Step up or step back? How we will measure the success of the new prime minister.

A woman supporting a man, Harry, who is visually impaired and holding his white cane.
A woman supporting a man, Harry, who is visually impaired and holding his white cane.

As the dust settles on another election campaign and we return to comparative normality, I have been thinking about what I would do if I was Boris Johnson today.  I can’t deny that Brexit will dominate much of the coming weeks but what about our domestic policy, what else would I want to achieve and what would success look like?

Discussions on improving the rights and services for disabled people was notable for its absence during the General Election campaign. This just serves to exacerbate the feeling of exclusion and not being valued by society.  It goes without saying that the priority for me would have to be taking urgent action to redress the inequalities and injustice that disabled people face on a daily basis. It’s a glaring injustice that needs to be addressed.  I’m calling on Boris to put disability at the heart of their government, enabling disabled people to live fulfilled and dignified lives.

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Rich’s Marathon Journey

This year I ran my first marathon and what a difficult choice it was. The decision to run it was tough considering I had not done much long-distance running before. Fundraising was fun but still a challenge as was, of course, the training. Rain, sun or snow I had to be out there putting in the miles. In fact, the easiest part of the whole thing was deciding which charity to run for.

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The Manifesto for Charities

Carer with young man wearing a cap smiling

It’s that time again. In just over three weeks the nation will go to the polls. And as parties have frantically prepared their manifestos and refined key messages, the third sector has found itself in a familiar chaotic state. Complete confusion about the Lobbying Act. Letters to write to all prospective parliamentary candidates. Hustings to organise…

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Safeguarding: what does it mean to you?

This week is National Adults Safeguarding Week. The aim of the week is to create conversations and spread awareness about keeping vulnerable adults safe from abuse.

Adult Safeguarding, as defined by the 2014 Care Act is “working with adults with care and support needs to keep them safe from abuse or neglect.” It is an important part of what many public services do, and a key responsibility of local authorities.

Organisations take different approaches to implementing this into everyday support. We asked what safeguarding means to a selection of senior managers, as well as our Sense User Reference Group (SURG). SURG gives people living with complex disabilities the opportunity to share their views of Sense and our services.

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We don’t need to nourish human suffering and loneliness.

A man sitting along on a wall wearing jeans and a striped top

In 2018 we all became worried about loneliness. It is not a new problem. But last year and thanks to the Jo Cox Commission, the Minister for Loneliness, the Campaign to End Loneliness, the disability sector working together, and countless other organisations, it has become an urgent one. We also have our first Loneliness Strategy.  2019 is the year in which we seek to tackle the loneliness epidemic.

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You will never see plant life in the same way again!

A woman touching a plant with some headphones on and a man is guiding her.

Sense, Birmingham Botanical Gardens & artist Justin Wiggan have been working together on ‘Sensory Beings: Internal Garden’ funded by Grow Wild. Everything we do at Sense is inspired by the people we support. Sense Arts creates a more equal platform where everyone has the time and space to take part, in whatever way they want. Sensory Beings: Internal Garden is the next chapter of Sense Arts Inclusive Arts Strategy, ‘Space to be Different’.

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Q&A with our National Sport Manager

How did the Sport England funding come about?

Our sport & physical activity programme started in 2014 and has been growing ever since. We have worked with Sport England over the last five years supporting more people with complex needs to be active. This recent funding has come about following our work to date and our ambition to reach more people with complex disabilities who currently aren’t able to access opportunities due to a number of limitations with provision, society, and perception to name a few.

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Sense Awards – 1 month on

Group photo of the Sense Awards winners stood outdoors holding their awards.
Group photo of the Sense Awards winners.

The Sense Awards are a highlight of the year for many of us, myself included, and this year’s event was no exception. Our annual awards, now in their 16th year, are about recognising and valuing the people around us and the difference they make, whether they are a staff member, volunteer, an individual we support or their family carer or sibling. It’s important that we take time out as an organisation to recognise everyone’s contribution and celebrate their successes.

This year’s awards were very special again and below are just some of my personal highlights.

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The State of Care

Two people holding hands and doing hand on hand signing.

On his first day in office Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised “we will fix the social care crisis once and for all”. Nearly three months later we’re still waiting for a solution. This week the Queen’s Speech to Parliament, which set out the Government’s plans for new laws and policies, only made a vague promise that “Government will bring forward proposals to reform adult social care”. Meanwhile more disabled people and their families are reaching crisis point without the right support.

In the State of Care report published this week, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), who are responsible for regulating health and care services, concluded that many people are struggling to access the care that they need. The State of Care report analyses CQC inspection data, as well as service user experiences and focus groups to provide an annual picture of health and care services. Although the quality of many services remains stable, there are considerable challenges around people navigating the system.

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Café 55: The number one place for coffee, cake and community!

Cafe 55 street sign.
Cafe 55 street sign.

Right by Exeter Central Station, supported by a Roman Wall, sits a 120-year-old chapel. While this sounds like something out of The Da Vinci Code, the mystery is solved as soon as you walk through the front door. Cafe 55 feels more like someone’s living room than your standard café. There are books on the wall and the hypnotising smell of fresh chocolate brownies. It took a generous Sense supporter to leave a gift in their will before the café could start and, it has taken the centre manager, Jane, nearly 10 years to get it to where it is today.

Officially open in 2010, Café 55 started as a trial project funded by a supporter’s gift in their Will. Jane was hired to run the project and initially it was open one day a week. As it grew more popular, they expanded to three times a week. The idea behind Café 55 was to create a safe space for anyone (connected to Sense or not) to come, relax and eat. It was to provide work experience and life skills to people supported by Sense.

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