Hundreds of disabled children in England are starting to benefit from a new fund that will provide them with the specialist prosthetic limbs they need to take part in sports and other activities that were previously inaccessible to them.The Department of Health (DH) has provided £750,000 to fund running blades and other activity prostheses in a trial that will allow under-18s who were born without a limb or have lost a limb to take part in activities such as team sports, swimming, climbing, dancing and playing musical instruments.The funding is being provided through NHS limb centres, which are being given the money to source and fit the prostheses.Another £750,000 is linking research centres with expertise in child prostheses with experts from the NHS, industry, and clinical academia.The £1.5 million fund was announced by health secretary Jeremy Hunt during last summer’s Paralympic Games in Rio, and the first children have now begun to receive their activity prostheses.Although the trial will only run to the end of 2017-18, there are hopes that – if it proves a success – DH will extend the funding.LimbPower, the national disability sports organisation for people with limb impairments, is supporting DH by alerting families to the fund’s existence and helping health professionals access it. Carly Bauert, children’s prostheses coordinator for LimbPower, whose nine-year-old son Oliver had a running blade fitted when he was six, said she hoped that more than 500 children would benefit during the two years of the trial.She said she believed it would make “a huge difference” to the children who took part.She said: “These are specialist activity limbs that are not normally available on the NHS.“If you have a child who has an amputation or a congenital limb disorder, as a parent… not to be able to provide them with what they need to participate in as normal a childhood as possible is very, very hard.“This is about inclusion and activity. Not all of our children are going to be Paralympians, but they all need to have an active childhood.”She said the fund was helping one girl who wanted a prosthesis that would allow her to dance and “go up on her points”.One concern is that if DH decides not to renew the fund next year, children that have benefited from the prostheses could be left without replacements when they grow out of them.But Bauert said: “What we have got to show is that there is a demand and it is needed.“As a mum of a prosthesis-wearing child who wears a blade, I am hopeful and very optimistic that with the right research and evidence we can show the government it is needed and required for these children.“My little boy got his blade when he was six and it changed his life completely.“It gave him confidence at school, with friends, he joined the rugby and football clubs, his confidence just grew. “Richard Whitehead, a double leg amputee and double Paralympic 200 metres champion, said: “Having run thousands of miles on prosthetics myself I’m delighted to see the next generation take their first steps in experiencing the freedom of running, whether just for general enjoyment or towards achieving their own Paralympic ambitions.”Hunt said: “Team GB [sic]* surpassed everyone’s expectations at last year’s Paralympics and this investment will ensure the next generation of children who have either been born without a limb or who have lost a limb will be able to lead an active life.“It’s wonderful that the first children are now receiving their blades and that they will be able to reach their sporting potential – I hope some may even be selected in the future as members of Team GB [sic]. “*Britain’s Paralympic team is known as ParalympicsGB. Team GB competes in the OlympicsPicture: 13-year-old Ben, from Brighton, one of the first children to benefit from the trial, being fitted with a running blade at Sussex Rehabilitation Centre at Brighton General Hospital
Members of the committee set up to lead on the equality watchdog’s work on disabled people’s rights are said to be frustrated at the government’s continuing failure to appoint a new disability commissioner.The previous commissioner, Lord [Chris] Holmes (pictured), left his post as planned on 14 January, and interviews for his replacement are believed to have been carried out in December, while an appointment had been expected in mid-January.Two months on, no appointment has been made, even though the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is engaged in several pieces of high-profile, disability-related work, including an inquiry into the impact of welfare reforms on the human rights of disabled people and other minority groups, and an inquiry into disabled people’s housing.As well as being an EHRC board member, the successful candidate will chair the commission’s disability committee, although that committee is about to be disbanded and replaced by an advisory group that will not have the same legal powers to make decisions on issues affecting disabled people.One member of the committee, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I think all of us would say that it is frustrating not to have clarity on this to inform the future of disability at the commission.”The disability committee was given significant powers by the Equality Act 2006 to take important disability-related decisions within EHRC, for example allowing it to overrule commission officers on critical and strategically-important legal cases.But the committee will now have just one more meeting, on Monday, before it loses this statutory status at the end of this month.The committee is currently being chaired in an acting capacity by its vice-chair, Dr Rachel Perkins.EHRC said yesterday (Wednesday) that it had not yet been told by the government when it would appoint a new disability commissioner, and could not comment on the appointment process.But an EHRC spokesman said: “We hope that the secretary of state will soon appoint the new disability commissioner and that they can take up their position as soon as possible.“Our important work on disability rights continues, and we will soon be publishing the biggest ever report into the lives of disabled people in Britain.”A spokesman for the Department for Education, EHRC’s sponsor department, declined to explain why no appointment had yet been made, although he admitted that it had taken “slightly longer than expected”.He said: “We will be making an announcement in due course.”He said the department was aware of its statutory duty to appoint a disability commissioner who is or has been disabled.The government has previously refused to say how many people were interviewed for the role, although it has confirmed that the successful candidate – when they are finally appointed – will be someone who is or has been a disabled person.
Figures from across Labour are redoubling their efforts to root out antisemitism from the party. Tom Watson has told colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party this afternoon that his team plans to log and monitor all antisemitism complaints. Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, he revealed that 50 cases were passed on to him by Labour MPs during the week, and called for Jeremy Corbyn to “take a personal lead on examining those cases”. Now the deputy leader has pledged to act as an extra safeguard, making sure that action is taken when MPs and peers raise antisemitism complaints.Following expressions of frustration over allegations of antisemitism not being dealt with “in an adequate and timely manner”, Watson says he requested that the PLP be able to refer cases and receive updates from a named staff member. “Jennie Formby was very clear that she sees it as her responsibility to be your point of contact,” read the email he sent to MPs and peers today. Watson has therefore given colleagues the Labour general secretary’s contact details and informed them that he “would like to see any issue or complaint” raised with her. “From now on my team will be logging and monitoring all complaints. I will ensure that this information is shared with… Jeremy Corbyn, the shadow cabinet and colleagues on the national executive committee.”Meanwhile, Momentum chair and co-founder Jon Lansman has questioned the motivations of Skwawkbox, a website known to be well-briefed by the Labour leadership. “Why does @skwawkbox seek to understate the problem?” the Jeremy Corbyn ally asked. In accordance with the figures recently released by Formby, he pointed out that “the most serious cases” have not yet been decided by the national constitutional committee (NCC) and a “proactive approach” would increase the number of cases still. The NEC member continued: “Just last Friday we referred 19 out of 35 cases reviews to the NCC almost all with a strong recommendation for expulsion.”1/2 Why does @skwawkbox seek to understate the problem? Just 61 people have gone following disciplinary action but the most serious cases are those awaiting hearings at the NCC and a proactive approach would yield many more cases than waiting for others to refer them— Jon Lansman (@jonlansman) February 25, 2019Lansman told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning that there are now a “much larger number of people with hardcore antisemitic opinion” in the Labour Party, and they are “polluting the atmosphere” in some local meetings and particularly online. He later clarified via a tweet that there are “perhaps a few hundred” of these “hardcore antisemites” out of Labour’s half-a-million strong membership. But it would seem that, although the Momentum chief wants to make clear that the antisemitism problem comes from a very small number of members, he is becoming increasingly outspoken on the need to handle it better – even calling out fellow Corbyn allies.Tags:Tom Watson /Labour /Antisemitism /Jon Lansman /
JOSH Jones says Saints head into their ‘massive’ Super League clash looking to prove their recent upturn in form isn’t temporary.The second row / centre has been an impressive performer over the last few weeks and is keen to continue that development.“It should be a great game,” he said. “We beat Wigan in a huge game and now we have to take that form to Catalan. It will be hot over there and we are really excited to play in those conditions.“Catalan have been on same form dip as us really but you can never write them off in France. The fans are passionate and the players get up for it too. The win over Wigan will mean nothing if we don’t go over there and put in a good performance.“It is a massive week for us as a club and we are up for it. We have trained well and look confident. The senior players have taken the lead and are telling us to keep our skill up and not to lose focus at this time of the year. We are going over there to do a job.“There was a lot of emotion at the end of the Wigan match. We were hugging each other, jumping around and that has lifted us all. The mood is so much better as is the belief as a team we can do well this year.“As long as we take it week by week then we will be in with a shout of finishing as high as we can. We have to give it our best shot and go into the playoffs strong. We will have players coming back then. We shocked a lot of people with how we performed against Wigan.“To be fair to the Chairman was right in what he said (in his statement). We can’t waste this year, it is massive for us with the new facilities we have, new players and a new coach. Perhaps we needed a wakeup call. Eamonn showed on telly during that Wigan match how much it meant to him. So if it is that important to him then it should be the same for us too.”Josh may be only 20 but he’s played 43 first grade matches for the Saints at centre and in the second row.The latter is his favoured position yet the former Chorley Panther knows staying in the side is more important.“I love it in the second row, the wrestle and the physical contest,” he said. “I think I’m doing quite well there but all I want to do is stay in the side. Centre is a fun place to play too.“I’m still young so playing in different positions will develop my skills and attributes. I can pick them up at centre and in the pack so I can keep on developing.”
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