Is it unfair to ban smoking in mental health hospitals?

  • 31 July 2015
Smoking

Smoking is banned inside NHS mental health units, but some hospitals have now said it won't be allowed in the grounds either. Is this fair?

"Smoking is all we did in our free time," says Kate - not her real name. She checked herself into a mental health unit when she was 18 because of a major depressive episode.

She didn't even smoke that much before she went in, but says it was the only way to socialise in there. Patients would get together after therapy sessions to discuss their lives. If you didn't join the smokers on the bench outside you ended up feeling pretty isolated, she says.

It was a community when most people were at the lowest times of their lives, and at the centre of it was smoking.

Mental health and smoking have long gone hand in hand - according to one report, 42% of all cigarettes smoked in England are done so by people with mental health problems. It isn't just the patients in mental health hospitals that smoke, many staff are or have been smokers.

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Special Olympics: Going for gold in gymnastics

  • 30 July 2015

Seventeen-year-old Laura Taylor has a learning disability and has just competed for Team GB in the Special Olympics currently being held in Los Angeles.

Laura is a gymnast and is no stranger to bagging medals - at the 2013 Special Olympics in the UK, she won three bronzes and two silvers.

Read full article Special Olympics: Going for gold in gymnastics

The country where disabled people are beaten and chained

  • 28 July 2015
Sophie with Blessing
Blessing has been given hope in a centre for disabled people

Presenter and campaigner Sophie Morgan recently visited Ghana to see what life is like for disabled people there. What she found came as a big shock.

When I became paralysed in a car crash at 18, travelling abroad to new countries really helped me adjust to my disability. In the 12 years that have passed, I still find that whenever I am out of my comfort zone I am at my happiest.

Read full article The country where disabled people are beaten and chained

What makes a disability hate crime?

  • 23 July 2015
Adam standing with his hands crossed

People stare at Adam Pearson wherever he goes. But when looks and whispers turn more violent, he is left feeling scared. He looks into the issue of disability hate crime in the UK.

Living with a facial disfigurement, in a busy city like London, means I am rarely invisible. Even something as simple as a train journey can turn into a gauntlet of stares, pointing and whispers.

Read full article What makes a disability hate crime?

The Times journalist who doesn't accept her disability

  • 22 July 2015
Melanie Reid

Journalist Melanie Reid was paralysed in a horse riding accident five years ago and has struggled to come to terms with her disability since.

Tucked away in rural Scotland, down a winding, rutted track, nestles the home of Melanie Reid, the author of the weekly Spinal Column in The Times. It is remote, often muddy and sometimes inaccessible.

Read full article The Times journalist who doesn't accept her disability

Me and my new brain: Brain injury in young people

  • 21 July 2015
Charlie with her snowboard

Snowboarding teacher Charlie Elmore had an accident on the slopes four years ago in which she sustained a traumatic brain injury. Since then, she has been learning how to live and think again.

Following a ten-year career as a snowboard instructor in Verbier, Switzerland, I woke up in a stroke unit after being placed in a medically induced coma. After an 11-metre jump, I'd had a bad landing. The doctors put me into a coma to protect my brain from further swelling. No one knew if I'd wake up and, if I did, how this would have affected me.

Read full article Me and my new brain: Brain injury in young people

Families of people with learning disabilities say care is a 'national scandal'

  • 16 July 2015
A father carrying his young daughter

The author of a review into the care of people with learning disabilities in England has reported an "absence of any tangible progress" since he issued it. What do those affected think about this news?

"One day in the bath he presented me with a big chunk of his bottom lip. That moment has never left me, when you are holding a piece of your child in your hand it never leaves you. We realised he needed that extra bit of care, professionally, that we couldn't give him at home."

Read full article Families of people with learning disabilities say care is a 'national scandal'

From 'bloodied knees' to the House of Commons as a disabled MP

  • 15 July 2015
Robert Halfon's official parliamentary shot

Conservative MP Robert Halfon says having a disability means he has been forced to work twice as hard to get to where he is.

Before the general election, all Robert Halfon was hoping for was to be re-elected as member of parliament for Harlow. He has since been made a deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party and a minister without portfolio.

Read full article From 'bloodied knees' to the House of Commons as a disabled MP

Viewpoint: Does this Spastics Society statue start the right conversations?

  • 11 July 2015
The statue
The statue aims to question the historical tradition of seeing disability and charity as pitiful

A giant sculpture of an old Spastics Society collection box has been erected in central London. It's aim is to trigger conversations about disability, but Kate Ansell doesn't think it helps.

It would have been rude of me not to visit this supersize disabled girl now standing tall outside the Gherkin in central London, because, like her, I used to be a girl in calipers.

Read full article Viewpoint: Does this Spastics Society statue start the right conversations?

The business owner with Down's Syndrome

  • 10 July 2015

"I didn't want to work in ASDA. I wanted to run my own business" says 28-year-old Laura Green. The young entrepreneur from Runcorn, Cheshire, says that because she has Down's Syndrome people didn't think it was even worth talking to her about her future.

"There was no career planning at school for me. I was just killing time until I was moved onto the next step in the system. After three years I said 'no more' and I left." With that, Green spent time with family and friends trying to work out what it was she wanted to do with her life.

Read full article The business owner with Down's Syndrome