Feb 022017

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

Camphill Wellbeing Trust at Bieldside, Aberdeen.

An Aberdeen charity’s consulting rooms are all set for a spring makeover – with the help of a donation from Aberdeen Asset Management. Camphill Wellbeing Trust will be refurbishing rooms at its centre in Bieldside where it provides therapeutic services, known as AnthroHealth , to around 600 patients, including those with cancer, learning disabilities and chronic conditions.

Dr Aileen Primrose, manager of Camphill Wellbeing Trust said:

“Aberdeen Asset Management’s donation is a boost to our fundraising appeal to refurbish three consulting rooms at our centre in Bieldside.

“The upgraded rooms will be inviting spaces where patients can feel comfortable, secure and relaxed. This project is vital to enable us to respond to the increasing number of people who are asking for our help.

“We are very grateful to the Aberdeen committee for supporting our project with a £1,000 donation to help more local people with health conditions.”

The Camphill centre provides AnthroHealth services to help people find new ways to address illness, build resilience and maintain wellbeing. Based on conventional medicine but extended with a holistic understanding of the patient, AnthroHealth programmes include natural-based medicines, therapies and lifestyle advice.

The charity is part of Camphill independent charities whose shared ethos is to enable people with learning disabilities and other support needs to fulfil their potential.  Six independent Camphill charities are based in Aberdeen providing different services to meet the needs of children, adults and older people primarily with learning disabilities.

Dominic Kite of Aberdeen Asset Management’s Aberdeen charity committee said:

“This donation will go towards the enhancement of treatment rooms which will ensure Camphill Wellbeing Trust can work with the increasing numbers of patients seeking its individualised programmes.”

The Aberdeen Asset Charitable Foundation was established in 2012 to formalise and develop the Group’s charitable giving globally. The Foundation seeks partnerships with smaller charities around the world, where funds can be seen to have a meaningful and measurable impact and the firm encourages its employees to use their time and skills to support its charitable projects.

The main focus of the Foundation is around emerging markets and local communities, reflecting the desire to give back to those areas which are a key strategic focus of the business and to build on the historic pattern of giving to communities in which Aberdeen employees live and work.

For more information visit http://www.aberdeen-asset.co.uk/aam.nsf/foundation/home

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Jun 022016

Eilidh meets with Stagecoach managers and local residentsWith thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford

BANFF & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has spoken following further meetings with Stagecoach managers regarding the new buses serving the Buchan area.

The meeting follows dozens of complaints from constituents regarding the accessibility of the buses, which have been causing problems for passengers with mobility impairments, less agility, and those travelling with small children.

The vehicles, which were introduced last year, have sparked a campaign for more accessible public transport in the constituency.

Dr Whiteford met with the designers of the bus, Stagecoach representatives, and constituents affected by the problem, on Friday May 20.

Speaking afterwards, Dr Whiteford said:

“It’s quite clear that Stagecoach have made a mistake in choosing this particular model. While it may meet the statutory requirements, I continue to receive complaints from bus users. Given the number of older people, disabled passengers and parents of babies or toddlers relying on the buses, it’s important that our public transport is accessible to all parts of the community.

“In terms of the legislation, I will be seeking a debate on bus accessibility at the earliest possible opportunity.

“I will also continue to maintain pressure on the company to come up with a solution to this problem. Our public transport needs to be fit for purpose. ”

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Jun 192015

With thanks to Stuart Donaldson MP.

MencapReception - Learning DIsability Week2

Stuart Donaldson MP at Mencap Reception – Learning Disability Week

Stuart Donaldson MP attended a Royal Mencap Society reception in the House of Commons on Wednesday to celebrate Learning Disability Week.
He spoke to people with a learning disability, carers and family members about their personal experiences, the challenges they face and the changes they want to see in society. There were speeches from people with a learning disability and their families as well as Mencap President Brian Rix.

He listened to a speech from 27 year old Vijay, who has a learning disability and played an active role in Mencap’s Hear My Voice campaign. 

The campaign saw over 800 local candidates in the lead up to the general election pledge their support. 151 of them were elected as MPs – meaning over a fifth of the new Parliament pledged to listen more attentively to people with a learning disability and their families.

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK but many feel they are not listened to by those in power and the issues they that are important to them – like hate crime, welfare, better healthcare and education – are often not talked about.

Commenting, Stuart Donaldson MP said:

“I was honoured to attend the Mencap reception in Parliament to hear from people with learning disabilities, and to help celebrate Learning Disability Week. People with a learning disability and their families are as much a part of our society as anyone else and deserve to have their voices heard on the issues that matter to them. I am listening and I hope that many more MPs will do the same by getting on board and supporting Mencap and Learning Disability Week”

Jan Tregelles, Mencap’s chief executive, said:

“It is encouraging to see so many MPs listening to people with a learning disability and their families about the problems they face and the change they want to see in the new Parliament. They are the experts in what matters to them, so newly elected MPs should be listening to what they have to say throughout the new Parliament”

Lord Brian Rix, Mencap President, said:

“There are 1.4 million people in the UK with a learning disability and 6 million more family members and carers connected to them. However they often tell us they feel they are not listened to by politicians and subsequently many of the challenges they face go unheard and unresolved. We are asking new Members of Parliament to listen to what people with a learning disability and their families have to say.”

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Apr 122012

With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

Local Teenager Neil Innes picked up two gold medals recently at the British Table Tennis Association for People with Disabilities (BTTAD) National Championships in Crewe.

Neil, 15, who is a member of the Aberdeen Sports Village Table Tennis Academy, and was competing at this level for this first time, won gold convincingly in the under 18 event.

Neil also triumphed in Band C of the senior event, and is already setting his sights higher.

Donald Pirie of the Aberdeen Sports Village Table Tennis Academy said:

“The target for Neil now is to compete in Band A, the top 12 level in the UK. Although he is a bit away from this yet, his continued attendance at the Academy sessions will hopefully get him working towards this.”

Neil, who only recently took up the sport, continues to train with Westhill Table Tennis Club, and competes for them in the local league.

The Aberdeen Sports Village Table Tennis Academy was launched in December 2010, and gives young stars the unrivalled opportunity to train in world class facilities while receiving expert coaching to help them further develop in their sport. Combined with the Aberdeen Sports Village’s Table Tennis Club, it provides the perfect feeder system for young talented athletes.

Aug 182011

Last week we brought you the first installment of a six part tragedy by Jonathan Russell concerning the decimation of services for disabled people in Aberdeen and what we can do to reverse the destruction.  This week we look at the excellent things that existed – and have been snuffed out. By Jonathan Russell.

The Growth Of  Community – ‘Aberdeen Social Work  Team Praised For Good Practice’

The Community Placement Team was set up to provide alternatives to day centre provision for people with learning and/or physical disabilities. The workings of the team were progressed through the development and operation of a business plan well ahead of such developments in other services.
The evolution of this plan involved staff, clients, council sections, and all relevant outside agencies. 

It set forward a vision with targets on a whole variety of areas including work opportunities, training, leisure, finance, fundraising, client involvement, promotion through the media and training of staff. There were also service developments requested by clients including a craft business, a cafe and horticultural opportunities.

A voluntary organization ‘Access to Training and Employment’ was set up by our clients to help progress these client-led resources. The response from management at the time in Social Work was that the objectives in the plan were unrealistic and would not happen.

In reality over a ten year period we achieved all our objectives and went on to improve and expand further opportunities for people with disabilities. Staff and clients were empowered to take on responsibility within clearly structured areas of responsibility. Each member of staff was given responsibility for particular areas of work. At the height of our work we were providing services for 480 clients.

Achievements included:-

  • Receiving the highest possible quality assurance marks for our Department of Work and Pensions scheme, supporting people with disabilities into real, fully-paid jobs.
  • Rapid increase in permitted work and voluntary placements. Work involved seeking out work placements and then supporting and reviewing the placements. People in the main were however supported by employers and their staff at no cost to the council. To resource this expansion as well as the hard and creative work of staff and supporting employers, we received funding for three European funded projects and one from the Scottish Executive, particularly aimed at young people.  A joint project was set up with Cornerstone Community Care which allowed this agency to get further European funding as well as funding from the private sector, which could not be applied for by a local authority. The Cornerstone Employment team was managed by a worker from the Community Placement Team which had an outstanding track record of finding work placements
  • We had an excellent partnership with Aberdeen College who provided pre-employment training courses.  The College was receptive to providing new courses dependent on need. The courses had no cost to Aberdeen City Council except referral and review work. The College also provided lecturers for Community Outreach classes in community settings

Services set up and developed included:-

  •  Crafty Things – making wooden, textile and art goods this grew and grew and was awarded the first Scot Rail award for Social Enterprise
  • Choices Therapeutic Gardening  – a special garden was set up for the physically disabled; allotments were run, and we helped with the
    setting up of the Manor Park Garden. Choices Therapeutic Gardening was awarded the Grampian Television Overall Adult Learners Award
  • ‘Inclusion for All, – a project aimed at including people with disabilities in Community Centres. As well as integrating individuals into the wider activities of Centres, we also became involved in coordinating 12 Aberdeen College Community Outreach classes from computing to job clubs
  • Café Cairncry– a café run by young people with disabilities for a group of Senior Citizens in the local community
  • ADAPT – a project aimed at providing training in disability awareness for employers
  • Va –va -vroom – a highly successful drama group run with the Lemon Tree and putting on a whole
    host of successful stage productions

Access to Training and Employment, along with the Community Placement Team, were also involved in organizing two major conferences.  Out of the first conference a business breakfast was organized with the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce and Scottish Enterprise.

All of these exercises aimed at promoting employment for people with disabilities in Aberdeen. They were well supported by politicians and local representatives of business. As was so often the case, Social Work Management at the time showed no interest and would not get involved.

Leisure and Social activity groups were set up for people with physical and learning disabilities including:

  • Two leisure groups where people progressed from one group to another depending on ability, and were given the opportunity to try out a number of activities. Those involved were actively involved in putting together new programmes. Wherever these groups went they were welcomed by the organizations who owned the facilities.
  • An Independent leisure group run by clients but with back-up support from the team
  • An evening social group
  • Two bowling groups
  • A swimming group

All of these groups were well attended  and operated on a philosophy of fostering independence and progression. Groups were developed based on the demand of clients. The team made good use of volunteers and worked with other agencies where appropriate in operating these services making the services of good value.

The Community Placement Team also worked closely with Adult learning which (until re-organized into three Neighbourhoods and then was dramatically cut), ran group learning and provided individual tuition.   We also worked closely with the Workers Educational Association Reach Out project which ran more informal educational groups ideal for those who found it a challenge to fit into more conventional educational situations and Inspires Local Area Co-ordination which worked primarily in Northfield and the Bridge of Don.

The team identified a gap in services for those with disabilities moving from children’s to adult services. This concern was ignored by social work management until the report by the Social Work Inspectorate in 2008 which raised major concerns.   The Council’s Education Department did employ a consultant, but after a number of (costly) meetings as sadly so often the case, nothing ever materialised — wasting even more valuable, scarce resources and time.

We worked closely with Schools, Skills Development Scotland and Aberdeen College to try and progress the situation for young people in transition. We managed to get some funding via Scottish Enterprise, European funding and from trusts, and developed a structure with Skills

Development Scotland so that duplication of responsibilities for individuals between the agencies involved did not take place. Hazlewood School organised a conference ‘Moving On’ with which a whole variety of agencies were involved: yet again management at the time in Social Work and Wellbeing showed no interest.

Crucially there was no financial analysis in the Aberdeen Strategy of what money was available

On top of this the team also provided a considerable Social Work and Care management role.  This included supporting clients and their career, helping with housing and welfare rights, finding, supporting and reviewing paid for placements with Social Businesses; and attending a whole array of multi-disciplinary meetings.

Like all working situations the Community Placement Team faced its challenges.  It did however have high morale and staff were supported by weekly team meetings, regular supervision and yearly appraisals. Appraisals and informal supervision were also given to part-time staff employed through Access to Training and Employment and Aberdeen College.

All client services were reviewed and this included active involvement of clients with this process. We also worked closely with carer’s and parents and tried to create an ethos that was one of where all concerned parties were working together as part of a team.

The Scottish Executive had an excellent strategy called the ‘Same as You,’ which is presently being reviewed throughout Scotland whose aim was to include people with disabilities in the wider community. The Community Placement Team were involved in developing this agenda, there was, however, a distinct lack of support from management at the time.

As the Social Work Inspection pointed out management failed even to mention the ‘Same as You’ strategy in Aberdeen Councils own Learning Disability strategy.

Crucially there was no financial analysis in the Aberdeen Strategy of what money was available, nor how they could best provide services within financial restrictions. Management was out of touch with the developments that were taking place in other council areas across Scotland and were in effect burying their heads in the sand.

The Community Placement Team was well supported by outside agencies, the major challenge that the team faced however was the lack of support and involvement from middle and higher management within Aberdeen City Council.

Considerable effort was put into trying to improve our relationship with management but to little avail.

So what happened next?  Read all about this over the forthcoming three weeks of Aberdeen Voice in a tragedy in three acts called A COMEDY OF ERRORS MEETS MACBETH

Aug 122011

Aberdeen Voice presents the first installment of a six part tragedy by  Jonathan Russell concerning the decimation of services for disabled people in Aberdeen and what we can do to reverse the destruction.

Services for people with disabilities have been a particular target in the cuts implemented by Aberdeen City Council. These have included loss of services through changes in eligibility criteria, the cutting of Classroom Assistants and Adult Learning provision, the closure of Day Centres  for the physically disabled and for those with a learning disability, and the closure of Alternative Day Community provision.

Given the over-spend that developed in Aberdeen Council in the last ten years, cuts were inevitable. However, some of these cuts have belied logic.

The development in Classroom Assistant provision had largely followed the cutting back in Special School provision. All across Scotland, in line with the Scottish Executive policy document ‘Same as You’, Day Centres had gradually been replaced by Alternative Day opportunities, with a particular emphasis on employment.

Ironically, now the cuts have come they are affecting the very services which were meant to be part of that alternative provision eg. Adult Literacy and Community Learning.

What follows highlights one crucial part of this target, the closure of the Community Placement Team which provided work, training and leisure activities for people with disabilities in the city.

In a damning report in 2008 into the Social Work Services of Aberdeen City Council one of the few teams that was commended for good social work practice and high outcomes was the Community Placement Team.

The Community Placement Team worked with 480 people with both learning and physical disabilities. In particular the CPT were involved in finding and creating work for disabled people, and training and leisure activities for those people, but importantly also providing a wider Social Work service for clients and their families.

The Social Work inspection evidenced the Community Placement Team as an example of good practice and stated:

“In 2006, 29% of adults with learning disabilities had employment opportunities compared with 16 % nationally. This was a major achievement by the service with the figure increasing from 17% in 2005.

“We met a group of people with learning disabilities who used CPT services. They spoke highly of the opportunities the Community Placement Team provided for employment, training and leisure pursuits.”

Within two years the very managers who had been criticised and asked to take urgent action to improve relations and rebuild trust between staff and managers in the Social Work Inspection report, had – with the agreement of the council administration – closed down the Community Placement Team.  This has left many vulnerable people isolated, and in many cases their families also.

  • In the coming weeks, five further articles will be published, written by the ex-Team Leader of the then Community Placement Team, documenting what happened, and making suggestions for the future of services for people with disabilities in Aberdeen city.
Oct 292010

With thanks to Alex Constantinides.

A new charity set up to provide activities for adults with learning disabilities aims to put the emphasis on creativity, healthy living and fun!

Create Aberdeen – a new

initiative – was formed in March of last year as a response to Council cutbacks to Day Centres. However, the organisation is  not trying to replicate day services, but  aims to provide community-based activities which encompass the individual’s choices and needs, and also promotes integration and participation within people’s local communities.

Create members realised that people with learning disabilities had long been disadvantaged, discriminated against and segregated, and that Aberdeen services were going to fall far behind the good practices shown elsewhere.  For those losing a day centre place, a life of boredom, isolation and the knock on effects of that (ill health, depression, challenging behaviour) can follow.

Create is made up of staff, management and volunteers who got together to discuss what could be done to ensure people with learning disabilities had the opportunity to participate in meaningful activities that were suitable for their abilities, that enabled development, that were safe and supported, and also promoted the principles of Ordinary Living, and the rights of all to participate within their local communities.

Alex Constantinides of Create Aberdeen described how the group has evolved;

“With the support and encouragement of service users, carers, ACVO and other professionals, Create began the lengthy process of setting up as a constituted organisation, and lately a Company Limited by Guarantee with charitable status.

Run by skilled and experienced staff, with input from volunteers, the activities are tailored to meet the needs of the individuals attending the groups

“This has been a learning experience for all of us involved, and has meant some completely new skills have had to be learned pretty quickly – Previous social care jobs have not given us a grounding in fundraising, accounting or cashflow projections – but we have learned and are continuing towards our goals.

“Initially Create started with the intention of working in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, and other voluntary sector providers, however this has proved to be a difficult task, and the process of providing a co-ordinated cluster of alternative services for people with learning disabilities has not run smoothly, but not for the lack of will.

“Create started by providing monthly social nights and fundraisers, and running taster days to let people know what we were about and what activities we could offer. Currently we are running regular sessions within community centres – Sports and team games, drama, arts and crafts, gentle exercise, music and dance. Run by skilled and experienced staff, with input from volunteers, the activities are tailored to meet the needs of the individuals attending the groups, and the choices they make.  Community Centre managers and Sheddocksley Baptist Church have been more than welcoming to our groups and have given us a great deal of support.’

[ See the website www.createaberdeen.org for updated sessions and social nights.]

“Create are also constantly looking at ways of fundraising and have a firewalk planned for Halloween this year, in the hope of raising over £1,000. Volunteers have been helping in our fundraising, and every donation has been helpful. We were successful in a bid to the Big Lottery – Investing in Ideas, and are currently using that funding to commission a feasibility study. Our evening drama group – Va Va Voom received funding from The Scottish Community Foundation – Make a Splash to enable us to pay for production costs for the performances in 2011.”

Create would be extremely happy to receive support from local businesses and individuals, either with donations, or voluntary work.

Contact alex@createaberdeen.org if you can help.