The Vulnerable Veterans team are launchi

The Vulnerable Veterans team are launching a new ‘Drop In’ at Aldershot on 2.10.17
Doors are open from 1730-2000hrs
See you there?? http://ow.ly/i/z47tD

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Its Surrey Armed Forces Drop In at Wokin

Its Surrey Armed Forces Drop In at Woking FC between 1000-1300 Its Fun and its Free – every Veteran is welcome. Guest speaker-John Keegan http://ow.ly/i/z0Pgq

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Tommorow is Surrey Armed Forces Drop In

Tommorow is Surrey Armed Forces Drop In at Woking FC 1000-1300
Its Fun and its Free – every Veteran is welcome.
Guest speaker-John Keegan http://ow.ly/i/z0Oi3

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We Move Among You

Watching a clip of Prince Henry’s (sorry – I hate it when we are forced to call members of the Royal Family by their nicknames as if we are their intimate friends) opening speech for the Invictus Games got me thinking.

There is a very strange attitude towards people with disabilities and injuries.

I am not even talking about the “political” debate surrounding how much we should be prepared to spend on caring for those people.

What I am talking about is the skewed discussion we are subjected to in society as a whole.

On the one hand, Para-athletes and the competitors in the Invictus Games are held up as beacons of what you can do in spite of your disabilities.  On the other hand, society still doesn’t appear to know how to cater for people with a wide range of physical disabilities and/or Mental Health conditions.

The first (and most useful) thing to do would be to realise we too are a useful part of society.  This might involve having a true range of characters  with physical disabilities in soaps and dramas going about their daily lives and the same for characters with Mental Health conditions – without the latter category being portrayed as the people most likely to commit some heinous crime or always “in crisis”.  (I would love to see medication being openly discussed and taken as well.)

The next thing which could be done is involving us in the discussions you have when it comes to starting to plan new buildings and ventures.  A “one-size-fits-all” approach doesn’t work when dealing with the wide variety of disabilities (or the various different ways disabilities affect how we live our lives).  What might work very well for a textbook person with a sight problem might not (and, in some cases, will not) work for me.

As for when it comes to the workplaces – disabled people could potentially be the most useful members of your staff (if you are prepared to accommodate us).  We naturally see things slightly differently (which might be useful if you are faced with a tricky situation or are looking for new ideas).  When it comes to adaptability – we have to adapt to fit into your world anyway.

A disabled person shouldn’t feel like they need to work one hundred times harder than everyone else – to get the same recognition for their achievements – than the rest of the world.   We shouldn’t have to shout a thousand times louder than everybody else in order to be heard.  We should be able to be open and honest about how our disabilities affect our lives without fear of discrimination or abuse.

There is no such thing as a “Disabled” community – or a “community only containing people with Mental Health issues”.  We live, work, and socialise in the same community as you.

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A Thank You to a Police Constable

Just thought you would like to know that Ross got in touch with us at Vulnerable Veterans today after you gave him our leaflet. Our Lucy was able to link him into the Veterans Gateway. He also spoke to Runnymede Borough Council’s housing team and Helen found him temporary accommodation in Croydon.

I met him at Runnymede Civic Centre at 16.47 and got him onto a train to his accommodation.

He had only what he stood up in and we were able to provide him with a Masato Jones duffle bag (and a Masato beanie!) some underwear, toothbrush and paste, a couple of shirts and some Surrey Search and Rescue Haribo.

Ross was most pleased with the sweets as he’d not eaten all day.

It may interest you to know that Surrey Police have supported us since we began, that Runnymede were one of (if not the first) Surrey council to sign up to the Armed Forces Covenant and Masato Jones design fantastic clothes and philanthropically support homeless charities like York Road Project in Woking.

However both Ross and I would like to tell you, you “Did Good” today.

Thank you.

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The Day I (Finally) Met A Really Nice Man

Every so often I decide to do something crazy. Before you start wondering if you should read any further I feel I should point out that – in this case – my definition of “crazy” is something which other Humans would probably try to talk me out of because of possible risks to my safety.

Yesterday was one such occasion. Although I had done something similar last year under slightly different circumstances I still wondered how it was going to play out. (At least this time I was going to be speaking in my first language. It also turned out that – if it had turned into my worst nightmare situation – I could not have been in a better place. Let’s just say the place was packed with both Emergency Service vehicles and their personnel. I even saw a Liferaft or dinghy.)

My reason for going to the “Emergency Services Show” at the NEC was a kind of “fact-finding” mission. Or rather – find out if someone was as kind in person (face to face) as they were on the other forms of communication we had shared.

There is one downside to not being able to drive (actually – there are several). You need to rely on public transport to travel long distances and this can be very expensive as well as time consuming.

Luckily I live approximately 50 miles away from the NEC – and I had found a way to get between Leicester and Birmingham by bus (meaning I could use my Disabled bus pass to get there for free).

So – off to the NEC I went.

I must admit to wondering if I was actually doing the right thing even up to the point when I set foot inside the Show. After all, I was not on my “home turf” (it really makes a difference if your surroundings make you feel safe when you decide to surprise someone – the last time I did that I was in a strange area of Rotterdam but I felt as safe as houses).

I trust my instincts when it comes to people – whether I meet them face to face or via Social Media. My instincts had told me the man I was trying to find yesterday was a good person. OK – so I did have another big clue. The Police don’t tend to employ Serial Killers or other humans who have a violent nature – and I was looking for a retired Police Inspector.

If I tell you I was pleasantly surprised it would be an understatement. On finally meeting Roger Nield he actually matched the image I had developed of him through our contact via phone and Social Media. The biggest surprise for me was that he was one of those unusual people who when they talk to you face to face they sound exactly like they do on the phone. The best thing though was finding out he is “real”. What I mean is – I had been wondering what sort of reception I would get from both him and Lucy (who was also there). I had honestly prepared myself to be humoured and my presence to be tolerated but not exactly welcomed. I needn’t have worried. They were both very welcoming and both gave me a hug (thus ensuring they stayed on my “Friends” list for life – I love giving and receiving hugs).

When I left them I was sad that we couldn’t have had more time together – they were so nice.

Maybe one day they will come back to the Midlands and we can meet up again. Until then I will continue in my newfound enjoyment of working with two people who I can now honestly say I genuinely like, respect, and admire.

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Why Disability Should Be Taught In Schools

I have been following the debate about whether or not there should be quotas of different groups of people in Public Life (with particular reference to the Media).  However, I feel this is going about the issue of “public perception” the wrong way.

We have had quotas of females on different TV programmes (in fact, I feel “Mock The Week” has been wrecked by the BBC sticking to their idea of having one token woman on a panel regardless of whether or not they are actually appropriate or funny).

Some female newsreaders on the BBC News channel have actually been known to wear glasses as they have read the news.

However – and this is coming from personal experience – the best place to learn about things like Disability is in the society you are currently living in.

We keep hearing that children are our future – yet they would appear to be missing out on a vital part of their education.

You see – unless you are Disabled yourself or you have a teacher (or relatives) with a Disability – how are you going to learn how to interact appropriately with Disabled people?

More to the point – the Disabled child is still going to have to learn how to cope in an able-bodied world.  You probably have no idea how lonely it feels when you are in a class of “normal-sighted” children and a “normal-sighted” teacher when your sight is as bad as mine.  Having to teach yourself to cope with everything on top of trying to learn the subject you are being taught is stressful (at least it was for me).

Even with the current ideas of sending children with “Special Educational Needs” to Mainstream schools you may only get a few in a school.

So – my idea would be to have a group of people with a wide variety of disabilities going into schools to tell the students about their disabilities and how they affect them.  But I wouldn’t just do it as a one off.  I would invite the people in on a regular basis – so the students get used to seeing them and interacting with them.

Surely that would be better than just watching Disabled people on TV and nowhere around them?

The best way to get rid of discrimination is to make it impossible to discriminate against anybody – and nobody discriminates against their friends or loved ones.

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