Our Access Guide goes ‘Live’ in Thurrock

A unique on-line access guide that is designed to empower Thurrock’s disabled residents to get out and do what they want to do, has officially gone ‘live’ in the area.

Thurrock Council has worked with DisabledGo and hundreds of shops, pubs, restaurants, theatres and other public venues to help create DisabledGo – Thurrock, which details how accessible a specific venue is.

By logging on to www.disabledgo.com, people with a disability and their families and friends, can find out within a matter of seconds information including how suitable a pub is for a wheelchair user to visit or whether a particular hotel offers adapted rooms.

Cllr Amanda Arnold, Thurrock Council’s portfolio holder for Disability Services, said:

“The website is about giving disabled people the freedom to make informed decisions, as well as be part of their community. We have worked hard to transform services to ensure that vulnerable people have a good quality of life, and DisabledGo will enable residents to decide which shops and services they can access, with confidence.”

Commenting in advance of the access guide going live, the founder of DisabledGo, wheelchair user Dr Gregory Burke said, “The constant need to write or telephone to enquire about access really affects people’s confidence to get out and do what they want to do. Never knowing whether a building will be accessible or whether staff will have a helpful attitude makes you think twice before going out. DisabledGo ends that uncertainty by proving detailed access information and enabling people to judge for themselves whether a shop, restaurant or theatre is accessible for their own requirements.”

Dr Burke concluded, “Disabled people are no small minority. One in six of the British population is disabled and disabled people have an annual spend of £80 billion. Those are numbers that any business should take seriously. I’m immensely grateful to Thurrock Council for the support they have given us, and I hope that this guide will open up all that Thurrock has to offer to everyone.”

For more information on the guide, contact Vicky Taylor, Partnership Manager of Disabled Go, atvicky.taylor@disabledgo.com or call 01438 842 710.

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Mobility Roadshow Helps you Take Control

The Department for Transport is considering plans for mobility scooter owners to prove they are fit to drive, reflecting the reported increasing number of incidents and near-misses by people not in control of their mobility scooters.

“This can be because they did not have the opportunity to test drive their vehicles in a ‘real’ environment”, says Jacqui Jones, executive director of Mobility Choice, the charity that organises the annual Mobility Roadshow. “For thousands of disabled and older people across the UK a mobility scooter is the route to greater independence and enhanced quality of life. Yet, it can be difficult to review a wide range in order to decide on the best ride for speed control, safety and comfort without driving miles around the country.”

“The Mobility Roadshow – free to all – offers the opportunity to try out, all on one site, a large range of scooter models and brands and make comparisons in a ‘no pressure’ environment”, explains Jacqui Jones.

There will also be great line-up of adapted vehicles from major motor manufacturers to test drive, together with the opportunity to discuss conversions and adaptations with the country’s leading specialists.

In addition there are hundreds of other products and services – cycles, trikes and chairs, exercise equipment and products for home as well as holiday, leisure and lifestyle options.

You can try a range of disability sports; attend free seminars by expert speakers and with entertainment and activities for all the family it’s a great day out for all.

This year there two events: 1st 2nd and 3rd July at the East of England Showground, Peterborough and 17th and 18th September at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston near Edinburgh.

Both shows are open from 10 am each day. Parking, admission and showguide are free, wheelchairs and scooters available to hire – book in advance at www.mobilityroadshow.co.uk where you can also register for free tickets and keep in touch with the latest news as it develops. Or for more information email info@mobilityroadshow.co.uk, or call 0845 241 0390.

DisabledGo Launches ‘new look’ website

As you may have seen www.disabledgo.com has a brand new look.

As an organisation we want to make sure our website and our information is as useful and as easy to use as possible. Over the last few months you have been feeding back your ideas of what we could improve and our new look is the result!

When you visit www.disabledgo.com you will find two search options, the Quick Search where you can find places in a town/city of your choice or within a certain distance from your postcode and 6 big buttons which take you through to different areas of our site. For example, Places to Go, Healthcare, Jobs or Events and Chat.

To celebrate our 10th year we have also launched a new logo that you will see on our website. The logo aims to represent our mission to break down barriers and our commitment to inclusion. The logo and new website design have been developed in our brand new company colours which are dark blue, yellow and white.

ONE SAM AND HIS DOG WIN FRIENDS FOR LIFE AT DFS CRUFTS

The British public has voted assistance dog Josie and his eight year old owner, Sam Daly, as the champions of ultimate dog heroes competition at DFS Crufts, Friends for Life.

The proud winners, from Eton in Berkshire, were presented with their trophy in the main Arena, at the Birmingham NEC tonight (Sunday 11th March).

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The public have been voting all week for the story that moved them the most and decided that Sam and Josie were the most deserving pair. Sam is a wheelchair user with muscular dystrophy who says that “things were rubbish before she came to love me.”

Josie helps Sam with everyday tasks including undoing zips, opening doors, and even passing notes between Sam and his parents. Since having Josie Sam’s confidence has improved and she sleeps by Sam’s bedside where her intuitive and caring nature has brought peace of mind to the whole family. She has previously awoken Sam’s parents to alert them that he was about to be sick, which could have resulted in Sam choking because he is unable to turn in his sleep. Josie’s quick reactions undoubtedly ensures that Sam never comes to any harm.

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Josie’s training and placement with Sam was made possible with an investment from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, granting nearly £103,000 to Dogs for the Disabled since 1991, and over £4.5m in total for dog-related causes.

Speaking about his win, Sam said: “It’s fantastic to have won especially because everyone deserves to win. Josie is my best friend and I am super proud of her. She will get a very big bone for her tea.”

Sam’s mum, Sara Daly, added: “It means so much to us to win this award. We would like to thank everyone who voted for Sam and Josie in the Friends for Life competition. Also a huge thank you to Dogs for the Disabled and the Kennel Club for making it all possible.”

Remembering life before Josie, Sara explains the challenges they regularly faced: “Sam’s frustration and anger at his condition boiled over in to every part of his life. He was desperate to join in with all the things that other children did, but his condition limited so many things that he could do. He would watch his little sister be able to play and start to do things that Sam has either never been able to master or even worse that he was no longer able to manage. While he still delights in his sister’s new found abilities each milestone she achieves is bittersweet.”

The competition, annually presented by the Kennel Club, follows five heart-warming stories of friendship in adversity, where dogs have truly earned the title of man’s best friend through bravery, support or companionship. All the dogs show unfailing loyalty and spirit in their constant desire to help, and are a great example of the incredible difference that dogs can make.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club spokesperson, said: “We give our warmest congratulations to Sam and Josie, they are a truly lovely and deserving pair. They show just how much dogs can enrich our lives and the profound difference that they can make. Josie is not only a special dog himself but he represents all of the great work that is done every day by assistance dogs.

“All five finalists were truly deserving of their place in this year’s competition, which celebrates and rewards those dogs who quietly go about changing people’s lives in their own unique and special way.

“DFS Crufts celebrates the diverse role that dogs play in society; their vast range of talents, jobs and hobbies and the reasons why they have earned the title of man’s best friend.”

You can watch the stories of all of the 2009 Friends for Life finalists at www.crufts.org.uk/news/friends-for-life-2009.