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30 Jun

Do you have computer and internet access for your child?

Home Access is a government initiative to help families on low income to buy a computer and get online. If your child has special educational needs, assistive technology packages can also be provided. It is open on a first come, first serve basis, to families on certain benefits, with children in Years 3 to 9.

Call the Home Access Grant line

0333 200 1004

28 Jun

Welfare crackdown begins with drive to reduce incapacity benefit claims

Ministers are to signal a tougher approach to incapacity benefit this week as the next stage of its welfare reforms, by reducing the benefit levels of those tested if they are found capable of doing some work.

Details are expected to be announced by the work minister, Chris Grayling, this week. Early pilots suggest half of those assessed are being taken off the higher rate benefit on the basis that tests reveal they are fit to do some work, government sources say.

Those deemed capable are likely to be required to do more to make themselves available for work if they are to continue receiving benefit.

Ministers have also looked at whether they can speed up the testing, but denied a suggestion that they could treble the number tested.

The chancellor, George Osborne, signalled tonight that efforts to take more of those on incapacity benefit off welfare will form a significant part of plans to cut the deficit, saying: “It’s a choice we all face. It is not a choice we can duck.”

Osborne said the trade-off between cutting the £192bn welfare bill and the level of spending cuts required in other government departments will be a central feature of the first meeting this week of his pivotal cabinet committee on public spending.

Ministers are looking to see whether existing incapacity benefit claimants can be passed to new private sector welfare-to-work providers.

Osborne, speaking in Toronto at the G20 summit, said: “Some of these benefits individually are very much larger than most government departments. Housing benefit is one of the largest. In its own right, it would be treated as one of the largest government departments.

“Incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance is a very large budget. We have got to look at all these things, make sure we do it in a way that protects those with genuine needs, those with disabilities, protects those who can’t work but also encourages those who can work into work”.

Previous attempts to cut back on the cost of funding incapacity benefit, now claimed by around 2.6 million people, met with major criticism. A new system introduced by the last government to assess whether or not the sick and disabled were capable of working wrongly found seriously ill people ready to work, according to a report in March by the Citizens Advice Bureau. People with advanced Parkinson’s Disease or Multiple Sclerosis, with severe mental illness, or awaiting open heart surgery were registered as fit to work, it said.

The need to reduce the welfare bill has been intensified by renewed commitments by David Cameron and Osborne this weekend to press ahead with real terms increases in the NHS budget, as well as not cut pensioners’ winter fuel allowance.

Osborne has said he will need 25% cuts in departmental spending outside the NHS and international aid if he is to eradicate the current structural deficit by the end of the parliament. Osborne said: “We have given some very specific commitments on some benefits, we haven’t given specific commitments on others, and that’s what I want to be part of the spending review over the summer.”

Faced by renewed calls from the former chancellor Lord Lawson to stop ringfencing the NHS budget, he said: “We have committed to real term increases in the health budget for a good reason. There are very significant demographic pressures on the health service which have to be taken into account.”

But despite such assurances doctors’ leaders warned tonight that the economic crisis could have “devastating” consequences for the NHS.

The British Medical Association has warned redundancies, recruitment freezes and service cutbacks are the “early signs of the impact of the economic crisis” on the NHS. The BMA said 72% of 92 doctors surveyed said their health trust had postponed or cancelled clinical service developments because of financial pressures.

Lawson also defended plans by the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, to cut the housing benefit budget. He said Duncan Smith was dealing with “very legitimate concerns” about “the ability of people to move within the social housing sector”. Duncan Smith had never suggested the unemployed should “get on their bike” to find work, in an echo of the notorious phrase used by Lord Tebbit in the 1980s.

He also disclosed yesterday that he had “fought long and hard” to prevent benefits being frozen in the budget, and ensure they were uprated.

But Labour’s Ed Balls accused the government of wanting to force people out of their homes, and the shadow housing minister, John Healey, said the test would be whether the Conservatives build social housing to help council tenants move home, or instead use it as a punitive policy. The Labour government had introduced move-to-work schemes, but their impact was limited by the lack of affordable social housing, he said.

In an interview in the Sunday Telegraph, Duncan Smith said he wanted to make it easier for the long-term unemployed to move to areas where they could find work by changing the rules relating to council tenancy. “The middle class do this all the time,” he said. “You have a house, if you have to move work, you use that as a portable asset … Why is it that for a group of people on low incomes, we leave them trapped, rather than give them the same portability?” Duncan Smith made it clear he was not talking about forcing people to move to high-employment areas. But he said he wanted to deal with “under-occupation” of council homes, that there were “tons of elderly people living in houses that they cannot run” and that he wanted councils to encourage people in this position to move into smaller properties.

Balls accused the government of wanting to evict the poor from their homes.

“[Duncan Smith] is saying to people in high employment areas which are more affluent, if you are living in social housing, he is saying ‘we are going to get you out of your homes to make space’. He goes further than ‘on your bike’. It is actually ‘on your bike and lose your home’.”

The Department for Work and Pensions was unable to give details of how Duncan Smith’s proposals would be implemented. But Grant Shapps, the housing minister, said he wanted to take forward the plan in the Tory manifesto to allow tenants in social housing to swap with those in other parts of the country.

16 Jun

Coffee mornings for parents of older children with a disability or additional need

Have you ever thought….

How could I meet other parents who have a child with additional needs? What things a child the same age as mine may enjoy doing? What support is there for me and my child in Southwark? I wish I could talk to other people about things that interest me

… come and do all of the above in a friendly and safe environment

Many parents say they would like more chances to meet others in similar situations. Parent coffee mornings provide exactly this opportunity, and hopefully a chance to enjoy yourself.

If your child is aged between 5-11, come along on:

21st June from 10am-12pm

19th July from 10am-12pm

If your child is between 12-19,  come along on:

22nd June from 10am-12pm

20th July from 10am- 12pm

All coffee mornings will be held at  54, Camberwell Road, SE5 0EN in the  Contact a Family offices at Walworth Road Methodist Church.
Call Abi on 0207 277 4436 for more details.

15 Jun

Caring About Carers Awards- deadline extension

The nomination deadline for the “Caring About Carers Awards” has been extended until 20th June. Please advise carers of this change so that they have the opportunity to nominate their GP and practice teams who provide an excellent service to carers.

The Awards are part of the partnership between The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to raise awareness of the need to support carers in primary care. They will be presented at the RCGP’s Annual Conference in October in front of an audience of more than 1000 GPs. Winners will be selected for each home nation and there will be an overall UK-wide winner. The Trust’s President Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal will sign a certificate for the winning general practitioners and their teams and the prize will also include a commemorative plaque to display in surgeries.

GPs must be nominated by one of their patients to be eligible for an award.

Please see below for guidelines on how carers can nominate their GP.

Nominate your GP

To nominate your GP or practice team write to us at the contact details below, and include the following information:

  • your name, address, telephone number.
  • your doctor’s name and surgery contact details.
  • how your GP supports you in your caring role.

Alternatively you can complete this Patient Nomination Form (1.1 MB)

All nominations should be either emailed to

Or send to:

Caring About Carers Award 2010
The Royal College of General Practitioners
14 Princes Gate
Hyde Park
London SW7 1PU

14 Jun

World Cup anthem profits to be donated to Carers UK

Dead Ball Specialists wrote the song to celebrate English multi-culturalism and tolerance and champions the England team’s fight to wear a ‘second star’ on their team kit – to mark a second World Cup Victory.

The single is available to download on Amazon, iTunes and Napster and alongside scoring thousands of hits on its Youtube page,The Football Association’s ‘Back the Bid Campaign’ has added it to their official Facebook page – stating, “It’s brilliant!”.

Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK said: “This is a fantastic song with a powerful message behind it and we are delighted that the Dead Ball Specialists are donating the profits from the song to Carers UK. The UK’s nearly 6 million carers provide a vital unpaid, function for society, saving the UK economy over £87 billion per year. However many carers say they feel ignored and invisible and the messages of inclusion and respect in the song will really ring true for them.”

Watch the video. more…
Buy the song on Amazon or Napster.
Join the Facebook campaign. more…
Follow the campaign on Twitter. more…
Visit the ‘We’re England’ website. more…

For further information contact:
Satinder Phull, Dead Ball Specialists, email: Satinder
Steve McIntosh, Carers UK, tel: 0207 378 4937; email:

14 Jun

Carers Week 2010 14th – 20th June

No life of my own: the fate of the UK’s carers

More than three-quarters (76%) of people looking after an ill, frail or disabled loved one do not have a life outside of their caring role, according to new research issued to launch Carers Week (14-20 June).

The results show that huge numbers of carers are left isolated and lonely, missing out on opportunities that the rest of the population takes for granted. 80% have been forced to give up leisure activities or from going out socially since becoming a carer.

The majority of those surveyed can no longer rely on relatives for support either, as these relationships have suffered as a result of caring- 75% say they have lost touch with family and friends.

Theresa, 50 from Glasgow cares for 3 people – her 2 sons, one of whom has Down’s Syndrome, and her registered blind mother. Balancing full-time work with caring has meant sacrificing her life as she once knew it. She says:

“A life of my own is a daydream.  Caring demands are relentless, and costs you your health, relationships and happiness. To have a life of my own, for just one day would be marvellous.”

Carers say they simply exist, are marginalised and invisible. Unable to socialise, to have romantic relationships, or even to consider having children, the impact on carers is emotional, mental, physical, and financial. 4 out of every 5 carers say they’re worse off while more than half (54%) say they’ve had to give up work.

Despite saving the UK economy £87 billion annually by relieving pressure on health and social services, carers are not being supported in the vital role they play for both their communities and society at large. Almost all carers questioned agreed a life of their own would be achievable if they received breaks, a decent income and were given support in times of crisis.

Carers Week celebrity ambassador, Arlene Phillips OBE, world renowned choreographer and TV personality, best known for her role in BBC 1’s Strictly Come Dancing, has shared her personal experience of caring. Arlene Philips says:

“I helped to look after my father when he was suffering from Dementia, so I know what a strain it can be, both physically and emotionally. You can feel so alone and isolated. Several million carers look after a parent, child, partner or friend, with love and dedication. Many do not receive the support and recognition they deserve. I’m supporting Carers Week, and all that it’s doing to make carers aware of the many organisations ready to care for carers.”

Carers Week is organised by 7 national charities: Carers UK, Counsel and Care, Crossroads Care, Help the Hospices, Macmillan Cancer Support, Parkinson’s UK and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers. The week campaigns for greater recognition and support for the UK’s six million carers, and celebrates the contribution carers make to society. The charities are calling for major changes to help give carers a life of their own:

Paul Matz, Carers Week Manager says:

“Carers need and deserve change. We need to see better access to advice and information, improved funding for breaks, and support and flexibility for carers at the workplace.  Only then will carers get a real chance at a life of their own, and the opportunity to do some of the things that the rest of us take for granted.”

Other celebrities supporting Carers Week, all of whom have had experience of caring, include:  Lynda Bellingham, Cilla Black, Jonathan Dimbleby, Sir David Jason,  Phyllida Law , Angela Rippon, Tony Robinson, Dr Chris Steele, John Stapleton and Miriam Margolyes.

9 Jun


MPs from four different parties have come together to put forward one of the first motions in the new UK Parliament. Proposed by the MP for Banbury, Tony Baldry, the other lead sponsors were his Conservative colleague, Lee Scott; Hywel Francis and Rachel Reeves from Labour, Tim Farron from the Liberal Democrats and Eilidh Whiteford from the SNP.

To see the motion, and find out who has signed it so far please go to

Please urge your MP to sign the motion EDM 14. You can contact your MP via the Parliament website at /

4 Jun

Camberwell Community Council, Thursday 24th June 2010

It’s your chance to meet your newly-elected councillors, find out what is happening in your area and to have your say about local issues. You can also meet other people from your area and speak to officers and service providers. Snacks will be provided.

The main items on the agenda will be:

  • Camberwell Community Council Fund decisions
  • Southwark Active Citizens Hub
  • Recycling services consultation

In addition there will be the usual updates from the Police Safer Neighbourhood Teams and Community Wardens.
Thursday 24th June  2010

Time:  7- 9pm

Southwark Town Hall

31 Peckham Road

Camberwell SE5 8UB

Details of the last meeting an be found here:

Take Note Newsletter

4 Jun

Carers Week webchat with Esther Rantzen

With Carers Week fast approaching we are delighted to announce that the Princess Royal Trust for Carers have arranged a webchat for all carers with Esther Rantzen – next Wednesday, 9th June, from 7-8pm.
Esther has been in the public eye for many years, having first made her name in the BBC consumer programme – That’s Life! Innovative programmes such as Trouble in Mind (on mental health) and Childwatch followed, and Esther subsequently set up ChildLine, a free 24-hour counseling service for children and young people.
Esther has been a long-term supporter of Carers Week – she was the very first celebrity to support the new partnership formed in 2001 – having cared for her husband Desmond, until he died of coronary heart disease in 2000. Whatever your question for Esther, back in the news last month as an independent candidate in the General Election, we are sure it will be an interesting 60 minutes.
To take part in the webchat you need to first register with The Princess Royal Trust for Carers – the hosts for the event – at  Once you’ve registered, it is recommend that you visit the chat room to familiarise yourself with the surroundings. If you have any difficulties, please email

Find us

Southwark Carers
3rd Floor, Walworth Methodist Church,
54 Camberwell Road, London, SE5 0EN
View map and directions

Contact us

020 7708 4497

Find us

Nearest tube – Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).

Nearest Railway Station – Elephant & Castle

Buses from Elephant and Castle – ask bus driver for Burgess Park. Bus numbers: 12, 171, 148, 176, 68, 484, 42, 40, 45