Category Archives: News

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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

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YourVoice or lack of Your Voice”

Thank you to all who returned the recent survey about “YourVoice”, the feedback we have received is very useful & will help us to shape its future. As a result of feedback, at our June meeting it was agreed that “YourVoice” would be produced 6 weekly for a trial period of 12 months.

Please note it is not too late to return those surveys as we appreciate feedback at any time & your views will continue to help us bring to you what is one of two important tools SDN has. Access is to the survey is still available under the events tab.


Our next edition was due to be published mid July but due to technical difficulties there is going to be a delay. We apologise for this and we are uncertain when the next publication will be. The technical issues do not affect this website so we will be bringing you regular updates as usual. Also watch out for news of “YourVoice”


Many thanks.


SDN Management Committee

10th July 2014

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Shropshire Disability Network Gold Challenge 2014


A new Gold Challenge for SDN, so what is it? It’s exciting & we are looking for team members as well as organisations to put teams in & join us. May be you can not form or join one of our teams but could sponsor one of our teams. Or you know of a business who would sponsor us! 

We have joined in with the Gold Challenge 2014 linked to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow because due to technical difficulties the Geoff Forgie Memorial Disability Challenge for 2014 has had to be postponed but we hope it will be back in 2015. 

So what is this all about? The Gold Challenge 2014 builds on the legacy of London 2012. It is a fun free way for everyone across the UK to be a bit more active, fitter, healthier while celebrating the upcoming Commonwealth Games. For us at SDN, it is even more than that as we can raise awareness of SDN and aim to raise £2014 for our funds! 

There are two challenges, both can be done alone or in teams of 10. 

The Mini Challenge. This is to clock up 201.4 km (125.14 miles) by 31st December 2014 or 

2014 Challenge. This is to clock up 2014 km (1251.44 miles) by 31st December 2014 tells us, don’t worry if you miss to complete it by 31/12/2014 as you will still be able to log your details. 

How can you take part? Do you go to the gym? Walk the dog, use a self propelled wheelchair, go swimming, cycling, walking, rowing, use a motorised bike. Any thing you do that is Physical exercise that causes you to breathe harder and your heart to beat faster can be counted so that includes housework, gardening. If you play football, wheelchair tennis/basket ball, bocca, rugby,…it can all count. May be, you should go to the gym/swimming more often but need an incentive. There are many ways we can get active ie walk to the shops instead of using the car, get off the bus at an earlier stop even meet friends for a cuppa but arrange to meet 10 minutes earlier and have a stroll first. Perhaps you have intended doing the Park Run, but not got round to it! How about it now?  If so please consider signing up to our challenges. 

What this is not about? Being better than your other team members (we can encourage each other, that is different) or going overboard, hurting yourself and causing pain or injury. Every km you do helps your team. Remember 0.1 or 0.25 of a km counts as well!

SDN have already signed up three teams: The SDN Gold Challengers and SDN Vic’s Victors. SDN Landau Challenge. Welcome aboard Sandra a lady from our Fundraising Sub Group who has taken on the Mini Challenge alone. Sandra is walking rescue dogs for her challenge, so this is two fold, raising awareness & money for us & helping a local dog kennels! SDN are also pleased to have Sisters 4 SDN who are raising money & awareness of SDN join us.

Both SDN Gold Challengers & SDN Vic’s Victors registered by us are looking for recruits! Km’s are already being clocked up by the people who have already registered. We will have a launch enabling us to raise awareness & funding. All teams will have a sponsorship form but we are looking at additional sponsorship. A member is interested in doing the mini challenge alone! 

To find out more click here

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Your Chance to Own a Copy of “Why are you pretending to be Normal?”

Opportunity to purchase the book “Why are you pretending to be Normal?” and to swell our funds at the same time. 

At our Craven Arms meeting on 12th June, Dave Rees co-author of Why are you pretending to be Normal gave a very informative talk about how He & Dr Phil Friend OBE came to write this book. Several of us took the opportunity to purchase a copy and Dave offered to donate £1 from each copy sold at the meeting towards our funds. This kind gesture has now been extended to anyone who wishes to purchase a copy via us. 

Dr Phil Friend with Lizzie Evans, Fundraising & Publicity Officer from Headway, Shropshire

Dr Phil Friend with Lizzie Evans, Fundraising & Publicity Officer from Headway, Shropshire

Looking around the room while Dave was talking it was very evident that people were intrigued about how it came to be written, why and for whom. After all, the title of the book raises all sorts of ideas! In the book, it asks the questions that anyone with a disability needs to ask themselves. Dave made us think, think about words that we use, questions that we ask, reasons why we react to questions asked & more.  A full report on Dave‘s presentation will be in our Mid July copy of “Your Voice so we don’t want to repeat what you can read in the next few weeks. 

Here is a taster of this book, which has the Foreword written by Tanni Grey-Thomson DBE.

Tanni writes “This book masterfully guides the reader to an understanding of the importance of the social model of disability and will be extremely useful to a wide audience who want to learn and understand about the impact language has on peoples lives” Further on She writes “If other people understood more about my needs and felt able to ask me, instead of making assumptions (which are quite often the wrong ones) then my life would dramatically improve.” 

In the book a comparison is made to acquiring a disability with that of bereavement. “When you become disabled you also have to go through that same cycle of emotions because you have lost something, whether it’s something physical-because you can no longer walk or move other parts of your body-or whether it’s the loss of independence or anything else. It is also the loss of the person you used to be……..Therefore you go through the same emotions of shock, denial, frustration, anger and all the other stages of grief until you come to accept it-if you ever do!” 

As one reviewer of this book wrote “If you or someone you know wants to understand disability better, how it fits in society today, this is a great place to start…” 

As one SDN member said “whether you are a Carer, someone born with an impairment or acquired a disability this is a “must read” for £6 it is well worth it. It is a book I need on my shelf not to stay there but to use as a guide & learning tool from the tips given” 

To order your copy of this book, please email to get details of how to pay & purchase from us. Thank you.

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Raising Awareness of SDN at Telford PRH

Paula, Margaret & Ian do a sterling job at Princess Royal Hospital, Telford (PRH) raising awareness of SDN 

All of us on the Management Committee are pleased with the way our Outreach Officer for Telford, Ian Roberts is taking a lead on raising awareness of our work at the PRH. We had our second day there on Wednesday 3 June. 

Regrettably we were short of volunteers! Shropshire is a large county &it is our intention to raise awareness, raise funds and meet you where you are by having meetings etc across the county. Ideally SDN needs a group of volunteers in each area. At the moment we are building on this in Shrewsbury, Telford and Oswestry but it takes time and without your help, it can not be done so if you can help, , we would be grateful. Telford is no different to our awareness days at Morrisons Oswestry as we need at least 3 people volunteering for each hour. 

These days at PRH are very important to us. From early days at SDN we have had a saying  Well, we are working on it but still have a long way to go. So what do we do when we are at PRH? We talk to people if they want to talk with us, we share information by giving leaflets to those who want them, we meet many nice people & share many conversations and during that time we often use our signposting skills. The funding gained is an “add on” that we really appreciate. Few people complete membership forms on the day, but recent new memberships coming in via Telford people indicates they have come to us as a result of PRH awareness days. This shows SDN is needed there just the same as other places we go. 

So why are we taking this opportunity to increase our funds? Leaflets need to be replaced, printed newsletters need to be paid for but that is not all, we have insurance to pay, a website to maintain, a printer to run and more. Until now, we have had to take our information back and forth to Telford. Ian as Outreach Officer needs to keep a case with information “on hand” at Telford as He needs it for PRH regularly as well as other places/ ie ensuring membership forms, leaflets etc are put in public places in Telford. We can’t keep ferrying information to Telford and anyway they may be needed in both Shrewsbury and Telford. 

We are grateful to those who have helped at both our Telford days at PRH. Thank you to all. We need to ask you to support Ian your Outreach Officer at Telford.

 Thank you Ian, Margaret & Paula for all you are doing for Shropshire Disability Network in the Telford area, it is appreciated by all of us.

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My Journey to get an Assistance Dog

My name is Sam, and this is my blog about my journey to get an assistance dog. I am twenty-two, a keen video gamer and writer, I have a disability, and six pet rats. 

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The first thing people would say if I said this is either “Rats?!” (With a tone of voice ranging from eew – aww!). The second thing said would probably be a comment on my disability, ranging from “You don’t look disabled!”, “I would never have guessed!”, and, of course, the infamous awkwardness where people withdraw and treat me differently on learning of my disability status, to be fair, probably because they don’t know what to say. 

I have Asperger Syndrome, hand and feet deformities, and mental health conditions. I’m looking forward to the day when both pet rats and disability become a topic of conversation that isn’t controversial, and believe that will happen in my lifetime (For disability at least anyway! Although I hope it does for pet rats too!). 

But to get to that stage, better education on all types of disabilities needs to be provided to both abled and disabled people. 

I believe assistance dogs are a powerful tool not only for the people with disabilities they serve, but for abled people to some extent as well. As a disabled person, when I see an assistance dog out in public with its owner, be it a guide dog, a hearing dog, an autism assistance dog, I see hope. I see someone that’s receiving support that often councils are unable to give, family and friends could be unable to give (Not everyone has family or friends anyway), from an animal that has often been trained not only just for its owners condition, but for the specific owner. 

For an abled person, however, the dog represents something so much more. It represents the fact that disabled people have their own place in society, and are equals. It represents that yes, disabled people can struggle with some tasks, but given the right support they can flourish. And it represents a friendly (fluffy?) face that is a bridge to help make conversations just that little bit easier on both abled and disabled people. 

As a young adult with autism, I struggle with social interaction with people I don’t know. An assistance dog would act as a bridge for me – someone familiar to be my constant, so I can go out and use public transport such as trains and buses on my own, so I can ground my hands in its fur to soothe myself as I talk to strangers and acquaintances. At the thought of meeting new people I can already feel my stomach churning – an assistance dog would help alleviate that anxiety. 

They can be trained to either bark or paw at the owner’s leg as if they need the toilet if you make a hand signal at them – providing an excuse to get out of lessons, volunteering, training, or work if the owner is too anxious. It’s good to say autistic people can leave class at any time if needed, but it’s not always that easy. When I need to go, I need to go before I have a meltdown (Type of anxiety attack), not in five or ten minutes after the teacher has finished talking to me. 

Dogs can be trained to lie on you like a weighted blanket at night if they feel you shifting about a lot in the night – a method that reduces anxiety in autistic children and adults, without the internalised stigma of using a weighted blanket. Or, for an owner with anxieties in crowds, to ‘block’ between the owner and the crowds. 

So there we have some of my reasons behind needing an assistance dog. But how am I going to go about getting one? I’ve got to admit, it’s not going to be easy, but it’s something I need to do. There is one charity in the UK that trains up assistance dogs for autistic children – but only up to ten years old. There is also one that trains up assistance dogs for adults with mental health conditions, but their waiting list has been full and closed for a year or more. My current option I am looking into is a company in Ireland that trains assistance dogs. It costs £5000, plus 23% VAT (Which is not currently claimable back, but is probable that it will be after a court ruling in the future that the dogs are a necessary disability aid.) Then there is the cost of a ferry, and accommodation for a week for myself, my Mum and my support worker to go over to personalise the training of the dog. 

Overall, the cost is £7000, which will be my main barrier. I am hoping to do some fundraising, sell some things, possibly do some fundraising events such as bake sales, sponsoring, etc. It’s very early days, but I am hopeful that this is something that could make a real difference to my life and enable me to mostly live independently. 

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog, keep tuning in for another update soon! 



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Oswestry welcomed us with open arms!

Thank you to all who kindly donated to our fund-raising efforts at Morrisons Oswestry on Wednesday 28th May. 

oswestry fundraiser

Having held two meetings at Oswestry Cricket Club, we decided to try and raise awareness of SDN to the people of Oswestry by having a collection at the store. We met some lovely people while giving out leaflets to those who wanted them and your generosity has increased our funding by £161.01. This money will be used to further our work. ie newsletter, general running costs, meetings, stationery, website, promotion of SDN. 

We have held similar collections/awareness days in Shrewsbury and Telford stores during the past 3 years, but as SDN covers the whole geographical county of Shropshire we need to include everyone so please look at the website as well as “YourVoice” to find out where and when we are next. SDN wishes to thank the Management of Morrisons Store at Oswestry for the warm welcome we received

Of course this would not have happened if it had not been for the people who volunteered to help. Lack of volunteers/illness of some members meant we were short of collectors, we thank Oswestry Rotarians for answering a call for help. Thank you to John Powell, John Davies and Hazel Yates for pulling out all the stops by alerting our cause to other Rotarians, and a special mention for John Powell who was able to do an hour or so for us on the day. 

Oswestry we are with you again on Wednesday 30th July, we hope to cover the hours of 10.30 am to at least 4 pm. Ideally we need 3 volunteers to cover each hour. Please make this a date in your diary now but also if you can spare an hour or two on that day, please let Ruby-Fundraising Lead know now so that a rota can be made. Please email or calling 01743 340832 

Thank you 

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Welcome to Shropshire Foot care – Our Latest Supporter

Getting your name in front of our membership to bring them relevant benefits couldn’t be easier as Shropshire Foot Care found out when they spoke to Ruby Hartshorn. Shropshire Footcare offer a range of services which will be ideal for both people with disabilities and their carers plus the service can be delivered in their own homes if they have difficulty getting out to appointments for whatever reason.

footcare web page

 Check out their advert at the bottom of our page just below Latest News and click the ad to visit their web page.

Interested in becoming a supporter of Shropshire Disability Network? Go to ‎  and see what we can offer.