It was the 23rd of September…..A sunday much like any other when the AKO gang converged on Chessington World of Adventures.
Tickets had been handed out and rides were being eyed with eager anticipation. The scent of freshly cooked doughnuts was in the air and all was well in the world. That is until rain clouds of EPIC proportions also decided to converge at that point on the same day! To start with there were puddles but these were soon laughed at by the lakes that appeared around them. The air was cold and the wind was up! Were we downhearted?…..Noooooo! Did we let it stop us?….Nooooo? Were we soaked to the skin?…….Yes! but we didn’t care, after all puddles are for jumping in!
At the allotted hour the AKO gang met up under a shelter and huddled within the glow of the hot lamps (yes Austin doesn’t usually glow like that!) Tales of wild rides were shared over lunch and handfuls of sweets were passed around to lighten the day (it is a rumour and only a rumour that Lisa finished off all the sweets in the office…..cough cough). Some had had a good morning and managed to get on a few rides so departed at the start of the afternoon with the rain strengthening but a few others toughened it out and stayed longer to have a great day.
As ever it was lovely to meet some faces old and new. At AKO we are becoming a force to be reckoned with but even we can’t control the Weather…..yet! We hope everyone enjoyed the day as much as we did, despite the rain, and managed to enjoy the tickets they won.
The rain may well be falling still today but stories from Chessington are still being told and somewhere…..deep within the heart of AKO Towers…..The A-Team (mouths full of sweets) are busy working away at future events and days out that we can aquire tickets for.
A top quote of the day had to be from one of the fathers, in his shorts, declaring that he wouldn’t go on a certain ride because it squirted water at you……all this said in the pouring rain!
Rain or Shine the AKO spirit will always see us through!
A disabled woman who waged an online campaign to challenge Atos’s refusal to record her Work Capability Assessment (WCA) says she hopes her small victory encourages people undergoing the test to assert their rights.
Jayne Linney, whose condition causes pain in her joints and muscle spasms, was a community worker before she gave up work in 2010.
Ms Linney said that it was important that her WCA was recorded because she had experienced three assessments where the reports had contained wrong information about her condition and which had even got her name wrong.”It was so disheartening to have to challenge all this, and didn’t inspire any confidence in the fairness of the system either.”
After several requests to record her fourth assessment, Ms Linney was told that her assessment could not be recorded because all the machines were broken.
“I decided to start my website petition out of indignation because I knew that the WCA could be recorded, Chris Grayling was saying it could – so how dare Atos say that it couldn’t. I wanted it challenged publicly.”
Atos relented after Ms Linney’s campaign attracted messages of support from thousands of disabled people.
“When I heard that they’d back down, I felt elated and like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”
She added: “The fact that my assessment was recorded made a huge difference. The doctor was polite and I wasn’t asked to stand up or balance which they usually ask you to do, even when you say you can’t.”
Ms Linney said that her successful challenge against Atos had been empowering and she urged other disabled people to follow her example if they found themselves in a similar situation.
“I hope that my victory will give people belief. At least three people who have contacted me to say that because I had challenged Atos’s refusal to record my WCA, they would too.”
Kaliya Franklin, who has successfully made use of the internet and social media as tools to campaign against the Government’s welfare reforms, welcomed Ms Linney’s victory over Atos.
“Ms Linney’s campaign proves that with determination and persistence disabled people can make a difference to an unjust system. Whilst it seems unlikely that we will see the back of either Atos or the WCA, Jayne’s efforts just go to show that improvements can be made to the current system by speaking out and criticising in a constructive manner.
Social media allows us the opportunity to make both criticism and constructive suggestions, and is something the private sector particularly understand can make or break their reputation.
Austin is a former actor/singer who in his spare time would volunteer and work in and around many disabilities. Not happy with some of what he saw, Austin developed his own workshops.
His interest in autism grew from a friend that was on the ‘spectrum’. He learned how to build strong bonds and understanding by putting himself in the shoes of the person he’s working with – seeing life from their point of view.
After suffering a serious head/brain injury in 2007 Austin was left with his own disabilities which brought about a change in his career. Working within autism became his main focus as he trained and enjoyed working for the NAS.
Austin gives advice and suggestions based on hands-on experience and is constantly learning himself. He likes to look at each problem individually and suggest purposeful strategy rather than give generic answers that might not help. “I want to find the hole that each individual shape fits into, rather than just leave it to one side or pass it through the larger, easier one, ” he says.
If you have any questions or comments please email them to the below and he’ll get back to you as soon as he can.