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Disability Essex News Archive

Southend Borough Council rescues Health and Wellbeing Service

NHS funding, the bedrock of the Disability Essex ‘Healthy Chance’ outreach service, was not renewed last year. One nurse and two ‘healthy living’ advisors lost their jobs. With only one nurse left, funded by a small grant from Essex County Council and Southend Borough Council, the end of 5 years work was inevitable.

Essex did not renew funding, and the only hope left was Southend Borough Council. The nurse was under threat of redundancy and one diagnostic vehicle was moth-balled.

Now, Southend Borough Council has provided £12,500 to keep heart and cholesterol checks going in the Borough for the next 12 months. Using the Charity’s diminished savings to top-up this award, means that our remaining nurse and one vehicle can continue to provide health and wellbeing for the time being.

Caroline Carpenter, the head of the clinical services at Disability Essex said “With a continuing, but restricted service, we can have time to rebuild our former service.” Time exists for continued campaigning for new sources of income.

Thank you Southend!

Disability Essex press release, April 2011

Royal recognition for ultra-low energy training centre

(Getty Images)

On 17 May 2011, HRH the Duke of Gloucester will visit and view the facilities and design of the Centre for Disability Studies, in Rochford, Essex.

Disability Essex is particularly honoured to welcome a member of the Royal Family, who is a qualified architect as well as having a close interest in civilian, military, and disability charities.

Other guests will include:

  • Lady Ruggles-Brise (High Sheriff of Essex)
  • Cllr Rodney Bass (Chairman, Essex County Council)
  • Cllr Derrick Stansby (Chairman, Rochford District Council)

The Chairman of the charity, Stephen Davies, with CEO Richard Boyd, will welcome HRH, who will be taken on a thorough tour of the eco-features in this unique building.

The Duke brings Royal recognition of the charity and its 60 years of work in the County. During the past year, visitors from China, and Holland, have viewed the design, adding to the growing reputation of Essex as a County of Innovation.

Disability Essex press release, 12 April 2011

Moonlight Colourthon 2011

...by walking in this year’s ‘Moonlight Colourthon’ to raise funds to assist Disability Essex in its work with disabled people.

Walkers of the ‘Moonlight Colourthon’ will walk a half marathon (13.1 miles) at night and are encouraged to dress as brightly as their imagination allows! This year’s event sets off from Chalkwell Park at 8.00 pm on Saturday 2 July 2011. It takes in the waterfront along Southend Seafront and Westcliff’s picturesque cliffs, overlooks the famous pleasure pier, and then travels through the Chalkwell Hall Estate, past the cottages and fishermen’s sheds of Old Leigh, returning through Leigh itself to finish back at Chalkwell Park.

The walk is only open to entrants aged 16 or over. Walkers must register and pay an entrance fee of £15 in advance and nominate their chosen charitable organisation for which they intend to raise funds. Included with the entrance fee for the ‘Moonlight Colourthon’ is an exclusive ‘Colourthon’ T-shirt to be worn with your brightest clothing!

You can register on online at www.moonlightcolourthon.co.uk (Please get in touch and let us know when you have registered). Good luck!

Disability Essex press release, 12 April 2011

Mobility Scooter Safety/Driving Course receives national accreditation

On 21 March 2011, the National Open College Network awarded an NVQ Level 3 accreditation to the Trainers’ Course delivered by Disability Essex.

This will encourage the widest possible availability of a recognised Trainers’ Certificate, to give mobility scooter users confidence in the quality and expertise of safety training. This is the first accreditation for such a course in the United Kingdom.

Currently 4 bursaries (worth £1,000 each) have been provided to allow Disability Essex to give the NVQ3 course to Essex residents. Two students, funded by Thurrock Council, have just commenced their training at the HQ of Disability Essex (www.centrefordisabilitystudies.org).

Two further courses are available, with funds from the Essex Community Foundation.

Disability Essex press release, 21 March 2011

MEP visits Centre of Disability Studies

Richard Howitt, MEP, visited the Disability Essex training centre in Rochford on 7 January.

Following extensive discussions with the charity’s scooter and vehicle training manager, Dick Robinson, Richard Howitt was persuaded to undertake two test drives. The first, using a standard pavement mobility scooter (max speed 4mph) involved manoeuvring around small cones to mimic use in a supermarket. This was, he said, ‘a daunting experience for the first time user.’

The second test, in driving rain around the charity’s test track, was in an enclosed road use scooter at 8mph. The Chief Executive of Disability Essex, acting as training supervisor, followed closely as the MEP experienced the cambers and bumps of a grass track.

After these test drives, Richard Howitt explained his concerns about safety for users and pedestrians, and referred to the work that had been undertaken by the European Parliament’s Disability Rights Group. He was shocked to be told that 8mph mobility scooters can be used, legally, on dual carriageways by drivers with no training, no test, and no insurance.

He said, ‘I am amazed that laws for registering such scooters with the DVLA appear to be unknown to the general public.’

Mobility scooter training for Richard Howitt, MEP (centre)

Disability Essex, Jan 2011

Free Mobility Scooter Training!

The Sanctuary Housing Association, through its local subsidiary Rochford Housing, has granted funds to allow Disability Essex to give 60 free training courses to users of Class 2 and Class 3 mobility scooters.

The courses – professionally accredited – last a total of four hours, including theoretical and practical training. The Centre for Disability Studies can provide the training, using their own mobility scooters (for individuals who do not have a scooter, or who have to travel some distance to get to Rochford), or the owner can be trained on their own scooter. The Centre has a special training track, with differing types of road and pavement surface, as well as a manoeuvring training area.

To book a place on one of the free courses, which will be starting on 1 December 2010, please contact Richard Robinson on 07850 453117 or 01702 544927.

Disability Essex, November 2010

BBC Politics Show broadcast from the Centre for Disability Studies

As one of the recipients of European funding, Disability Essex CEO, Richard Boyd, was interviewed by the BBC to explain how crucial European funding had been in the completion of our new build project.

Having seen – and been impressed by – by the Centre for Disability Studies, the BBC then asked if they could broadcast part of the Politics Show (Sunday 14 November) from our building. Conservative Eurosceptic Peter Bone, MP for Wellingborough, was joined by Baroness Angela Smith of Basildon, former Labour MP (pictured below prior to the broadcast) to debate the issue of EU funding. Both agreed that our building was an outstanding example of money well spent, although they disagreed on whether Europe should have given £800,000 towards the build!

After the interview, the programme featured other issues including the sports legacy post 2012, and MP’s expenses. Following the programme, guests were taken on a conducted tour of the building and its facilities by one of our trustees, Mr Jim Gibson.

Peter Bone and Baroness Angeld Smith - November 2010

Disability Essex, November 2010

Regional award for environmental excellence

The Centre for Disability Studies is an ultra low-energy building, within which Disability Essex operates its research and training operations. The building is the first of its type, in England, to achieve the European "Passiv House" standard and UK Building Research Establishment Standard BREEAM "Excellent".

At an award ceremony on 20th October in Ely, Cambridgeshire, author, journalist and TV presenter Lucy Siegle presented Disability Essex with the Award for Environmental Excellence for the charity. This was part of the Creating Futures Award (Investing in the East of England) promoted by the East of England Development Agency and GO-East.

Speaking on behalf of Disability Essex, Stuart Kirk (Training and Projects Manager) thanked EEDA for their financial and moral support throughout the project.

He said, "At the Copenhagen Environmental Summit last year the target to reduce carbon emissions by 80% was announced. Our building already exceeds this target.’

Stuart concluded by pointing out that if a tiny Essex charity can achieve these challenging results, there can be no reason for others not to do the same.

Award for Environmental Excellence - October 2010

Disability Essex press release, October 2010

Official Opening and AGM

Tuesday 19 October saw Disability Essex celebrating the official opening of the Centre for Disability Studies, followed by the Annual General Meeting.

Lord Petre, HM Lord Lieutenant of Essex and patron of Disability Essex, kindly presided over the opening ceremony. We were honoured to have representatives of the Strutt and Courtauld families – both of which had been instrumental in the formation and survival of the charity – with us for the event.

Lord Petre ‘unveiled’ plaques in recognition of the charity’s gratitude to both Augustine Courtauld and Mrs Jean Strutt and the part they had unwittingly played in the creation of our new eco HQ. Speaking to the crowd of 100+ guests, he acknowledged the dedication and commitment of the Board, staff, and volunteers of Disability Essex over the past 6 years.

John Gibson MBE, Disability Essex Chairman during the build project, stepped down at the ensuing AGM and has been replaced by acting Chairman Steven Davies.

Official opening - October 2010

Disability Essex, October 2010

MEP to visit Disability Essex for UK 'PassivHaus' Open Days

Andrew Duff, an MEP for the East of England, will be joining the "Open Days" event organised by the PasssivHaus Trust (The UK Passive House Organisation). This is part of a Europe-wide event (International Passive House Association).

Exemplar, ground-breaking projects will open their doors on 12th/13th/14th November to allow architects, builders, planners and developers to see the new standards in action.

Andrew is visiting Rochford 11.30 am on Friday 12th November ¬– the first day of the national event. Disability Essex's project recently won a Regional Sustainability award and is shortlisted for Building Magazine's National award to be announced at the end of November.

Also planning to visit the Rochford Eco Building is the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Rt Hon Chris Huhne, MP, for which a date has yet to be confirmed.

The Centre for Disability Studies received substantial financial support from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and the European Regional Development Fund.

Andrew Duff - October 2010

Disability Essex press release, November 2010. Image property and courtesy of jef.europe

Southend Mayor views Evacuation

The Mayor of Southend, Cllr. Ann Holland, had a tour of the Disability Essex training centre at Rochford, on Thursday 16th September. During the conducted visit around the facilities, and meeting staff and volunteers, the Mayor, saw for herself the amazing energy saving features installed in the new building. She was amused to be shown the Charity’s last gas/heating bill which, including the standing charge, was less than £12.50! “I wish that I had energy bills like this for my home”, she said.

The building uses recycled concrete, and glass, in its construction to achieve a heat efficiency 20 times better than that of a standard modern building.

The mechanical Heat and Ventilation system produces the highest air quality, and assists in the recycling of the building’s heat, yet consumes no more energy than standard light bulbs! Ann was particularly pleased to see the high-tech training display, funded by a generous donation from Southend based Olympus Key-Med, used in the main training room.

A special demonstration, by the training partner of Disability Essex, Safety First Ltd, used a mini-bus with a disabled passenger, to replicate a vehicle fire. Within the 90 seconds that the interior of the vehicle was filled with smoke, the wheelchair passenger was safely evacuated by Richard Robinson. The Mayor was particularly pleased to note that this aspect of the training, offered at the Centre, is accredited by the Essex Fire & Rescue Service – of which she is the past Vice-Chairman.

Mayor visits Disability Essex - September 2010

Disability Essex, September 2010

Official Opening, 19 October 2010

Lord Petre, HM Lord Lieutenant of Essex, will be officiating at the opening of our Centre for Disability Studies on Tuesday 19 October. Lord Petre, who is also the patron of Disability Essex, has supported the charity throughout the extended design and build process; it is only fitting that he should be here to officially open the centre.

After the opening ceremony, visitors will be offered a guided tour of the Centre for Disability Studies. This will provide an opportunity for them to find out more about the sustainable concepts underpinning both the building and the aspirations of the charity.

Disability Essex, September 2010

Bristol Half Marathon 2010

We were very fortunate to have a runner raising money for Disability Essex in the Bristol Half Marathon on Sunday 5 September. Rob Everson completed the 13.1 mile course in an impressive one hour and forty-six minutes.

We are very grateful to Rob for his efforts on our behalf and congratulate him on his achievement – well done Rob!

Chinese delegation visits Disability Essex

Disability Essex, September 2010

Open Day

Our first ‘Open Day’ was held at the Centre for Disability Studies, with the help of our partner charity the Safety First Organisation, on 28 August. It was a bright and breezy day and luckily the rain held off!

Visitors could see our award-winning building at first hand – and find out about the varied and innovative projects being undertaken at the centre – while enjoying a tasty barbeque.

CEO Richard Boyd hoped this would be the forerunner of many such events. ‘We want our local community to come along and see for themselves just what we do,’ he said. ‘An Open Day like this provides the perfect opportunity.’

Disability Essex Open Day

Disability Essex, August 2010

Disability Essex HQ featured on EEDA Inspire East website

A comprehensive review of our new build project, together with design details, can be found on the EEDA Inspire East website.

Our new HQ is now in the final stages of completion and we plan to move in during March.

Disability Essex, 12.2.10

A common-sense solution to the present 'mobility scooter free-for-all'?

Since the fatal accident of a lady mobility scooter driver, at Clacton in 2004, Disability Essex has campaigned to get the safety issues regularised.

Since then, TV interviews - and a full proposal to the Department of Transport - have followed at regular intervals. In 2005, BBC Look East featured Disability Essex's campaign in a 10-minute feature.

Our latest submission of evidence has been sent to the Transport Committee, at the House of Commons. A pdf version of the full document can be viewed via the link below.

Please note that you will need Adobe Reader or an alternative PDF reader to view this document.

Disability Essex, 28.12.09

Important information!

Disability Essex is moving into its new HQ during week commencing Monday 8 March 2010. Please bear with us if you find us hard to contact during this period; phones and computers are being moved and there may be some disruption in service.

The Helpline is out of operation for the week of the move but any emails or messages received will be answered by our advisors the following week. Calls to our main telephone number 0844 412 1771 will be answered but it could still be difficult to get through.

Normal service will resume week commencing Monday 15 March.

Disability Essex, March 2010

Visit of Chinese delegation : 17 December 2009

Chinese delegation visits Disability Essex

The delegation, from Jiangsu Province, was in London as part of an information exchange on paralympic and disability issues - clearly of interest in the light of the forthcoming 2012 Paralympics, some of which will be taking place in Essex. Jiangsu Province is twinned with Essex County Council.

The Delegation leader, Gao Xiaoping – President of Jiangsu Provincial Disabled Persons Federation – and 5 leading provincial government representatives, are pictured with Disability Essex Project Leader Stuart Kirk and Clive Durdle, CEO of Redbridge Disability.

Their visit to Disability Essex focused on our unique bespoke eco-training centre, now reaching completion in Rochford. On a guided tour of the new building, the delegation demonstrated interest in the building’s very low energy requirement (only 5% of that of an equivalent traditional building) and they were impressed by the adaptability of the interior to meet the needs of a full range of disabilities.

The visitors were particularly interested in the retraining concepts of Disability Essex, together with the charity’s current outreach services for health and well-being. They were intrigued that these services were funded by grants and charitable donations, rather than by the government.

Disability Essex press release, 18.12.09

Disability Essex Annual Review 2009

To honour our Diamond Jubilee, we have produced a full colour Annual Review for 2009, celebrating the achievements of Disability Essex over the past 60 years. A pdf version of the review can now be downloaded via the link below.

Please note that you will need Adobe Reader or an alternative PDF reader to view our Annual Review.

Disability Essex, November 2009

Grant opportunity for our member clubs : Winter Celebration Grant 2009

Age Concern and Help the Aged is able to offer grants of up to £500 to clubs for older people. Any voluntary or charitable club for older people throughout the UK - whose charitable objectives are similar to those of Age UK - and whose annual turnover is less than £50‚000 per annum‚ is eligible to apply.

Applications have to be in by 11 December. Please use the following link for further details, application form and guidelines. Winter Celebration Grant

Age Concern email 20.11.2009

Awards for All grant

Disability Essex has just been awarded an Awards for All grant of £9,145 from the Big Lottery Fund to fund the Disability Essex You can do IT project. This will enable the charity to equip an IT suite and run a computer club which will offer courses in basic IT training to help at least 200 older people and those with disabilities in Essex use computers easily and confidently over the next year.

Disability Essex is thrilled the Big Lottery Fund are supporting this scheme, which originally won a Microsoft IT in the Community award but has to close down in early 2008 because of a shortage of funding. The charity can now purchase additional laptops and assistive equipment and pay for a trainer to deliver IT courses which will equip individuals with skills to become more independent e.g. use the internet, understand software packages, look for jobs on-line etc.

The project starts in December, but Disability Essex is already looking for eager students to sign up to these free courses. If you are interested in learning about computers for the first time, or want to brush up on your existing IT skills, then please get in touch by calling Disability Essex on 0844 412 1771 or emailing us at info@disabilityessex.org. We are also looking for volunteers to help on the project, if you feel you have valuable skills to offer such a project, please let us know.

Disability Essex press release, 20 August 2009

BBC “Children in Need” awards almost £21,000 to Disability Essex

Since 2007 Disability Essex has been operating an award-winning Healthy Arts project across Essex, Southend and Thurrock (www.healthyarts.org). The scheme now has two adapted mini-buses, with two RGN nurses giving health and life-style advice plus two outreach arts officers. These arts specialists have visited many dozens of clubs and other venues, to encourage disabled adults to resume their former interests or skills in arts, crafts and culture.

Now, with the BBC “Children in Need” award, this part of the project can be expanded to reach out to young people and disabled children.

Project Manager, Caroline Carpenter, RGN, welcomed this generous funding. “This will allow our team to run a funded pilot project for one year. We have always seen an unmet need to help disabled youngsters to enjoy culture and arts. Often they have wanted to join in, but travel access has been a problem. When we started our Healthy Arts project, for adults, with Lottery funding, we were expected to reach about 400 individuals during the initial period. In fact, we exceeded this by 50%, and showed how much can be achieved by taking services to people – rather than expecting them to struggle to an “inaccessible location”.

Disability Essex press release, 3 August 2009

A new service for disabled people’s clubs in Essex

With current financial pressures on charities, the costs of operating transport mini-buses, has become a burden on small and specialised clubs. Three weeks ago, aided by grants from Essex Community Foundation and Essex Fire and Rescue, Disability Essex introduced free driver training for volunteer mini-bus drivers. Specialist (MiDAS) training for drivers is now a legal requirement and the costs, for many clubs, was beyond their means.

Now, another service has been introduced to help Disabled People: ESSEX CHARITY BUS SHARE.

A full member disability club in the Disability Essex Network of over 120 clubs, can now use one of our accessible minibuses. Fitted with a tail-lift, and space for 2 wheelchairs, plus 9 seats, the vehicles can be used for events, visits, or collected disabled club members for training or rehabilitation.

The first Mini-Bus is now ready, and was transferred to Disability Essex by Castle Point and District Phoenix Club. Now, a second vehicle, donated by the Southend Disabled Sports Club, has been made available.

Sadly, even though British successes in the Beijing Paralympics last year has increased interest in sports for disabled people, the costs of providing accessible transport and facilities is causing many disabled sports clubs to close. Now Southend’s club has been forced to close but, by transferring their mini-bus to Disability Essex, an alternative service for sports people and their families will continue.

Disability Essex press release, 3 August 2009

Latest grant award for Disability Essex eco-building

The 350 year old funder, The Henry Smith Charity, has awarded to Disability Essex £67200 towards the furniture and fittings.

Specially designed adjustable, tables and work stations will be needed for the new HQ/Training Centre, currently under construction at Rochford. This will allow staff, volunteers and visitors, to pre-select the most suitable height and aspect for working stations. The integrated design will follow the extraordinary standards for sustainability that the building meets.

Bids are now being sought from specialist furniture providers including Remploy (the national Disability Charity).

The Eco-Building is scheduled for completion in November 2009 and building progress can be viewed on the “webcam” page at www.centrefordisabilitystudies.org. This shows an hour-by-hour view of construction. At the end of the project, a speeded up video showing the start-to-finish progress will be published.

Disability Essex press release, 3 August 2009

Free Energy Saving Light Bulbs

We are one of a number of charities across the UK who have been nominated by the organisation Grass Roots, who are working with energy companies, to distribute energy saving light bulbs to our clubs, their members, our newsletter subscribers, and volunteers completely free of charge.

These light bulbs are branded OSRAM 14watt (equivalent to 75 watt) and could save the beneficiary up to £13.00 per year on their electricity bill (based on replacing 2 x 60 watt traditional light bulbs used for an average of 4 hours per day with an electricity cost of 9.59p/kWh (inclusive of VAT).

In order to qualify for a free box of 2 light bulbs, each applicant has to be receving one of the following benefits, or be over 70 years old.

  • Council tax benefit
  • Housing benefit
  • Income support
  • Income-based job seekers allowance
  • Attendance allowance
  • Disability living allowance
  • War disablement pension which includes either a mobility supplement or constant attendance allowance
  • Disablement pension which includes constant attendance allowance
  • State pension credit
  • Child tax credit where the relevant income is £14,600 or less
  • Working tax credit where the relevant income if £14,600 or less
  • Be over 70 regardless of their welfare status

We are welcoming enquiries from anyone who falls into any of the above criteria. Contact us on 0844 412 1771.

June 2009

Webcam goes live!

We are pleased to announce that a webcam is now live on the new Centre for Disability Studies website—dedicated to our new HQ.

A photo is taken once every hour, so you won’t see any movement, but—at the end of the build—all the stored photos will be pieced together to make a film of the entire build process.

Now the build is finally under way, progress seems remarkably speedy. The walls are already under construction and, with a good summer predicted, we are hoping the programme will go according to plan.

Disability Essex newsletter, May 2009

Funding for Training

Disability Essex has received good news despite the general gloom that currently exists in the voluntary sector.

Many small charities and support clubs are unable to use mini-buses simply because volunteer drivers do not have the Midas qualification for mini-buses. The costs for this qualification, depending on the individual volunteer, can be between £100-250 each. For small charities this can be just too much, especially if many volunteers are needed.

Now we have been awarded grants totalling more than £7,500 for the following areas:

  • Essex Community Foundation - 40 drivers across Essex
  • NHS Mid Essex PCT - 10 drivers in the Chelmsford, Braintree and Witham areas
  • Thurrock Council - 20 drivers in the Thurrock Council area

Training will be provided in a locality convenient to the trainees, using the Disability Essex/Safety First organisation instructors and training vehicle.

Applications for these FREE courses should be made to Richard Boyd, Chief Executive Officer of Disability Essex on 0844 412 1771 or by email on richard.boyd@disabilityessex.org

Disability Essex Press Release, April 2009

Award of £1,500,000+

Our long dreamed for, and fought for, building project for a new ‘state of the art’ ECO HQ is finally under way!

Parallel capital grants, totalling more than £1.5 million, have been awarded to Disability Essex:

  • The European Regional Development Fund offer of March 2008, has now been increased to over £800,000. This covers the additional costs for a larger south wing (2000 square feet) and exchange rate changes between pound sterling and the euro. Also the design of the building has been further improved following suggestions from “Inspire East”, the Regional Development Agency’s centre of excellence for design. This award recognises the carbon-neutral quality of our building.
  • The Building Communities Fund has recognised our training projects with an award of £750,000. This award towards the cost of the building recognises the value to the community of our current and future training courses.

Both of these awards were co-ordinated by the East of England Development Agency.

The building contract, valued at over £1.3 million, is being delivered by Essex building company Duncan Cameron & Hutchinson, of Coggeshall. Work has already begun, with completion expected by the end of 2009.

The Board of Trustees of Disability Essex has decided to name this new building Jean Strutt House. This is in recognition of Mrs Jean Strutt’s loyal support for this charity, and the generosity of her late husband the Hon Charles Strutt, who assisted the charity in the purchase of its first HQ, in Chelmsford, over 30 years ago.

April 2009

Great South Run 2008, Sunday 26th October 2008

A big congratulation and thank you is in order for our ‘superheroes’ running team who successfully completed their challenge of running 10 miles in the Great South Run in Portsmouth last Sunday. Claire, Tom, Matt, Lynsey and Gareth completed the course in times ranging from 1 hour 19 minutes to 2 hours, whilst raising over £1,300 so far in sponsorship for Disability Essex.

Great South Run 2008

“There were times when our legs felt like lead and our feet were painfully sore but knowing we had already raised so much money kept us going all the way round,” remarked Claire.

The team would like to thank everyone who has sponsored them already, and would also like to appeal to anyone who might still be interested in supporting them after the event to help them reach their £1,500 target. You can visit JustGiving where you can donate online safely and securely. Or if you prefer you can send a cheque direct to Disability Essex at the Centre for Disability Studies, Adult Community College, Rocheway, Rochford, Essex, SS4 1DQ.

To read a more detailed account of the team’s Great South Run experience, have a look at our October newsletter which you can download from the Disability Essex News page.

Claire Hammond, October 2008

Essex County Council award major grant for new disability Eco Building

In June 2008 the European organisation for Health and Climate issues gave to Disability Essex an award for their sustainable eco building.

This unique and ‘state of the art’ design building will be the home for the ‘Centre for Disability Studies’ based at Rochford (near to Southend Airport).

Now, Essex County Council has sent £50,000 as a capital grant towards the cost of the £2 million development. The grant helps unlock European funds of £500,000 and is a real indication of the County’s support for the project.

Cllr Mavis Webster (Lead Member of Disability) and Deputy Leader of Rochford Council said, “I am thrilled and delighted at their support for this unique project. Disability Essex, with partners in Community Health, Hospitals, and Environmental Training, is a jewel in the diadem of our District and County.”

Chairman of Disability Essex, John Gibson MBE, a former Chairman of Rochford Council, said, “I congratulate the County Council on its continuing support for our work across Essex. In 1947 when our charity was created, the County Council awarded our founders their first grant – of £150. Sixty years later, the County is still shouldering responsibility for this charity’s work.”

Disability Essex Press Release, 24 October 2008

50th Mobility Scooter given away by Essex charity

The County-wide services of Disability Essex include a project to collect redundant mobility scooters – and (after refurbishment) give them away to needy individuals.

This August, and 2 years after the project started, the 50th unit was presented to Mr John Nutley, of Canvey Island. The donor of the scooter, Mrs Emily Inwood, of Crawley, gave it to Disability Essex, following the death of her father, who lived in Hawkwell.

This brings the total value of scooters given away (at current market value) to £35,000. The scooters are serviced by either Maple DGT of Chelmsford or Body’s of Westcliff.

Scooters have been given to residents of the following areas:

  • Braintree
  • Brentwood
  • Chelmsford
  • Colchester
  • Castle Point
  • Rochford
  • Southend-on-Sea
  • Maldon
  • Thurrock
  • Harlow
  • Epping Forest

This service liberates people who otherwise would never be able to afford expensive mobility equipment.

Disability Essex Press Release, 13 August 2008

Dutch and Spanish Interest in Disability Essex Computer Research

MCCSIS ’08 is the Multi Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems. This year’s conference (22-25 July) was held at Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky in Amsterdam.

Disability Essex is creating a new software for disabled people which is called ‘The Intelligent Keyboard’. This is aimed at allowing disabled people to use standard computer equipment – without the need of special keyboards. Thousands of people could benefit from this exciting development.

The latest progress of this software research was presented to academics and researchers, from around the world, by IT software designer Jun Li from Disability Essex. By invitation from the conference organizers, IADIS, (the International Association for Development of the Information Society) delegates were given a scientific briefing on ‘The Solution for Disabled People to Use Computer Keyboards’.

The European Universities (Spanish and Dutch) have now asked for further information and potential partnerships in their work for blind people. Future joint developments could result. Dr Christina Davies (IT Consultant) accompanied Mr Jun Li to the presentation. Disability Essex is a leading charity in IT development and disability training.

Disability Essex Press Release, 30 July 2008

Fire Safety Demonstration at Disability Essex

A training programme to help save people's lives when a minibus or taxi catches fire could be rolled out across Essex.

Canvey-based Safety First Travel Ltd held a demonstration last Thursday of how to evacuate disabled passengers from a minibus at Disability Essex in Rochford.

The demonstration showed that operators of such vehicles can now train to NVQ2 standard for their jobs and part of the course involves fire training.

Richard Robinson, training director and the firm, was asked to devise the fire training course by Southend Council. He said: 'This will not only make drivers more confident they can deal with these situations, but will also reassure passengers that they are in safe hands.'

Yellow Advertiser, w/e 26 July 2008

Major European Award for Disability Essex

The European Council of the Regions hosted an international conference at their HQ in Brussels, on 24th June 2008. The subject was "Climate Change and the Challenges for Public Health". Co-sponsors were the European Regional and Local Health Authorities (EUREGHA) and the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).

Part of this high profile event was the presentation of two awards. (One, in recognition of outstanding innovation and mitigation to deal with climate change was awarded to Disability Essex) and the second, for health adaptations, went to the Municipality of Tatabanya in Hungary. 38 projects were considered by the judging panel of international experts, from throughout the European Union. All, except that from Essex, were prepared by regional governments, city or state councils, or public health and transport undertakings. In fact, Disability Essex was the only charity in the competition.

The award certificate was presented to Richard Boyd (CEO of Disability Essex) by Dr. Bettina Menne on behalf of the European Office of the World Health organisation (WHO). Genon Jensen, Executive Director of the Health and Environmental Alliance, congratulated the charity and its architects on the design of the eco-building and the unique health and retraining projects which will take place within it. "You are an example to other organisations, far larger and richer than you, who have yet to address the issue of climate change and its impact on vulnerable people." she said.

Sixty representatives from regional and local authorities, and health organisations, attended the conference. Members of the European Parliament, Permanent Representatives from 6 countries, plus University, and Governmental authorities from 18 EU states were joined by delegates from Taiwan, Australia, and Switzerland.

After the award ceremony, Richard Boyd said “The kindness and warmth shown to the work and aspirations of our charity, by the hosts and delegates, has made this award truly memorable. The organisers even paid for all our travel costs, recognising that we are a tiny organisation compared to all the other players here today. Our experience, to date, was that our efforts to create this unique building had been a struggle where no-one appeared to care how much we were spending to meet the bureaucracy hurdles put in front of us.” He thanked the organisors by saying "This is the first European award that our charity has ever achieved. I thank you on behalf of my team, most of whom are disabled, and the 12,000 individuals in Essex who are part of the Disability Essex network".

Full details of the award can be found at www.env.health.org and www.euregha.net.

Disability Essex Press Release, July 2008

Essex Policy Diversity & Community Engagement Programme

Disability Essex is proud of its ongoing involvement with the Essex Police Diversity & Community Engagement programme - by providing placements for student officers.

Now, with the help of their TV and Media Unit, Essex Police have produced a Diversity & Community Engagement Programme promotional DVD. A website illustrating the achievements of the programmes also contains an internet version of the DVD.

This short (4 mins 42 seconds) promotional video is an interesting view, shot in a modern style that epitomises just what the placement programme is all about. If you would like to see this, go to www.essex.police.uk/communityplacement. (Please note that to do this, you will need sound.)

Email from Essex Police, 3 June 2008

BUPA Great South Run 2008

Location: Portsmouth Date: Sunday 26th October 2008

This October, our Fundraiser Claire Hammond and her partner Tom Addis will be running the BUPA Great South Run along with three other supporters of Disability Essex – Gareth Hunter, Matthew Addis and Lynsey Van Praag.

They will be pounding the pavements of Portsmouth in superhero outfits to complete the fast 10-mile coastal race and they aim to raise around £1,500 if not more.

Great South Run 2008

Claire told us, “We are all really looking forward to the challenge of the race but also the task of raising as much money as possible for Disability Essex. As fundraiser I am often asking other people to undertake daunting events in order to support such a worthwhile charity so I thought it was about time I did something myself!”

“I’ve never run 10 miles before but Tom and I are starting training this month and will be asking for tips from Matt in the team as he has run marathons all across the world including London and New York.”

Could you support our running team by sponsoring them for this event?

Every penny raised will be used directly to provide services that improve the lives of people with disabilities in Essex. We are so proud of our runners and would like to thank anyone in advance for supporting them with sponsorship, however much you can spare.

To support Disability Essex you can visit JustGiving where you can donate online safely and securely. Or if you prefer you can send a cheque for the total of your collected donations direct to Disability Essex at the Centre for Disability Studies, Adult Community College, Rocheway, Rochford, Essex, SS4 1DQ.

Thank you for your support!

June 2008

'Over the Rainbow', 3 July 2008

Thurrock Operatic Society is raising funds for Disability Essex with a production of 'Over the Rainbow' - taking place at the United Reform Church Hall in Grays on Thursday, 3 July 2008.

Please download the flyer giving full details of this event - we hope you will come along and support us!

You will need Adobe Reader or an alternative PDF reader to view the flyer.

'Over the Rainbow' (530KB)

June 2008

Volunteers' Week 1 - 7 June 2008

Volunteers' Week is a national celebration of volunteers and volunteering which takes place from 1 - 7 June of each year. It plays a huge part in raising the profile of England's 22 million volunteers while encouraging others to get involved.

When Disability Essex began in 1947 it relied heavily on the work of volunteers to achieve its aims and objectives helping local people with disabilities. Much of our work today would not be possible without the support of our volunteers - our helpline, for example, is run entirely by volunteers and without them would cease to operate.

Disability Essex has chosen to use this event to publicly thank all their volunteers and highlight their contribution to all the charity's beneficiaries and the wider community in Essex. We can't say thank you enough!

Volunteering is fun, rewarding and challenging. The skills, opinions and experience of each volunteer are valued and volunteers become an integral part of the charity. If you are interested in volunteering with Disability Essex and would like to find out more, please contact us on 0844 412 1771 or email info@disabilityessex.org. Volunteering opportunities are varied and flexible, so why not get in touch and find out how you could make a difference!

To find out more about Volunteers' Week in general, why not visit www.volunteersweek.org.uk.

June 2008

Investors in People, 4 April 2008

We are proud that our recent Investors in People re-assessment resulted in Disability Essex retaining this accreditation for further three years.

The opinion of the assessor was that 'Disability Essex totally embraces the spirit and ethos of Investors in People - not only with regard to its own staff, volunteers and directors but also within the context of the people it supports by training and re-skilling.'

April 2008

BUPA Great South Run 2008, 26 October 2008

Want to feel exhilarated by sea air in your lungs as you participate in one of England’s biggest road runs? Disability Essex needs superheroes to join the race and make a real difference to disabled people’s lives!

The Great South Run covers a fast 10-mile coastal route which is becoming increasingly popular every year both with beginners and the international elite. The course is flat and you can enjoy the sights of the wonderful historic city of Portsmouth coupled with beautiful sea views.

We would love you to join our superheroes team and support people with disabilities in Essex. We can give you all the support you need to enjoy a day you will never forget – and if you want to make it more fun why not choose your favourite superhero and dress up as them?

Why not take a look at our Fundraising page for more information?

January 2008

Disability Essex AGM

Invitations are being sent out for our 2007 AGM, being held on Wednesday 14 November 2007. This year, the event will take place at the Rochford Adult Community College - adjacent to the site of our new Eco-Building Training HQ, which is being built in 2008.

Our new Patron, Lord Petre, will be attending and our guest speaker will be Cllr Gerard McEwen, Chairman of Essex County Council.

October 2007

The future looks bright for our Centre for Disability Studies!

We are pleased, and relieved, that Government Office in Cambridge have decided there is no need for our planning application to be referred to the Secretary of State.

We are now confident that formal approval will be forthcoming and are looking forward to work commencing on our new HQ in the near future.

September 2007

Centre for Disability Studies

Although we are pleased that the Rochford Planning Committee decided to support our planning application at their meeting on 21 June, there are still potential hurdles to overcome.

The decision now has to go to Government Office in Cambridge, for a decision as to whether our project has a local or regional remit. If Government Office decides that the project is regional, there could be further delays while it is referred to the Secretary of State.

However, our commitment to build a bespoke, eco friendly HQ for Disability Essex remains as firm as ever and the decision of the Rochford Planning Committee has brought us closer to realisation of our objectives.

July 2007

Essex Youth Orchestra - 50 years of music!

To celebrate their fiftieth anniversary, Essex Youth Orchestra has joined with Disability Essex to host a celebratory concert at the Mill Hall, Rayleigh on Sunday 8 July at 7.30 pm.

This is a fully accessible venue, so come along with family and friends for a fantastic evening listening to the Essex Youth Orchestra Brass Ensemble.

Tickets for the event are only £5.00 and can be obtained from Disability Essex.

Call us on 0844 412 1771 for details.

June 2007

Safety first for mobility scooters

Disability Essex remains concerned at lack of regulation for users of mobility scooters. Following a recent accident in the Southend area, Chief Executive Richard Boyd reflected that this was not an uncommon event.

‘The current regulations, or to be more exact, the chaos of lack of cohesive regulation, have featured in the media for many years.

Many scooter drivers carry no specific insurance, are not tested before they drive and the vehicles are subject to no regular checks.

We have suggested to the Government some simple cost effective solutions:

  • All scooters should be registered (in actual fact some classes are required to register with Swansea but no-one enforces it).
  • All drivers should have a permit to drive and the testing should be done by qualified registered charities.
  • All drivers should carry insurance, not just for themselves, but for the people who may be injured by them.
  • Scooters should be checked by qualified registered charities.

The result would be safer drivers, safer pedestrians, better equipment, and a quality service provided by the voluntary sector at a fraction of the cost of further Government administration.’

Printed in the Southend Standard, 2.5.07

Service of Celebration

Our Service of Celebration at Holy Trinity Church, Rayleigh, on Saturday 24 February was indeed a happy and joyous occasion.

The event was attended by the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Lord Petre, together with County and Borough Councillors, representatives of Health Trusts, and of course partner charities and clubs.

Following an uplifting sermon from the Bishop of Bradwell, and the hearty singing of some rousing hymns, the congregation were able to partake of a substantial buffet and then take a look at the 13 display stands – of which the centrepiece was a 1:100 scale model of our proposed eco-building – the Centre for Disability Studies.

March 2007

Chelmsford Resident takes up Disability Charity Challenge

Oly Reeve, 22, is facing the challenge of a lifetime as he gears up to trek to Everest Base Camp in the Nepalese Himalayas. More commonly seen in his football gear, Oly will be donning his walking boots on 30 March to trek over 125 kilometres – at heights of up to 5,545 metres – to raise money for Disability Essex.

‘I’ve never done anything like this before’ says Oly. ‘I play a lot of football and squash, but now I’m getting up every day at 7 a.m. for a swim and rushing to the gym in the evening to get really fit. And I’ve had to knock the Chinese takeaways on the head – I must be mad!’

The hard work will be worthwhile for Oly, as he is raising £2,500 for Disability Essex. Although Oly admits he hasn’t had much personal experience of disability in his life, he has heard about the work of Disability Essex with disabled people, their families, friends, and carers. This has prompted him to support the charity, whilst enjoying the opportunity to undertake a truly life-changing challenge. ‘I still can’t believe I’m hiking to the base camp of the world’s highest mountain’ Oly told us, ‘I just can’t wait!’

Oly has so far managed to raise over £2,000 through a range of fundraising activities. You can help him raise his final £500 by sponsoring him at his online fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/olyreeve.

February 2007

Essex Police
Disability Training Workshops

Essex Police will be running the next series of their successful Disability Training Workshops during the week 23rd to 27th April 2007. They would like to make this training accessible to disability organisations across the County and are happy to select a location to suit you. If your organisation would like to take advantage of this training, and you meet in (or can use) a suitable venue, Essex Police will bring the training to you.

For details please telephone Sarah Synkiss at Essex Police on (01245) 452382.

February 2007

Mobility Scooters

Our programme for providing reconditioned, and fully serviced, mobility scooters, free of charge to disabled people in Essex, is proving to be a welcome service.

Each applicant is carefully assessed for suitability, in respect of individual need and also in respect of compatibility with the scooters we have available.

We currently have 2 x 3-wheel mobility scooters for delivery in the Rayliegh area only, together with 1 x Powertec 16x16 electric wheelchair for delivery to a disabled person in need anywhere in the County.

Interested applicants should contact Richard Boyd in the first instance by email on richard.boyd@disabilityessex.org or by phone on 0844 412 1771. Richard will need to know the applicant's height and weight and whether their eyesight is appropriate for use of a powered scooter or wheelchair. In respect of the wheelchair only, he will also need to know whether controls are required on the left or right-hand side.

January 2007

Computer Club

(Microsoft funded project)

We are pleased that our computer 'taster sessions', piloted in Chelmsford, have proved so successful. This offers, free of charge, 4 x 1-hour, or 2 x 2-hour sessions of computer training for disabled and/or frail elderly people.

This scheme is now being extended into the Maldon area. For further details, please contact Pet Thornton, the computer trainer and manager of the scheme, on 01245 472744.

January 2007

Disability Training Workshops : 10, 11 and 12 October 2006

Essex Police, in partnership with Disability Essex, is running a series of morning and afternoon sessions. These will be in an informal ‘café’ atmosphere for groups of between 2 and 10.

Essex Police has been seeking ways to encourage people with a disability or health issues to become employees. These workshops will describe the wide range of job opportunities with Essex Police (full or part time) together with the help available to support individuals in these work roles.

Attendees will be able to take advantage of the opportunity to take part in a ‘virtual interview’. This will demonstrate the way interviews are structured and show them how to prepare for a real interview. Other handy tips will be given, for example on CV presentation, and body language.

These workshops are part of an ongoing project by Essex Police, to help applicants discover what is on offer, and guide them towards a job where their ability is valued and any barriers relating to disability can be removed. If you are too late to attend the October workshops, use the Essex Police link from the Disability Essex website to find out when future events are planned.

If you would like to polish your skills ready for job application and interview (not just for Essex Police but any other job!) please contact Sarah Synkiss at Essex Police on 01245 452 382.

October 2006


Thanks to a recent grant from Microsoft, Disability Essex will soon be running a course of short IT 'taster sessions' for disabled people. Adaptive equipment (enhanced keyboards and specialist software) will be provided for those with special needs and internet access will be available.

This training opportunity will be taking place in the Acorn Centre at Thriftwood School, Chelmsford, the club will be held on one day each week. As emphasis is on close individual support, there will be a maximum of 4 people only at each two-hour session. Participants will be able to take advantage of a total of four hours' training, in sessions of one or two hours.

If you would like to take part, or need more information, please contact Pet Thornton at Anglia Training Service on 01245 472744.

(September 2006)

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Disability Essex
Centre for Disability Studies
34 Rocheway
Essex SS4 1DQ
Telephone 0844 412 1771
Facsimile 0844 880 0614
Email info@disabilityessex.org
Charity No: 1102596
Company No: 4980118