If you’ve got a long-term health condition or disability, what can you expect from your Jobcentre in the future?

Masses of people with health conditions and disabilities want to get back to work but help hasn’t always been right for them in the past.  The Government has been consulting on improvements and there are already signs of changes underway:

 Increasing understanding of disability in Jobcentres.

  • By august, local community organisations will be working with Jobcentres: giving expert knowledge, advice and support on disability issues to the Jobcentre staff and improving their understanding of the challenges disabled people face in getting and keeping jobs.
  • There will also be more specialist Disability Employment Advisers amongst Jobcentre staff to increase their colleagues’ disability understanding and help them better assist their clients.

 Additional support.

  • More people with health limitations for work can volunteer for Work Choice support (provided by various contractors).  Places have now been opened up for people who don’t have to be eligible for the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) element of employment and support Allowance (ESA) or the limited capability element of Universal Credit (UC).
  • 1,000 more people with mental health conditions can get up to 6 months help from the Mental Health Service to start and keep new jobs (for those on ESA WRAG and UC due to limited capability for work).
  • New Work and health Programme starts in November this year and will help those with health conditions and disabilities, alongside long-term unemployed people. This replaces the Work Programme which has just stopped taking on new people but anyone already on that programme will still get up to two years of their existing help.

 Increasing job opportunities.

In every Jobcentre area, there will be three specialist advisers targeting small local businesses with the “Small Employer Offer” – explaining what support is available when they employ someone with a long-term health condition or disability.  By building strong relationships with those employers, they’ll be able to give real practical help:   ensuring that people applying for jobs or work experience with the employer are a good fit and helping with claims for Access to Work (ATW).

 

Access to Work.

This financial help supports eligible people with long-term health conditions or disabilities to take up a job offer and keep existing jobs.

 

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

You Tube

penny@laylands.co.uk

Can’t see but can cook and dream!

I’m Penny Melville-Brown and have been trying to push the disability boulder up the mountain of public attitudes for years.  So I’m delighted that Disability Talk has invited me to provide this guest blog.

Penny chopping while filming for bakingblind.comIt all started over 20 years ago when I was still serving in the Royal Navy and my eye sight started to go.  They were very good: after being off-sick for a year and with just sight in one eye, I went back to work, got a promotion and carried on even while the other eye was failing. The Navy helped me with flexible hours, getting to work and magnification on my computer even though, like other parts of the military, they weren’t covered by the equality legislation.    When I was finally medically discharged, those years with all sorts of health difficulties gave me the confidence that being blind didn’t stop me working.

But trying to persuade future employers seemed a slim chance until I was lucky enough to link up with others equally passionate about making work a real prospect for disabled people.  So I launched Disability Dynamics: working on employment programmes, equality schemes and trying to change some of our public services.  Over the last few years, I’ve been heavily involved in self-employment as it can be ideal when employers are still reluctant and we may need to keep control of where, when and how we work.  There are some wonderful stories of how people have changed their lives – feeling better and happier.  We were just on the brink of more inclusive support for business start-ups when the recession hit and the Government changed.

Over the years, I’ve heard from lots of people who are hugely frustrated, depressed and isolated because their efforts to get a job just result in repeated rejections.  I’m convinced that there are millions of disabled people who would work if they could but haven’t had the help they need or the opportunities they deserve.  Just pushing them through programmes designed for other long-term unemployed people can seem more about a target-driven process than getting the best from this national resource.  There are still lots of questions  as to whether the forthcoming Work and Health programme will deliver the radically different approach we need – and demolish the ultimate barrier: employers’ attitudes.

With lots of help from those with specialist knowledge about disability and employment, we put together our Steps to Success and Sustainable work models that show that just one organisation will rarely have all the skills and capacity to provide every variation of support.    Our Help to Work partnership showed that multiple organisations embedded in the local community working together can succeed where parachuted national providers may not.

Along the way, there have been many more topics to debate from the disability perspective:

You can see my blogs with lots of images of my flower arrangements and some recipes.  The last gives a clue to my latest venture: Baking Blind.  The cooking videos and recipes are just another way of trying to show that having a disability isn’t the end of the world and that blindness or any other impairment doesn’t stop us doing most things.  I’ve rather optimistically entered an international competition to take the idea around the world.  And I’ll be blogging more recipes over coming months – and about how I’m bashing bowls out of pewter!  One of my taxi drivers has been teaching me some of his dishes and we have a whole range of great bakes for Comic Relief coming next.

 

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

You Tube

penny@bakingblind.com

Can’t see but can cook and dream…

I am competing alongside around 100 other international blind people for the inaugural Holman prize being awarded by the San Francisco ‘Lighthouse’ organisation to allow the winner to fulfill their dream.
Each of us has created a short video clip – there are many excellent ideas from amazing people. My own goal is to take the ‘Baking Blind” channel and website around the world: cooking with other people and showing that life with a disability can still be fun, fabulous and fulfilling. I’ve spent nearly 20 years helping other people with health conditions and impairments to get back to work so I know there’s lots of talent out there if others can look beyond our disabilities and see the people we are.
The prize commemorates James Holman who became blind while serving in the Royal Navy in the early 19th century –his adventures travelling solo around the world are celebrated in his biography “A Sense of the World”. Coincidentally, I am also a blind veteran having left the Royal Navy as a Commander in 1999.
You can support me with a ‘Thumbs Up’ for my YouTube clip at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26G_kenQFQ4
And see other dreams for the Holman prize at https://www.holmanprize.org/candidates . First round ‘voting’ closes on 7 March 2017.

Penny sitting in the garden

If you think that disability is no bar to being a great cook, please Like my 90 second Baking Blind clip

You Tube 

probationery third officer melville brown WRNSI’m thrilled to have been invited to join the competition for the Holman prize being run by the San Francisco Lighthouse organisation for blind and visually impaired people (https://www.holmanprize.org/): $25,000 to enable a blind person to fulfil their ambition.

Spookily enough, it commemorates another blind Royal Navy officer: James Holman travelled around the world solo in the early 19th century.  And, of course, in this centenary year for the Women’s Royal Naval Service, its good to have a female perspective too!

Cooking around the world would be my own adventure to show  that , while being blind still doesn’t limit our ambition and abilities , 21st century life makes our aspirations even more achievable.  And our modern communications (like my Baking Blind YouTube channel, blogs, website and more) can shine a different light on life with a disability for a truly international audience.

Cakes with icing and pewter decorations

Cakes with icing and pewter decorations

I’d be hugely grateful if you could support my bid for the prize.

Please Share and encourage your friends and contacts (at home and overseas) to do the same.

While the prize would be a great boost, I’m still committed to Baking Blind as a way to show that living with a disability can be fun and fulfilling.    I’m always adding new videos to the channel and the recipes are available from www.bakingblind.com (and can be downloaded as accessible word documents).  I’d very much welcome your contribution: ideas, any practical support, recipes, links to your material and more.

You might also be interested in why I joined the navy.

The finished article

The finished article

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

penny@bakingblind.com

 

Easy low fat lunch.

Watch me make them on You Tube and you can find the recipe here.

Just a posh version of chicken nuggets and chips.

Oven-cooking is much safer than frying – and keeps the amount of oil to a minimum.

Make your own breadcrumbs from dry stale bread and store in the freezer.

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

penny@bakingblind.com

Posh chicken nuggets and chips

Posh chicken nuggets and chips

 

Pot up hot marmalade with your eyes closed!

Watch me do this on YouTube

The finished article

The finished article

Seville oranges may only be available in January.

A talking thermometer, preserving funnel and jug the same capacity as the jars make this possible.

I always simmer the fruit the night before so that they are cool enough to handle.  The fruit has to be fully cooked and softened before adding the sugar.

By keeping the amount of water to a minimum, you don’t have to boil the marmalade so long to achieve the setting temperature.

I test for the set on the stainless steel sink as it cools the marmalade quickly and is easy to clean.  The marmalade will set well when the surface of the test blob wrinkles when pushed by your finger.

You can add some liqueur or whisky to the pan before it goes in to the jars.

I get jars from the Jam Jar Shop (http://jamjarshop.com/): a quick wash and then place in a roasting tray in a very low oven – this dries, sterilises and warms the jars so that they are less likely to crack when hot marmalade is poured in.

Stock up early with these fabulous oranges – you can freeze them whole.

 

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

penny@bakingblind.com

 

You can find my recipe here (https://www.dropbox.com/s/dbvockd6glue2fs/170126%20BB%20recipe%20%20marmalade..docx?dl=0)

Don’t forget to remove the shell!

A comforting hearty soup for cold winter days – you can watch me make this on You Tube

Put the crab shell in to this chowder after adding all the flesh to get maximum flavour.

I get bacon from Greenfield pork (www.greenfieldpork.co.uk) – they also did a fabulous hog roast for a big party I gave.

I didn’t have any milk so added 2 heaped tablespoons of skimmed milk powder.

If you prefer a chunkier soup, put aside some drained spoonfuls of the cooked mix while liquidising and then return and stir through.

A dash of cream can make this soup even more luxurious – but certainly isn’t essential.

These quantities made over 3 pints/nearly 2 litres of soup

You can find the bread recipe at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/jryv9ozhile7lsg/170119%20BB%20recipe%20basic%20bread.doc?dl=0

And the Chowder recipe is at:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/8qvxm0czywjy4tk/170119%20BB%20recipe%20crab%20and%20sweetcorn%20chowder.doc?dl=0

 

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

penny@bakingblind.com

Chowder and mini loaves for 2

Chowder and mini loaves for 2

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