July 2020

Previous Newsletters can be found at our 2020 newsletters web page or ar the Archived Newsletters web page

SCAN is conscious that groups represented at the Spelthorne Forum are experiencing a range of challenges at the moment and will continue to do so for at least the next 12 weeks.

Local Organisations with an involvement in Disability and Health support services across Surrey are encouraged to submit regular reports and updates.  Are you arranging ‘virtual’ open meetings and events? – let us help to publicise them.  Nominate any ‘Local Heroes’ on our Forum page.

Please contact me on info@spelthorneaccess.org.uk or text me on 07853 038933. 

Disability Rights UK’s e-news keeping you up-to-date with disability equality issues, including policy news on coronavirus.

We are updating our DR UK Coronavirus information page as and when we receive new information. You can find this here: https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/coronavirus

Disabled People Exempt From Transport Face Covering Rules
New rules have come into force which require non-disabled members of the public to wear face coverings in some public places, including on public transport. Those with impairments that prevent them from wearing masks are exempt, as are children under the age of 11.

DR UK Ambassador and transport expert Stephen Brookes said: “All areas of feedback from various sensory and mental health organisations have indicated that the rail industry (as well as others) needs to step back and look at the issues of better consistency of understanding on face covering policy on stations and on train services. It is vital to recognise that there are many who cannot access communications using them and some elements of Autism and mental health conditions preclude their safe use.”

40% Fear Challenge If Not Wearing A Face Covering – DR UK Survey    
Disabled people are frightened about travelling as lockdown eases due to a lack of public awareness and clarity about exemptions to the mandatory need to wear face coverings on public transport, according to a new survey by Disability Rights UK. Nearly 40% of respondents said that they cannot wear a face covering.

Nearly forty per cent said they had a hidden disability which affects their ability to wear a mask, and 13% said they needed to lip read. Nearly 60% said they feared being challenged if they did not wear a mask, with the same amount not feeling they had the confidence to stand up for themselves if challenged. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/june/40-fear-challenge-without-face-masks-dr-uk-survey

Call To Create Socially Just Coronavirus Recovery Plan
Disability Rights UK has joined with leaders of more than 100 household name companies, charities, universities, and trade associations to call on Government to ensure that United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the heart of UK Coronavirus recovery plans.

SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States, including the UK, in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “Coronavirus risks putting the prospects of disabled people in this country back at least 20 years. We have fought long and hard for equal opportunities, in employment, in education, for access to our environments, and for our quality of life. But it also provides us with an opportunity to reshape how we do things, to re-address inequality, and to focus on prosperity for everyone. The government has initiated radical short-term solutions to dealing with the Coronavirus crisis. Now is the time for it to show that it can think that radically in the longer term for all of us too.” https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=57951&qid=8488552

End Of Lockdown: One Size Fits All Approach Fails Shielders
Government plans to relax rules for shielders, including many disabled people and people with chronic health conditions, remove almost all of the key protective measures which have been in place since March.

A series of measures designed to reopen society will come into play for shielders from early July with another set in early August seeing the removal of vital practical and financial support, including Statutory Sick Pay for those shielding because of the virus, and food and medicine delivery services.

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “On the 1 August people are being forced to choose between their life and their livelihood. This isn’t right.” For full report visit web site

Report Shows Coronavirus' Impact On Disabled People
Inclusion London has launched its interim report based on hundreds of responses to its Social Care survey.

The report paints a stark picture, according to the pan-London DPO: “From the outset, disabled people have been discriminated against, forgotten, and in some cases abandoned as policymakers have ignored our needs. Or, at best considered us as an afterthought. During the pandemic disabled people saw our legal rights diminished, we experienced resource rationing and blanket policies. This led to many of us struggling to get bare necessities, losing support and independence and living in fear for our lives. Fazilet Hadi DRUK’s Head of Policy said: “This is a depressing account of the struggles and discrimination disabled people have faced during the coronavirus crisis and shows how far away we are from equality. We need government and wider society, to ensure that recovery planning is fully inclusive of disabled people.” https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=58014&qid=8511214

Disabled People Locked Out Of Digital Streaming Services
Missing out on the latest film or TV series is not just about missing out on the content. It’s about being excluded from the wider conversation.

A survey of more than 3,300 disabled people reveals four in five disabled people experience accessibility issues with video on-demand services. And more than two in three disabled people feel frustrated, let down, excluded or upset by inaccessible video streaming services. One in five disabled people have cancelled their subscription or stopped using a streaming service because of accessibility issues.

DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick, who sits on The Big Hack’s advisory board said: “streaming services need to step up and realise that over a fifth of our population is disabled and deserves parity of experience with non-disabled people. We should have the same rights to watercooler moments dissecting the latest must-see programmes as the rest of the population.”

What we’re doing to make travelling with us safe:

  • Continuing to pay particular attention to commonly touched surfaces such as ticket machines, grab handles, stair handrails and door buttons when cleaning our stations and trains.
  • Introducing floor markings at our stations to encourage social distancing.
  • Introducing stickers on board our trains to encourage social distancing when you are looking for a seat.
  • Playing regular announcements and using our information screens to remind customers of the latest guidance on social distancing.
  • Rolled out hand sanitiser machines at over 100 of our stations.
  • No longer accepting cash payments at our ticket machines and ticket offices.
  • Encouraging good hand hygiene amongst our colleagues.
  • Following the latest guidance from Public Health England, the Department for Transport and other Government agencies.

Ticket Acceptance
If you have a ticket that is for a specific train operator this may be used on any service provided by any operator between the same start and end station, group or Zone.

Normal Peak/Off-Peak time restrictions will still apply.

Advance ticket holders will be permitted to travel on other operator’s services if the original booked service has been delayed or cancelled. Travel must still be on the same date. London Underground and DLR services are currently not included in this acceptance.

Assistance and advice when travelling 

If you are using our services:

  • Guards will still be on our trains
  • Colleagues will still be available at most stations
  • Our Twitter team will be able to provide essential journey information
  • We will update our web pages with the latest information
  • Train time information can still be found on our journey planning and live train times pages

Please do not overload our Twitter team with non-urgent enquiries (e.g. regarding refunds), as doing so will reduce their ability to provide essential journey information to those who need to travel. It is important that we keep everyone working or travelling on the railway safe at this time.

But if you do need help or see something that does not look right, please contact one of our guards, station teams, rail community officers or the British Transport Police by texting 61016 or calling 0800 405040.

Face Coverings    
We want people to wear face coverings from when they enter a station all the way through their journey, including exiting the station at the other end. If people are then moving onto the bus, tram or tube, they should avoid taking off their face covering while they interchange to avoid touching their face or mouth unnecessarily.

If someone isn’t wearing a face covering, they will be reminded of the rules and told where they can get one. Only as a last resort will someone be issued with a fixed penalty notice (effectively a “spot fine”). Fines are £100, or £50 if you pay the fine within 14 days.

Please also be aware that some passengers may not be able to wear as mask due to medical issues. Regardless of whether someone is wearing a mask, people should keep their distance – at least two metres, if possible.

The industry is looking at getting transparent face coverings for people in our mobility teams. Elsewhere, a common-sense approach will be taken

North Surrey Disability Empowerment Network covers the areas of Runnymede, Spelthorne, Woking & Surrey Heath and is one of three groups of local disabled people, and carers, who meet up quarterly with representatives from local organisations like the NHS and supportive charities for information and advice. Next Meeting on Monday 7th September 2020

Please Note All Empowerment Meetings Are Being Held ‘Virtually’ During The Covid19 Pandemic And will start at 1pm after the Virtual Café sessions.

Please contact Yasmin Broome, Engagement Officer at Surrey Coalition email: Yasmin.Broome@surreycoalition.org.uk Telephone or SMS text 0745 5267424 for details of how to participate in meetings remotely.

YOU DON’T LOOK SICK: ‘Being diagnosed with a chronic illness was surreal’ - Edited from a series published in Metro.co.uk telling the stories of people with invisible illness and disabilities.  
Gary Taylor, 36, from Meriden, Coventry, has primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and ulcerative colitis (UC). PSC is a condition which affects the liver as the bile ducts are narrowed or restricted, affecting the flow of bile. He also has ulcerative colitis – a condition which causes inflammation in the colon and rectum – which is closely associated with PSC.

Gary explains that he first realised something was wrong in October 2008 after complaining about how tired he felt. ‘Within a couple of weeks, I had jaundice and was admitted to hospital on 1 Nov 2008. I wasn’t discharged until 22 Dec. ‘It took a couple of years to diagnose the PSC. Eventually, Gary was told he would eventually need a liver transplant. ‘It was very surreal,’ he says. ‘I was told there was no cure, that the disease was progressive and the definitive treatment was a liver transplant. I didn’t know what to think and to begin with I put it to the back of my mind and tried to get on with life. I thought there was no way I’d need a transplant!’

But in 2017, the damage to his liver became so severe, he was told that he needed a new liver and he agreed to the surgery. Although the transplant has helped his liver function, Gary, says he still has good days and bad days, especially because he now needs to take anti-rejection drugs to keep his transplant working, as well as dealing with the effects of UC. ‘On a good day, I can usually leave the house around 9 am, I can’t take my kids to school even on a good day, so this responsibility sits with my wife. If she isn’t well for any reason, we have to get my father-in-law to take them. On a bad day, I may not be able to leave before 10 am. I have to plan my route to work to ensure I’m not caught short on the way.

There have been countless times where I have come out of a disabled toilet because I’ve had no other option and had the comment, “you shouldn’t be using that.” ‘I now carry a “Can’t Wait” card and RADAR key from the Crohns & Colitis UK Charity, which gives me access to public and disabled toilets and at least have something to show to people, should they question me.’

Gary also works as a trustee for PSC Support, https://www.pscsupport.org.uk/ a UK-based charity to help people with the condition. He says that the team and other members have been a huge support for him throughout his journey. He wants to see more support for people with invisible illnesses to use facilities without being judged.

If you have an invisible illness or disability and fancy taking part, please email youdontlooksick@metro.co.uk. You’ll need to be happy to share pictures that show how your condition affects you and have some time to have some pictures taken. https://metro.co.uk/2019/12/08/dont-look-sick-diagnosed-chronic-illness-surreal-11409558/