Sanctioned for not being able to sign on on bank holiday Monday. Tears, frustration and rain.

The poor side of life

Today’s demo started rather hurriedly and to be honest I didn’t know if I was coming or going. This feeling was amplified because it was cold, rainy and my daughter was a bit fed up. understandable of course. But she soon settled down into our usual routine and all was well.


We are seeing a lot of new faces due to Stalybridge Jobcentre shutting. They don’t know us and what we are doing, and we don’t know them or their situations either. So we have to start from scratch, which at times isn’t easy.  But it’s a whole lot harder for them.

I started a conversation with a man who had been previously attending Stalybridge Jobcentre for his appointments. The first thing that he said to me was that he couldn’t believe how rude the front desk staff are at  Ashton Jobcentre, and how rude some of the advisors are also…

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Violence and Gun Violence – When Will it Stop?

Well said, thank you for posting

Talin Orfali Ghazarian

In recent news, where the unfortunate happened at an Oregon College in US, where gunman Chris Harper took the lives of 9 people, shooting and killing them when after the suspect was also killed. So many senseless and inhumane acts of violence, and gun violence. When is it going to stop? Does the unimaginable have to happen, so that we can see change, take preventative safety and security measures? So many shootings and killings have happened in the last little while.

Columbine, Sandy Hook, African American Church in Charleston S.C, Aurora Colo Movie theatre, TV news Reporter Alison Parker and her partner Adam ward and Alison who was interviewing Vicki Gardner in August, 2015 who survived at Lake Moneta, Malls, Shopping Plaza’s, on the streets, and anywhere else. You are really not safe anywhere in this world anymore.

Not only in US, but around the world. I can’t even imagine…

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Original post from Verve

‘…………March 10th, 2015 ADVOCACY

Barton Cutter


A leadership coach and writer, Barton Cutter combines his experience of living with cerebral palsy, uncompromising wit, and professional background in leadership development to empower people with and without disabilities to discover a vision of inde.

One evening several years ago, my wife Megan and I headed out to dinner and a night on the town. As what is common in those days, I was in my manual wheelchair as we did not have an accessible vehicle at the time.

We strolled around downtown looking at our various options and as we were enjoying our conversation with one another, I noticed a questionable man tracing our footsteps. He seemed to be going out of his way not to be noticed by anyone, particularly us. I pointed him out to Megan and we walked on, both of us keeping an eye on his movement.

After a few minutes, he went from trying to remain hidden and in the background to attempting to close the distance between us. As he did so, every internal alarm in me alerted me to this situation, and I shifted my entire presence toward him, letting him know it was not wise idea to approach further.

At once, a look of complete astonishment swept over his face, and just as quickly as it appeared, the expression then transformed again into what may even be considered embarrassment as he darted off into the crowd, never to be seen again.

People with disabilities are three times more likely to become victims of bullying, assault and other crimes than others. Some people may see someone with a disability as an easy target. Yet, we can avoid a potential attack.


1. Personal safety begins with awareness.

How often do you talk on your cell phone, oblivious to your surroundings? Trust me, we all have fallen into that distraction trap. But if we put the phone down, and watch where we are walking and who is around us, we are much more apt to detect a situation that is malevolent. For as clique as it may sound, the simple act of avoiding a confrontation can minimize the likelihood of being attacked by nearly 75 percent.

2. Shift your posture.

When we are younger, our parents may nag, “Sit up straight.” Amazingly, there is something to it. Whether you are standing up straight or sitting up straight, holding your head up with an open posture allows you to be more aware of what is going on around you. Good posture increases your peripheral vision and heightens your sense of hearing. Knowing what is around you either by sight, noise of even scent can alert you to potential danger.

When we carry ourselves with confidence, no matter whether we are sitting, standing or lying down, that confidence lets others know that you are not a push-over or weakened by your circumstances. Often, projecting this confidence goes far beyond the physical posture.

For example, I don’t sit perfectly straight all of the time. And yet, it is clear when I own my space and surroundings, and when I am not. This may be as simple as looking up rather than at the ground, scanning our surroundings rather than keeping our eyes locked in one position, or it may also mean relaxing ourselves internally so that we are not bound by fear.

Equally as important, when you are walking or driving your chair somewhere, know where you are going, own it, and head there with a purpose. This does not mean that you have to rush everywhere. Yet, neither does it mean that we dawdle or look unsure of where we are going.

3. Where is your safe space?

Whether you are in your own home or out in the community, we all need to define a safe space, a place where we can go in an emergency. For people with disabilities, it may also mean having alternative modes of communication such as having In Case of Emergency notes in our phones.

Along with knowing where to go, just as important is how to get there. Where are the exits in a building? What is on the other side of them, and are they accessible? What is between you and your escape route? Are other people with you? All of the questions are things to think about in crowds, traveling or out and about in the community.

4. Reactions in time of stress.

When I feel stressed, I don’t always communicate well because I have a lot to say, and it feels like the words just won’t come out. And, I may not be able to drive my wheelchair as well because muscle spasms become more uncontrollable. We all have different reactions to stress. Knowing how we respond, and what to do to calm down can help keep our heads clear. Techniques such as breathing or finding a quiet place may help keep our emotions calm.

Just as we react to stress in different ways, so may our families, direct support staff or care givers. Many times, we must work together as a team in difficult situations, and building the relationship with your team can give you the confidence you need in unfamiliar situations.

5. Personal Space.

Perimeter distance is the space you occupy, and for many of us, it’s our personal space. If you extend your arm or leg and spin in a circle, this is your perimeter distance. Similarly, if you use a wheelchair or crutch, this distance may be the edge of a footrest, the space if you can hold with your crutch extended. Many of us don’t like someone coming into our personal space without being invited.

It could be as simple as standing next to someone in an elevator or leaning in to talk to someone in a wheelchair. We give non-verbal clues to others about approaching this personal space. For example, if I’m being misunderstood, I may speak in a way where someone needs to lean in closer to me to listen. If I want more space, my leg may jet out, giving a barrier for someone who is approaching.

6. Don’t be afraid to be rude.

If you find yourself approaching a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable such as an elevator with only one other person on it, do not feel obligated to put yourself in that position our of courtesy. Using a mobility devise may make us feel more vulnerable, and it’s okay to say no to something we do not feel comfortable with.

Trust your gut. If something feels odd, find a way around it. And don’t worry about hurting the other person’s feelings. In fact, chances are if the other person is a good-hearted individual, they will recognize the situation and not take offense anyway.

See Also: Disabled Black-Belt, Defense Coach Fends Off Would-be Mugger

7. Personal Choice.

In life-threatening situations, we may feel afraid and not know what to do. No matter what anyone else may tell you, surviving the situation is success. This does not just apply to scenarios of bullying or assault. During our lifetime, we find ourselves in a many different situations: natural disaster, a car wreck, job change, or change in living situations, just to name a few.

Many times, after we’ve lived through tough situations, we may question what we could or should have done. As much as you can, let it go, and be compassionate with yourself; you’ve lived to see another day.

8. Being Aware of the Tools We Have.

We have heard and been touched by tragic situations that have involved tools of malice. School shootings, break-ins, thefts, we hear about them on the news every day. But we each have tools that we can use just as easily. Our voices, our confidence, our personality can all be considered tools, just as our hands, legs, mobility devices or what we are carrying with us.

As a martial artist and self-defense instructor, I advocate that if you choose to use a tool for self-defense, such as mace, you have continual training to know how it works, and how it can be used against you.

9. Expand Your Sense of Your Environment.

How often do we go through the day without knowing how we got there? Just as we need to become more aware of our environment, we also need to be aware of our senses. This may be visual, auditory or feeling textures. It may be that we are aware our wheelchairs will get stuck in gravel, that walkers are not that great for off-roading, or crowds may not be the best for someone with an intellectual disability. It may also be that we create relationships to build trust with other people in our community.

10. Trust Your Gut.

No matter who we are or what our ability, we all have what many refer to as intuition, that feeling inside. This is the combination of all of your other senses and the data that they provide, and at the same time it is a separate sense equally as vital and informative as the other five. Particularly people with disabilities may not trust this feeling. After all, there are times when we may rely on others, and we feel silly.

And yet, this internal feeling has, over the generations, been known for saving lives of people, no matter what their background or walk of life. Learn to understand and listen to what it’s telling you.

The bottom line is: We are all more powerful than we give ourselves credit for.

When we find ourselves in an emergency situation, as long as you make a choice to survive, you increase you chances of sustaining yourself.

As I have developed a curriculum for adaptive self-defense, I have a firm belief that we all should have training to keep us more alert and safe while we are out in our community.

Unfortunately, there are people in this world who want to do harm, but those with disabilities do not have to be dis-empowered. In fact, having training gives us the confidence to be more involved and find inclusion in our community.

Read More: hat to Do When Children with Disabilities are Bullied

Photography Credit: Megan Cutter…………..’

Cuts and more cuts to Social Care

Deeper cuts to Social Care Budgets

Many, if not all councils are making cuts which will affect frontline services and some of these will reduce the amount of care being given or made available to some of the most vulnerable adults in the UK.

Many of these adults are reliant solely on their council funded care packages, as their disability benefits are used to fund other essential daily living costs, such as food, heating and other costs.

Some may have family carers, but these carers are already providing care to the limit of their resources. There is no slack for them to do more. many of the carers, themselves are aged and after many years of caring, their health as or is beginning to deteriorate.

The effects of any of these cuts will enhance the health deteriorisation of both family carers and those being cared for. This will, create many safeguarding issues and will further stretch the resources of both the NHS and Social Services.

Thereby creating a much greater funding crisis.

While I do not begrudge the ‘ring fenced’ money for Overseas Aid, thereby safeguarding the vulnerable overseas, but why can not the same be given to the vulnerable of the UK.

Safeguarding will an issue happen in Sheffield?

Sheffield Social Services are they creating safeguarding issues

Sheffield Social Services (1) are currently in a financial dilemma, with an anticipated budget overspend, do they cut spending in the department or endeavour to obtain monies from other budgets, it would appear the former, but what will this eventually create?

What has occurred?

The Social Services budget for 2012/2013 was overspent by £6.3 million and there is now a projected overspend for Social Services of £11 million, of which £6.5 million is in Learning Disabilities (1).

So if there were not significant changes in practices or other means from 2012/2013 to 2013/2014 there would have been an expected overspend of £6.3 million. But due to Government austerity cuts, it is said that savings of 20% need to be made.

The following is an extract from  Budget Conversion 2014-2015: Shaping our future together (1)

‘But Sheffield Social Services accept that we have an increasing number of older people, particularly very old people. They also expect a 32% increase in people aged over 85 in the next 10 years.

For disabled Adults with complex needs (2), there is an increase of 5% each year.

This is in addition to an increase in the number of older people being discharged from hospital who need social care support.

There is more people with mental health issues seeking social services funded support – a 64% increase from 2011/2012 to 2012/2013.

An increase in the demand and cost of support packages for people needing support. Between 2011/2012 and 2012/2013

– number of customers supported increased by 11%

– average cost of support per customer increased by 8%.’

This is at a time when according to the article 72 more jobs in social services are at risk. Who will be going and what action is being taken?  Is this action appropriate? As the facts are extremely limited, and knowledge is not forthcoming due to apparent employment restrictions.

So at a time when demand is increasing to make savings staffing levels are being reduced.

If by any methods of reducing costs the demands on the service are not met, this will result in some safeguarding issues for the most vulnerable adults residing in Sheffield.

While this may not be at the scale of Winterborne (2) or Mid-Staffs (3). It will cause a degree of risk to some, at least, of these adults who are vulnerable.

These are not people who can be discarded or left to fend for themselves.  Without the services they require to ensure their critical needs are met, these needs will not be met.

These social services are priority services and need to be maintained at all costs.

While I do not have the figures to hand, it is logical to assume, if there was an over spend in the budget of 2012/2013, then there would be an over spend in 2013/2014, before taking into account the budget reduction, and the increases in the demand and resultant increase in costs.

You have to question, was the budget set for 2013/2014, a realistic budget (1) and if not, it was doomed to an over spend greater than in the previous year.

As the budgets, I assume, are monitored by the Chief Executive and the Leader of the Council, why have they been so quiet?

Some budget information was apparently released, but no apparent mention re Social Services

Is Sheffield being fairly treated by Central Government.

(1) © Copyright of Sheffield City Council 2013

(2) Crown Copyright. Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0

(3) © The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry 2010


With all the media coverage in the UK regarding the allegations of abuse, this has prompted myself to consider abuse, not in relation to the specific media coverage, but to abuse in general.  I have therefore put together an article which contains my own thoughts and views, with referencing to various websites to expand or explain some of the terminology contained in the article.  To access the article please follow the link Abuse, What is it and to Whom.

A scandal at the BBC, apparently

Abuse documentary at BBC

If heads do not roll at the BBC and all the other organisations involved, then justice will not be done.

While the acts of abuse are a very serious matter, the apparent cover up is even more so. Abuse Protection procedures are there as a back up to the usual safeguarding practice. It is essential therefore that Protection procedures are followed in all cases.

For major organisations, as the BBC, hospitals, care homes and others to apparently ignore their protection procedures is extremely worrying. Anyone who is found to have not complied with them should be sacked and prosecuted.

Cyclists do need law on helmets – Letters – The Star

Cyclists do need law on helmets – Letters – The Star.

I do not wish to stop people cycling, but all cyclist should realise that they are not exempt from the highway code, but many would think they are.

As for helmets, the helmet is there for the safety of the cyclist. Anyone who does not wear one is not respecting themselves. Do they know that the emergency services can charge people for the cost of attending road accidents. While for any other road user, this would, if charged, be met through their insurance, as many cyclist will not have insurance, this charge would be met by themselves. If the fault of any accident is with another road user, the lack of wearing a helmet could reduce any damages being charged to that road user.

Any adult cyclist who is not safety aware and is not wearing appropriate protection is setting a bad example to the younger generation.

Should Sheffield City Council close their elderly care homes A view yes or no

Again we see that Sheffield is closing homes on the pretext that it is better for the residents.
Why is the real reason not being published?
To have care homes the following needs to considered:
Care Quality Commission (CQC) registration with the resulting costs in maintaining building and staffing care standards
General maintenance of the building both out and inside structures
Servicing and maintenance of all required equipment
Costs of food, drink, furniture, linen and other items
Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks are required
Management and supervising staffing costs
Care and cleaning staff costs.
Whereas for care in the community only the following needs to be considered:
Management and supervision of Direct Payments staff and auditing procedures
Costs relating to Direct Payments staff, salaries etc.
Moneys to be paid out via Direct Payments
Many costs will be saved by giving people access to Direct Payments.
While many people may wish to be cared for in their own homes, you have to assess the degree of care required.
In a care home the care is for 24 hours, 365 days a year and is costed on this basis. The management and supervision of staff is provided in each home.
How will this be achieved through Direct Payments where 24 hour care is assessed to be required?
The funding is not there for 24 hour care and in most cases not even for 12 hour care.
Depending on the assessment and provision of Direct Payments, how will the care be provided?
The care can be provided by using the Direct Payments to:
Employ a Care Agency, who will provide the staff to care for the person in their own home
Employ care staff recruited by the person requiring care or their appointed representative, if the person requiring care is not capable to recruit and manage staff themselves.
With a Care Agency the management and general supervision of the care staff is the responsibility of the care agency and their compliance with CQC standards.  The care agency will also obtain the CRBs. Although day to day supervision and guidance and adherence to Health and Safety standards in the persons own home  is required by the person requiring care or their appointed representative.  Liability Insurance will also be required, which is the responsibility of the person being cared for.  Maintenance of any mobility aids and other equipment will be down to the person being cared for.
With care staff recruited  by the person requiring care, they or their appointed representative will be responsible for the recruitment, including obtaining references and CRBs.  Also supervision, adherence to Health and Safety standards, maintenance of mobility aids and other equipment and any materials required to administer care is the cared for persons responsibility.  Also not only will liability insurance be required, but it is advisable to have a full insurance package, which will include 24 hour help on employer and employee matters and legal costs should anything need to go before tribunals or courts.
In many cases the person will have already experienced care at home, but when this proves unsuitable, due to health and safety problems relating to the cared for person, it would be then that they are transferred to a care home, but if the council is going to close them all, where is the alternative?
I do not think this action to close homes as been thought through, however if costs are the reason, then will any of the other matters have been considered at all.