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New EU card to make travel easier for people with disabilities



A wheelchair user on the streets of EU city
Legislative proposal aims at improving access to free movement for individuals with disabilities within the European Union | Photo: Marcus Aurelius

The European Commission has unveiled a legislative proposal aimed at improving access to free movement for individuals with disabilities within the European Union.

If approved, the European Disability Card will serve as recognised proof of disability throughout the EU, granting equal access to special conditions and preferential treatment in public and private services, including for instance transport, cultural events, museums, leisure and sport centres, or amusement parks. It will be issued by the national competent authorities and complement existing national cards or certificates.

Additionally, improvements to the current European Parking Card for persons with disabilities will enable them to access parking rights in other Member States.

For many persons with disabilities, private car transport remains the best or only possibility for travel and getting around independently, ensuring their autonomy. The proposed improvements to the current European Parking Card will allow persons with disabilities to access the same parking rights available in another Member State. It will have a binding common format that will replace national parking cards for persons with disabilities and be recognised throughout the EU.

The proposed directive emphasizes the provision of both physical and digital versions of these cards and aims to reduce administrative burdens while ensuring accessible formats for information on special conditions and preferential treatment. The Commission’s proposal will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council. Once adopted, Member States will have 18 months to incorporate the provisions of the Directive into national law.

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Channel 4’s Writers Scheme Welcomes 20 UK Authors



Channel 4's New Writers Scheme Welcomes 20 UK Authors
Twenty people from across the UK have joined a Channel 4 scheme designed to work with TV drama writers

Twenty people from across the UK have joined a Channel 4 scheme designed to work with TV drama writers in the West and South West of England and Wales, North of England, and Scotland – providing them with months of expert industry training, mentoring and support to develop their first pilot episode-spec script.

4Skills launched this year’s New Writers Scheme last week with an aim to nurture underrepresented writing talent, focussing on diverse, regional and authentic voices who have a flair for television drama.

Following the successful pilot in the West and South West of England in 2022, the programme has since expanded to work with participants located near Channel 4’s regional hubs: Bristol, Glasgow and Leeds. The writers will benefit from nine months of expert industry training and mentoring from scripted indies and a script editor, alongside feedback from Channel 4. 

As part of the kick-off, screenwriters from the regional hubs met at Channel 4’s Leeds office for three days of introductions, writing tips and training with NFTS trainer Hannah Robinson and heard from the experts including Nicola Shindler, Danny Brocklehurst, Helen Black and Director of Film4 & Channel 4 Drama, Ollie Madden.

“It was very exciting to meet with such a talented group of writers, who all bring an incredible depth of creativity, specificity and passion to their projects. I am truly looking forward to seeing how this year’s cohort develop their skills in the months ahead,” says Ollie Madden, Director of Film4 & Channel 4 Drama. 

The New Writers Scheme is funded and developed by 4Skills with Channel 4 Drama and supported by the BFI NETWORK (Film Hub South West and Film Hub North) alongside support from Screen Scotland. 

The initiative is one of many projects being supported by 4Skills, which provided more than 57,000 learning, training or development opportunities in 2023.

Kevin Blacoe, Channel 4’s Head of Partnerships & Skills, Nations & Regions said:

4Skills is designed to open doors for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds and various regions across the UK, providing opportunities for those who typically wouldn’t have access to the behind-the-scenes world of television.

By guiding them as they advance in their careers, we are also investing in the future of television. Our goal is to ensure that every voice, both on-screen and off, is heard and valued.”

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Go North East sponsor Durham Cricket’s Visually Impaired Team



Go North East sponsor Durham Cricket's Visually Impaired Team
Durham’s Visually Impaired Cricket Team now plays in the England and Wales Cricket Board Development League | Photo: Gavin Forster

Go North East has announced the continuation of its partnership with Durham Cricket as the front-of-shirt sponsor of their Visually Impaired team until 2025.

First founded in June 2007, Durham’s Visually Impaired Cricket Team now plays in the England and Wales Cricket Board Development League, against 11 other teams.

Visually Impaired (VI) cricket is a specially adapted version of the game that is suitable for anyone with a visual impairment – whether partially sighted or totally blind.

Ben Maxfield, Business Director, commented, “We are thrilled to be supporting the Visually Impaired Team at Durham Cricket again this year. At Go North East, we are dedicated to making our services accessible to everyone, and our buses are equipped with next-stop audio announcements to assist visually impaired passengers. This sponsorship is a natural extension of our commitment to inclusivity and supporting our community. We look forward to seeing the team’s success in the coming season.”

Tom Seymour, the Commercial Director for Durham Cricket said, “We are delighted to have Go North East, a local company connecting the region, renew their partnership and sponsorship of the Visually Impaired Team.”

He continued, “We’d like to thank them for their continued support for this programme and further showing the commitment we have here at Durham Cricket in creating an inclusive and welcoming space in the sport.”

For more information about the team, visit Visually Impaired Cricket – Durham Cricket

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Volunteers with learning difficulties plant floral displays at train stations



Aldingbourne Trust volunteer Ben Slade
Aldingbourne Trust volunteer Ben Slade

A 15-year-old partnership between Southern Railway and a charity for adults with learning difficulties in the UK is once again delighting thousands of passengers with fresh floral displays at stations in West Sussex.

Funded by Southern, a team of volunteers from The Aldingbourne Trust near Arundel, has been out and about planting and installing colourful beds and hanging baskets that they will maintain until the autumn.

“Our volunteers get loads of feedback from passengers getting off the trains who say how fabulous the flowers look. It makes them proud of what they do and know they’re contributing to their local community.

“It’s great for their mental well-being too. Some of the volunteers used to spend a lot of their time quite isolated at home, especially after the pandemic, and this ‘Adopt A Station’ enterprise with Southern encourages our volunteers to get out and about to meet people and be more social,” says Karen Tyrrell, Visitor and Enterprise Operations Manager.

The ‘Adopt A Station’ programme also gives its volunteer skills in communication, independent travel and health and safety.

“It doesn’t matter what your ability is, there’s a value you can add to your community,” says Tracy Jarvis, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs Southern.

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