August 2019

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Disability Rights UK (DRUK) – News In Brief   
To contact Disability Rights UK (DR UK) see

#WorkWithMe is a call to action for businesses to come together to create more inclusive workplaces for disabled people. There are 14 million disabled people in the UK today, that’s 1 in 5 of us, however, disabled people are being shut out of the workplace, facing countless barriers preventing them from entering, staying and progressing in work.

New YouGov research focused on Human Resource (HR) decision makers reveals that businesses are creating a disability employment crisis because of outdated attitudes and a failure to engage with the issue.

· More than half (56%) believe – wrongly according to Scope – the main reason disabled people don’t get jobs is because they lack the right skills or qualifications

· More than one in 10 (11%) questioned think disabled people should accept lower paid positions, and more than two in 10 (23%) think disabled people need to adapt better to a business’ culture

· A quarter (26%) of businesses questioned claim that they have never had a disabled candidate for a job interview, despite there being 7.6 million disabled people of working age in the UK (That’s one in five working adults in the UK) [3]

It’s therefore unsurprising that the UK’s disability employment gap – the rate at which disabled people are employed compared to non-disabled people – hasn’t changed for more than a decade, with disabled people’s employment still stuck about thirty percentage points behind.

Sainsbury’s announced in February 2019 the extension of a new trial to help enhance the shopping experience for customers with hidden disabilities. The initiative will offer those with a number of disabilities, such as autism, dementia, visual or hearing impairment the option to pick up a lanyard, which has been purposely designed to act as a discreet sign for store colleagues to recognise if they may need to provide a customer with additional support when in store.

Tim Fallowfield, Company Secretary & Corporate Services Director for Sainsbury’s, said: “We want to be the most inclusive retailer and we understand that a busy supermarket environment can present challenges for some of our customers.

Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “It’s great to see a supermarket like Sainsbury’s lead the way in trialling initiatives like this. Busy shopping environments can sometimes overwhelm autistic customers and others with hidden disabilities. By introducing schemes like this, Sainsbury’s is continuing to take important steps towards our shared vision of making shops and businesses across the UK autism friendly.”

Stores included in the trial are; Chingford, Enfield, Waltham Cross, Harlow, Bishops Stortford, Hertford, Hoddesdon, Welwyn Garden City, London Colney, Chipping Ongar, Stevenage, Winchmore Hill, Loughton, Potters Bar, Chislehurst. Others can be found on the web site at

Changing Places toilets are larger accessible toilets for severely disabled people, with equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches and enough space for carers.

In May 2019 the government launched a 10-week consultation, which proposes the required size and shape of Changing Places toilets as well as the range of equipment that must be included.

It also proposes thresholds at which the facilities will be made mandatory in new or largely refurbished buildings of different types, such as overall floor space or attendance capacity.

The proposals are expected to add the toilets to more than 150 new buildings a year, including shopping centres, supermarkets, cinemas, stadiums and arts venues. There are over 1,300 Changing Places toilets in the UK, up from just 140 in 2007, but more are needed to support the more than a quarter of a million people who need them in the UK.

In April the Department for Transport, in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK), launched a £2 million fund for Changing Places to be installed in existing motorway service stations, which is now open for applications.

The Department of Health and Social Care will also soon launch a £2 million fund for NHS Trusts to install new Changing Places in over 100 hospitals across England.

The changes to change Building Regulations would apply to England only.

Two young, blind musicians, - 19-year-old violinist Jyothi Kalaiselvi and 25-year-old keyboardist Prem Bhagavan Nagaraju who were due to arrive in the UK from India in mid June to take part in a two-week cultural exchange set up by the government were refused entry into Britain for the programme. The Home Office said it was "not satisfied that you have sufficient ties in India that will act as an incentive for you to leave the UK at the end of your trip".

But their non-disabled colleagues, who were travelling with them to support them from the Devasitham Charitable Foundation (DCF) in Chennai, were granted entry without any trouble.

As a result of them being barred from entering the UK in June, the exchange had to be cancelled, costing the charity an estimated £8,000 that it cannot now recover.

Following the media publicity, the Home office reversed its decision and granted the visa, however, it will be some time before the programme can be fully rearranged. Ninian Perry, the creative director of the hosts, Scottish inclusive music and dance charity Paragon Music tells the i. "We've got a bit of fundraising to do, as we've lost money through cancellation fees, flights, etc and it will probably be the autumn when we manage to gather enough money together and get cheap enough flights - we're looking to raise another £4,000”

Set up by the UK government in 2017, the exchange received funding from the British Council, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government, as well as using money raised from crowd-funding projects. "The only reason for their visit is to gain music skills, learn about inclusivity and take it back to Chennai," Mr Perry continues. "The programme was specifically timed to celebrate the independence of India from British rule. We put on big cultural event that the British Council was part of. We then went to Chennai and met everyone there, and we were training musicians in Chennai. We built on that relationship by inviting them across to Scotland.

Surrey Prepared and the British Red Cross are offering residents in Surrey, who have an interest in supporting their community, a chance to learn first aid skills which could help save a life.

Suitable for beginners or those with existing knowledge, these relaxed and informal sessions are designed to give people the confidence and ability to react immediately to an incident, injury or illness.

Please book from one of the following two-hour sessions at the venue nearest to you:

• Reigate Tuesday 17 September 2019 – 18:30-20:30. Location to be confirmed.

• Chertsey Wednesday 23 October 2019– 18:30-20:30pm. Location to be confirmed

Exploring What Matters is a secular, science-based course for people who want to learn how to live happily and spread happiness to those around them.

It was created by the Action for Happiness charity to help people tune in to what really matters in life, connect with people around them and find small ways to start taking action.

On the course you will:

Meet with like-minded people to explore what really matters in life and find new ways of looking at things.

Enjoy expert videos, mindfulness exercises and a handbook full of resources to help you break big ideas into manageable chunks.

Take time each week to think of small actions you can take to create happiness for yourself and those around you.

People find it really valuable and often refer to what they learn on the course as life-changing.

The course will run for 8 weeks on Thursdays from 7pm till 9pm from 5th September to 24th October inclusive at Marianne’s Community Café, Unit 4, 2-10 Thames Street, Staines, TW18 4SD

The course is run by local volunteers and based on donations - so please feel free to give whatever you can afford 😊

Please note: this course is not group therapy, if you are experiencing severe challenges at the moment we recommend seeking alternative professional support.

The course is valued at £10 per week plus £10 for the course book (£90 total). But if you're struggling right now, please feel free to give whatever you can (e.g. £5). Everyone is welcome and we trust you to offer what is right for you. 

­James Moore is The Independent’s chief business commentator and a columnist for Independent Voices. His regular Voices columns, cover issues including politics, the rights of disabled people and his own ‘mobility impairment’.

During a recent tube journey, the driver announced that “a mobility-impaired person” was the reason the train was being delayed. Mr Moore said the experience was “humiliating” and that other passengers had “gawked at me as if I were some pregnant panda in a zoo”. He said he had not asked for any assistance getting off the train.

After writing about his ordeal in The Independent, Mr Moore was contacted by Andrew Boff, a Conservative member of the Greater London Assembly (GLA). Along with one of Mr Khan’s deputy mayors, Joanne McCartney, Mr Boff proposed a GLA motion urging the London mayor “to ensure TfL staff are trained to assist passengers with disabilities by: respecting the passenger’s wishes as to the level of help they require, not drawing unnecessary public attention to the passenger and by providing reasonable assistance to passengers to enable them to travel in the way that they choose”.

Afterwards, Mr Boff said: “It is sadly still the case that our city’s public transport network is simply not accessible enough for Londoners with disabilities. Disabled passengers should receive not only the assistance they need, but also the respect they deserve.

A spokesperson for Mr Khan said: “TfL are committed to delivering an excellent service for all their passengers so it’s essential that frontline staff are given the tools and training to remove accessibility barriers.

When you’re disabled the phrase “back to earth with a bump” is all too familiar. I recently wrote about what I’d describe as a rare win: the Greater London Authority (GLA) sent a motion to London mayor Sadiq Khan following my humiliating experience on the tube (see above)

Just a day later the motion was unanimously passed, however, another transport horror story broke. It centred on planes rather than trains, but it serves to show what disabled Britons have to put up with and why people like me often choose not to travel, at least to places that aren’t accessible by car. Thomas Cook had to apologise for the humiliating treatment meted out to a disabled passenger when the special assistance she booked to help her to fly home from Turkey with the firm’s airline failed to turn up.

Speaking to Disability Rights UK (DRUK) researcher Evan Odell told me that the capital’s shaky record actually compares relatively favourably to the rest of the country. Problems abound wherever you look. Train companies typically require 24, and sometimes 48 hours’ notice if people require assistance, as those of us with impairments of one kind or another often do. Sometimes it still doesn’t turn up.

So, is there anywhere that does well? When I posed the question to Odell his answer surprised me: Blackpool. Its trams are accessible and the people in charge of transport services have worked hard, actually speaking and listening to disabled people’s organisations.

Simon Sansome, founder of the Ability Access Facebook page has launched a petition on calling for people who need assistance to be able to bring a companion with them free of charge on all forms of transport. That would at least help those able to call upon friends and/or family. At the moment the rest of Britain is being shown up by the GLA deciding that something needs to change. Mayor Khan should to pick up the ball and run with it. He might then embarrass others into following his lead.

‘YOU DON’T LOOK SICK’ – I WAS BORN WITH HALF A HEART - Edited from July 2019  
There are 13.9 million disabled people in the UK – and many of them have an invisible illness. When you look at someone with a hidden condition, you would have no idea they are ill, but they suffer debilitating symptoms and can face judgement for using disabled facilities because they ‘don’t look sick’.

Will Goodenough, 25, from Sheffield, has a congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). Part of his heart didn’t develop properly in the womb but the ultrasound tests that are available now to diagnose the condition did not exist then. His parents only found out about his condition the day after he was born when it became apparent that his heart was not functioning properly. The next day, he had to have the first of his life saving operations and was given a 20% chance of survival.

Throughout his life, Will has had to live with the impact of reduced heart function and he also developed angina at the age of 20. But to people he doesn’t know, he looks healthy. He’s a dad to baby Ezra, living with his partner Emily and working as a pension administrator. He tells ‘Being a parent now, I can’t imagine how my parents must have felt when told that I only had half a heart. At school, my parents had to fight really hard for me to get the extra help I needed, such as free periods for me to do homework in due to not having the energy when I got home. Teachers knew about my condition but really didn’t fully understand the effects that it had on my energy levels.

I often don’t use disabled facilities for fear of being judged or having to explain myself. I would be more likely to struggle up three flights of stairs to use the gent’s toilet than to use the disabled toilet.’ Will takes three different types of medication to manage his heart condition and says that with these, he can often function normally. ‘I have days, often on the weekend, where I don’t want to do anything other than just relax and sleep,’ he says. ‘However, when you have a baby, there’s not much time to do this’.

Not getting enough rest can lead to hospitalisation, which is something he finds difficult, particularly as HLHS is not always understood - just 1 in 5,000 babies are born with it. He says: ‘In January 2018, I spent five days in hospital due to both chest pain and the exhaustion. In the morning I felt unwell I went to the walk-in centre and was told to go straight to A&E. I was kept in overnight so that I could see a consultant and also so they could contact my consultant in Birmingham to get advice on how to proceed. ‘I often find that unless I am in Birmingham, hospitals are unsure of how to deal with me due to the complexity and rarity of my HLHS’.

Throughout his life, Will has been supported by his family but he also has a close connection to the charity Little Hearts Matter, who support people with HLHS.