Jun 02

BBC Produces Disability Discrimination Act Drama


The BBC has revealed it will feature a new drama to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act.

BAFTA winner Jack Thorne is set to write the factual show together with award-winning actor Genevieve Barr, with Dragonfly Film and TV and One Shoe Films producing the drama for BBC2.

Creative director for Dragonfly Richard Bond was reported by Televisual as saying: “This is an incredibly important story that deserves to be told, and we couldn’t imagine anyone better to do it justice than Jack and Genevieve.”

The production tells the tale of disabled cabaret performers Barbara Lisicki and Alan Holdsworth, who met at a gig in 1989. After falling in love and having a baby, they led the Direct Action Network (DAN).

They established the ‘Piss on Pity’ slogan as part of their protests, which took place at cinemas, restaurants, on the London underground and in rail stations.

Incredibly persistent, the couple even attempted to handcuff their wheelchairs to buses till politicians took notice and legalised disability rights.

Barr, who is deaf and is most noted for her performance in BBC’s The Silence, added: “DAN created opportunities and rights for so many of us disabled and to be able to say thank you in this creative way is really special.”

Helping Thorne – most famous for Shameless and Skins – with the script will see Barr turn from acting to writing in this new production.

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May 26

Disabled People Inspiring The Public During Lockdown


Many Brits have been struggling with the loss of freedom and strict constraints that have come with the national lockdown. However, lots of disabled people are used to this feeling, and have been inspiring the public with their positive mental attitude.

One such inspirational figure is eight-year-old Jayden Henderson, whose neurological condition and hypertonia means he has only just started to take his first few steps with the help of a walker.

However, the Norfolk lad has vowed to walk 90 metres a day to raise money for the NHS, having been spurred on by seeing the impressive achievement of Captain Tom Moore.

The former British army officer has raised more than £32.7 million for the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal by walking 100 lengths of his garden in the lead up to his 100th birthday.

Jayden wants to follow in Captain Tom’s footsteps by using his own walker to scale 1.5 miles over the course of May.

His mother Clare Henderson, who is his full-time carer, told the Eastern Daily Press: “Jayden is so happy to do it and has had a beaming smile on his face each time he does it. He has approached the walks with a lot of energy and been doing two laps at a time rather than one, before that he was only doing about 30 or 40 metres a day. We are very proud of him.”

Ms Henderson, who also has daughters Isla, six, and Ellie, four, said her son wanted to give something back as the NHS has “given us a lot of support” over the last few years.

After launching a Go Fund page, Jayden has managed to raise £2,235 since he started the challenge on May 4th. He hopes to reach £2,500 by the end of the month.

The young boy is not the only disabled person who has proved inspirational during the pandemic, as everyone who has a physical impairment or learning disability has shown strength and courage to those who are not used to such an unprecedented event.

Kevin Chunisingh, 44, for instance, was an avid kite-surfer before he fractured his neck in an accident in 2009. This left him paralysed from the chest down, and he now has to use a wheelchair all the time.

He told Wales Online: “For many people in a similar situation to me, we are in a permanent lockdown. I know someone in a similar situation who has been in bed for about a year and a half.”

Mr Chunisingh advised the public to use this as an opportunity to “slow down, spend time with family”, adding it is important to focus on “what we have and what we can do”.

Since the accident, which left him spending 15 months in hospital, he developed a passion for painting and has been using lockdown to pick up new skills, such as sketching.

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May 18

How Coronavirus Could Change Our Home Design


The Coronavirus pandemic has certainly led to many changes in the way we live our lives, and there are some changes that are likely to stay with us for the foreseeable future.

However, have you considered how the Covid-19 outbreak might affect our interior design choices? Real Simple recently highlighted some of the ways in which our homes could change as a result of the global pandemic.

One of the key trends is naturally going to be cleanliness and hygiene, putting our bathrooms in the spotlight. Touch-free taps are expected to be in demand in the coming months as more of us look for ways to maintain hygiene both during and post-lockdown.

Bidets have also seen a spike in popularity, no doubt helped by the toilet paper shortages that marked the early stages of lockdown and the couple of weeks preceding it.

If you’re thinking about making changes to your bathroom, make sure you consider safety as well as hygiene and convenience. Which? recently offered some advice on how to make bathrooms safer places for those with restricted mobility.

Installing easy access baths and showers is one of the recommendations to ensure people in this situation are able to remain independent and wash safely. Another top tip is to fit safety flooring.

Rather than relying on non-slip mats, which can move or create a trip hazard themselves if they’re not secured properly, a slip-resistant floor will be much safer and minimise the chances of a fall in the bathroom. You should also make sure you have a non-slip mat in the bath or shower, the organisation added.

May 06

Disability Firm Switches Production To PPE


An Exeter-based disability enterprise that usually makes wheelchair upholstery has switched its production line to manufacture thousands of masks for frontline NHS workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Devon Disability Collective has 26 employees, most of whom have physical or learning disabilities or mental health issues. So far they have turned out 3,000 face shields since the COVID-19 outbreak began.

The company says it has yet more capacity to produce even more personal protective equipment (PPE) for the NHS, which has had chronic shortages of vital safety equipment.

Operations director Steve Gallin said: “When we heard about supply issues and shortages we thought we might be able to help. The team all wanted to do their bit for the UK’s response to the pandemic and to show that local manufacturing can play a part in fulfilling the increased demand for different products.

“We’ve had an excellent response to the PPE products we’ve produced so far and we’ve certainly got capacity to do more around various products.”

Machinist Jenny Selley, 63, said: “We are really glad to be playing a part in giving something back to the NHS and also keeping us working during these strange times.”

Back in 2015, the firm was faced with closure but with help from the Community trade union, it transformed into a social enterprise so it could stay open.

Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss said: “We are proud of what our members at the Devon Disability Collective have achieved. Five years ago we came close to losing the business and the vital jobs it provides for people with disabilities.

“To see the company adapting and changing to respond to the UK’s demand for supplies in the coronavirus crisis demonstrates just how much this business has to offer.”

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Apr 30

Adaptive Yoga Online Designed For The Disabled Community


Disabled people at home during the pandemic may want to sign up for online service Adaptive Yoga Live so they can stay as fit as possible, keep moving and combat stress levels at this interesting and challenging time.

The classes have been designed to make yoga more accessible for those with disabilities, limitations and injuries, and for elderly people, as well. The yoga itself is a form of the discipline that connects the mind, body and spirit through the practice of physical postures in conjunction with the breath and meditation.

It works by taking away the fear of movement, with meditation and deep breathing reducing stress and moving the nervous system from an alert state to a calm one. The gentle movements can increase muscle tone, help manage pain and improve balance.

Live online classes have now been modified to include only seated poses for those watching at home during the pandemic. There are some props required to help with alignment during poses, while providing support and stability, but other items can be used if you don’t have the necessary equipment, such as belts and books.

Louise Edwards, founder of the Adaptive Yoga Network, and Miranda McCarthy, founder of Wavelength VR, have collaborated on these free online classes designed specifically with the most vulnerable people in mind to help them during self-isolation.

There are three virtual classes each week, suitable for all ages and limitations, as well as anyone sitting at home. They will be streamed live and for free every Monday, Wednesday and Sunday, taught by expert yoga teachers Karen Russell and Paulo Concepcion.

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Molly Bather
Apr 28

Regular Hot Baths ‘Could Lower Risk Of Heart Disease And Stroke’


A new study has found a link between taking a daily hot bath and a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, Science Daily recently reported.

It shared the findings of research conducted in Japan and first published in the journal Heart, which revealed that regularly having a hot bath was found to lower the risk of people developing heart disease or suffering from a stroke.

The Japan Public Health Center conducted the study, starting with a cohort of 43,000 participants in 1990. They were all aged between 45 and 59 years old when the study began and were monitored for the duration of the research at the end of December 2009, or until death, whichever came first.

Following the end of this study period, the final analysis was based on 30,076 people. All the participants had to complete a detailed questionnaire at the beginning of the research period, detailing their bathing habits.

They also had to disclose potentially influential factors including exercise, diet, alcohol intake, average hours of sleep per night, weight, medical history and current medicine use.

After taking these lifestyle factors into account, the researchers found that a daily hot bath resulted in a 28 per cent lower overall risk of cardiovascular disease, and 26 per cent lower overall risk of suffering from a stroke.

While the publication pointed out that this is an observational study, and therefore isn’t able to establish cause, the results it has produced are statistically significant.

The researchers commented: “We found that frequent tub bathing was significantly associated with a lower risk of hypertension, suggesting that a beneficial effect of tub bathing on risk of [cardiovascular disease’] may in part be due to a reduced risk of developing hypertension.”

According to the British Heart Foundation, hypertension (or high blood pressure) is associated with approximately half of heart attacks and strokes.

The charity noted that there are many potential causes of hypertension, including diet and lifestyle, as well as certain medical conditions.

Heavy alcohol consumption, smoking, being overweight, not exercising enough and eating too much salt are all known to increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, it added.

While the findings from this Japanese study are interesting, an editorial in Heart by Dr Andrew Felix Burden stressed that people need to approach taking hot baths with caution as there can be health risks if the temperature of the water is too high.

“There can be no doubt about the potential dangers of bathing in hot water, and the occurrence of death from this increases with age, as well as with the temperature of the water,” Dr Burden stated.

If you currently struggle to take regular baths because your mobility makes it difficult for you to get in and out of the tub, there are options available that could mean that you too can enjoy some of the benefits of regularly taking a bath.

Walk in baths can be a great option for anyone who is unable to lift and lower themselves into and out of a tub.

Apr 21

Could Coronavirus Change The Working World For Disabled People?


With self-isolation and social distancing now the new norm around the world, at least for the time being, the pandemic has proven that changes being seen where working practices are concerned could be rolled out for disabled people as well.

This is according to a new report from the World Economic Forum, which explains that for many people living with a disability there will be no going back to business as usual once the crisis is over, because self-isolation and exclusion from daily life is, in fact, the norm for them.

The report goes on to say that what has become clear as a result of the pandemic is that business can be agile, with widespread home working swiftly implemented, a “huge upswing” in the uptake of online conferencing technology and even the introduction of dedicated shopping hours for vulnerable people.

“We must ensure businesses apply the learnings from this period to improve inclusion of people with disabilities worldwide by using the same tools we’re using now to allow this community to participate fully in the workforce.

“There’s no excuse not to – we’ve seen it work for a large part of the 7.8 billion global population; now it needs to continue to work for the 1.3 billion [who live with a disability worldwide],” it was observed.

In the UK, there are over 3.7 million disabled people in work – but this demographic is more than twice as likely to be unemployed as someone without any disabilities. Overall, there are 13.9 million disabled people in this country, eight per cent of whom are children. Some 19 per cent of working age adults are disabled, while the same is true for 45 per cent of pension age adults.

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Apr 14

National Strategy For Disabled People In Development


The Cabinet Office’s Disability Unit is currently working on developing a National Strategy for Disabled People, alongside charities, businesses, disabled people and government colleagues, with the aim being to ensure that everyone can be fully participating members of society.

The objectives of the strategy are to make practical changes to policies so that disabled people’s abilities to participate in society are strengthened, as well as to identify what matters most to disabled people and to develop a clear vision on disability that is owned across government.

It will be built on evidence and data, as well as insights from the personal experiences of disabled people themselves, including existing commitments (like increasing disability funding and supporting people to access careers advice, internships and so on), and identifying additional opportunities to make improvements elsewhere.

The Disability Unit said last week (April 2nd): “As the coronavirus pandemic is the current priority for the government, we are reviewing our plans for the development of the strategy.

“We want to ensure we have enough time to get this right and undertake a full and appropriate programme of stakeholder engagement.”

It also recently ensured disabled people that the government would be doing all it could to make sure their needs are addressed at this difficult time.

For example, there was cross-party support to see emergency legislation passed to allow the government to respond to the pandemic, which included measures to ensure that frontline services and support are maintained, especially for disabled and vulnerable people.

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Apr 09

Disabled People Given Free Travel For Early Shopping Hours


Cumbria residents who are either elderly or disabled will be able to access free transport to be able to make the most of priority shopping hours at supermarkets.

NWE Mail reported that Cumbria County Council will allow bus passes to be used for free before 09:30am on weekdays throughout the region, in order for them to go to stores before other customers so they can get their essentials as soon as the shops open.

The local authority’s cabinet member for highways and transport Councillor Keith Little said: “I am pleased the county council, working with bus operators in Cumbria, has been able to make this change, which supports our wider efforts to protect older and vulnerable people from coronavirus.”

The change will come into affect immediately and will continue until the end of July 2020.

Most of the nation’s supermarkets have issued priority shopping hours for the elderly and disabled, so they can get the food they need before other customers fill up their baskets.

This is in response to the hoarding that has taken place over the last few weeks, with many shoppers emptying shelves in a panic, meaning stores have not had enough products for other customers.

When it comes to priority shopping hours, Tesco will open between 09:00 and 10:00 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the vulnerable only; Sainsbury’s will open its doors from 08:00 to 09:00 on the same days; Iceland is allowing the elderly and disabled to shop for two hours on Wednesdays without disruption; while M&S allows the first hour of opening on Mondays and Thursdays to be just for vulnerable consumers.

Mr Little added: “There are other measures in place to allow vulnerable people to stay at home and receive shopping there, I’d hope [the free transport] would only be used as a last resort.”

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Apr 08

Disabled Cricketer Tells Of His Achievements


Iain Nairn captained the England Physical Disability cricket team to glory in the inaugural International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) International T20 tournament for people with Physical Disabilities.

This contest, which first took place in 2015, is the equivalent of the World Cup for disability cricket, and Iain shared his memories of beating Pakistan in the final in an interview with the Northern Echo.

“It was a dream come true,” he said. Iain also revealed that he didn’t play disability cricket until he was 32, but that he’d been playing cricket and other sports his entire life. His right leg was amputated as a baby, but it’s not something that he’s ever let hold him back.

“It can limit what you can do – but only as far as you allow it to,” he said when asked about his disability. Iain added that he doesn’t remember being aware of having a prosthetic leg until he was seven or eight years old.

He also revealed that his mum kept his first prosthetic leg as a memento. It was made from pink plastic with a wooden foot.

“It’s amazing the progress that’s been made with prosthetics – it’s a different world,” he told the newspaper.

Earlier this year, the UK government added the Paralympic Games to its list of protected sporting events. Any events that fall under this category must always be screened through free-to-air television broadcasters.

This means it can reach the widest possible group of people and inspire both people with and without disabilities.

If you or a family member is living with a disability, you can make simple adaptations to improve their home environment, such as installing easy access baths.