We started in 1999 as the Dartmouth Access Group, a local self-help group run by people with disabilities, with encouragement and support from Devon County Council. We received pump- priming funding from South and West Devon Health Authority and we have also been supported by Scope. Through them we had a small three-year grant from Opportunities for Volunteering in 2000. Since then the Lottery and Lloyd’s TSB have supported our general running expenses, including an administrative and advocacy post. We are currently supported by the Big Lottery’s ‘Reaching Communities’ Fund, giving us security for the next 5 years. We now employ a Development Worker, who organises training groups for our members.
We aim to provide a local service where we can help disabled people to achieve both mundane daily tasks as well as the chance to develop the lifestyle of their choice. We currently support about 150 people and families, and our management committee is made up entirely of disabled people.
We moved into our own office in 2006, so we now have a space for private interviews. We also visit people in their own homes.
We run weekly drop-in centres in Totnes andIvybridge.
We provide advice, information and advocacy both face-to-face and over the telephone.
We offer welfare rights advice and guidance, ( including funding and grants advice ).
We offer a ‘Tribunal Representation’ service, where our trained staff can help you with the paperwork for a Benefit Tribunal and accompany you on the day.
We arrange regular social events, such as outings for meals, theatres, sightseeing etc.,
We provide training opportunities for our clients – in any subject which helps or interests them.
We offer help with one-off jobs around the home and garden.
We have an office in Totnes, from which we offer confidential counselling and advice, or one-to-one computer and basic skills, training.
We support welfare rights for people with disabilities; individually, locally and nationally.
We carry out ‘Access Audits’ and lobby for better access to services.
We have representatives on Local and National bodies, such as the SCOPE Assemblies, where our views, and issues which are important to disabled people, can be heard.
Drop-ins are an opportunity for people to meet together, have a good chat, a laugh, discuss issues arising and meet new or old friends. Sometimes there are many problems solved, as one person helps another. We organise things like social outings, or meals out. Our trained workers are on hand to find out what people need us to do for them. We can help by contacting other people or organisations who can help you. We will ensure that people have the right support and financial help.
These drop-ins are held:
In Totnes, from 12.30 – 3 on alternate Friday afternoons. We use the tea room at the front of the Methodist Church, near the top of Fore Street – across the road from the new post office and the Garden Shop. It is accessible to wheelchairs via a ramp. Inside, there are accessible toilet facilities.
Sometimes, we invite interesting and relevant speakers to come along to talk to us.
In Ivybridge – we meet at the Scout Hut, next to the Leisure Centre, on Fridays 1 -3pm monthly from 21st October, 2011.
See our ‘News’ section for dates.
We can support people to learn new skills. Perhaps you want to eventually go back to work, or want to just keep your brain active. We offer financial help with course fees, and can set up groups in training such as IT and computer skills, according to people’s needs. Just let us know and we can help.
We have qualified staff, who can help you with your debts. We offer training sessions in ‘Money Matters’ which can help you to budget and make your money go around. If you live from a fixed income, then we can help you to look at your weekly spending and find ways to cut down on some of your spending, so that you don’t have to worry about finding money for those little extras. We can recommend ways to cut down spending on utilities and generally show you how to track down bargains.
We have carried-out two Access Audits– in Totnes and in Kingsbridge. After the Disability Discrimination Act made it law that services and business should be accessible to all, regardless of disability, we thought we would check if they had complied. We found that very few had.
We can help people to change their lifestyles, become healthier and gain more energy for everyday tasks.
We offer groups in Healthy Eating, Relaxation and we offer Gentle Exercise classes and we have a weekly swimming group at Ivybridge Leisure Centre, where we support each other to ‘take the plunge’.
If you are interested in joining the group, then give us a call on one of the numbers on the front page.
We are always looking for funds to meet our running expenses and have had some successes with receiving money from Charitable Trusts in the area. We can also help people with gaining funds for their special needs. There are a number of Charitable Trusts for individuals in difficulties, for various reasons, and we can be an organisation which supports your individual claim. Perhaps you need a piece of medical equipment, or something to make your life easier around the home. If so we might be able to help, or at least, point you in the right direction for help.
How Can You Become Involved?
You can join our Management Committee – we are always looking for new people and new skills to run our group in the best and most efficient way. You may have skills which you could use to good use, to help us.
You can come along to drop-ins.