Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Wheels for Wellbeing

Quite recently I learned about Wheels for Wellbeing. Wheels for Wellbeing is an organisation that operates in Croydon and Lambeth hiring out a variety of cycles to people of differing abilities to ride. The activities take place at Croydon Sports Track and on an old cinder/ash playing field in Brockwell Park.

The scheme has been going for some time and is a really good way for, especially disabled, people to try out a variety of different types of cycle. My personal choice – though with my disabilities not much of a choice really – is one of their upright handcycles.

This piece of equipment is, essentially, a wheelchair hooked up to a front wheel (the handcycle) which incorporates gears, a chain and hand ‘pedals’. The particular cycle used by WfW is this hybrid kind; however, all-in-one handcycles also produced which are typically recumbent or upright; and, an upright one can be bought for under £1,000.

WfW provides a wide range of bikes that can be hired out for £3 per session – usually around 2-2½ hours. There are various designs of tricycle available; there are an amazing variety of tandems for use; and, even cycles that will hold and propel a wheelchair.

For my part Wheels for Wellbeing gets a big thumbs-up. The staff, Dominic, and volunteers are extremely helpful; as they help people with varying disabilities to enjoy and participate in the ‘mysteries’ of cycling.

Well done Dom and Co!

May I suggest if you’re able to pop down to Croydon on a Tuesday or over to Brockwell Park on a Friday do so; and, enjoy the delights of two, three or four wheels.

Here is their link: http://www.wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk/index.php/cycling_for_all


Parking Problems

Parking’s a nightmare in Lambeth; and, a Blue Badge is no guarantee of a parking place, either – so much for disability perks!

Last Friday I went along to Brockwell Park for a session on a handcycle. Arriving at the carpark in the park we were disappointed to find no parking places available; the place was as full as a City banker’s wallet after bail-out.

Having to park a fair distance away we made our way back, with a great deal of difficulty on poor pavements, back to the park. Just for curiosity’s sake, and because I’m an awkward so-and-so, I asked my PA to check the cars parked in the half-a-dozen disabled bays for Blue Badges.

One car displayed a Blue Badge. One! Well, that didn’t do too much to improve my mood; but, when I tried to get out of the carpark and into the lido I found another inconsiderate motorist had parked blocking the dropped kerb.

Great; not content in nicking our bays they’re also blocking our way into the park’s facilities – a more cynical person might think these people are uncaring; that they have little or no regard for the plight of disabled people – not me; no, I just put it down to good old-fashioned ‘I-couldn’t-care-less-ness’.

Eventually, I got into the lido. No luck there. Apparently, they’re bombarded with complaints of disability parking bay abuse; and, they point out, politely I must say, that the carpark is not their responsibility, but rather a matter to be taken up with the Park Rangers – I was expecting, at this point, a bunch of YEE HAWING men on steeds to come to my rescue...they didn’t.

I must offer my thanks to the lido receptionist who was very helpful and friendly as she took the time to search out the relevant contact details for me.

Rather than let the incident go I wrote to Lambeth on my return. After taking a somewhat circuitous route my complaint is now being looked into by Councillor Lorna Campbell; and, I’m hoping that this abuse of disabled facilities can be brought to an end.

Lambeth CIL

In the next few weeks Disabled Peoples’ Organisations in conjunction with Lambeth Council will begin a consultation process with Disabled residents of Lambeth on the establishment of a Centre for Independent Living (CIL) within the borough.

The purpose of a CIL would be to support disabled people across a wide range of economic, social and cultural activities; it would strive to give disabled people more independence through greater choice, control, rights and participation in all areas of living.

CIL’s are voluntary organisations developed, run and controlled by disabled people for disabled people; they are open to all disabled people regardless of gender, age (including disabled children and young people and their families), race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious conviction, or otherwise and anyone who describes themselves as a disabled person and/or anyone who has rights under the Disability Discrimination Act.

The CIL will adhere to a Social Model of Disability and will include people with a physical or sensory impairment, mental health issues, learning difficulty, neurodiversity or long-term health condition (such as HIV / AIDS, sickle cell, MS, or cancer to name just a few).

The Lambeth CIL will look to provide the following services (this is by no means exhaustive):

• Information and advice
• Direct Payments and independent living support services
• Consultation and involvement
• Disability equality training
• Advocacy and self-advocacy
• Peer support and counselling
• Support with access to housing, education and employment
• Access audits
• Campaigning for disabled people’s rights

Now for the inclusive bit! Lambeth would like to hear from disabled residents of the borough as to their thoughts and inputs into what they want from a centre for independent living.

Questions like:

• What services should be provided?
• What form of involvement do you wish for in a CIL?
• What form of accountability do you expect from a CIL?
• What information should be made available?
• How this information should be made available (newsletters, websites, local press etc)?
• What status the CIL should be striving for (non-charitable or charitable, a social enterprise etc)?

Finally, do you agree with these as the 12 Pillars of Independent Living?

• Appropriate and accessible information
• An adequate income
• Appropriate and accessible health and social care provision
• A fully accessible transport system
• Full access to the environment
• Adequate provision of technical aids and equipment
• Availability of accessible and adapted housing
• Adequate provision of personal assistance
• Availability of inclusive education and training
• Equal opportunities for employment
• Availability of independent advocacy and self-advocacy
• Availability of peer counselling

Consultation will be made up of small focus groups, a public meeting, questionnaires and an on-line survey. For more information about the development of a Lambeth CIL and about the focus groups contact

Disability Advice Service Lambeth - 020 7738 5656

Email: enquiry.line@disabilitylambeth.org.uk


To apply for a questionnaire contact Elaine Aherne, Lambeth Adults’ and Community Services – 020 7926 4704

Email: eaherne@lambeth.gov.uk
For the on-line survey go to: www.lambeth.gov.uk/

Friday, 17 September 2010

Unite Nominations

“But it is believed that McCluskey is way out in front with around 700, while Jerry and Bayliss are on a similar number of over 100.

“Considering the way that the machines of Bayliss and McCluskey moved against us, the amount of nominations for my campaign is remarkable,” said Jerry.”

Well done Jerry in getting over 100 nominations.

However, considering Jerry Hicks was out campaigning a year before McCluskey; and, that Jerry was able to devote all his time to the campaign, it isn’t that remarkable.

As for the ‘machine’ McCluskey moved against Hicks; considering this is predominantly made up of lay activists I’m unsure of the point that Jerry is trying to make. Hicks’ supporters tell us constantly that he has the support of the rank-and-file; if this is the case, there is no bigger machine in Unite.

Once again, well done, Jerry; and, if you can do as well in the election as the nominations you’ll have done well.

I received a couple of unsolicited mailings from Bayliss; but, I’ve thrown them away, as I understood we weren’t going to bother with reporting this candidate for that or the other one for the other.

Personally, I believe McCluskey can win without us having to report Bayliss for breaking the rules. McCluskey can win the election in the same way he won the most nominations; and, that is with his machine of lay activists getting out in the mornings and evenings outside factories, bus depots, car plants, offices, banks, building sites, docks and wherever Unite has members to push the vote.

It won’t be easy, it wasn’t easy when we got Woodley elected, both for the DGS and GS positions; however, determined lay activists did the business on those occasions; and, I’m sure with a lot of hard work we can do it again, for Len, without bothering the return officer.

As Tom has stated, taking such actions could prove counterproductive. Let’s win this election on the arguments and the credibility of our candidate. Bayliss may not be down and out; but, he’s certainly doing himself no favours with the company he’s decided to run with and his views certainly don’t chime with great swathes of our members who are looking for leaders willing to fight, not bureaucrats who throw their lot in with the enemy’s press.