March 2021


Current News         
2021 Newsletters     
Summary of 2020 newsletters   
Summary of 2020 COVID Newsletters     
Planning Applications - Comments By SCAN's Chairman   
Disability Rights UK (DRUK) – News In Brief       
Adult Social Care Team Bulletins
Disability Empowerment Network (DEN) - North Surrey & Surrey Wide

IMPORTANT GUIDANCE FOR CLINICALLY EXTREMELY VULNERABLE PEOPLE  
The guidance and advising you to shield has been extended until 31 March 2021.    
Further advice will be issued Mid-March

Whilst the national lockdown has been effective and cases of COVID-19 are now falling, the levels of infection in the community remain high and the virus continues to pose a high risk to people across the country. The risk remains particularly high for those considered clinically extremely vulnerable. Therefore, the Government strongly advises you to continue to follow the shielding measures that were introduced in January to help you protect yourself. More information on the guidance and the support available to you can be found on GOV.UK.

You are advised to stay at home as much as possible, although you can still go outdoors carefully to exercise or to attend health appointments. You are strongly encouraged to work from home if you can. If you cannot work from home then you should not attend work.  Whilst you are strongly advised to follow these extra precautionary shielding measures to help keep yourself safe, this remains guidance, not the law. You must, however, follow the lockdown rules that apply to everyone.

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 the guidance changes in the future.

If you need support to help you follow the guidance, especially if you are unable to arrange this yourself or through friends, family, or other support networks, your local council may be able to help. You can contact your council and register for support or request priority access to a supermarket delivery slot at the Shielding Support website: www.gov.uk/coronavirus-shielding-support

If you already have priority access to a supermarket delivery slot that will continue – you do not need to do anything further.

You are advised not to go to shops or pharmacies. Instead try to shop online, ask family or friends to collect shopping for you or get help with food and medicine deliveries from NHS Volunteer Responders.

It is also really important to continue to look after your mental health. The Every Mind Matters website is accessible for advice and practical steps that you can take to support your wellbeing and manage your mental health during this pandemic. If you or someone you care for are experiencing a mental health crisis, we urge you to make contact with a local health professional immediately.

COVID-19 Vaccinations  
Clinically extremely vulnerable adults are receiving priority access to vaccination against COVID-19 before the general population. The vaccine is likely to make an important contribution towards protecting you from COVID-19. People are being contacted about vaccinations by the NHS, but if you have not been offered a vaccination, we are now asking you to come forward to book a vaccination.

The easiest way to arrange a vaccination is through the national booking service which can be accessed at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination. The system allows patients to choose a time slot and location that suits them. Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week. If a suitable and convenient slot is not available, you can also call your GP practice.

Even if you have had both doses of the vaccine, you should continue to follow this shielding guidance as we continue to assess the impact of vaccination among all groups. The people you live with should continue to follow the public health rules and guidance as long as they are in place, regardless of whether you or they have received the vaccine.

BAYWATCH RESULTS REVEAL DISABLED PARKING ABUSE – Edited from Disabled Living November 2020.  
https://www.disabledliving.co.uk/blog/baywatch-results-reveal-disabled-parking-abuse/   
In August 2020, DMUK asked the public for help with their Baywatch Campaign by completing a survey   on their parking experiences over the past 12 months. The results have now been calculated.

DMUK would like to thank everybody who participated in this year’s Baywatch Campaign. This year we had the biggest number of responses that we have ever seen which goes to show how important the problem of disabled parking abuse remains. The total number of responses was 777. We would also like to thank all our sponsors, the British Parking Association and BBFI Public Sector Investigations, and our supporting organisations that promoted the campaign and encouraged their members/supporters to take part. Without them the campaign would not be so successful.

Traditionally the Baywatch Campaign asks the public to survey supermarket car parks for levels of disabled parking abuse. We were unable to undertake this type of campaign in 2020 because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Instead we asked the public to complete a survey from home which asked them questions on their more general parking experiences. This allowed DMUK to expand the scope of the campaign to other parking settings.

Findings - Local Authorities  
One of the most alarming statistics that came from the survey results was that 95.6% of participants did not think that local authorities were doing enough to tackle Blue Badge abuse.

This is a very high percentage, but not at all surprising to DMUK. Every year the ‘Blue Badge Statistics’ are released and every year the number of local authorities actually prosecuting Blue Badge fraud is disappointingly low. The Baywatch Campaign also showed that only 20.8% of Blue Badge holders had ever been asked to have their Blue Badge inspected by an official and that 96.4% of participants supported more inspections of Blue Badges.

The disabled community has spoken, and local authorities must do more to support their parking needs. DMUK wants to see far more Blue Badge inspections and enforcement of the on-street concession.

Supermarket Parking  
With the data gathered we cannot do our usual supermarket league table with who is performing best and worst. However, the results have shown that 53.4% of participants either find it ‘Difficult’ or ‘Very Difficult’ to find suitable disabled parking in general at supermarkets. Also 86.8% found that disabled parking bays were either ‘Often’ or ‘Very Often’ abused. (Abused is defined as vehicles parking in disabled bays not displaying a Blue Badge.)

These statistics show that supermarkets are not doing enough to support their disabled customers. Disabled parking is not managed properly, disabled parking bays are clearly not enforced, and abuse of the bays is rife.

Looking specifically at enforcement DMUK asked the question: When parking at the supermarket do you ever see signs of enforcement? In response to this 55.1% of respondents said No. The next question asked was: If you have reported disabled parking abuse to a member of staff, do they take action? 86.7% of respondents answered ‘No’ to this question. This is distressing and shows that when a disabled customer asks for help their concerns are ignored by supermarket staff.

General Findings  
The survey also asked participants about parking on their everyday journeys, not just at the supermarkets. On these types of journeys 74.8% of respondents said that finding suitable disabled parking was either ‘Difficult’ or ‘Very Difficult’.

Also, generally when parking 87.7% of respondents said that they ‘Often’ or ‘Very often’ saw disabled bays being abused.

These statistics are appalling. Being able to drive and park at their desired destination is imperative to the independence of disabled people.   The figures show that disabled people are being disadvantaged and prevented from living independent lives because of the state of the nation’s disabled parking provision and enforcement. These statistics should be the wakeup call that the parking industry needs to once and for all provide adequate parking provision to disabled motorists and make sure it is enforced correctly.

The level of deterrent needs to reflect the importance of keeping disabled bays free for genuine users and at present the deterrent clearly isn’t enough.

The Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic    
Earlier in the summer we started to receive anecdotal evidence that disabled bays were being removed from car parks to make room for socially distanced queuing. As lockdown restrictions eased, this became a more common problem. We posed the question in our survey:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic have you seen disabled bays being removed? Eg, for queuing.

65.8% of respondents answered ‘Yes’ to this question. Once again the needs of disabled people have been pushed to the back of the queue and equality has been forgotten.

Graham Footer, CEO at DMUK, said: “DMUK is delighted with the level of support it has received for this year’s Baywatch campaign. However, we are very concerned about the levels of disabled parking abuse in all parking settings. The parking industry and local authorities all need to do more to support disabled people. Accessibility starts in the car park and without proper parking provision and enforcement of disabled parking, disabled people find it increasingly difficult to live independent lives. DMUK demands that this issue is taken seriously”.

HELP SCAN SET UP A LOCAL ‘BAY ABUSE’ SURVEY  
Register your interest at www.spelthorneaccess.org.uk/forum/scan-blue-badge-parking-survey leaving your contact details.  

Alternatively, send a text to 07853 038933 or leave a voice message.

AN EXCITING YEAR AHEAD FOR CHANGING PLACES - Edited from Disabled Living January 2021.

This is a guest blog by Rise Adaptations for Disabled Living.

The campaign for an increased number of Changing Places toilets to be installed across the UK looks set to have a great year, following on from several key campaign successes in 2020.

Changing Places toilets are a much-needed facilities for people whose needs can’t be met by standard accessible toilets. Featuring adult-sized changing benches, these remarkable bathrooms are the difference between someone with severe disabilities being able to enjoy a day out, or never having the chance to participate in activities many take for granted.

For people with complex disabilities, the lack of suitable bathrooms has long been an issue – there are many accounts of people sacrificing their dignity and privacy having to be changed on the floor of public bathrooms. They enable so many more people to participate in society in a dignified and humane way.

Founded in 2006 the campaign has so far had great success increasing both awareness of the issue and the number of facilities.  There are now over 1,500 registered Changing Places across the UK, but 2020 saw two huge announcements regarding funding and legislation which are set to take effect this year, making a difference to the lives of so many.

New Year, New Regulations

One of the most exciting developments for Changing Places – and a major win for disability campaigners – are the changes scheduled to be made to Building Regulations. 

The amendments to Approved Document Part M mean a Changing Places toilet must be installed in newly built assembly, recreation, and entertainment buildings with a capacity for 350 or more people, shopping centres, leisure centres, and hospitals.

Most Changing Places toilets are either modular buildings or adapted spaces – the modular option being particularly popular in outdoor locations, such as theme parks and zoos.

Modular Changing Places providing a safe, hygienic space for visitors to attractions that previously had no provisions. Built offsite and craned into position, modular toilets typically come fully equipped with adult-size changing bench, hoist, and enough space for a user, plus two carers.

To learn more about the campaign and see how you can help, please visit the Changing Places Consortium http://www.changing-places.org/ . For further information about design and installation, please visit riseadapt.co.uk

https://www.disabledliving.co.uk/blog/an-exciting-year-ahead-for-changing-places/ 

WHEN HAVING FUN ON TWITTER WENT AWRY      
Edited from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/disability-45901125             
Brent, (aged 27 when the article was written in November 2018) has Down's syndrome, and his "Mam" Jacqui Tyson set up their joint account @Being_Brent in 2015. Brent wanted to show people that he can do "lots of things" and Twitter seemed the ideal place to share.  "It's a good life with Down's syndrome. Mam and family and friends help if I need it. It's just ordinary," he says.  Much like everyone else, they tweeted about their life in Sunderland - going to the theatre, the tedium of chores, and acknowledging life's little achievements. Jacqui calls it activism by example. They quickly hit 12,000 followers.

When he collected a Chinese takeaway by himself for the first time. He tweeted about his achievement and got more than 10,000 likes and retweets.  The positive response was more than he could have hoped for.  But since then, he has found himself dragged into controversial debates or hounded for what he posts.

It started when Brent tweeted that he had put the laundry away by himself.  “Do you want a medal?" one woman quipped.  Jacqui messaged her privately to explain why it was an achievement for him, and the woman immediately apologised. "She was mortified, said she was so sorry," Jacqui recalled. For Brent's mum, that was that. But some of Brent's followers hounded the woman, even after she deleted the tweet. Jacqui tried to rein it in and said she would deal with any "bother" on the account, but eventually the woman was forced off Twitter. "The response is a bit like when somebody famous dies," Jacqui says. "People can lose all sense of proportion and kindness and understanding and react in extreme ways.  "With Brent - he's just a bloke who wants to have a nice life."

The duo had agreed the account would be for fun, not to pontificate on ethical or political issues. Jacqui would type the tweets, as Brent struggles with speech and language, and she would post it once he was happy with the wording.  But the family found they occasionally had to delete @Being_Brent when things got out of hand.

An academic jumped on a tweet by Brent that said he chose his own clothes and hairstyle "because I am a man and I can". "Do you mean a man rather than a child Brent? It comes across as a man rather than a woman and I'm sure you don't believe that women can't choose their clothes and hair!" the academic tweeted.

A gender politics firestorm erupted and lots of Brent's followers publicly shamed the academic. Jacqui didn't like the attention or what she describes as the mob mentality and felt it necessary to temporarily shut down the account until the furore had died down.

And then there's the emotionally charged debate perhaps most associated with children with Down's syndrome.  "People sometimes try to drag us into the abortion debate and we just won't," Jacqui says. "No," Brent agrees.

Comedy actor Sally Phillips, whose son Olly has Down's syndrome, previously said that she and others in the community had been "extremely bruised" by the negative attitudes revealed in the debates around screening.  "The message we hear is: 'Everyone would be better off if you were not here at all,'" she says.

Brent's followers expected an answer from him, a suggestion of which way to turn on the topic. Jacqui says that Brent found it: "Sad to think people didn't want babies with DS because, after all, babies are babies. And DS is just DS."  She says: "For him it's that simple. For some people it's not."

The disability world can be very political with strong opinions defended by friends and family who want the best outcomes for the people they care about. Naturally there are clashes, but it's something Jacqui and Brent had not expected when they started out on social media.

The pair still enjoy Twitter and remain optimistic it's a space to share Brent's experience of Down's, but Jacqui says some of the innocence has gone.   She is regularly contacted by other parents whose children have Down's and are encouraged to see how full Brent's life is. Some have even set up their own Twitter accounts, but Jacqui always gives a word of warning to expect some strife.

Often, disabled people find that whatever they do becomes political to others, especially if they're a member of a minority like Brent.  But despite all the attempts to entice Brent into advocacy, he remains firm that his account is for fun, and he does his own form of advocacy - without signing a petition or using a hashtag - by just being himself and living his life.  When asked if he thought his tweets were, in their own way, changing how others perceived Down's, Brent said: "We don't know, but we hope so."

Surrey Physical Disability and Sensory Impairment Strategy  
Over the next few months Surrey Coalition of Disabled People are engaging with the different user’s forums and groups to develop the new and want to ensure the views of people with a physical disability and/or sensory impairment are at the centre of this. 

They want to make sure the new Strategy is based on a thorough understanding of local need, and a more personalised approach, driving both commissioning and providers to improve outcomes, ensuring services and support meet the changing needs of people with a physical disability and/or sensory impairment over the course of their lifetime. 

Between March and May 2021 there will be a number of workshop events where people can have their say on:

  • What kind of care and support services are needed?   
  • Identify where there may be gaps in service provision  
  • Help us to plan for future needs

If you have any views you would like to share please let Yasmin know (see above for contact details, or alternatively you can send your views to psdstrategy@surreycc.gov.uk 

The dates for the workshops are;

  • For those with a hearing impairment Thursday 18th March at 10.30am   
  • For those with a Sight impairment Thursday 22nd April at 10.30am   
  • For those with a long term neurological condition Tuesday 11th May at 10.30

We will also host a final workshop at the end of May the date TBC 

Healthwatch Surrey      
is an independent organisation which gives people in Surrey the voice to help improve, shape, and get the best from local health and social care services. 

They listen to the views of local people about their health and social care and share these experiences with the organisations who make decisions about local services, to help them better understand what is working well and not so well for people in Surrey.

Recently, people have shared their experiences of disability access whilst attending Covid vaccination centres and we would like to hear more feedback on disability and access within health and social care services.

Please get in touch with our engagement team to share your feedback (good or bad) on 07508 715719 or email engagement@healthwatchsurrey.co.uk