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Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Finding one's 'voice'


Now that I'm a retired person in a stage of transition and de-cluttering, I'm sorting out papers from decades ago when I was in training and/or beginning work experiences. Rather than merely consign these to the paper shredder, it can be helpful for me to transcribe these and share them via this Web Log.

The paper I'm introducing below is from a Toynbee Training course I graduated from in early 1991 toward working with the under-5s, and the significance of its Speech & Language Therapy (SLT) roots were relevant to my own childhood development in the 1950s and 1960s and subsequent working with a speech impaired person as one of their domiciliary care workers in 2005 to 2006.

A true story with identities changed to help protect identities and also to help serve as a moral tale involves Liz Tentoomi and Ken Klutz and is fairly simply expressed in the dialogue below.

Ken: Hi! How are you?
Liz: [Garbling a response as a result of speech impairment resulting from the disability Dyspraxia]
Ken: [Not attempting in any way to clarify what Liz had just said] Ah! That's great! You must be really proud of yourself!

'Proud of herself' in no way described what Liz was feeling at that time, for what she had just said or attempted to say was, "My mum's just died," and Ken's ill-considered 'communication' must surely have exacerbated her feelings of being all alone in the world while in her mid-40s.

That story was told to me by one of Liz's regular care workers in helping me understand just how why Liz would greet me so warmly despite my difficulties deciphering her speech in 3 hour contact sessions. "The point is, Alan, that you care and make the effort to clarify what Liz says; too many people don't."

My own speech development as a person living with Dyspraxia

I was comparatively very fortunate in my development as a person with Dyspraxia. Family legend has it that my first word, in response to a command from my mother that I stop loudly opening and closing the lid of her sewing box, was, "No!" and Mum was so surprised at that being my first word that she did not 'discipline' me for my outright disobedience.

In those days my speech was impaired not only by Dyspraxia but also by over large tonsils that I had removed at age 4. From then to the point at which I entered Infants at around my 5th birthday, I reputedly spoke in the pseudo language of BBC children's TV characters 'Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men'.

Later at a fee paying school, the extra attention paid to me helped bring me in contact with speech therapy that helped me develop my capacity to verbalise more clearly, although I still stuttered and mumbled into my early adulthood, with others incorrectly completing my sentences for me. Subsequent singing tuition and writing my own poems helped give me the experience of knowing what I was going to say before I said it, rather than feel pressured to respond immediately with poor 'working memory'.

Writing my own poems also helped me build bridges with audiences as an amateur entertainer, and connect with those audiences deeply from my own deep experiences.

Liz's experience of SLT

Liz's experience of SLT was perhaps too late and too brief in her teens while she was educated below mainstream schooling. I heard from my line manager that Liz had received some SLT at about age 13 but clearly not enough, and I noticed that Liz's old school peers who were also service users of domiciliary and other services from that charity for learning disabled adults were well grounded in deciphering what she said.

In her 40s Liz's socio-economic position was that of an Incapacity Benefit claimant and treated by the system as 'not worthy of quality investment of public resources' in her education. I had already experienced Learning & Skills Council low priorisation for adults with learning difficulties as they cut back on supporting the below Level 1 Literacy adults I had volunteered with, and in about 2004 I met someone who responded to my saying that I thought Learning & Skills Council had very little understanding of the educational requirements of adults with learning difficulties: "I would say that you are too kind: they have no understanding of the educational requirements of adults with learning difficulties."

The description given by the Learning & Skills Council on their website was, "The Learning & Skills Council exists to help make England better skilled and more competitive." Thus to them preparing the way for London 2012 Olympics involved disregarding the aspirations of those who had not yet made it to Level 1 in adulthood and also rubbishing the prospects of those like me who might have been able to make a living helping them.

Lack of vocal clarity clearly got in the way of Liz's capacity to grieve, and as a consequence she blew inheritance money to the wind through wasteful purchases, attempting to reclaim that which could never be got back, as a psychotherapist might say.

But when cost-cutting government ministers say, that people on state benefits are in the position they are in with limited prospects because of "poor lifestyle choices," they take no consideration for the impact of decades of under-investment in the lives of disadvantaged adults, and show no understanding of the Social Model of Disability.

As one who has 'found their voice' in various ways though, I become all the more determined to use it to help give others a 'voice' and tell the truths of their lives more accurately without impinging on their rights.

Tower Hamlets Health Authority

Speech Therapy Department

ARTICULATION e.g. production of sounds

This develops in fairly regular stages.

During babbling period several sounds used.

Towards end of 1st year child learns use of sounds for words, i.e. contructively.

Begins to build up sound system from scratch.

Children tend to use certain sounds before others, e.g. "p" "b" "m" (front sounds) before "k" "g" (back sounds; and "p" "b" before "f" "s" "v" etc.


by 2 years 'p' 'b' 'm' 'n' 'w'

by 2½ years 't' 'd' 'k' 'g' 'ng' (e.g. sing)

by 3 years 'f' 'g' 'l' 'y'

by 4 years 'sh' 'v' 'z' 'r' 'ch' 'j'

by 5 years * 'th'

but may depend on <em>where</em> in word sound is e.g. beginning, middle or end.
Also consonant clusters will be simplifed at first.

                e.g.    "sl" ........ "l"
                          "tr" ........ "t"     "tw"
                           "kl" ....... "k"


* This sound may be substituted by 'f' of 'v' as features of the London dialect.

This chart refers to <em>sounds</em> not letters as many letters have different sounds, e.g., the letter 'c' may be pronounced as /k/ as in 'cat' or /s/ as in 'nice'.

Certain sounds may have been acquired by a given age, but may still cause problems in certain words till a little later e.g., The child may say 'door' but have trouble with 'dog' or may say 'like' but have trouble with 'little'. The areas are estimates only, but if a child is not producing the sounds by the stated age, speech therapy <em>may</em> be indicated.


To 12 months Distracted by any new event
12 to 18 months Recognises many everyday objects when named, and can point to them
12 to 18 months Recognises and points to pictures when named
18 to 24 months Understands verbs: e.g. "sit down", "come here"
2 to 2½ years Understands sentences with 2 information carrying words:
e.g., "put the spoon in the cup"
2 to 2½ years Points to smaller parts of the body: e.g.,chin, elbow
2 to 2½ years Beginning to understand size: i.e., 'big/little'
2½ to 3 years Selects objects by function:
i.e., "Where's the one we eat with?"
2½ to 3 years Understands simple prpositions: 'in/on/under'
2½ to 3 years Knows if 'he/she' is a 'boy/girl'
2½ to 3 years Understands longer and more complex sentences
2½ to 3 years Knows several colours &emdash; blue/red &emdash; yellow/green
3 to 3½ years Follows verbal directions with 3-4 information carrying words: e.g., "make dolly sit down under the table"
3½ to 4½ years Understands "all", "both", "much", but not yet firmly established


To 12 months Babbling, combinations of vowels and consonants
12 to 18 months Using some single words: mama, dad, ball
18 to 24 months Imitates 2-3 word sentences
18 to 24 months Links words together: e.g., "all gone", "my teddy"
18 to 24 months Asks questions using infomration: e.g., "see hide?"
18 to 24 months Calls him/herself by own name
2 to 2½ years Begins to use words creatively: "bye bye milk"
2 to 2½ years Begins 3 word utterances: "Daddy kick ball"
2 to 2½ years Begins to use "I" and "me"
2½ to 3 years Uses longer more complex sentences:
"Where's my mummy's hat gone?"
2½ to 3 years Signalling grammatical word endings:
e.g., 'ing', 's', 'ed'
2½ to 3 years Relates experiences from the past

Addtitional Notes by Alan Wheatley about SLTs

SLTs are almost solely employed by local health authorities rather than local authorities. I believe it would be better for equalities purposes if SLTs were also employed by local government rather than solely by local health authorities. Anyhow, the professional body for SLTs in the UK is the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists

Approximately 80% of children with emotional and behavioural disorders have significant language defects. At least 40% of Stroke survivors will initially experience some difficulty swallowing. If left untreated, swallowing difficulties can result in pneumonia, increased hospital admission and lengthier stays in hospital. Up to 80% of people with a learning disability have a communication need.
Statistics presented at RCSLT website
You can read RCSLT's letter to political party leaders at

The UK's General Election 2019 may be over, but for many with speech and language disorders, their problems are only just beginning. The country has spoken?

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

There is more to being environmentally friendly than Alan Titchmarsh would like people to recognise

The MailOnline -- and BBC Gardeners' World -- report:

Hypocrites! Alan Titchmarsh blasts green campaigners who block pave their gardens or swell their carbon footprint by eating out-of-season fruit and veg

  • He said saving planet is not matter solely for land management and industry
  • He took aim at those who may criticise the Government for not doing enough 
  • Titchmarsh, 70, also attacked those who buy fruit in the winter months 

Alan Titchmarsh has criticised green activists who lecture others about the environment but then block-pave their own gardens or buy imported strawberries in January.

The TV gardener said saving the planet is not a matter solely for agricultural land management and industry, but for individuals who can do more to 'make a difference to the health of planet Earth'.

'Those of us who cherish that bit of land that comes with our houses have a duty of care that is every bit as vital as that incumbent on the owners of vast estates,' he told BBC Gardeners' World magazine.
He took aim at those who may criticise the Government for not doing enough to curb global warming and climate change, in particular Extinction Rebellion protesters, yet do not do enough themselves domestically. 

'I hope that none of the Extinction Rebellion protesters has a block-paved front garden,' he said.
Note the difference between the headline's "green campaigners who block their gardens" and Titchmarsh's, "I hope that none of the Extinction Rebellion protesters has a block-paved garden."

Alan Titchmarsh's income is largely built around his persona as gardener and TV broadcaster, and he has gone on from that to fronting advertising for Sun Life Funeral Plans

Sun Life Guaranteed Funeral Plan is fronted by Alan Titchmarsh who says it's
"One of the most affordable ways to cover a funeral."
We might ask how much he is making from that promotion in addition to his income from BBC broadcasting that notoriously showers high salaries on presenters.

I would add that a great many Extinction Rebellion younger supporters have not been taught gardening as a basic skill but they do realise that government policies have let climate crises fester.

We live in the legacy of how the robber barons and Enclosures Acts that helped carve the way to capitalism in which people lose touch with the land. As people have lost touch with the land, we have become more dependent upon others' produce via an increasingly global market, and that was one of the driving forces of the Industrial Revolution going hand in hand with British colonisation of other lands and import-export arrangements.

If capitalism is the root cause, ecosocialism is the antidote

I believe that the antidote is ecosocialism, and refer readers to the Green Left Blog and London Green Left Blog on ecosocialism, and Prof. Guy Standing's book Plunder of the Commons: A Manifesto for Sharing Public Wealth

accompanied by the communal wonders of community gardening

See also

Post Script

I especially welcome the comment below from 'Unknown', and point out that comments submitted anonymously are not altogether ruled out for their anonymity:
I remember Alan Titchmarsh writing in the Radio Times about a decade ago questioning the science of climate change, trotting out the tired old cliche that weather has always been variable. He and others in high profile positions (eg David Bellamy) who have questioned climate science over the years have done more to damage our chances of keeping global warming to a safe level than any number of XR activists who might buy fruit out of season or have a paved front garden.

Google search link "alan titchmarsh" "climate change denial" 

The following search link was created by using keywords "alan titchmarsh" "climate change denial"
NB: Use of all lower case letters as above in a Google search is quite acceptable, even when using 'proper names'; and quotation marks are a handy device for ensuring that the exact phrase or name combination is located.

Friday, 20 December 2019

Advice for Renters of London Borough of Brent December 2019 Newsletter

I am republishing this here from to help illustrate the fact that council funds can and should be used to help restore socio-economic justice.

It also contains information about national UK — or at least England & Wales — housing legislation that private tenants in other local authorities can apply to their area.

Advice4Renters December 2019 Newsletter
Starfish in tank observes star on top of Xmas tree and comments: "Now, THAT'S gotta hurt..."
From everyone at Advice4Renters
We would like to wish all of our readers, clients and supporters...

In this edition...

We are looking forward to 2020 and the legal changes that are coming up;
  • If you signed a tenancy agreement before 20 March 2019, after 20 March 2020 you can use the Homes Fitness for Habitation Act 2019 (unless you sign a new tenancy or your tenancy becomes a monthly rolling contract). However, you should still contact your local council if you are worried about conditions in your home. They have powers to take action on your behalf, at no cost to you.
  • ...and we flagged this up in our last newsletter but the government have been looking at ways to end of section 21 no-fault evictions. If they can get this right it could mean a huge shift in the way tenants are treated.  Roll on 2020!
Its cold out there, and at this time our thoughts turn to people sleeping on the streets. If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough, send an alert to StreetLink by visiting, via the mobile app, available for Apple and Android devices, or by calling 0300 500 0914. 

2020 Resolutions 

You probably haven’t started to think about New Year Resolutions yet, but take it from us, the guilt about the amount of booze and plum pudding will raise its head on 1st January, so we thought we help by giving you some suggestions.

First, for all private renters, 
“I won’t wait until my landlord is threatening to evict me; I will give Advice4Renters a call at the first sign of trouble so they can help me to nip it in the bud.”

For the landlords who read our newsletter (believe me there are some…)
“I’ll get my surveyor to check for any disrepair as soon as they can, and I’ll get things fixed promptly to make sure that my tenants are warm and dry in their homes.  The only cold thing will be my RENT FREEZE.”

For our voluntary sector partners,
“We resolve to look at how we can work more closely together in 2020, learning more about who provides what services, and making sure that residents who come to us, know how to access other services beyond our own remit”

For our local Councillors,
“We will not only support the voluntary sector, and listen to what they say, we will address the changes that they suggest are needed, which are not all dependent on resources, but will often save the Council time and money.”

For Council Officers,
“I resolve to accept that when A4R criticise us, it’s because they care passionately about getting a better deal for private renters, and I will work with them to see how we can address their concerns.”
To our great team of volunteers (and potential volunteers):
“I will start, or I will continue, to give a few hours a week to helping Advice4Renters with their valuable work, because I believe in their cause, but also because it’s fun.”

For all our wonderful grant funders,
“We will continue to support the voluntary sector and will remember that the number of disadvantaged groups in the private rented sector is growing every year, and they need more support.”
For any potential donors who receive our newsletter (regular readers please share!),
“I resolve to support vulnerable low income renters throughout the year by donating to Advice4Renters!”

Err... That’s enough Resolutions, Ed.
Have a very happy New Year!


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Disability News Service: GE2019 post-mortems on disability issues

Disability News Service [weekly] uploads from Thursday 19 December 2019 were the first before the electoral tsunami that brought in a far greater majority for Tory Government. Thus four of this week's DNS stories lead with the same tag:
A paragraph from the General Election Post-Mortem: Frustration over campaign failure to focus on disability story particularly caught my eye as a former Green Party Spokesperson on disability-relaed benefits issues:

even when hustings were organised to give disabled people an opportunity to question the political parties, they were cancelled because of the failure of most them to engage

Sue Bott, head of policy and research at Disability Rights UK, said:
“The level of debate about disability rights was minimal during the election campaign and even when hustings were organised to give disabled people an opportunity to question the political parties, they were cancelled because of the failure of most them to engage."
 As Green Party Spokesperson on Disability some time between 2007 and 2010, I received an invitation via Green Party Press Office to speak on behalf of Green Party of England & Wales to a British Deaf Association [British Sign Language users] alongside other parties' spokespersons. I accepted that invitation only to be told that the event had been cancelled because of non-engagement by the other parties.

And in 2010 as Green Party Spokesperson on Social Care, I received an invite via Prof. Peter Beresford to join him and spokesperson for other political parties on a panel hosted by Sir William Beveridge Foundation regarding social care and the welfare state. I attended alongside Norman Lamb (Liberal Democrats Health Spokesperson) while Labour Party's Andy Burnham had perhaps been too embarrassed by his attempt to tackle potential 'cost savings' related to Disability Living Allowance.

The Conservative or Tory Party failed to send a spokesperson either.

Full list of latest Disability News Service headlines

Latest Stories

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

"Election Result: No Sweeping Changes at the end of a Grim Year for Department for Work & Pensions," says Benefits & Work Publishing

I preface this forward of latest Benefits & Work Publishing Ltd Newsletter by quoting two paragraphs:

[T]he Conservative manifesto made it clear that the use of the Human Rights Act and judicial reviews to wrest justice from over-powerful government departments will be made more difficult.
This last move comes as no surprise given the role that the courts played in making the last 12 months grim ones for the DWP.

It is doubtful that even a significant portion of those who voted Tory in their droves read the Conservative manifesto or even knew of what a 12 grim months the Department for Work & Pensions has had via charities such as Child Poverty Action Group taking legal action against it, but the more people that do know this sort of stuff, the more difficult we can make it for whatever elected tyranny to plough ahead with what amounts to yet further corporate manslaughter.

Alan Wheatley

Benefits & Work Publishing Ltd Logo:Guides you can trust

It’s probably an understatement to say that this wasn’t the election result the majority of our readers wanted.

And when we said last week that we would send out a brief post-election update today, we were hoping to have some optimistic news.

But the chance of seeing an end to the roll out of universal credit, the removal of private sector companies from benefits assessments, an increase in ESA for claimants in the work-related activity group and all the other improvements that parties other than the Tories promised, have now been crushed.

The one consolation, if it can even be called that, is that it is very unlikely we will see any sweeping changes to the benefits system in the next few years.

If the Conservative mantra for the election was ‘Get Brexit done’ the DWP’s mantra for the next few years will be ‘Get universal credit done.’

There is likely to be little enthusiasm for taking on new challenges whilst the incredibly delayed and utterly flawed roll out of universal credit continues to lurch towards its distant goal.

Aside from rolling out UC, we will see the continued attempts of the Tribunals Service to move as many appeals as possible online.

And the Conservative manifesto made it clear that the use of the Human Rights Act and judicial reviews to wrest justice from over-powerful government departments will be made more difficult.

This last move comes as no surprise given the role that the courts played in making the last 12 months grim ones for the DWP.

It began with the news that Amber Rudd, remember her, was having to postpone legislation to transfer millions of legacy benefits claimants onto UC and go ahead with a pilot only, such was the concern that the whole thing was going to be a PR disaster for the Conservatives.

This was followed by the announcement that claimants in receipt of the severe disability premium (SDP) would no longer be moved onto UC by natural migration, due to a court defeat for the DWP the preceding summer.

Still in January, there was the revelation that far from cutting the cost of disability benefits by 20 per cent as the DWP intended, PIP had resulted in an increase in costs of 15 to 20 per cent.

In February the DWP had to widen the scope of its project to check whether claimants who were moved from incapacity benefit to ESA were given the wrong award. It now covered 600,000 claimants.

In April, the Royal College of GPs was amongst those demanding the DWP rewrite its misleading fit note advice to claimants because it was endangering patients health. The DWP bowed to pressure and complied.

May saw the start of a fight back against the DWP’s fake news campaign in support of UC.

It would end with the advertising watchdog finding the DWP guilty of publishing misleading adverts.

September witnessed the demise of Amber Rudd after less than a year in office. Her replacement, Therese Coffey, has yet to make her mark. Judging by how long previous ministers have lasted, she will not have long to do so.

Also in September we had the news that the success rate for both PIP and ESA appeals had risen again to an all-time high of 75%.

In October, the DWP revealed that it had so far paid out over £37 million in to claimants who lost out on the severe disability premium (SDP) when they were migrated from legacy benefits such as ESA and UC.

Still in October, the DWP announced that, following another court case it had lost, it would be checking yet more PIP decisions to see if claimants were entitled to additional payments.

November saw Benefits and Work readers crowdfund a legal bid to end the DWP’s cynical practice of forcing claimants to undergo a mandatory reconsideration before they can appeal a decision. The case should be going ahead soon.

And so, into a new year in which we will hope for further victories for claimants before attempts to nobble the judicial system can be put in place.

Whatever the coming months bring, we plan on still being here to support claimants, as we have done for the last 17 years.

Meanwhile, in this brief period of calm, we would like to wish all our readers a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

We’ll be back on 15 January.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison and The Office Team
Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
Company registration No. 5962666

 See also

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Payday Men's Network supporting whistleblowers Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning

(I apologise for late posting: I've only just received this info.

Alan Wheatley)

From Payday Men's Network/Refusing to Kill

Refusing to Kill is not Crime
Payday - a network of men working with the Global Women's Strike
Dear friends
We hope you can join these events in support of Julian Assange.
As it is Chelsea’s birthday on 17 December, we also invite you to write to her and/or send us a message which we will include in a birthday card we are sending to her. Take photos too with a birthday message calling for her immediate release.
FREE Julian Assange
No extradition
 No US extradition - Protect our Publishers & Sources
FRI - 20/12/2019
Westminster Magistrates Court,
181 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5BR
Nearest tube: Edgware Rd, Marylebone
A Spanish judge will question Assange about the spionage suffered in Lonon
The United Kingdom authorises the magistrate of the National Court José de la Mata to investigate whether illegal listening was delivered to the CIA
FRI - 20/12/2019
Westminster Magistrates Court,
181 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5BR
Nearest tube: Edgware Rd, Marylebone

Chelsea Manning

Herefordshire City of Sanctuary and asylum seeker and refugee prospects elsewhere

We are creating a culture of welcome and belonging in Hereford What do we do? We run a weekly Drop-In on Friday Mornings between 10-12 a.m. at the Friends Meeting house, King street, Hereford for such things as help with English, local information, and craft activities. Some volunteers are matched with refugees who have asked for specific help.
Herefordshire City of Sanctuary home page

Hereford is Herefordshire's City of Sanctuary. The Herefordshire City of Sanctuary home page says:

We are creating a culture of welcome and belonging in Hereford

What do we do?

We run a weekly Drop-In on Friday Mornings between 10-12 a.m. at the Friends Meeting house, King street, Hereford for such things as help with English, local information, and craft activities.

Some volunteers are matched with refugees who have asked for specific help.

Not every place in Europe is truly welcoming of asylum seekers and refugees though, as a new film '21 Miles' illustrates. More at Camden New Journal website.

Dan Carrier of Camden New Journal reviews the fact-based film '21 Miles'