Great tunes bring best mates together

Asif and Ashton’s love of music first brought them together eight years ago, and they have been best friends ever since. Every lunchtime at Sense Centre Streatley, they sit together at the piano to play and sing their favourite tunes, occasionally they dance, and always they will increasingly collapse into fits of giggles and laughter.

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Growing in confidence: with a Sense volunteer Buddy.

Two ladies smiling at the camera and one lady has one hand in the air.

Laely’s confidence to communicate and connect with the world is coming on leaps and bounds, thanks to Jenny, her volunteer Sense Buddy.

Laely is non-verbal and uses facial expressions, gestures, vocalisations and picture symbols to express herself.

Since joining the Sense Buddying scheme, Laely has developed a trusting, supportive friendship with her Sense Buddy.

Jenny has become an expert in Laely’s communication methods. They share many lovely moments of connection and plenty of giggles. Drawing together has become a unique means of conversation between the two, with Laely and Jenny taking turns to add to a picture before Laely proudly shows off the finished piece.

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A new dance landscape

Sense Arts has been exploring imaginative ways of supporting people with complex disabilities to be dance leaders in the future. To develop this, a new partnership between Sense, pioneering disabled choreographer Lisa Simpson, and dancers from InterACTION are creating a new dance landscape.

Group of people positioned in an art formation with some standing up and some sat down/ lying down.

One of the guiding principles of Lisa Simpson’s dance sessions is that there is equality between everyone taking part: between instructors and students, disabled and non-disabled. A dance session is co-created between everyone who is taking part, where each person is part of a bigger whole.

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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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