Skip to main content

Accessing community services and support in Essex and beyond

IMG_4765.JPGMS-UK’s Helpline team recently worked with MS-UK’s wellness centre Josephs Court in Essex to run an information session relating to services and support organisations working with people in its local community.

The session was well-received with one attendee saying: ‘I enjoyed the variety of different topics and the speakers. It was informative and gave us the opportunity to meet new people and share experiences.’

The MS-UK Helpline and Josephs Court teams worked together to bring in a range of guest speakers from a variety of organisations to give short presentations on their services, the support they provide and how they can help people with a disability.

The first speaker was Lesley Bysouth, Head of Communications for Motability. Lesley spoke about the fact that since it was set up in 1977, the Motability Scheme has provided over 4.5 million vehicles and has helped millions of disabled people and their families to enjoy the ‘road to freedom’. She let us know that last year they awarded more than 8,000 grants for wheelchair accessible vehicles, driving lessons for disabled people, advance payments for leased vehicles, adaptations, powerchairs and mobility scooters.

To join the Motability scheme, a person must be in receipt of the following benefits:

•           Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

•           Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

•           War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement (WPMS)

•           Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)

An individual interested in joining the scheme will need to have at least 12 months remaining of their allowance when they apply.

Click here to find out more information about how the Motability scheme works.

Next, we heard from John, a volunteer for Age UK Essex. John spoke passionately about his volunteering role and then spoke about the range of services the local charity has on offer for the over 50s. It was impressive to hear about the full range of services the local charity has to offer. They deliver information and advice, befriending, home help and much more.

Age UK Essex is a charity in its own right but is affiliated to the national organisation Age UK. Age UK has a range of detailed factsheets, a helpline and other services and they support and work with many other local Age UK charities. To find out what is in your area and the support they provide click on this link. You may well find that your local Age UK gives a wide range of options from practical help with welfare benefits and handyman services through to emotional support such as befriending and companionship support.

We then heard from Georgina Delves an Assistant Engagement Officer with Community 360, a Community and Voluntary Services hub organisation working across Colchester, Braintree (with some services in Tendring too!).

Georgina talked about the support the organisation gives to charities and third sector organisations and the services that they directly deliver such as community transport schemes and Shopmobility. Then Georgina let us know about the ‘My Social Prescription’ scheme, this exciting project helps people with a social need connect with local and appropriate community groups, clubs, peer networks and much more. Their skilled and knowledgeable team will help people map out the resources that are in the community and helps people find the right service, in the right place, the first time.

The Kings Fund has written about social prescribing and how it is being adopted up and down the country. There may well be a service in your area. If this is of interest to you, it is likely that either your GP practice or your local Community Voluntary Services hub will know.

After a cup of tea and a biscuit (or two!), we heard from Yvonne and Rosie from Carers First. Carers First is a large organisation working with and for unpaid/family carers across Kent, Essex, Lincolnshire, and some London boroughs. Yvonne and Rosie told us about the local services the organisation delivers and also talked about the rights that unpaid or family carers have to a carers assessment as well as rights in employment. It is almost certain that there will be a carer support organisation working in the area in which you live. Your local council will have information on how to get in contact with them if you are not already.

The next organisation we heard from was from a housing and support organisation that provides floating support or community outreach services. Peabody’s outreach support is a service that will work with people with a ‘housing-related need’ on a short term basis. The service is there for anyone in Essex over the age of 16 who needs support, guidance or advice. They can work with anyone regardless of their housing status, for example currently homeless, living in local authority homes, privately rented properties, as a housing association tenant or an owner or occupier. They can give help to resolve benefit and debt issues, help with problem neighbours, support people to gain skills to live independently and help people feel more confident.

Floating support or housing related outreach services are fairly common up and down the UK, some local authorities only fund it for certain groups of people (for instance people that are homeless or who are under 25 and have a housing need). If you want help to find a similar service in your area. Feel free to contact our MS-UK’s Helpline team and we will happily see if we can help find a relevant service.

The services and groups covered in our information session are just a snapshot of some of the services and support organisations working across the local area to Josephs Court.

Ryan, a Helpline and Information Officer with MS-UK’s Helpline then spoke about ‘filling some of the gaps’ and let the attendees know about just some of the other local options for getting help:

We are sure that there are other services, organisations and volunteer-led groups out in your community, up and down the country and often across the whole UK doing great work and giving the help that you and others need.

If there’s an organisation that you value that you think we should know about, please do get in touch on 0800 783 0518 or email us on info@ms-uk.org