Category Archives: Blog

SDN’s is seeking members to contribute to the blog. If you have a burning issue or you want to share something with other members please contact us.

Wheel’s Wonderings contributor is written Ian Pugh a disabled teenager living In Shrewsbury.

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Volunteering in Telford

You may well have seen pictures on the SDN website and read about us on Facebook and Twitter when we have been at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford – the most recent occasion was on Friday 22 August and the final time this year will be on Thursday 27 November.

The purpose of being there is to raise awareness of SDN, recruit new members and raise some funds by selling items donated and made by our members.

A particular good seller are the baby clothes knitted by Margaret Willets.

Margaret, my wife Paula and myself are the main volunteers when SDN has a stand at the PRH and, between us, we are there from about 10:00 until at least 2:00 pm.

This is really too much for just three of us to manage –  so we desperately need more volunteers to help out at the PRH and at any other events we have in the Telford area.

If you could give an hour at two at any event we have it would be much appreciated and would be a big help to SDN.

If you can help, please contact Ruby Hartshorn our Fundraising Lead by calling 07789 852 229 or emailing our admin address Watch out for the emails she sends out relating to each event & if you can offer even one hour we will be very pleased.



Ian Roberts

SDN Outreach Officer – Telford

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Imagine a bag of powder, Imagine you needing a new hip so how can they be connect?

Find out by joining us for our meeting on 11th September 2014 at Mears Shropshire Home Services Unit 3, Hartley Business Centre Monkmoor Road Shrewsbury SY2 5ST 10.30 am refreshments for 11 am start. 

So lets go back to imagining a bag of powder, may be flour, chalk, milk, no this is plastic that is for a very special purpose! Many of us know the pain of a worn hip, a damaged knee or shoulder & have heard or expect to hear the consultant say “You need a hip/knee replacement” These words may be “music to our ears” but they can also bring all kinds of thoughts & questions but ultimately we have to put our trust in the surgeon to get it right!

So is it a case of “one size fits all?” Most of us will have no idea or thoughts on the process involved in making that special joint that will release us of pain, hopefully making us more mobile and enabling us to do things that we have had to put on the “back burner” for a while. So is it just a case of the surgeon taking out our hip & slotting in a piece of metal that looks rather like a tent peg-NO an amazing amount of work goes into providing our medical profession with suitable products in the hopes of giving us a new lease of life that will last for a good number of years. 

Last year I was given the opportunity to have a tour of Orthoplastics Limited which is based in Bacup Lancashire. This is one of only three companies in the UK that make specialised products for the medical industry. They started out as a company that made industrial plastic products but a few years ago changed to making products exclusively for the medical profession. They are now a key member of “Orthoproducts” specialising in the orthopaedic industry and now making custom bespoke ortho-inplants. They research bespoke products for the customer and are involved in a huge amount of pioneering work enabling orthopaedics to move forward. All their work brings them in contact with pharmaceutical companies, hospitals & people within the medical profession. It is very unusual for Orthoplastics to speak to the “User” so lets making this meeting next week very special. 

I was very surprised by the process that is undertaken to make orthopaedic products. Never did I think a bag of plastic powder, could become a sheet of plastic & finally be made into a joint used in the human body. This is such specialised work that every joint made is traceable back to the bag of powder it originated from. We think of auditing in relation to accountancy but with companies like Orthoplastics, everything has an audit trail as it is highly skilled work of an extremely important nature. I was fortunate to see a knee being made. All of us have different bone structures so how does the surgeon know the joint produced is going to be the right size for the patient? What about health & safety-contamination? During my tour, I saw a lot of expensive equipment used in the process of making joints but much intricate work is carried out by people looking at the “end product”  I saw a room where employees sit and check each joint under a microscope for the slightest splinter of plastic. Sometimes these can be carefully removed with a special knife others have to be deemed as “seconds” meaning it is rejected & unsuitable for use. 

Come along on Thursday 11th September & give Mark Allan (who originally came from Shrewsbury), Technical Director of Orthoplastics a warm welcome back to his home town. We are assured of a very informative talk by Mark. 

Our other guest speaker is Rachel Harding who is Project Co Ordinator of “Me & You”  a lottery funded project at Albrighton Trust for disabled and special needs young people during their transition years. Albrighton Trust is a Charity that provides educational, recreational and leisure facilities for mentally, physically and sensory disabled users. 

We always try to bring you inspiring speakers on a range of topics. Shropshire Disability Network are pleased to say that we have very good speakers giving up their time for us. For more information about this meeting look under the “About Us” tab or the events tab (11th September) on this website Guests are always welcome to our meetings. Why not let Russell our Secretary know you are coming to this meeting by calling 07794 497 704 or emailing

Ruby Hartshorn

Deputy Chairperson

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

I often think the biggest challenge in my job is communication.  Almost every day I come across situations when I think ‘how did I not know about that?’ or ‘how come they aren’t aware of this opportunity?’ and as a result I often see excellent initiatives that just aren’t being accessed by the people who would really benefit from knowing they’re taking place.  I have a couple of examples of this.  The first is a workshop that Energize helped organise in July.  It was a 3 hour workshop to give individuals the knowledge, skills and confidence to make activities more inclusive for everyone.  This incredibly insightful workshop was very valuable for the 8 parent/carers who attended, but with 22 potential spaces to fill many more could have benefited from this training.  Fear not, another training course will take place on Tuesday 23 September. Book your place at

Another event that I’ve previously mentioned in my blogs and I know is also featured on the SDN website was the Young Health Champions DART (disability access running team) introduced by their amazing Young Health champion, Ben Sutton-Jones who has worked hard on his initial idea for this Health champion project which would help to get disabled young people more active. DART takes place at the Shrewsbury Quarry 8.45am every Saturday.

I recently met with some colleagues from Shropshire Public Health who have recently launched the Healthy Shropshire website.  This fantastic resource is well worth a look and I’d especially recommend the Active4Health section which includes an online directory providing information to public and patients on suitable exercise opportunities that can be matched to individual’s needs, wants and level of experience.  The Healthy Shropshire website also signposts users to a Green Space section which lists lots of opportunities to get active in your community.  We know that 3 in 4 adults enjoy outdoor pursuits and 55% of adults visit the natural environment at least once a week. A recent ‘Reconomics’ reports brings together research and evidence to demonstrate the huge impact of outdoor recreation. From a gentle walk to a sky dive, exercising outdoors has maximum impact on lowering stress and increasing energy levels compared to exercising inside, plus there are quantifiable economic benefits as outdoor recreation drives local visitor economies. This National report includes a number of case studies and we’re excited that our very own National Trust property; Attingham Park is one of these case studies. Sport Development Officer Lucy Newbury came on board with the National Trust to utilise the 400 acres of green space at Attingham Park as a recognised sports venue. There are now clearly signposted routes for walkers and runners, an orienteering course, archery and Community Games are on offer all year, plus canoeing opportunities and much more – Lucy believes offering the sports has helped engage a new market at Attingham. They are also going to include the guides I included in my last blog which will at least mean that everything is in one place.

And while I’m on the subject of having everything in one place, what more could Shropshire ask for than £241k from the Big Lottery to fund our very own Inclusive Officer. I hope you will all agree that this is a fantastic opportunity and join me in congratulating Shropshire Providers Consortium and their members (including SDN and Energize) for their sterling efforts in securing the funding.

Click here to download the Inclusive Officer Details

Click here to view ‘Reconomics’

Attingham Park Case Study


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A teenage mother was detained in a psychiatric hospital during her pregnancy, given high levels of medication plus ECT during this period; So that the developing brain of the baby has 220 volts running through it. That was 1949, that baby was me. Of course in 2014 that doesn’t happen does it? Well, actually in some cases it still does!


I spent 5 months with my birth mother at Chaddeslode House which in those days was a home for unmarried mothers. Then a merry-go-round of various placements until finally at 4 yrs old I was adopted, sadly already with embedded anxiety and emotional issues. My adoption was a bit of a disaster and my childhood and adolescence was a very difficult time. 

However what I did have right from toddler hood through to adolescence was the continual support and care of just one exceptional Welfare Officer/Social Worker. She made every child in her care feel special always there for them, going the extra mile even out-of-hours. She guided me through those turbulent times pointing me in the right direction. She saw my potential and used her skills to keep me from going into care again. 

That was the 1950s/60s So now of course that level of care and continuity within Children’s Services is the norm isn’t it? Sadly it isn’t the norm. So was I more fortunate during the 1950s/60s then our Children with emotional issues are today? 

I would really appreciate your comments about this particular blog and if you think Children’s Services have made progress in the last sixty years or is there more that could be done to help vulnerable children? 

Lynda Jones-Official Blogger Shropshire Disability Network on Mental Health Issues

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How does TRM (Targeted Muscle Innervation) Work?

With TRM a prosthetic limb is controlled solely by a User’s thought process! The user imagines moving the prosthetic limb and it responds accordingly. To enable this to happen surgery is performed to redirect the nerves that used to control the limb to a new muscle group. Amazingly by connecting existing functioning nerves that controlled a persons limb to a new group of muscles so these muscles can read signals. 

In order for the prosthesis to work, the user has to imagine moving their missing limb. Nerves send these thought signals from the brain to the new target muscle & the result is the muscle contracts. Electrodes that are carefully placed against the skin recognise the signals & with the use of a small computer, it translates them into the desired movement. This results in the user being able to control the prosthesis, even allowing control more than one joint at a time. Ie rotating a hand & gripping with it or bending an elbow & wrist. How amazing technology is becoming but it does not come without hard work by the amputee, expert knowledge of surgeons and a host of other people that work in different areas of the medical profession.

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Controlling a Prosthesis by thought alone. Impossible? Not at all!

SDN likes to bring you up to date information on may areas of disability, & indeed just one example was in the March 2014 edition of “Your Voice” which included an article from Access On-line magazine. This particular article reported that a team of Swiss & Italian scientists had enabled Danish amputee Dennis Aabo Sørensen to test a wired prosthetic hand enabling him to sense touch. This had been the result of 5 hour operation when electrodes were grafted onto the ulna & median nerves in Dennis’s upper arm. The results were amazing as the outcome was better than expected when he experienced accurate touch in his finger tips but despite this as it was only an experiment Dennis soon had to revert back to his prosthetic limb. 

I was reading a Blesma magazine & discovered amazing things are happening closer to home as technology in the UK has now enabled Corporal Andy Garthwaite to be the first person in the UK to control his prosthesis by thought alone! In September 2010 Andy was wounded in Afghanistan by a rocket propelled grenade, robbing him completely of his right arm. As with anyone loosing a limb there is rehabilitation programme that takes place in the hope of getting back as much as possible of what has been taken from you. Initially he was given a traditional prosthetic arm, as any one would find, this is no substitute for what you have lost, plus having live with the many frustrations that someone in this situation must experience. 

Thanks to a process called Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR) & a very clever surgeon from Austria called Professor Aszmann, during a 6 hour operation on Corporal Garthwaite redirected intact nerves into muscles on his chest wall. By placing electrodes on those muscles they become natural amplifiers which then work the prosthesis. Corporal Garthwaite lost his arm from the shoulder so that is why muscles on his chest wall were used. Now when he thinks about using his prosthetic arm it is the thoughts in his mind that triggers the chest muscles to that movement ie to lift, extend. Since Andy’s operation in December 2013, everyday tasks that many people just take as the granted ie turning pages in a book, stirring a cup of tea, making drinks, opening a bottle, unscrewing a jar have become easier for Him. So often people with prosthesis, due to many frustrations in lack of function don’t wear them but with TMR the limb is closer than ever to being like the one you have lost making life easier. 

Like Captain Nic Beighton who spoke at our SDN meeting last December, it takes a lot of rehab & determination by the person who has lost limb(s) to work hard, practice & more practice in order to achieve new goals. Of course for this patients also need the support of not only surgeons & nurses but specialist physiotherapists & occupational therapists. As we know, even with technology nothing will be exactly like the limb you have lost but it is good to see how modern technology is moving forward & hopefully continue to move forward. 

Andy received treatment at several places & like Nick had a lot of his treatment at Headley Court & both are thankful to the MOD & support Blesma as well as many others for the help & support given to them. SDN followed the team which included Nick Beighton-(double amputee & Paralympian London 2012) taking part earlier this year in Beeline Britain (First ever Land’s End to John O’Groats in a straight line)

and you can read (and support) more about this epic challenge by visiting 

Next time: How Targeted Muscle Reinnervation works.


Signal’s summer news from Shropshire & Africa

The sun is streaming in through the window as I write to you today, and the sun has certainly been shining on Signal’s projects to help break down the barriers to independence – in social, economic and political life – for people who are deaf or who have hearing impairments. 

In the attached Summer Issue of Wave, Signal’s Chairman Rod Clark announces a momentous development in Shropshire, and our International Programmes Manager Karen Goodman-Jones gives a personal account of the work which is giving deaf children and young people in Uganda and Tanzania a better and a fairer start in life.  Our partners in Zambia are also the subject of The Wave Interview

With all this sunny news, we must not forget that there is much more to do and much hard work to come, as evidenced by requests to our partners in Uganda to expand the programme there, so that deaf children in neighbouring areas can enjoy the same “fairer start.”  There is a suggestion at the end of Wave, too, of how you may be able to help the industrious deaf students in Tanzania on their path towards an independent future. 

Please do share Wave with people you know, particularly if they live in Shropshire, so that ever more people can benefit from our ongoing local initiatives, such as the Sign Language classes.  We will update you on our busy programme in Malawi in the Autumn Issue, but do also keep an eye on our website, if you can, to keep in touch with Signal’s news in the UK and Africa in between times:

Click the link for a PDF copy of the newsletter: Wave_Summer 2014

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Funding Residential or Nursing Care Fees

Funding care fees, fully or even partially, can be an expensive business. Understanding, therefore, what the state provides plus being clear about costs and affordability is essential. This article seeks to outline information which any self-funders should know. 

About the 12-week property disregard

Where, excluding your property, your capital is below the threshold – in England and Northern Ireland, £23,250; in Wales, £24,000; and in Scotland, £26,000 (2014/15) – and your income is insufficient to meet the care fees, the local authority can assist with the costs for the first 12 weeks of permanent care. Any financial help beyond that period, however, will be a loan against the value of your property and recovered from the eventual proceeds of its sale. 

About deferred payments agreements

If social services has assessed you as needing care and your capital is below the threshold, they can lend you the funds to pay for care, to be repaid from the proceeds of your property when it is ultimately sold. There is, however, a limit to the amount they will lend you. Plus it could also adversely affect your means-tested benefit entitlements. 

About Council Tax exemption

Should you move into care and leave your property unoccupied, you should be entitled to a full exemption from Council Tax until it’s sold. 

About Pension Credit and Severe Disability Addition

If you are entitled to Attendance Allowance, then subject to your savings and income, you may be entitled to claim Pension Credit with a Severe Disability Addition, but only where your property is on the market. If it is not on the market, it will almost certainly be treated as capital and affect your entitlement to this benefit. 

About Attendance Allowance

Attendance Allowance is a non-means-tested, non-taxable allowance paid at the lower rate of £54.45 per week to those needing care by day or night, and at a higher rate of £81.30 per week for those needing care both by day and night. 

About Registered Nursing Care Contributions

Irrespective of whether your stay in care is temporary or permanent, if the care home provides nursing care, the NHS makes a Registered Nursing Care Contribution. This currently amounts to weekly contributions of £110.89 in England, £120.55 in Wales, £100.00 in Northern Ireland and £75.00 (plus £166.00 for personal care) in Scotland and is paid directly to the care home. 

About the National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare

Where your needs are primarily healthcare-related, you may be entitled to full care fees funding from your local Primary Care Trust following an assessment under the National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare. You can request a review of eligibility at any time. 

About local authority funding if your money runs out

Once your capital reduces to the threshold, you can seek local authority assistance. If there is any possibility that you will not be able to meet the full cost of your care in the long term, arrange an assessment of your care needs to ensure they will step in to help with the funding when required. 

About financial products to meet care costs

It is perhaps surprising that there exists only one dedicated financial product that has been specifically designed to meet care costs: the immediate needs annuity. This can provide a regular increasing income for as long as you need care, which should cap the cost of care from the outset. It is important, however, to seek advice and not to try to do it alone, as such annuities do not suit all circumstances. 

Click the link to learn more:

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To receive a complimentary guide covering Wealth Management, Retirement Planning, Inheritance Tax Planning or Care Fees Planning, produced by St. James’s Place Wealth Management, contact Neil Lewis of Lewis Wealth Management Ltd on 01743 444700 or email Lewis Wealth Management at

Lewis Wealth Management Ltd represents only St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the Group’s wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the Group’s website The title ‘Partner Practice’ is the marketing term used to describe St. James’s Place representatives.

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Baggins Blog – All Things Mental Health

400 Years of Petitioning; Advocating; Campaigning For Better MentalHealth Services 

Lynda Jones

Did you know that as early as 1620 Patients in psychiatric hospitals were coming together to speak out with the petition of ‘ the Poor Distracted Folk of Bedlam.’ In 1845 the ‘Alleged Lunatics’ Friend Society’ was set up by John Perceval his aims were- Quote: “Protection of the British from unjust confinement on the grounds of Mental Disorder and the redress of Persons so confined.”John was himself a MH Service-user having witnessed the assassination of his Prime Minister father Robert Perceval when he was just 9 years old. John was the forerunner to MH Advocacy. 

Now let’s fast forward to 1960′s The brave new world of Civil Rights Movement, lots of social changes came about empowering people towards collective and individual Civil Rights. Now we move to 1970s the time that alliances were beginning to be made between patients and professionals giving MH Service -users a greater say in improving conditions on Wards. Charities such as MIND and National Schizophrenia Fellowship (now RETHINK) were formed. So moving on to 1980s Which saw formations of local Service-user Forums such as Nottingham Advocacy Group- NAG- aptly named because that is what we did! 

So the question I would like to ask you all is: 

After 400 years of hard work Campaigning; Advocating; Petitioning.

What have achieved towards this in the present day of 2014? 

A Mental health blog written for SDN by Lynda Jones