The Stockport GMWRAG meeting is here – Friday the 16th of June 2017. Speakers, public transport, presenting officers and biscuit details all below.

On the 10th of May 2017 GMWRAG quietly announced that the next meeting (indeed the first of 2017) would take place in Stockport. You can find that post here but we’re now in a position to provide you with full details and there are a lot of them. Please note that a number of key details have changed from that original post, not least the venue. Soooo…

The next GMWRAG meeting is a full day meeting and takes place in room 5 of Stockport Town Hall (NOT Fred Perry House as we originally suggested) on Friday the 16th of June 2017. Doors will open for refreshments, networking and those without any sense of direction at 9:30am for a 10:00am start.

The minutes of the last meeting can be downloaded from here and the full agenda can now be downloaded from here. Please print them off and bring them with you. GMWRAG hosts are no longer funded to provide copies on the day.

The meeting will have an update on the newly launched GM Strategic Casework Group. If you haven’t had a look at our pages then please do so. There will also be an opportunity to share experiences of the new tranche of Presenting Officers at First Tier Tribunals and both the morning and afternoon sessions will have speakers as detailed below.

GMWRAG was surprised to learn that in our near 4 decade existence we appear to have never had speakers talking about sensory impairment and benefits. Our friends at NAWRA have had workshop presentations from charities like RNIB (and even then maybe only the one) but our agendas and minutes suggest we have not. Hopefully the speakers at this meeting will whet the appetite for further work in this area.

Neither session will involve death by PowerPoint and there will be much in the way of handouts; quizzes; throwing things, er, discussion, interaction and some case law!

Stockport Town Hall, or the “spiritual home of GMWRAG” as it was recently described, is very easily accessed by rail and is a massive 4 minutes walk from Stockport railway station. GMWRAG recommends the train as absolutely the fastest way to get to (and from) Stockport from/to Manchester city centre. Journeys are between 7 and 14 minutes from Manchester Piccadilly station. Please note though that tickets on this route may only be valid for some trains e.g. Northern Trains tickets may not be valid on Virgin Trains and so on.

There are frequent buses and you can get full multi-modal travel information on this via the My TfGM journey planner but all will take considerably longer than the train. If you weren’t already aware, there is also an app available for your smartphone. Welfare rights advisers all have smart phones, don’t you!

If you’re driving in, there are several car parks nearby but you will pay a lot for a full day and the road system can be very confusing for anyone not familiar with the area. Don’t say we didn’t warn you 🙂

Oh, yeah, and the biscuits are on order.

GMWRAG heading to Reading.

GMWRAG is again running 2 workshops at the Nystagmus Network Open Day on Saturday the 7th of May 2016, which this year will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Reading. The connection between GMWRAG and the Nystagmus Network was established when we were invited to attend their first ever northern Open Day in Manchester in 2012.

Nystagmus is an involuntary movement of the eyes which seriously reduces vision; the time to see, and, makes sharp vision impossible. Few people with Nystagmus in the UK can drive. Most encounter difficulties in everyday life, education, employment and social interaction. Visual functioning scores are worse than for diseases like age-related macular degeneration (AMD) because the macular/fovea is not fully developed in people with Nystagmus.

Last year 2 GMWRAG members attended for the first time and we ran workshops on DLA for children with Nystagmus and PIP for adults with Nystagmus. Both workshops were busy and felt by all concerned to be successful. We’ll be running updated versions of those two workshops this year.

There is plenty of information out there about DLA or PIP claims for the visually impaired but inevitably this is generalised. As a consequence of these workshops GMWRAG produces the only literature we’re aware of that’s specifically about Nystagmus and DLA/PIP.

The latest version of the booklet we use for the workshops is on our workshops page and will soon be up on the NN site itself. The sections on the practicalities of form filling have general applicability but the section on the specific impacts of Nystagmus will be useful for anyone struggling to understand any visual impairment which isn’t total blindness but doesn’t seem to be about distance vision.

GMWRAG members are always happy to talk to organisations representing people with specific medical conditions about how we can assist their members learn about benefit entitlements. We can’t guarantee to work out of area. Our focus remains very much on Greater Manchester and the North West of England/North Wales, but, Contact GMWRAG and we’ll see what we can do.