Disabled people face considerable challenges when it comes to accessibility at UK tourist attractions and getting around on public transport, according to several pieces of new research.

One in four disabled people say negative attitudes from other passengers prevent them from using public transport, while 40 per cent often experience issues or difficulties when travelling by train in the UK, a study from disability equality charity Scope has found.

Its Independent. Confident. Connected report included findings based on interviews with 2,000 UK working age adults with long-term impairments or conditions.

“I can’t just travel spontaneously; there are long waits at train stations,” said wheelchair user Jignesh Vaidya. “Having been assured at one station that they have notified my destination of my arrival time, I often arrive to find there are no staff there to assist me.”

Amit Patel, who is blind, said: “I travel daily on the trains, tubes and buses around London with my guide dog and two-year-old son, confident that I can get the support I need to get to where I need to go.

“But a negative experience can knock that confidence easily. Travel shouldn’t be a barrier to independence. All transport companies provide help for those that need it, but it’s often not well known, or the service isn’t consistent enough or flexible enough to adapt to the needs of disabled people.”

Meanwhile, accessibility awareness is also a major issue. User experience agency Sigma investigated the user-friendliness of public spaces, transport hubs and leisure venues for disabled people by submitting two accessibility requests – one for a person in a wheelchair and another for somebody with autism – to 132 different organisations.

These included airports, train operators, music venues, sports stadiums, hotels and cinemas. Only 46 per cent of organisations responded to the disabled access request from somebody in a wheelchair – this number dropped to 33 per cent when it came to the request for someone with autism.

Some 27 per cent of venues also gave generic responses to requests that would only be suitable for a physically impaired person, without understanding the difference between physical and cognitive conditions.

“In our experience, most companies want to do more – but have not made their accessibility policy or staff awareness a priority,” says Hilary Stephenson, managing director at Sigma. “However, the commercial benefits of providing full access are clear. It is estimated that thousands of businesses could be turning away the custom of as many as one in five people by being inaccessible to people of ranging abilities or conditions; a loss of £212bn.”

Issues around accessible travel have been brought to the fore in the last year by high-profile cases in the media.

In July, comedian Tanya Lee Davis was left “humiliated and embarrassed” after a Great Western train guard tried to get her to move her mobility scooter for a mother and child. BBC journalist Frank Gardner was stranded on an empty plane at Heathrow airport for the second time in six months. And journalist Hollie Brooks felt “like a second-class citizen” when she boarded a Greater Anglia train in August to find her allotted wheelchair space taken up with a catering trolley and boxes of food.

Problems aren’t confined to trains and buses either, as highlighted by disability activist and postgraduate student Bal Deol. Since she steered a campaign to ensure taxis couldn’t refuse to pick up wheelchair users, she says she’s been “blacklisted” by local cab companies in Stoke on Trent.

“Taxi drivers overcharging or refusing to take people like me prevents wheelchair users from living life with the same level of freedom as non-disabled people.

“Last week I was quoted £35 by one taxi driver and £10 by another on the same taxi rank – the disparity is shocking and has obvious financial implications. I have previously been quoted £55 for a one-mile journey after a night out when the going rate for that trip is only £10 for everybody else.”

James Taylor, head of policy and public affairs at Scope, said: “From airports to buses, we’ve heard too many horror stories of disabled people let down by poor infrastructure, bad service, or being treated as an afterthought. This urgently needs to change.

“A genuinely inclusive transport network would allow disabled people to be part of their community, work, and see family and friends.

“Progress towards fair and inclusive transport has been slow, and disabled people want to see change happening a lot faster.”

He added: “That’s why we’re calling on everyone – transport providers, politicians and the public- to play their part.”

 

Source – Independent . co . uk

The ADHD Foundation is the largest ‘user led’ ADHD agency in Europe and is credited with influencing policy and provision in the UK for those living with ADHD and co existing conditions. The Foundation’s work in promoting scientific evidence, UK and European impact reports and tireless campaigning, have helped to change attitudes and reduce stigma, improving life chances for those with ADHD. One brilliant example of their campaigning was the Umbrella Project, involving children with ADHD and autism, celebrating their gifts, talents and employability and the installation of a public art project of hundreds of brightly coloured umbrellas above the streets of Liverpool and Salford. This went viral globally, attracting over 30 million media hits. The largest provider of training for professionals and schools in the UK, the Foundation enjoys dynamic partnerships with other charities, agencies and businesses nationally.

We spoke with Dr Tony Lloyd CEO at ADHD Foundation after they won The Community Organisation Award for Disability at The National Diversity Awards 2018. Here’s what they had to say:

What were your thoughts on the other shortlisted nominees within your category?

All the nominees were deserving of recognition for their work and dedication.

What were your thoughts after winning The Community Organisation Award for Disability?

As an organisation that has worked tirelessly in the past ten years to influence the ‘national conversation’ around ADHD, we were absolutely delighted – not just for us but especially for the ADHD community in the UK.

ADHD affects 1 in 20 people. Many live happily and successfully with ADHD – but many don’t.  We know for example that 40% experience anxiety and depression, that 18% self harm, that over 30% have co-occurring high functioning autism,  over 70% have another co-occurring learning difficulty.   All these challenges are often not seen or understood by the public, by schools, even by family doctors such is the level of stigma and discrimination about the condition.

It is therefore often impossible  for people to learn how to live successfully with a ‘neurodiversity’ that others – and those in public services dismiss as ‘A  problem relating to children who don’t know how to behave’.

Our strength based approach, challenges  a deficit model of intelligence aim to ‘enable’ those who are ‘disabled’  by a narrow view of intelligence, giftedness, talent and employability. Enabling those with ADHD to see themselves as ‘different’ but not ‘ less than’ – while at the same time trying to influence policy and provision  so that the vulnerability is supported – especially in childhood , has been a unique challenge for us as a user led charity.

Winning this award is testament to the fact that we have influenced hearts and minds, we have influenced other professionals and that we have influenced the media in particular, to promote the concept of ‘neurodiversity’ and in so doing encouraged and supported those in public life to be more openly honest about living with ADHD and showcasing  living successfully with ADHD.  The ND Awards have helped to raise public awareness of the issue, break down stigma and hopefully enable others to recognise that they,  or someone they know, may have ADHD so they can ‘name it, accept it, manage it, get support for it when they need it, celebrate it, live successfully with it – and not be defined or disabled by it.

What reaction have you received from supporters/fellow employees since winning the award?

Overwhelmingly positive! It’s a bit early to say exactly what impact this has had yet.  We hope this award will make others listen to our message, gain support and benefit from what we do.

We hope also that charitable Trusts, employee giving schemes and Corporate & Social Responsibility Directors will consider our charity as an organisation worthy of their support in the future.

As a charity, ADHD has never attracted popular support and certainly we have never generated very much financial resources through  unrestricted donations – but this has begun to change in the past three years.

Most of all, we are genuinely thankful for the recognition and appreciation of who we are, what we do and why and how do it. Somehow, it validates the effort, sacrifice and commitment of so many staff and volunteers.  There is a long way to go we know, this award is a wonderful milestone on the journey!

Now that you have won a National Diversity Award, where are you going to go from here? What are your next steps?

We are a growing organisation and as a charity we have a strong business model to ensure our sustainability –  we don’t measure success based on how much funding we have, but on the impact we have and the difference we make…

We are nominated for European Awards Charity of the Year – that really would be truly wonderful and help put ADHD in the spotlight of national conversation – so we are delighted to be a finalist and hopefully a winner in that.  We didn’t have a template to follow and we have been incredibly fortunate in so many ways so for us we will hopefully be able to do more to help other ADHD support groups and charities across Europe to develop and support  many other children, families and adults.

Service transformation is a ‘constant’ for us so we are looking anew at how we improve everything we do – we are especially delighted that the Umbrella Project will also now happen in London, Manchester, Dublin and Liverpool next year – and in small ways in many schools across the UK. This will not only ensure there are big bright uplifting and colourful public art displays of umbrellas suspended above the street in other cities (and classrooms) but also that many children will as a directl result have lessons in schools about diversity – especially ‘neurodiversity’ and that they will understand what it means to live with ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and sensory processing difficulties – and celebrate neurodiversity!

In your own words, how do you feel the work you are carrying out is making a difference?

It is impossible  to measure this accurately – we provide a range of mental health and education services – mostly in the north west but we also provide training across the UK to schools and health professionals – we believe that ADHD, mental health and the ‘dignity of difference’ is everyone’s business – not just ours.  So… we aspire, through educating everyone, professionals, parents, children, service providers, commissioners, so that they are aware and understand the needs and potential of those with ADHD.

There are so many ‘creatives’ with ADHD, so many athletes, professional footballers, artists, musicians, marketeers, entrepreneurs – and so many waiting to realise their potential,  – hopefully what we do will help in some small way to achieve their goals in life and realise their potential.

It is more than just providing services and support – it is about making ‘neurodiversity’ valued by everyone – especially those who are neurodiverse.

Why do you think it is important to highlight Diversity, Equality and Inclusion?

We could write a book….. but ultimately it is about human evolution, humanity in its rich diversity of colour, race, ability, faith, sexuality, intelligences, innovation, vulnerability.. and humility.

We all do better when we know better. Highlighting diversity, equality and inclusion is about highlighting humanity in all its glorious colour and genius and celebrating that !

Who or What is your inspiration?

Every human being who carried with them a story of belonging, acceptance, triumph, brokenness, love, simplicity – greatness is not fame.

I personally always remember those who were ‘kind’ – throughout my entire life, kindness is the quality that has always stood out. For me it is the only measure. Kindness is imbued with integrity – it seeks nothing for itself, it is experienced not advertised and it transforms human beings who are fortunate enough to have received it and live in appreciation of it.

What were your thoughts on The National Diversity Awards Ceremony? Did you enjoy your evening?

A wonderful celebration – uplifting; I had a grin on my face the whole evening, my self and my colleagues and supporters where inspired by the individuals and organisations nominated – many who do unseen and unsung work – and this was their night.  Best awards event I have ever experienced.

..and very well organised!

Choosing to inspire,We never want to retire,

Lives to save and protect,On the past we must reflect,

We take steps forward a learn from mistakes,In life there aren’t any retakes,

The people we meet,The ones we greet,

Stand tall on your feet,Listen and watch your life is a movie- take your seat,

Love and be proud of the person you have become,Unlock the door to your dreams – you are welcome ,

Every year,We must wipe the tears and choose to cheer,

Life is tough,The road is rough,

We are at our best,So forget the rest,

We are stronger than we ever believed we were and could be,Set your soul free,

Focus on the positives and the light, Be the star that shines so bright,

People gravitate towards your kind heart, You are your own cheerleader for your team that everyone wants to be a part,

Open your mind,The treasure you can find,

Dark days do bring rain,We suffer through a lot of pain,

From our struggles we have so much to gain, So go out and dance in the rain,

The world is full of people making a change for a better, Be a go-getter,

Life is a gift, So don’t just drift,

Leave footprints in the Earth’s core, You have the world to explore,

I am so lucky and blessed, To be right here I wouldn’t have guessed,

My life went off road for a while, I have chosen to smile,

Inspired by my strength and pain, I’ve realised from my darkness I have so much to gain,

I have so much more to give, To fate we must forgive,

Turn the darkness into light, Keeping dreams and goals in sight,

Empowering and inspiring people all around, Keep your feet on the ground,

If you give your best that is all that can be asked, With many hardships you have been tasked,

The strength you show, More than you know,

Helps to inspire and empower, In kindness always chose to shower,

You are rocking life and adding your own mark, One bright and beautiful spark,

Choosing to inspire, Never wishing or wanting to retire.

Argos, Asda, Sainsbury’s, and Marks & Spencer are among those that have signed up to try to make shopping more inclusive.

Sky News has been given details about the UK’s first ever accessible shopping day aimed at getting retailers to take all kinds of disability seriously.

Backed by the government and major high street names, “Purple Tuesday” will take place on Tuesday 13th November and will see retailers across the country – and online – introduce new measures to make the shopping experience more inclusive for customers who have both physical and hidden disabilities.

The idea is being coordinated by the disability organisation Purple and will involve shopping centres like Bluewater in Kent, the Bullring in Birmingham, along with Regents Street in London.

Retailers including Argos, Asda, Sainsbury’s, and Marks & Spencer have also signed up.

We went out shopping with Mike Adams, the chief executive of Purple and his partner Kristine Alderman in Chelmsford. It’s because of the challenges they face when they’re out shopping that they try to encourage businesses to be more inclusive.

Mike said: “There’s a vast array of adjustments retailers can make that will have a significant impact, and many that can be implemented quickly.

“Customer service is a perfect example – as part of Purple Tuesday we’ll be providing a simple training kit to help in-store staff feel confident in assisting disabled shoppers.”

It is estimated that the collective spending power of disabled people and their families the so-called “Purple Pound” is £249bn a year.

In 2016, inaccessible websites and apps accounted for an estimated £11.75bn in lost revenue in the UK alone. But less than 10% of companies have a dedicated strategy for targeting disabled customers.

Zoe Young, Lead Sustainability Manager, for Marks & Spencer told Sky News: “We have DisabledGo Access Guides which tell us a lot of information about how accessible our stores are.

“As you can imagine this varies dramatically across all of our stores, but what we’re doing is we are reviewing all of that information and we are addressing some of those accessibility needs and we’re making physical changes across our stores.”

Research by the Department for Work and Pensions puts both shopping and eating and drinking out in the top three most difficult experiences for disabled people based on accessibility.

The Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, Sarah Newton, said: “Shopping should be a pleasant experience, but for many disabled people it can often be the cause of distress and frustration.

“By failing to cater to their disabled customers, many businesses are missing out on billions of pounds and denying disabled people the opportunity to enjoy something which many people take for granted.”

Purple Tuesday is being held in November ahead of the Christmas shopping period when busy stores, overloaded with stock can make shopping particularly difficult for those with disabilities.

The organisers don’t want this to be a one off gesture and realise that one day won’t solve all issues around accessibility but believe this is a positive step.

Mike Adams said: “Fundamentally, Purple Tuesday isn’t about a single day in the year but encouraging lasting change that creates a virtuous circle between businesses and disabled consumers.”

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Source: Sky News

A charity in Leeds is training its staff to help people with disabilities spot the signs of hate crimes.

It comes after police figures show disability hate crimes and incidents have risen by 72% across West Yorkshire from 256 in 2014/15 to 915 in 2017/18.

United Response is now working with police to help people recognise hate crimes and know how to report them.

Kevin Brighton, of West Yorkshire Police, said it was “a hidden and under-reported crime”.

Mr Brighton, the force’s hate crime co-ordinator, said: “Victims can sometimes lack the confidence in coming forward and reporting this to the authorities. Sometimes they don’t realise they have even experienced a hate crime.

“That’s why this resource pack we’ve helped put together and the training United Response’s staff have undertaken is so crucial.”

United Response is working with people with physical and learning disabilities, Down’s Syndrome and autism.

Jo Silkstone, the charity’s learning development manager for Yorkshire, said: “These shocking figures reveal that there are people out there who wish to do harm to some of society’s most vulnerable people.

“We must do everything we can to empower those who suffer this type of appalling abuse and discrimination to speak out.”


‘My son started ripping his clothes with stress and anxiety’

Amanda’s son who has Down’s Syndrome was a victim of disability hate crime in York.

She said: “Once, I put my recycle bins at the front of the house which one of my neighbours clearly didn’t like.

“She started telling my son Alex to move them. She was quite nasty about it to both of us. It quickly spiralled into her entire family giving us both abuse and whenever he was home alone they were intimidating him, openly talking badly about me to upset him.

“Alex started ripping his clothes with the stress and anxiety, something he has done since he was little. I found enough ripped clothes to fill a black sack which was hidden behind his bed. He was losing his independence as he wanted me to be at home all the time for fear of them upsetting him.

“We had to call the police several times and she eventually received a police caution.

“Even after that, I had to contact the police again. This stopped her from doing anything further but her mother and her children continued the harassment. After nearly two years, we decided to move to get away from them.”

All names have been changed.


Source: BBC News

An inspirational man born with brittle bone disease has been shortlisted for a prestigious award.

Stuart Thompson, from Mersea, is one of eight finalists in with a chance of winning the Positive Role Model Award for Disability at the National Diversity Awards.

Community organisations and role models from across the country will head to Liverpool Anglican Cathedral on September 14 to see the winners crowned.

Mr Thompson, 42, said: “I am immensely flattered to have been shortlisted for this award, in particular for the work I do with young people and adults with anxiety.

“As a person who has faced many physical challenges who has grown up looking very different to those around me, I know how hard it can be to feel confident and not be afraid.

“I hope this nomination allows me to reach more people and demonstrate how it’s possible to live with confidence.”

Stuart was born with brittle bone disease, a life-limiting disability which has caused him to break almost every bone in his body at some point.

He is three and a half feet tall and uses a wheelchair.

He said: “As a child something would break simply by being picked up by my parents or when I was sitting on the floor.

“Now as an adult I probably break a bone about five times a year.

“As a child it was fine as I didn’t know I was any different, but as an adult I had to learn to find my own voice.”

Stuart started his career as a social worker and now works as a hypnotherapist and anxiety specialist.

He chooses to work mostly with children and young people experiencing anxiety or confidence issues.

He said: “You find confidence within yourself when you realise you have something worth saying.

“We can overcome how we look and how we feel.”

He received more than 40 nominations for the award, all from clients.

He added: “A lot of parents wrote nice things about work I have done with their children, the youngest being six.

“I don’t believe children need endless therapy, and most anxieties can be overcome with a few techniques.”

Johnson & Johnson have recently been announced as headline sponsors of the pioneering awards.

Designed to highlight the country’s most inspirational and selfless people, the NDA’s continue to gain endorsements from high profile figures such as Stephen Fry, Sir Lenny Henry CBE and Graham Norton.

Radio 2 presenter and Scissor Sister favourite Ana Matronic will host this year’s ceremony alongside television presenter Brian Dowling.

To view a full list of nominees visit www.nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/shortlist.


Source: Gazette News


 

 

 

25 representatives from the Wrexham Inclusion Football Club have set off to take part in one of the biggest disability tournaments in the UK.

The players flew to Northern Ireland on Wednesday to compete in the George Best Community Cup.

Run by the Irish Football Association, the event brings together hundreds of players from disability football clubs each year for its five-a-side cup competition.

This year more than 500 players from 70 disability football clubs throughout the UK and Ireland will descended on the Billy Neill complex in Dundonald in County Down, to compete in the annual tournament.

Over 350 games will be played over two days, with matches taking place on 12 pitches in four different ability bands. Wrexham Inclusion Football Club will have three teams across three different ability levels.

Last year’s event saw great success for the Wrexham team, who this year hope to go one better and bring the trophy home.

The club are staying at the local university where evening meals and breakfast is provided in the university canteen – bringing together teams to encourage friendship and meeting new people.

The event will also be the first of a different kind for some players, who will be away from home and flying on a plane for the first time.

Commenting on the event, team manager Carl Austin said: “For many players it will be the first time they have been away from home without family or even the first time they have been away from Wales.

“Sometimes we take things for granted that we are able to go away when we want but for many people because lack of opportunities, staffing issues, family circumstances etc prevent these opportunities arising so as a club where very proud to be able to provide a brilliant opportunity.

“There are only a few clubs up and down the county who travel like we do and that’s down to the amazing volunteers we have it’s so nice to see that the whole town appreciates the amazing work they do to support our absolutely incredible players.”

It’s been a busy year for Wrexham Inclusion Football Club, who last month headed to Munich to take part in the European Mental Health Championships.

Source: Wrexham

UK airports are making progress when it comes to helping passengers with hidden disabilities, according to a new report published by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) today.

Hidden disabilities can include autism, dementia and hearing loss and many other conditions that are not immediately obvious.

This follows the CAA issuing new guidance for airports in December 2016 on how to improve the assistance they offer.

The report highlights the progress made and identifies areas where more work is needed. It comes as record numbers of people with all types of disability are flying.

Services being developed to tackle the issue include:

  • Giving passengers the option to wear a lanyard or wristband (or other discreet identifier) to help make airport staff aware that they might need extra help at the security search area or elsewhere in the airport
  • Providing enhanced disability awareness training packages for key customer facing staff, including those at security search areas, as well as those who provide direct assistance to disabled people
  • Introducing family or assistance security lanes, which passengers with hidden disabilities can use, which provide a less stressful and rushed experience
  • Publishing a wide range of accessible information for people with hidden disabilities, including pictorial guides, videos and other online guides on what to expect at the airport, especially at the security search stage
  • Consulting with disability organisations, including those representing people with hidden disabilities, on how the design of the assistance service can best meet the needs of this group, and how it can best meet the needs of this group of passengers

The CAA will continue to work with airports so that the enhancements and improvements that airports have made are genuinely helping people with hidden disabilities access air travel, as well as working with airports and disability groups to broaden airports’ focus in terms of the types of hidden disabilities that their assistance services cater for.

“Record numbers of passengers with disabilities are travelling through UK airports, and so it’s hugely important that the assistance meets their particular needs,” said Matt Buffey, head of consumer protection at the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

“We know that people with hidden disabilities can find airports difficult and stressful places, in particular the security search, and we are pleased to see how well airports have responded in improving the assistance they offer and tailoring to the needs of people with hidden disabilities.”

Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg, said: “Travelling by air can be a daunting experience for those with hidden disabilities.

“Whilst there is still more to do, we should recognise the real progress that has been made by airports since the CAA introduced requirements for specific assistance services for people with non-visible disabilities.”

The report acknowledged that further work needs to be done to ensure all UK airports continue to provide consistent and high quality assistance services to disabled people, including people with hidden disabilities.

It comes after several high profile stories about those with hidden or invisible disabilities having bad experiences at UK airports. In January 2018, a disabled passenger branded Stansted Airport staff “disgusting” after she was denied assistance because she “didn’t look disabled”.

Nathalie Allport-Grantham, 23, was flying to Nice with Ryanair on 31 December when a member of staff refused her the assistance she had confirmed ahead of her flight.

She had requested the use of a wheelchair to help her to the gate, but said it was later taken away from her by airport staff who then told her that she was “wasting their time” by asking for help.

Stansted Airport told The Independent: “Of course, we are very disappointed to hear about Ms Allport-Grantham’s experience and apologise for any distress caused.

“Special assistance is booked directly with the airline and handled by the airport’s PRM provider Omniserv. We are speaking to the provider to find out more about the circumstances of the incident.

Source: Simon Calder ~ Independant

A 64 year old London man with Multiple Sclerosis has won his claim of disability discrimination against a management company after it failed to make reasonable adjustments to enable him to use the leisure club at the block of flats in which he lives, and indirectly discriminated against him because of his disability.

Alongside ruling that the management company had breached its duty to make reasonable adjustments and applied a discriminatory practice in what works it undertook, the Court also awarded Mr Plummer £9,000 in damages for injury to feelings, thought to be the highest award of its kind for such a claim.

The landmark case fought by law firm Leigh Day, has found that the management company is a service provider, and not a landlord, and therefore has an anticipatory duty under the Equality Act 2010 to consider adjustments for people with disabilities. Landlords have no such duty.

James Plummer moved into his flat at the Royal Herbert Pavilions with his wife Simone in 2010. Their flat is one of 228 luxury apartments developed through the restoration of what used to be the Royal Herbert Hospital in Woolwich.

The properties are managed by the Royal Herbert Freehold Ltd, a company which acts as a management company to run the estate for the benefit of leaseholders. It also owns the Royal Herbert Leisure Club which sits within the block of flats and comprises a lounge bar, a heated swimming pool with a Jacuzzi, a well-equipped gym, a sauna, steam room and solarium.

The facilities at the club were the main reason Mr Plummer and his wife purchased their flat as the only type of physical activity Mr Plummer can do safely with his MS is swimming. However, due to his disability Mr Plummer found access to the club extremely difficult. Mr Plummer said that being able to swim would limit the progression of Mr Plummer’s MS, as well as provide him with independence.

According to evidence heard by District Judge Avent at the County Court in Central London, Mr and Mrs Plummer sent numerous emails starting in August 2011 to the management company requesting adaptions to allow Mr Plummer better, safer access to the leisure club to use its swimming pool. These requests were rejected.

In July 2014 Mr Plummer submitted costings for adaptations, which had been recommended by an inclusive design and accessibility audit. This audit estimated the cost of the adaptations at approximately £5,000 + VAT. During the same month the management company announced that Greenwich Council was refunding the club £78,500 in overpaid business rates.

In a wide-ranging judgment the Court found that Royal Herbert Freehold Ltd is a service provider, which means it has an anticipatory duty to consider the needs of disabled people in the use of the leisure club, which may include altering the physical features of that club. This is unlike the situation for a landlord, who has no such anticipatory duty and does not have to make alterations to physical features (which would include handrails or painting a wall). The government has recently confirmed that it will, however, look to enact legislation to remove this potential stumbling block for disabled people who require adjustments to the block of flats they live in. This judgment could have an impact for all people with disabilities living in accommodation with similar leisure facilities, managed by a management company or housing association who may find it difficult to deny their responsibilities by claiming merely to be a landlord (when they may, in fact, be providing a service via that leisure facility, as was found in this case).

The Court also found that Royal Herbert Freehold Ltd applied a policy of only undertaking works which benefitted all residents, which placed people with disabilities at a particular disadvantage, and the Claimant at that disadvantage. They were therefore found to have subjected the Claimant to indirect discrimination. The Court said:

“In large part, that is precisely the reason why the [Equality] Act and its predecessor legislation have been necessary. Those who are disabled have no choice in the matter and I am afraid that, in large part, the human condition is that those persons are labelled, stereotyped and discriminated against. Through a lack of understanding or empathy people can be inherently, and subconsciously, selfish and uncaring and do not conceive that their behaviour, in consequence, can have a detrimental effect.”

In relation to a survey sent by Royal Herbert Freehold Ltd to all residents asking for their opinion on Mr Plummer’s requests, whilst emphasising the disputed costs of the adjustments, the Court continued:

“The Residents Survey was a humiliating example of this because it simply reinforced existing prejudices and, in my view, should never have been circulated. It was used by the Board to justify its unreasonable stance in circumstances where it knew very well what the outcome was likely to be.”

In summing up the Court said:

“At every step of the way it has been Mr Plummer who has had to initiate matters and, as far as I can see, he really has had no meaningful assistance from Royal Herbert whatsoever.”

“…there was no proactivity on their [Royal Herbert Freehold Ltd] part but simply reaction which was generally in the negative; they gave the impression of wanting to assist from time to time without actually then doing anything to do so… It seems to me clear that there needs to be a sea change in attitude by Royal Herbert towards disabled persons.

“I also entirely agree that he [Mr Plummer] has had to face “numerous hurdles and delays”; the length of time, for example, that it took the Board to make decisions was unacceptable.

“I conclude that the process has been humiliating and demeaning for Mr Plummer and his worth and self-esteem will have been diminished. I also conclude that he placed considerable reliance on his ability to swim which was part of his fight against the encroachment of his MS. It is an unhappy fact that it is a fight which will ultimately be lost but I am not sure that Mr Plummer (or, indeed, his wife) could have done more to protect his position and it is right that I acknowledge his tenacity and determination in dealing with this matter over a considerable period of time.

“There are aggravating factors in this case which are the implacable attitude and approach of Royal Herbert throughout, the substantial period over which Mr Plummer has had to endure a failure to act together with the indirect discrimination, and the rather cavalier and non-committal approach that seems to have been taken by the Board including as to making decisions within any reasonable timeframe.”

Nick Webster, from law firm Leigh Day who represented Mr Plummer, said:

“This is an incredibly powerful moral and legal victory for Mr Plummer, and vindication for the claim he pursued. All Mr Plummer wanted to do was use a swimming pool, not only for the simple enjoyment of swimming, but because it was the only physical activity he could do. Mr Plummer just wanted a level playing field, and this was denied him for years. This denial not only isolated him, and caused him to have to go through protracted and complex legal proceedings, but also had a significant impact on his well-being. This judgment should now be a warning to all management companies and housing associations operating a leisure facility in a similar manner that they must make the reasonable adjustments for the benefits of a disabled resident, not that the law should provide them with that incentive.

“This case has clarified the law in a number of ways, not only in finding that the management company is a service provider, but also with regard to the approach to time limits in such claims and the reasonableness of adjustments sought. Where a person’s situation has sufficiently changed since they first requested reasonable adjustments, which were refused, the Court has found that a person is entitled to ask again, and that the defendant will not be able to sit back in comfort and say that time runs from the first refusal.

We consider it likely that other people may be in a similar situation to our client and hope that the findings within this thorough judgment may help them to obtain the assistance they require.”

Mr Plummer said: “From the beginning I could see that RHP were unwilling to help, as they seemed to regard my needs as a distraction. This epic struggle has worn me out over the last 5 years. My health has declined and paying for a facility I cannot use has been upsetting.”

The EHRC, who helped fund the claim, said: The Equality and Human Rights Commission supported this case as it highlighted a gap in the law around reasonable adjustments and it wanted to ensure management companies are aware of their responsibilities to help disabled people overcome barriers. The Commission is considering follow-up action with RHF Ltd.

Source: Able Magazine

Charities which help people with disabilities in developing countries have been given a major funding boost.

AbleChild Africa, Humanity and Inclusion, British and Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group, Orbis Charitable Trust and Deafkidz concentrate a lot of their work on people with disabilities who can be marginalised by society.

They work with people of all ages in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Afghanistan where people with disabilities are often the most vulnerable in society.

Many of these charities work in health and education to ensure people with disabilities are getting the support they need including; eye care services in hard to reach areas, support to deaf communities and where possible helping people with disabilities find suitable employment.

These grants come in the second round of funding from UK Aid Direct, announced by the Department for International Development. In total, 30 small and medium sized civil society organisations, who work on a wide range of issues throughout the developing world will benefit. As well as projects focussed on disability inclusion, funding will also be provided to projects working on food security and nutrition as well preventing violence against women and children.

UK Aid Direct has already reached more than 3 million people, through 147 grants, across 31 countries.

Announcing the latest round of funding, Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt said:

An estimated 800 million people with disabilities live in developing countries. Many of these people continue to face appalling levels of stigma, discrimination and abuse, and all too often miss out on the opportunities that are the right of every person.

Small and medium sized charities offer a wealth of experience, expertise and skills essential to our mission to find innovative new solutions to complex development problems.

Many of these charities represent the best of British expertise and I am extremely proud that through UK Aid Direct, we are strengthening our great partnerships with them to improve the lives of those living in extreme poverty.

The UK government will co-host its first-ever Global Disability Summit in London in July alongside the International Disability Alliance and the Government of Kenya. The summit will bring together leaders from the private sector, governments, donor agencies and charities to raise awareness of this under-prioritised issue and show our commitment to transform the lives of people with disabilities. It will secure ambitious commitments to make a tangible difference to the lives of millions of people around the world.

Lauren Watters, Head of Programmes at AbleChild Africa said:

The UK government is leading the way for disability inclusive development and we are tremendously excited that it has identified the need to empower Youth with Disabilities in Rwanda through UK Aid Direct. Our project will facilitate meaningful youth involvement tackling the multiple barriers this group face and supporting their full inclusion into society.

Steve Crump, Founder of Deafkidz:

It is extremely gratifying that the UK government has acknowledged our important mission to help deaf children around the world live safely and without fear through the UK Aid Direct scheme. Our work is vital, not only to provide vulnerable children with the ear and hearing care they need, but also to change the dangerous stigmas they face each day.

Notes to Editors

There are 30 Aid Match Direct grants being announced with a total funding of £28,968,130

Further information and the full list of recipients of the latest UK Aid Direct grants are available here: www.ukaiddirect.org/news/

UK Aid Direct is a five-year; £150 million programme currently changing the lives of over 3 million of the world’s poorest people with UK aid from the UK Government.

Funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), UK Aid Direct was established in 2014 as a successor to the Global Poverty Action Fund (GPAF), which was created in 2010.

UK Aid Direct is a challenge fund designed to support the UK’s commitments to achieving the Global Goals.

Funding rounds will continue until 2020.

The UK Government will co-host its first ever disability summit later this year that will focus on four central themes:

  • tackling stigma and discrimination
  • inclusion in education
  • routes to economic empowerment
  • harnessing technology and innovation

General media queries

Follow the DFID Media office on Twitter – @DFID_Press

Source: www.Gov.co.uk

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