Disabled boy becomes youngest ever recipient in New Year Honours
A Disabled boy who has cerebral palsy and autism is to become the youngest person to receive the British Empire Medal (BEM).
Tobias Weller has been given the award in recognition of his fundraising efforts during lockdown. He has raised more than £157,000 for Paces School, where he is a student, and The Children’s Hospital Charity, in Sheffield.
Tobias said: “My mum told me about the honour on Christmas day and I thought ‘wow, I’m actually going to get an honour from Her Majesty the Queen’.
“I’m chuffed to bits to be the youngest recipient of such an incredible honour.”
Disabled artist selected for international animation festival
A Disabled artist has had her animated short film selected for a international animation festival.
Jemima Hughes wrote and directed Unbound, a colourful stop motion animation inspired by Kandinsky’s circle paintings, about her experience as a wheelchair user. Broadcast on BBC4 in December as part of an hour-long programme of animated shorts, it has now been selected for the Paris International Animation Festival which opens on 19 January.
Jemima is a Disabled and deaf filmmaker and animator who speaks with an electronic communication aid and is keen to see the voices of Disabled people better represented in the media.
Unbound is a lively and colourful three-minute abstract animation which presents Jemima’s feelings about being perceived as “wheelchair bound” and her positive experience of physically exciting activities such as dancing and zip wiring. It combines cut out animation in hand-painted watercolour paper with digital effects, using colours, shapes and movement inspired by Kandinsky’s painting. The voiceover, spoken on Jemima’s communication aid and subtitled, describes her experiences and feelings, and jazz-inspired music composed for the film reflects the motion and excitement of the activities.
Senior equality lawyers demand changes to flexible worker laws
A group of senior female equality and employment barristers, together with DJ and campaigner Anna Whitehouse, founder of Flex Appeal, have submitted an official response to the Government’s flexible working consultation. Ljeoma Omambala QC, Rebecca Tuck QC, Eleena Misra, Nadia Motraghi have been spearheading the campaign, along with Anna Whitehouse, to make employers recognise the value of part time workers.
Anna Whitehouse said: “To be clear these are the UK’s top equality and employment barristers hollering for change on the Government’s flexible working consultation. Not just tweaks, or nice to haves, but a complete bulldozing of the existing system that’s still discriminating against anyone who can’t work 9-5. Anyone who can’t get to an office. Anyone who doesn’t fit into a working world that’s founded in a time when men slapped the bacon on the table and women cooked it.”
Whitehouse has been campaigning on Instagram, under her nom de social, Mother Pukka, for changes in the law which at the moment only make it a legal right to request flexible working, not demand it. DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “Flex Appeal recognises not only the discrimination against women that outdated laws and frameworks on part time and flexible working, but the discrimination against Disabled people and their carers, who may only have capacity to work for pay part time. Part time paid work is valid, inclusive, and necessary for all of society to contribute to the world of work. It’s time for work to truly work for workers as well as the companies that employ them.”
Police officer fired for taking photos of people being sectioned
A police officer who took photos of mentally ill people being sectioned has been fired for gross misconduct.
PC Ryan Connolly also shared racist and homophobic pictures and took a photo of the cordon at a murder scene where a teenager was stabbed.
Deputy Chief Constable Ian Critchley said: “I am appalled by Connolly’s actions, they are beyond comprehension and are not in keeping with the high standards and values that we expect here at Merseyside Police.
“The behaviour of this officer is deplorable and serves to undermine the public’s confidence and trust in the police.”
DR UK Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “The stigma around mental health conditions is still found at all levels of society. That people with authority who should be trust figures continue to persecute Disabled people is appalling. This is not an isolated incident.
“Police forces have trialled mental health hubs and street teams for terrorist units and the City of London police force. It is time for all forces to invest in training around dealing with members of the public with mental health conditions.”
Vital transport services to be cut from April
Hundreds of thousands of Disabled passengers may be left without transport this Spring, as bus companies look to slash routes affected by a downturn in users during the pandemic.
Bus passenger numbers have dropped sharply from 80% of pre-pandemic levels to less than 60% since the Omicron variant and a return to working from home. Government tide-over grants will end at the end of March.
Bus companies have to give six weeks’ notice to withdraw routes, and are compiling lists of services to be scrapped at the end of March.
Many Disabled people rely on public transport to get around. Routes most likely to be affected will be those in rural areas, where buses are often the only, or only affordable, means of transport for Disabled people.
DR UK’s Stephen Brookes said: “We would urge bus operators to exercise caution in cutting services. We remind operators that such cuts will adversely impact on the many disabled people who have no access to transport other than by public service buses.
We appreciate the many challenges that service providers in the transport sector are facing during the current pandemic, but we are clear that such cuts, particularly in more rural or low-density areas will lead to increased isolation and deprivation for many Disabled people.”
Government chooses to work with Scope to develop new transport charter
The government has announced that it is to join forces with Scope to develop a new Disabled Persons Passenger Charter for bus, coach, taxi, private hire vehicle and rail.
It is hoped that the Charter, which was first mentioned in the National Disability Strategy last year, will improve journeys for Disabled people.
Accessibility Minister Wendy Morton said: “This practical guide will pull together Disabled passengers’ rights so they understand how they can get from A to B with the dignity and ease they deserve.”
DR UK’s Stephen Brooks said: “We welcome initiatives which strengthen the rights of Disabled people to get about safely and independently but such rights must be meaningful and enforceable. Any charter must have teeth and must be coproduced with Disabled people and Disabled people’s-led organisations.”
Press coverage for autistic man in isolation prompts Council action
The Sunday Times has recently reported on Patient A, a young autistic man who has been isolated in a private hospital for four years at a cost to the NHS of up to £20,000. a week could be moved into a three-bedroom home.
Patient A, who is 24, receives food and medication through a hatch and is watched constantly via CCTV in his isolated hospital accommodation.
His family have been trying to have him moved into a residential home in the community, where he could be looked after by a care team.
A three-bedroom house was viewed by social workers for Liverpool city council last week. The house is considered suitable for his needs, with no neighbours and a large garden.
Last year a Care Quality Commission report said that safety at Cheadle Royal Hospital where Patient A lives was “inadequate” and that it required improvement.
The number of autistic people detained in hospitals has increased from 1,100 in 2015 to 1,215 last year.
Patient A’s family are preparing a legal action to get him out of his “life in a box”.
Read more at The Sunday Times (paywall protected).
Severely ill inpatient died after DWP forced him to leave hospital to make benefit claim
A coroner has called on the DWP to make urgent policy changes, after it ordered a Disabled patient to leave hospital to visit a Jobcentre despite being severely ill with a condition that later killed him. Read more here.
DR UK offers a range of online courses, each run in two parts and facilitated by an experienced benefits trainer.
Introduction to Welfare Benefits
This course is aimed at professionals who work in advice or advocacy who need to know more about – or need a refresher on – changes to welfare benefits and social security.
Part 1: The structure of the system and the importance of health & disability benefits – Tuesday 25 January 9.45am – 12.45pm
Part 2: Universal Credit, the wider benefits system and maximising income – Wednesday 26 January 9.45am – 12.45pm
The course costs £120 + VAT per person for DR UK organisational members. After booking you will receive a Zoom link and supporting materials by email.
Read our latest blog
Journalism student Ned Kelly has written about inspiration porn for the DR UK blog. Read the blog here.
Scope has a unique opportunity for an experienced Head of Inclusion to shape Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). Its vision is to be an outstandingly diverse place to work.
Because it is a disability charity, it wants more Disabled people to work at Scope.
ADD International is looking to recruit a Co-Chief Executive and Transformation Officer. Details here.
Stop Hate is recruiting an Assistant Director Helpline Contracts and Partnerships. Details here.
Aspire is looking for a Marketing and Communications Officer and would be particularly interested in applications from Disabled people who meet the criteria. Details here.
Disability Action Haringey is looking for a programme support co-ordinator and Physical Activity Network co-chairs.
If you are interested in applying or finding out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 0203 355 0071. Applications can be submitted in a variety of different formats such as; video, cv, or telephone conversation.
The Truth About Disability Benefits
The Dispatches documentary, The Truth About Disability Benefits, investigating the unexpected deaths of Disabled benefits claimants, including those who have taken their own lives, is available to view on All4. Watch it here.
Funded PhD research opportunity on Disability and the Home
This project will study the urban history of disability at home in London from 1840-1945. Based at the Centre for Studies of Home, a partnership between Queen Mary and the Museum of the Home, it will be the first research project to analyse the museum’s collections in relation to disability. Details available here.
Level Playing Field fan survey
Level Playing Field is a campaigning and advisory organisation to its membership and other parties across all sports. They want to remove the barriers that prevent Disabled people from having an equal experience at live sports events.
It has just launched a new survey which will run until Sunday 6 February 2022. The results will be shared with clubs, which should provide an insight into the experiences of disabled supporters at away matches across the country. This will give clubs a much better idea of what needs to be done to improve away matchdays for disabled fans. Access the survey here.
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