Disabled campaigners have gathered at a conference

first_imgDisabled campaigners have gathered at a conference to help develop plans for a fightback against the independent living “catastrophe” facing users of support services across the country.The Independent Living Campaign Conference heard that disabled people are now designing “a new vision” for independent living that is user-led and based on rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).The discussions are being developed by organisations that are part of the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA), including Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Shaping Our Lives, and began at the National Disabled People’s Summit, which took place earlier this month.Mark Harrison, chief executive of the Norfolk-based disabled people’s organisation Equal Lives and a member of Norfolk DPAC, called for disabled people to set the agenda for reform, and define “what we need in order to live equal and independent lives”.This will include a legal right to independent living, he said, which the UN has called for through its committee on the rights of persons with disabilities.He said: “What we are facing at the moment is a catastrophe. That is what the UN said but that is also what disabled people say, with local authorities cutting people’s budgets by 50, 60, 70 per cent, and many disabled people having their social care completely removed in the assessment process.”He said change was “not going to come from politicians or professionals, it is going to come from us. That is why this conference is so important, as was the disabled people’s summit.“We think it is really important that we take control of our lives and the agenda around what we want from a right to independent living.”He said that if policy-makers and politicians are allowed to set the agenda they will “water it down and corral us into systems where it is non-disabled people assessing us, measuring us, [and] restricting us”.He told the conference about an article he has co-written with Professor Peter Beresford, co-chair of Shaping Our Lives, which suggests that social care in England and Wales “is broken beyond repair”.They believe the only solution is a universal, legal right to independent living and a free, national independent living service, paid for from direct taxation, managed by central government, and led by disabled people.Such a service would be “shaped and delivered” by user-led disabled people’s organisations, co-operatives and social enterprises.Independent living should be mainstreamed through a cross-government body, they say in the article, with attention paid not just to social care and health but also areas such as transport, education, housing and social security.They say that social care should be seen as a “social and economic generator”, rather than supporting people to live independently being thought of as a “burden”.Harrison told the conference that disabled people living in rural Norfolk were often the largest employers in their villages because of the personal assistants (PAs) they employ.He said the system was in such a desperate situation that many people’s contributions to their council were now so high they were having to give up their social care packages because they could not afford them, even though they had been assessed as needing care under the Care Act.He said disabled people would design the new independent living service, and were going to “abolish the postcode lottery and take it away from local authorities”.He added: “We have to be in control. It is our lives we are talking about, it is us who have to take it forward.”Ellen Clifford (pictured, holding the microphone), a member of DPAC’s steering group, said disabled people and their organisations were facing “enormous challenges” with the continuing attacks on support.The few solicitors able to take cases on behalf of people whose support has been slashed “are all working beyond capacity”, she said, as disabled people face “a continual cycle of reassessments”, while social workers are being “forced to cut packages”.She warned that there were “limitations” with the process of seeking judicial reviews of council decisions on cuts to people’s support, with the courts “very unwilling to go against the professional opinion of social workers”, while judges “do not want to micromanage government policy”.And she said there was also the risk that legal defeats, such as in the case of Luke Davey, would create damaging legal precedents that would make it easier for other local authorities to cut people’s care packages.She said many people were facing assessments being carried out in “very intrusive ways”, with professionals “coming in to watch you receiving your personal care”, while many councils were no longer funding night-time support and were trying to persuade disabled people to rely on unpaid support from friends and relatives.She also warned that local authorities were misinterpreting the idea of independent living to mean “that people should be doing things for themselves, whereas we know independent living is about having choice and control over your life”.There are also reports of people finding it increasing difficult to recruit PAs, she said, because of low hourly pay rates, and the impact of Brexit on the supply of staff from Europe.But she said there had been some campaigning successes, including disabled people in the north London borough of Enfield persuading the council to back down over its planned new charging policy.Among other issues raised by those attending the conference were the use of pre-payment cards, which restrict how service-users spend their personal budgets; how to ensure a decent wage for PAs; the need for proper funding for disabled people’s organisations, so they can provide independent advocacy and advice; and “the need to be really clear and compelling in how we describe independent living” so that language is understandable to the general public.Zara Todd, a former chair of Inclusion London and now director of the European Network on Independent Living, said: “Everyone in this room knows what your rights are, but there are so many disabled people who do not know what their rights are.”She said there needed to be “some kind of way to reach people who are incredibly marginalised and isolated”, such as those living in institutions, “to show other disabled people that they do have a choice and do not have to be where they are.“Unless we start doing that, no-one is going to tell these disabled people that they have options.”She told DNS later: “There needs to be more spaces like [this conference] to discuss what independent living means for disabled people, so we can ensure that article 19 of the UNCRPD is fully implemented across the whole of Europe.”The conference was funded by DPAC, and organised by DPAC and Inclusion London, with support from members of ROFA.Another campaigner who attended the conference was Lakhvinder Kaur, whose battle with her local authority over her demand for choice and control over her support saw her trapped in a care home for weeks as she faced eviction and possible homelessness.She was able to secure support from Newham council to attend the event, her first day out since she was left trapped in the care home in east London.She told DNS afterwards that her experience showed that the government’s Care Act was “just a joke” and was failing to protect disabled people, which had been demonstrated by those who spoke at the conference.She said: “Why can they strip me of my rights, take away my ability to go out and come back in? I’m [just treated as] state property.”Michelle Daley, disabled activist and co-founder and director of the disabled women’s collective Sisters of Frida, said that increasing numbers of disabled people do not know what their rights are when it comes to support, which means they “are not going to be able to work their way through the system”.Another disabled campaigner, Angela Smith, said: “Independence is not about doing everything yourself. It is about having the right support.”She said that non-disabled people do not do everything themselves, but have services for those things they cannot do.Smith said disabled people needed to “fight” that definition of independent living [that says independent living is about doing things yourself], and added: “If we can’t get that right, we can’t get anything right.”Tracey Lazard, chief executive of Inclusion London, agreed and said campaigners were “getting so worried” about social workers increasingly using this “bastardised” definition which turned independent living “upside down”.Brian Hilton, who chaired the conference, called on disabled people to “use all that we learned, from what we got right to what we got wrong” from the ultimately unsuccessful fight to save the Independent Living Fund ILF “as we continue our fight for independent living”.Mark Williams (pictured), a former ILF-user and a member of Bristol Disability Equality Forum, who has lived independently for the last 24 years with 24-hour PA support, works as a trainer for social workers and has volunteered as a school governor for the last 10 years, told the conference of his fears about the latest review of his support package.He said: “After two appointments with my social workers, they suggested I needed time on my own in order to build up my confidence and make me more independent.”He was asked to complete a 24-hour diary, detailing all of his activities over the course of two weeks, which resulted in a 29-page report that included “very personal details of my life”, and left him feeling that he “had no private life”.He said he felt the process had been “very undermining and moving backwards”.Organisers of the conference will now draw up key campaign objectives and actions that have come from workshops held during the event, and will seek support for that from those who attended the conference.last_img read more

New large public buildings such as shopping centre

first_imgNew large public buildings such as shopping centres, sports stadiums and cinema complexes will soon have to include a Changing Places accessible toilet, according to government proposals.The government has announced a consultation on the plans – which will also affect existing large public buildings that undergo significant alterations – more than two years after the idea was recommended by the Commons women and equalities committee.That was followed last year by a petition calling for Changing Places to be provided in all large public buildings as they are built, redeveloped or refurbished, which secured more than 57,000 signatures.Now the government has finally agreed to act by making changes to building regulations.Its proposals would affect public buildings such as new theatres with at least 500 seats, museums and art galleries that expect to receive more than 300,000 visitors a year, cinema complexes with at least five screens, and hospitals and primary care centres.It should mean more than 150 new Changing Places toilets – facilities with extra space and equipment such as hoists and changing benches for disabled people who cannot use standard accessible toilets – every year.But it will not affect existing buildings unless they seek planning permission for significant alterations.There are currently more than 1,300 Changing Place toilets (pictured) across the UK.The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government had announced it was considering a change to building regulations on 24 December.Now it has confirmed that it wants to go ahead with the plans and is seeking views on its proposals through a 10-week consultation, which closes on 21 July.Last month, the Department for Transport, in partnership with the charity Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK), launched a £2 million fund for Changing Places toilets to be installed in existing motorway service stations.The Department of Health and Social Care will also soon launch its own £2 million fund for NHS Trusts to install new Changing Places in more than 100 hospitals across England.Fiona Anderson, from Bolton, a member of MDUK’s Trailblazers network of young disabled campaigners, and herself a user of Changing Places toilets, said: “A lack of Changing Places toilets has led to me deciding to have surgery, which will give me more freedom to go to the toilet.“If these facilities were in every large public building, I would no longer have to endure the pain of postponing going to the toilet all day and the ever-present dark cloud of sepsis occurring would be lifted.“Ultimately, I also wouldn’t need to have a catheter fitted, which would mean the world to me. I’m not incontinent – I simply can’t transfer to a toilet without a hoist.“Changing Places toilets are a much-needed lifeline. But with so few of them available, people like me are forced to sacrifice our dignity and independence.”Rishi Sunak, the local government minister, said: “Everyone should have the freedom to enjoy days out in dignity and comfort.“For severely disabled people, this is made very difficult because there are not enough Changing Places toilets.“We’ve made some progress, but I’m determined to increase the number of these life-enhancing facilities, so people are given the dignity they deserve.“I’m pleased so many people will be helped by this major change.”A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…last_img read more

Local lawmaker resident pushing to prevent distracted drivers

first_imgNEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Texting and driving, talking on the phone while driving, telling your kids to settle down while driving, those are all examples of a distracted driver.Real life issues Wilmington resident Colleen Osborn and Sen. Michael Lee are fighting to prevent.- Advertisement – “If something isn’t done about this, you know, we’re going to have a state full of disabled people,” Osborn said.“We keep seeing more and more issues with distracted driving,” Lee said. “When I talk to police officers, highway patrol, they keep talking about these issues as well and how they’re leading to so many accidents.”It is a distraction Osborn said can be avoided.Related Article: NC House members: Cellphone ban while driving needs work“I mean driving is not a right it’s a privilege,” Osborn said.People texting and driving have t-boned Osborn twice, injuring her back.“Very angry,” Osborn said. “So I had to do something proactive with my anger. So this is my fight.”Since then, she has been pushing for change. Inspiring Sen. Lee to co-sponsor and introduce two bills.The first is the Brian Garlock Act, a bill that would enforce hands-free cell phone use while driving.“Colleen’s involvement really got me really involved to the point where I co-sponsorred the bill with two other senators,” Lee said. “And I use that as an example and hopefully we’ll be able to bring this bill in and make it a law.”The second is Senate Bill 333, making the use of your turn signal mandatory.“People think that’s the law already. When you’re going to change lanes or turn. And actually the law provides that you don’t have to do it in all instances,” Lee said. “And the bill that I introduced says you have to do it in all instances.”Those are all steps Osborn said are necessary to make the roads, and the community we live in, much safer.“People complain about people picking up guns and killing other people. Well, it’s the same thing when you pick up your cell phone driving a however many ton car you’re in, plowing into someone,” Osborn said. “If you don’t kill them you’re going to hurt them.”Osborn is asking people in the area to reach out to local and state lawmakers to help in her fight against distracted driving.As for Sen. Lee, he said he plans to re-introduce both bills next year in the long session.last_img read more

College students spend spring break giving back to community

first_img They have helped with multiple projects and enjoy seeing the difference they are making.“New found love for the City of Wilmington, and the people and also construction skills I’m going to take back,” Hannah Leamer, student, said.”“I think the people have been like I said really you know welcoming to us,” student Matthew Devane said.Related Article: Wrightsville Beach staple to welcome back customers Monday“It’s the home owners, I mean they’re so happy. I mean we’ve done something they could never afford to do we’ve changed most of their lives,” WARM Construction Coordinator Gerald Waite said.The students head back home Friday. They did get to have a little fun since they are staying at Wrightsville Beach.They say they would not change the hard work for anything. They are thankful for their week of serving. A group of volunteers from the University of Missouri made their way to Wilmington to work with WARM, Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry. (Photo: WWAY) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — While most college students relax and take it easy over spring break, some young adults volunteered to work and help others during their week off.A group of volunteers from the University of Missouri made their way to Wilmington to work with WARM, Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Forbes names NHRMC one of top employers in America

first_img “This is an amazing honor and a tribute to all those who work together to make this such a great place to do meaningful work for our community,” said John Gizdic, NHRMC President and CEO. “What we have created here is special, and this is reflective of that.”Forbes says the employers honored on the list are chosen through anonymous independent surveys collected from more than 30,000 Americans. Employees were asked to rank employers on a scale of 0 to 10 based on direct reviews of the company as well as a willingness to recommend the employer to others.Company culture was cited as a driving factor for the highest scoring employers, which includes organizations like Michelin, Google, and Costco.Related Article: Study: Women sleep better with dogs by their side“This recognition is a result of the great work our team does every day, the outstanding engagement of our staff, and the phenomenal culture we have built at NHRMC,” Gizdic said.“Over the years, we have continually put a focus on what we can do to promote employee development, involvement and overall well-being,” said Gizdic.  “Our employee fitness programs, healthy community wages, and efforts to keep benefit costs low are part of it.  But I believe this recognition is also a testament to how engaged the team is in continually advancing the care we provide, not only for those who walk through our doors, but also for those we support through our efforts in our community.”NHRMC announced a new mission statement of “Leading Our Community to Outstanding Health” in 2017 and has seen involvement soar as employees have embraced new opportunities to volunteer in the community through food drives, adopting schools, and health outreach programs to reach those who have traditionally had limited access to care.  Throughout the organization, employees and physicians are also empowered to find innovative ways of improving care, delivering more consumer-friendly services, and honoring diversity.New Hanover Regional Medical Center is one of southeastern North Carolina’s largest employers with 7,000 employees. The NHRMC system includes the main NHRMC campus as well as the NHRMC Orthopedic Hospital, Pender Memorial Hospital, NHRMC EMS, NHRMC Home Care and NHRMC Physician Group.To learn more about joining the New Hanover Regional Medical Center team, visit our career section. Betty H. Cameron Women’s and Children’s Hospital (Photo: nhrmc.org) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover Regional Medical Center gets recognized pretty regularly for its patient care, but now Forbes is recognizing it for something else.Forbes Magazine says New Hanover Regional Medical Center is one of America’s Best Employers of 2018. NHRMC ranks 47th among the nation’s large employers, a ranking that is higher than all but two other North Carolina employers, and is the sixth highest ranking among those in the health and social category.- Advertisement – last_img read more

State installing floating platform to monitor White Lake water quality

first_imgWhite Lake monitoring platform (Photo: Town of White Lake) WHITE LAKE, NC (WWAY) — As White Lake works to figure out a long-term solution to recent algal blooms, the NC Division of Water Resources has been granted a Special Use Permit to place a floating water testing platform in the middle of the lake.A spokesperson for the Town of White Lake said the platform will sit above the water and is about the size of a small raft. The monitoring equipment attached to the platform will provide a nearly continuous assessment of dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, conductivity, and abundance of algae and cyanobacteria.- Advertisement – This announcement comes on the heels of a massive fish kill that coincided with contractors applying alum to the lake, to help reduce the algae blooms.The state ordered the town to halt treatment while they investigated. The state determined it did not appear the fish kills were due to the alum treatments, but could be the result of the ongoing algal bloom. Later, the town was able to continue with the treatment, which wrapped up before the White Lake Water Festival.The floating platform, which is scheduled to be installed as early as Thursday, will be painted bright yellow, has reflective tape, and a mounted signal beacon. Signs are being posted and the Town has already informed residents about the platform using its “One Call” system.“We welcome this additional source of information,” said Mayor Goldston Womble. “The state and the Town have the same goals: we want to understand, then resolve, the issues with the ecosystem that are leading to the algal blooms in our lake.”The platform will remain in place until the end of September.White Lake is a natural, spring and rainwater-fed lake approximately 1,200 acres in size.  The town said because the lake water lacks buffering to protect it from the impacts of nutrients, it has experienced the rapid and sustained growth of algae, including algal blooms, in recent years.Algal blooms occur when nutrient levels in a body of water are too high, and they can lead to fish kills.The town says since the alum treatment, there has not been any additional fish mortality, pH levels have dropped, and water clarity has greatly improved.The town is also continuing its partnerships with scientists and environmental leaders to find both short and long-term solutions to the situation.The town is working with the Bald Head Island Conservancy to understand the causes of the algae blooms and to assess the lake’s groundwater resource.last_img read more

Virtual Angel Tree gets full support by hundreds

first_imgPender County Schools Virtual Angel Tree.(Photo: Pender County Schools) PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — WWAY told you earlier this month how Pender County Schools had set up a virtual angel tree to help students and families affected by Hurricane Florence.We now know all those angels will get some help.- Advertisement – Pender County Schools says it has received enough support to serve every family that applied to the program which was more than 750 children.The district says more than 300 individuals, businesses and organizations stepped up to give both items and money.Pender Early College High School students will help shop for the gifts Friday.last_img read more

UNCW men extend season with CAA firstround win

first_img Jeantal Cylla led the Seahawks with 23 points. Devontae Cacok added 16 points and 12 rebounds.C.B. McGrath’s team shot 53.2 percent from the field, including 40.9 percent from behind the three-point arc.UNCW moves on to the quarterfinal round Sunday to take on No. 2 seed Northeastern. The game is scheduled to tip at 6 p.m. The Huskies won both games between the teams in the regular season. The UNCW men built an early lead and never looked back, as the Seahawks moved on to the second round of the CAA Tournament with a 93-86 win over Elon Saturday night in North Charleston, SC.UNCW is the 10th and lowest seed in the conference playoff, but played perhaps one of its best games of the season in the upset of the 7th seeded Phoenix.- Advertisement – last_img read more

ERA appeals against Dwejra restaurant extension

first_img SharePrint The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) has filed an appeal in order to ask the Court to revoke and cancel the decision given by the Environmental Review Tribunal and the Planning Authority, which would grant a restaurant in Dwejra an extension. In its appeal, ERA claimed that the Tribunal failed to apply or misinterpreted the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED), which protects biodiversity, cultural heritage, geology and geomorphology, by safeguarding protected areas. ERA believes that the Tribunal also failed to recognize the problems arising from the intensification and expansion of development at Dwejra. The site is considered a Special Protection Area (SPA) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and is part of the Natura 2000 network because of its ecological importance. Read: ERA to appeal Dwejra permit – HerreraThe application intends to increase the seating capacity of the restaurant space in question. ERA believes that this extension will result in more light and noise in the area that are detrimental to wildlife. ERA believes that the development will lead to the intensification of light pollution, especially at night, in an area that is a designated Dark Sky Heritage Area. Although the Tribunal observed that the operation of the restaurant, including the use of artificial lighting, remains under scrutiny by the authorities concerned, ERA believes that it is best to avoid these circumstances in the first place. Read: 15 NGOs file an appeal against Dwejra restaurant developmentThe Tribunal had to consider that the proposed development is detrimental to biodiversity, especially on the population of Scopoli’s Shearwater and Yelkouan Shearwater, that are particularly sensitive to light and sound and are known to nest in the area.Read:  ‘Malta is shooting itself in the foot’ – NTM-FEE on approved Dwejra plansWhatsApp <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

Watch 76 migrants disembark at Haywharf

first_img76 migrants have been disembarked at the Armed Forces of Malta’s naval base at Haywharf.Those on board were previously rescued by a patrol vessel from the Armed Forces of Malta earlier today.Newsbook.com.mt has been informed that the immigrant group soon to be disembarked, are all male. They are also believed to originate from Guinea, South Sudan and Ghana. Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereb This is the second disembarkation to Malta in July, with the first taking place on the 9th.Watch: Updated: 44 migrants including 3 children, disembarked in MaltaWhatsApp Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereb <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> Miguela Xuerebcenter_img Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereb 1 of 24 Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereb SharePrint Miguela Xuereb Miguela Xuereblast_img read more