Hello, and a Happy New Year!

I hope your Christmas has been filled with fun, food and gifts you actually wanted. I don’t know about you but, for me, the beginning of a New Year fills me with excitement and hope for all the things that might be, complemented by a niggle of dismay for all the things that probably will be. You know what I mean: Bills, Council Tax, Piers Morgan and, of course, Brexit. And is it just me or are Brexit Secretaries getting younger these days?

But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom! Positivity is, after all, a state of mind. A friend of mine started a ‘Gratitude Diary’ this time last year. If you’ve never heard of one of these, it’s simply a book where, every day, you make a note of just one thing you are grateful for that day. It might be the care you received from a friend, the comfort of a chair, relief from pain, being able to help, or simply the opportunity to love someone. Something you’re glad to have in your life.

I asked her what she got out of it and she said: “I’m not so stressed now. I’ve got a book full of good things which happened. They’re all little things but they matter because they all happened to me.” She went on: “It helps me work out what needs worrying about and what doesn’t.”

You know as well as I do how much Fibro and CFS are affected by stress. In fact, what illness isn’t? Personally I’m up for anything which gets my blood pressure down and stops me waking in a cold sweat at 4 a.m. I’m going to give it a try. How about you?

Incidentally, never underestimate the importance of having someone to love. I lost my little Cairn Terrier, Alfie, in October and more than anything I miss the chance to hold him close and tickle his tummy. I’ve tried it with the missus but She just looks at me suspiciously.

American Supper

At the next meeting we will be having our annual American Supper, so bring your favourite finger foods, sweets, pies and sausage rolls. There is a (small) oven to warm things in but that’s about the limit.

Because of this there will not be a speaker this month but we expect to have one for next month. More details in next month’s newsletter.

Concessionary Bus Fares

We all know that there are Free Bus Passes available for people with disabilities but you might not be fully aware which ones. People Matter IW sent us the following which might help if you’re needing a bit of clarification:

The English National Concessionary Bus Pass

Contact the council to find out who issues disabled bus passes in our area as part of the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme. People are eligible for a disabled person’s pass if they are ‘eligible disabled’. Anyone who qualifies by age or whose disability falls within one of seven categories specified by the Department of Transport. Their guidance states:

Disabled People

1.6 There are seven categories of disabled people who are entitled to the statutory minimum concession and these are set out in section 146 of the Transport Act 2000 and section 240(5) of the Greater London Authority Act (in relation to London).

1.7 An eligible disabled person is someone who: a. Is blind or partially sighted b. Is profoundly or severely deaf c. Is without speech d. Has a disability, or has suffered an injury, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to walk e. Does not have arms or has long-term loss of the use of both arms f. Has a learning disability, that is, a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind which includes significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning g. Would, if he or she applied for the grant of a licence to drive a motor vehicle under Part III of the Road Traffic Act 1988, have his/her application refused pursuant to section 92 of the Act (physical fitness) otherwise than on the ground of persistent misuse of drugs or alcohol.

1.8 DfT has produced guidance to local authorities on assessing eligibility of disabled people, which can be found at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/regional/buses/concessionary/informationlocalauthorities/guidancedisabled/

See you on the 8th in Ryde. All Saints’ Church Hall, 1:30, as always!

Happy New Year,

Chris.