Our regular newsletter contains news and information about various Disability issues and paper copies are distributed around Spelthorne Borough for those in the Community who do NOT have access to a computer.  Copies can be found at the Borough's Community Centres, Libraries, Sheltered Residential housing.

Copies to Volunteer groups and Special Interest Groups and Societies are also distributed via email.  If you would like a copy of the latest newsletter or if you would like news and events for your Community Group to be included in future issues, please email the web administrator. Don't forget to include your postal address if you would like a paper copy.

Some of the news items have been taken from articles in the national press and other publications and SCAN cannot be held responsible for any loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any inaccuracy or error in an article that has not been independently substantiated. The inclusion of hyperlinks to these websites does not imply endorsement of any material on such web sites or any association with their operators services or products.

SCAN’s Success at Being Shortlisted for Bags of Help Vote
The Tesco/ Groundwork community funding scheme, awards grants of £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 from carrier bag sales in Tesco stores.

SCAN is One of Three groups in our region to be shortlisted to receive a cash award and shoppers are being invited to head along to the Tesco stores, listed below, to vote for SCAN.

SCAN is raising funds to help with the Production and Distribution Costs of this Newsletter About Disability Issues For Those In The Local Community Who Have No Access To A Computer.

Voting is open at Tesco Express, Church Road, Ashford, Middlesex and Tesco Superstore, Town Lane, Stanwell/Staines, Middlesex – near Ashford Hospital between Friday 1st March 2019 and Tuesday 30th April 2019 inclusive and customers can cast their vote with a token given to them at the check-out in store each time they shop.


YOUR EYE COLOUR MIGHT BE WHY YOU HAVE THE 'WINTER BLUES' – Edited from article by Lance Workman is a visiting professor in psychology at the University of South Wales.
You’re not alone if colder weather and longer nights make you feel down. This well-known phenomenon, called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), might explain why people feel low, irritable and lethargic in the winter months. For some, the condition can be serious and debilitating.

Though many people might suspect they have SAD, the condition is usually diagnosed using the seasonal pattern assessment questionnaire.

This asks people to answer a number of questions about seasonal behaviour, mood and habit changes. The higher people score on the questionnaire, the more serious their SAD is. However, these diagnostic tools may vary between organisations, which can sometimes lead to inconsistent diagnoses.

We have uncovered evidence that a person’s eye colour can have a direct effect on how susceptible they are to SAD. Our study used a sample of 175 students from two universities (one in south Wales, the other in Cyprus). We found that people with light or blue eyes scored significantly lower on the seasonal pattern assessment questionnaire than those with dark or brown eyes. These results agree with previous research that found brown or dark-eyed people were significantly more depressed than those with blue eyes.

The reason that eye colour may make some people more susceptible to depression or mood changes might be because of the amount of light an individual’s eyes can process.

Eye colour is, of course, not the only factor here. People who spend too long indoors are also more susceptible to both winter blues and full-blown SAD. Fortunately for those with SAD, simply going outside for a regular walk, especially at times when it’s sunny, will help improve their mood. If that doesn’t work, “phototherapy”, which involves sitting in front of a light box for an hour daily, could also help.

People I have advised to use these methods (whether brown or blue eyed) almost invariably have reported a noticeable improvement.

However, people with SAD are advised to consult a GP regardless, especially if their symptoms do not improve, or if the condition becomes difficult to manage.

Most councils are failing to prosecute motorists for misusing disabled parking permits – despite a significant rise in thefts of blue badges, figures show. More than three in five local authorities in England took no action against people caught falsely using the permit in 2017-18.

Phil Talbot of disability charity Scope said: “Stealing blue badges isn’t a crime without consequences. They are a vital lifeline for those who genuinely need them.”

Ninety-four of 152 English local authorities (62 per cent) did not pursue anyone for abusing the blue badge scheme since last year, according to Press Association analysis of Department for Transport data. Of those, 31 councils did not catch a single person, despite claiming to have a policy of prosecuting offenders.

Similar research two years ago found 40 per cent of councils were failing to punish drivers who misused blue badges, suggesting the problem is getting worse. Local authorities in Nottingham, Middlesbrough, Shropshire, Luton, Milton Keynes, Bournemouth and Reading were among those to record zero prosecutions last year.

Almost every case involving the 1,215 prosecutions which were launched involved drivers using someone else’s blue badge. The number of blue badges reported stolen increased by 45 per cent year-on-year to 4,246.

Martin Tett, transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, representing councils, said: “Councils have to take tough decisions on targeting limited resources on enforcement. Gathering evidence and mounting a prosecution can be time-consuming and expensive but councils know their areas and are best placed to decide the most effective way to tackle it.”

Mr Tett claimed the disparity in enforcement levels across the country is likely to reflect “different levels of pressures on available parking”. He added that people can help fight blue badge fraud by tipping councils off about suspected offenders.

HOW DISABLED PEOPLE SUFFER DUE TO BLUE BADGE ABUSE – Edited from article by Hannah Barham-Brown for the Independent.
A few months ago, a friend sent me a car sticker. Not a standard gift for your average 31-year-old girl-about-town, but it gave me a much needed laugh: “My Doctor Knows Why I Need a Disabled Parking Permit. You Don’t Need To.”

Four years, one wheelchair and multiple colourful walking sticks since my diagnosis with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and I still haven’t worked out how to “look disabled”. Spontaneously dislocating joints, I have nailed. Juggling pain medications, fatigue and a career, I’m getting my head around. Sadly, being a younger woman who can generally stand up out of her car (albeit with a propensity to fall over afterwards), I often get “The Look” – a sideways glance, raised eyebrow, and vaguely appalled shake of the head. Sometimes, it’s accompanied by “The Tut”, “The Mutter” or “The Strangely Aggressive Comment to No One In Particular About Benefit Scroungers”.

People understandably get very frustrated by those who “fake” disability. I know, that on the whole, these strangers think they are helping the “real” disabled people – but we don’t want or need that kind of support. I need blue badge spaces so I can be independent, and not just to save me a walk (though that’s reason enough). Those spaces are wider, so I can park the large car I need to transport my wheelchair and open the doors without slamming them into others. But go to pretty much any large shopping centre or supermarket, and you will find people with no badges at all, parked in the disabled places – and these are rarely tackled either.

The blue badge system has seen multiple piecemeal changes from government over the years, and next year, a number of other conditions will become eligible for the permits. However, there doesn’t seem to be any additional funding for these changes. The most local authorities can do is ensure badges need to be renewed every three years – and as a disabled person, I do love a bit of additional paperwork.

I do not need my medical degree to see the colossal waste of taxpayers’ money this has caused. In effect, the onus is put on the disabled person to renew, due to the dishonesty of others. Do we need to stop people using badges inappropriately? Yes. Is getting angry at individual local authorities going to achieve this? Probably not.

We need a wholesale redesign of this system at government level, with service users like me involved from the word go – not just as part of a tokenistic “consultation” afterwards. Local authorities need funding. They also need a system they can effectively monitor and which doesn’t just pass the pressure onto service users to juggle more paperwork and assessments.

I haven’t put those car stickers on Eric the Vauxhall Astra yet – but I may soon have to. As for the blue badge: if you want it, you can have it – but only if you take my disability too.

People with dementia and their carers can join us for a free monthly walk around the beautiful surroundings of Kew Gardens.

Event details
Third Tuesday of each month from 10.30am. Limited to 20 people per tour, so registering is essential.

All Walks: Meet at the Guides' desk, Victoria Gate Plaza

These walks are free, and free entry to the Gardens is included

Register in advance by emailing discovery@kew.org or phoning 020 8332 5643.

For visitors who use British Sign Language, these monthly walking tours led by specially trained tour guides offer a fascinating overview of the Gardens, its history and important scientific work.

Event Details
First Sunday of each month from 11.30am. Tours are limited to 15 people per tour, so registering is essential.

This sensory experience gives you the chance to touch and smell elements in the Gardens. This tour has been created in partnership with VISOR Richmond and Richmond Talking Newspaper.

Event details
Second Sunday of every month (from 10 February 2019 to 10 November 2019) at 11.30am.

SPELTHORNE PARASPORTS CLUB is a club for young people aged 5 years - 25year from all local Boroughs with various learning or physical disabilities. Located in Spelthorne Leisure Centre on Saturday mornings 10:15am - 11:45am during Term times.

The Club was formed with the help of Spelthorne Council in 2006 and whilst the club is independent it has close ties with the council through its leisure services team.

We have various sports to try every week such as Basketball, Badminton, Boccia, Football, Short Tennis, Indoor Cricket and many others.

Cost: £4 a session (£2 for siblings) payable on the day. Every 4th session free! Come and try 1st taster session free!

We open on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month. 2nd February 2019 and 16th February 2019

The schedule of proposed activities can be found on: www.surreycommunity.info/spelthorneparasportsclub/schedule/

The roots of ME/CFS are poorly understood. Many sufferers can trace their condition back to an initial viral infection, but by the time the condition has been established, blood tests come back normal. This leads to a frustrating process of elimination in diagnosis with many sufferers struggling to be believed or understood by health professionals unable to find a cause.

Around 250,000 people in the UK are thought to be living with ME/CFS. Jessica Taylor-Bearman is a campaigner and writer who was 15 when she became acutely unwell with ME in 2016, following an infection. “I was so ill, I was being fed through tubes and I couldn’t talk or move – it’s like locked in syndrome,” she told The Independent. “But they basically gave up trying to treat me and decided to call it a mental illness. “That’s why it’s so important that we’re starting to get research that shows it’s not just, as they tried to say, ‘all in your head,’ it’s a neuroimmune disease.

To understand the biological differences between people who go on to develop ME/CFS, the King’s team used a hepatitis C treatment, interferon-alpha, which causes lasting fatigue in a significant minority of recipients.

The study, published in the journal Psycho neuroendocrinology, measured fatigue levels, health histories, and immune system markers, from participants before, during and after treatment.

Out of 55 participants in the study, 18 went on to develop lasting fatigue symptoms and they all had heightened immune system activity before the treatment and the exaggerated immune system response. However, by the time fatigue had hit chronic levels, there was no longer any detectable difference between the groups’ immune systems.

“The model that we propose is that these people have an ongoing primed immune system,” professor Carmine Pariante, senior researcher at the King’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, told The Independent. “That could be either because of a genetic predisposition or because they’ve been exposed to infections early on in their life. Their immune system becomes more hyperactive, and when the trigger comes – in this case interferon-alpha but it may be an acute infection – that causes an even higher response which puts them on a trajectory for chronic fatigue syndrome.”

“Although screening tests are a long way off, our results are the first step in identifying those at risk and catching the illness in its crucial early stages.”

Tennis star Katie Boulter hopes to inspire young people with debilitating conditions to “achieve their dreams” after battling chronic fatigue syndrome to make the world top 100 leading women tennis players.

In 2016 Katie was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and took 12 months out of her career as she “struggled to live her everyday life, let alone train”.

Coached by Jeremy Bates, Nigel Sears and Mark Taylor, she got into the top 100 by reaching the quarter-final of the Tianjin Open in October 2018, where she lost to Czech world number 5 Karolina Pliskova. She became the first Briton to break into the 100 leading women for two and a half years, climbing to 96 in the WTA rankings. “I hope I encourage people to do sport, and for those who have similar conditions to me, inspire them. It can be a career for them. I hope they see what I’ve achieved and realise they can do it or do whatever they want to — that they can achieve their dreams.”

She manages her condition by “not pushing myself too hard”, limiting practice and not over-working her body in the gym: “I still don’t play a full schedule, but I do what I can.” She usually only does one training session a day while other players will do two plus gym work.

The only Britons above her are Heather Watson at 89 and Johanna Konta at 44. She said: “It is awesome. It has given me a boost to keep working harder, and it’s a step to the top 10, which is what I am aiming for.”

The Benwell Centre, Sunbury offers a range of activities to help keep the body and mind active including exercise, bingo, line dancing, arts and crafts. Please come along and visit our friendly centre. To contact the centre, call 01932 784232 or email benwell.centre@spelthorne.gov.uk

The Fordbridge Centre, Ashford offers a wide range of activities to help keep the body and mind active plus hairdressing, day trips and much more. We also offer two holidays a year, one in the spring and one in the autumn. Please come along and visit our friendly Centre to find out more. To contact the centre, email fordbridgecentre@spelthorne.gov.uk or call 01784 243880

Greeno Centre, Shepperton has a range of activities on offer including exercise classes, line dancing, massage, support groups, arts and crafts.

To contact the centre, email greeno.centre@spelthorne.gov.uk or call 01932 246173

Staines Community Centre is a light and airy two-storey building with a cafe on the ground floor. We offer a wide range of activities to help keep the body and mind active plus day trips, hairdressing and chiropody. To contact the centre, email staines.community.centre@spelthorne.gov.uk call 01784 463073