Jenni Meredith discusses the hidden disability Blue Badge extension

Blue Badge parking - cartoon by Tony Meredith of cars being lifted up by a machine

UCan2 contributor Jenni Meredith warns that although the legislation is changing, there’s more to be done if everyone who needs a Blue Badge is to receive one – and find somewhere to park!

Some of you reading this, will have taken part in last year’s consultation about extending the Blue Badge scheme to those with hidden disabilities. But most of us know from public dialogues in other fields, such as planning or health care changes, that the consultation process is merely an exercise. 

Tamworth Castle Grounds toilets re-open with Changing Places facility

Changing Places disabled toilet

Tamworth Castle Grounds refurbished toilets re-open with town’s first ever Changing Places facility

A major project to refurbish public toilets in Tamworth Castle Grounds is now fully completed and the facility re-opened on Friday, August 23, just in time for the busy summer bank holiday weekend in the grounds.

The new toilet transformation includes the town’s first ever Changing Places facility - an assisted accessible Closomat Palma Vita wash and dry toilet with a height adjustable changing bench, hoist that moves across the room and its own coded door access.

Friendship & dating agency for adults with learning disabilities launched

Two people with learning disabilities at the dating agency

First friendship and dating agency for adults with learning disabilities and autism launches at event in Bristol

Bristol’s first friendship and dating agency for adults with learning disabilities and autism launches this month with a party. 

The new Luv2meetU service, which is run by national learning disabilities charity Hft, will celebrate its launch with music, food and games at Bristol’s Za Za Bar on the ground floor of Za Za Bazaar on Monday 23 September. There will also be information about the service available for potential members and their families, as well as carers, support workers and service providers.  

Rutland Sailability expands services thanks to £23,400 grant 

Women stood in front of boats at the Rutland Sailability

Sailing centre of excellence, Rutland Sailability, celebrated an expansion to its services for disabled sailors on 29 August with an official champagne launch of a brand new rigid inflated boat (RIB) by the High Sherriff of Rutland, Margaret Miles. 

The purchase of the safety boat, along with a launch and recovery vehicle, was made possible thanks to a £23,400 grant from the LEADER funding programme managed by Opportunity Peterborough with support from Rutland County Council.

People with hidden disabilities can access Blue Badges for the first time from today

Disabled parking bays that can only be used if you have blue badges

People with hidden disabilities, including anxiety disorders or a brain injury, can apply for a Blue Badge for the first time from today (August 30).

The Department for Transport has issued new guidance to councils in England on Blue Badge parking permit eligibility, along with a new online eligibility checker to make the scheme clearer for people before they apply.

In the biggest change to Blue Badges since the 1970s, the DfT has been working with specialists to expand the eligibility criteria for the badges, which now includes people who cannot walk as part of a journey without considerable psychological distress or the risk of serious harm.

Why autism needn't be a barrier to finding a job

Ross is a Culinary Apprentice through the Lighthouse Futures Trust and loves his job

Autism and learning difficulties can often make recruitment difficult – for both the candidate and the employer. Can local forums help overcome such barriers to finding a job, and enable companies to make their workforce more diverse?

Here Sue Webster, Employer Engagement Officer at SkillsHouse Bradford and Caron Munro, Development and Programme Manager at Lighthouse Futures Trust, discuss with UCan2 the Employers’ Forum in Yorkshire which has been set up to find more people a suitable job. 

When it comes to getting young people with autism or learning difficulties into work, what are the most common barriers to recruitment?

UnLtd joins forces with City & Guilds Group to help social entrepreneurs to thrive 

Disabled man working at Repair Centre thanks to UnLtd and City & Guilds Group

A new partnership between UnLtd and City & Guilds Group will provide funding for social entrepreneurs with bold ideas to create positive change in society.

Funding from City & Guilds Group will be used to support UnLtd’s Thrive programme, which aims to improve access to employment by providing more employment and training opportunities for people furthest from the labour market.

City & Guilds Group, the global skills development body, has joined forces with UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs, in a new partnership that will provide funding and expert support for social entrepreneurs to scale up and achieve greater impact.

How airports and airlines are becoming autism-friendly

Sam Saunders from Omniserv on How airports and airlines are becoming autism-friendly

OmniServ is the biggest provider of assistance for disabled passengers in the UK. Samantha Saunders, its Head of Innovation & Regulatory Compliance, explains why everyone gains when we adapt surroundings and working practices to help people with autism.

I recently came across an example of an airport operator going out of its way to welcome autistic children to the world of flying. Their ‘Flying With Autism’ campaign gave 60 children with autism the chance to experience all the regular airport procedures, board a plane and taxi to the runway, before returning to the gate. Airport lighting was changed to predominantly blue, to reflect the global ‘Light It Up Blue’ autism awareness campaign.

Gitcombe retreat offers accessible holidays in Devon

Gitcombe retreat offers accessible holidays in Devon

Gitcombe’s exclusive collection of nine 4* and 5* luxury self-catering properties now includes a 'Retreat' ideal for those with mobility needs to take accessible holidays.

To mark its recent expansion, owners father and son, Rodney and Peter O’Brien, have partnered with national holiday letting agency The partnership will bring guests from across the UK to their luxurious holiday properties in South Devon, including its newly built Retreat for large gatherings.

Council Spending On Disabled Facilities Grants Reaches 10 Year High

Disabled man in wheelchair with his girlfriend

Freedom of Information Requests submitted on behalf of A Wood Idea have revealed that council funding through Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) is at a 10-year high.

Data from 73 councils in England shows that the collective spend through DFGs has grown by over 25%, rising from £75,000,000 in 2009/10 to over £100,000,000 in 2018/19, as an increasing number of people use the grants to fund essential accessibility adaptations to their homes.

Of the councils who responded to the requests, Leeds City Council was found to spend the most on funding the grants, averaging £6,508,716 annually between 2009/10 and 2018/19. Manchester City Council followed in second place with an average spend of £4,654,900.

Top tips to help someone live independently

Old lady in wheelchair - Top tips to help someone live independently

According to research released by Carers UK, over 6.5 million people in the UK dedicate their time to caring for their loved ones.

For many older people, or those unable to physically care for themselves, independence means being able to stay in their own homes, however this can sometimes have a detrimental impact on the mental and physical health of their carer.

With the help of technology, medical advice and support from loved ones, caring for someone at home doesn’t have to be such a mammoth task.

Gavin Bashar, UK Managing Director of market-leading provider of Connected Care and Health solutions Tunstall Healthcare, advises ways that carers can help those they care for live independently for longer.

Prepare the home

Social care provider holds heart-warming community soup event

Social care staff at community soup event

A social care provider hosted a Soup Event at Westmead Day Centre to bring the community together and give local organisations the opportunity to raise awareness and pitch for funding for their community project.

The event, organised by Optalis, provided an opportunity for members of the community to listen to a variety of community project ideas. Through a secret ballot, attendees chose a project and were awarded with funds raised during the evening, match funded by Optalis, and will be later used by the winning organisation to invest in their ideas.

One in seven hospitals charges for disabled parking

disabled parking at a hospital

One in seven hospital sites now charges for disabled parking, an increase of 12 per cent in a year.

The figures, from NHS Digital, emerged as it was revealed that one of England’s flagship hospital trusts is poised to make disabled patients and visitors pay for parking.

Disabled people were charged up to £2.70 per hour at 155 hospital sites across England in 2017/18, up from 139 in 2016/17, 135 in 2015/16 and 132 in 2014/15.

Hospital parking is free in Scotland and Wales but patients and visitors in England paid a total of £156.8 million in fees in 2017/18.