“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see” – Mark Twain

 “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see” – Mark Twain

This is the quote that sits above me on the noticeboard. It is one the welfare rights team here at Deafblind Scotland embody.

Working in any Welfare Rights team can see you assisting those with complex needs, from different backgrounds to ensure they are given fair representation that is all the more complex when those who need support have a hearing and sight impairment.

Many people living with sight or hearing loss do not have the means in which to research what benefits would they could be eligible for. Even if they did have this information, making a phone call or filling in a form would be very challenging or impossible. We feel that with the correct support those with dual sensory loss can flourish and feel confident to seek advice on welfare rights and even challenge decisions.

We assist those in their preferred communication whether that is speech/hearing, British sign language, Deafblind manual, Deafblind hands-on signing and so on. Those who seek help may be deafblind or may have been assessed for a visual impairment. We understand people with a visual impairment can also struggle to access benefits. We can offer communication support such as large print, braille or moon (a system of raised shapes, which can help blind people, of any age, to read by touch). It is imperative that the service user understands what we are applying for on their behalf and that they are happy for us to do so.

We make home visits which service users prefer as they do not have to organise a guide or transport and endure the stress and anxiety that comes with an unknown journey. Our job is to assist them in their welfare rights and treat them as an individual and put the control in their hands where at some points in their life they feel this has been taken away from them. This could be something as simple as reading and interpreting letters for them or attending appeal hearings with them.

We work in partnership with other mainstream organisations and also take welfare rights referrals from them

As a charity Deafblind Scotland have around 750 members with about 95 accessing the guide service. They are guided and given communication support to get to medical appointments, go shopping, go to the bank, socialise at clubs or whatever else the service user would like. The service user builds up a partnership with the guides and from these visits guides have referred members to Welfare Rights. Service users know that the Welfare Rights team have the same understanding of their various health conditions or communication needs. This puts them at ease and feel more comfortable accessing the service.  Different services may not be able to easily explain what they need, understand the communication they need and most importantly deserve to have.

We have received positive feedback from service users such as; “Just to say thanks so much for all your recent help, advice & support with the PIP process. I really have appreciated this so much as I know I really couldn’t have managed this without your involvement. It’s a really stressful process to go through and you really helped in easing a lot of the stress and pressure for me”. “It’s really wonderful that Deafblind have received the financial funding to start and hopefully continue this vital service and support for the most ‘vulnerable’ members in the community.” Messages like this spur us on and let us know that the assistance we are giving is person-centred.

Deafblind Scotland’s Welfare Rights team has been supporting those with dual sensory loss and visually impaired adults since August 2014 and has raised more than £800,000 for those we have assisted.

Try A Little Tenderness… – Dharmacarini Kuladharini

To celebrate National Acts of Kindness Day, Dharmacarini Kuladharini of the Scottish Recovery Consortium makes the case for #EmphasisingHumanity and why we all need and should encourage kindness.

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Try A Little Tenderness…

A week into the national kindness challenge, Kinder Scotland 2017, I find myself writing chalk messages of appreciation on the pavement outside the building that houses the Scottish Recovery Consortium. In the heart of the merchant city in Glasgow people stop and stare and smile.

Kindness is something we all need more of; its that connection, acceptance and loving regard that is part of what helps all humans feel well, alive and that life is worthwhile.  Bruce Alexander in his seminal work, “ The Globalisation of Addiction”, calls this experience psychosocial integration. We know our place in the world and in the hearts of our loved ones; we are part of a real community.

Dislocation is when these connections, environments and those secure places in the community are broken.  This can happen through war, economic upheaval, loss of family and nation as well as other aspects of the unrelenting march of hyper capitalism, from the mass indoctrination into self-interest and greed being the only interest worthy of attention to the loss of support services that kept you from falling off the edge.

This dislocation, he says is at the heart of the spread of addictions in the world.  We use substances and behaviours that we feel will soothe us and reconnect us quickly with a sense of well-being. As Johan Hari points out in “ chasing the scream” humans and animals take substances to alter their experience of emotional pain as well as physical pain.  This is normal.

When the dislocation grows and gets more extreme some of us will turn to more substances, more shopping, more working, more video gaming, more overeating, more gambling, some of us will get very depressed, some will commit suicide.

The chronic health problems of the 21st century are resistant to public health strategies that focus exclusively on the individual as the source of the problem. Phil Hanlon, while he was Professor of Public Health at Glasgow University, called the problems of addiction, depression and obesity ‘diseases of modernity’, products of our market driven, highly materialist, individualized form of economy. He suggest that new forms of public health action are needed to stem the tide of pain.

At the SRC, we are all about the love, the human connection, the real community and so we have joined up with U lab Scotland and Carnegie Trust and surprising bodies like Visit Scotland to promote that spirit of Kindness, that will be part of helping us all heal.  It’s not the only change we need but it’s a great contribution.

To celebrate the Kinder Scotland 2017 challenge, the SRC has made a PDF of its Scottish Recovery Workbook and is giving that away to anyone anywhere in the world that could use it to recover from addiction.  It’s a gift from people in recovery in Scotland to people suffering from addiction anywhere in the world.  Connected through kindness and our beautifully flawed humanity.

Dharmacarini Kuladharini

Chief Executive of Scottish Recovery Consortium

www.scottishrecoveryconsortium.org

 

Podcast: Creative Competition 2016 – Maureen

Meet some of our Creative Competition entrants:

In the first of a series of Creative Competition themed podcasts, we meet Maureen as she shares her poem ‘Scotland’s Unpaid Carers – A (Scottie) Dogs Life?’, her entry to to the Creative Competition 2016, Voices of the Experts.

Maureen talks about her involvement with Renfrewshire Carers Centre, and the source of support it has been to her in her role as an unpaid carer for her husband. Re-discovering her creative talents through the centre’s arts and crafts group, Maureen crafts beautiful felt Scottie dogs, paints and has taken up writing poetry again. Utilising her creativity has been a helpful outlet and as Maureen describes ‘therapeutic’.

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Scottie Dogs made by Maureen at the Renfrewshire Carers Centre
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Maureen with one of her paintings

The 2016 ALLIANCE Conference and the Politics of Possibility

On 23rd May, the ALLIANCE – the national third sector intermediary for health and social care organisations in Scotland, held its annual conference, and at the same time celebrated its 10th birthday. In this blog, Claire Bynner, Research Associate for What Works Scotland, reflects on the people at the event, their activism, and the politics of possibility. Read More “The 2016 ALLIANCE Conference and the Politics of Possibility”

Ffion’s Story

Dear Tommy

On Monday the 7th March I talked to the children and teachers at my school in our school assembly, I told them about your work, your lovey mum and your #Tommyontour. I also showed them one for my personalised dementia pledge trees. I have been making these pledge trees for my mummy’s work friends I make a different one for each person, I put their name on it and l do my signature, the person then writes their own pledge on the tree. I hope my trees make a difference to people who live with dementia.

My lovely pops (grandad) had dementia and l would like more people to undgrandaderstand dementia and always be nice to people with it, my pops always put his thumb up when things were OK. He was so kind he would give some of his food to his favourite blackbird the blackbird visited every meal time. My mummy misses pops a lot.

Here is a photo of my mummy with pops his thumb is up.

From, Ffion Age 9 from Shropshire.

To find out more about how to make a pledge visit the ALLIANCE’s Dementia Carer Voices website

Creating Wellbeing – What is needed to transform Scottish Society so that all citizens are able to thrive?

Last night (Tuesday 27 October) First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP delivered the Health and Social Care Academy’s inaugural lecture. The First Minister addressed an audience of over 400 people, including health and social care professionals, third sector representatives, individuals who are disabled, living with long term conditions and their unpaid carers, at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms. The lecture, titled ‘Creating Wellbeing – What is needed to transform Scottish Society so that all citizens are able to thrive?’ was followed by a question and answer session with the First Minister.

Read More “Creating Wellbeing – What is needed to transform Scottish Society so that all citizens are able to thrive?”

April blog roundup by Academy Champion Audrey Birt

I write this blog roundup in the run up to the general election, where it seems the tectonic plates are shifting here in Scotland. We can be forgiven for thinking politics is simply about party politics but the true meaning of politics comes from Greek: πολιτικός politikos which is defined as  “of, for, or relating to citizens”. And it strikes me that has been a theme for all the blogs this month and indeed a key principle of the Academy itself. We know the personal is political.

Read More “April blog roundup by Academy Champion Audrey Birt”

“Citizenship is belonging”

“Citizenship is belonging”

This was the phrase that seemed to sum up our recent Academy masterclass with Professor Michael Rowe of Yale University.  It was one of the contributions from a member of the People Powered Health and Wellbeing Reference Group in an excellent short film and a theme that resonated throughout the session.

Read More ““Citizenship is belonging””