September 2020


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

CORONAVIRUS – COVID19 - TELL US HOW YOU’VE BEEN AFFECTED    
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’.  Please contact me on info@spelthorneaccess.org.uk or text me on 07853 038933. 

SURREY LIBRARIES HAVE REOPENED  
From Tuesday 1 September: Ashtead, Caterham Valley, Cobham, Cranleigh, Esher, Haslemere, Horsley, Merstham, Molesey, Shepperton, Stanwell, and Sunbury will allow people to browse, borrow and return books.

Lightwater opens for the Click and Collect service from Wednesday 2 September and will progress to browsing from Monday 14 September.

Ash, Banstead, Bookham, Caterham Hill, Chertsey, Dittons, Ewell, Hersham, Knaphill, Leatherhead, Reigate and Walton opened on 3rd August and Ashford and Addlestone opened on 18th August,

Computer access has restarted at Camberley, Dorking, Egham, Epsom, Farnham, Godalming, Guildford, Horley, Oxted, Redhill, Staines, Weybridge, Woking.

To ensure the library remains a safe space to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, a range of measures have been introduced. These include limits on the number of visitors at any one time, 2 metre social distancing measures, cleaning of PCs between use and the quarantining of returned stock for 72 hours before items are reissued. Enhanced cleaning will be taking place throughout the day in open library buildings. Face coverings must be worn inside all library buildings, in line with current Government guidance.

Please check the opening times before you visit and refer to our coronavirus information on our webpages, where you find details of how we are keeping our staff and customers safe.  
https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/libraries/news-and-events/library-news/coronavirus .

DISABILITY RIGHTS UK (DRUK) – NEWS IN BRIEF     
We are the leading charity of its kind in the UK. We are run by and for people with lived experience of disability or health conditions.

Our key decisions are made through our members who elect the Board of Trustees: and by our Senior Management Team.

We work with our members to influence national policy on independent living, benefits, education, employment, transport, human rights and other issues – shaping policy through direct experience and expertise.

We also work with our local individual and organisation members to empower and to influence local policy and services.   

To contact Disability Rights UK (DR UK) see www.disabilityrightsuk.org/contact-us     

Ground-Breaking Public Consultation On Proposals For A Better Benefits System    
A new consultation on proposals for a better UK social security system has been launched with all solutions being developed by those with direct experience of the system.  Following a call for solutions for a better benefits system which received over 1,000 responses, the public is being asked what it thinks about the ideas.  

The public consultation is being led by the Commission on Social Security – all Commissioners are Experts by Experience who have lived experience of the benefits system.  Ellen Clifford Co-Chair of the Commission on Social Security and disability activist said: “Too often the people who design welfare policies do not have first-hand experience of the lives of those their policy aims to serve. This project is different; placing the experiences and understandings of those in direct contact with the system at its centre.”   

Input is invited from anyone interested in improving the benefits system: Experts by Experience, user-led groups and claimants, think tanks and charities, policy-makers and the general public. Following the public consultation, a ‘White Paper’ with policy recommendations will be drawn.

The consultation closes on 30 September 2020.  https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=58372&qid=8704495

Masks In Schools Could Lead To Isolation For Deaf Pupils      
The government has reversed its policy of all schools remaining mask-free for pupils from September. Secondary school pupils will now be required to wear masks while moving around buildings and  hearing impairments.

DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “There are 50,000 D/deaf children in the UK. If they can’t lip read or read facial expressions used as part of BSL because of compulsory mask wearing, they are effectively being consigned to a year of loneliness and social isolation which also risks serious effects on their mental health. We support the National Deaf Children’s Society’s call for schools to invest in clear masks and a strong commitment to making the reasonable adjustments these pupils need to learn and thrive at school during the pandemic. Schools should be consulting with their Deaf and hearing-impaired pupils about their reasonable adjustments. Education is a right for all pupils, not just those who are able to hear.”

DWP Enters Legal Agreement With EHRC To Improve Services For Deaf Claimants    
The DWP has entered a legally binding agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to improve support for deaf claimants accessing its services by telephone.

In the agreement, the DWP has committed to an action plan to address the problems these complaints identified.   For more details on the action plan, visit https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=58375&qid=8704495 

New Funds For Post-Hospital Care    
The government is releasing £588 million to cover adult social care or the immediate costs of at-home care for people being discharged from hospital, including disabled and older people from 1 September.

The funding can be used to provide up to six weeks of care and support including additional support such as domiciliary care, community nursing services or care home costs.

NHS Continuing Healthcare assessments for those needing funded long-term care or support will resume from September.  Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “We know for the majority of people the road to recovery can be quicker when they receive care and support in the comfort of their own home.

“This funding will help ensure people can be safely discharged from hospital knowing they will get the vital follow-on care they need to recover fully from treatment.  We’re also making sure those with complex health needs continue to receive the best support possible in the community.

DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “We welcome this funding and the commitment to working to ensure care homes remain safe places this autumn and winter. We call on government to ensure that Local Authorities have the funding and support they need should they need to place people with Coronavirus in alternative accommodation while they isolate.”

Challenging Decisions About NHS Disability Equipment    
Scope is looking to speak to disabled people who have had to challenge a decision about disability equipment or assistive tech in an NHS setting. If you’re interested in taking part, please email Andy Lancaster (see contact below)

Temporary Housing During Home Adaptations    
Scope would also like to speak to a disabled person who has had to find temporary accommodation whilst adaptations are being made to their home (either in the past or will happen in the future).

The conversation will take place remotely using Skype and take up to one hour. Scope can offer participants a £30 eGift card. This can be spent online or in store at Amazon, Argos, Tesco, Asda, M&S and other places. The eGift card won’t affect any benefits you might be receiving.  If you’re interested in taking part, please email Andy Lancaster.  
https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=58388&qid=8704495

 Changes To Shared Spaces 

Has your local authority made sudden changes to your local shared spaces, such as pavements, roads, or shopping areas, which has changed the accessibility of the area?

The Ministry for Transport wants to know if local authorities are running consultations before altering things like road layouts, blocking off accessible parking, and introducing changes to pavements such as al fresco dining which causes issues for people with visual or mobility impairments. If you have any examples you wish to share with us, please email tellus@disabilityrightsuk.org  

Victory For Changing Places Campaign  
Disabled campaigners have welcomed the government announcement that from 2021, all new public buildings will include Changing Places toilets with changing tables and hoists. Buildings will include shopping centres, supermarkets and sports and arts venues. It was recently announced that there would be new changing places facilities at a number of motorway service stations.

These welcome improvements come following a significant campaigning effort drawing attention to the unacceptable restrictions that some disabled people face when out and about.

Read more about this story on the BBC News website.  
https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=58160&qid=8600399

Places Created In New Special Free Schools  
The government has announced 3,000 school places for pupils with complex needs. The places, at 35 new special schools, will have trained staff and appropriate equipment. Views amongst families with disabled children and the organisations that represent them will be mixed, with some opposing any form of segregated provision and others feeling that their children will receive education in a more enabling environment. Read the government press release.  https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=58164&qid=8600399

Messages On Exemptions To Face Coverings Need To Be Stronger    
New research from King’s College London has highlighted how face coverings have become a flashpoint for many people. Roughly 1 in 8 people in the UK – equivalent to around six million people – say they have been involved in confrontations or reports to authorities about people not wearing face masks. The research did not ask if respondents were disabled people or unable to wear masks for reasons related to a disability or medical condition. However, we know that some disabled people have been confronted over not wearing a mask, and that fears of being confronted are having a chilling effect on some disabled people going to shops or using public transport. Confronting people who are not wearing masks does nothing to support and encourage good public health practices, and we strongly condemn such acts of vigilantism.

Fazilet Hadi, DR UK’s Head of Policy said “Hostility towards disabled people is not acceptable. We need stronger messages from government, police and civic leaders, making it clear that there are exemptions to wearing face coverings for some disabled people. Too often messages stress that face coverings are mandatory for all, which is not the case.”

The full research findings, a survey of 2,237 adults from across the UK, is available on the King's College London website. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=58242&qid=8641903

Disability Hate Crime Network Reports Disabled People Victimised For Not Wearing Face Coverings  
The Disability Hate Crime Network offer advice for victims and their supporters in relation to hate incidents and crimes. If you would like to look at this Network, or to join it, please go to www.facebook.com/groups/disabilityhatecrimenetwork.

At the moment the network, which is run by David Wilkin, is collecting reports of disabled people who have been victimised in public because they are not wearing a face covering. If you have been a victim of hostility, or you know of someone else who has been, please let them know via the Disability Hate Crime Network. This information will be collected and used anonymously to help notify the government regarding how disabled people are being victimised.

You can read more information on Hate Incidents and Crimes, how to report them and help people who are victims in this article by David Wilkin on our website. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=58260&qid=8641903

ADULT SOCIAL CARE – INFORMATION AND ENGAGEMENT TEAM – News in Brief  
Keep Surrey Safe  
Do your part to ‘Keep Surrey Safe’. Surrey County Council has updated their coronavirus public information using a simple infographic to reflect the latest government guidance to include isolating for 10 days instead of seven days if you have tested positive for coronavirus. 

Mobile Testing in Surrey  
Now ANYONE with coronavirus symptoms should self-isolate and get tested. Visit the NHS coronavirus website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ or call 119 to book a test. When you book a test, the team will book you at a testing site that is at the most convenient location for you. You may also have been asked to get a test if you are about to go into hospital, for example, for surgery. 

The Department of Health and Social Care has provided three mobile testing units (MTUs) for use in Surrey which they will add to or re-deploy elsewhere in the country should the need arise. The units are visiting areas in Surrey to ensure a good geographical spread of testing sites and will be moved to wherever the demand for testing is highest.

All testing sites need to be pre-booked online.  You won't be able to just show up without a pre-booked appointment. This is to manage the amount of people on site at any one time for social distancing purposes.

Weekly Coronavirus Intelligence Reports For Surrey Now Available    
Surrey County Council is producing weekly intelligence reports https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/coronavirus/testing/figures-and-statistics that provide up to date coronavirus data for Surrey. They include details of any outbreaks, increases in cases and our current R number. It also provides a breakdown by district and borough council area and a comparison to our neighbouring local authorities in the South East.

The NHS Is Still Here For You – Make Sure You Receive The Right Care When And Where You Need It 

Despite current social distancing measures, your local NHS is still here for you. Don’t put off seeking urgent treatment or advice from your doctor, midwife or other care expert when you are feeling unwell or worried about a new, or existing, condition.

Seeking medical help is one of the four reasons that people can safely leave home, in line with current government guidance. Every care setting including hospitals and GP practices now have robust measures in place to keep you and your family safe during face to face appointments.

Please only attend these appointments if you have been advised to do so and you and your family members are not showing any signs of COVID symptoms. If you are a professional, please share these messages so residents can access the right care when they need it.

The Distance Aware Initiative    
The Distance Aware scheme is a national initiative to enable individuals and organisations to politely prompt ongoing distancing and respect of individual social space. The scheme was designed to help the group of people with who have underlying health conditions politely enforce their need for social distancing.

There are a number of ‘badges’ which can be downloaded to your phone or printed to assist in politely enforce social distancing. 

If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email publiccorrespondence@cabinetoffice.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.  
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/please-give-me-space-social-distancing-cards-or-badges

Fraud: Banks Reveal The 10 Coronavirus Scams To Be Wary Of + Green Homes Scheme Scams      
Local councils have recorded a 40% increase in reported scams since the start of lockdown, while Citizens Advice estimates one in three people have been targeted by a Covid scammer.

Fraudsters are using the pandemic as an excuse to trick people out of their cash, according to British banks. UK Finance has warned that scamsters are preying on consumers' financial fears and has named ten Covid-19 scams the public should be wary of. "Criminals are impersonating trusted organisations like the NHS or HMRC to trick people," the trade body said.

Trading Standards has also announced an increase in Green Homes Grant Scams. Details of the new government scheme launches in September and details about the scheme have not yet been announced as a result any calls you may receive from company about this scheme may be a scam.

1. Fake government emails, which look like they are from government departments offering grants of up to £7,500.   

2. Scam emails offering access to "Covid-19 relief funds", which encourage victims to fill in a form and hand over their personal information.    

3. Official-looking emails offering a "council tax reduction".    

4. Benefit recipients are offered help in applying for universal credit

Health scams 

5. Phishing emails claiming that the recipient has been in contact with someone diagnosed with Covid-19.   

6. Fake adverts for non-existent coronavirus-related products, such as hand sanitizer and face masks

 Lockdown scams 

7. Fake emails and texts claiming to be from TV Licensing, telling people they are eligible for six months for free because of the pandemic.  

8. Emails asking people to update their TV subscription services payment details by clicking on a link which is then used to steal credit card information.   

9. Fake profiles on social media sites are used to manipulate victims into handing over their money.   

10. Fake investment opportunities are advertised on social media sites, encouraging victims to "take advantage of the financial downturn".

 For more details on the scams visit the BBC website https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53573408     

SEND Local Offer Consultation under way      
Surrey County Council and partners are asking for young people with Special Educational Needs and/or a Disability (SEND), their parent/carers and the practitioners supporting them, to share their views and experiences of its Local Offer website.

All local authorities must have a Local Offer website that provides information and the details of services available for children and young people with SEND and their families. The SEND local offer consultation aims to understand if Surrey’s Local Offer website is helpful, easy to use and gives those using it the information and advice that they need. It will also establish if the Local Offer is being sufficiently promoted and whether those visiting the website feel able to feed back about its development. 

DISABILITY EMPOWERMENT NETWORK (DEN) – NORTH SURREY    
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: - ‘I was told I was imagining my symptomsEdited from a series published in Metro.co.uk telling the stories of people with invisible illness and disabilities.  

Nicola Deeley, 22, Winsford, Cheshire, lives with fibrous dysplasia of the skull – a bone disorder in where scar-like tissue develops instead of normal bone. It causes pain, misshapen bones and can lead to fractures.

The condition can occur in other parts of the body but when it is specifically in the skull, it can cause changes to the shape of the face or in some cases, hearing or vision loss. For Nicola, it also causes chronic migraines. 

Research and development associate scientist Nicola started to notice something was wrong when she was 13. ‘I first started to complain of pain in my head and in my rib cage which was swollen. ‘It took three years of constant hospital appointments, being told I was imagining my symptoms and being advised to just get on with it until I was given a bone scan which revealed a large tumour in my skull, which had caused a severe vitamin D deficiency leading to swelling in my rib cage.

When I was 16, I had surgery to remove part of the tumour and conduct a biopsy, I received a phone call a few weeks after the surgery to be told I had fibrous dysplasia. I was later diagnosed with chronic daily migraines when I was 17, which are thought to be related to the tumour. I was scared and I felt isolated, I had never heard of the disease and the doctors did not have any knowledge of it either.

As the illness only affects an estimated 1 in 30,000 people there is a lack of experience, support and treatment for the condition. It was very difficult to come to terms with knowing I will never get better and there is no cure.’ Now six years on from her diagnosis, Nicola is still impacted by her condition every day. She adds: ‘Some days I suffer from hemiplegic migraines where the symptoms mimic a stroke and I have had to be admitted into hospital. On occasion, I lose vision in my left eye and have to take ibuprofen to be able to see. I experience dizzy spells, light and sound sensitivity and extreme pain every day. Even simple tasks like brushing my hair can leave me in tears from the pain.’

Although the condition is rare, Nicola has found support from online groups and she likes to interact with other people who understand what she is going through. She adds: ‘I managed to find a Facebook support group for my condition which has been extremely helpful as I now have contact with people who share my experiences, it’s nice to have a level of support from people who can fully understand how I feel.’

For Nicola, people are not always understanding of her illness and how it affects her every day. She says: ‘People often comment that I am “too young to be sick” or that I “don’t look sick” which I find really hard to deal with.

I find that the increased use of social media further fuels this view as generally only the best days are posted online and no one sees ‘behind the scenes’ and the worst days where I can’t get out of bed. As I don’t look visibly disabled, I feel that my illness is rarely noticed, which can cause problems when I need to sit down or can’t do as much as people expect of me. I feel like people often assume that because I am young that I am fully able to do everything and shouldn’t be struggling. I feel ashamed at times when I have to take painkillers when I am out as I feel that people are judging me for taking essential tablets.

I have been advised to get a blue badge by my doctor however I have not applied yet as I fear the judgment I would receive for parking in a disabled space when I do not look visibly ill.’

Nicola, like many other people with invisible illnesses, feels that more needs to be done to help people understand that not all disabilities are visible.

How To Get Involved With Metro.Co.Uk’s - You Don't Look Sick series.  
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.

DMUK’S BAYWATCH CAMPAIGN - CHANGED FORMAT FOR 2020 SURVEY. 

Disabled Motoring UK (DMUK) decided that it was not appropriate to ask shoppers to physically count cars not displaying a Blue Badge which are parked in disabled bays. Instead they ran their survey in August by asking Blue Badge Holders to think back over the last 12 months to consider their general parking experience.

SCAN would like to look at the local issues of Blue Badge Abuse in a similar way.

We are asking Blue Badge Holders to let us know their general parking experience and to answer some more general questions about their experiences at supermarkets and on their everyday journeys.

 Please contact us if you want to participate in this survey.  Email info@spelthorneaccess.org.uk  or text 07853 038933 to register your involvement and a form will be posted to you or visit our website forum where the questions are listed. https://www.spelthorneaccess.org.uk/forum/scan-blue-badge-parking-bay-abuse-survey