Week one of the CWTCh play project was a fantastic success and it was wonderful to see so many happy faces. Thank you to Councillor Ramesh Patel for dropping in to have a look at what we’re doing and extra special thanks to Karen Barker of play services without whom this project would never have happened. The staff at Channel View really got stuck in and made the day run smoothly.
I bet you’re itching to know what we have in store this week. Well, weather permitting, we’re going sailing. Don’t worry if your child isn’t mobile – we have access to specially adapted craft. We are also offering fully supervised climbing at Channel View. All this and soft play, bouncy castle,music, sensory play, diddy cars and more.
This week, we will be running a raffle. Thank you to The Cedar Tree Inn restaurant and carvery in Cardiff Bay have kindly donated a £20 voucher. It’s a great, accessible venue with a fine menu with plenty of desserts and a small play area.
Play starts at 12.30 through til 5pm at Channel View Leisure Centre.
For the next seven Saturdays and the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the coming half term the CWTCh Network is running play and activities for disabled children and their families.Children of all ages and disabilities welcome. The fun starts Saturday 15th February at 12 noon at Channel View Leisure Centre. Hayley and I (Martine) will be there and if that alone isn’t enough to get you down there here are some of the activities we have planned:
Bouncy Castle & Soft Play,
Specialist play equipment and games,
X-Box…and tons more
We will also have use of the committee room where you can talk to us confidentially for advice or getting us on board for a bit of advocacy.
Can’t wait to meet you all!
Quite frankly, access to play in Cardiff for disabled children is shocking. Not only are most leisure facilities lacking in good quality changing facilities but many disabled children, even those with no physical disabilities, find their access to parks is limited. Time and again, carers tell us that one of the main reasons they need respite is because they have difficulty taking the disabled child they care for to the same venues as their typically developing siblings.
Parks are an important part of life for any child – at least they should be. In Cardiff, there is one “accessible” swing which, to get to, you must negotiate a wood chip play surface. That’s it.
The CWTCh Network is very excited to be part of Diverse Cymru’s access group. During our first meeting we discussed access to play. Here is our vision for accessible parks – yes plural! Let us know what you think:
- Play areas must be accessible with easily negotiable paths leading to them.
- Many Cardiff parks use wood chip under play equipment. Wheelchair users cannot reach play equipment over this surface and children with sensory processing issues (for instance poor depth perception), visual impairments and problems with proprioception find these uneven surfaces difficult to negotiate and any hazards difficult to spot. Loose surfaces impede accessibility.
- Wood chip and loose surfaces like it pose a choking/poisoning/infection hazard especially for children with pica – a common issue with developmentally delayed children whereby non food items are put in the mouth, chewed and even swallowed.
Fencing and gating
- This is a particular issue for children who may be a flight risk (wandering/fleeing is a common feature of autism for instance).
- Gates should be few with significant distance between each.
- Gates should not be easy for a child to open quickly and self closing.
- Gates should not allow access for dogs who have been let off their leads.
- Access must be wide enough to allow wheelchair users through.
- Specialised equipment to be fitted alongside standard equipment and must offer variety in each location.
- Disabled children have a right to play with their peers and parks should allow disabled children and both their disabled and typical friends and siblings to play together.
- Play equipment must be suitable for disabled children of all ages (including older children and teens) who require play.
- Specialised play equipment should not be confined to a single location.
Further points for consideration
- Fencing provides a way of introducing sensory elements to play. Tactile boards, bells etc. should be placed at wheelchair height.
- A fenced and gated area free of play equipment would allow children who are a flight risk the opportunity of free play.
- Rubbish bins should be well covered and not allow children to easily put their hands in.
Our first AGM was held at Ty Gwyn Special School on the 20th September. For an official occasion it was great fun. The official minutes of that meeting are here:
Earlier this month, the South Wales Echo ran a story with the headline, ‘Totally indefensible’ Cardiff Council manager paid £550 a day, say auditors. From the article:
Auditors at Wales’ biggest local authority say it was “totally indefensible” that a manager was paid £550 a day – more than twice the normal salary for the post.
An internal investigation also found the Cardiff council employee was the only person interviewed for the highly-paid job out of 40 candidates.
The council carried out the internal audit after the GMB union questioned the recruitment and subsequent pay of a manager in the children’s services department.
We were asked to make a statement following the decision at the September scrutiny committee meeting to send this matter to be sent to the audit committee. We have not seen a follow up piece in the Echo nor Wales Online as yet. Our statement is as follows:
In February of this year, the founders of the CWTCh Network met with Councillor Richard Cook, who was then cabinet member with responsibility for children’s services and the manager who was receiving a wage of £550 a day. At this meeting we questioned the huge figures allegedly being paid to agency workers, Cllr Cook assured us that these sums were not extraordinary and necessary to attract the best people.
In the time when said manager and then interim corporate director held the reins in child health and disability department (CHAD), it went from shambolic to secretive and shambolic. One must ask, if the figures quoted in the South Wales Echo article represent the going rate for “the best” why are these individuals ashamed to be associated with salaries members of our network and others are calling, “obscene”? From the point of view of carers, these workers did not deliver value for money.
The cloak and dagger nature of the manager’s appointment was only the precursor to months of obfuscation – in fact the South Wales Echo kept carers better informed of decisions that would affect our disabled children than did anyone working in CHAD. The one thing these officers could not hide, however, was their obvious contempt for service users.
The CWTCh Network welcomes the move to have this appointment audited. We are looking forward to a new era of mutual respect and co-operation under the new cabinet member, Siobhan Corria. We only hope that council leaders will share Cllr Corria’s ambition to make children’s services in Cardiff the model of good practice.
The agenda is pretty short and consists mainly of elections to key positions. If you would like to come along and find out more about what we’re doing and were we’re going we’d love to see you.
The main areas we will be focussing on in the coming months are accessibility (with Diverse Cymru) and Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) with the Welsh Assembly Government. Of course, we’ll keep battling away with regards to respite, transition and disability rights.
If you feel you want to contribute but can’t make the meeting you can find us on Facebook, @CWTChNetwork on Twitter or email us at CWTChNetwork@hotmail.com