On the 12th January 2007 the government published proposals to increase the current statutory minimum holiday entitlement, from 4 weeks to 5.6 weeks.
From the 1st October 2007 the holiday entitlement will increase from 4 weeks to 4.8 weeks. There will be a further increase from 1st October 2008, from 4.8 weeks to 5.6 weeks.
If you would like more information please visit the DTI website at: www.dti.gov.uk/employment/holidays/index.html
After the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act 30 years ago, people are still experiencing discrimination because of their gender.
The Gender Equality Duty, which comes into force in April 2007 is expected to bring about real change in how public authorities, such as councils, schools, hospitals and police etc, promote gender equality and eliminate sex discrimination.
Rather than depending on individuals to make a complaint about sex discrimination, the duty places the legal responsibility on public authorities to demonstrate that they are treating men and women fairly.
The duty will affect policy making, public services, such as transport, and employment practices such as recruitment and flexible working.
Public authorities will have to develop policies and services that cater for the different needs of women and men; whether they be a parent, transsexual or simply male or female.
The Chancellor of the Ex Chequer, Gordon Brown recently announced his latest pre budget report.
The pre budget report, which is titled, ‘Investing in Britain's potential: Building our long-term future', can be viewed in full by accessing the HM Treasury website at: www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/index.cfm.
However below is a brief insight into how the budget may affect you.
Pensions: The basic state pension is to rise by 3.6% in April and the pension credit minimum guarantee to rise to £5 for a single person and £7.65 for couples.
Education: The government will consider a £2,000 bursary to encourage young people in care to attend university.
Homes and planning: 300,000 more homes will be offered free insulation and central heating.
The economy: By mid- 2007 the Chancellor expects inflation to reach the target expected , taking into account an annual 2% rise in interest rates.
P C from Vale of Glamorgan writes:
‘I am a Rowan user who gets a lot of pleasure from gardening. I have been helped enormously by a charity called ' Thrive' ,which exists to help disabled gardeners. I suggest you get in touch with them if you believe your disability stops you or hinders you in the garden. Contact details are given at the end of this article.
I was diagnosed with MS ten years ago when I was twenty-five. I also have Leber's Optic Atrophy, which leaves me with only peripheral vision. I went from being an active woman with a good job as a fabric technician and who had a great social life to someone who could see no useful future. Instead of cycling around my home town and on cycling holidays in France, I spent hours lying on the sofa with little energy. Then, about seven years ago I was taken to a gardening project run by the Cardiff Institute for the Blind.
They have a plot especially for blind gardeners. That set me bullying my father to clear the brambles from the garden at the side of my house. As my garden began to grow I felt I had a sense of purpose once more. It helped to restore my sense of self-esteem.
Next, I heard of week-end courses run by ' Thrive', and persuaded a minibus full of friends from our 'Insight' group to go. That was wonderful ! It taught me lots of things that I could do in the garden, which I had either not known about or thought were beyond me. ' Thrive' has a library of tapes on gardening subjects, and also sends out regular update tapes. They are also most helpful on the phone if you have an emergency. Now when I go out to work on my garden I forget about my disability and I become "P the Gardener".
Gardening has been such a tonic that I now do without the anti-depressants I relied on for years. It helps to keep my muscles toned. It is easy for MS sufferers to become stiff and for their muscles to waste away. Gardening uses lots of different movements which help maintain the core strength of my muscles and keeps my joints flexible.
I have had help in building raised beds - raised about a metre above the ground and someone gave me a small poly-tunnel when their mother died and her house had to be sold. My favourite flower is my bright white rose 'Penny', but I spend most time growing things to eat. I had enough potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and lettuce to give some away this year. But I was disappointed not to repeat my First Prize for my courgettes in our local society's exhibition .
I go into my garden every day now. It calms me and gives me a sense of purpose. But I could not have done so much if it hadn't been for 'Thrive'. I want to encourage you to get in touch with them and see what they can do for you. Their weekends are arranged for groups who can be complete beginners or experienced gardeners. You can reach Thrive on 0118 988 5688 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org. They have a website at: www.thrive.org.uk'.
C L from Carmarthenshire writes:
‘Direct Payments has made a great difference to my life and I want to thank the Rowan organisation for making it possible for me and my P.A. to go to London. I really enjoyed myself in London with Kit and members of Carmarthen amateur dramatics society, of which I am a member, especially when we went to the Victoria Palace to see Billy Elliot. We also had a shopping spree on Sunday before coming home and saw all the famous sights including Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye and walked along the Thames. I was very busy on the Friday 17th, the day before we went to London, it was Children in Need Day and I was dressed up as Pudsey Bear for the day and raised £473.59 for Children in Need and was interviewed by Hywel Gwynfryn for BBC Cymru Radio'.
S A from Pembrokeshire writes with advice on booking a holiday:
‘At this time of year most of us are starting to think of warmer climes and looking to book a relaxing and well earned break. With a disabled passenger it can be slightly daunting, especially if it is your first time abroad and travelling with someone who needs a little extra help.
Most important you should remember to contact your holiday insurance company. It is imperative you give them the details of the disablement/illness, as missing out on one small fact could mean that they won't cover any expenses incurred if you should unfortunately suffer with something related to your condition whilst on holiday.
Most companies may either add an extra cost on to the policy to cover your condition, or they may just restrict your policy. This means that if you were to suffer abroad with anything connected with your condition, they would not be willing to cover any of those bills.
It is worth while shopping around before making your final choice. Remember though that cheap does not always mean reliable, it may be better to go with a well known Company and paying the excess waiver is advisable; a small charge for complete peace of mind.
Now the enjoyable part... booking your holiday. Unless you are a seasoned traveller it may pay you to book directly with a Travel Agent. In most cases they can match or even better internet prices. All you need to do is give them the details of what you are looking for and they will do all the legwork. They will also be able to deal with any requests you may have.
It is their responsibility to contact the airline to ask for wheelchair assistance, so that you will receive help at the airport. In both countries, pre-boarding means no waiting in lengthy queues in the Departure Lounge whilst waiting to board. They will also arrange for a suitable vehicle for your transfers from the airport to your accommodation or resort and back to the airport on your return.
If you decide to book your own holiday it is vital you do a little homework before making your final reservation. If you find after booking that you've made the wrong choice and you have paid the holiday in full, you will not be entitled to a refund. A good site on the internet is Trip Advisor; here you can check various hotels and resorts, with unbiased reports and quite often candid traveller photographs.
At: www.disabledholidaydirectory.co.uk you will find an array of properties overseas and also in the UK, which have been designed with wheelchair users in mind. Not only is it important to check the accommodation is wheelchair friendly but also that the surrounding areas are accessible to your needs.
If you are booking through a Travel Agent they will be able to advise you on this. At the start of each season the holiday companies carry out reports on the properties and resorts they use and operate in. The report will give all the relevant information on hotel and resort amenities and any recommendations as to how accessible they are to disabled passengers.
There are brochures available from the Travel Agents, they have lots, so don't worry about taking a bundle of them to have a browse through. These brochures should give you details on properties and resorts and whether they are suitable, whether they are available free of charge, whether you are booking with the agents or not.
Holidaying abroad should be an enjoyable experience, whether you are able bodied or not. Travelling as a disabled passenger just takes a little forward planning and should not be something dreaded... HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!'
G from Ceredigion writes about his PA I:
‘It was great for me that I had contacted Gabriella already to say he was looking for work as a PA. When I met I, I took an instant liking to him and it saved the advertising. It all fell into place. I am really pleased with him. It is nice to have somebody not only that you can trust and rely on but also have a relationship with. You have an understanding.
Basically, because I am on my own, apart from the help sorting out the personal and domestic side, I appreciate the moral support. I don't want someone just to walk in and say "what do you want doing". I want someone you can communicate with. It feels as though it will soon be that he doesn't need to ask. He has just got on with things with no hassle. We have only known each other for four days but it feels like a lot longer.
It is great to be able to plan outings. The worse side of it, on your own, is being unable to get out to do what you want to.
I is going to help me with the computer and also likes snooker. It is a good feeling to know I have someone there to take proper care of me when I come out of hospital. I am more than happy with the situation'.
G's PA I writes:
‘This is the first time I have done this job one-on-one in someone's home. I immediately got on with G - straightaway talking to him, helping each other and sharing common interests. I can be really flexible and supportive. It's all fallen into place really quickly. I am definitely happy with the situation.
I cannot tell you the contrast with working in the EMI unit, it's unbelievable. I found that quite a challenge. Working with G, there is no pressure, it feels very relaxed and it feels like visiting a mate to help out. I was wary of the dogs to start with but they are so friendly they give me a real welcome'.
On Wednesday 20 December 2006, NHS Direct Interactive was launched on Freeview. NHS Direct is already available on Sky Digital, by telephone and on the internet. In addition to the already existing services the Freeview service, which will reach a further 6.4 million homes, will offer 150 pages packed with information on: health, eating well, exercise, quitting smoking and other general information about NHS services.
To access the Freeview service all you have to do is go to channel 108. If you do encounter any problems you may need to retune or scan your digital box.
To access NHS Direct via Sky Digital press the interactive button on the remote control and scroll down the menu until you reach NHS Direct Interactive and press select.
To call the NHS, 24 hour Direct Line call: 0845 4647.
Alternatively visit their website at: www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/.
The average British smoker is 'hooked' on 14 cigarettes a day; 5,110 a year according to the NHS .
This is the reason for the NHS recently launching a new campaign to help people quit smoking. You may have seen their television advertisement, which shows people dependent on nicotine being violently caught by a fish hook and dragged along the floor, to the nearest cigarette vendor.
If you would like to quit smoking, improve your health and those around you and be better off, then why not visit the NHS Smokfree website. The website offers a number of resources to help you quit smoking, including information on: health benefits, patches and gum, a helpline and tools to get started. Make that first move by calling the NHS Smoking Helpline on : 0800 169 0 169 Alternatively visit the Smoke Free website at: www.gosmokefree.co.uk.
An online service is now available on the Directgov website, which makes it easier for disabled people to find a parking bay. The interactive Blue Badge parking map allows you to search by postcode, town or area for Blue Badge parking bays across 64 cities in the UK.
The map gives details of any time restrictions or special notices that may apply and can also be used to find parking bays that fall within red routes in London. The map can also provide details of accessible petrol stations. Visit: http://bluebadge.direct.gov.uk for maps and more information.
What are Disabled Students' Allowances?
Disabled Students Allowances are grants to help meet the extra costs of studying that students face as a direct result of a disability or specific learning difficulties. They are designed to help disabled students study on an equal basis with other students.
The allowances provide help for full-time, part-time and postgraduate students. The amount you can get does not depend on your household income. You do not have to repay this help. Disabled Students' Allowances are paid on top of the standard student finance packages.
What can they be used for?
Disabled Students Allowances cover:
To apply, you will have to show your local authority (or the Open University) written proof of your disability from an appropriate medical professional. If you have a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, the local authority may ask you to have an independent assessment carried out to establish this.
Your local authority cannot meet the costs of this assessment. If you cannot afford to pay for it, you can apply to your college or university for help through the Access to Learning Fund.
You can apply if you are studying a full-time or part time course that lasts at least one year (including a distance learning course or open university course), regardless of your age.
Universities and colleges deal with these on behalf of government to provide financial support to both full and part time students. The fund covers course related and living costs not already met by other grants
The money can be paid into your bank account as needed, or directly to the supplier of services (for example your university, college or equipment supplier).
Jobcentre Plus or HM Revenue & Customs (formerly the Inland Revenue) will not count Disabled Students' Allowances when working out your entitlement to benefits or tax credits. You do not have to repay this financial help.
For a free information booklet call: 0800 731 9133 and quote reference S/BTGB/V6. The booklets are available in Braille audiotape and in welsh. Alternatively visit the DFES Website at:
Retirement these days means new choices and opportunities. Choices in Retirement, is a guide to essential information which includes sections on:
You can order online from The Age Concern on-line bookshop by visiting : www.ace.org.uk or by phoning: 0870 44 22 120..
The Rowan Organisation is a registered charity and not for profit organisation. It is a user-led organisation and the majority of Board members are disabled people, as are a number of our operational staff. Membership of the Rowan Organisation is open to all service users and it's free !
Ordinary members receive a summary of the quarterly Board meetings, are entitled to attend and vote at the AGM and also have the chance to become a Board Member themselves.
Board membership offers an exciting opportunity to travel and meet up with others. Service user members who are elected on to the Board, influence the management and direction of the organisation. Board membership offers a mix of business and social elements and all reasonable travel, accommodation and other expenses are paid for by the Rowan Organisation.
If you are interested in applying for ordinary membership, with the chance of becoming a Board member, please contact the Rowan Organisation at Head Office on 01827 718972 or send an email to the Rowan Organisation's Information Service, who will provide further information.
The following further information may help you to decide to become a member:
"The Rowan Organisation exists to provide disabled people with access to information and support in order that they can make informed choices and be in control of their lives".
"A society that is fully inclusive in which the barriers, whether environmental, attitudinal or institutional, that prevent disabled people from having equality of opportunity have been removed."
In providing services we advocate the following Principles: