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Friday 23 March 2018
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News from February to April 2015

This is BILD's News service for those in our community. See the latest news that affects people with learning disabilities, their families and those who work to support them.


You can also follow BILD on Facebook and Twitter. 

25 March 2015: "People with learning disabilities should be represented in politics" 

Councillor Gavin Harding, Deputy Mayor of Selby in Yorkshire, is helping to change perceptions about what people with learning disabilities can do in politics. The 39-year-old is thought to be the first person in Europe with a learning disability to hold a mayoral position. 

He was interviewed about his role and said that people with learning disabilities should be better represented in politics. His focus isn't on learning disability issues, but on a wide range of people's issues. "My role is about representing a lot of other people's views, including people with learning disabilities", he said. A member of his constituency said that since Gavin has been elected, things have improved in Selby. "He thinks of everybody and he cares", she said.  Watch the Channel 4 interview >

25 March 2015: "We have a right to vote for what we want and the things we want" 
Many over 18s in the UK think that politics is inaccessible and over complicated. But for people with a learning disability, understanding politics can be made even more difficult by a lack of accessible information about political issues and how to register and vote. According to a recent Mencap study, only a small number of people with learning disabilities actually make it to the polling station - and for the people that do - it's claimed as many as one in five are unlawfully turned away. More > 


25 March 2015: Council for disabled children's digest
The Council for disabled children have published the Spring Edition of their Digest; a quarterly update on all the latest policy developments, practice, resources and events relating to children and young people with disabilities, and those with special educational needs. In it's latest edition, it covers the new contracts and grants which will be providing support on SEND issues in 2015/16 and includes a wide range of resources from their networks. Download the Council for disabled children's quarterly digest >

25 March 2015: What not to say to parents of children with a disability
Parentdish, a website containing news, views and advice has given its members guidance on what not to say to parents of children with a disability. "Nobody is suggesting disability shouldn't be talked about", they said. "But it would be good to finally see an end to the most misguided (yet common) things people say and for people to approach children's disabilities in a more positive, constructive and sensitive way." The language they recommend to avoid includes "I'm sorry to hear that" and "Bless her, poor little mite".  More >

25 March 2015: How I see the world: Photographer invited onto BBC's The One Show A young wildlife photographer has captured a series of stunning images of the natural world thanks to his unique view of the world. Oliver Hellowell's incredible photographs have already earned him an abundance of fans around the world, with his Facebook page gaining more than 53,000 'likes.' This week he was invited on BBC's The One Show to let people know more about photography and when he first became hooked. "Just go out there and do it", he said. "I love what I do and have learnt from everyone around me."  More >

Watch Oliver Hellowell on The One Show at 16:50 >

25 March 2015: "We need to remove barriers to learning"

Two Cumbrian mothers have taken on the challenge of setting up a school specifically for children with autism. Lynne Thornton and Lin Atrill say many parents of children with autism end up having to choose between home-schooling or moving their child away for specialist education. "We just need to remove the barriers to learning. We want to make sure that each pupil fulfills their potential and is the absolute best that they can be," said mother Lin.  More >

24 March 2015: England complete resounding 5-1 test cricket series win in Australia   

The England Cricket Team completed a resounding 5-1 series win over Australia on Tuesday at the INAS 2015 All Abilities Cricket Championships. It is the second time running England have won the championship, which was last held in 2011. At the closing ceremony, captain Chris Edwards was named man of the match and series. “To win 5-1 in Australia is amazing, a great feeling to finally to get the series over and done with. It’s very wild at the moment", he said.  More >

24 March 2015: Benefit sanctions trap many in an endless cycle of poverty  
The Work and Pensions select comittee published the 'Benefit sanctions policy beyond the Oakley Review' this week, a report which called for a full independent review of benefit sanctions. In the report, MP Dame Anne Begg highlights many failings and said the system must “be capable of identifying and protecting vulnerable people, including those with learning disabilities”  More >

23 March 2015: Pupils denied their right to sex education
Children with learning disabilities are twice as likely to be sexually abused and yet some schools – or parents – feel too embarrassed or angry to educate them, according to a study by a behavioural lead at Doubletrees special school in Cornwall. The study found that almost half the teachers questioned hadn’t provided any sexual eductation to students - not even the small statutory bit. Low confidence among teachers was a consistent finding in the study and attitudes and a lack of resources attribute to the problem, the study concluded.  More >

22 March 2015: Model Seb wows in campaign for M&S and JoJo Maman Bébé
Mother Caroline describes son, Seb, as "the life and soul of the family" and a happy boy who lives a very normal life. There’s only one thing that sets him apart from other kids, and it has nothing to do with Down's syndrome – with his good looks and vibrant personality, he’s a successful model, starring in adverts for big brands such as Marks & Spencer, JoJo Maman Bébé and Kinder.  More >

22 March 2015: Campaign finds aspiring chef dream job
At the start of March, we told you about #GiveBenAJob - a Twitter campaign set up to help a young man find paid employment. Job offers came pouring in after celebrities backed the online campaign and Ben has now landed his dream catering job in a local cafe. Ben was offered the job at the Wilson's Kitchen in Liverpool after owners Lloyd and Kellie Wilson responded to the appeal. Well done Ben!   More >

20 March 2015: 
CQC chief sets out plans for regulating integrated care
It is unlikely the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will require changes to its statutory responsibilities to regulate emerging models of integrated health and social care, chief executive David Behan has said.

This is despite the fact that many of these new services will be set up by commissioners and the watchdog currently has no power to review commissioning arrangements. However, Behan is “not worried” this will be an obstacle going forward.  More >

20 March 2015: Ten Benefits of Pets for Children
Blogger Hayley Goleniowska has written about the ten benefits that pets bring to children with special educational needs. Many of the activities her children enjoy together are centred around animals and "a careful chosen pet whose personality meets the needs of your family can work wonders", she said. Pets can help to improve communication, boost confidence and provide companionship, but most importantly, "pets are fun - We all need a bit more of that in our lives don't we!"  More >

20 March 2015: Does ABA improve social skills or impose conformity? 

Applied behavior analysis aims to boost communication and social skills but some critics say it ‘denies kids the right to be who they are'. Amy Sequenzia, member of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, argues that defining success as behaving like a non-autistic person is unethical and abusive. “They refuse to acknowledge that being trained to obey, and to force our brains to do things in a way they are not wired to do, causes long-lasting pain while keeping their autistic essence buried and unexplored."  More >

20 March 2015: "I would say to any girl who wants to swim - just dive in!"
Saturday was the 10th anniversary for World Down's Syndrome Day and this year the theme of the day will be ‘My Opportunities, My Choices’ – Enjoying Full and Equal Rights and the Role of Families. World Down Syndrome Day is a global awareness day for people with Down's syndrome and their families and each year the voice of people with Down's syndrome, and those who live and work with them, grows louder. But there is still lots more we can do!  More >

20 March 2015: A letter to my mother, my brother’s carer

"You knew something wasn’t right before anyone else did. You kept calling the nurses over, but he was always asleep when they came. They smiled and put it down to new-mum nerves, but you knew. “Your son is a congenital idiot,” were the doctor’s carefully chosen words. They are as sharply etched now as they were 54 years ago. “Best to wipe the slate clean and start again.” You were young and newly married. This was 1956 and mental institutions were still the norm. No one expected you to take him home. But you did." Emma Sterland writes a poignant letter to her mother about her brother who was born with Down's syndrome.  More >


20 March 2015: Why are a quarter of people with disabilities lonely?
A quarter of people with disabilities are lonely, according to a survey published by Sense this week. To accompany the results, Sense have released a report called "We All Need Friends". It calls for a national debate around the issue of loneliness for people with disabilities and wants local authorities to employ more services to provide accessible opportunities to make friends. Jack Howes from Enfield has Asperger's syndrome and says he probably has fewer friends than most people. "When there's chitchat and I don't know what we are going to talk about, I find it a bit difficult. Not just making friends but getting on the same wavelength as people".  More >

17 March 2015: Parents take campaign for restraint guidelines to Scottish Parliament
Parents calling for national guidelines on restraint in schools took their campaign to the Scottish Parliament this week. The parents collected 7,000 signatures in support of their cause and the petitions committee at Holyrood has agreed to look into the issue. One of the main concerns centres around the use of restraint. Beth Morrison, whose son went to Kingspark School in Dundee, presented the petition to the parliament and gave a speech: 

"The petitions committee were very receptive. They're going to be writing to some key people including the Children's Commissioner, NSPCC and the British Institute of Learning Disabilities for their views. Hopefully this will be the start of something really good for our children with disabilities so they can be safe in school and not be frightened to go."  More >

15 March 2015: Green Paper "paves the way for a Connor’s Law in next Parliament" 
Care Minister Norman Lamb gave his strongest pledge yet to help strengthen the rights of people with learning disabilities and their families. Speaking at the Liberal Democrat spring conference he said, "too often families have told me they felt completely ignored. That no one was listening". 

 “So we will end, once and for all, the scandal of people with learning disability, those with autism and with severe and enduring mental ill health having their fundamental rights ignored. And we will change the law. This Green Paper paves the way for a “Connor’s Law” in the next Parliament."  More > 

15 March 2015: One in five councils axe portage services 

Vital services that help prepare children with special educational needs for nursery and school have fallen victim to council austerity cuts. More than one in three councils in England and Wales has cut spending on “portage” services for young children in the past year; one in five no longer has any service at all, according to Freedom of Information requests carried out by Mencap.  More >

13 March 2015: Harvey Price appears on This Morning

Harvey Price, son of Katie Price showed off his Makaton sign language skills in an interview on This Morning last week. Appearing with his mum and grandmother Amy, Harvey said he loves listening to Adele’s Skyfall and is learning to play a variety of musical instruments. “I can play a drum and a tambourine,” he said. “I like playing piano and playing the stamping feet instrument.”  Katie said she has a good support network in place to help support Harvey.  More >

13 March 2015: Air travel for children with SEN
Last month, we told you about Mustafah Sherbaz who was left stranded in Turkey with his family for 2 days after he was deemed 'unfit to fly'. Now the team who produce the Heathrow Airport guide are sharing their top tips and advice for families who are travelling with children needing special assistance. Alongside top travelling tips, they also mention the special measures they have brought in to improve accessibility in Heathrow airport including the special assistance bus which helps passengers move from terminal to terminal should they need it.  More >

13 March 2015: Deifying the odds   
On Friday 13 March we learnt the sad news that Andrea Annear, the first woman with Down's syndrome to get married, died aged 45. A truly inspirational woman, she defied the odds and paved the way for many others to follow. Carol Boys, CEO of the Down’s Syndrome Association, said: "This was such an inspirational story of true love triumphing over all. All our thoughts are with Paul and the family at this very difficult time."  More > 

12 March 2015: Busting myths about Disability Living Allowance eligibility
As part of their Counting the Costs campaign to stop families going without, Contact A Family are encouraging families to find out if their child is eligible for Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Their 'Busting myths about DLA' webpage contains helpful advice on who is entitled to claim DLA, how to claim and the impact it has on other benefits or personal savings. They also include a freephone helpline - 0808 808 3555 - if parents have problems filling in the claims form.  More >

12 March 2015: Changing the face of fashion
Raúl Rodríguez, a model from Spain, is changing the face of fashion with his campaign Commitment -“compromiso” in Spanish - to drive home the message that people with Down's syndrome can lead normal lives. Rodríguez is Spain’s first male model with Down's syndrome, and he’s using the spotlight to break down barriers. “If this is the changing face of fashion, then it's an industry that I´m proud to work in. I’m a fighter,” Raúl Rodríguez said.  More >

MCA  Act

11 March 2015: Drive to improve Mental Capacity Act compliance delayed by Dols judgement
A government initative to improve compliance with the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) among social workers and other professionals has been delayed because attention was diverted to the fallout from a landmark Supreme Court ruling on deprivation of liberty, ministers have admitted. The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards are designed to protect the rights of people lacking mental capacity in care homes and hospitals by providing independent scrutiny of their care arrangements to ensure they are the least restrictive option and in the person’s best interests.  More >

11 March 2015: Centre closed amid police investigation 
A highland respite home which provides short-term breaks for adults with learning disabilities has been closed amid a police investigation. The Beachview Lodge Respite Unit in Brora, run by NHS Highland, was shut on Monday and residents were moved to a care centre in Maryburgh, 50 miles away. A Police Scotland spokesman said: "Police Scotland can confirm that there is an ongoing investigation into a report of concerns at a care home in the Brora area. "Investigations, which are being carried out with partner agencies, are at a very early stage and no further information is available at this time."  More >

10 March 2015: The taboo of sex and disability: 
Research has shown that people with disabilities are less likely to have a long-term partner or marry than non-disabled people. When a 2014 newspaper poll asked Britons if they had ever had sex with someone who had a physical disability, 44 per cent said: "No, and I don't think I would." People with disabilities' sexuality has been suppressed, exploited and, at times, destroyed, over many centuries. So how can we shift the negative images of disability and sexuality that still dominate society's attitudes?  More > 

10 March 2015: Active Community Enterprise celebrate move to new venue
A weekly disco held for people with learning disabilities has celebrated its move to another venue after being told to leave their home of nine years. Active Community Enterprise (ACE) has entertained members every Tuesday for almost a decade. But Tuesday was its final event at the JD Wetherspoon venue, with members marking the occasion by dancing their way to their new home at a Walkabout bar nearby. Steve Percival, one of ACE’s founders, said: “Initially I was a bit stunned by JD Wetherspoon cancelling our discos. But I quickly realised, after the amazing public support, this could be the best thing that’s happened to us - we're really excited about moving to the new venue!"  More >

10 March 2015: ILF closure “is like 30 years of campaigning being stripped away”
Campaigners will continue to fight against the closure of the Independent Living Fund this month to highlight the damaging impact its closure will have on the lives of many people with disabilities. The ILF currently provides support and funding to about 17,000 people in the UK to enable them to live independent lives. People who were eligible for ILF already received a substantial care package from local authority social services. The ILF funding provided additional assistance for those with high support needs.  More >

10 March 2015: Scientists discover blood test for autism
Scientists have developed a blood test which may be able to accurately identify children with autism as young as 12 months, it was announced this week. In a study of more than 200 toddlers, researchers were able to distinguish between those with and without the developmental disorder in at least three-quarters of cases by testing blood samples. Finding a biomarker or other method to pinpoint autism at earlier ages is critical, researchers say, in order to help children get treatment while they’re young when it can be most effective.  More >

8 March 2015: Disney discriminates against children with autism, commission rules 
Disney discriminates against children with autism, the Florida human rights commission ruled this week. Disney, who claim to provide an "inclusive and accessible environment for all", made sweeping changes to their policy for accommodating park visitors with disabilities last year. For years, Disney had offered individuals with special needs a pass that often allowed them and their guests to skip to the front of long lines for park attractions. However, they removed the pass last year because they claimed it was being “abused and exploited” by members of the public who were not disabled.  More > 

6 March 2015: Child star returns to TV screens 

Ruben Reuter is no stranger to the screen. In 2012 the 14-year-old first starred in a CBBC documentary and then went on to present short films for Newsround. In his newest role, Ruben can be seen playing Finn in popular CBBC show The Dumping Ground. With a chaperone, his own teacher and the other boys from the show to mess around with, it has all turned out well. "It's a bit good," says Ruben. "I don't miss my Mum and Dad. I do see them every weekend you know."  More >

4 March 2015: What do councils have to tell you about SEN provision?
Continuing his series for SEN Magazine, specialist SEN solicitor Douglas Silas answers questions about the SEN provision which was introduced in September. He talks about the 'local offer', which "is the term used to describe the way that a local authority must set out information about provision it expects to be available regarding education, health and social care for children/young people in its area who have SEN or a disability." He also states where to find each local authority's local offer and why it is important.  More >

3 March 2015: Celtic fan wins Scottish Goal of the Month by record margin
A Celtic fan known as 'Wee Jay' has won Scottish Goal of the Month by a record 97% margin chosen by the fans via a vote. 11-year-old Jay Beatty had the privilege of scoring a half-time penalty in-front of thousands of fans cheering him on at New Douglas Park in January. His memorable moment came after giving the squad a team talk before kick-off, and the video of the goal has quickly gone viral.  More > 

3 March 2015: Brothers snubbed by bowling club compete in competitive league 
Brothers Mark and Dewi Kemp were devastated after being refused membership to a Bowling Club because they made other members feel "uncomfortable". But the East Riding's bowling club has since rallied to welcome them and they are now set to battle it out with others competitively. Their sister, Emma Kemp, said it has been a whirlwind few months. She said: "It has been fantastic. They have both had so much support."  More >

2 March 2015: Woman wins care costs case
A woman has won a High Court challenge over how much she should contribute to her local council care services. Lawyers for 35-year-old "KM" said her legal victory should clarify the law and end the problem of inconsistent policies across the country on the level of contributions vulnerable people have to make to their care. K, who has severe learning disabilities and lives at home with her parents, won a ruling that Northamptonshire County Council was "exaggerating" contributions after failing properly to apply Government guidance.  More > 

2 March 2015: Can music help to de-stigmatise disability in Gaza?

A centre in Gaza City is offering music therapy to children in an attempt to integrate them back into a society where disabilities are still very much a taboo. Despite the high prevalence of people with disabilities in the territory, many children in Gaza are often hidden away from the public. Music therapy is scarce in Gaza City but the specialists at this treatment centre are using the unconventional, modern technique to treat the children who attend. "I love the centre and the music," said one of the children who attends. "I get really happy when I sing. I never miss a session!."  More >

1 March 2015: Eurovision Song Contest 2015: Finland choose punk band for victory
PKN have become favourites to win the Eurovision Song Contest after they were picked by Finnish viewers to represent the country. The quartet punk band, whose members have Down’s syndrome and autism, will now be playing their 85-second track Aina Mun Pitaa (I Always Have To) at the final in Vienna in May. Singer Kari Aalto told Finnish broadcaster : “Every person with a disability ought to be braver.“He or she should themselves say what they want and do not want.”  More >

Strathmartine Hospital Histories Project

27 February 2015: Strathmartine Hospital Histories project
The memories and stories of former residents and staff have been deposited with Dundee University Archives as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded Strathmartine Hospital Histories project. The items include oral histories, film footage, photographs, artwork and written stories. There is still time to get involved and volunteer to be interviewed, particularly if you are a former resident.  For more information or to sign up please call Karen McAulay on 07590 965528 or email Strathmartine@thera.co.uk.  More > 

26 February 2015: Team Silver at Euro Cross Country Championships
The UK Sports Association for People with Learning Disabilities GB Team earned Team silver at the 7th Inas European Cross Country Championships 22-23 February. The six GB Team runners put up a tough battle, succumbing to the strong Portuguese runners on both days. James Hamilton (22) at his first international event took a strong individual bronze in the 3k on Saturday with a time of 9:09. Sunday saw him improve upon that by speeding his way to silver in the 6k, in a strong 20:52, just behind the Portuguese gold medallist.

26 February 2015: "Are you ready for the fundamental standards" asks the CQC 
The CQC have published guidance on how the 46,000 health and adult social care providers and services across England can meet the Government’s new care regulations – called the fundamental standards – which will take effect from April. "A key part of our new enforcement policy is the ability for us to prosecute providers for poor care without having to issue a warning notice first," said David Behan, CQC Chief Executive.  More > 

26 February 2015: Family left behind on holiday as son was deemed 'unfit to fly' 
A family was left abroad for two days after a travel firm told them the son who has severe autism was “unfit to fly”. The parents of 11-year-old Mustafah – were told by Thomas Cook that they could not board the return flight home from Turkey in July, the Birmingham Mail reports. After being billed for accommodation, taxis and ambulance transport to the hospital, the airport did not even ask to see the certificate, the family said.  More >

25 February 2015: Survey paints damning picture of Government's impact on lives of people with learning disabilities and their families 
People with learning disabilities and their families have issued a damning verdict on the impact that the current government’s policies have had on their lives, research shows. The Learning Disability Alliance’s survey of 1,924 people asked respondents to rate the coalition government’s record on 12 measures of quality including rights, advocacy and support. The result was an overall score of 2 out of 10 – the second lowest rating possible.  More > 

25 February 2015: Politicians should listen to people like me
"There are almost five million people of voting age in the UK who either have a learning disability like myself or who have someone with a learning disability in their immediate family, making up 10% of the electorate," wrote Vijay Patel in the Guardian. "Voting on the issues that matter to me will make a big difference to what I can do in the future. That’s why I’ll be voting", he said.  More >

25 February 2015: Staff ‘distressed’ by NHS Trust’s response to death of man
The way an NHS Trust responded to the preventable death of a man being cared for at one of its learning disability units has caused distress to its own staff and people using services, according to the Care Quality Commission. Staff at Southern Health told CQC inspectors that the trust had not been ‘as open and honest as it could have been’ and had acted ‘outside its own values’ in the way it handled the death of 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk, a report published today shows. The situation was ‘impacting signifcantly’ on the welfare of staff, carers and patients, inspectors found.  More >

20 February 2015: First and Foremost I Am:

Sigga Ella is a photographer from Reykjavík, Iceland whose recent photo series looks to shed light on the ethical questions of where we are headed as a society with today’s ability to choose who is born based on prenatal testing for genetic disorders such as Down syndrome. She chose twenty-one people from ages 9 months to 60 years, both male and female, to show that they are more than a 21st chromosome anomaly – they’re people.  More > 

20 February 2015: 7,000 sign for schools' restraint guidance
A Scottish mother's petition calling for new rules on the way children with disabilities are restrained in schools has received more than 7,000 signatures. Beth Morrison has lodged her petition with the Scottish Parliament and is set to travel to Holyrood to present her case to MSPs. The campaign calls for changes to national guidelines on the use of restraint, saying it has to be a last resort, as well as calling for the recording of every incident leading to restraint or seclusion.  More > 

19 February 2015: People should live in the community, not under lock and key
Local authorities face a challenging task, says Lucy Hurst-Brown of the Brandon Trust. Despite the Winterbourne View report and cries for change over recent years, last month’s Learning Disability Census 2014 revealed that 5% of patients, or 155 people, were ready to leave A&T units but lacked the funding and support needed to make the move. If we can’t help that 5% to make the transition, what chance do we have of a smooth progression for the rest? 
More >

17 February 2015: The new special educational needs maze
Laws meant to ‘simplify’ support for children with SEN have made things chaotic, and in some cases catastrophic, say families, schools and experts. The revised English system for special educational needs (SEN) was introduced via the Children and Families Act of 2014, and local authorities have been rolling it out, in theory, since last September. "The original intention was to simplify the system and put parents in control. But what you’ve actually got now is the complete reverse.”  More >

16 February 2015: Health chiefs move patients from private hospital on CQC concerns
Health chiefs have ordered the removal of patients from a private hospital that failed a care inspection in the first sign of a new determination that there should be no repeat of the Winterbourne View care home scandal. 

NHS England is moving patients with mental health needs and learning disabilities out of the Vista Healthcare hospital in Winchfield, Hampshire (pictured above) after it missed a deadline last week to make urgent improvements. 

An inspection by the Care Quality Commission found a “disturbing” number of violent incidents at the hospital and evidence of inappropriate use of restraint. More > 

The inspection report, made public at the end of last month, found the hospital in breach of 12 national guidelines and stipulated urgent action to safeguard patients from abuse and to monitor care quality. Inspectors had uncovered a “disturbing” number of recorded violent incidents – 334 involving patients and 272 assaults on staff in a seven-month period last year – but no effective system for reviewing them.

During the same period, there had been 267 recorded incidents of restraint of patients, including 55 where the individual had been forced to the floor. However, knowledge of approved techniques was limited and less than a third of staff had been trained in floor restraint. Read the CQC report > 

Vista said the hospital had taken firm action to address the “uncompromising catalogue” of issues raised by the CQC and issued a statement >

15 February 2015: Jamie Brewer on the catwalk at New York Fashion Week
The American actress, Jamie Brewer, is the first woman with Down's Syndrome to strut down the catwalk at the New York Fashion Week. She talked to the BBC World Service Radio Newshour programme about her experience, why she did and what she wants to do next!  Listen > 

12 February 2015: Because love doesn't discriminate
Over at Mencap, they've gone all soppy about celebrating love (us too!) - because love doesn't discriminate, it puts us all on an equal playing field and that's what they want for people with a learning disability. (Us too!) It is a compilation of different couples talking about their relationship. Some of those featured in the film have a learning disability. Some don't. They all have one thing in common – they’re head-over-heels in love. (Us... er, well...we're staying hopeful on this one!) You can watch it on You Tube > 

11 February 2015: "The only thing he suffers from is other people's attitudes"
As her son prepares for his GCSEs, a mother has talked about why Down’s syndrome doesn't define him: “People talk about suffering, but Callum is not suffering. The only thing he suffers from is other people’s attitudes. Of course, there are practical challenges, but Callum is a high achiever and he knows his own mind. Callum has opened up a world of opportunities and given us a new outlook on life.”  More >

11 February 2015: Language and autism: what every care professional should know 
"I have come into contact with many social care professionals over the years – having assessments for autism, sitting in on a family member’s assessment, and working with them in a professional sense. Over this time I have had many positive experiences, but when it comes to the language used around autism there are a few tips that, as a person with autism, I would like every social care professional to know." Blogger Paddy-Joe Moran offers some advice on language to professionals working with people with autism.  More >

10 February 2015: Taking part in international championships is "like a dream come true"
The English cricket squad is heading to Australia for the INAS International Cricket Series and one player has described it as "a dream come true." Dan Bowser hopes to make his family proud when he earns his first cap for England’s Learning Disabilities team against Australia next month. The 26-year-old has played for Devon but this will be his first taste of the international scene. “When I was younger I always had aspirations to travel and compete in international tournaments, so this feels like a dream come true”.  More >

10 February 2015: Those we support have quiet voices but "the same aspirations as everyone else"
Women are more likely to become 'hidden victims' of domestic violence if they have learning disabilities, say researchers at the University of Kent, where a recent study found that a learning disability makes women more vulnerable to domestic abuse and that police lack suitable training to deal with it. The two year research project, coordinated by the University of Kent’s Tizard Centre, explored the experiences of former victims as well as the attitudes and practices of professionals who support such women.  More >

10 February 2015: ‘We must not strip the humanity out of our social care provision’
Anna Galliford, Chief Executive of Fitzroy, has talked about austerity and how it is not an excuse to ignore the needs, wishes and rights of the people with learning disabilities. "As austerity increasingly drives decision-making at local authority level, we are seeing the care and control so central to the lives of people with a learning disability being stripped away. We must not stop listening to the voices of the people we are here to support, or we risk losing the gains we've made as a sector over the last 30 years."  More >

10 February 2015: NHS England to shut many residential hospitals "in the next 12 to 24 months" 

NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens (pictured) said that residential hospitals for people with learning disabilities will close 'in the next 12 - 24 months', following questioning by MPs in a Public Accounts Committee.

Simon Stevens was asked about the failure of previous attempts to stop people being placed in hospitals rather than supported to live in the community and replied: “I am afraid the time has come to say that some of these remaining facilities are going to have to close and care is going to have to be re-provided in a radical way.” There would be “substantial transition” over the next 12 to 24 months, he said.

Health Chiefs also intend to force closure or reform of up to 49 private hospitals that provide long-term accommodation for people with learning disabilities or autism whose behaviour is considered challenging.

Jane Cummings, the chief nursing officer for England, told the committee that the Care Quality Commission had recently rejected an application from a private company for a licence to open a new learning disability hospital. The CQC had consulted NHS England, which had said it did not support the proposed model of care.

"Plans for a closure programme would be drawn up over the next six months and would focus on the north and parts of the Midlands, where NHS hospital numbers were highest. But steps would also be taken to curb referrals to the private sector," Stevens said. More >  Read the minutes of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee >

9 February 2015: Council failing its duty for people with disabilities "for the last 20 years"
Warwickshire Council's proposed local offer for children with special educational needs and disabilities fell “a considerable distance” short of statutory requirements, the High Court has ruled. Representatives for two children, known as L and P, launched a judicial review of the authority’s decision to consult on changes to its local offer for children with disabilities, including new criteria for accessing assessments and services.  More >

9 February 2015: Criminal justice system does not offer enough support

The criminal justice system does not offer enough support to people with learning disabilities, a recent study has found. The study focused on the experiences of those who have faced arrest and served time in prison and found that people with learning disabilities were more likely to suffer from social exclusion and isolation than those without disabilities. It also found that people with learning disabilities tend to commit less serious crimes and serve shorter custodial sentences than others, but are much more likely to re-offend.  More >

5 February 2015:
 How do they address the needs of people with learning disabilities? 

The Improving Health and Lives Learning Disabilities Observatory, part of Public Health England, have published an analysis of the CQC's inspection report of NHS trusts. 'How do they address the needs of people with learning disabilities?'. They report: We looked at 63 CQC inspection reports. Just over half (54%) of the inspection reports made any mention of people with learning disabilities.

Download the report and the easy read version - one page long! - here >

6 February 2015: Father raises $450,000 to Bring Leo home
A father has raised over $450,000 for his son after his wife refused to take him home because he had a disability. Leo, who was born with Down's syndrome, was rejected by his mother and the rest of her family in Armenia because they said he would 'bring shame on the entire family'. His father, who raised the money so he could move Leo to his native New Zealand, said "he's beautiful, he's perfect and I'm absolutely keeping him."  More >

6 February 2015: Practitioners under 'extreme pressure' after use of Mental Health Act continues to rise, says CQC report
The latest Mental Health Act report from the Care Quality Commission has said practitioners are under 'extreme pressure' to treat patients. The report highlights that use of the act continues to grow with 23,531 people subject to the act at the end of 2013/14 - an increase of 6% from 2012/13. The data also shows that black and minority ethnic people continue to be over represented in the detained population.  More >

5 February 2015: National consultation launched on antenatal screening for fragile X
The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) has launched a national consultation on antenatal screening for fragile X. Current screening for fragile X syndrome in pregnancy is not recommended - the available test is labour intensive and unsuitable for high throughput screening purposes. The UK NSC welcomes comments on the draft report which can be downloaded here. Submissions should be returned by 5th May 2015. All responses will be published on the website after the UK NSC makes its final recommendation.  More > 

4 February 2015: Healthy eating classes ensure people aren't "just passive receivers of food"
BILD were invited to the BBC Radio 5 Live studios this week to talk about healthy eating and people with learning disabilities. People with learning disabilities are much more likely to have diabetes, obesity, poorer health and to die younger than the general population - there needs to be much more support and encouragement so people understand healthy lifestyle options and aren't just passive receivers of food.  More >

4 February 2015:Government failing on community care pledge, says Audit body
Ministers have failed to honour a pledge to move patients with learning disabilities out of hospitals and into community care, the National Audit Office (NAO) - which scrutinises public spending on behalf of Parliament - says in a report published this week. Care services for people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour, download here >

“NHS England has made a disappointingly slow start to this task. Although it has now increased its activity, there are formidable care, organizational and service hurdles to overcome in establishing a new model of care in more appropriate settings”, said Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office

4 February 2015: New guide sets out safe ways to ‘delegate payments’
Research from the Payments Council has revealed that almost three quarters of people needing assistance to make payments due to a disability have admitted to putting themselves at risk by sharing their card and PIN in the past two years. More than half (56%) of the 1,000 people surveyed by the Payments Council were not aware of secure alternatives to sharing their card and PIN. To counter this, the Council has launched a new Pay Your Way consumer advice guide, which aims to set out payment options to help people stay in control of their financial affairs.  More >

4 February 2015: Judge authorises sterilisation of mother
A mother-of-six with learning disabilities can be sterilised, a judge has ruled. Health authority and social services bosses had asked Mr Justice Cobb to authorise forced entry into the woman’s home, the use of “necessary restraint” and sterilisation, at a hearing in the court of protection in London. They argued such moves were in the best interests of the woman, who is 36. Specialists said the woman had physical health problems that could put her life in danger if she became pregnant again.  More >

3 February 2015: Want to be a circus star?
Have you ever dreamt about joining the circus? We’ll now’s your chance to make that dream a reality. This May, Southwark will see the premiere of Weighting, an incredible circus performance produced by Extraordinary Bodies, the UK's first integrated circus company showcasing disabled and non-disabled performers. And Extraordinary Bodies would like more people to join them!  To sign up and find out more >

3 February 2015: More families appeal over autism provision
More parents of children with autism in England are taking legal action against their local authority, because they do not think their needs are being met. The number of appeals lodged at special educational needs and disability tribunals rose by a third last year. The National Autistic Society says local councils "continually underestimate" the impact of autism and suggest local councils are using the tribunal process as a "rear-guard action" to protect shrinking budgets.  More >

3 February 2015: School exclusion revised guidance withdrawn after legal action threat

The government has been forced into a climbdown on school exclusions just weeks after introducing new guidelines to headteachers aimed at toughening up discipline in schools. Lawyers, who defend pupils appealing against permanent exclusions, argued that more children would be expelled from school under the new guidance, which came into force at the beginning of the year.  More >

2 February 2015: Eurovision 2015: Finnish punk band applies to raise awareness
A Finnish punk band are applying to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest in a bid to raise awareness of learning disabilities. PKN (Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat), whose members have Down's syndrome and autism, will compete against 17 other bands to represent Finland at the event, to be held this year in Vienna.  More >

2 February 2015: DoLS applications explosion
The Care Quality Commission's annual report on the use of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, which looks at the period 2013/14 shows that there has been an explosion in the number of DoLS applications, creating a huge backlog of cases. The number of applications to use the safeguards rose over the year 2013/14, but dramatic rises followed in Q1 and Q2 of 2014/15, following the Supreme Court's clarification that that a person lacking mental capacity to consent is deprived of their liberty if they are both not free to leave and under continuous supervision and control. Since this clarification, there has been an eight-fold increase in the number of applications.  More >