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Liberty Link Spring 2017

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1 - Chair's Remarks
2 - Spotlight on Hub Epsom
3 - Healthwatch Surrey - Surrey's safe havens
4 - Nepalese Carers Engagement Event
5 - Call to Duty
6 - Stephen's story
7 - Pugsley's Patch
8 - Farnham walking festival - accessible routes
9 - Grassroots - sowing the seeds of an active future
10 - SILC Training


Chair's Remarks

Welcome to SILC's Spring 2017 Liberty Link!

"As the year turns, daylight increases in length and the clocks spring forward, the trees around are starting to bud, and the gardens and roadsides are full of blossom and daffodils.

I even have some tulips in flower in my garden along with wallflowers and the pansies which have been flowering all winter. It has to be said that Spring is a wonderful time of the year, full of promise of the growing season to come.

The only downside is that the grass is growing and soon the air will be filled with the sounds of lawnmowers hard at work, and of course hedge trimmers. I do hope that you can also enjoy the longer days and sunshine that Spring and then Summer bring.

SILC has been very busy, as always, and we have all been wondering what the new financial year will bring.
We have had the issue of the proposed 15% increase in Council tax, then the sudden turnaround at the meeting to vote this in and call a referendum.

There has been a lot of comment in the press about what may or may not have been agreed for Surrey, but we are still unsure what will happen!

Watch this space."

Jo, Chair of SILC



Spotlight on Hub Epsom

We are very pleased to announce that Hub Epsom reopened on Monday 13 February in  temporary premises at 126 High Street, Epsom KT19 8BT.

This is following the Hub’s closure in December as a result of significant damage caused to its previous location at 131 High Street by a fire that started  next door.

The Surrey Hubs are local  services that provide information and support to help people stay independent.
The Surrey Hubs offer access to advice and signposting to services for disabled people, older people, carers, families and  the wider community.



Healthwatch Surrey: Surrey's Safe Havens

Healthwatch Surrey visited Surrey’s Safe Havens between December 2016 and February 2017. They wanted to know how service users felt about their local Safe Haven.

Safe Haven users spoke to Healthwatch about their experiences of Safe Havens and other  mental health services.

12 out of 25 people they spoke to had used A&E when in crisis at least once in their lifetime.

10 out of 12 people had negative or mixed feelings about A&E.

11 out of 25 people had stayed in an inpatient mental health facility in their lifetime and 7/11 users had a negative experience in an inpatient mental health facility.

They asked if Safe Haven users needed help to keep their accommodation stable.

9 users said NO, and 16 users said YES.

The majority of users reported having flexible support from mental health professionals.

6 out of 11 users said they were discharged from inpatient care without a care plan.

Some users shared that they felt staff in accident and emergency and inpatient facilities made them feel like a “nuisance”.

The full report ‘Surrey’s Safe Havens’ is available now on



Nepalese Carers Engagement Event by our Engagement Officer, Lorna Marsh

On the 9th of February I was pleased to be taking part in the Nepalese Carers Engagement Event, first one of its kind.

Whilst I was helping to support the Redhill Hub, even though it has given me brand new experiences and challenges, all the way through I have missed being out and about in the community so this was a great way to throw myself back into it.

The Mayor of Woking and the MP for Woking were there and other guest speakers such as Anil Patil from Carers Worldwide and Captain Mahendra Limbu from the Gurkha Welfare Service.

The turnout was absolutely incredible, there were several round tables full of people from the Nepalese community, all wanting to find out what services were available within Surrey.

They had translators there for the whole event so everything was accessible for all.

Debbie Hustings from Guildford & Waverley, East Surrey and Surrey Downs CCG, and Jamie Gault from Action for Carers Surrey organised the event at the Parkview Community Centre in Sheerwater.
Lots of topics were discussed but just to give you a flavour of the conversations, we realised very early on that the Nepalese community didn’t know about the support that could be given to them.

I feel that two of the main reasons why this is the case were the lack of marketing materials that had been translated and the fact that if the Nepalese community don’t know a service is available for them then how would they know to ask for it.

Also it seemed to me that, for a  lot of the families, they felt it was their duty to look after their family member. It also seemed to be the younger generations that had the responsibility of helping to access the community where they lived through translation.

It was very quickly brought to light that for the younger members of the families to translate they have to understand what is being offered first.

Sometimes this is not easy even if your first language is English. It was an incredibly big eye-opener for everyone involved. I don’t know what the solution is but I do however feel the event was a very impressive starting point that was definitely needed.

I think it was really good SILC was represented as I was able to answer questions as they were asked. I am sure that more events like this could continue to be beneficial to everyone involved.

Lorna Marsh, SILC Engagement Officer.


Call to Duty

There is usually an independent living adviser on duty here at SILC from 12 noon to 2pm, Monday to Friday, to answer general queries.

You can contact duty by email at or by phone on 01483 458 111.
Our Call To Duty feature answers some of the questions our advisers are most frequently asked while on duty.

Question: My PA is pregnant. What do I need to do?

Risk Assessment

If your PA is pregnant or a new mother (who has given birth within the last six months or is breastfeeding), you will need to risk assess her working conditions and the requirements of the job to see if there are any actions you’ll need to take to reduce risks to her.  As the nature and degree of risk will change as the pregnancy develops, the risk assessment should be reviewed on a regular basis in agreement with the pregnant PA, or sooner if there are any significant change.  Pregnant PAs should inform you of any changes in their condition that may be relevant to their pregnancy and their safety at work.   
SILC can support you with risk assessment and we have a template form you can use.

Maternity Leave

Your PA will qualify for Statutory Maternity Leave if:
+ she’s your employee (not self-employed or a ‘worker’),
+ she gives you the correct notice (tells you at least 15 weeks before her due date when the baby is due and when she wants to start her maternity leave).
It doesn’t matter how long she’s been working with you, how many hours she works or how much she gets paid.

Statutory Maternity Leave is 52 weeks. It’s made up of:
+ Ordinary Maternity Leave - first 26 weeks,
+ Additional Maternity Leave - last 26 weeks.
The PA doesn’t have to take 52 weeks but must take two weeks’ leave after the baby is born.

Maternity Pay

When a PA takes maternity leave, she may be eligible for statutory maternity pay (SMP).  You will need to ask her to provide a MATB1 form, which she will get from her doctor or midwife, then send this form, along with a note giving the planned date she wishes to start her leave, to your payroll company.  They will then calculate whether the PA qualifies for SMP.

To qualify for SMP your PA must:
+ earn on average at least £112 a week,
+ give you the correct notice (at least 28 days’ notice that she wants to stop work to have a baby and the day she wants her SMP to start),
+ give proof that she’s pregnant (the MATB1 or a letter from her doctor/midwife),
+ and have worked for you continuously for at least 26 weeks up to the ‘qualifying week’ (the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth).

If a PA doesn’t qualify for SMP, your payroll company will provide a form for you to give to her which will explain why and she may be able to claim maternity allowance from the benefits office instead.
SMP is paid for up to 39 weeks. The PA will get:
+ 90% of her average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks,
+ £139.58 or 90% of her average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks.

SMP is paid in the same way as wages (e.g. monthly or weekly). Tax and National Insurance will be deducted.
As a small employer, you are able to reclaim 103% of the cost of SMP from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), either by reducing monthly payments to HMRC or by applying for funding from HMRC (if you’re not able to recover the full cost by reducing your monthly payments to HMRC).  Your payroll company can support you with this.

Setting up cover

If you have another PA providing cover while your regular PA is on maternity leave, you’ll need to register them with your payroll company.

You will also need to issue them with a contract, job description and disciplinary code and keep a copy of the contract signed by them.

If the cover PA is working with children (under 18), they will need a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.  SILC can support you with all of this. 
You can find further information about statutory maternity leave and pay at:

Look out for more Call to Duty in our next edition of Liberty Link!


Stephen's story

I’ve been working in the Epsom Hub since May 2013.
I found out about the Hub from my friend. He went to the Hub with an enquiry and afterwards he told me the Hub has volunteering opportunities so I decided to apply.

The interview was a bit nerve wracking but went well. It was about half an hour with reasonably straightforward questions and I was able to start volunteering 2-3 months after my interview. I started on the same shift as Marianne (another volunteer) and we quickly became very good friends, and we meet up socially outside of the Hub.

I have a condition called pseudoachondroplasia which is a bone growth disorder. It is a form of dwarfism/restricted growth condition. Characteristics of the condition include short arms and legs and limited range of motion at the elbows and hips.
Pseudoachondroplasia causes joint pain that can be severe and eventually progresses to a joint disease known as osteoarthritis. It can cause curvature of the spine (scoliosis) or an abnormally curved lower back (lordosis). People with pseudoachondroplasia have short stature but have normal facial features, head size and intelligence.
I wear a body brace for my scoliosis. It is very awkward to wear and not very nice in hot weather but it helps with pain relief and it is very beneficial.

My disability is progressive and this has been hard to accept over the past couple of years. I am on regular pain killers for my osteoarthritis. I need new hip replacements as my current ones are wearing out.
They will need to be custom-made as my hips are different to other people’s. I plan to have them done when my Dad retires so he can help me recover. I am hoping that with medical advances and the help of stem cells treatment they will be able to regrow cartilage for my knees eventually instead of knee replacements. I hope for this to happen in my lifetime.
I have orthopedic shoes which help me. Shoe designs have  come a long way and you would not even realise they were  special shoes, they look so ordinary and normal.

Because of my condition I was concerned about whether I would be able to cope with volunteering as I get tired after a while. I was also worried about having to keep asking for help whilst learning the ropes.
Being in the Hub helps my confidence as I get to work with people who understand about disabilities and that makes  things easier. Helping people and being a volunteer makes me feel quite proud.

I really want to raise awareness about my condition. When I was growing up there were no role models to look up to. It’s getting better now, there are people like Warwick Davis, Peter Dinklage and Ellie Simmonds who appear on television and in the media and that helps. With the Paralympics being so popular you don’t feel so different and I personally believe it’s changing people’s perception.

TV and media nowadays are showing a lot more people with disability and portraying diversity as a normal thing. I would like to see people with all types of disabilities getting more involved in all kinds of different things.
I’m pleased that I’ve went to a mainstream school. I got good grades but unfortunately I was bullied in secondary school because of my height. I suppose with especially being a man and small you get picked on. I also had kids staring at me.

Being disabled can be quite isolating. I personally feel you sort of get left behind. I have had some embarrassing / awkward  / funny experiences. One that comes to mind straight away was when they gave me a child’s menu in a restaurant and my sister who is three years younger than me got offered the standard one. I had a beard at the time so I thought to myself ‘what child has a beard’?
In terms of my future I would like to make more friends and start getting involved in more clubs.  It would be nice to see more clubs where disabled people are more included.

I like boccia and table tennis and I am a huge Chelsea fan. I’m a big movie fan too. I study films and box office results. My favourites are Star Wars, Marvel comics, James Bond and Jurassic Park and we enjoy watching films together as a family.
I like having banter with my sister. We like to wind each other up, which gives us both a good laugh.
I love animals, I couldn’t be without one. I’ve got a little dog Peppa and two cats Harley and Toby. Spending time with animals relaxes me.

It would be great if I could help raise awareness about my disability through the  Epsom Hub.
Caroline (Volunteer Development Worker (VDW) for Hub Epsom) and myself are actually looking into having an awareness day which I would be very proud to be part of.
I would like people to come in and feel free to chat with me. I learnt a lot at the Autism day in the Hub so I would be hoping for the same result.

Just to have an opportunity to talk to people and give them information about restricted growth syndrome and dwarfism.  I don’t think people understand, or maybe they are just frightened to ask as they think they would offend me. I wouldn't mind people asking about my disability and I would do my best to answer any questions.

Caroline (Volunteer Development Worker for Hub Epsom) speaks about Stephen’s achievements:
“I have known Stephen since June 2014 when I became a Volunteer Development Worker at Hub Epsom. During my time working with him, he has made huge progress, he is now very confident at dealing with some fairly complex enquiries.
Currently we have a new student placement for twelve weeks and Stephen is actively involved in the         induction of the student.

He also arranged to contact Little People UK and then proceeded to put together a detailed presentation (10 slides) about his condition that is now on repeat on the Epsom Hub’s display screen. The plan is to work with Little People UK to organise an awareness day later in the year. Stephen is the one who is instigating the whole project.

He was the first of the volunteers to sign up to the skills academy online training and he has completed it and received a certificate of completion.

He is reliable, punctual and very kind. He is a very valued member of the team.”


Pugsley's Patch

For this edition I must focus on the changes that are happening with regard to carer support in Surrey. These changes are bought about by the need for Surrey County Council to make savings following cuts in their funding from Central Government.

The existing carer support organisations are to be replaced with a new centrally based  (for the whole of Surrey) carer support facility organised  and operated by Action For Carers (ACS).
ACS plan to have carer support advisors based in each of the five hospitals within Surrey. They will also offer a call centre line for contact by telephone (which is available now): 0303 040 1234.

As carers, if you have had contact with the existing carer support organisations, you should complete their ‘transfer permissions’ process to enable ACS to pick up your existing records.  Documents to  complete this process are available from ACS.

ACS will offer a countywide service to address your needs. It will mainly be by telephone or online. However, SILC has been advised home visits will  be available.
Should you have any queries about this change in carer support, please contact Action For Carers via the following:
Letter: Action For Carers, Astolat, Coniers Way, Guildford, Surrey GU4 7HL
Phone: 01483 302 748
SMS: 07714 075 993


South West ‘Together for Carers’
Carers engagement event 14 June, 11am-2pm
Ash Youth and Community Centre

Action for Carers Surrey and other partners invite you to join a carers engagement event during carers week.
The theme will be on the new national carers strategy.
+ technology and digital support for carers,
+ support for working carers
+ NHS identification and support for carers,
+ health and wellbeing,
+ welfare advice and support,
+ health checks (eligibility criteria and minimum numbers apply)
There will be free Red Cross First Aid training and Tai Chi as well!
“We want to hear from carers  how these and other services can support their needs. Feedback from this event will help shape a new Surrey Carers Strategy.”
SILC’s Lorna will be attending this event if you want to say hi!
Book your place today! (places  are limited):
Phone: 01883 626 264
Letter: Hasu Ramji c/o Action For Carers (Surrey), Mellbreak, Tydcombe Road, Warlingham, Surrey. CR6 9LU.


Mobility at Sea

I have just come across ‘Mobility at Sea’ which is a company enabling those people with a physical disability to arrange appropriate support to enable an anxiety free cruise break (or if you are a carer then this may also be useful information).

There also seems to be an incentive of a 10% discount for a first booking with the Cruise & Maritime Voyages Company (CMV) quote C & M 16/17).
Anyway for more details you should contact the company by calling 0800 328 1699 or by going to their website

Please take care and see you in the next Liberty Link!

Stephen Pugsley



Farnham Walking Festival: Accessible routes

Between 21st and 28th of May, Farnham will be inviting everyone, of all ages and fitness levels, including wheelchair users, to discover historic Farnham and the beautiful surrounding area through a range of walks.
All walks are led by experts in their field and are free of charge. Find out about life in the castle, the industrial heritage of the town, public art, how to walk properly and of course the natural landscape surrounding the town.

You can visit the website directly at


Grassroots: Sowing the seeds of an active future

Grassroots is a fantastic alternative to the standard day services that are on offer to people with a learning disability and/or mental health condition.

Grassroots offers meaningful activities where individuals can take part in a more ‘hands on’ environment whether that is gardening or growing their own fruit and veg at their gardening centre, making and creating things in their woodwork shop, helping in the community with their Community Care Team where Grassroots help older people, schools, hospitals, etc. with gardening tasks.

They also host day trips, attend the local sports centre, and have an on-site clubhouse which  has a pool table, computers and comfy seating if a bit of relaxation is needed.

Grassroots can be used to help individuals build confidence, make new friends and allow personal growth for their future.

You can arrange a free trial at their purpose built centre in Egham. You can try out all the activities on offer at no cost! Their site is fully wheelchair accessible and has two  disabled toilets.

Their prices are very competitive, and they charge just £30 for a full day (Monday to Friday, 9am  to 4pm).
They also offer two drop-in sessions a day which are popular with people attending with a parent or carer. These sessions cost £20 and the times are 9:30am to 12pm, and 1:30pm  to 4pm.

For more information or to book a free trial, please call  01784 472 005 or email at


SILC Training

Free training for people who employ PAs.

We are planning to run a series of workshops to assist you to manage your support.

These workshops will be held at SILC in Burpham.

The content of these workshops will be, but not limited to:
+ Safely recruit PA’s
+ Legal Obligations
+ Setting Boundaries
+ Managing your staff on  a day to day basis
+ Keeping control
+ What to do if things go wrong
+ and much more!
We also plan to run a series of events in various locations across Surrey. The dates and locations will be confirmed in due course.
These events will be held in the afternoon/evening and will enable you to come along and meet other employers and SILC staff to discuss the challenges of employing staff and to realise that you are not alone.
If you wish to participate in either of these initiatives then please contact Bob Hall at
Alternatively you can contact Bob by contacting SILC on 01483 458 111 and leaving a message for Bob or phoning him direct on 07514 093 616.

You can keep up to date on what training is available by visiting our website at


Next edition of Liberty Link

Our next edition of Liberty Link will be published at the beginning of April 2017.


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Registered charity No. 1146482