Category Archives: Disability

Relating to disability

Only 3% of public think all UK tourist attractions suitable for wheelchair users

A YouGov poll carried out to mark the 10th anniversary of Trailblazers – Muscular Dystrophy UK’s national network of 800 young disabled people – shows that despite many advances in disability rights, most people’s experiences show there is a long way to achieving full accessibility.

Trailblazers

The survey found that:

  • Only three per cent of UK adults think all tourist attractions provide easy access for wheelchair users
  • Only 11% of UK adults think all Premier League grounds provide easy access for wheelchair users
  • Only 6% of UK adults think all UK railway stations provide easy access for wheelchair users

The advance of disability rights has been reliant on campaigning by organisations such as Trailblazers – and remains a patchwork of successes and work yet to be done. For example, while more railway stations now provide step-free access, half of stations remain inaccessible and assistance often needs to be pre-booked. There remain issues with staffing support, onboard toilets and making vital services like ticket machines accessible across much of the country.

Lauren West, Trailblazers Manager at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “We are so proud of the hard-won results that our Trailblazers have achieved in the last decade, and it’s encouraging that members of the public recognise the difficulties disabled people face when it comes to accessibility. But the headline successes should not leave people under the impression that the UK is now fully accessible.

“Take Premier League stadium access. It’s only after years of work by disability groups like Trailblazers that we are finally seeing clubs providing enough space for wheelchair users. But even that achievement just covers topflight clubs on one measure, and we still hear from disabled fans who have to sit away from friends or families, or even with the opposing team.

“We know it can be complex – the good practice guide on accessible stadiums is 116 pages long. But working with groups like Trailblazers is essential if businesses and organisations want to make sure they are open to everyone. Today we celebrate our achievements but now we want to hear from the next generation of young disabled people to help us tackle the next decade of advancing our rights.”

Trailblazers is a national network of almost 800 young disabled people and their supporters, and is part of Muscular Dystrophy UK. The group campaigns for change, provides guidance, and is an expert in what life is like for young disabled people. Members are passionately committed to challenging the barriers in society that stop us from living full and independent lives. The group launched in 2008, with 50 people at a meeting in London. Since then, it has successfully campaigned on issues such as accessible public transport, airlines, gaming and hate speech. Muscular Dystrophy UK is the charity bringing individuals, families and professionals together to beat muscle-wasting conditions.

Since its launch in 2008, Trailblazers’ achievements include:

  • Lobbying Twitter to update its rules to protect disabled people from hate speech. The social media giant went on to introduce the measures called for by Trailblazers
  •  Launching a report on accessible gaming and trialling Microsoft’s new adaptive controller for XBox
  • Fighting for accessible public transport in two End of the Line reports – published in 2009 and 2016 – which resulted in the government announcing new measures in early 2018 to ensure wheelchair users can access buses.

Trailblazer Connor Colhoun, 21, from Glasgow, said: “I’ve been to theme parks, and although it’s not usually possible to go on the rides, they do cater for wheelchair users. Things are definitely improving for disabled tourists, and accessibility is much better now than it used to be; I think that must be because there is more awareness. I recently went on the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour, and it was excellent – everything was so accessible.”

2,134 people were surveyed on 4th and 5th July 2018 in the Muscular Dystrophy UK-commissioned survey by YouGov.

Law still not protecting overcharged disabled taxi passengers

A new law to protect disabled taxi passengers from being overcharged still doesn’t apply because most councils haven’t made the right preparations, according to disability activist research.

Taxi image

Only a third of councils in England, Wales and Scotland have created so-called Section 167 lists, which are needed to hold taxi drivers to account if they discriminate against disabled passengers.

A change in the Equality Act enacted in April last year means that taxi drivers now face fines of up to £1,000 if they refuse to transport wheelchair users or attempt to charge them extra. But this only applies to vehicles listed on Section 167 lists, which councils need to create.

Comprehensive research of 340 councils by disability activist Doug Paulley shows that most haven’t created them yet and 42 have no intention of ever doing so, despite a government-recommended deadline of October 2017.

The research lays bare the complex problems around the law change, with many councils confused as to their obligations. Around one in six councils that reported having a list in place have not met technical requirements, meaning they may not be legally useable.

The complexity has contributed to low awareness of the law change. No-one outside of London has attempted to use the law to hold taxi drivers to account for overcharging, ignoring or otherwise discriminating against disabled taxi passengers, despite the widespread and ongoing issues that Muscular Dystrophy UK hears from its supporters.

Nirav Shah, who has congenital muscular dystrophy and lives in Nottingham, said: “I’m a regular taxi user, but have had more bad experiences than good. Drivers have refused to take me, or have claimed that their ramp doesn’t work. I have also had some drive off and leave me on the pavement, and companies quoting twice what a metered fare would normally be. Disabled people should be able to get a taxi as easily as everyone else, and they certainly shouldn’t be charged more, but sadly this isn’t the case.”

Paulley’s research also shows:

  • 12 councils have no wheelchair-accessible taxis, with a further 109 having fewer than ten;
  • Only a third of councils provide disability awareness training, vital for ensuring taxi drivers know how to safely work with disabled people.

Muscular Dystrophy UK and Doug Paulley are calling for the Department for Transport to make the lists mandatory, arguing that the current system has proven unworkable.

Nic Bungay, Director of Campaigns, Care and Information at Muscular Dystrophy UK, which lobbied for years for the law change, said: “Taxis are often the only way that disabled people can get from A to B when public transport isn’t an option but the new legislation simply isn’t working to help ensure they can do so safely and fairly. Doug’s research robustly demonstrates the impossible situation that many disabled people find themselves in. Passengers, taxi drivers and councils alike are crying out for clearer guidance, and we need to see the taxi lists made mandatory, to make this well-intentioned law workable.”

Doug Paulley carried out the research following a Select Committee report into the Equality Act 2010 on disability. He said: “This new research provides a mixed bag of results: while some councils have made an effort to create a list, many have fallen foul of the complex fine print in the rules, leaving most passengers unable to use the new legislation. Councils alone can’t unpick the confusion. We need to see a stronger lead from the Department for Transport if disabled people are to get the tools they need to challenge overcharging and unsafe practices.”

Research by Muscular Dystrophy UK in 2016 indicated that a quarter of disabled people have been refused service by a taxi driver, purely because they are disabled.

For more information, visit: www.musculardystrophyuk.org.

 

UK Civil Aviation Authority airport accessibility report released

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has published a report which assessed the top 30 UK airports on the quality of assistance they provide to disabled passengers.

Airport photoThe report shows that the number of passengers requesting assistance continues to grow, with assistance requested in over three million journeys in 2016 – a 66% rise since 2010.

The majority of airports rated by the CAA report are providing ‘very good’ or ‘good’ support.  However, four airports, including London Heathrow and Manchester, have been told they must improve after falling under the ‘poor’ rating.

The CAA framework for rating the quality of assistance provided to disabled travellers is the first of its kind in Europe.  It was introduced to ensure there is a consistent and high quality service for disabled passengers across UK airports.  The CAA assesses airports against a number of measures to establish how well they are performing for disabled passengers.  Where airports regularly under-perform, the CAA can take enforcement action to ensure services are improved.

Six airports were rated as ‘very good’ including Birmingham, Glasgow and Humberside airports.  20 were rated as ‘good’  including Belfast International, London Stansted and Edinburgh airports.

Michaela Hollywood, Campaigns Officer for Trailblazers –  Muscular Dystrophy UK’s young disabled campaigners network – said: “Our Up in the Air investigation painted a picture of how many young disabled people find it difficult to use air travel.  Young professionals need to travel for business, while many young people find that travelling to new countries enriches their lives and is a part of their identity.

“Air travel can go smoothly.  However, it is clear that monitoring systems are needed to identify the issues in specific airports and encourage them to make their assistance better for disabled passengers.

“Being able to get from A to B without undue stress and anxiety is important for everyone, and disabled people deserve to experience all the thrills of travelling to new parts of the world by plane.”

To find out more about the report and the MDUK Trailblazers, click here.

Next UK Government must commit to no more disability benefit cuts

The MS Society has launched an open letter to political party leaders urging them to protect disability benefits under the next UK Government.

Parliament Twilight

The MS Society has launched the letter as a member of the Disability Benefits Consortium. This is a national coalition of more than 80 charities and organisations, which makes their message even stronger.

The Society is standing up for more than 13 million disabled people in the UK, who spend an average of £550 a month on costs related to their disability. That’s #13millionlives.

The MS Society recently asked its campaigns community what issues matter most at this election. Hundreds of people contacted the Society, but there was one issue that stood out – disability benefits.

Recent changes have led to stressful assessments and delays, and tighter eligibility criteria. These issues have made life more difficult for many people with MS.

The MS: Enough campaign was launched by the MS Society to bring attention to welfare issues affecting people with MS. Many people with MS are having to make difficult choices, choices such as whether they can afford basic essentials, attend hospital appointments or spend time with family and friends.

MS Society Chief Executive Michelle Mitchell says: “Financial support is vital for people with MS to live independent lives and participate fully in society.

“We have a crucial opportunity to make our voice heard before the election. We’re urging Party Leaders to protect disability benefits from further cuts in the next Parliament.”

Add your name to the open letter to Party Leaders. Tell the next Government to make no more cuts to disability benefits.

>> Add your name, call for no more cuts

Equality Act taxi changes come into force

On 6th April 2017, sections 165 and 167 of the Equality Act 2010 officially commenced, offering new protection to disabled people travelling in a taxi.

Equality Act taxi changes come into forceThe change in law brings three key new protections to disabled people in England and Wales.  This means that taxi and private hire vehicle drivers will be obliged by law to:

  • Transport wheelchair users in their wheelchair
  • Provide passengers in wheelchairs with appropriate assistance
  • Charge wheelchair users the same as non-wheelchair users.

Any drivers who do not follow these rules and don’t have a medical exemption will face a possible £1,000 fine.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:We are committed to building transport networks that work for everyone, ensuring that disabled people have the same access to services and opportunities to travel as anyone else. Disabled people are often heavily reliant on taxis and private hire vehicles and this change to the law will mean fair and equal treatment for all.

“The new rules will apply in England, Wales and Scotland affecting vehicles that are designated as wheelchair accessible and will apply to both taxis and private hire vehicles. All taxis in London and a significant number in most major urban centres are wheelchair accessible.”

In a change to the law drivers found to be discriminating against wheelchair users face fines of up to £1000 as part of provisions being enacted from the Equality Act. Drivers may also face having their taxi or Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licence suspended or revoked by their licencing authority. Drivers unable to provide assistance for medical reasons will be able to apply to their licensing authority for an exemption from the new requirements.

It is hoped that these new requirements on taxi and private hire vehicles will complement the rules already in place to prevent discrimination against the use of assistance dogs and underline Government’s wide-ranging commitment to supporting transport networks for everyone.

Robert Meadowcroft, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “This is a victory for all people with disabilities who experience daily struggles with accessible transport.

“Being able to get from A to B is usually very easy for most people, however we know that this can be a challenge that affects a disabled person’s entire life, including their ability to have a job and play an active part in society.  This is a positive and very welcome step in the right direction which we hope will not affect the number of accessible taxis being made available by companies because of the duties now being placed on to drivers.

“Muscular Dystrophy UK and our Trailblazers have been campaigning on this issue for many years, and we commend the government for listening to the views of disabled people.”

Muscular Dystrophy UK is the charity bringing individuals, families and professionals together to beat muscle-wasting conditions. Find out more on their website: www.musculardystrophyuk.org.

Charity Cae Post celebrates 30 years and looks to the future

Over 100 people gathered at Welshpool Town Hall on Saturday 26th November to celebrate Cae Post’s 30th birthday.

Danielle Brown MBE

Danielle Brown MBE

Cae Post, an innovative charity and social enterprise, welcomed supporters, customers, employees and beneficiaries to the event to mark 30 years of creating work opportunities for disabled and disadvantaged people.

The event was hosted by BBC Radio Shropshire presenter Jim Hawkins and the special guest was Danielle Brown MBE, Double Paralympic Archery Champion.

The celebration of Cae Post’s achievements was also attended by Glyn Davies, MP for Montgomeryshire, and the Deputy Mayor of Welshpool Cllr Hazel Evans.

John Harrington

John Harrington

Best known these days as a successful business recycling thousands of tonnes of materials each year from the homes and businesses of Powys and north Shropshire, Cae Post was originally set up in 1986 as a community organisation to create work for people with learning disabilities.

Speaking at the event, John Harrington, one of the Founders and current Chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “When a number of volunteers came together to set Cae Post up, they were pioneers, innovators, social enterprise visionaries. Our aim back then – as it still is – was to provide meaningful and worthwhile activity for people whilst making the world a better place in environmental terms.

“It’s easy to forget how the world of recycling has changed. In 1986 there was no kerbside collection for recycling in Powys. Today, there’s a whole industry set up to deal with our waste and separating valuable materials. Cae Post plays its part in this industry but with a massive difference: our endeavours help people gain valuable experience in the work place.

30th celebrations“Cae Post cannot alone create the work opportunities needed by people who, for whatever reason, face disadvantage in the labour market. The work that we have done needs to be taken up by many more businesses and organisations – but we will carry on playing our part and speaking up for those who need these opportunities.”

John concluded: “We might be in our 30th year, but there is so much more for us to do. We are up for the challenge and we will work hard well into the future to help those people who find it difficult to enter the world of work to find meaningful job opportunities.”

Click here to read more about Cae Post’s 30th birthday celebrations.

Charity looks to secure its future by leasing premises from Powys County Council

Cae Post, an innovative charity and social enterprise, has submitted a bid to Powys County Council to take over its premises in Trewern, Welshpool, through a Community Asset Transfer.

Sue PackerCae Post is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and is looking to the future with its bid to take over the Trewern premises so it can carry on providing employment and training opportunities to local people for years to come.

Speaking about the bid, Sue Packer, General Manager at Cae Post, said: “Cae Post exists to help people take part in economic and community life and we actively develop links with the public, private, voluntary and community sectors. These are two of the main aims of a Community Asset Transfer, according to Powys County Council, and so Cae Post clearly meets the criteria for this bid to be accepted.”

For 30 years it has delivered services that ultimately provide people who have a range of disabilities, or who are disadvantaged in the labour market, with the same opportunities as anyone else for contributing to their community through work. Currently, Cae Post offers waste management and recycling to businesses and households across mid-Wales.

Added Sue: “Recently, Powys County Council decided not to extend our contract to deliver kerbside recycling, bringsite collections of plastic and cans and the operation of the materials recovery facility – services we have successfully operated for well over a decade. We accept, of course, that the County Council has the right to bring the service in-house – but it will impact significantly on our clients who benefit so much from working at Cae Post each week.

“The important thing for us now is to be secure in our premises, so that we can plan for the future and develop new income streams that allow us to continue our work with some of the county’s most deserving people.”

Cae Post will be contacting all of Powys’s councillors to remind them of the important work the social enterprise does in giving people who, for whatever reason, find it difficult to get jobs, offering people the chance to improve their lives and contribute to society. Cae Post will of course be asking councillors to support the Community Asset Transfer.

Cae Post is unique within Powys in the way it has pioneered a model of working that empowers people who otherwise might find it difficult to secure work and training opportunities.

Cae Post’s future plans for the building in Trewern will see it increasing the opportunity for young people to access work-based learning, improving access to work for people with learning disabilities and encouraging more people to volunteer.

Said Sue Packer: “If we are successful with our bid to Powys County Council, ownership or a long lease of the building will enable us to seek investment to develop new businesses. This will mean we can provide increased job and volunteering opportunities, reduce poverty and assist in the economic and environmental well-being of not only Powys but the rest of Wales well into the future.”

If you would like to find out more about Cae Post, please visit www.caepost.co.uk.

Muscle charity seeks funding from Aviva

Aviva Community Fund bannerNMC Midlands, a charity set up to offer support to people with muscular dystrophy and other muscle wasting diseases in the Midlands region, has been shortlisted for the Aviva Community Fund and is looking for people to vote for them.

The Neuromuscular Centre (NMC) Midlands, based in Coventry, provides support for over 400 clients who suffer from muscular dystrophy, a muscle wasting disease with no treatment or cure. The Centre has been shortlisted for the Aviva Community Fund, and now needs votes to help it win up to £1000.

The Aviva Community Fund offers the chance for local community projects to win funding and with enough votes from supporters, NMC Midlands has the chance to be entered into the finals, where a judging panel will award the funds.

The correct physiotherapy is essential to people with muscle wasting diseases as it maintains mobility and reduces the rate of muscle deterioration. However, people with these conditions experience a significant reduction in the amount of physiotherapy they receive from the NHS after turning the age of 19.

One of the main services NMC Midlands offers is free and continuous specialist physiotherapy for people with muscle wasting diseases. In addition, they have services available to offer support for other areas of life that become challenging to people with these conditions.

To vote for NMC Midlands, click on the following link before 18 November 2016: https://community-fund.aviva.co.uk/voting/project/view/16-913.

To find out more about the wide range of services offered by NMC Midlands and how to get in touch click here.

Cae Post invests in Robert Owen Community Banking Fund

Cae Post has invested some of its surplus in the Robert Owen Community Banking Fund, to help support new and expanding local businesses in Powys. Trustee Susan Morley explains.

Cae Post - 1.1Cae Post, an innovative social enterprise based near Welshpool in Powys, provides work and training for people with disabilities or who are disadvantaged in the jobs market, through the delivery of waste management and recycling services across mid-Wales and north Shropshire.

Cae Post believes that employment and access to work are central to how people see themselves and that people with a range of disabilities, or who are disadvantaged in the labour market, should be given the same opportunity of contributing to their community through work.

Ten years ago, the Carnegie Commission for Rural Development was gathering research on rural communities throughout Britain, in order to see how communities were tackling contemporary problems of living in rural areas and how ideas and solutions were being proposed and put into action. It would be addressed to all who have any interest in the sustainability of rural life in the UK. The research was published in June 2007 as A Charter for Rural Communities.

Under a section entitled ‘Supporting a dynamic local economy’, the report noted that the way in which rural communities of the future will be resilient and vibrant will occur “in part through the growth of local social enterprises and the entrepreneurial development of local assets”. It found that in many rural areas it studied whatever work available was low paid, often seasonal. Although inward investment from elsewhere may provide new employment, there is an important role for local communities and entrepreneurs including social enterprises.

Cae Post featured in this section (as well as the New Economics Foundation) as an example of action to address employment in local rural economic contexts. Researchers visited Cae Post and evidence was taken from staff and trustees on what such a social enterprise does and can achieve when it is located in such a sparsely populated part of the country. Here is what was said about Cae Post:

“Cae Post is a pioneering charity and social enterprise that provides work and training for people with disabilities or who are disadvantaged in the job market. In partnership with Powys County Council Cae Post run a commercial scale recycling centre near Welshpool. They operate kerbside, bring-site and commercial recycling collections in Powys and beyond and work closely with local schools and communities to spread the message of social inclusion and sustainability. The social enterprise has a business manager who constantly looks for new sources of recyclable materials that enhance work opportunities for the supported volunteers, or for new avenues for the sale and reprocessing of sorted materials.”

Of course, since the Carnegie report was published, there has been a global economic crisis, and rural areas have not necessarily seen the slight recovery that some areas of the UK might be experiencing. The optimism of the report in 2007 is evident. Cae Post itself is in a challenging period, with its partnership arrangement of 15 years with Powys County Council coming to an end. Nevertheless, Cae Post continues to explore how it can develop new areas of employment under its aims. Not only that, Cae Post has invested some of its surplus in the Robert Owen Community Banking Fund, to help support new and expanding local businesses in Powys.

To find out more about Cae Post visit www.caepost.co.uk

 

World Duchenne Awareness Day 2015

Muscular Dystrophy UK logoThe second World Duchenne Awareness Day (WDAD) takes place on Monday 7 September 2015 and over the coming week Muscular Dystrophy UK, the leading charity for all individuals and families living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy,  will be sharing ways to actively get involved in spreading awareness of this debilitating disease.

In the lead-up to the day the charity will be sharing stories and updates on research and campaigns from across the UK on important topics close to the heart of people living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

The charity’s campaigning work is taking the voice of individuals and families affected by Duchenne to the very top of Government and the NHS. With families, they are campaigning for access to potential treatments, specialist healthcare and the support they need to live full and independent lives. Currently there are nine MDUK-funded research projects underway focusing on Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

The charity says there are a number of ways people can get involved in World Duchenne Awareness Day:

  • Sign up to our World Duchenne Awareness Day Twibbon: add this Twibbon to your Twitter and Facebook picture.
  • Share our infographic: watch this space for our infographic outlining the key facts about Duchenne and the current research projects we are championing.
  • Stay tuned to social media: We will be sharing many stories and holding a Q&A session on Monday 7 September on Facebook at 6.30-8pm with our Director of Research, Dr. Marita Polshmidt.
  • Get involved around the world: follow #WDAD15 and #Duchenne on Twitter to follow all Duchenne charities across the world and support Duchenne Balloon campaign.
  • Help move forward cutting edge research by donating to our Duchenne Research Breakthrough Fund.
  • Read about our Family funds: the stories of our incredible army of families who are the driving force behind the fight to find a cure for Duchenne. Find out more about creating your own Family Fund.
  • Skydive: do you have what it takes? If yes join us in Make Today Count our annual skydiving fundraiser raising money for the Duchenne Research Breakthrough Fund. So far Make Today Count has raised an impressive £389,566.

To find out more visit www.musculardystrophyuk.org