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.

International Credit Union Day theme announced

ICU_Day_2017_Logo_EN-page-001 - CopyThis year’s International Credit Union Day, which takes place on 19 October 2017, will have the theme “Dreams Thrive Here.”

International Credit Union Day takes place every year on the third Thursday in October and, this year, credit union professionals decided the theme via an online poll.

All 56,000 credit unions around the world are being encouraged to share photos, events and experiences online to help promote the movement. The day aims to raise awareness of the contribution that credit unions make to society.

Brian Branch, President and Chief Executive of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), said: “ICU Day gives us an opportunity to encourage credit union members to get engaged, share their experiences and celebrate how credit unions and financial co-operatives have made an impact on their life choices.”

Read more about this year’s International Credit Union Day. To find out about credit unions in the UK, visit the Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL).

NMC in Winsford opens new annexe

The NeuroMuscular Centre in Winsford opened its extended building recently and the Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire was there to cut the ribbon.

Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire David Briggs opens the new NMC building with Chief Executive Matthew Lanham.

Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire David Briggs opens the new NMC building with Chief Executive Matthew Lanham.

The NeuroMuscular Centre (NMC) was founded in 1990 and provides a range of services and specialist advice for adults with muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular conditions. A new annexe was recently added to the centre to enable it to offer even more services.

Over 100 people turned up for the opening and to have a look round the improved centre, which contains physiotherapy treatment rooms, a specialist gym and a design and print business. Guided tours took place, a buffet lunch was served and members of staff were on hand to answer questions.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire, David Briggs, officially opened the new centre and congratulated the NMC on its success.

The NMC offers a range of other services such as complementary therapies, bushcraft skills courses in the recently developed garden at the centre, a wheelchair football team and a range of support and advice for adults with muscular dystrophy. The NMC is the only centre of its kind in the UK.


Charity recycling service expands in Llandrindod Wells

Environmental charity and social enterprise Cae Post is expanding its trade waste and recycling service in the Llandrindod Wells area and is inviting local organisations to a drop-in session to find out more.

Cae Post colour logoWelshpool-based Cae Post, which specialises in collecting waste and recycling from businesses in Powys and North Shropshire, will be meeting business people and charity representatives from the Llandrindod area at the Herb Garden Community Café on 18th July.

Cae Post has over 30 years’ experience and, as a charity and social enterprise, the work they do benefits people with disabilities and those who find it difficult to access the jobs market. At the drop-in session, Cae Post is hoping to encourage businesses and organisations in Llandrindod to put their waste to good use and recycle as much as they can.

Sue Packer, General Manager of Cae Post, said: “Although all businesses have a duty to deal with their waste in a legal and environmentally responsible way, many people we speak to do not realise exactly what can be recycled.

“At Cae Post we offer a wide range of recycling collection services across Powys, including food waste, stretch film and pallet wrap, and all sorts of plastic packaging. At our drop-in session at the Herb Garden Community Café on 18th July, we will be showing businesses in Llandrindod just how much can be recycled and how their waste can be put to good use.

“What’s more, by choosing Cae Post, businesses will be supporting a valuable local charity and social enterprise which provides work to disadvantaged people.”

Cae Post will be holding its drop-in session at the Herb Garden Community Café, Station Crescent, Llandrindod Wells, on Tuesday 18th July from 1pm to 3pm.

Sue Packer added: “Anyone who has their own business, or who works for a local business, organisation or charity, is welcome to drop in and see us – no appointment necessary. Just come along and find out more about recycling and how we can help – we’d love to meet as many people as possible.”

For more information about the drop-in session, please visit

Internationally acclaimed Californian choir tours UK for charity

The Starfire Singers, a Methodist youth choir from the United States with an international reputation, are touring the UK this summer and will be performing at a number of venues to raise funds for charity.

Borderless imageEvery few years, the Starfire Singers embark on a summer tour of the UK, arranged by Janet Redler Travel & Tourism. The Starfire Singers sing in worship at Los Altos United Methodist Church in Northern California and their musical productions tackle social issues from a Christian perspective. In July and August 2017, they will be performing the original musical Borderless at venues across the country to raise money for local charities.

Borderless is about confronting the places where people feel stuck in life, where people feel trapped by all the demands placed on them by internal and external pressures, and finding a path towards living beyond those borders. The performances include music, song, dance and multimedia.

Janet Redler, Chief Executive of Janet Redler Travel & Tourism, which is arranging the tour, said: “We are delighted to welcome the renowned Starfire Singers to the UK once again. Their thrilling musical production Borderless is sure to entertain audiences around the country while also addressing social issues. The tour will help to raise funds for a number of charitable projects and we would like to welcome people along to enjoy a wonderful evening of entertainment.”

Performances will take place at St Mary Redcliffe Church in Bristol on 26 July, Coventry Central Hall on 28 July, St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh on 31 July, Paisley Methodist Church on 3 August, Wesley Memorial Methodist Church in Epworth, Lincolnshire, on 5 August and Wesley Memorial Church in Oxford on 7 August.

Funds raised from the performances will be donated to a number of charities and Methodist Church initiatives including the New Room Bristol Development Fund, the Open Doors Project at Wesley Memorial Church in Oxford and the Southern Area Hospice in Northern Ireland.

To find out more and for booking details, please visit

Big Society Capital invests £2.5 million in Charity Bank

Charity Bank logoBig Society Capital has invested £2.5 million in the share capital of Charity Bank and has committed in principle to invest a further £2.5 million on or before 1st December 2017. This will complete Big Society Capital’s pledge in March 2014 to invest up to £14.5 million in ordinary shares of Charity Bank.

Charity Bank, the ethical bank that uses savings to make loans to charities and social enterprises, has lent over £180 million since 2002. Charity Bank is run for the sector and owned by the sector, as all of its shareholders are charitable trusts, foundations and social purpose organisations. This further investment from Big Society Capital will allow it to make more loans to social sector organisations in the coming years.

This investment is made as Charity Bank experiences continued growth. Charity Bank has had a strong start to the year with £28 million of new loan approvals in the first five months of 2017. This continues the momentum since Big Society Capital’s initial investment in 2014, with the loan book growing by over 25% per year in the two years to 31st December 2016.

George Blunden, Chairman of Charity Bank, says: “These further injections of capital from Big Society Capital will enable us to meet the growing demand for loans from charities and social enterprises.

“Share capital is vital to our mission. It underpins the bank and enables us to leverage our savers’ money. An investment in Charity Bank creates a multiple effect – for every £1 of share capital invested we can lend £8 to help create lasting social change in our communities.”

“When Big Society Capital pledged its original investment, we said that we hoped it would be the first of a small number of significant new investors over the next five to ten years. The Mercers Charitable Foundation invested a further £1 million in 2015 and the Barrow Cadbury Trust invested £250,000 in 2016.

“We are inviting other charitable trusts, foundations and social purpose organisations to invest in our share capital and join with us in using the tools of finance to create a better society for all.”

Anna Shiel, Head of Origination of Big Society Capital says: “Big Society Capital’s investment in Charity Bank plays an important role in making capital available to small and medium sized charities. Over 850 loans have now been made to organisations totalling more than £180m. These loans have helped support people all around the UK, with 97% of organisations saying it has contributed to achieving their mission and 68% saying the loan helped them to expand their services. Upon the completion of our investment, we look forward to seeing more people and communities supported by their work.”

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

Don’t recycle until you have tried Freegle, says Cae Post

Although Cae Post has a 30 year history of developing innovative recycling projects, with billions of tonnes of raw materials being used each year to make ‘stuff’, the charity thinks it is as important to reuse items as it is to recycle them.

Reusing an iteFreeglem that still works is much more energy efficient than breaking it down into its component parts and turning it into something different. In the past, reuse was possibly the main way that things were recycled. We can probably all remember being ‘handed down’ items from an older brother or sister, or furnishing your first home with furniture from parents, friends or neighbours.

More recently though, consumers have become a bit more concerned about having the latest fashion, the best and newest home furnishings or most ‘on-trend’ colour schemes, all of which result in perfectly good items becoming ‘surplus to requirements’.

Many people donate these items to charity shops or other reuse organisations, but a significant number of people rely on their local council to dispose of items at the local household waste facility. Increasingly, local authorities are partnering with reuse organisations to extract usable products from the waste stream and sell them, which benefits the environment and the charity or social business which sells them. Valuable as this service is, it has the big draw back that items still need to be taken to a household waste and recycling centre in the first place.

With the slogan ‘Don’t throw it away, give it away!’, Freegle is an online service which brings individuals together to find items and give items to one another.

The Welshpool, Newtown and Montgomery Freegle group was started in 2006, fully joining Freegle when it was formed in 2009. According to Saira, one of the many volunteers who keep the online service running, Freegle is all about keeping usable stuff out of landfill. “We felt it was a complete waste of resources that many things which still had a usable life were taken to the tip. Many household items are given away each year on Freegle such as sofas, fridges, caravans, gardening equipment, TVs and beds.”

All of these items can be reused, but would probably have entered the waste stream. There are currently just over 4,000 local members successfully ‘freegling’. On average the Welshpool, Newtown and Montgomery group keeps around 500kg of ‘stuff’ out of the waste stream each month.

IlovefreegleRecently, one Freegler rehomed an entire collection of those “really important” kitchen gadgets that people often buy and then never use: waffle maker, electric steamer, electric juicer, kitchen mixer, ice cream maker.

The group also regularly sees sofas, washing machines, beds, wardrobes, printers and microwaves, as well as horse manure, scaffolding boards and pallets changing hands, as people upgrade to new models, downsize and declutter their homes or see the benefit in giving away something they have.

Cae Post believes that, as consumers, everybody should think seriously about what they buy and, just as importantly, what they do with the things they no longer need. Years ago, families and the wider communities they lived in used to regularly rehome their things when they no longer needed them. As families have become less nuclear, and lifestyles have often become more insular, Freegle is a way of rebuilding those integral mainstays of community as well as encouraging people to repair and reuse ahead of recycling or sending their things to the waste stream.

Why not sign up for Freegle and see what you find or find a new home for? The Welshpool, Newtown and Montgomery group can be found easily here:

Celebrities urge public to unite against dementia

Alzheimer’s Society is calling on the public to set aside their differences – from age to tastes and social standing to political allegiances – and unite in the fight against dementia, as it’s set to become the 21st century’s biggest killer.

Jo Brand and James Cracknell

Celebrities and sports stars including Jo Brand, James Cracknell, Meera Syal, Robbie Savage and Uriah Rennie are backing the biggest ever campaign from Alzheimer’s Society calling on people to come together to defeat dementia. The campaign is also being supported by Richard & Judy, Carey Mulligan, Hugh Dennis and Sally Lindsay.

The charity launched the campaign on 24th April with a TV advertisement voiced by acclaimed actor Bill Nighy at its heart.

Directed by Oscar and BAFTA-nominated Daniel Barber (Harry Brown, The Tonto Woman) and set to an original score by Will Gregory of Goldfrapp, the ad plays upon issues that can cause divisions in society including age, gender identity and whether people voted in or out in the recent EU referudum. It shows opposing pairs coming together to unite against dementia.

In support of the campaign, two of the UK’s biggest commercial TV channels ITV and Channel 4 united to premiere the campaign ad – the first time the two have worked together on an advertising premiere for a charity.

Someone develops dementia every three minutes and there’s currently no cure – but the charity says people with dementia tell them that they face dementia alone.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We’re determined to bring everyone’s attention to the massive injustice faced by people with dementia and their carers, with too many denied the support they need.

“Alzheimer’s Society hears day in, day out about people with dementia and their carers struggling. Some people tell us about the impossible choices they have to make, from the carer having to choose between a knee operation and caring for her Mum, to a man with young onset dementia who had to give-up work and ask his daughter to pay the mortgage.

“We urgently need people to unite with us to improve care, offer help and understanding to those affected and find a cure. Together, we can bring about change.”

Ex-Wales international footballer Robbie Savage lost his dad, Colin, to younger onset dementia – which affects more than 40,000 people in the UK under 65 – when he was only 64, after being diagnosed at 58.

Robbie added: “People think dementia is an old person’s condition but it isn’t. My dad was struck down in his prime. Dementia can affect anyone anywhere.

“It was so painful to witness my hero and best friend gradually slip away. In the end he couldn’t speak, swallow or recognise me at all. To see him like that was devastating for the whole family. That’s why it’s so important for me to get involved with this campaign.”

Research conducted by the charity and Ipsos MORI reveals a great deal of fear exists around dementia – just under half (44%) of people fear dementia more than any other health condition. It also reveals a deeply concerning lack of public understanding about the biggest health crisis facing society. Only a fifth (22%) of people know that dementia is a condition that results in death while 28% wrongly believe there is a cure.

Jo Brand, ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society, told us: “It’s deeply worrying that every three minutes someone develops this devastating condition. What’s almost as worrying is despite not being able to prevent it, cure it or even slow it down, the funding of dementia research is far too low. We need everyone to unite against dementia and change this now.”

James Cracknell, who is joining forces with Jo Brand to support the campaign, added: “It’s now time for us to come together and unite against dementia with Alzheimer’s Society. We owe it to our children…this is important!”

Alzheimer’s Society is the leading dementia charity. Unite now at

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: