CAMPAIGN AGAINST CABBY CORRUPTION


By: Daniella Jade Lowe


Wheelchair users in the UK are being overcharged indiscriminately by various taxi firms. According to previous articles printed by the Telegraph and Argus newspaper, this is a situation that has been recurring for over three years. Despite previous campaigns to end this madness, it has relentlessly continued.


As a disabled citizen, I personally have experienced this discrimination first hand. I lived in Bradford for 5 years, and ever since my first year, I’ve been charged from £5-£10, by taxi firms that I’ve used. So far, I’ve travelled with Girlington, Bradford Central and Douglas taxi firms. Girlington taxis charges me £7 each time, Douglas charges me £5 consistently and Bradford Central fluctuates between £5 and £7 depending on if it’s a weekday or weekend. Before receiving my electric wheelchair, I used to spend £14.28 a week on taxis.


On Tuesday, February 25, 2015, I was involved in a Student Union meeting at the University of Bradford and at this meeting; this cab discrimination issue was raised. During this meeting, everyone signed a petition against this display of exploitation. In this petition, everyone signed their name and what taxi firms they use in solidarity against this corruption.


The university’s student union planned a campaign in hopes to effect change against this malarkey. To highlight this issue, we created a presence at an event hosted by Turning Point (a disability group in Bradford) on Friday, 29 May, 2015 from 10:00 at Cottingley Cornerstones Centre, Littlelands, Cottingley, Bingley, West Yorkshire, BD16 1AL. Transport was provided from UBU leaving at 10am from the University of Bradford and returning for 2pm.


The day went really well. I think it was clear that this is a real issue locally and something we can move forward with. There is still a lot of work to be done. The event also included speakers and a couple of presentations on why the law should be different on how taxi fares of several taxi firms are affecting the lives of disabled people. Also, there were workshops on why the law should be different, followed by provided lunch.
For Hackney Carriages (White taxi labelled cabs), there is legislation that all their cars are adapted and can take wheelchairs. There is also a ruling that says prices are fixed and cannot be changed for a wheelchair user.


However, a brilliant initiative was introduced during the meeting called iTaxis which is an app and an innovative solution revolutionising the method they book private hire taxis. It is not a ride sharing service like Uber. It works with licensed private hire operators. A customer enters their journey details and iTaxis search their records of local private hire operators. They display the fares set by those operators for the journey. The customer can then pick an operator and pay by cash or card. The address for the company is iTaxi247 Ltd, Town Hall, St George’s St., Hebden Bridge, HX7 7BY. It is registered in England. The Company Reg No is: 8849416. Find private hire vehicles (taxis) in your local area.


Again, if this happens, disabled citizens have been encouraged to report it. There is a lot to be done and we will now be moving forward with further action, but I feel the event represents a positive move forward.

“WHAT IS DISABILITY???”

By: Daniella Jade Lowe

When we think of disability we so often think of wheelchairs (understandable when you consider the disability symbol that is used everywhere), yet only 5% of disabled people actually use a wheelchair. People also tend to confuse a disability with a sickness.


Disability vs Illness
An illness is a sickness. Some illnesses are acute, which means they come on quickly and are over quickly (like a cold or the flu). Other illnesses are chronic, which means they last a long time and perhaps a lifetime (like asthma or diabetes).
However, a disability is a physical or mental problem that makes it harder to do normal daily activities. You can be born with a disability or get it from an illness or an injury.


Let’s break this down into simple terms:


Physical impairments
Well, this could include anything from a loss of a limb to an agility or sensory impairment, such as visual or hearing.
It would also consist of health conditions with fluctuating effects such as Diabetes, Cancer, Osteoporosis, MS, ME, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Arthritis. Also involved would be progressive conditions such as Muscular Dystrophy and Motor Neurone Disease, and respiratory conditions such as Asthma, and Cardiovascular diseases, including Thrombosis, Stroke and Heart Disease.


Mental impairments
Well, this would include learning disabilities such as Downs Syndrome. It would also comprise of developmental disorders such as Autism, Asperger’s, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia. Also covered under mental impairments are mental health issues. This could include anything from severe Depression, Nervous Breakdown, OCD, Eating Disorders, Dementia, Bi-polar Disorder, Schizophrenia, as well as some personality disorders and self-harming behaviour.


Long-term
This is where the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least twelve months. There are also special rules for recurring or fluctuating conditions.

Normal day-to-day activities
Well, this would include everyday things that everyone does, like cooking a meal, having a bath or wash, or walking to the shop.


What does disability not include?
Definitely not included in the definition are conditions such as hay fever, alcoholism, addiction, exhibitionism, voyeurism or a tendency to steal abuse or set fires.


Screening disability can be very difficult, especially since it’s challenging to distinguish between disability and impairment. In regards to disability, one must first measure the level of ones’ ability before they can determine disability.
Also when dealing with disability, many of these individuals are stereotyped, ostracized and treated as less of a person based on the stigma that comes from ones’ opinion or idea of ‘normal’.


Well, what is normal?
Regarding one’s general health, the term is explained as, physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy.
There is no exhaustive checklist which defines disability. What’s most important is the impact and effect of the condition on someone’s day to day activities. It is also important that you don’t make judgements about how impairment is caused.


For example, liver disease caused by alcoholism would still be considered a disability, although alcoholism itself would not. The most important thing is to never make assumptions. Someone with a disability can be very, physically, fit and strong, highly intelligent and articulate.


So, for those who are considered disabled out there, as you walk, hop, hobble or wheel remember that being disabled is only a state of mind!

MY EXPERIENCES AT THE MOVEMENT 2 WORK PLACEMENT

By: Daniella Jade Lowe

From January 29th- February 23rd, 2018, I had the wonderful opportunity to be involved in the Movement 2 Work Placement at the Park Place Jobcentre in Leeds, through the Department of Works and Pensions. I originally found out about this placement at the Guiseley Jobcentre through my Work Coach last year.

In preparation for this placement, I met with the Health and Safety Team about a risk assessment on the 19th of January, which is protocol for all wheelchair users. I’m happy with everything. I got two evacuation buddies and a mentor. I get tea and lunch breaks on the placement. I was given a personal tour of the building. I was based on the ground floor. I did Job shadowing and Customer Service work. I got my own access fob. There were three refuge points in case of fire and two wheelchair accessible bathrooms. There was a lift as well, but I didn’t need to use it. The kitchen was also accessible.

My placement officially started on the 29th of January, which was Induction Day. I met my Work Placement Advisor who gave me a refresher tour of the Jobcentre. He also gave me my workbook. The staff are caring, friendly and knowledgeable about their role and the Jobcentre itself. I believe that this Work Experience will help to boost my CV and career in general. I can also use the knowledge and skills gained to apply for other jobs.

On Tuesday I job shadowed my supervisor Angela who helped customers find and apply for jobs. The main skill learned was time management. The main quality of a Jobcentre is Labour. They use Labour Market Systems and Labour Market Units to help customers. This experience can help me to improve my organisational skills.

On Wednesday I job shadowed my supervisor Steph who carried out Habitual Residence Tests in an AJCS diary using DCams. Habitual Residence Tests are oral, online tests, carried out in interview style, for refugees seeking benefits. DCams are like a claimant commitment. Appointments are booked through these. You can find all customer details on it based on National Insurance numbers. I learned that you need to be very organised and have a good memory. You should also have good communication skills, listening skills, body language and general interview etiquette. They tend to use abbreviations a lot, but abbreviations can help improve memory and time management. It also helps you to be organised.

On Thursday morning I job shadowed and observed a Habitual Residence Test. I saw Steph use the DCams again. I also did some photocopying. Thursday afternoon, my supervisor Paul showed me how the Universal Credit Department works. I learned to be observant. I also learned how to improve organisational skills and how to improve memory.

Friday morning I observed HRTs. Friday afternoon I joined a group session to do personal job searching. By doing this, I learned teamwork as I helped others in job searching. I was also more motivated to job search as I worked in a group. In the future I should try to complete tasks with other people to improve my time management and motivational skills. This can also improve communication skills.

During the latter part of my second week, I got to explore the Finance Department and Universal Credit Department. I also experienced my first bomb alarm. That’s when my Risk Assessment and Evacuation Plan came in handy. During the alarm everyone gathered in the middle of the room and we were escorted out of the building with the Wardens and Evacuation buddies. We all stood outside, across the street from the Jobcentre, waiting for the signal that it was safe to go back inside. Once it was over, we went back inside and continued working.

In reference to my opinion on disability awareness, wheelchair accessibility and equality, I feel that the staff did an excellent job. I am very happy with the way everything panned out. My only criticism or suggestion is that the kitchen door should be automatic because it is difficult if a wheelchair user has to hold a hot drink or food, push their wheelchair and hold the door open simultaneously. I didn’t venture upstairs because there is no evacuation chair in case of a fire or bomb which would leave me stranded.

Other than that, I enjoyed my time at Park Place Jobcentre. I wasn’t allowed to start the placement until the risk assessment was carried out, which means that they take their duty of care very seriously. They made reasonable adjustments for me. I am thankful. The culture of the clientèle was pleasant and friendly. The workers were predominantly women. There were some similarities to my career of choice. Interviewing is a big part of what Jobcentres do to help people find employment and claim benefits. Interviewing is also a big part of Journalism which is part of my career goals. Although Customer service at the Jobcentre isn’t what I’d do as a career, it was good to explore this profession. I would like to officially thank the Park Place Leeds Jobcentre Plus and the Department of Works and Pensions for making the necessary adjustments for me to do this placement.

My Life

My name is Daniella Jade Lowe. I was born on October 26, 1991. I am a wheelchair user because I was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus at birth. Spina Bifida is basically a spinal cord injury. I was conceived in Bermuda. Then I was admitted to Harley Street private room with all family in attendance. However, the baby monitor was turned on and the doctor left the room during which time the nurse seeing all was in order turned off the monitor. Some time later the doctor returned to the birthing room and was horrified that the baby monitor was turned off. Once turned on again, the doctor noticed that I was in distress, growing tired not having sufficient strength in my legs to push myself out. I was immediately sent to Hammersmith and West London Hospital and spent perhaps three weeks in an incubator. My mother was moved to Queen Charlotte’s for recovery. She visited me every day for three weeks.

I was a hungry baby and begun eating cereal as soon as she was returned to the homestead in London. Parents met with Doctors and specialists on a regular basis whilst in England. Prognosis was not good but parents chose to have faith and believe God for His outcome. On returning to Bermuda, we went through registration with a paediatrician who recommended a shunt be inserted into Brain for ventricle drainage. I went to Ohio for a second opinion and where I had a successful operation and recuperated over six weeks. I enjoyed preschool privately and at Gwen’s Wonderland, Bermuda. I entered East End Primary School, Bermuda and it was suggested that I be immediately admitted to a modified program. I was given the opportunity to have the same education as my peers. In other words, I was mainstreamed instead of being put into a special class or special program. The Bermuda Government instituted an inclusive program in the Department of Education. I received occupation therapy, physiotheraphy, learning support etc. With proper and professional help I moved through the educational system successfully. I had three different paraprofessionals.

My favourite subject in school was English. The subject that I dreaded in school and still dread today was Math.  But I try my best. My favourite colour is yellow. I like writing, social media and going to the cinema.

I’ve had many great friends throughout my school life. One friend that I had in school was named Carlton Tuzo. I met him at the Clearwater Middle School, Bermuda. He was a very friendly and helpful person. Whenever I needed help around the school, he would always be there to carry my book bag when my Para-educator had to lift my wheelchair and I up the stairs, or he would sometimes push me around the school to help me get to class. He always took initiative and was a very genuine person.

In relation to vocation, my original plan was to start my career working for a newspaper as a Journalist in Political Science, after graduation, then, after a couple of years, or when I get tired of that, work my way into becoming a Politician. Fortunately, I’ve completed my History and Politics Degree. I have contemplated completing a Masters’ Degree in Journalism, but not yet. I ultimately want to be an advocate for people with special needs through Politics. Journalism and Politics are my passion. I’ve already represented Bermuda at the London 2012 Paralympic Games as a reporter. It was a breath-taking experience. I look forward to doing more.

My Aspirations

My name is Daniella Jade Lowe and I am an aspiring Journalist. In fact Journalism and Politics are my passion. I have been part of many Journalism opportunities and projects. For example, I’ve represented Bermuda at the London 2012 Paralympics as a reporter for Paralympian Jessica Lewis.


MY TIME AT THE  PARALYMPIC GAMES

https://www.facebook.com/PaparazziattheParalympics/

I am very committed to whatever I do. I show initiative. I am good at planning projects and getting them done in a timely manner.


Daniella-Jade Lowe

‘How I Overcame’

By: Daniella Jade Lowe

My educational experience as a disabled student has not been easy. Every step of the way has been a learning curve and a fight one way or the other with many hurdles to overcome. I graduated from Berkeley Institute, Bermuda in June 2009. After receiving a deferred offer from the University of Essex in England, I originally pursued further education at Bermuda College. However, I found that this was not possible as there was no wheelchair accessibility.

As an alternative, I was referred to Snowdon Reid, a college recruiter from the Bradford College, through Bermuda College. I enrolled at Bradford College to do my A levels. However, I only did that course from 2009-2010. On my own, I had to persuade faculty that I was willing to cope with living by myself and studying. Despite concerns, I maintained the mentality and focus that I needed to complete college in order to gain more UCAS points to get into university. I met with fierce opposition from English Tutor who gave me the impression that she was discriminating against me due to just being in a wheelchair. I sought help to deal with this but eventually dropped the subject.

I felt that the A levels were more stressful, intense and competitive than my degree. However, I still found ways to get things done. At one point, I got one to one tutoring online to help with my A Levels. I was allowed to stay. Snowdon Reid was a good advocate. I also had a Support Worker named Joan Pheasant from SHINE Charity who helped me apply for benefits and gave me personal advice for independent living. It was a difficult first year. There was lots of snow which made navigating hills tough. I used lots of taxi’s. I did all shopping by myself, paying bills, buying groceries and balancing funds. I started using an electric wheelchair for travelling to college and back. I also attended El-Shaddai Church, where I made lots of new friends and support. Main friend I met was Bruce. Another good advocate and friend that I met was Karl Oxford who also used to attend El Shaddai Church and was also a member of the Directorate of the Bradford College.

Between 2011-2013, I had Personal medical issues to overcome, with ongoing visits to doctor office on campus. I ended up getting additional Health and Social Care which included a Social Worker, carers, and District Nurses to help cope with general heath while studying. During my Second year, I completed an Access course in Humanities and Social Sciences. It was a-2-year course. In the end I graduated with a Diploma.

From 2013-2017, I completed an undergraduate degree in History and Politics. After registering with the Disability Office, I got a Study Coach and specialist equipment. I repeated the first year after not satisfying requirements to pass. During my Second year, things were ok. In my third year, I, along with the rest of my peers, received a Dissertation Supervisor in addition to my Study Coach to help satisfy requirements and the External Board of Examiners. On July 19th 2017, I graduated with Second Honours. I’ve now moved to llkley for work experience. I am an aspiring journalist, politician and advocate for people with special needs. Despite the hurdles and challenges faced, overall, studying in England has been worthwhile and enjoyable.

My saga in looking for employment has been interesting so far. In addition to creating my own LinkedIn and Universal Jobmatch accounts, I’ve sent several applications and been turned down. I’ve been attending Jobcentre meetings. I’ve even visited Remploy in Leeds but they couldn’t help me. My Care Navigator and I visited Clarke Foley Centre where I’ve got voluntary work so far, every Wednesday from 9:30-12:30 as a receptionist. I’ll be answering the phone as well as helping with their bulletin, selling event tickets and social media.