Helen. “Because they were involved from the beginning, they want to look after their handiwork. It’s great to see how proud and happy residents are with their home.” STOP PRESS Unfortunately, this summer, a flood interrupted the work at York House. The refurbishment has been put on hold as the damage is assessed and put right. But undaunted, the staff team can’t wait to get started again, transforming York House into a beautiful place to live. 3
“No”to cuts in college transport funding Every day, Ben Satchell travels to college for free. For him, this isn’t a luxury – it’s essential to his education. Without free transport, he couldn’t get to college and his studies would come to an abrupt end. So too would his hopes for a future of independence, Ben just wants to get freedom and choice. to college Yet Ben’s education is under threat. In July 2010, with no prior warning, Northamptonshire County Council announced cuts to the funding that allows disabled people with mobility issues, like Ben, to travel to college for free. In the current economic climate, funding cuts are inevitable. But Livability believes it is wrong for the most vulnerable people in society to suffer first. That’s why, when worried parents contacted Livability with their concerns about the transport cuts, head of campaigns Rachael Christophides knew she had to act. She launched a Livability campaign to secure free transport for young people like Ben so they can attend colleges in Northamptonshire. Ben, 20, studies at Livability’s Hinwick College in Wellingborough. His mother, Carolyn Satchell, was one of many parents on low incomes who received a letter from the council in July. Parents were asked to find an additional £60 a week to cover taxi rides to and from college. Some reported that they faced bills stretching to thousands of pounds to cover transport costs for the new college year in advance. Mrs Satchell, whose seventeen-year-old daughter Danielle also has a disability, was asked to prove to the council that her two children were disabled. She was also asked to provide evidence that her income was too low to meet the transport costs. Understandably, these demands caused her a great deal of distress. Many Hinwick students rely on council transport
“The council has caused a lot of upset to many families,” she says. “I am outraged that they have targeted people who cannot speak for themselves.” Rachael launched Livability’s campaign to draw attention to the injustice of the funding cuts by targeting the local and regional press. Hinwick’s College principal, Liz Auchincloss was invited to speak on BBC Radio Northamptonshire, where she presented a strong case for the council to reconsider its stance. “Hinwick College is a very special place,” Liz argued. “We fear that many local students will miss out on the chance of receiving the education they need – as well as the opportunity to develop vital life skills for the future.”
“We fear that many local students will miss out.” Every year Hinwick Hall welcomes up to 60 students aged 16 to 24 years with learning difficulties. The college’s education is crucial in allowing students to make choices about their lives. But if students are unable to use our services because they are being treated unfairly, then our campaigns team are on hand to help them take a stand. As our campaign gathered momentum, parents of students at Hinwick Hall and other specialist colleges were also interviewed by the media. Many BBC Radio Northamptonshire listeners called to express support for the parents’ cause. The ongoing debate lasted for several days. Our campaign continued off-air as Livability and Hinwick representatives joined with a coalition of parents, schools and colleges. Together they attended open meetings to co-ordinate further action.
Hinwick offers great education, but students need transport to get there
The council justified its action by stating that there is no statutory duty on councils to fund transport costs for disabled students over the age of sixteen. They insisted that they had to make hard choices and that budget cuts were inevitable. But the campaigners had the added support of a voice in Parliament. Livability’s president Baroness Howarth of Breckland OBE asked a question in the House of Lords to the minister responsible for disabilities, bringing the transport cuts to his attention.
So for now, Ben’s transport to college remains free – but its future is not entirely secure just yet. In the meantime, Livability will not only continue to provide services such as Hinwick College, but we will campaign tirelessly when disabled people and their families are treated unfairly.
“We will not stand by when people face exclusion.”
In response to our campaign, Northamptonshire County Council announced that the cuts will be postponed until after January 2011, and that a consultation will be put in place to re-examine the effect of the cuts on local families.
We will not stand by when people face exclusion from education, work and society in general simply because of their disabilities. Instead, we will ensure that our campaigning work makes a real and practical difference to the way disabled people live their lives.
This is welcome news, but not the end of the story. To maintain momentum and to ensure that the consultation stays fair, Livability met with a council representative to offer knowledge and expertise. The council agreed that we would help them to run the consultation exercise and also agreed to hold a special meeting with the parents of Hinwick students.
This type of campaign, which demands speedy responses to unexpected challenges, is hard to plan for and harder still to budget. But we are committed to keep standing up for disabled people. If you would like to stand with us, by supporting our campaigns team, please turn to the back page for ways you can give.
This will give students and parents a real opportunity to voice their concerns over the devastating effects the cuts could have on their education and future lives. 4
On a mission
We all need critical friends Voluntary community work can often be unglamorous and thankless, attracting faithful and committed volunteers. It can feel as if there isn't the time to evaluate, measure success, reflect, learn and adapt. However, funders and regulators do ask challenging questions about results. This means that churches serving their neighbourhoods increasingly need to know what impact they are making. Livability can help. A key part of our work with churches and projects is evaluating their work. Our advisors are invited in as critical friends, asking crucial questions and making specific recommendations.
We soon received warm feedback from the churches: “Thank you so much [for the report] - it gives us an encouraging, positive, realistic picture. It is so helpful to be viewed clearly from the outside. Thank you too for all the ways you have signposted us to move forward. We are sure it will be a help.”
Don’t miss our most popular event of the year! Livability’s carol service takes place on Tuesday 14 December at St-Martin-in-the-Fields church on London’s Trafalgar Square. As London’s huge Christmas tree twinkles outside in Trafalgar Square, we’ve prepared a fantastic evening of music and readings. Hosted by favourite Canon Roger Royle, there will be readings by celebrities including TV's Alan A spectacular start to Christmas Titchmarsh, as well as Livability staff and service users. Music will be provided by the London Symphony Chorus, mezzo-soprano Arlene Rolph and outstanding clarinettist David Wong. It promises to be a highlight of your Christmas season.
It's a real privilege to work with churches and projects, leaving them better equipped to make a real difference in their community.
Book your tickets early to avoid disappointment, as this event is sure to sell out. See insert for booking details or call 020 7452 2115.
Advisor Ruth Smith recently performed an evaluation for an innovative project. Three churches in northwest Leeds have been working together in their community using the arts, particularly ballroom dancing, as a way of engaging with local residents. Ruth spent time observing and interviewing before submitting her report. The Community Mission team has recently been really excited that our comments on the government’s ‘Big Society’ agenda have received extensive media coverage. We want to encourage churches to welcome the opportunities this programme may bring, whilst also being prepared for the challenges. The call of Jesus to love our neighbours as we love ourselves has never been more relevant as we ask whether our society is truly big enough to share our prosperity, open our homes and intervene when others may walk by. We believe the Big Society idea challenges us again to take Jesus’ words seriously. It’s a real privilege for our team to work with churches from all kinds of traditions and locations keen to be Big Society neighbours. We see our work being more important than ever as we help congregations respond innovatively and creatively to local need, even when their budgets are under pressure.
Investing in the future Livability supporter Maureen Staniforth is passionate about children having what they need to reach their potential. “I love children. I’ve always been so Maureen's compassion for children will live on. impressed with the quality of care that Livability provide to children. Any talent or interest that they might have is cultivated. The staff are so caring and supportive of the whole family.” Maureen has decided to make sure that her concerns live on, by leaving a gift in her will. “I had breast cancer four years ago, and that focused my attention on the area of wills, and what would happen after I’d gone. I felt it was really important to ensure that the issues I feel passionate about now can continue after I’ve gone. I decided to leave a percentage of my will to Livability, alongside other legacies to other charities.” “I think it’s very important to make sure that Livability’s excellent work is invested in, both now and in the future.”
Adam Bonner is interim director of Livability's Community Mission team, helping churches transform their communities.
Celebrate Christmas with Livability
If you would like a confidential discussion about leaving Livability a gift in your will, please contact Alastair Emblem on 020 7452 2118.
Events calendar Carols at Harrow 6 December If you can’t make it to our central London carol service, why not consider this alternative? We’re holding an evening of carols and readings in the historic setting of Harrow School. We’re excited that actor Pam St Clement, famous for her role as Pat Butcher in Eastenders, will be doing one of our readings. Livability has a longstanding relationship with Harrow school, and this should be a memorable event.
Carol Service 14 December See left for details
Epiphany Service 9 January 2011 Our traditional Tower of London service take place on 9 January this year. Celebrate Epiphany – the coming of the wise men – at a church steeped in history. The Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, at the heart of the Tower of London, is the yeoman warders’ church and is the burial place of three English queens.
Livability sponsors Greenbelt This summer Livability sponsored Greenbelt, the annual Christian arts festival. Held in Cheltenham over August bank holiday weekend, the event attracted over 25,000 Christians with a mixture of music, speakers and art. As part of our commitment to creating choices for disabled people, we worked to make the festival more accessible; installing ramps and hearing induction loops, hiring accessible toilets, and even setting up an electric wheelchair recharging area. Festival-goer Naomi, who was there with her disabled partner, said “This is our third Greenbelt and it’s been so much easier than previous years. The loos, the ramps and the recharging centre have all made a huge difference for us. Thank you Livability!” At the same time, the Community Mission team had hundreds of conversations with Greenbelters about how to get their churches more involved in their local community. Over four days in a field, the team got wet, muddy, sunburnt and cold but it was fantastic to spread the word about Livablity’s work among so many interested people.
For tickets or more information on any of these events, please call the events team on 020 7452 2115 or email email@example.com. 7
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Christmas Gift Shop Christmas cards and presents always bring a smile, but this year, why not spread the joy even further by shopping with Livability? We have a fantastic range of cards, wrapping paper, stocking fillers and alternative gifts. All profits go straight to funding our work with disabled and disadvantaged people. If you would like to order your Christmas catalogue please phone 01227 811 653 or alternatively check out our online shop at www.livability.org.uk/shop
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