Summary of 2021 Newsletters
Summary of 2020 Newsletters
Summary of 2020 COVID Newsletters
2020 COVID Newsletters
Disability Rights UK (DRUK) – News In Brief
To contact Disability Rights UK (DR UK) see www.disabilityrightsuk.org/contact-us
First Newsletter Issue - January 2021
CHANGE TO COVID LEVEL FOR MOST OF SURREY
After initially announcing on 16th December, that the majority of Surrey would be moved up from Tier two to Tier three for the Christmas period there was another last-minute change for all Surrey for a move into a new Tier 4 ‘Stay at Home’ alert level.
Stay At Home’ message will be put in law. As previously, there will be exemptions - including travelling for work or education, for childcare purposes, and for exercise. People should not enter or leave Tier 4 areas, and Tier 4 residents must not stay overnight away from home. Where people cannot work from home, they should still travel to work, for example in the construction and manufacturing sectors. Non-essential retail, indoor leisure [such as swimming pools and gyms], indoor entertainment [such as cinemas, bowling alleys and casinos], and personal care sectors [such as nail bars, barbers and hairdressers] must all close.
Tighter social contact restrictions will also be introduced, meaning one person can meet with one other person in an outside public space. Rules on support bubbles and childcare bubbles will remain as currently, and communal worship can continue to take place.
For the clinically extremely vulnerable, the same advice as in November applies in Tier 4 areas. This says that those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, which includes people with certain types of cancer, people on immunosuppression therapy, and people with severe respiratory conditions, shouldn’t go to work and should limit time outside the home, and take exercise outside at less busy times.
The Prime Minister, Chief Medical Officer, Chief Scientific Advisor and Cabinet agreed that while no-one wants to impose these tougher measures, the new variant has significantly changed the current landscape and urgent action is needed to protect the NHS and save lives. There is no current evidence to suggest the new variant causes a higher mortality rate, that it affects vaccines and treatments, or that testing will not detect cases. The Prime Minister also said that given the risk the new variant poses, the Christmas bubble policy will no longer apply in Tier 4.
WHAT IF EVERYONE WAS DISABLED?
In July 2020 BBC Radio 4 released a documentary by Mat Fraser – writer, actor, rights activist, punk drummer, thalidomide survivor –
In this programme, he wonders how different things might be if the vast majority of people, rather than the minority, had a disability. He isn’t afraid to challenge, to provoke and to ask awkward questions. Sometimes he allows his imagination to run riot. Mat assesses how far we’ve come with accessibility and inclusivity, particularly in the last two decades, and considers what’s stopping us from going further.
Money, power, politics, legislation and technology all play their part, but what about social attitudes towards disability?
Mat invites designers, architects (Jane Simpson Access), advisers and campaigners (Tony Heaton OBE) to share some great and not-so-great examples of inclusive design.
He imagines having grown up in a world “where Sandy from Crossroads wasn’t the only disabled bloke I saw on TV”.
His friend and fellow actor Liz Carr (Silent Witness - Clarissa Mullery) tells Mat about a public transport wheelchair experience (in America) that blew her mind.
Jane Simpson is an Architect and NRAC registered Access Consultant. Throughout her career she has developed a broad range of expertise working within a local authority background, private practice and planning department with over two decades of experience in inclusion.
Tony Heaton is an award-winning disabled artist and activist who was awarded an OBE in 2013 for services to the Disability Arts Movement.
Liz Carr who is one of the most high-profile disabled actors in Britain, has played forensic examiner Clarissa Mullery in Silent Witness since 2012. She left the BBC show in February 2020 at the end of season 23. She has arthrogryposis multiplex congenital, a rare genetic condition, and has been in a wheelchair since she was seven years old (1979)
Programme available until July 2021 on BBC i-player at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000kx1l
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
DISABILITY HORIZONS – SHIELDING STORIES
In a series of articles for Disability Horizons, Raya Al-Jadir, a shielder herself, shares the stories of people who have remained in a form of lockdown since the start of the pandemic, many of whom have been left feeling frustrated, anxious and forgotten.
Prior to Covid-19, nobody knew what shielding was. That was until nearly 2.2 million people who were deemed at high risk if they caught the virus were told to ‘shield’ – to at stay home, not go out and stay away from people, even those they lived with. Even when the word was used, the parameters around shielding and who it applied to weren’t clear.
Then in August, shielding was paused by the Government, and everyone – even those at most risk – were encouraged to resume their lives, to go back to work, go out and mix with others.
Gemma Orton, who has spinal muscular atrophy type 2, uses a wheelchair and non-invasive ventilator at night. Classified as being ‘extremely high risk’ of becoming seriously ill if she got Covid-19, Gemma received a letter from the NHS back in March advising her to shield for at least three months. But her own ‘lockdown’ has lasted far beyond that.
Although Gemma is being extremely careful, like many other disabled people, she can’t totally cut off contact from the outside world as she uses carers. “I have never really fully shielded because I need to have close contact with Carers to stay alive. It’s ironic that the most ‘high risk’ in society cannot truly socially distance.” She was also left feeling frustrated when the guidelines changed from one extreme to the other, going from being told to not even go for a ‘walk’ to going back to ‘normal’.
She said: “The country just changed on August 1st. Suddenly everyone could get on as normal, go out, get back to work etc.” This added another layer of difficulty for Gemma, seeing other people’s lives going back to ‘normal’. She worries that it will get to a stage where “all my friends meet for dinner and I don’t? That will be hard.” Although Gemma has had a lot of support from friends and family, she admits that there are others who question her, saying “Aren’t you brave enough yet to go out?” “I hate that word, brave. It’s as if being brave will make me immune”, Gemma retorts.
There are also people who think Gemma is being over-cautious and overreacting, but as Gemma sees it; “They have the privilege of taking their health for granted. I’m guessing they’ve never been close to death or told they may not see tomorrow. I have.”
Sam Fairman has the neuro-muscular condition Charcot Marie Tooth disease and uses a powered wheelchair. He also has type two respiratory failure and a permanently collapsed lung. He has been shielding since the 11th of February. “I decided to start shielding before the Government recommended it.
Sam ventures out every other week for a 20-minute drive in his car to prevent the battery from going flat. He doesn’t get out of the car and stays local in case the car breaks down. His wife has been shielding with him so the only people they have seen since February are Carers, who Sam tries to minimise contact with. It is the inequality that is causing Sam the most frustrations.
“The general public seems to think that society can get on with life as normal, eating their ‘cheeky Nando’s’ and having their lattes whilst the ‘vulnerable’ are expected to live outside of society and isolate so that everyone else can enjoy life.
I hear people justifying their trips to crowded beaches with the phrase, ‘I do it to protect my mental health.’ What about our mental health?” https://disabilityhorizons.com/2020/11/shielding-stories-the-forgotten-isolated-who-have-been-in-lockdown-since-march/
COVID19 - TELL US HOW YOU’VE BEEN AFFECTED
Let us help to publicise your virtual meetings or activities.
Nominate any ‘Local Heroes’.
If you feel you can share your experiences of COVID in one of our newsletter or on our web site forum.
THE USE OF PUBLIC FUNDS TO SUPPORT DISABLED PEOPLE – Edited from Disabled Motoring December 2020
In November 2019 DMUK responded to a public consultation launched by the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) on ‘the use of public funds to support the mobility needs of Disabled People’.
Many of the topics in this consultation related to how the Motability Scheme can be improved to provide a better service to disabled people. We are now pleased to see that the SSAC has taken a number of our recommendations on board in its report.
One of the key points we raised in our response to this consultation was that the high advance payments attributed to many wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) on the scheme are not affordable for many people. In response to this point the SSAC recommended that Motability prioritises “using available resources to deliver an effective scheme that is equitable and as affordable as possible for users”.
As part of this recommendation the SSAC has suggested that Motability should report any profits transparently and the finances should be placed under independent scrutiny. Another key point which was acknowledged in the report was that the scheme is not suitable for all of the people who are eligible for it. For example, it is not flexible enough to be used by people with rapidly changing health conditions and disabilities who made need to change their vehicle’s adaptations promptly to continue driving.
With this in mind, the SSAC recommended that Motability operations focuses on providing tailor made lease packages, variable lease lengths, variable insurance options, improved promotion of the possibility of car ownership following leases and a wider selection of EVs should be made available at viable prices.
If you would like to read the full report you can do so by visiting www.gov.uk/government/publications/ssac-occasional-paper-23-the-use-of-public-funds-in-supporting-the-mobility-needs-of-disabled-people.
CONCERNS OVER LOW TRAFFIC NEIGHBOURHOODS Edited from Disabled Motoring December 2020
Councils that do not consult with local residents before implementing low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) could have their funding taken back by the government.
The Department for Transport (DfT) believes that the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps has been clear in his announcement that “future funding allocations will be reduced, and clawbacks could also be imposed” where local authorities do not consider affected communities”.
LTNs commonly close roads to vehicle traffic and implement cycle lanes and wider pavements to encourage more pedestrian and cycle traffic. These schemes are becoming more common and many of them have faced criticism particularly from Disabled Motoring UK and other disabled peoples’ organisations (DPOs) that are concerned that LTNs make towns and cities inaccessible for many disabled people who rely on their vehicles for independent mobility.
In July, the Transport Secretary voiced his own concerns in a letter he sent to council leaders. In this letter he highlighted the congestion problems which can be caused by using barriers to widen pavements.
Grant Shapps said that this can “prevent pedestrians from crossing the road, cause congestion for buses and motor traffic, and impede access for kerbside businesses”. The legislation relating to LTNs states that “schemes should be monitored and evaluated to help make decisions as to whether the scheme should be made permanent, and if so in what form.”
SURREY LIBRARIES CORONAVIRUS UPDATES
In line with Government advice, libraries in Surrey will continue to offer Click and Collect and computer services during the Tier 4 restrictions, allowing customers to use Ready Reads, collect reservations, return items and PCs for essential purposes only.
A small number of libraries, Bagshot, Frimley Green, New Haw and West Byfleet will remain as Click and Collect only libraries. Please check opening hours before visiting. https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/libraries/news-and-events/news/coronavirus#opening
Due to ongoing building works, Cranleigh will only offer a Click and Collect service and essential PC use. Stoneleigh will also offer a click and collect service but will allow people into the building to browse on Saturday 19 December. There will be no PC access.
Addlestone will open on Tuesday 5 January 2021 as it is in a shared building that is going to be closed.
Keeping everyone safe
We are committed to keep you and our staff safe, so we have a number of measures in place to enable us to operate in COVID secure way.
We are also working with the Community Partnered Libraries to support them and what services they can provide in the next few weeks. This will be confirmed shortly.
Ashford, Egham, Sunbury, Weybridge 9.30am to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday.
Shepperton:- 2pm to 5pm Monday. 10am to1pm and 2pm to 5pm Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9.30am to 5pm Saturday
Staines:- 9.30am to 5.30pm Monday, Wednesday to Friday. 9.30am to 7pm Tuesday. 9.30am to 5pm Saturday Stanwell:- 2pm to 5pm Monday. 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 10am to 1pm Saturday
Please note: Computer access will not be available at the following libraries - Bagshot, Bramley, Lightwater, New Haw, Stoneleigh and Virginia Water.
Scanning facilities will only be available at: Camberley, Dorking, Epsom, Godalming, Guildford, Redhill, Staines, Walton, Weybridge and Woking. Time limit of 30 minutes on the scanner PC.
Which services are paused at this time?
Bus Passes and Blue Badges.
Use of study spaces, seating areas and meeting rooms.
Face to face events and Digital Buddy sessions.
Safety and social distancing measures
We have comprehensive safety and social distancing measures.
These include: face coverings - For more information please visit: Government Face covering guidance. Rigorous cleaning in our libraries and hand sanitiser provided at library entrances.
Limiting the number of customers in our libraries at any one time.
Newsletter Issue - Mid January 2021
VACCINE FRAUDSTERS TARGET THE VULNERABLE WITH SCAM TEXTS
Vulnerable Britons are being targeted with fraudulent messages offering them access to coronavirus vaccinations, trading standards bosses have warned.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) said that text messages had been sent out including links to fake NHS websites that asked recipients for bank details, supposedly for verification purposes.
Such messages were first reported at the end of December on the Western Isles of Scotland, but the CTSI says they are 'by no means limited to the region'.
Since then Slough Borough Council has issued its own warning to residents about text message asking people to 'sign up' to get the COVID vaccine through an 'application form' which asks for personal information and bank card details.
Derbyshire Constabulary reported texts offering a link to an 'extremely convincing' fake NHS website but insisted this was a scam.
It comes as the Government announced a target of vaccinating 14 million people in the highest priority groups by February 15.
According to the CTSI, the messages - which state that recipients have been identified as 'eligible to apply for your vaccine' - are the latest in a series of Covid-related scams in circulation since last March.
Katherine Hart, lead officer at the CTSI, said: 'I have been tracking and warning the public about Covid-19-related scams since the beginning of the pandemic, and at every stage of response, unscrupulous individuals have modified their campaigns to defraud the public.
The vaccine brings great hope for an end to the pandemic and lockdowns, but some only wish to create even further misery by defrauding others. 'The NHS will never ask you for banking details, passwords, or Pin numbers and these should serve as instant red flags. Do not provide any information to the scammers, but please also report suspicious messages to Action Fraud, or if in Scotland, Police Scotland, as this provides intelligence and assists authorities in combating scams.'
WHAT YOU CAN AND CANNOT DO DURING THE NATIONAL LOCKDOWN
On 4 January 2021, the Prime Minister announced a new national lockdown to help tackle the high and rising cases of COVID-19 across the country. Everyone is required to follow the new national restrictions, which include:
1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for specific purposes.
2. Preventing gathering with people you do not live with, except for specific purposes.
3. Closing certain businesses and venues, like hospitality and non-essential retail.
4. Support children and young people to learn remotely until February half term, except for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers who may still attend school.
The new national lockdown restrictions are rules that apply to everyone and which everyone must follow. The full details of these rules can be found online at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
As part of the lockdown, the Government is also advising all clinically extremely vulnerable people to take extra shielding measures to protect themselves. This advice will apply until 21 February 2021.
Whilst you are strongly advised to follow these extra precautionary shielding measures to help keep yourself safe, this remains advice, not the law. You must, however, follow the lockdown rules that apply to everyone.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people are advised to stay at home as much as possible. You can still go outdoors carefully to exercise or to attend health appointments. You are strongly advised to work from home if you can. If you cannot work from home, then you should not attend work. You may be eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough).
Please make sure your GP has your most up to date contact details, including your home address and, if possible, a personal email address, so that we can contact you quickly in the event that guidance changes in the future.
If you need any additional support to help you follow the guidance, your local council may be able to help.
You can contact your council and register for support at the Shielding Support website: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-shielding-support
SPELTHORNE COUNCIL LEADER'S LETTER TO RESIDENTS
The Prime Minister announced last night a new national lockdown would come into effect today, Tuesday 5 January. Full details on these measures can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home
This Council has been on an emergency footing since March last year and will continue to work tirelessly to support residents and local businesses as the coronavirus pandemic remains. We have in place support systems for residents who require it and our Support4Spelthorne helpline remains available for residents - please call 01784 446446 or email email@example.com
Our ongoing response to Covid19 continues on a virtual footing and our services ensure residents still had access to the support they needed while maintaining 'business as usual' across our remaining services. Regular engagement with regional and local resilience forums over the last 10 months has ensured a coordinated and effective response to this unprecedented situation and we will continue to work with our partners through this latest stage in our response
While these latest measures are not unexpected, we recognise it has a huge impact on all our lives and it is not the start to 2021 that we had hoped for. However, it is clear from public health data and the pressure across our National Health Service that these measures are necessary in order to save lives.
I also want to reassure residents that there is a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccination programme underway. Spelthorne Borough Council are working closely with the NHS and have been actively offering some central sites in our Borough to be utilised which will remain available should the NHS need them.
I want to thank everyone who has been following the rules to stop the spread of the virus but I also want to pay tribute to the essential workers and volunteers in our Borough who have provided healthcare, sustenance, education, support and safety.
You have been pillars of our community and your work is truly appreciated. Please play your part, stay home to save lives.
COVID CHAMPIONS -
Spelthorne Borough Council, in partnership with Surrey County Council and Public Health England.
The Covid Champions are a group of volunteers formed of community leaders, Councillors and residents who will be working closely with the Council to help to support our communities by communicating clear and consistent messaging relating to COVID19.
The Council will be updating the Champions with the latest information and guidance about the Coronavirus pandemic for them to share within their own networks. Equally, these weekly briefings will be an 'open floor' for the volunteers to raise any questions and provide ideas to the group that the Council can action in order to best support and reach residents across the Borough.
Cllr Maureen Attewell, Portfolio Holder for Community Wellbeing, said: "As we continue to face the Coronavirus pandemic we know that there is a lot of misinformation out there which is why we are working even closer with our residents to deliver Borough specific and national up to date news.
"A Covid Champion is all about sharing key information throughout your own community. Whether through social media, posters, What's App groups or by speaking to your friends and family.
By this information coming through a trusted voice, they can help people to understand what they need to do to keep everyone safe and informed during the pandemic".
To enquire further email firstname.lastname@example.org
DVLA URGES MOTORISTS TO BE SCAM AWARE Disabled Motoring December 21st, 2020
The Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) is advising its customers to be aware of scams as they have risen dramatically in recent months.
The DVLA is reminding motorists that the only way to access official information about DVLA and its services is by visiting gov.uk. The agency never asks for bank details via email and never sends text messages regarding vehicle tax refunds.
Motorists are advised to report any suspicious emails they receive to the National Cyber Security Centre via www.ncsc.gov.uk/information/report-suspicious-emails.
The DVLA five top tips for staying safe online are;
The latest scams affecting motorists ask drivers to verify their driving licence details, offer vehicle tax refunds, highlight a missed vehicle tax payment, and request bank details.
This warning comes after new statistics released by the agency show a 603% increase in reports of fraudulent calls, emails and texts coming through to their contact centre in the three months up until September this year, compared to the same period in 2019.
Public reports of email scams saw the largest rise going up from 603 to 3,807, an increase of 531%. Phil Morgan, Head of Fraud Policy Investigation at DVLA, said: “These new figures demonstrate that scammers are becoming more persistent in their efforts to target motorists. These more recent scams may at first seem legitimate, however they are designed to trick motorists into providing their personal details. We never ask for bank or credit card details by text message or email, so if you receive something like this, it’s a scam”.