Ministers have withdrawn much of their support for

first_imgMinisters have withdrawn much of their support for a disability network they set up just three years ago, casting fresh doubts on the government’s disability strategy and the future of the Office for Disability Issues (ODI).ODI announced this week that it would no longer provide the four part-time members of staff who run the secretariat for the Disability Action Alliance (DAA), and would instead hand a one-year grant of £69,500 to the user-led charity Disability Rights UK (DRUK) to run the network.DAA was set up specifically to create partnerships between disabled people’s organisations (DPOs), government departments and other public, private and third society organisations.The move to end ODI’s involvement with the secretariat – which civil servants have described as a cost-cutting measure – raises questions about the government’s commitment to its Fulfilling Potential disability strategy, and even about ODI’s continuing existence.Last year, doubts were raised about ODI’s future when the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) claimed it was unable to calculate how much of its budget had been cut since 2012.The majority of DAA’s 400-plus members are not user-led organisations, but a significant number are, including the British Deaf Association, Disability Equality (North West), Disability Wales, Equalities National Council, Inclusion Scotland and Shaping Our Lives.Andy Rickell, a member of the DAA steering group, and until last month chief executive of Action on Disability and Work UK (ADWUK)*, said ODI had explained that the decision to cease secretariat support was because of the need for “further budgetary savings”.He said it was important to the DPOs that joined DAA that ODI remained involved in its work, and that there were “senior civil servants around the table that actually make the thing work”.Rickell said DAA was “a means by which we can talk to the [civil servants] we need to talk to to make things happen, people who can get things done on a daily basis”, and was about developing practical projects rather than affecting government policy.He said ODI had said it would still be involved in DAA, but he warned that “the proof of the pudding might well be in the eating”.Before DAA, he said, DPOs involved in employment issues did not even know the names of the civil servants leading on disability employment issues for DWP.Liz Sayce (pictured), chief executive of DRUK, insisted that steering group members – including Rickell – were “quite excited” about “taking the alliance out of government in order for DPOs (who form the majority on the steering group) with allies to take more control of how the alliance develops”.She said: “However, we want ODI to remain involved in order to open doors to other government departments and public sector bodies. They state that they will do this.”She said she was “not aware of ODI itself being at risk”, and added: “The DAA has shown that when DPOs and organisations from the public and private sector get together, this can generate tangible improvements.”She pointed to the non-user-led English Federation of Disability Sport, which has “brokered new relationships with local DPOs which have linked more disabled people into opportunities for accessible physical activity”.And she highlighted how in Blackpool, and nationally, “improvements have been made to transport services through inclusion of disabled people in training of bus drivers, train drivers, conductors and though the wider input of DPOs”.She added: “The alliance acts in some ways as a matchmaker – putting people in touch with each other who can increase disabled people’s equality of participation.”There was criticism from some DPULOs of the government’s decision to set up the new network three years ago, with fears that it could prove to be “tokenistic” and concerns over a lack of strategic thinking about what it would do.As part of Fulfilling Potential, the government also set up the Fulfilling Potential Forum, a smaller network of disability organisations – a majority of which were DPOs – that was tasked with examining strategy across government, and providing a “community-based route into government” and a “route out to local disabled people”.The forum and DAA were two of three bodies the government set up to replace Equality 2025, its high-level committee of disabled advisors, although it provided a collective budget of just £80,000 a year for the three new networks.The third network, the Fulfilling Potential Policy Advice Service – a body of expert, independent advisers on disability – has since been scrapped by ministers.But Sayce said: “The DAA has made a good start, achieving new collaborative projects both locally and nationally.“We will be building on this through engaging the members of the DAA in deciding on top priorities for the next three years and enabling the wider membership to link up with each other more easily, to get most benefit from the alliance.”       DWP had not been able to comment by 11am today (18 February).*On 1 February, ADWUK became part of West of England Centre for Inclusive Livinglast_img read more

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JAMES Graham says Saints consistency over the las

first_imgJAMES Graham says Saints’ consistency over the last few seasons is an achievement but he would obviously trade it all for Grand Final medals.The 26-year-old is 80 minutes away from his sixth Grand Final on the trot and could be playing in his last game for the club on Saturday.“It would be an achievement to reach a sixth final, but I’m not going to lie… I would have liked to have come back with more winners medals than the current return,” he said. “Teams can have two or three good years and have a couple off whilst rebuilding. But we have consistently reached every Challenge Cup Semi Final and the Grand Final for how many years…“It is an achievement for a club to maintain that level of consistency. At the end of the day though, we want a bigger return than we have.”Between Saints and that sixth final are Wigan – and they will be smarting from the defeat Jammer and his teammates handed out a couple of weeks back.“It’s all about this weekend,” Graham continued. “The win at the DW is in the past and we move on from it. It is a bit weird to be playing a side six times in one season but once we had beaten them at the DW I knew we had to play them again at some point if we wanted to win the competition.“That’s no disrespect to the other teams but I knew if we were going to progress, we would have to beat them.“It is always great to beat Wigan, especially at Wigan… yet we need to improve from that performance even though we were pleased with most aspects of that.“I know it could be my last game… or it could be the week after… but I’m not worried about it. It was my choice to go to Australia and no one forced me to do it. I have been aware it has been coming but have tried to forget about it to concentrate on doing my best for the Club.“I have learnt a little this year as Captain especially in trying to control myself and being more encouraging. Sometimes it still boils over but I do realise I can’t do that as skipper.”Tickets for the match are still on sale from the Saints Superstore, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on here.last_img read more

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JAMAHL Lolesi has been reflecting on a busy Easter

first_imgJAMAHL Lolesi has been reflecting on a busy Easter period and the positives that can be gained.Saints blooded a number of youngsters over the last three matches and the Club’s Assistant Coach says they will be better for the experience of three games in nine days.“Easter was tough with the number of players we have and we were happy with the effort but at times our execution was poor,” he said. “We have to look to the next match now – that is important.“It’s always tough going to Hull KR and getting them after their defeat to Wigan wasn’t good for us. We had a lot of tired bodies but the younger players will benefit from that period.“That is a positive we have to take; it tested our depth and the youngsters we have. It is credit to the Saints junior academy system that these players are ready to come through and ready to play Super League. It is the best set up I have seen and holds us in great stead for the future.“It is a big game for us on Friday, they are a great side, their coach has done well and they have a lot of talent. Scott Dureau, Zeb Taia, Leon Pryce, they are hard to handle players.“It’s all about what we have to do as a group though. The young kids have learnt a lot – that has been forced on them really – and we are happy with what they have tossed up. They will try their hearts out that is what they always do.”He continued: “I’m really enjoying my time at Saints, it’s fantastic. I was told by a good friend what it was like here but I have been overwhelmed by the support. We’re still learning about the players and the fans have been understanding. I am really enjoying it.”Tickets for Friday’s home game against Catalan remain on sale from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on here.last_img read more

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JAMES Roby is expecting a backlash from Ireland wh

first_imgJAMES Roby is expecting a backlash from Ireland when the two sides meet at John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield on Saturday (2.30pm).Ireland lost their opening game against Fiji on Monday and must beat England to have a realistic chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals, but Roby feels prepared for what the Wolfhounds have to offer.“We know a little bit about what to expect from them,” said Roby. “A lot of their players play in England, so we’ve seen them quite a lot over the last few years.“We watched some of their last game, and both Ireland and Fiji were very physical, and with there being a bit of a rivalry there too, they’ll come at us fired up.“It’s probably fair to say that we’re expected to get the win, but I’m sure they’re not thinking like that. They’ve got a very good coach in Mark Aston, who’ll be getting them up for it.“Their defeat to Fiji probably makes it harder for us. They’ve got to win so they’ll make it as tough as possible. We’ll have to be at the top of our game. There are no opportunities to slip up.“Ireland have a point to prove. They surprised everyone at the last World Cup, so you can’t write anyone off. It’s going to make for an exciting tournament for everyone watching.”England relinquished an early lead to go down 28-20 to Australia on Saturday, but Roby says he was happy with the overall performance.“We started well,” he said. “We had the 10-point lead and let it slip which was disappointing. We made a few handling errors at the back end of the first half and made mistakes early on with our tackles which gave them territory.“But on the whole, when you look at the statistics from the game, they suggest that they should’ve won by more, so we did well to defend our line and make it as close as it was.“Unfortunately we let our guard down. If we could’ve maintained that high standard, stuck to our game plan and completed more sets it might have been different.“Everyone’s feeling good at the moment,” he said. “The appearance against Australia was a step up from the Italy game and it’s what we needed. To only lose by eight showed how close we were.“We looked at some pointers and statistics to see where we let ourselves down with errors and penalties, and now we’re all looking forward to Saturday.“We’re not looking at outside expectations. It’s a long tournament that we’ve just got to take week by week. Every game will be a tough game so we’ll be taking it all as it comes.”England Squad:Carl Ablett (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Parkside)Tom Briscoe (Hull FC, Featherstone Lions)George Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)Thomas Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, Dewsbury Moor)Rob Burrow (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions)Rangi Chase (Castleford Tigers, Dannevirke Tigers)Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield Giants, Newsome Panthers)Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)Brett Ferres (Huddersfield Giants, Smawthorne Panthers)James Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs, Blackbrook)Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos, Oulton Raiders)Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves, New Spring Lions)Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)James Roby (St Helens, Blackbrook)Kevin Sinfield (captain) (Leeds Rhinos, Waterhead)Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Patricks)Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos, Latchford Albion)Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves, Normanton Knights)Gareth Widdop (Melbourne Storm, King Cross)Ireland Squad:Dave AllenLuke AmblerBob BeswickDamien BlanchDanny BridgeBen CurrieLiam FinnSimon FinniganKurt HaggertyJames HassonRory KostjasynStuart LittlerTyrone McCarthyJames MendeikaAnthony MullallyApirana PewhairangiPat RichardsJoshua TooleBrett WhiteYou can buy Rugby League World Cup Tickets here.last_img read more

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WEVE hit the campaign trailSaints have launched

first_imgWE’VE hit the campaign trail!Saints have launched a billboard campaign to coincide with the release of the 2016 Home and Away shirts.You’ll see our huge posters opposite Langtree Park, at the bottom of Elephant Lane and on Park Road, heading towards the Town Centre from Blackbrook.These are all busy roads and close to two of the Club’s heartland areas of Thatto Heath and Blackbrook.They will be on display for the next two weeks – with more billboards coming soon at the junction of Shaw Street and Standish Street.Tweet us a selfie in front of the posters and you could win!Send your pics to @saints1890 and we’ll pick the best.First prize will be a 2016 home or away shirt of your choice.Second prize – a smartphone from our partners Alcatel OneTouch.Third prize – a pair of tickets to the first home game of the 2016 First Utility Super League season.You can get your kit now by calling into the Saints Superstore or logging on here – and don’t forget to send us your selfies!last_img read more

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