We were all in agreement that this is a good focus, and needed, however working on accessibility and assisted travel now is also a priority. We were all able to share experiences of accessibility issues and how booked assisted travel had failed miserably. Lisa, our Membership Officer did raise the difficulties of living in rural areas and being reliant on buses that run infrequently or are inaccessible to wheelchair users when spaces are being used for other reasons. She would also like to see disability equality training embedded in the service.
Social care and benefits were extensively discussed and how this is impacting disabled people. Cuts to people’s benefits and the assessment system needs a total overhaul with disabled people consulted throughout the process. People are not getting the care they are allocated in their package and many day services have closed leaving people with nowhere to go. Due to rising costs of social care, many people are facing choices of going without care or other essentials or falling into debt to receive it. Lisa found it interesting to learn that Hammersmith and Fulham do not apply charges for care provided at home in Hammersmith and Fulham, people are not required to contribute towards your personal budget. If your needs assessment finds that you require care in your own home, they will develop a care and support plan to understand what services are necessary to meet people’s needs. It was suggested that this model be looked at and learnt from, with consideration to be given to rolling it out nationally. You can read about their support here: https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/health-and-care/assistance-home/home-care
It’s thanks to our members at Equal Lives, sharing their experiences and thoughts with us that enabled Ben and Lisa to share anonymous evidence on disabled people’s lived experience and how they have been impacted. This ensures your voice is heard and changes are made. If you have any stories about anything in your life, that you would like to share with us, you can email us at: Membership@Equallives.org.uk
Lisa, our Membership Officer has attended the Autism Employment Group at Norfolk County Council. They are always looking for autistic people to join their working groups, to share their lived experiences and to work on projects to improve services. If you are an autistic person and would like to find out more about joining this group, which meet on the first Thursday of every month at 2.15 – 4pm, our Membership Officer, Lisa, would be happy to have a chat with you. Please email: Membership@Equallives.org.uk