Wedding lovely! What more is there!

Well the wedding passed off really well! Amazingly the Friday was the hottest day for ages and Saturday was pretty good too! My daughter Grace looked stunning and her husband gazed adoringly at her all day. The little grandchildren acting as escorts to the bride melted hearts and then behaved impeccably. The venue and gardens were accessible of course! As you can imagine anything involving wheelchairs and me is always going to provide a little talking point! This occasion proved to be no different! I had my grandson Isaac on my lap and was trundling around meeting and greeting and decided to take a little short cut down a relatively straightforward grassy incline. As we proceeded the chair tipped forwards as the tipping point had changed because of Isaac being on my lap! We were both slowly and gracefully catapulted onto the grass! Neither of us was in anyway hurt although I will never forget Isaac’s face as we lay opposite each other! A mixture of curiosity and bemusement! We were rescued by my sons one being Isaac’s Dad. After health and safety checks had been carried out on both of us the day continued without further incident. Isaac spent the rest of it uttering the words “Grandpa Crash”.

I’ve posted some pictures of the wedding athttp://gallery.me.com/philfriend/ if you’d like to see them. Unfortunately none record “the crash”! Now to the news!
International Paralympic Day: Athletes set their own targets for London 2012

Some of Britain’s finest disabled athletes – and former Paralympians – have spoken of their hopes for next year’s Paralympics in London, and the changes they hope it could bring in its wake.

They were speaking during International Paralympic Day, held for the first time in London, in Trafalgar Square, just a day before tickets for the London games were set to go on sale.

Scores of athletes from the 20 Paralympic sports were there to explain their events to the public, and to take part in demonstrations of sports such as athletics, wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, five-a-side blind football, table-tennis, powerlifting and adaptive rowing.

Visitors included the prime minister, David Cameron, who took part in a game of tennis with London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, and two of Britain’s best wheelchair tennis players, John Parfitt and Josh Steels.

Athletes, senior figures from the worldwide Paralympic movement and children from London later took part in the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) official invitation to athletes to compete at London 2012.

Earlier in the day, current and former athletes had spoken to Disability News Service about how they would judge the success of the London 2012 Paralympics.

Wheelchair fencer Adrian Derbyshire said he hoped the ParalympicsGB team would set a standard for sportsmanship, “be welcoming to other countries” and “get the country behind us”.

He added: “We are estimating that 50,000 people with some sort of disability will come to the Paralympics and Olympics. It’s showing that London can handle that.”

Adaptive rower Pam Relph said she hoped the Olympics and Paralympics would boost participation in a wider range of school sports, and that disabled people would feel empowered by watching Britain’s Paralympians competing, and winning gold medals.

Fellow adaptive rower James Roe said he believed a successful games would mean Britain getting close to the second place in the medals table the team achieved in Beijing.

He added: “Days like this show that the community is very supportive of the Paralympics. I am looking forward to living up to expectations.”

Zoe Robinson, a boccia gold medallist from Beijing, said she hoped the games would increase interest in her sport. “We have got to get people involved in boccia and get them to come and watch. The more people the better.”

Powerlifter Zoe Newson, who in June was voted the IPC’s athlete of the month, after setting a new European record by lifting almost three times her body weight at the British championships, said that just to be selected for London 2012 would be a “massive achievement”.

She added: “If I don’t do well, I will just be happy that I took part.”

Baroness [Tanni] Grey-Thompson, who won 11 Paralympic gold medals before she retired from athletics, said she believed success would mean events running on time, great sport, and high ticket sales, with at least the big finals and evening sessions selling out.

She said she also hoped the Paralympics would see improvements to disability sport, to access and to attitudes to disabled people.

She was realistic about how accessible London could be by next summer – because of the age of much of the city – but warned that the 4,500 disabled athletes, and disabled spectators from around the world, would expect a certain level of “access and service”.

She has already raised in the Lords the issue of whether there will be enough accessible hotel rooms, and intends to keep asking questions of the government. But she believes that hotels “can still do more”.

Ade Adepitan, the TV presenter and former Paralympic wheelchair basketball medal-winner, said: “Obviously we want the stadiums to be full, we want to sell loads of tickets. But the most important thing is success on the track and in the pool and on the basketball court. We want our athletes to win medals.”

But he said he also wanted the Paralympics to have an impact beyond 2012, with increased participation in sport, and improvements to access in London and across the country, and in attitudes to disabled people.

Maria Miller, minister for disabled people, said: “The opportunity we have around the Paralympics is in the long term a way of changing attitudes to disability in the UK.”

She said an important part of achieving the aspiration for disabled people to be able to live independently was to “effect an attitude change”.

Miller said the Paralympics should also “underpin the important role disabled people play in UK society”, and improve sports facilities and boost access in other areas, such as public transport.

She said she believed London had made “enormous progress in the last few years” in improving access, despite the challenges posed by such an old city.

Sir Philip Craven, the IPC’s president, said he believed a successful games would be one in which there were “loads of spectators, great performances from the athletes, and the British public showing us how they appreciate Paralympic sport as sport”.

But he said the “key thing is that everybody has a real fun time”.

Tickets for the 2012 Paralympics are on sale from Friday 9 September until Monday 26 Sptember.
Survey will shine spotlight on impact of cuts on London’s DPOs

New research aims to “make visible” the impact of the spending cuts on disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) in London, and so help their fight for survival.

Inclusion London (IL) is appealing for the capital’s DPOs to take part in its survey in a bid to produce the first detailed evidence of how the cuts have affected their finances.

The results will be used to lobby politicians, funders and other decision-makers.

The call came as new figures published by the Disability LIB partnership showed a drop in the total income of 100 representative DPOs across England from £40 million in 2009 to £33 million in 2010.

Tracey Lazard, the new chief executive of IL, which was set up to support the capital’s DPOs, said she was not surprised by the figures, and added: “That was last year. This year and next year we expect the picture to be dramatically worse.”

She said IL was hearing “anecdotally” of some closures of DPOs but “a hell of a lot of cutbacks”, such as cuts to staff and services and other short-term “survival techniques”, while demand for their services was increasing.

She said: “The fear is that if DPOs have managed to survive this year – and most are – it is going to get a lot tougher next year. We need to make these cuts visible and help the fightback.”

She said it was crucial that DPOs “work together to raise awareness among funders and make visible the reality of cuts on the ground”.

Several trends were making it harder for DPOs to compete with larger organisations for contracts, she said.

Many DPOs were finding it difficult to cope with the trend for public sector bodies to seek tenders for bigger and bigger contracts, to provide “payment by results”, and for non user-led disability organisations to come from outside a DPO’s area and under-cut their bids.

Lazard said: “We need to get smarter about working in partnership to bid for work, maybe through new consortiums or coalitions, which will allow us to win bids.”

The results of the IL research will be presented at a conference on 21 October.

London-based DPOs can take part in the survey until 30 September. The survey should take just 10 minutes to complete and asks what funding cuts they have faced this year and what they expect next year, as well as what impact the cuts have had on their services and service-users.

IL will also be carrying out 16 in-depth, face-to-face interviews with leaders of DPOs.
Court setback just spurs campaigners on in fight against care cuts

Disabled campaigners have vowed to fight on, despite losing a High Court challenge to a council’s plans to make sweeping cuts to adult social care and support.

A judge at the High Court in Manchester ruled that Lancashire County Council did not breach the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) by failing to pay “due regard” to the impact of the cuts on disabled people.

The case was taken by two disabled older women – JG and MB – but much of the evidence was compiled by a disabled people’s organisation, Disability Equality North West (DENW), which backed their legal action.

The two women argued that the council had decided to make the cuts before the necessary consultation process had even started, with the budget agreed on 17 February, despite the consultation not being due to finish until 11 days later.

But Mr Justice Kenneth Parker said in his ruling that he believed the council had just taken “a preliminary decision” on its budget, while being “fully aware” that the cuts would be likely to have an impact on disabled people, and that it had not committed itself to implementing the cuts until it carried out “a full and detailed assessment of the likely impact”.

He rejected the claim that the consultation had been just “a cosmetic exercise”, in which the council was “no more than going through the motions of setting out the consequences of a pre-determined course”.

Melanie Close, DENW’s chief executive, said she believed the two women would seek leave to appeal against the court’s decision.

She said DENW had been flooded with messages from its members thanking the organisation for taking on the case.

She said: “One of the positives is that the tide has now turned. Organisations and individuals now realise that actually as disabled people we do not always have to accept [these] decisions.”

The council – which has to make nearly £180 million in savings across all its spending over three years –wants to raise the eligibility threshold for support from “moderate” to “substantial”, saving £2.5 million a year for the next two years; cut spending on personal budgets and home care by £12 million over three years; and increase revenue from charging by more than £5.5 million over four years.

In the first four months of this year, said Close, DENW was hearing from disabled people whose support packages were being cut.

In the last three months, disabled people have started to contact DENW to report increased council charges of between £30 and £70 a week for their support.

Close warned that there would be further rises in charges next year. She said DENW would continue to gather information about the impact of the council’s policies, and would encourage disabled people to use the council’s complaints procedure.

DENW is organising an event on 23 September that will explain community care law and disabled people’s human rights, including their rights to challenge decisions made about their support, with 50 disabled people already signed up to attend.

At the event, DENW will hand out copies of a guide on rights, prepared with the help of disability organisations Disability LIB and DIAL UK, and copies of the council’s complaints procedure.

Close also intends to send a dossier of all the case studies compiled during preparation for the court case to the county council, in the hope that it will overturn individual decisions to cut support.

Lancashire county councillor Mike Calvert, cabinet member for adult and community services, welcomed the court judgement, which he said “supports our view that we have complied with disability discrimination legislation and that these decisions were entirely within the law”.

He said: “The changes we have made were very carefully thought through and will help to ensure that we can continue to protect our most vulnerable citizens.”

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Author: PhilFriend

Dr Phil Friend (OBE FRSA) himself a wheelchair user, is acknowledged as the UK's foremost consultant on disability matters. A powerful and highly popular communicator, his company – Phil & Friends – provides consultancy to many of the country's best-known companies. In addition to his professional activities, he is also a respected champion for equal opportunities and diversity in general, where his special blend of humour and direct speaking has won admirers from around the world.

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