Undoubtedly as the populations of the United Kingdom and many other regions of the world are currently experiencing very restrictive and uncertain times, it is essential for all of us to remain positive.
Restrictions and barriers relating to social exclusion and inequality within the lifestyles of disabled people (and I include their carers and families) which have a direct impact on their health, wellbeing and self-esteem remain an all too common issue. Such barriers prevent disabled people from experiencing and enjoying as equal as possible lifestyles to those which non-disabled individuals take for granted. The fundamental needs required within our lifestyles such as education, employment, recreational and leisure pursuits are very often proving to be more difficult for disabled people to gain access to and enjoy.
(Unemployment levels within the working age sector of the disabled population of the UK are sadly about 30% higher than within the non-disabled sector and as such means that disabled people are more reliant on relevant government funded disability benefits and allowances. Relying on such benefits also creates additional financial stress to their families and carers.)
From a Personal Perspective.
Although not disabled I experienced about 15 years of living with or addressing the end of life care needs of disabled relatives. Both my parents succumbed to Parkinson’s Di
sease and Alzheimer’s and due to their declining health, as a carer I was left with no alternative but to arrange for them to be admitted into residential care for the last 4 years of their lives. Another relative became a wheelchair user at the age of 23 due to suffering with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Her diagnosis was confirmed 3 months after she had qualified as a Member of the Royal College of Music and had become a tutor in piano playing.
Besides addressing the needs of family members who were affected by long-term medical conditions, I have undertaken about 35 years of voluntary work in clinical environments (Accident and Emergency Departments of 2 Manchester located hospitals), medical research and the disability sectors. Between 2005 and 2017 I served as National Vice-President of another Registered Charity which addressed the transportation needs of disabled people and their carers but due to declining membership and funds, this charity was regrettably forced to close in 2017 after almost 40 years of service. It was during this 12 year period that I served in an advisory capacity on several central and regional government healthcare and disability forums. The clear message I received from the many highly qualified academics and medical experts I met with during these forums was that it is EQUALLY IMPORTANT TO ADDRESS THE SOCIAL ‘MODEL’ OF HEALTH AND WELLBEING AS IT IS TO ADDRESS THE MEDICAL ‘MODEL’.
The Way Ahead.
Irrespective of the nature of their disability or long-term health condition (and I include mental health), it is essential that existing barriers and restrictions experienced by disabled people in their daily lives are removed as much as possible and this is the reason why in 2012 I founded the Registered Charity Mobility and Support Information Service (MASIS) www.masis.org.uk
Network and Collaborate.
Despite applying for development grants on several occasions since 2012 (all applications have proved unsuccessful), it has become increasingly apparent to me that potential donors and investors are unwilling or disinterested in supporting organisations or projects which address the social needs of disabled people. It seems that benefactors, grant giving bodies or donors prefer to financially support well established (often extremely wealthy) charities and organisations which focus their attention on medical research or specific medical conditions and disabilities. Consequently I continue to develop MASIS without additional and much needed assistance. In order to do so, I have realised the importance of being very committed towards the benefits of networking and collaborating with other charities, healthcare sector establishments and my associations with several high profile universities (including Oxford) are increasing. The subjects which are being addressed are of a very diverse nature, but they include the design and development of assistive technology for use by disabled people and a road safety project which is proving to be of considerable interest and benefit to people using mobility scooters on roads and pavements.
Despite the barriers I have encountered in securing development grants, funding or donations, I was highly honoured to receive an e-mail from none other than the American multi-national internet technology company GOOGLE who totally endorsed MASIS’s aims and objectives relating to striving for improved levels of social inclusion and equality for disabled people. Although as previously stated MASIS is managed without additional staff (although the assistance of some dedicated volunteers would be greatly appreciated) at present. Consequently MASIS was awarded a Google Ads Grant worth $120,000 per annum on an ‘on-going’ basis. As far as the development of website related commercial opportunities are concerned the Google Ads Grant is MASIS’s most valuable asset.
COMMERCIAL AND NETWORKING RELATIONSHIPS ARE STRONGLY ENCOURAGED.
Contact from representatives of commercial companies associated with the manufacturing, housing, transport, tourism, leisure and recreational sectors who may be among the many readers of Leisure Solutions Magazine and who are interested in discussing mutually beneficial commercial relationships with MASIS (enabling the charity to expand and continue to address improving the lifestyles and wellbeing of disabled people and their families), would be greatly appreciated.
IMPORTANT TO REALISE.
If you are a representative of a manufacturing company or a service provider and are keen to encourage disabled people and their carers to do business with you (especially companies within the tourism and hospitality sectors whose premises have been constructed in such a way (and have been access audited) so that they are fully inclusive and accessible for disabled people to use), the following details will I am certain prove of considerable interest. Approximately 30% of the UK’s population is directly or indirectly affected by disability or long-term health conditions. This percentage comprises of approximately 12 million disabled people and 8 million carers. The percentage compares very closely to those of the USA and Western Europe. During normal times (I have taken into account restrictions in spending caused by the pandemic), the annual spending power of the disabled sector of the UK’s population (often referred to as ‘The Purple Pound’) is approximately £250 billion. A SIGNIFICANT FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION TO THE UK ECONOMY!
INTERESTED IN DEVELOPING RELATIONSHIPS?
If so, simply complete the on-line contact form displayed on www.masis.org.uk and MASIS will be pleased to discuss opportunities.
I WISH ALL READERS (AND THEIR FAMILIES) OF LEISURE SOLUTIONS MAGAZINE CONTINUED GOOD HEALTH DURING THESE VERY DIFFICULT TIMES.
Mobility and Support Information Service (MASIS).
(Registered Charity No.1150169).
Organisational and Individual Partner of the Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice in Health and Social Care, St. Catherine’s College, Oxford.
Member of the International Network for Health Workforce Education.