Hello Everyone,

The Government's controversial Welfare Reform Bill, which applies to England, Scotlandand Wales, has passed its final hurdle in the House of Lords. The bill introduces an annual cap on benefits and overhauls many payments within the welfare system including Disability Living Allowance. David Cameron is clearly relieved and has said that it marks an historic step in the biggest welfare revolution in more than 60 years but a report from the Joint Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights has warned that changes to the benefits of disabled people may risk their right to independent living. We will continue to make representations to MPs as appropriate and Carol Dale, Divisional Manager Scotland recently met Willie Bain MP who represents Glasgow North East and is Shadow Minister forScotland to discuss the implications for the region. Mr Bain is extremely concerned that the Government is not listening to people with disabilities and feels, as we do, that the assessments of eligibility need to be reviewed. Carol also spoke to him about our plans to provide detox/relapse prevention for individuals with acquired brain injury and said that he would be happy to write a letter of support for the project to potential funders, as would his colleague Patricia Ferguson, the constituency MSP for Maryhill and Springburn; so we will be talking to him further about this.

I visited Acom Road, York and Oxford Drive, Gomersal this week with Julia Morley, Director of Community Services. I hadn't visitedAcom Road for a while and wanted to catch up with Steven Camerin who raised £140 for the Trust by selling Christmas cakes. I bought one and it was delicious. I would like to thank Steven and Support Workers, Kelly Armstrong and Kate Cassidy for making us so welcome. AtOxford Drive we were greeted by Andrew Pulfer, Michael Barnes and Wayne Addinall; Acting House Leader, Robert Shires and Support Worker, Kilford Shurugwi. I don't want you to think that all our visits are about the food but we were served some delicious chocolate flapjacks. Thank you all for a very interesting afternoon.

EKC Tea PartyI was also invited to join service users, staff and guests at a cream tea at Ernest Kleinwort Court but I had already arranged to go to the Goole Neuro-Rehabiltation Centre. A number of people from Central Support Services in Burgess Hill did attend and had a most enjoyable time, as did the service users. I was particularly pleased to hear from one lady who is having a short break there and is keen to move in on a permanent basis. She told Anita Cobb, Service Manager that despite only having been there for two days, she felt at home and wanted to move in as soon as possible. We'll do all we can to support her in this.

In response to family suggestions, the activity room at 1101 Bristol Road,Birmingham, has been transformed into a lovely, peaceful visitors' room, so that service users and their families now have somewhere where they can have quiet, private meetings. Service Manager Holly Randall said: "I would personally like to thank Max our handyperson for his painting and decorating skills. We already get positive feedback from our service users that their privacy is well respected here atBristol Road, however I feel this inviting room goes that extra mile."

I have a request from the students at Heathermount; they have started collecting the Sainsbury's Active Kids vouchers and will be collecting the Tesco ones when they start in March. If you have any vouchers that you don't need, please send them to Helen Tridgell at CSS and she will pass them on.

I also have a request from Pawel Ciecierski, Physiotherapy Assistant at West Heath House. He is looking for people to join a team to raise money for BIRT at a Swimathon Weekend in Birmingham on April 27th. They plan to swim 5k each, so if you are interested in swimming or supporting, please contact Pawel.

Have a good weekend and I'll speak to you next week.


Chief Executive