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Independence Comes When You Have "Choice Unlimited" (Or - The Disabled Are Not Willing To Be Boxed In Any Longer!)
8/14/2015 9:40:59 PM
Words cannot describe how happy I am to be officially allowed to type this blog post.  I have typed a blog post about the "Choice Unlimited" Roadshow in Leicester. earlier this year, but this is the first "officially authorised" blog post about "Choice Unlimited" itself.

I must admit that I was a little unsure as to what a "Choice Unlimited Roadshow" would be when I was invited to attend my first one last year.  To be perfectly honest I thought it would be a crowd of disabled people moaning about their lives and trying to get people interested in their "fight for life".

I couldn't have been more wrong.

"Choice Unlimited" is the brainchild of some very clever people at Leicester Centre for Integrated Living (LCiL).  LCiL is a charity run by disabled people for disabled people - with some rather interesting sidelines (for example the "Social Media Cafe", on Fridays between 12.00pm and 2.30pm, and "The Real Junkfood Cafe" on Thursday evenings from 7.00pm to 8.30pm, both at The West End Neighbourhood Centre, on Andrewes Street, Leicester - you will find me at both events).

"Choice Unlimited" started as a result of the UK Government's decision to change how they support Disabled People.  The really good thing about "Choice Unlimited" is that it is based on the idea that you need to adapt the services to suit the clients and not the other way around.

Did you realise- for example - that Disabled People alone have an annual purchasing power to the tune of £212 billion???

This makes us a very influential group of people.  Which makes me wonder why "Mainstream" companies sometimes seem to enjoy actively putting barriers between us and the goods and services they provide???

If you want to find out how best to help a disabled person - surely the best person to ask is either the disabled person themself or someone who works very closely with them (a carer, support worker, etc)???

Choice Unlimited started doing Roadshows where they showcase goods and services which are available for disabled people and their carers, etc.  The geniuses at Choice Unlimited call them "Market Place For Independent Living".  The Roadshows also have something else in their favour.

They are also a good place for Professionals (Doctors, Nurses, Social Workers, etc,) to go and learn about the goods and services provided for disabled people.
They show how disabled people can live like everybody else (with obvious adjustments at times).  Roadshows have featured Disabled Sports, a Catwalk model show through "Mods of Diversity", etc.

The Leicester Roadshows have also had Matt Hampson (disabled ex-Tigers rugby union player) attending representing his Foundation for Disabled People.

This year has been the first year when the Roadshows have gone national.

The next Choice Unlimited Roadshow will be at Stockport Town Hall, Edward St, Stockport, SK1 3EX, on Tuesday 22 September 2015, from 10.00am to 4.00pm.  It is a free entry event.

The Roadshow after that will be at Worcester Guildhall, The High Street, Worcester, WR1 2EY, on Thursday 29 October 2015, from 10.00am to 4.00pm.  It is a free event.

For more dates for Roadshows which may be closer to you please visit www.choiceunlimited.co.uk/events.

If you go and visit a Roadshow you may be surprised by how independent Disabled People can be if you give us the opportunity and stop trying to stuff us into your preconcieved boxes!!!

A Selection of Organisations I Learned about at "Choice Unlimited" Roadshow
4/17/2015 5:00:02 PM
As stated in the introduction to this section I have decided to give you contact details of organisations who either operate nationally or are likely to have some kind of national or local to you equivalent.

I hope to investigate some of these a bit further with a view to giving them a proper write up at a later date.

I am going to make an exception for one organisation who I know only operate in Leicester but I feel I have a pretty solid reason for my decision.  I have had a connection with them in the past and I would not hesitate to recommend them.  Apart from that I agree with their ethics and their way of doing business.  (However, I will get to them later.)

If you have been excluded from Mainstream provision for whatever reason and you are interested in Computer Music - get in touch with Excluded Ltd.  Website:  excluded.org.uk/

Dimensions provide services for people with Autism as well as those with Learning Disabilities,  Website:  www.dimensions-uk.org

Irlen Syndrome is something which affects vision - it is a dysfunction within the visual cortex of the brain which involves hypersensitivity to certain colours.  For further help and support please see www.IrlenUK.com

Senad Group provide support for Disabled People (including those with acquired brain injuries).  They also provide support for people who have had operations.  Website:  www.senadgroup.com.

Chat And Mingle is an online community for adults with Physical, Learning, Psychological conditions and Sensory Impairments.   Website:  www.chatandmingle.co.uk

If you are disabled and you want a friendly insurer who understands your needs go to Fish Insurance.  Website:  www.fishinsurance.co.uk

Here is an idea that I wish I had thought of before these guys.  If you are not disabled you may be puzzled when one of your friends suddenly starts complaining about the access or lighting in a venue which you have never had a problem with.  Disabled Go have taken the nuisance out of getting to a venue and realising it doesn't cater for wheelchairs, sight problems, etc.  Visit their website at:  www.disabledgo.com/ (if you have an iPhone you can also find their App on the App Store - unfortunately those of us with Android phones have to wait for the Android version to come out.

Now - I have a confession to make.  This next company is not a national company or directly (or even specifically) connected with Disabled People.  However, I have taken the liberty of including Castle Park Solicitors as I feel they are a kind, caring, bunch of humans.  Not only that but they are a Not-For-Profit organisation, which means they charge reasonable prices.  (I am looking at goodies on my desk which were handed out by other firms of Solicitors who may be more geared towards dealing with Disabled People, who were present at the same event, but I would go with Castle Park based on their friendliness and caring attitude.)  Website:  www.castleparksolicitors.co.uk/

I would also advise you to find a Not-For-Profit Solicitors in your area - or at least one who puts their Clients before their profits.

Disability Should NOT Be A Barrier To Choice (Or Introducing The Innovative "Choice Unlimited" Roadshow)
4/16/2015 11:13:26 PM
I am not totally sure how I am going to deal with this section - I found so much interesting information at the Roadshow I attended which showcased services provided for Disabled People (half of which I had never heard of before) that I wanted a section where I could tell you a little about some of them (I will include links to their relevent websites).

I went to a Roadshow at the Tigers Rugby ground on Welford Road in Leicester.  This Roadshow was a great place to learn about the difference services and support groups provided for Disabled People and their Carers, etc.

The title was rather apt - it was called "Choice Unlimited" www.choiceunlimited.co.uk/.

It had a wide variety of exhibitors ranging from well known ones like Action Deafness, RNIB, Police, Fire Brigade, etc, to some pretty obscure ones like, RICA (deal with roadtesting products and services for Disabled People), Irlen UK (deals with providing lenses which help alleviate the symptoms of Irlen Syndrome - an eye condition connected with sight and colour), and DEAP (who offer peer support to help Disabled People navigate their way through Benefit Claims, Hospital Appointments, etc).

I tried to pick places to showcase in the upcoming posts on this section which may be a little unusual, but who are either national or they have a national equivalent.

(Of course it doesn't necessarily mean that every single company, etc, featured on this section was part of the event but I hope to keep it going and include more companies or groups who offer some kind of support for Disabled People.)
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