Meryem spreads her wings

Park Road

A young woman from Sittingbourne who is living proof that having learning difficulties need not stand in the way of being independent, has written her own account of the progress Park Road has enabled her to make over the past year.

Meryem Kizigol, 34, said:

“When I came to Park Road at the start of March last year I was unable to do a lot of the basic stuff. I kept myself to myself - a very lonely life. I can now do all my own laundry myself, cook, go for daily walks, do house chores and even do my own food shopping.  After a lot of support and encouragement I have been able to do this with no support from staff.”

Research shows that children with autism are able to create imaginary friends

Imaginary companions

PLAYING with imaginary companions (IC) helps children learn essential social skills such as empathy with other people.  It is often believed that autistic youngsters are incapable of creating pretend play pals – a further hindrance to their development of emotional understanding.

But now a project headed by a University of Huddersfield researcher confirms that children diagnosed with autism are able to create and play with ICs.  Further research is to be conducted and could eventually help to develop new therapies.

Ealing domiciliary care service rated Outstanding by CQC

Living Domiciliary

Ealing based, Support for Living Domiciliary Care Agency, has been rated Outstanding overall by the Care Quality Commission.

It was rated Outstanding for being well-led and effective. It was rated Good for being safe, caring and responsive, following the inspection in December 2017.

Support for Living Domiciliary Care Agency provides care and support to people living in 'supported living' settings, so that they can live in their own home as independently as possible.

The provider, Certitude, is a national provider of services for people with a learning disability, physical disability or with mental health needs.

Cat Parmenter - Driving Miss Daisy

Driving Miss Daisy

I have been using Driving Miss Daisy since February 2018, after my highly specialised drive-from-wheelchair car provided by Motability was declared a write off. I’ve had Cerebral Palsy from birth & after several years of deterioration, I use an electric wheelchair for the majority of the day, and travel with a working assistance dog provided by Canine Partners, named Etta.

Driving Miss Daisy has been a lifeline, after my highly specialised drive-from-wheelchair car provided by Motability was declared a write off. That car was my key to independence; without it, isolation and depression set in.

World Snooker Disability Day 2018

World Snooker Disability Day

World Snooker Disability Day will once again be staged during the Betfred World Snooker Championship in Sheffield on Wednesday 25th April 2018.

With activities to run throughout the day at the ‘Cue Zone’ situated at the Winter Garden, close to the Crucible Theatre, the event aims to raise awareness of disability snooker and encourage people with disabilities to participate in snooker as either players, fans or officials.

How does visual impairment differ demographically?

Sight loss

Worryingly, charities have raised concerns that by 2050, sight loss in the UK could double to affect over four million people. As of 2017, it’s estimated that there are more than two million people suffering with sight loss in the UK. However, just 360,000 of those are officially registered as blind. Troublingly, according to RNIB, 250 people every day start to lose their sight, with one in five people suffering from sight loss in their lifetime.     

Here we look at the most common causes of sight loss — and discuss if there could be ways to cure it.

All fair sailing for Mark

Sail Close

A young man with learning difficulties is enjoying a new lease of life after moving to a supported living service, Sail Close near King’s Lynn.

Since Mark Lowman - who is 27 and has learning difficulties - relocated from a service on the opposite side of town in February, he is ‘a different man’ according to senior support worker Danielle Garrigan.

“Mark was very keen to be living closer to his mum,” said Danielle. “His previous home was 20 miles away, whereas now she’s just around the corner, so that’s a big part of why he’s happier, but that’s not the only reason.

“We’ve given him a lot of personal support and he has settled in quickly at Sail Close, where he’s developing new skills including a much better understanding of how to manage his money.”

How technology is enabling those on their dementia journey to experience ‘moments of happiness’

There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. Although dementia is usually associated with the elderly, there are over 40,000 people under the age of 65 who have dementia in the UK.

Dementia is something which affects a lot of us, from those who have experienced it first-hand, to the family members and friends of those who are on their journey.

UK’s leading provider of community equipment donates mobility aids to children living in world’s poorest countries

NRS Healthcare

NRS Healthcare, the UK’s leading provider of community equipment, has worked with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Country Council’s to donate a range of their children’s mobility aids overseas, in order to help youngsters in some of the world’s poorest countries.

New Scottish Mountain Trike Experience Centre for the Mountain Trike Company

Mountain Trike Company

The Mountain Trike Company produce and manufacture all terrain wheelchairs which are designed to travel over uneven ground, offering wheelchair users inclusive access to the great outdoors.

The Mountain Trike wheelchairs are sold worldwide, either directly to customers, or through a distributor network and the company have been working with organisations throughout the UK setting up Mountain Trike Experience Centres, where fleets of Mountain Trike wheelchairs are available for demos or hires.

Leading disability vehicle hire company accelerates to record growth

Adapted Vehicle Hire

Adapted Vehicle Hire (AVH), came to the rescue of a little girl with one of the world’s rarest medical complaints as her family hit severe mobility problems.

Four-year-old  Mary Allen, of Nantwich, Cheshire, was born with macrocephaly-capillary malformation syndrome (MCAP) – a condition that affects only 300 people globally and leads to severe physical and learning problems. She also suffers from hydrocephalus and epilepsy, which cause life threatening seizures, and has spent her life in and out of hospitals, including Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool and Leighton Hospital in Crewe.

Bryerley Springs Equestrian Centre Gains Accessibility Mark Accreditation

Accessibility Mark scheme

A Milton Keynes equestrian centre has secured an accreditation to the Accessibility Mark scheme to encourage more disabled people to take up horse riding.

With the mental and physical benefits of horse riding well documented, the centre hopes its Accessibility Mark accreditation will help reach out to a wider group of riders.

The Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme to work with commercial riding centres with the aim of opening up more opportunities for disabled people to participate in riding.

New study to help people with long-term pain conditions back into work

Getting back

The University of Warwick is leading a project on getting back to work after you have have been unemployed due to long term pain conditions.

Called RISE (Return to Work with Individualised Supported Employment) it will provide short-term supported work placements matched with each individual’s ability. The study is co-ordinated by the University of Warwick and funded by Arthritis Research UK in hopes of getting people back to work.

The study is designed to examine how to help people with long term health conditions overcome obstacles to return, and remain, in the workforce.

New online resources for older adults struggling with mental illness


MindEd for Older People is a new online educational resource that explains a range of mental illnesses commonly experienced by older people, and offers practical advice for dealing with them.

A team of older people and professionals are the authors behind the new MindEd resources which cover a range of common problems such as insomnia, depression, medications to be aware of, anxiety and alcohol-related problems.

The resources are a vital crutch at a time when demand for mental health services is increasing whilst supply of the mental health workforce for older people is falling. The number of Old Age psychiatrists has declined 8.5% since November 2013.

Shhh Quiet at the Aquarium

 Autism Awareness Week

As part of World Autism Awareness Week (26th March – 2nd April), The National Marine Aquarium will be hosting a special ‘quiet’ event next week for families with sensory needs.  

Taking place on Thursday 29th March, the afterhours event will invite visitors to enjoy the Aquarium’s surroundings without the noise and distraction of the daily shows, enabling them to appreciate the true beauty and calmness of the marine environment. The exclusive evening is tailored for people on the autistic spectrum and those with other sensory needs to allow them to experience the exhibits in a relaxed and stress-free atmosphere – as well as provide an opportunity to see the Aquarium's 4,000 ocean animals at night.

Top Wheelchair Basketball Star to Judge Innovative Design Competition

Innovative Design Competition

ONE of the country’s top wheelchair basketball stars is to judge an Innovative Design Competition which aims to find the best new innovations to help people with disabilities.

Robyn Love, from Ayr, represented the British team at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and currently plays for club side Lothian Phoenix in Armadale, West Lothian.

She will sit with a panel of experts to judge the annual Blackwood Design Awards (BDA), which invite budding designers, engineers and inventors to submit their creations to help disabled people live life to the full.

The fate of the shortlisted designs will lie in the hands of eight judges, with entrants asked to perform a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitch to them before a winner is selected.

Active Minds help people with dementia lead active lives

Active Minds

Active Minds have recently launched seasonally themed and easy-to-do activity guides that people living with dementia, family and carers can all participate in. Globally, the numbers of people living with dementia are predicted to increase from 50 million in 2017 to over 125 million in 2050. Activities such as painting have been proven to help people reconnect with their surroundings and can reduce isolation and depression.

Heathrow celebrates International Wheelchair Day 10th anniversary

International Wheelchair Day

Heathrow, in partnership with its special assistance service provider OmniServ, recently showcased a revolutionary Japanese-designed WHILL high-tech wheelchair to mark the 10th anniversary of International Wheelchair Day.

The WHILL – which has been dubbed "the world's most futuristic-looking wheelchair" – was designed by a start-up company created by a team of engineers from Japanese companies Sony, Toyota, Olympus and Panasonic.

When used in conjunction with beacon technology, mobile devices and other high-tech systems, WHILL wheelchairs can be controlled using smartphones, can travel in convoy through an airport and can be programmed to move themselves to where they are needed, without passengers or attendants.

New handbook for teenagers living with brain injury

Childrens Trust

A new handbook for teenagers living with brain injury has been launched by The Childrens Trust. Me and My Brain gives advice and guidance on topics such as independence, bullying, driving and education. It also includes real life experiences of young people living with the condition.

Created by The Childrens Trust’s team of medical professionals and teenagers affected by brain injury, Me and My Brain helps explain the lifelong condition. It provides tips and strategies on some of the challenges such as fatigue and memory loss.

The resource is recommended for family members, teachers and carers, emphasising brain injury as a hidden disability, which can be very difficult for those affected to explain.

Why aren’t more people with disabilities in ads? Because they ‘make people uncomfortable’

physical disabilities

New research has highlighted the ongoing struggle for people with mental and physical disabilities when it comes to appearing in advertising and getting away from negative stereotypes.

When asked why they think those with mental disabilities aren’t currently visible enough in UK advertising, 62% of Brits say it’s because they ‘make people uncomfortable’, while 43% say it’s because Brits aren’t exposed enough to people in this community.

Regarding the lack of those with physical disabilities in ads, 55% of Brits again say it’s because they make people uncomfortable – while 43% believe that brands are risking ‘not appealing to people’ with those adverts. A shocking third (34%) even say that it’s because people with physical disabilities are ‘not attractive’.