Category Archives: News from charities

Unprecedented demand for cancer helpline

The number of calls from people with cancer facing difficulties at work has shot up over two years — with some employers reported to be breaking the law — a leading cancer charity has revealed.

Macmillan logo

New figures from Macmillan Cancer Support show a 74% increase in calls to its support line on a range of work-related issues such as discrimination and even dismissal, as a result of a cancer diagnosis.

A YouGov poll for the charity reveals that one in five (20%) employees who returned to work after cancer reported facing discriminatory treatment, such as demotion and worryingly more than a fifth (22%) of managers also have concerns about employing someone who has or has had cancer.

Macmillan Cancer Support is now expanding its dedicated Work Support Service helpline to meet rising demand — with the charity receiving nearly 3,000 (2,987) calls about work issues this year alone.

It is also warning bosses they are breaking the law if they don’t provide the necessary support, such as reasonable adjustments, to employees with cancer — which is classed as a disability under the Equality Act.

While most of the 1,500 people polled (87%) who were employed when diagnosed with cancer said it was important to continue working after their diagnosis, employers’ ‘misconceptions’ add to the large number of difficulties already facing the 890,000 people of working age with the disease.

For example, more than a third (34%) of managers worry their employee would not stay long in the job and nearly a tenth (8%) fear someone could use their illness as an excuse not to pull their weight at work.

Around one in eight managers have concerns about the impact of the diagnosis on other staff, with some worried it could cause awkwardness (13%) or resentment (12%) among colleagues.

Sadly, the research also found some workers with cancer did experience a lack of understanding of their needs from their employer (9%) and colleagues (8%). Others even lost their jobs (4%) as a result of their diagnosis.

Former web developer Jordan Taylor, 24, from Telford, Shropshire, was diagnosed with testicular cancer earlier this year and said: “Before I was diagnosed my colleagues felt like a family, but as time went on their attitude towards me completely changed.

“When I returned to work after treatment I was called into a meeting by my boss, who said performance was down in my absence and that companies had complained. There was no time to ease back into my role or any mention of reasonable adjustments to help me during recovery.

“Shortly after my return, I was told my whole team was facing redundancy. A few colleagues insinuated that it was my fault, even though I was ill — it was awful and caused me a huge amount of worry.”

Liz Egan, Working Through Cancer Programme Lead at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We know how important it is to many people to work during cancer treatment, or return to employment afterwards, and this is entirely possible with the right support. Unfortunately, however, many bosses have misconceptions about employees with a cancer diagnosis.

“The rise in calls we have experienced to our helpline is staggering and shows just how vital it is that people with cancer have support and advice with their choices around work. We want to be able to support everyone living with cancer who needs us and are reliant on generous donations from the public to provide services like this.”

The charity is also helping thousands of employers through its Macmillan At Work scheme. As well as offering a free toolkit, resources and advice, the charity also offers specialist training sessions for line managers and HR professionals to help them feel equipped and confident supporting staff with cancer who want to stay in work during treatment or return to work after.

Macmillan Cancer Support and its team of trained work support advisors for employees with cancer can be called for free help and support on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday — Friday, 9am-5pm). Information is also available at www.macmillan.org.uk/work.

Report reveals health impact of air pollution

Particles in air pollution cause a wide range of damaging effects to the cardiovascular system, according to a landmark new report.
Air Pollution photo

The Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) report found that air pollution can cause damage to the cardiovascular system in the following ways:

  • increasing blood pressure
  • making the blood more likely to clot
  • the build-up of fatty materials inside the arteries, reducing the space through which blood can flow – also known as atherosclerosis
  • altering the heart’s normal electrical rhythm – also referred to as arrhythmias
  • causing inflammatory effects on the cardiovascular system – or systemic inflammation.

COMEAP advises the government on all matters concerning the health effects of air pollutants and this new report marks the most comprehensive review to date, examining the studies conducted over the past decade on the potential biological mechanisms by which exposure to air pollution results in adverse cardiovascular health effects.

In the report, COMEAP found clear evidence that exposure to small particles of air pollution has a wide range of effects on the cardiovascular system, including irregular heartbeat and blood clots. The COMEAP report also provides recommendations where new research is needed to get a more precise understanding of the impact of air pollution on cardiovascular health.

It follows the publication of a COMEAP report in July this year, which estimated that long-term exposure to the air pollution mixture in the UK contributes to between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths every year. The WHO also estimate that almost six in ten deaths related to outdoor air pollution being caused by a heart attack or stroke.

British Heart Foundation (BHF) Chief Executive Simon Gillespie said: “This thorough report gives us a clear view of the damaging impact air pollution has on our heart and circulatory system. While there are steps that people can take to reduce their exposure to air pollution we can’t expect people to move house to avoid air pollution – Government and public bodies must be acting right now to make all areas safe and protect people from these harms.

“We were reassured to see that the Government’s draft clean air strategy had a focus on health, but we need a commitment to WHO guideline limits for particulate air pollution in UK law to drive action to better protect the nation from the damage to health caused by air pollution.

“Having these targets in law will also help to improve the lives of those currently living with heart and circulatory diseases, as we know they are particularly affected by air pollution.”

Click here to read the COMEAP’s report.

Action on Hearing Loss launches online resource for employers

National charity Action on Hearing Loss is launching a comprehensive new online guide for HR professionals and employers on how to best support both prospective and current staff with hearing loss and deafness.

Action on Hearing Loss logoThe Employer Guide has been developed in response to research conducted by the charity which found that more than half of people with deafness had been mocked or teased about their condition in their workplace, and that more than a third had felt bullied by their colleagues.

The guide will offer support on how to make workplaces more accessible for people with deafness and hearing loss – from simple deaf awareness tips for staff and management to providing more detailed information on how to take advantage of the Government’s Access to Work scheme to cover the cost of additional communication support.

Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID) is the national charity helping people confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss to live the life they choose. Action on Hearing Loss enables people to take control of their lives and remove the barriers in their way, giving people support and care, developing technology and treatments, and campaigning for equality

As part of the launch the charity invites everyone to take an online quiz to find out how much they know about hearing loss in the workplace, which can be found here: www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/workingforchangequiz.

The new guide forms the latest part of Action on Hearing Loss’ Working for Change campaign, which is seeking to break down the barriers faced by people with deafness and hearing loss when accessing and progressing in employment.

Dr. Roger Wicks, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “Although there are around five million people of working age in the UK with some form of deafness and hearing loss, the results of our survey indicate there is a profound lack of awareness and understanding of its impact.

“It doesn’t have to be like this, however. There are a number of ways HR professionals and employers can educate themselves and their staff. Deafness and hearing loss do not limit anyone’s capacity for excellence, and we want employers to make the most of this huge pool of talent by enabling existing and prospective staff with deafness and hearing loss to thrive in the workplace.

“This guide is not only a resource that can educate employers and staff about hearing loss and deafness, it also sets out best practice and explains what support there is, such as the Government’s Access to Work scheme, to create an inclusive environment. We believe that the more educated and aware people are about deafness and hearing loss, such negative attitudes will become a thing of the past.”

To read Action on Hearing Loss’ Employer Guide and for other available resources, click here.

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.

 

20,000 young people become Dementia Friends

The Scout Association and Alzheimer’s Society have teamed up to empower young people to help those living with dementia.

20,000 ScoScouts become Dementia Friendsuts have become Dementia Friends, joining the biggest ever social movement to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about dementia. As part of the ‘A Million Hands’ partnership’ between Alzheimer’s Society and The Scout Association, which started in October 2015, Scouts in all four corners of the UK have taken action on dementia.

The partnership will culminate in the Big Moment, where Scouts up and down the UK will unite to deliver a Dementia Friends Information Session in their community throughout April – May 2018, educating and empowering people to take action to tackle stigma around the condition.

Claire Jenkins, Head of Community Engagement at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Someone develops dementia every three minutes, but too many face it alone. There is a lot of fear and stigma still surrounding dementia. The goal of this project with The Scout Association is to ensure that young people are spreading awareness in their communities so that society can better understand the condition – today and in the future.

“Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends helps ensure that people know the issues and challenges that people with dementia face, and can take small actions to help them live a life they love in their community. We’ve found that by working with the Scouts Association, parents feel more comfortable talking about the condition, and young people are empowered to do what they can to help.”

Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer. It affects 850,000 people in the UK, with this number set to reach one million by 2021. But too many people with dementia are isolated and face the condition alone.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends helps to tackle the stigma and lack of understanding around dementia that means many people with the condition experience loneliness and social exclusion.

Claire Bruce, Beaver Scout Leader, said: “I’ve really enjoyed seeing the interaction between young people and people with dementia. With an ageing population, this an issue that is important and which is only going to become more relevant. Being a Dementia Friend is something our Scouts chose, and as active citizens, want to know more about.”

There are over 2.4 million Dementia Friends across England and Wales growing the dementia movement and taking action in their communities. But Alzheimer’s Society argues that more people are needed, from every age group, to end the stigma surrounding dementia. Young people and The Scout Association play a crucial role in ensuring that people with dementia feel included, supported and empowered in their communities.

Become a Dementia Friend by attending a Session or watching the video at Dementiafriends.org.uk. Find out more about the ‘A Million Hands’ project at Amillionhands.org.uk.

Nine out of ten members rate London Capital Credit Union

Eight in ten credit union members nationally are satisfied with the services offered, while in north London, London Capital Credit Union sees nine out of ten members rating its financial services as ‘very high’.

LCCU logo

The largest ever survey of credit union customers, published by Financial Inclusion Centre, found that 81% of members across the country were extremely satisfied or very satisfied with their credit union, while 84% said they would recommend a friend or family member. This compares to a recent Which? survey showing that mainstream banks’ average overall customer satisfaction score was only 68%.

Islington-based London Capital Credit Union is one of the largest and fastest growing credit unions in the capital, with over 15,000 members and outstanding lending of nearly £12 million. As a not-for-profit co-operative, London Capital Credit Union provides savings and low cost loans to people living, working or studying in Barnet, Camden, City of London, Hackney, Haringey and Islington.

Financial Inclusion Centre research also demonstrated just how important the broad range of financial services being delivered by these not-for-profit financial providers are, with the majority of respondents using their credit union as an affordable and fair source of borrowing – giving them an invaluable alternative to high-cost credit such as payday loans, rent-to-own firms and door-step lenders.

Credit unions work hard to help their members understand financial issues and members are shown to score well compared to the general population on a range of financial capability measures, saying they feel they have their finances under control and are confident in dealing with money matters.

Martin Groombridge, Chief Executive of London Capital Credit Union, said: “The findings of the largest ever credit union customer satisfaction survey back up what we see at London Capital Credit Union and show that most members are extremely satisfied with the services provided.

“With the current pressures on household finances, credit unions such as ours provide an essential lifeline for many, offering affordable loans in time of need and supporting people to develop a saving habit. At London Capital Credit Union, we believe it is important to help people make the most of their finances and this survey shows the hugely positive contribution that credit unions make to our communities.”

Mick McAteer, Co-Director of Financial Inclusion Centre, added: “These results are very encouraging and go to show that credit unions are highly regarded by those that use them, with higher satisfaction rates than mainstream banks.”

 A copy of the report, ‘An Insight into Credit Union Membership’, can be found here.

Prostate Cancer UK calls on UK to step up to cancer challenge

For the first time, more men are dying from prostate cancer each year than women are from breast cancer, making the male disease the third biggest cancer killer in the UK. Prostate Cancer UK is urging the public to ‘March for Men’ this summer to help curb the trend.

Prostate Cancer UKFigures released by Prostate Cancer UK reveal that 11,819 men now die from prostate cancer every year in the UK, compared to 11,442 women dying from breast cancer. It means the male-only disease is now the third most common cancer to die from, after lung and bowel cancer.

Since 1999, the number of women dying from breast cancer has been steadily decreasing, while prostate cancer deaths are still on the rise. During that time, breast cancer has benefited from a screening programme, significant investments in research and more than double the number of published studies compared to ones for prostate cancer.

Despite the alarming figures, the prospects for men with prostate cancer are actually better than ever, with men diagnosed today two-and-a-half times more likely to live for 10 years or more than if they were diagnosed in 1990. Yet due mainly to an increasing and ageing population, the number of men dying from the disease is growing.

Prostate Cancer UK Chief Executive, Angela Culhane, said: “It’s incredibly encouraging to see the tremendous progress that has been made in breast cancer over recent years. But with half the investment and half the research, it’s not surprising that progress in prostate cancer is lagging behind.

“The good news is that many of these developments could be applied to prostate cancer and we’re confident that with the right funding, we can dramatically reduce deaths within the next decade.”

Prostate Cancer UK believes that around £120 million of research needs to be funded over the next eight years to reverse the trend and achieve their 10-year goal to halve the number of expected prostate cancer deaths by 2026. And the charity is asking the public to help raise the vital funds needed by signing up for one of their March for Men walks this summer.

“Plans to create an accurate test fit for use as part of a nationwide prostate cancer screening programme, as well as developing new treatments for advanced prostate cancer are already well underway. But to achieve these aims, we need to increase our investment in research.

“We’re calling on the nation to sign up to a March for Men this summer to help raise the funds we desperately need to stop prostate cancer being a killer.”

Childcare problems cost mums £3.4 million each day

The childcare system is costing mothers in England £3.4 million a day because it prevents them from working, according to new analysis from Save the Children. That’s £1.2 billion every year.

Save the Children logo

The charity estimates there are around 89,000 mothers of children under five who would like to get back into work but say that childcare is the main barrier to doing so.

Steven McIntosh, Director of UK Poverty Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns at Save the Children said: “Mothers describe a childcare system that feels stacked against them. They tell us it’s nightmare to navigate with barriers to work at every turn. The result is an astounding loss in earnings, hitting families already battling to make ends meet. The financial pressure and stress that creates at home is never good for parents or their children. It’s time to make childcare work for families.”

Research shows childcare issues are the number one barrier to work for parents with young children. Despite recent reforms, Save the Children says that parents are still facing sky-high childcare bills and struggling with a complicated system – with almost half of parents saying they have no idea or are confused about what support they should get. The charity says that they are left unable to access the childcare they need to work, which can tip families into hardship.

Bianca, 36, is a Mum from East London with two boys aged three and seven. After working full time for ten years, childcare issues forced her to give up her job as an education team leader in a college.

Bianca said: “ I absolutely loved my job and I could see myself progressing. It was the cost of childcare that made me give it up, because if I’d had to pay for my younger son to be in nursery full-time that would have been a massive chunk of my salary. We made sure we lived within our means but of course you lose out on some things.

“There are a lot of people who have a lot to give to the economy, but childcare is such a massive barrier. The only way you can jump over that barrier is if you’re willing to shell out a lot of money and have little left for three or four years. We did make that choice to have children, but we shouldn’t be penalised for it, and that’s how it feels at the moment.”

Research shows that the average take home pay for a mum working full time is just over £20,000 and almost £45,000 for a couple both working full time. Even taking into account free childcare hours and government subsidies, the cost of childcare for two children can still be more than £8,000 a year. That is 39% of the mother’s take home pay – twice as much as she pays in tax. Parents say that childcare bills are still too high, with many claiming it costs more than their mortgage or rent, or that it doesn’t make financial sense to go back to work.

To address the problems of cost, complexity and accessibility in the childcare system which are preventing parents from working, Save the Children is calling on new government ministers responsible for childcare to urgently set out the next steps to delivering a childcare system in England that is high quality, affordable, easy to use and fits around families’ lives.

BBC Radio Shropshire presenter’s 10,000ft charity skydive

Vicki Archer, a radio presenter who co-hosts the afternoon show on BBC Radio Shropshire, has undertaken a 10,000ft charity skydive to raise vital funds for disabled children in the county.

Vicki Archer, BBC Radio ShropshireThe mother of three, who lives in Shrewsbury, travelled to Tilstock airfield, near Whitchurch, Shropshire, to complete the jump.

Money raised from the hair-raising, free-fall, challenge, has boosted the charity coffers of Caudwell Children, helping them to continue providing practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families in the region.

Vicki, who has been a presenter at BBC Radio Shropshire for the last 10 years, said she was compelled to fundraise for the charity after finding out online about the support that it gives to disabled children.

“I know a lot of people who have children who haven’t had the best of starts in life,” explained Vicki. “By doing something as simple as this, you can help Caudwell Children to provide family support together with a range of specialist equipment, therapies, short breaks and holidays to disabled children.”

Vicki Archer, BBC Radio Shropshire

Vicki is no newcomer to fundraising, but says that this is the most extreme way in which she has raised funds for a charitable cause. She said: “I think many of my friends thought I was going through a mid-life crisis when they found out that I was going to do the jump.

“They could understand why I wanted to do it, but they thought I was mad. I know that my late father would have been proud of me, but I have to say I didn’t really think too much about what I was doing until the day of the jump.”

Vicki says that she would recommend people to take on the challenge.  “Don’t think too much about it, if you’re even considering it, that means that you can do it. Just sign up, it will be the most memorable experience of your life. It’s like watching an action film in 3D but you’re actually in it. And what’s more you’re changing the lives of disabled children. What’s not to love about that?”