Hidden amongst the noise of political chaos in the Houses of Parliament was the loss of yet another Minister for Disabled People

One person holds another person's hand.

And so ends another week of political chaos in the Houses of Parliament. Hidden amongst the noise was the loss of yet another Minister for Disabled People. Sarah Newton, who had held the position since November 2017, resigned her post in order to vote how she felt led, in one of the many Brexit votes that have taken place this week. 

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‘Loneliness is not somebody else’s problem’

Hands holding

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.

There are 9 million of people in the UK who are lonely. We have an increased understanding that loneliness is bad for individuals and communities. We know that the feeling of being by oneself with no one to rely on, to talk to, or to share life with causes pain.

Why is that? On the one hand, we have a desire for company. We want to be part of a group. We know social life is a benign power. But sometimes it feels we were put on this world to remain separate from one another, rather than come together as a community. Instead we nourish human suffering and loneliness.

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All I want for Christmas is a solution for social care

Another year ends without a long-term sustainable funding solution for social care. Last week, Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage, quietly confirmed that the Social Care Green Paper will be delayed until January 2019.

I’m deeply disappointed, yet sadly not surprised, that the Social Care Green Paper has not arrived in time for Christmas. It is one of many crucial reforms side lined by the Brexit chaos, along with the NHS Long Term plan.

For over a year the government has repeated it’s tired old mantra, that the green paper is ‘coming soon’. A government that really wants to solve the social care crisis finds a way; those that don’t, find excuses.

Further excuses and delays will mean disabled people don’t receive good quality care or are unable to access the care they need. It leaves more and more disabled people at crisis point and increasingly reliant on NHS services which are already under pressure.

At this point in time, the crumbling social care sector has neither a long-term or short-term funding solution. The Autumn Budget delivered nothing but a £650 million temporary sticking plaster, only a quarter of the money needed to solve the social care crisis. Meanwhile, many disabled people have been left struggling due to the lack of urgency the government has shown this issue.

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As CEO for Sense, I was proud to join fundraisers running the Royal Parks Half

A smiling man in a Sense running shirt wearing a Royal Parks Half Marathon medal standing outside in a park

I ran my first half marathon when I joined Sense five years ago in 2013. I have now run Royal Park’s on four occasions. I’ve also taken on the Great North Run (my personal favourite), and London Landmarks last year. So, Sunday’s Royal Park was my sixth Half Marathon.

To give you some context, I was no great athlete at school. I ran my first 10k to see if I could do it. I’d say I’m more a work-horse rather than a race-horse. More slow and persistent than fast and furious. Apart from a positive blip last year when I knocked 15 minutes off my time, I get progressively slower each time. But I must say, it has positively changed my life in so many ways. Continue reading “As CEO for Sense, I was proud to join fundraisers running the Royal Parks Half”

The voluntary sector can’t tackle loneliness in isolation from one another

 

Two men in conversation outside
CEO Richard Kramer discusses how Sense services can tackle loneliness

Loneliness is a serious public issue deserving of public funds and national attention. It’s well publicised that the issue disproportionately affects older people, with half a million older people in this country going 5 or 6 days a week without speaking to anyone at all.

What is less well known, is its affect on disabled people who may never have the opportunity to establish friendships in the first place. Continue reading “The voluntary sector can’t tackle loneliness in isolation from one another”

As Sense’s new CEO, I spent my first month reconnecting with our incredible services

A smiling man holding the hands of two disabled men

Last month, I was appointed the new Chief Executive of Sense, after five years as its Deputy CEO.

Most new CEOs joining an organisation would start with visiting its services and meeting as many of its stakeholders as possible. It’s about discovering the lie of the land, learning more about the work the organisation does, and meeting its staff, volunteers and beneficiaries, all for the first time. Continue reading “As Sense’s new CEO, I spent my first month reconnecting with our incredible services”

We’re learning British Sign Language so our deaf colleagues aren’t excluded

A smiling woman talks using BSL to a colleague in her office

If you ask any of my colleagues at Sense what drives them, they will tell you how important inclusion is, and how we can ensure on a daily basis that no one we support is left isolated, alone or unable to fulfil their potential.

At Sense we pride ourselves on being communication experts. By unlocking barriers to communication, we ensure everyone enjoys meaningful lives – and this applies equally, both to the individuals we support, and our staff and volunteers. That’s why, as part of our Equality and Diversity Week this week at Sense, we’re proud to be launching an online learning module so all our staff can learn British Sign Language (BSL).

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The looming crisis facing disabled people and their families

The back of two women talking on the edge of a bed

“It’s very stressful. I find myself hoping she passes away before me. No parent should feel like this.” These words were spoken by Mark, who cares for his disabled daughter, who has complex needs. Mark lives with the fear and worry that his daughter’s care and support needs are so complex, and that his local social services are under such pressures, that should he not be able to support his daughter, then no one would.

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