Piloting inclusive arts consultation at Sense Arts.

Young boy sat in a wheelchair being supported by a woman who is supporting him working on a Sense Arts project.

What’s it all about?

In late 2018, Sense Arts were delighted to get funding from Arts Council of England to develop a strategic arts plan for the next phase of inclusive arts at TouchBase Pears.

They want the strategy to reference the ethos and practice that they’re passionate about and showcase to the fullest, the talents of those they’re nurturing through this programme.

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It feels like home

How Sense staff at a supported living service in Sheffield helped Martin to live a more independent life.

Martin sitting on the sofa talking to his support worker
© Mike Pinches 2017

Sense first met Martin after a referral from the local authority. Martin had been living in a nursing home and staff were concerned that he was becoming increasingly withdrawn and unwilling to interact with others. The home wasn’t able to provide activities that Martin could participate in and there was a general lack of routine which left him feeling anxious and unsettled.

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After a lifetime of caring, no parent or disabled adult should be left fearing the future.

With approximately 1.7 million disabled adults being cared for by family and friends across the UK it is important that we recognise the invaluable contribution that these carers make to society.

That’s one of the reasons Sense has partnered this year with Carers Week – to recognise, celebrate and champion the amazing work that carers do, and call for more support for carers and their disabled loved ones. Particularly when it comes to thinking about and planning for the future.

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Who’s your Sense Superstar?

The Sense Awards are back for their 16th year and now is your chance to nominate your Sense Superstar. The Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of people with complex disabilities, as well as those who support them.

From celebrating carers that have provided outstanding support to their loved ones, to incredible fundraisers, or companies that have developed a new innovative product helping those with complex disabilities – there is a category for everyone and everything.

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New App to support visually impaired people at Heathrow Airport

The Aira app from Heathrow Airport

Late last year, I was really excited to see a press release from Heathrow talking about an app they were trialling to enable visually impaired people to be able to use the airport more independently.

Steven outside Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport

Like a lot of people, I find flying really stressful. I’m blind and hearing impaired and the whole environment (from security onwards) is really tricky to navigate around, plus it’s really noisy so communication can be challenging. All this can often mean that the process of checking in can take longer, thus leaving less time for important activities such as spending money in duty free and scoping out the nearest bar!  Even though you can book support through your airline, you are still reliant on this being put in place and working without a hitch, so anything that can give people more independence is to be welcomed.

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A new door opens

Portrait of Chis Punt
Sense Watford Communication Guide

Chris Punt is a good example of someone who felt very isolated and depressed when much of her remaining sight was lost. It was a very tough time for her, but with the support of her Sense Communicator Guide she has built a new life for herself.

Some people can’t wait to retire from work, others can find this a difficult transition – especially if this has been forced upon them.

Chris had always loved her work, and the people it brought her into contact with, but suddenly this was snatched away from her. “I spent my entire life supporting children and adults with learning disabilities and mental health difficulties,” she explains. “I did so many things. I had a football team with Watford Football Club; we did a bereavement group, we did music, art and craft. I just loved it so much.”

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GOT it! Ten years of incredible stories

On Monday 29 April, the Sense Get Out There (GOT) group, a community-based short break service that supports young disabled people, celebrated its 10-year anniversary. To mark the occasion, HRH The Princess Royal visited the group and was presented with a book of stories written by disabled people marking their growth in independence.

Each person’s story reveals how much their life has been touched by the Sense GOT group. For some, it is the opportunity to experience new things and visit new places that keeps them coming back. For others, it is simply the chance  to make friends. One thing is for certain, everyone has a story to tell.

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Disabled people have the right to be safe online.

Image shows a mobile phone screen displaying multiple social media apps including Facebook; Twitter; LinkedIn; Instagram; Pinterest; YouTube; Tumblr and Vine.

There’s no doubt about it. Social media has changed a lot about the way we interact with each other, as well as go about our daily life. Whilst it is often used in many positive ways, sadly social media seems to be fuelling the abuse of many groups in society, including disabled people, from people who hide behind screens, often out of the reach of police, with social media giants being slow to act to tackle this behaviour.

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Time to climb again

For a long time it seemed that Tony and his mother had simply been forgotten, left without support to struggle on alone.  Tony had always been keen to try new things and build up his skills but there were few opportunities to do this.

Then a resourceful social worker found out about Sense’s TouchBase South East Centre and a new journey began for them both.

Tony standing outside his house with his mum.

“For as long as I live, I will never forget that day” says Janet. “Tony walked in the door and said to me:

“You’ll never guess what I’ve done today Mum – I’ve been rock climbing.”

When Tony was young, and could see better, he used to love climbing trees with his brother,” she says, “but I just couldn’t imagine him ever doing anything like that again.”

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Helping Annie shine

Mum and daughter playing

Five-year-old Annie has been on a difficult journey that families of a child with complex disabilities will recognise.  But in some ways, as her parents Ali and Michael acknowledge, she has been fortunate. They were able to get specialist help for her from Sense and this has made a huge difference to her life.

Sense wants all families with a child with complex disabilities to receive this level of support, and our new strategy – including the development of services and our campaigning work – aims to drive this forward.

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