As part of our preparation for writing our 2011 Annual
Report, we're talking to our tenants and leaseholders about what
they think of the projects they've been involved with at East Kent
Niall has been a valued member
of our Disability Forum since it was
set up earlier in the year. We were happy to have the chance
to sit down with him over a coffee and a cake and find
out why he got involved and what he thought of the work of the
Forum so far.
Tell us about
I'm 34 years old. I volunteer at
the Kent and Canterbury Hospital twice a week, I watch a lot of
sport - particularly Gillingham FC, whom I support - and I (try
to!) go to the gym twice a week as well. I'm also working on
a book about being a disabled Christian in the twenty first
century. It's hard!
Where do you live and is there
anything you like most about it?
I live near the Wincheap area and have
done all my life. I feel safe there because everyone knows
who I am - if they don't see me for a few days they start to
Why did you join the
Although I like to have a laugh, I
don't take disability lightly. I went along thinking that
although I probably can't make much of a difference on my own, as
part of a group I might be able to help change things for the
better. I thought that even if we just changed one thing,
it's been a success.
What work has the Forum
We tell the council how their policies
affect disabled people and then they make changes. One of the
things we achieved is making sure that in the communal areas of
every block we have a list of contact numbers for
emergencies. I'm certainly more aware than I was before about
the council's budgets, too. I feel that I actually understand
how the council works now!
Do you think that the Forum is
worthwhile and has an impact?
Yes. We can voice how we feel
and make a difference - not just for us, but for people who may
become disabled in the future. It's a real joy to make a
difference and be involved. The Forum has given staff advice
that has benefitted not only us in the end but also the council -
and it's been good for staff to express their feelings too.
Is there anything the Forum
has discussed that you've had strong opinions on?
We once had a really
honest debate about the adaptations policy; I'm passionate
about living life to the full and seeing things done well, and when
it comes to adaptations they really need to fit the needs of the
What do you feel you get out
of being involved?
I've got a chance to speak my mind,
and say just how frustrated I can be with the issues that disabled
people face with their housing. I'm pleased I've been
involved and feel I've had an impact on the group.
A big thank you to Niall for
taking the time to come to the council offices on Military Road to
speak to us.