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Viva Extending

During the last couple of months, we have been promoting our VIVA project, being very excited and pleased that we have had our contract extended until 2019. This means we can continue to offer support to individuals with disabilities to access volunteering activities.

I have been working on my own case load at long last and am really enjoying getting out of the office and meeting people who have been referred. I get to know what their struggles are, what they enjoy doing, their passions and aspirations, and importantly for me, what makes them laugh.

People with disabilities can often face a lot of barriers to participation in volunteering. We encounter people from charities who feel that their volunteering opportunity could not be filled by a disabled person or that accommodating a disabled volunteer would be too difficult, or a drain on resources for the support that would be required. To ensure a positive experience for both the organisation and the disabled volunteer, we work closely with all parties in identifying specific barriers and developing strategies to address them. During the discussion we may consider simple adjustments which may be needed, e.g. transport arrangements or specialist equipment, and flexible working arrangements. Often it is just a small thing that can make all the difference, along with having a clear role rather than feeling like a ‘spare part.’

Another barrier can be a person’s own perception; that they believe a role may be too challenging, and they don’t want to be a hindrance or offered a role out of charity. Health conditions affecting their reliability is another common concern.

I met a lovely gentleman not long ago who is recovering from a stroke; he struggles to walk, and has aphasia, experiencing difficulties with talking, reading, telling the time and remembering things. He was an active person before his stroke and is very keen to volunteer and ‘start getting his life back’. He has lost his confidence and isn’t sure what he could do or offer.

It took a short while to encourage and help him identify positive things he can bring to a voluntary role. He has a passion for talking to the elderly – and loves learning about their life and local history. He is also interested in sports, having previously been part of a football team and involved in martial arts.

I have, hopefully, reassured him that he has lots to offer and in a couple of weeks’ time we are meeting with an organisation who provide gentle chair exercises for older people and a social group. The initial conversation with the manager was very positive; talking about how he can get involved with supporting the class and offering companionship and expressing a desire to accommodate him and help reduce any barriers to enable him to volunteer.

My hope is that over the next couple of months, he’ll be able to meet new people and fill his time constructively while helping others. Perhaps it’ll be the first step in a long term involvement in volunteering, perhaps it’ll be a way of regaining confidence and ‘getting his life back.’ It’s impossible to tell up front what difference volunteering might make to someone’s life but the Viva project exists because we think everyone should have a fair chance at finding out what volunteering could do for them.

Assistive Technology for people with disabilities

It’s hard to accept that I have a disability. According to Wiki  ‘A Disability is an impairment that may be cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical, sensory, or some combination of these” it also states  that “it substantially affects a person's life activities and may be present from birth or occur during a person's lifetime.‘

I don’t know how it happened, my consultant just said it’s wear and tear; my family and friends have other ideas, which seem to be related to certain activities I have participated in over the years that have involved motorcycle stunts, figure and speed skating, street gymnastics, fishing and kayaking.

I have a herniated disc and 2 prolapsed discs in my neck, these are pinching my nerves, which means I am in constant pain, this includes pins and needles in my fingers, a stabbing pain in my back and down my arms, a weakness in my hands, aching across my neck and shoulders, and sometimes a burning sensation over my total back area.  My disability has frustrated me and prevented me from doing the things I want to do, I forget that my grip isn’t very good and will drop things, and surprisingly (as I am known for having a fairly strong character) it has made me feel somewhat insecure and less confident about myself, and I find myself being over emotional.

Both the pain and the medication to relief the pain have drastically affected my work and productivity; I struggle to concentrate and suffer with fatigue and have been uncomfortable at my desk for some time. I do, like anyone with a disability, chronic pain or illness, know that I have good days and bad days.  However, I am proud of the fact that, although I do take time off when the pain is intense and unmanageable, I come into work four days a week, and work to the best of my ability and have achieved quite a lot during that time.

This past week I have been trying to get used to my voice recognition software for using my telephone and computer, it’s supposed to enable me to type and do commands on my laptop and allow me to carry out my job a little easier. I can use its hands free headset to make and receive calls, however, getting to grips the voice recognition software is something to be desired, maybe it’s my slight Cornish accent and the fact that I’m very self-conscious about talking into a microphone in an office with other colleagues, it doesn’t come naturally and at the moment I think it recognises only 30% of what I say! Practice and perseverance hopefully will pay off, it will make a huge difference not having to struggle to type my reports.

I have recently been awarded a grant from Access to Work; this is a publicly funded employment support programme that aims to help more disabled people start or stay in work. It can provide practical and financial support for people who have a disability or long-term physical mental health condition. Support can be provided where someone needs help or adaption beyond reasonable adjustment. An access to work grants can pay for practical support to help you stay in work or even support you if you are self-employed.

The process to get an award was relatively easy; After completing a short application form describing my disability and how it affects me I was contacted to arrange an appointment with an assessor. During my assessment I was asked a lot of questions about my symptoms, my day-to-day activities and my difficulties at work, it was difficult for me to think about, as I’d coped and developed techniques to enable me to do my job with minimum disruption. Then I was shown a catalogue showing various equipment and items that could help me, to be honest it was a bit overwhelming, there were so many items I didn’t know existed or that I needed until it was explained to me how they worked. The assessor then completed her form making recommendations of the items she believed I needed. I was also measured to within inch of my life! From the floor to my knee and across my hips, from my elbow to my seat and from my shoulder to my fingertips, and from the tip of my nose to the screen, this was to ensure I had the correct posture and optimal position at my workstation and that a new chair I needed would be suitable and fitted specifically for me.

I consider myself quite lucky; not only do I have some equipment to assist me, I have colleagues who are very understanding, helpful and supportive. They are not judgemental if I arrive a bit late into work because it has been difficult for me in the morning,  instead I am offered a cup of tea and help with my bag, all with a considerate concern for my welfare. I am not pressured by my line manager, we have good line of communication and I keep them informed about my condition. I can carry on working in the job I enjoy, and cope with my disability one day at a time.

A great TV programme giving a personal insight into Aspergers

On Tuesday night I watched a brilliant documentary, on BBC2, featuring Chris Packham and his personal musings on Aspergers; how it affects him; and some of the controversial treatments for autism that are used. Touching, informative and honest - I thoroughly recommend this programme to anyone with an interest in autism and Aspergers. It's available on the i Player for 30 days from the date of original broadcast and the link is below.



Please also bear in mind that the VIVA project, run by Volunteer Cornwall, is available to help people with a wide range of disabilities and impairments who wish to volunteer and that we have particular expertise assisting clients with autism and Aspergers. 



A gold medalist's take on the 2017 GB Special Olympics in Sheffield


My blog about going to the Special Olympics GB National Games in Sheffield 2017

By Matthew Salisbury

Monday- Set off to Sheffield my mum dropped me at Hayle Marks and Spencers where the coach was. I got a seat then we picked people up from Chiverton Cross and Victoria Services.

Trip up was fine but I thought it took forever to get there.

Getting our keys at the Sheffield University

Finally after a while we got our keys then go up to the dorm where we would sleep.

It was a nice room-  bathroom was a bit small but minus tv it would do.

Tea-We went to a restaurant which is near our Dorm and it was a nice place I had Chicken and Mushroom something and potatoes and veg.

For afters had Apple crumble and custard.

Then we had a walk round to the tents, played a bit of football then went to sleep.

Tuesday-We went to Ranmoor restaurant for breakfast. It was just normal breakfast really, cereal, bacon sandwich ,egg sandwich ,croissant, tea, coffee, juice etc

I had cereal and Bacon Sandwich and orange juice.

After breakfast we walked to get the bus to the Hallam Football park.

We got changed and played 2 games to determine what division we would play in on Wednesday and Thursday.

We lost 2-0 and 3-0 I played well in the 2nd game and I almost scored from a free kick but hit the crossbar.

Later on we got on the bus to go to Bramall Lane which is the home of Sheffield United.

The atmosphere was amazing but scary at the same time because I’m not a person who likes really big crowds.

After we had done our waving to the crowd we sat in the stands watching the Opening Ceremony.

It was good to see Suzie Perry, Chris Kamara out of Soccer Saturday,Tony Hadley and some guy out of Downton Abbey.

It was a bit boring towards the end plus I had cramp in my legs from sitting there so long.

When we got back I went to sleep.

Wednesday- First day of competition

Before the matches started we saw Dave Bassett, the ex Wimbledon manager who won the 1988 FA Cup final vs Liverpool and managed other teams.

He told us some stories of the Crazy Gang: Dennis Wise, John Fashanu, Vinnie Jones etc . I thought it was interesting and he seemed like a nice bloke.

We would be placed into division 5 which is sort of like Conference standard.

The teams we would be up against were:

East Midlands

Yorkshire and Humberside and

South West 2 (our 2nd team)

Our first game was against East Midlands. I missed an easy chance from a corner which instead of just tapping it into the net I just got it over the bar. Doesn’t matter though as we beat them 7-1.

After lunch we played against Yorkshire and Humberside. We won 7-1 and I made a couple of assists in that game, which is not bad at all.

Got back about half 7 then we had tea. I then just chilled in my room and then went to sleep.

Thursday-Had to play 3 games against the same teams.

Walked to the bus, got changed in to my shirt and boots.

First game was against East Midlands and we won 8-0. I scored one as I played up front for a bit even though I’m normally a centre back.

After lunch played a bit of football then 2nd match was against Yorkshire and Humberside which we won 8-0.

I scored 1 goal in that game.

Then the last game we played against South West 2 we hammered them 11-0 although some people weren’t happy with us.

This meant we were playing against East Midlands in the final on the Friday for the gold medal.

South West 2 were up for the bronze medal against Yorkshire and Humberside.

It was nice to see Gareth Southgate who played for Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, represented England and is now England manager there was a Q and A but we missed that because we  had to go for tea.

Friday Gold Medal match

I was excited that we were in the final and no matter what happened we were guaranteed a medal.

Breakfast I had bacon sandwich and croissant and orange juice.

In the final we beat East Midlands 3-0 and one of the players for East Midlands got sent off for 2 yellow cards.

At the end, I hugged some of their players then I watched the rest of extra time of South West’s 2 bronze medal game vs Yorkshire and Humberside.

They lost 6-3 in the end.

About 5 ish it was the Closing Ceremony and we got our medals and waved to the crowd.

I enjoyed that.

Then it was a party with people dancing etc I just stood there on the pitch.

In the evening, there was a party which was a disco sort of thing.

I just went to sleep because it would be a long day on Saturday.



Woke up at 5am had shower, get my bags out of my room.

Had breakfast at 6am had bacon sandwich.

Then just chilled until it was time to leave the Uni.

Left about 9am.

Stopped off at Bristol for food etc

Got to Hayle about 6 ish. My mum picked me up from Marks and Spencers car park then went home.


I had a really nice time in Sheffield it’s a nice city and I think people with disabilities should do this because it’s a great experience.