Disability Rights UK e-news

NEWS

Government to end face mask rules and Covid passes in England in “return to plan A”

The Prime Minister has announced that England’s Plan B measures will end on January 27th. This includes dropping mandatory face coverings in public places and Covid passports.

In a statement to MPs in the House of Commons, the prime minister said:

  • Mandatory Covid passports for entering nightclubs and large events would end
  • People would no longer be advised to work from home and should discuss their return to offices with employers
  • Face masks will no longer be mandated, though people are still advised to wear coverings in enclosed or crowded spaces and when meeting strangers
  • From Thursday, secondary school pupils will no longer have to wear face masks in classrooms and government guidance on their use in communal areas would be removed “shortly”

Many are asking the Government to reverse their decision, highlighting that they will be unsafe without a mask mandate in public places.

Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy at Disability Rights UK said:

“For Disabled people, those who are clinically vulnerable or those who for medical reasons can’t have the vaccination, today’s announcement will be seen as another sign that the Government has abandoned them.

Despite Disabled people accounting for at least 60% of all Covid-related death so far, the Government is doing nothing to protect and support people at greater risk of serious illness.

We are particularly concerned that these rule changes will negatively affect working-age people who will be forced to return to work.”

Read more here

Disability Rights UK has secured funding from the Three Guineas Trust to develop our vital policy work.

The pandemic has exacerbated the disadvantage and inequality that millions of Disabled people face across all aspects of our lives. Disability Rights UK needs a strong voice at policy level to ensure that Disabled people are well represented.

Thanks to funding from the Three Guineas Trust, DR UK now has two new Policy Officers in place. We are delighted to welcome Bethany Bale and Dan White to the team.

Their brief is wide-ranging, with key focus areas being education, employment, health, social care and poverty. All areas we know are of daily relevance and concern. This work will enable us to amplify the voices of Disabled people and to develop a pro-active, co-produced agenda for change.

Energy Pricing and the cost of living with a disability continue to rise

Energy prices and the cost of living are dominating the headlines this week. Stories of families on low incomes struggling to heat their homes saturate the media. However, the lives of disabled families in even worse situations are not being highlighted.

A BBC report from 2008 showed how up to 3 million Disabled people were potentially trapped in fuel poverty. There is still within the utility sector, the media and Government a lack of understanding of why Disabled people have proportionately larger utility bills. DR UK has taken up the issue and has written to Government as a first step.

The following email sets out the dyer position that many Disabled people find themselves in:

“There is no solution. There is no hope. I have sold things on eBay before Christmas to raise funds to buy presents. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next. I have cancer, ME and arthritis (amongst other things) my son is autistic. It’s a nightmare.” Anon.

Dan White, Policy & Campaigns Officer says:

“Families tell us the constant use of energy is something they simply cannot avoid. Energy is essential, and the rising costs are a potential threat to health if there is no additional financial support. Measures must be taken to support the country’s most vulnerable consumers.”

New report from Relationships Foundation and 20/20health calls for a ‘flexi-schooling’ approach for students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

A new jointly published report argues that a shift in priorities within education is needed to support a rising parental demand for a more flexible approach. The report highlights key inequalities faced by students with SEND – including the fact that they are twice as likely to be bullied and make up nearly half of all exclusions, despite only constituting 15% of the school population.

‘Flexi-schooling’ would mean allowing children with SEND to attend school part-time, while spending the rest of the week home-schooled. Currently, in England and Wales, parents or carers can request this approach to learning – but, in most cases, the decision to grant the request is solely down to head-teachers. The report also suggests that this approach would benefit students who do not have the adaptive capacities to cope with full-time school.

Bethany Bale, Policy & Campaigns Officer said: “Disabled students and those with long-term health conditions are consistently denied access to the same education system as their peers. The only way to change this is through new and creative methods like flexi-schooling.

Although flexi-schooling should be made available to those who require the adjustment – education responsibilities mustn’t be placed on parents when authorities choose to make school inaccessible.”

Read more here.

Blind voters risk losing ‘sanctity’ of secret ballot, says charity

In a letter to the Telegraph The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) said the Elections Bill weakens legal protections for blind and partially sighted voters.

Their concerns centre on the provisions a returning officer is required to make at a polling station.

Whereas under current laws, returning officers must offer a tactile voting device to enable people with visual impairments to vote independently, the new bill proposes to remove any guarantee or consistency in what is available to blind people to exercise their vote.

An amendment that would have preserved these existing protections was not voted on when the bill was debated on January 18th. This means that it is now on to the House of Lords to be further scrutinised.

Read more here.

Disabled Judges call for support in the workplace

A dyslexic judge who battled for years to get the voice recognition software needed to do her job has won a discrimination claim against the Government.

A London employment tribunal found that the secretary of state for justice had breached his duty under equality legislation.

The tribunal criticised the Ministry of Justice for failing to have in place “an appropriate policy or procedure” and for its “lack of co-ordination and preplanning”.

Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy at Disability Rights UK said:

“The Equality Act is very clear that reasonable adjustments must be put in place for Disabled workers. It is not acceptable that the court system has failed to meet their legal responsibilities under the Act.”

Disabled woman left begging a bus driver to let her travel home safely

Ms Davies, has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that causes dislocations in her hands and knees. Her bus pass was confiscated when she tried to take the first of two buses home, in Northampton. The Stagecoach driver let her travel to her first stop but did not help further.

At four foot six inches, she feels “anxious” travelling alone. “I’m very aware that I can easily be attacked, and I can’t do anything about it,” Ms Davies told the BBC.

She tried to explain that she could not travel on her second bus, operated by Britannia Bus, without her pass, as it did not have contactless payment technology and she had no other way to pay.

Ms Davies later discovered her pass had been rejected because she had used an old card.

“I am human, people make mistakes,” she said. “But it doesn’t mean that in a time when someone is close to tears and begging to get home, they should be sent away.”

Disability Rights UK’s transport champion Stephen Brookes said:

“More needs to be done to ensure that the public transport system is accessible to all. No one should be left in fear when something goes wrong on their journey.

With disability hate crime on the rise, we would ask that providers allow staff to exercise more discretion in supporting passengers having difficulties.”

Read more here.

Video game streamers campaign for Disability Pride Month

“Streamers” on the popular video game live streaming website Twitch have begun campaigning for a Disability Pride Month on the platform.

The platform has an estimated 30 million viewers a day and has previously run awareness campaigns for diverse communities. This includes Pride Month, Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month. However, the platform has never highlighted disability in the same way.

Streamers want that to change and have demanded that the platform do more to highlight its Disabled creators to its vast audience.

Dan White,  Policy & Campaigns Officer, says:

“Twitch is wonderful for creative people to upload content they create or content around their daily lives. A streaming service with 30 million viewers a day must engage with and celebrate the disabled community who contribute so much content to such a huge and diverse audience.”

Read more here.

Training

Social Care Training Opportunity

Get Yourself Active are working with Spectrum CIL to pilot training to the social care workforce to and increase their confidence and ability to support Disabled people to be more active.

This interactive, online training is free for your organisation. It includes learning why physical activity is important, how to support Disabled people to participate more, and how to have conversations and make plans/goals to get active.

If you are interested in your organisation taking part in this training, please get in touch with Liddie Bone – Get Yourself Active programme manager: Lydia.bone@disabilityrightsuk.org

The Mayor’s Entrepreneur competition & training

The Mayor’s Entrepreneur competition is looking for sustainable business ideas to make London cleaner, greener and ready for the future.

This year there are 5 categories students can submit an idea to (Creative Industries, Environment, Health, Social Enterprise and Tech) and each has a top prize of £20,000 start-up funding and support to help turn an idea into a real business

The competition is running a series of free workshops over the next few months to help students gain employability and entrepreneurship skills.

Sign up for one of the first workshops through the links below or find more information on applying via their new website.

Get involved

Because we all care

On January 19th 2022, the Care Quality Commission, the independent regulator of health and social care in England, launched its new Because We All Care campaign. This campaign encourages people to share feedback on health and care services. The feedback people give helps health and social care services to improve.

Visit https://www.cqc.org.uk/BecauseWeAllCare to provide your feedback.

Social care activity pack

The Get Yourself Active team would love to hear from you if you have been using the Get Yourself Active social care pack, which they launched in August 2021 for social care workers to support Disabled people to be more physically active.

The survey will take no more than 5 minutes to complete. All information submitted in this survey will be kept confidential. The data will be used for research purposes only and will not be used in a manner that would allow the identification of your individual responses.

All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia seeks written evidence

This year the APPG is undertaking an inquiry into what people affected by dementia want and need from a social care workforce to live well and on their terms.

As a part of this inquiry, the APPG is seeking written evidence, particularly from people with dementia, but also their carers, on a wide range of topics, including:

  • What are the specialist needs of people with dementia who draw on care and what the barriers are there to them accessing this care?
  • How those with dementia from underrepresented groups are supported in care?
  • How technology and research can be used to support care staff in delivering more personalised care?
  • How the Government’s proposals on reforms to the social care workforce will support people with dementia?

If you are living with dementia or are a carer of someone with dementia, please complete the online survey to share your story.

If you are an organisation or work in social care or academia, you can either: email your evidence to the APPG by using this Word Document or submit evidence online by completing this online form.

The evidence submission window will be closing at COP on Monday February 14th. If you would like to submit evidence, but do not feel you will be able to meet this deadline, please contact the APPG.

If you have any questions, or would like any further information, you can visit www.alzheimers.org.uk/appg

Local Government Association releases new survey on the challenges faced by people who use Personal Assistants since March 2020

People who use Personal Assistants (PAs), and groups who support them, have worked together with the Local Government Association and Think Local, Act Personal to design a survey to understand the challenges people who use PAs have been facing since March 2020, particularly in recruiting and retaining PAs.

The survey closes at midnight on Sunday January 23rd 2022. The weblink to the survey is HERE or for cut and paste into a browser:

https://research.local.gov.uk/jfe/form/SV_5hlpAkUlzT1zUsm

The survey should work on screen-readers, tablets, and phones in easy read/plain English. If you are having technical problems, or find online surveys difficult, please contact liz.greer@local.gov.uk.”

NHS seeks to improve Asthma and COPD information and support for people with learning disabilities and autism.

Suppose you’d like to tell them how to make things better. In that case, you can join an online meeting on Tuesday, January 18th at 11am, or Tuesday, January 25th at 11am via Zoom.

The meeting ID is 2449876878 and the passcode is 1234. You can email register@speakup.org.uk for more information.

New role – Finance and Investment Committee Lay Member at Royal College of Surgeons of England

The Finance and Investment Committee is a key committee of the Board of Trustees, ensuring the College has strong financial management and governance on behalf of the Board and that resources are used wisely. It oversees and advises on the development and delivery of the College’s financial plans and the deployment and performance of its investments.

Read more about the available roles here.

Bunnyfoot consultancy is looking for three female website testers

The organisation is looking for three female participants for user testing that they are conducting in Farringdon in January 2022. They are looking for participants interested in beauty and would like to test how accessible and easy-to-use their website is.

They are looking for 3 Headstick/alternative input device users (mobility impaired)

If you are interested, please email: saraht@bunnyfoot.com 

Registration opens for RISE Expo

RISE Expo will be returning to Kent Event Centre on Wednesday June 22nd 2022. They will cover updated knowledge across Moving and Handling, Occupational Therapy, Children’s Services, Care and Community Health, Housing and Adaptation, and finally, the Ability Arena will showcase great activities and skills.

Not local to Kent? You can register for a virtual ticket to access the live event broadcasts. Registration is now open and completely free. You can find out more here

Our Helplines

Our helplines are operating as normal:

Personal Budgets Helpline

Disabled Students Helpline

Welfare Rights Helpline for Member Organisations