Apr 24

New Disability-Led Brewery Opens In Bristol!


The former Tapestry Brewery in Totterdown in Bristol is set to reopen its doors after a tricky period earlier this year, this time to be known as Tapestry by Props.

Props is a charitable organisation that works with people with disabilities to help them gain more work skills – and Tapestry by Props will be the city’s brewery and taproom staffed by people with learning disabilities, the BBC reports.

The charity purchased the brewery after it went into liquidation, with the new owners hoping to build a profitable business that can provide its trainees with meaningful opportunities in the world of work.

It now has complete control over the former brewery and will be involved in the running of the taproom, brewing unique craft beers and building partnerships with other breweries in the local area.

Project leader Tom Medland explained: “The trainees will be serving on the bar and helping to brew beers. Eventually, we want to involve the trainees in every process of the business, providing sustainable, paid work for people with learning disabilities.”

He went on to say that it’s hoped the trainees will be able to run the business by themselves once they’ve built up their skills sufficiently.

Other work being done by the charity includes Project 769, a cafe, exhibition and meeting space, where food, drinks and products are handmade by the trainees. Coffee has been sourced from local roasters Blind Owl Coffee and people will be offered bespoke barista training in the cafe itself.

A two-storey building is now being renovated with accessibility at the heart of its design to ensure that this project becomes a reality.


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Mar 24

First Disabled High Sheriff Of South Glamorgan Now Appointed!


The first born disabled High Sheriff of South Glamorgan has been appointed, with Rosie Moriarty-Simmonds – one of thousands of babies whose mothers took the sedative thalidomide while pregnant – taking up the post.

As judicial representatives of the Queen, High Sheriffs were once given the task of collecting taxes and issuing writs, but the title is now a ceremonial one. Post-holders are able to attend events and look after visiting judges, as well as sitting with judges in court.

According to Wales Online, 60-year-old Rosie is now the first person ever born disabled to be appointed to the role. She was born with four fingers growing from her shoulders, shortened legs, two small feet and 13 toes – and has spent her life thus far breaking down disability barriers and promoting inclusivity.

Thalidomide was prescribed to pregnant women in the 50s and 60s to help with morning sickness and sleep, but it was later found to lead to deformities. Around 12,000 babies were born with such issues between 1956 and 1962.

Rosie was also the first disabled student to go to Cardiff University, graduating in psychology in 1985. She later went on to take up a job as a civil servant but left seven years later to set up an organisation advising on disability equality.

Commenting on her new appointment, Rosie said: “I will be invited to lots of events which might range from opening a shop to attending the five gun salutes a year at Cardiff Castle. If there are royal visits you are also in the welcome line up.

“Technically you are not supposed to be political, but in my presence as an obviously disabled person it will make people stop and think and it is an opportunity to promote diversity.”

The origins of the Office of High Sheriff date back to Saxon times, when officials were responsible for the maintenance of law and order within their specific county. There are 55 High Sheriffs serving counties across England and Wales every year.


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Mar 11

New Guidelines Launched To Help Disabled Children Be More Active


The UK Chief Medical Officers have, for the first time, published guidelines to help disabled children and young people become more physically active, underpinned by research from Durham University, the University of Bristol and Disabilities Rights UK.

Recommendations include undertaking 120 to 180 minutes of aerobic activity a week at a moderate to vigorous intensity, as well as completing challenging but manageable strength and balance activities three times a week. This could include yoga, indoor wall climbing or modified sports like football or basketball.

Other advice includes building up slowly when first starting to exercise in order to avoid injury and breaking down exercise into bite-size chunks of physical activity throughout the day so it feels more manageable.

Regular physical activity has both physical and mental health benefits, but specific benefits that disabled children and young people will gain include meeting new people, improved confidence and concentration, stronger muscles and improved motor strength.

CEO of Disability Rights UK Kamran Mallick said: “This is an essential resource to demonstrate the health benefits disabled children and young people can achieve through regular physical activity.

“Disabled people have a right to get active in ways that work for them, and these guidelines show how important this is. The evidence-based infographic is not only a highlight of the project but a positive example of co-production in practice.”

There are also guidelines available for physical activity among adults and older adults, with at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week, such as running, playing sport and taking the stairs. Advice also includes minimising sedentary time and breaking up any periods of inactivity.


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Feb 18

Manchester To Hold Para Swimming World Championships


The Para Swimming World Championships are due to be held at the Manchester Aquatics Centre between July 31st and August 6th 2023, hosted in partnership with UK Sport and Manchester City Council.

This will be the first time Manchester has hosted the world-class competition, with previous championships having been held in London in 2019 and Glasgow in 2015.

The Aquatics Centre itself was purpose built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, costing a cool £32 million. It now forms part of a collection of community and elite facilities governed by non-profit MCRactive and overseen by Manchester City Council, responsible for promoting sport and physical activity in the city, as well as inspiring people to lead active, healthy lifestyles.

Grace Harvey, Tokyo 2020 Paralympic silver medalist, said: “I’m incredibly excited that the 2023 Para Swimming World Championships are coming to Manchester. It’s my home pool, so it’ll just be great to have some really fast competition right before the 2024 Paralympics in Paris the following year.

“Having the competition in Manchester is really special. A lot of the British Para swimming athletes are based in Manchester, so it’ll be a great home advantage – and I know we actually love competing here whenever we get the chance to do that!”

Meanwhile, the first leg of the 2022 Para Swimming World Series in Aberdeen has just come to a close, with Ellie Challis setting a new British record in the women’s 100m freestyle S3 – ensuring her a place at the World Para Swimming Championships in Madeira later this year.

And Stephen Clegg was just 0.05 seconds away from breaking his own world record in the men’s 100m butterfly, landing in 56.80.


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Feb 10

Man With Down’s Syndrome Gains Place On Scaffolding Course


In what is thought to be a first for the UK, a 32-year-old man with Down’s Syndrome has gained a place on a scaffolding training scheme at Weston College in Swindon, with the apprentice course set to see him become a fully qualified scaffolder.

According to the Swindon Advertiser, Todd Scanlon will take the course at his own pace, with no deadlines, and will receive one-on-one support in order to get his certified Construction Industry Scaffolding Record Scheme card. From there, he can then progress to get his NVQs and be fully qualified.

Todd said: “I’m really proud of what I’ve done. I really enjoy scaffolding and I’m looking forward to going to college.”

He was given his first scaffolding job by Martyn Coles of Coles Scaffolding three years ago, with the pair of them working together during this time to campaign to make construction sites a more inclusive place.

Since then, they’ve seen a lot of success in helping to change attitudes towards recruiting those with disabilities. In 2019, Mr Scanlon won a national award for best apprentice at the On The Tools Awards and, last year, the company won a special recognition award at the industry’s Total Awards.

Mr Coles said: “What Todd’s message is showing is that anyone can achieve their goals if they want to and have the right people around them, all of the lads have been amazing with him and helping him.”

The latest employment statistics for disabled people in 2021 show that the pandemic has had an impact on some industries more than others. The proportion of disabled people working in construction and manufacturing, as well as accommodation and food services, fell by about one percentage point over the last 12 months.

The industries that both disabled and non-disabled people are most likely to work in are education, wholesale, retail trade and repair of motor vehicles, and human health and social work activities.


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Jan 25

Survey For National Disability Strategy Ruled Unlawful


The High Court has ruled that a survey of disabled people used to inform the government’s new National Disability Strategy is “unlawful” and had failed to consult with people in an effective way.

The case was brought by four disabled people, the BBC reports, who argued that despite the fact that Therese Coffey, work and pensions secretary, did consult with disabled people, she then went on to provide insufficient information on the proposed strategy to allow for meaningful responses.

The UK Disability Survey itself was launched in January 2021, inviting the views of disabled people around the country on lived everyday experiences. There were 109 multiple-choice and four open-ended questions such as, “what are the top three changes that would make your life better?”.

Victoria Hon, one of the four who brought the case, said: “For too long, disabled individuals have been infantilised and our views ignored. This judgement sends a clear message that the government cannot claim to consult with disabled people if in practice we are not given the proper opportunity to share our views.”

Measures featured in the National Disability Strategy include increasing the number of accessible homes, adapting holder properties, auditing mainline railway stations for accessibility and piloting an Access to Work Adjustment Passport, intended to make it easier for disabled people to change jobs.

It received mixed responses upon its release, such as from disabled Tory peer Lord Shinkwin, who described the plans as a “damp squib”. While speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Lord Shinkwin said the strategy was “more of a mixture of a to-do list and a should-have-done-by-now list”.

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Jan 10

Disabled People & Asylum Seekers Team Up For Mural Painting


A new mural has appeared on the site of a community centre in Easton in Bristol, the handiwork of disabled people and asylum seekers, who came together to depict some of the barriers they face in today’s society.

According to the Disability News Service, the mural – which was unveiled to mark Human Rights Day on December 10th – is also meant to act as a tribute to a disabled asylum seeker who was murdered in 2016.

Mike Steel from Bristol Reclaiming Independent Living (BRIL) explained that the project had brought deaf campaigners together with people from refugee and disabled people’s organisations.

He said: “One of the ideas behind the whole mural is that covid has exposed or magnified what’s been going on anyway… the exclusion that disabled people, people with chronic illness, feel.”

The mural itself is the latest to be produced over the last ten years through the Disability Murals project. The project was led by artist Andrew Bolton, with support from BRIL, the Thinking Futures social sciences festival and the Quartet Community Foundation, among others.

One of the ideas in the artwork was a chain with broken links, symbolising how the pandemic has resulted in the breaking of many of the links that had helped both disabled people and asylum seekers in the past.

Other similar works of art created by Disability Murals can be seen in London, Norwich and Frome, involving local disabled people from the communities there. Andrew Bolton also worked on a similar project in Bolivia – and a video about the work can be viewed on the website.

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Dec 13

New Disabled ‘Passport’ To Help Disabled Graduates Find Employment


The government has launched a new Access to Work Adjustment Passport to help disabled 

people make the transition from university into the world of work, reducing the need for 

repeated health assessments when starting a new job.


Part of the National Disability Strategy, the pilot scheme is being rolled out at the University 

of Wolverhampton and Manchester Metropolitan University. 


Students already receiving extra support while at university will be offered a passport, which 

captures information about their condition and the adjustments they’re already benefiting 

from, so that repetitive disclosures won’t have to be made when applying for grants.


Through the Access to Work scheme, disabled people can apply for grants of up to £62,900,

which can be used to cover the cost of specialist equipment that may be required to help them do their jobs.


Up to 100 students at each university will be supported through the pilot scheme and it’s 

possible that thousands more could benefit if it’s implemented nationwide.


This passport is just one of 100 different commitments outlined in the National Disability 

Strategy, which was published in July. It’s designed to give people the confidence to have 

conversations about their disability with potential employers, which could be challenging 



Chloe Smith, minister for disabled people, said: “Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to 

thrive at work, starting from the moment they take their first steps on the career ladder.


“By working with the University of Wolverhampton and Manchester Metropolitan University 

on this trial, we can find the best way for these new passports to support their students into 



Earlier this year, a new advice hub was also created to help disabled people gain a deeper 

understanding of their employment rights, with other measures also being brought forward to

promote flexible working, introduce carers’ leave and explore more support for disabled 



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Dec 08

How Dance Can Help Boost Confidence & Self-Esteem


Towards the end of last month (November), Leonard Cheshire Cymru’s disability dance competition – Strictly Schools – completed its 2021 season with an Evening at the Ballet broadcast on BBC1 Wales as part of the BBC Children in Need Appeal show.

The programme was carried out this year by a range of passionate teachers and dancers, helping to make lasting differences in the lives of children with disabilities, with the project delivered through online tutorials, live classes and in-person learning.

The competition provided fun experiences for all, as well as learning opportunities, helping children to grow in confidence, learn new skills, strengthen friendships and improve their fitness and flexibility.

The charity’s Emma Wilcox said: “Delivering Strictly Schools has been empowering and inspiring from start to finish. Seeing the young people discover their confidence as they coproduce their routines has increased their independence and belief that they can achieve anything they put their minds to.

“This project uses dance to take young disabled people on a journey increasing their sense of self, enhancing their wellbeing whilst creating and developing friendships.”

Unlike those without disabilities, it can often be challenging for disabled people to join in with certain recreational activities – but adaptive dance and physically integrated dance provides them with an outlet to learn how to move and share their creativity and artistry, irrespective of their range of mobility.

Dance can also really help disabled people express themselves in ways they may not have thought possible – and it’s also a huge amount of fun, while helping students grow in confidence, develop communication skills and new techniques, and improving their motor skills at the same time.


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Nov 30

Inclusive Curling Taster Sessions Held In Edinburgh


As part of Parasport’s Tokyo 2020 Games-time activation, Winter Paralympic Games medallist Aileen Neilson made her way to Edinburgh to inspire young curlers with a special taster session in the sport.

According to the Ealing Times, wheelchair curling star Neilson – a three-time World Championship medallist and the mixed competition bronze medal holder at Sochi 2014 – paid Curl Edinburgh a visit to showcase the sport to the next generation of talent.

Jo Parker, 51, took to the ice for the first time at the event and was so impressed with it that she decided then and there to sign up with a curling club.

She said: “It’s a sport I’ve always followed – I didn’t realise there are such opportunities for disabled people, so I was really happy to find out I did have the chance to take part.

“Aileen’s an absolute legend, so it’s been an absolute privilege to get a one-on-one coaching session with her. It’s a lot harder than it looks when you’re watching it on TV – but I like to give everything a try. If you don’t try, you might not know if you’re fantastic at something, so give it a go!”

Wheelchair curling can be played by people with a wide range of different disabilities, whether they use their wheelchair for daily living or simply for sport.

All that’s required is coordination to hold a delivery stick and sufficient strength to push the granite stone along the ice. The only difference between wheelchair curling and regular curling is that the stones are thrown from a stationary wheelchair and there’s no sweeping involved.


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