READING residents are invited to a family event which aims to promote disability awareness, with a wide range of activities on offer.
Reading’s Physical Disability and Sensory Needs Network (PDSN) is hosting the Disability Awareness Day 2019 on Thursday 15th August, under the theme of ‘Staying Healthy – Mind & Body.’
The free event at The Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading will run from 11am to 3pm and will offer fun, interactive and informative sessions.
A wide range of activities will be on offer for all age groups and abilities, including blood pressure checks from the Stroke Association, lip reading learner sessions and hearing tests from Action on Hearing Loss, shoulder & neck massages, as well as musical entertainment.
For further information and/or additional support at the event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0118 937 2383.
Chair of the PDSN, Simone Illger, herself a disabled Reading resident, said: “There is so much on offer at our event this year – with some great activities and stalls offering advice and support. I’d really encourage people to stop by and find out more. There is no need to book – just drop by. I’d like to say a special thank you to The Oracle for hosting our event this year.
“Reading’s PDSN is a network made up of local people and representatives from many different organisations. It provides a forum where we can express our views and have our voices heard.
“We would like more people to be aware of us and what we do, which is why we are keen to see as many people attending this event as possible. Many disabled people have a wealth of knowledge to share with others. We know from PDSN meetings that there are some fantastic services and facilities out there that everyone should know about.”
Cllr Tony Jones, Reading’s Lead Member for Adult Social Care, said: “We are committed to working in partnership with the Physical Disability and Sensory Needs Network to make Reading a better place for everyone. This is a great event, with lots on offer and I hope it will be well attended. I was particularly impressed to hear The Oracle now has a brand new Changing Places room – which makes this all the more the perfect venue for this year’s event.”
Organisations participating in the event include:
Berkshire REMAP; Readibus; Reading Association for the Blind; Stroke Association; Get Berkshire Active; Healthwatch; Talkback; Reading Job Centre; Reading Mencap; Depression Xpression; Arthritis Matters; Redland Healthcare; Remploy-CQC; Macmillan Cancer Research; Action on Hearing Loss; Talking Therapies; AutAngel; Royal Berkshire Fire Rescue Service; Recovery College; Stepping Forward; Reading Council Wellbeing Team and Adult Social Care; Social Prescribing; Thames Valley Police; Reading Deaf Centre.
Case Study: Simone Illger, Chair of the Physical Disability and Sensory Needs Network (PDSN)
The PDSN is a networking group made up of representatives with a physical, neurological or sensory impairment, their carers, local voluntary organisations and council staff. It offers a voice in influencing and shaping how support and services are delivered locally and also provides an essential role in raising awareness about the information and services available locally for people with disabilities. The group meets around three to four times a year, as well as hosting an annual event to celebrate Disability Awareness Day in August. Simone says “It’s about making sure disabled people get services that work well for them.”
Simone has been the chair of the PDSN for the last 18 years, since it was first established. “I love coming up with ideas to keep the group relevant and interesting for members! We invite guest speakers to our meetings to talk about a wide range of subjects, ranging from transport, jobs, benefits and sport facilities, to keeping active and taking part in arts and culture.”
“We’ve even had a session with a bus and a taxi parked up, giving members the opportunity to demonstrate accessibility issues first hand to the people who offer the service. More recently we had an artist who paints with his mouth running a very impressive demonstration to the group to inspire everyone’s creative side!”
Simone is particularly keen to promote messages around health & wellbeing and has arranged sessions covering yoga and Tai Chi demonstrations. “To a certain degree I think it is also sometimes about taking people out of their comfort zone and encouraging them to try new things. The group is a great way to meet others, share experiences and inspire others and be inspired.”
Simone also says she couldn’t do the PDSN chair role without the support she gets from Council Officer Nina, who aids the group with the administrative side of things. “We work really well together. Nina is always very organised!”
Simone has first-hand experience of using support services, having needed additional support from adult social care when she became a mum in the late 1990s. “Becoming a mum was quite a challenge physically and practically. When my daughter was 4 I had a serious car accident when I sustained a leg injury which meant that my (already limited) mobility was further reduced. I found it really difficult to provide the care my daughter needed as a young child as well as manage my own care needs.”
“I was the second adult in Reading to use the Direct Payment Scheme which completely revolutionised my life in terms of being able to do all sorts of things with my daughter. I found Direct Payments really empowering – being able to arrange exactly the kind of support that I needed and wanted, delivered in a way that was flexible and worked around family life. It’s something I would certainly encourage others in a similar situation to consider as an option.”
Although now retired, Simone is an extremely busy woman – she not only chairs the PDSN, but is also a trustee and community journalist for Reading Voluntary Action (RVA) and a member of the National Advisory Council for the Thalidomide Trust.