Latest News


  1. How to write a Supporting Letter for Welfare Benefits Applications and Appeals (Free Workshop)
  2. Opera North: Aeons
  3. Great Exhibition of the North – Volunteers Wanted
  4. Petition for Reduction in TV Licence for deaf people
  5. Lip Reading Practice – Free Sessions
  6. InDependent Diabetes Trust – March 2018 Newsletter
  7. Virgin Trains East Coast – Journey Care
  8. Utility Priority Services for Disabled and Vulnerable People
  9. Do you have a Health Condition which Affects your Driving
  10. Hearing Dogs for Deaf People
  11. Become a Carer Governor for your local NHS Foundation Trust
  12. Talking About Dying
  13. Personal Independence Payments (PIP) Support
  14. Donate Online Now
  15. Review of Provision of Services and Support for Carers in Newcastle upon Tyne
  16. Ben’s Story
  17. Give As You Live – Janice’s Story
  18. Are you Entitled to Pension Credit
  19. Severe Mental Impairment Discount on Council Tax
  20. Are you a Good Listener?
  21. Would you like to help medical students get a good bedside manner?
  22. Independent Age – Free Friendship Service for Older People
  23. My Guide – Friends and Family Training in Newcastle
  24. Telephone Package for Low Income Users
  25. Do you like going to the Cinema
  26. Reading Well – helpful books at your local library for people with long term conditions
  27. Travel and Insurance Companies Specialising in Disabled People and their Carers
  28. Newcastle Shopmobility
  29. Do you have a Motability vehicle? Do you know what is covered by the Motability insurance?
  30. SHHH! Self Help Support Group for Hard of Hearing and Deafblind people
  31. Warm Home Discount Scheme
  32. The Golden Guide 2017
  33. Credit Unions
  34. Protect Yourself from Scams


How to write a Supporting Letter for Welfare Benefits Applications and Appeals (Free Workshop)

3pm to 4pm, Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at VODA Hawkeys Lane, North Shields, NE29 9BZ

This workshop is for health care professionals, carers and family members of disabled people.

The workshop will provide helpful tips for Writing supporting letters, and give benefit claimants a greater chance of being successful with their benefit claims.

Spaces are limited so please book to attend by emailing: or by calling: 0191 284 0480.


Opera North: Aeons

Aeons: a Sound Journey for Newcastle
From Opera North and Martin Green
Tickets are now available – book now!

Tickets are now available for Opera North’s epic and immersive music experience which will take place throughout Great Exhibition of the North: 22 June – 7 September 2018.

Disappear into a sound adventure along the banks of the River Tyne and discover a world of music that responds to your surroundings. The iconic Gateshead Millennium Bridge is your starting point for this fully immersive experience and where you will pick up your headphones before setting off along the riverside. The famous River Tyne is your guide along the banks of the Quayside with music from the epic sounding Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North, composer and accordion wizard Martin Green of folk trio Lau, and singer Becky Unthank.

Running times: 10am, 11.30am, 1pm and 2.30pm.
Closed on Sundays, Monday 23 July and Monday 20 August.
Please note the final date is Friday 7 September 2018.

We can’t wait for you to experience Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside in a new and unique way this summer.


Great Exhibition of the North – Volunteers Wanted

The Great Exhibition of the North is fast approaching – it starts on 22nd June 2018 and runs throughout the summer.

Volunteers aged 16+ from all walks of life are required.  For more information, please click on Get North 2018




Petition for Reduction in TV Licence for deaf people

There is a petition to the UK Government and Parliament supporting the reduction in the television licence for deaf people due to accessibility issues.  If you would like to sign the petition, please click here: Petition: Reduction in TV licence




Lip Reading Practice – Free Sessions

Deaflink are running free lip reading practice and coffee afternoons this summer on the following dates:

Thursday 17 May 1.00-2.30

Tuesday 26 June 1.00-2.30

Thursday 26 July 1.00-2.30

The sessions take place at Deaflink, 11 Tankerville Place, Jesmond NE2 3AT.  For further details or to reserve a place please contact Louise on 0191 281 2314 or



InDependent Diabetes Trust – March 2018 Newsletter

The InDependent Diabetes Trust are an organisation for people living with diabetes run by people with diabetes.  They raise awareness of important issues for people with diabetes and provide information in non-medical language.  Included on the trust’s website is an informative newsletter; please see below to give you a flavour of the articles in the latest newsletter.  The publication can be accessed by clicking on the following link: IDDT Newsletter March 2018 .

  • page 3 What can a can of Coca-Cola really do to the body?
  • page 4 Freestyle Libre – a device which checks glucose levels without having to prick the fingers.  Is it available on the NHS?
  • page 6 The need for a standardised qualification for nurses specialising in diabetes.
  • page 7 Dodgy slimming pills – refers to a campaign to encourage those wanting to lose weight to turn to  safe, legitimate and appropriate routes.
  • page 11 From our own correspondents – interesting letters from readers.
  • page 14 Pharmaceutical news
  • page 18 Bits and pieces – we have picked out an article stating that higher use of statins increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes.


Virgin Trains East Coast – Journey Care

Do you travel by train and require assistance for any part of your journey? Virgin Trains East Coast can help with their free Journey Care. You can book either, at the ticket office, online or over the phone, and the staff are very friendly.

Phone: 03457 225 225, (lines are open Monday to Saturday from 8am – 8pm and Sunday 10am – 8pm), or use the Text Relay Service on 18001 03457 225 225.

You can find their website addresses here; Useful Links under V.



Utility Priority Services for Disabled and Vulnerable People

Most utility suppliers have a priority service, to give extra support to those who need it the most during an outage or supply shortage. It is best to contact your supplier directly and they should relay that information to the operator, however, here are the links to the operators priority services;

Electricity – Northern Powergrid

Gas – Northern Gas Networks

Water – Northumbrian Water


Do you have a Health Condition which Affects your Driving?

It has come to our attention via Diabetes Wellness News that regulations relating to fitness to drive have recently changed to make them fairer and more realistic for people with diabetes.  This is good news.

However, a word of warning.  There are many other medical conditions which are listed on the DVLA website where people with these conditions must notify the DVLA.  Failure to notify the DVLA of a medical condition which affects your driving could result in a fine of up to £1000.

The website can be accessed by clicking on the following link: DVLA Health Conditions and Driving


Hearing Dogs for Deaf People

Hearing dogs provide practical support and vital companionship to help deaf people live confident and independent lives.  This organisation trains hearing dogs at two centres, the nearest being in Bielby, East Yorkshire.

Why not have a look at their website, which can be found by clicking on the following link: Hearing Dogs for Deaf People


Become a Carer Governor for your local NHS Foundation Trust

Are you a carer of someone who is using, or has used, any of the following services in the last six years?

-Adult Services

-Children and Young People’s Services

-Learning Disability Services

Could you make a difference to your local NHS?  Help shape the future of the Trust and become a governor.

One of the most exciting parts of being a foundation trust is being accountable to staff, service users, carers and public members instead of to the Department of Health.  Through a Council of Governors that represents NHS members and partner organisations, there is an opportunity to encourage greater staff, service users, carers and public involvement in shaping the future of the Trust.

If you are interested in learning more of what being a Carer Governor for Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust involves, please contact Wendy Pinkney on 0191 245 6827 or email


Talking About Dying

Age UK has launched a useful booklet to support people to have what may seem to be difficult conversations about death.  However, planning ahead, preparing your will and understanding the physical changes brought about by dying may help.

A booklet can be accessed from the AGE UK website at the following link: Lets Talk about Death and Dying


Personal Independence Payments (PIP) Support

Here are contact details if you require general advice about PIP, i.e. eligibility, how to claim, etc.  Warm Zone offer home appointments, but due to high demand, they are unfortunately unable to offer this service at present.

Thank you to Tess Linton for sourcing this information.


Independent Living Benefit Advice Line – 0800 169 0310


Warm Zone – 0800 019 9969 (advice, form filling, home appointments)

Newcastle Advocacy Centre – 0191 232 7445 (advice, advocacy)

Citizens Advice – 0191 229 3750 (general advice, most branches no longer do form filling)

Contact – 0191 213 6300 (for families with a disabled child, give advice and help on filling in PIP forms for the child)

Newcastle Law Centre – 0191 230 4777 (will assist with forms and appeals, have strict qualifying criteria for eligibility)

Maggies Cancer Care – 0191 233 6600 (will help cancer patients with forms)

Search – 0191 273 7443 (advice, info, form filling, help with appeals but do not attend, for older people in the West End only)

North Tyneside

Warm Zone – 0800 019 9969 (advice, form filling, home appointments)

Tyne Advice Line – 0344 245 1238 (general benefits advice)

Contact – 0191 213 6300 (for families with a disabled child, give advice and help on filling in PIP forms for the child)

Age UK – 0191 280 8484 (over 50s)

South Tyneside

Warm Zone – 0800 019 9969 (advice, form filling, home appointments)


Warm Zone – 0800 019 9969 (advice, form filling, home appointments)

Age UK – 01670 784 846 (over 50s)

Blyth Valley Disability Forum – 01670 364 657 (appointment only)

Citizens Advice – 0344 245 1288

Contact – 0191 213 6300 (for families with a disabled child, give advice and help on filling in PIP forms for the child)


Donate Online Now

You can now support Newcastle Disability Forum through online donations using the “Donate Now” button at the bottom of each page on our website through Give As You Live.


Review of Provision of Services and Support for Carers in Newcastle upon Tyne


Newcastle City Council are working together with NHS Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group to review the provision of services and support for carers of all ages across the city. We want to understand the types of support that work well for carers in Newcastle at the moment and how we can develop services and support in the future.
A carer is someone of any age who provides unpaid care and support to a family member, partner, friend or neighbour who couldn’t manage without their help. This could be because of disability, illness, frailty, mental ill health or alcohol or drug problems. The care provided may be personal, emotional, physical or supervisory (keeping an eye on someone to make sure they are okay). It does not include any caring or support activities done as part of someone’s paid or voluntary work, but it does include people who receive Carer’s Allowance.
Many people do not see themselves as carers, but if the description given applies to you, then you probably are one.
You can participate in the review in a number of ways:


Ben’s Story

We are pleased to welcome Ben to our team of volunteers.  Everyone has their own story; we hope you draw some inspiration from Ben’s:

Parkrun to Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon

I’ve been asked to share my experience of getting active as a newbie wheelchair user following a spinal injury sustained during sport. I moped around for about a year, as I went from running to walking to limping to using a walking stick to a wheelchair.
I got out of my self pity by re-watching the 2012 London Paralympics and sitting in awe of what David Weir CBE “the Weirwolf” and “Hurricane” Hannah Cockcroft MBE achieved.  It was inspiring and motivated me to see what I could do, so I started searching online for a wheelchair upgrade, as the NHS chairs are terrible.  I didn’t have much of a budget, but luckily I managed to find one on Gumtree of all places for £40 + return train fare to Grimsby Town.  Once I had it home I needed to tinker with the setup to make it my own. I’d tried Newcastle parkrun in my NHS chair the Saturday before picking up my Gumtree special and completed it in 52 minutes. The following week in my “new” chair I improved and did so for several weeks leading up to my first Great North Run in a wheelchair. The self confidence I gained from parkrun was invaluable, as sport has always been my go to coping mechanism. Since that first parkrun I’ve completed 48 in my wheelchair (I ran one prior to my injury), volunteered 45 times and I’m hoping to complete 50 in my wheelchair and 50 volunteering on Xmas day at Gateshead parkrun this year (2017).
Once I had the bug, I went on to complete 3 Great North Runs and I’ve gotten quicker each year. The 2015 Great North Run I did in fancy dress with a friend as Lou and Andy from Little Britain, which was great fun. I fought Darlington 10 kilometres race to allow wheelchairs to take part in 2015 and they have now allowed wheelchair users to take part since 2016. My last race of 2016 was North East Marathon Club’s Town Moor half marathon where I got my half marathon Personal Best of 2:19:14. This year I have aimed to do 750 miles, including training miles, with my main races that haven’t been mentioned already, being the Silverstone Half Marathon, where I met David Weir and he is awesome. My first ever marathon at Rock n Roll Liverpool marathon in a time of 5:44:12, where I was the first wheelchair user to ever compete in the race’s 4 years existence. North East Marathon Club’s track marathon is my best time so far of 5:06:09, the Town Moor marathon defeated me after 15 miles this year, due to poor surfaces, but there will always be bumps along the road, no pun intended.
A big surprise was being invited along to Gateshead Harriers Tartan games and I borrowed their racing chair for the 3 events, winning gold medals, I won another gold in the seated discus and a silver in the 100m race. I have since joined Gateshead Harriers and have used their racing chair to improve several distance Personal Bests, including my half marathon of 1:23:22.
The confidence I’ve gained from my sporting adventures has helped me get involved with disability issues by joining Newcastle Disability Forum, where I have already been involved with several consultations. I’m looking forward to any and all future endeavours.

Give As You Live – Janice’s Story


Give as you live………. and me

If you shop on line you can support your chosen charity at no cost to yourself.  It is true!  I didn’t believe it either but I thought I would try it anyway.  I knew the Newcastle Disability Forum was registered with Give as You Live, after all as part of my day job I had processed the registration, so I was ready to give it a try.

One quiet Saturday, I sat down with a cup of tea to order my groceries from Sainsburys.  I logged on to the Give as You Live website, selected Newcastle Disability Forum as my charity and then searched for Sainsbury’s.  I was taken to Sainsburys website and then I simply ordered in the usual way.

My first order through Give as You Live earned the Forum £1.50 and all my subsequent orders earn £0.50 which is a potential income of £25 a year for the Forum, not a lot of money but for a small charity every little matters.  Give it a try.

For further information, and to register, please click here to access the Give As You Live website.


Are you Entitled to Pension Credit?


The government has stated that up to 1.4 million families are missing out on a top-up to their state pension.  According to  the Information Now website ,

Guarantee Credit will top up your weekly income to:

  • £155.60 if you’re single
  • or £237.55 if you’re a couple.

If you qualify for Savings Credit, you can get up to:

  • £13.20 extra per week if you’re single
  • or £14.90 if you’re a couple.

If you have over £10,000 in savings, this will affect the amount you receive.

For advice on eligibility, contact the Welfare Rights service on 0191 278 7878 or Age UK on 0191 232 6488, or access the Information Now website via the link above.  This website tells you how to claim the pension credit.


Severe Mental Impairment Discount on Council Tax

According to the website , tens of thousands of people who are entitled to a ‘severe mental impairment’ council tax discount could be missing out on up to £400 a year. Click on the link above for information on how to check if you’re due the discount – and how to claim it.

By law, someone who has been medically certified as having a permanent condition that affects their intelligence and social functioning (eg, Alzheimer’s or severe learning difficulties, but many other conditions may apply) is ‘disregarded for council tax purposes’ in England, Scotland and Wales.

Further information and advice can be obtained through the Alzheimer’s Society on 0191 298 3989 or from Newcastle City Council on 0191 278 7878 (ask for “Council Tax”).


Are you a Good Listener?


Listening Link is a volunteer telephone support service for carers, run by Newcastle Carers.  Newcastle Carers are looking for volunteers who would be able to provide support and encouragement to a carer by phoning them once a week and offering a listening ear.Speaking to a volunteer offers carers a chance to share their worries or concerns, providing support and encouragement so that they feel less alone.  Being a carer can feel very isolating.  A friendly voice on the other end of the phone can make a huge difference.

If you are interested in volunteering for this important role, please contact Alison Neill for more information on 0191 275 5060 or at  The Newcastle Carers website can be accessed here.


Would you like to help medical students get a good bedside manner?


Part of the course for medics at Newcastle University is to practise their clinical skills on real people.  They examine your reflexes, muscular strength etc.

The people who volunteer for this say that it’s really worthwhile, and the students really appreciate it.

If you’re interested, please ring John Higgins on 0191 208 6965, or email him at


Independent Age – Free Friendship Service for Older People


Loneliness is a growing problem for older people.  Over one million older people say that they are always or often feel lonely.

Good company and conversation is enjoyable and important for our wellbeing.  A regular telephone call or visit from one of Independent Age’s volunteers can make all the difference.  It provides the chance to have a regular chat with someone friendly and trustworthy.

Their volunteers are people who enjoy listening, talking and getting to know people.  They are trained by Independent Age and have the checks you would expect.   The first step is for the older person or representative to call Independent Age. They will discuss  your needs and preferences, and then together will work out what would work best for you.

For more information about their services on Tyneside, please call Harriet or Kay on 0191 731 4000, email,  or visit their website here.


My Guide – Friends and Family Training in Newcastle

Help people with sight loss get out and about.

These sessions are designed for individuals with sight loss to bring their friends and family to an informal setting where they can learn how to safely and confidently guide the person.  The session is fun and relaxed, lasting approximately 2 hours in length.  Places are limited; for further details, or to book a place, please call Mike Dooley on 0345 143 0220.


Telephone Package for Low Income Users


We have found out via the InfoSound cd that BT offer a basic telephone package for low income users.  BT Basic is marketed as a simple low-cost phone service that is easy to understand and helps you to keep in touch if you are on specific low-income Government benefits.
For more information you can phone 0800 800 864 between 8 am and 6 pm weekdays or by visiting the BT website here


Do you like going to the Cinema?

If you like going to the cinema, and receive a disability benefit, or are registered blind, you may be entitled to use a CEA Card.  For an administration charge of £6 per year, you would pay for your ticket, but your card would allow your carer to go with you free of charge (ie 2 for the price of 1).  The card might also be valid for visits to the theatre or concert hall.
For further information please phone 0344 967 0101 weekdays between 9 am and 4.30 pm or visit the CEA Card website, which can be accessed by clicking here


Reading Well – helpful books at your local library for people with long term conditions


Newcastle Libraries is supporting a new scheme, launched in July 2017 by Reading Well, to support people living with long term conditions. The list of 28 books includes health information, memoirs and self management titles covering conditions such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease, as well as fatigue, pain, wellbeing and sleep problems. A full list of titles can be found here
The books are available to borrow for free from the City, Cruddas Park, Denton Burn, East End, Fenham, Gosforth, Kenton, Outer West and West End libraries.


Travel and Insurance Companies Specialising in Disabled People and their Carers


It can sometimes be difficult to find holiday insurance to cover a disability or long-term chronic illness.  Here are some organisations which might be of use.

Travel Companies:

Insurance Companies:

Medical Conditions

Maggies have an excellent information sheets on travel insurance for those with or who have had cancer.
Over 50


Newcastle Shopmobility


Did you know that wheelchair and scooter provision is available in the heart of the city for only £25 per year (including free parking space)?
Newcastle Shopmobility provides mobility equipment for use within Newcastle City Centre.  The service is based at Eldon Garden Shopping Centre.  You do not have to be registered disabled to use the equipment – it is available to all who would benefit from mobility assistance.  The annual charge of £25 gives unlimited access to the service and to the dedicated parking available on Level 4 of Eldon Garden multi storey car park.
Opening hours are Monday to Saturday 9.30 am to 5 pm (not open bank holidays).
More details can be found by clicking this link: Newcastle Shopmobility or by phone at 0191 261 6176.


Do you have a Motability vehicle? Do you know what is covered by the Motability insurance?


If you have a Motability vehicle, you may not be aware of what is covered, and more importantly what is not covered, by the Motability insurance.
More information can be found by clicking on the link to the relevant page on the Motability website .
It has been brought to our attention that mobility scooters, wheelchairs and other equipment are not always covered by standard motor and/or household insurance; it may pay you to check whether you have adequate cover.


SHHH! Self Help Support Group for Hard of Hearing and Deafblind people

Deaflink is advertising a monthly self help support group for hard of hearing and deafblind members at St Andrew’s Church ground floor cafe (opposite NEXT and Eldon Square), Newgate Street, Newcastle NE1 5SS from 1.30-3.30pm on the first Tuesday of every month.

The group invites external speakers to present on topics linked to hearing loss and support services.

For more information, please contact Deaflink:

Minicom/Phone: 0191 281 2314

Text: 0789 732 9359



Warm Home Discount Scheme


You may be entitled to £140 off your electricity bill this winter.

You qualify for the discount if on 10 July 2016 all of the following applied:

  • your electricity supplier was part of the scheme
  • your name (or your partner’s) was on the bill
  • you were getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (even if you get Savings Credit as well)

Further details can be found on the website


The Golden Guide 2017


This is a new free handbook for over 50s full of details on all aspects of life. (NDF provided information for the original version of the handbook.) The handbook is available in libraries, GP surgeries and various other outlets, and can also be accessed online at Golden Guide 2016, or by post (phone 0191 386 5918).


Credit Unions

We found an easy to read article on credit unions in the September-October 2016 edition of the Elders Council of Newcastle newsletter.  Whether you are a potential saver, or whether you would benefit from a loan from a credit union, this could be the way into finding out more.  Just click on the Elders Council newsletter September-October 2016 and turn to page 17.


Protect Yourself from Scams

The following Rica blog post provides practical advice on how to recognise scams, how to protect yourself, and where to report scams if you’ve been affected. Just click on the following for more information: Protect yourself from scams


Become a Mystery Shopper through Rica

Have you ever thought about being a mystery shopper with special reference to disability goods?  One of our members has recently been involved with this.  If you think you may be interested in carrying out this valuable service, please see the report at Rica Mystery Shopper