Using support to eliminate the ‘dis’ from disability
a freelance article by Gemma Smith
According to official Government statistics, there are over 11 million people across Great Britain living with a limiting long term illness or disability. Yet these courageous men, women and children are much more than numbers on a page. They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends who play a vital role in their families and the communities in which they live. Understandably living with physical and psychological disabilities means they often face additional challenges and sometimes need a bit of extra help in terms of practical, financial and indeed emotional support. The good news is that there are organisations out there dedicated to achieving this objective. Here we look at a few examples of organisations which can support disabled people in their rightful desires to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives.
Living with a disability can often mean having additional needs and meeting these needs costs money. In recognition of this government provides a wide range of disability related benefits. These include disability living allowance (which is gradually being replaced with a new personal independence payment often abbreviated as PIP), attendance allowance (for people who need help caring for themselves), as well as other benefits relating to housing, transport and taxes. Navigating a clear path through and around the various benefits can be tricky and so it is worthwhile enlisting the help of specialist organisations who provide guidance on these issues. The Citizens Advice Bureau is a great place to start but there are also many other bodies such as law centres, Age UK and local Disability Information and Advice Lines (DIALS).
Accessing practical advice about how to perform regular daily tasks can also greatly enhance quality of life for a disabled person. Finding out about the range of specialist equipment which is available as well as getting usage tips can make a major difference. The DLF (Disabled Living Foundation) provide an impartial website called ‘Living made easy’ which deals specifically with these issues as well as a phone helpline. Scope is another charitable organisation dedicated to supporting disabled people in every aspect of their lives. Their website contains comprehensive accessible information about all types of practical support.
The Papworth Trust, another charity which supports disabled and older people, believes that disabled people still experience disadvantages in virtually every area of life. Living standards tend to be lower, unemployment rates are generally higher and educational attainment levels are less for disabled people compared to their able-bodied counterparts. Although this is an improving picture more still needs to be done to address this inequitable gap. One of the keys to unlocking a higher standard of living is accessing sustainable employment. Disability Employment Advisers (DEAs) in local Jobcentres provide information and support to help people with disabilities connect with disability friendly employers in their area. They can also highlight work experience and training opportunities linked to each individual’s existing skills set and work history. Grants are also available which contribute towards transport, equipment or support worker costs.
A wide range of voluntary charitable organisations also exist which are dedicated to supporting people with disabilities in their journey towards employment. Some examples include Evenbreak (which matches employers who value diversity with talented disabled work candidates), Shaw Trust (the UK’s largest third sector support provider for disabled people) and Scope (who run a number of bespoke projects across the country aimed at meeting a variety of needs).
Activity specific support
Sometimes the biggest barrier to overcome as a disabled person is finding the confidence to pursue hopes and dreams. Thankfully there are organisations out there which can harness these emotions and boost confidence levels through exciting and challenging activities.
Sport is another great way of boosting confidence and reaffirming ability for people living with disabilities. The English Federation of Disability Sport provides a focus for action in this area, bringing together a vast range of resources designed to support disabled people achieve their sporting goals and enhance overall wellbeing. Sport England and Scope also provide excellent information about sporting choices, club locations and funding opportunities. Deloitte Parasport, created by the British Paralympic Association (BPA) also provides an online gateway signposting tool which is easily searchable for sport and club information applicable right across the United Kingdom.
Accessing the type of support outlined above can make a significant difference in helping people with disabilities win these races, one at a time.
Prominent Scottish politician Walter Elliot once said:
“Perseverance is not a long race: it is many short races one after the other.”