All aboard for Diverse Abilities at this Year’s Dragon Boat Race

With only three months to go until the Diverse Abilities annual Chinese Dragon Boat Race, the charity that supports children and adults with disabilities in Dorset is looking to recruit more teams to take part in this thrilling event across Poole Park’s lake on Sunday 20 July, between 10am and 3.30pm.

The Dragon Boat Race will see teams go head-to-head in boats decorated with dragon figureheads and anyone can take part – be it companies, families or friends – and no experience is required as full coaching is provided.

Each team comprises of up to 17 enthusiastic members – 16 paddlers plus the drummer and a minimum of nine are required. An experienced helm will join the crew, to keep the boat pointing in the right direction towards the finish line.

The event, supported and sponsored by Spectrum Housing Group will be raising vital funds for the charity that supports over 600 children and adults with disabilities in the county and are entering four teams into the event after enjoying the experience so much in 2013.

Following last year’s event, Tina Partridge at Spectrum said: “The Dragon Boat Race is a fantastic opportunity to get involved in a fun activity, while raising money for a great local charity.  We raced for the first time last year and had a great time – it was a terrific team-building opportunity for us, and enjoyed it so much that we have four teams taking part this year!”

Paul Bryan, Managing Director, at Spectrum is also taking part in the event and said: “We thoroughly enjoyed the 2013 Dragon Boat Race. It was a great occasion in the July sunshine with lots of fun for all ages and ability levels.

“This fun event has a very serious side as it generates a significant amount of the much needed funds that Diverse Abilities needs to raise each year to support the high dependency support requirements of its clients and their families. Our staff are delighted to have the opportunity to help with these funding needs while also having plenty of fun. Spectrum is a proud sponsor of the 2014 Dragon Boat Race and we look forward to breaking records both on the lake and the amounts raised on the day.”

Sharon Wells, Events Fundraiser at Diverse Abilities, said: “It’s looking set to be another successful event, with many company, friends and family teams already entered from across the region. This is a very lively and enjoyable event to take part in, which is right on our community’s doorstep. Everyone that has taken part in previous years will be aware that all participants, plus the spectators, have a fantastic day out getting into the team spirit and cheering everybody on. Whether you are a complete novice, adrenaline addict or keen boat racer, you can look forward to a great day out with lots of laughs!”

Anyone over the age of eight can take part in the Dragon Boat Race, but they must be confident in deep water and wearing a buoyancy aid. An adult must accompany participants under 18 during the event.

The team entry fee for the Dragon Boat Race is £170, approximately £10 per person for a full team. A minimum of £750 per team (just £45 per person to fundraise) is also required as sponsorship for the event.

For more information, or to book your team, contact Sharon Wells at Diverse Abilities on 01202 718266 or email

Jump from 10,000 Feet for Charity Skydive Challenge

Diverse Abilities is looking for daring individuals to sign up for an exciting skydive challenge on Saturday 11 October 2014, taking place over the Wiltshire countryside at an airfield in Salisbury. Anyone can take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity and raise money for the charity that supports over 600 adults and children with disabilities in Dorset.

Participants can choose from either a 10,000 or 15,000 foot jump where they will be attached to a professional skydiver from the airfield’s flight team, who have been recognised as one of the best skydiving teams in the country.

Sharon Wells, Events Fundraiser at Diverse Abilities, said: “Many people say that skydiving is something they would love to try and this is a great opportunity to have a go while helping a local charity at the same time! Having the exhilarating feeling of wind rushing past you as you freefall will hopefully encourage generous sponsorship.”

Ben Langford, age 18, is supported by Diverse Abilities and undertook a skydive last year and raised money for the charity. Ben said: “The skydive was fantastic! I enjoyed every minute of it. I would say to anyone that is thinking of undertaking a skydive to definitely sign up! It’s a fantastic experience and if you can raise money for a charity at the same time it is well worth it.”

All participants can jump for FREE, providing the minimum sponsorship of £395 is with the charity ten days prior to the jump date. There is a deposit entry fee payable of £50 at the time of booking the skydive, which you can recoup from the charity after your skydive. Please note, if the minimum sponsorship is not raised, the skydive is not free and participants will need to pay a further £175 to cover the balance of the jump cost, on the day of the skydive, prior to jumping.

If those wishing to undertake a skydive are unable to make 11 October, then another date can be arranged – any day, any time – apart from Christmas Day!

For more information on Diverse Abilities and for details regarding the skydiving opportunities please contact Sharon Wells by e-mailing or call 01202 718266.

Daredevils Wanted for Charity 110ft Abseil Overlooking Poole Harbour

Diverse Abilities, Dorset’s disability charity, is looking for courageous people to take part in its third ‘Harbourview 110ft Abseil’ overlooking Poole Harbour on Sunday 8 June to raise vital funds for the services it runs supporting over 600 children and adults with disabilities in Dorset.

By taking part in this event, fundraisers will experience an invigorating challenge and get a huge buzz from the excitement of the descent, while raising money for the charity to provide invaluable support to the people it works with across the wide range of services. To take part in ‘Harbourview Abseil’, no experience is necessary – just lots of enthusiasm!

From the top of the abseil venue participants will be able to enjoy stunning panoramic views of Poole Harbour. Those daring to take the challenge will be harnessed up and trained by a team of professional and highly skilled abseil instructors, who will ensure that those taking part are equipped with the knowledge and training to make their abseil safe and as enjoyable as possible.

Laura Abbott works for Diverse Abilities as an adult support worker and is taking part in the abseil challenge. She said: “I decided to take on this challenge to raise vital funds for the Dorset charity that I work for because it offers a wide range of services to adults and children with disabilities in the local area. Funding is vital for the people we support and by challenging myself I can make a difference.” If you’d like to help Laura reach her personal fundraising target of £150, please visit her Justgiving page at

To take part in the abseil, the minimum age is eight, and those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The entry fee is £10 and each participant is kindly asked to raise a minimum sponsorship of £100. A special discount is applicable for teams of four, with the entry fee at £30 per team.

To sign up or find out further information, please contact Sharon Wells by calling 01202 718266 or via e-mail at

For more information regarding Diverse Abilities Plus please visit the Facebook page at

Cupcake Decorating Course in Aid of Diverse Abilities Plus

As part of the this year’s Great Dorset Bake Sale being run by Dorset charity, Diverse Abilities, from Monday 5 to Sunday 11 May 2014, a cupcake decorating course has been organised for local people to attend and perfect their skills.

The cupcake decorating course will be taking place on Monday 5 May from 7.30pm in Talbot Village and costs £25 per person, with £20 of the fee being donated to the charity that supports over 600 children and adults with disabilities in Dorset.

At the event attendees will be able to perfect their icing skills, cover pre-baked cupcakes with fondant icing and piped buttercream and learn modelling techniques to make sugar paste flowers and butterflies.

All materials and tools will be provided and attendees will take six decorated cupcakes home with them. During the evening refreshments (including cake) will be provided!

There are limited spaces available so the charity is advising those that wish to take part, sign up now!

Beccy Payne, Corporate and Community Fundraiser at Diverse Abilities, said: “Come and join our Great Dorset Bake Sale cupcake decorating course! Last year’s class was great fun and we all learnt some fantastic skills while raising money for a wonderful cause.”

To sign up to cupcake course or the charity’s Great Dorset Bake Sale, please call Beccy Payne on 01202 718266 or email

Barclays House Dig Deep to Make a Difference to Dorset Charity Run School

A team of 21 green fingered volunteers from Barclays House in Poole made a huge difference to charity run Langside School this month as part of a six month project to rejuvenate the area and provide a new sensory walk and wildlife garden for the children to enjoy.

Langside is an independent, non-maintained, special day school run by Diverse Abilities, Dorset’s disability charity, and provides education to 28 children from the ages of two to 19 who have special educational needs and physical difficulties, often with complex medical conditions.

The volunteers spent a whole day at Langside School and started with the task of clearing plants, weeds and mounds of undergrowth before moving onto digging up the garden, setting concrete borders and planting sensory plants and installing sensory items that the children can easily reach when they visit the garden.

Jon Seaward, School Principal, said: “The transformation of the sensory garden was nothing short of miraculous and we can’t wait to see the children benefiting from all the efforts made.”

Sarah Harrison, Volunteer Recruitment Manager, said: “We can’t thank the Barclays House volunteers enough for the fantastic work that was undertaken at Langside School. The area looks fabulous and we want to say a massive thank you to every single volunteer for their efforts and enthusiasm on the day.”

Speaking about the project, organiser Carla Hart from Barclays commented: “We had such a great turnout on the day and thankfully, the weather – which looked horrendous from reports – was perfect the whole day. Everyone got involved with each of the tasks and despite seeing a lot of tired faces at the end of the day, everyone agreed they had really enjoyed themselves by giving something back to the local community.”

One of the volunteers, Bex Collins, was on her school work placement at Barclays House and attended the volunteer day at Langside. Bex is also the great granddaughter of Phyllis Edwards – the charity’s founder. She said: “I have had a wonderful day helping out at Langside and it is great we can give something back to the children that come here. I know the charity does an amazing job and I hope that I continue to be involved with Diverse Abilities in the foreseeable future so the legacy of my great-grandmother, Phyllis, lives on for years to come.”

Sarah added: “As well as a massive thank you to the Barclays volunteers, we’d like to show our appreciation to Gibbs & Dandy and New Milton Sand and Ballast who donated materials for the garden revamp, ISS Landscaping who donated plants and two gardeners for the day, and MA Hart, who also donated materials and the services of two skilled staff who worked tirelessly to ensure the landscaping was done to a high standard and who have pledged to return to complete the pathways next month. Without the generosity and hard work of all these contributors and the Barclays team, the day would have not been possible.”

To complete the work in the garden, a smaller group of volunteers are also due to return in May to install a sensory arch at the entrance to the area, donated by the Barclays team.

Diverse Abilities is looking to recruit volunteers to work on various projects in the future. Please contact Sarah Harrison on 01202 718266 or email if you would like to get involved.

Celebrating 15 years of CHAOS in Dorset

Coping with CHAOS, one of the services run by Dorset’s disability charity Diverse Abilities, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year and are looking forward to the 16 July when the service can officially celebrate its birthday.

The service that joined Diverse Abilities in April 2011, provides support to families with disabled children in Dorset up to the age of 19 and has been described by many local parents as a lifeline. Coping with CHAOS offers a variety of play sessions during the school holidays for children with disabilities and their siblings, giving parents the opportunity of a short break, plus a weekly youth club for teenagers with disabilities, called Awesome Nights. The service also has a one-to-one befriending service and coffee mornings providing support, signposting and guidance for parents and CHAOS Juniors, a once monthly stay and play session for disabled pre-schoolers.

Since becoming a charitable organisation in 1999, Coping with CHAOS has grown and grown. It now supports over 300 families in Dorset and following a grant from the Big Lottery Fund, the service now provides even more support to families in rural Dorset, expanding into the north and west of the county including Blandford and Dorchester.

Coping with CHAOS was set up by two parents, Liz Morris and Anne Boyce, both of whom had children with disabilities. Both felt frustrated that there were not any services available for children with a disability, their siblings and parents to bring the whole family together. Therefore they set up Coping with CHAOS’ first play session which took place during the summer holidays and supported 12 families.

To this day, the service is primarily run by parents that have children with disabilities and they can therefore can provide advice and support to parents that need to talk to someone, as well as providing the perfect setting for children with disabilities, their parents and siblings – allowing them, to all enjoy their time together as a family as the quote below illustrates.

A parent that uses the Coping with CHAOS service said: “The service has helped our family enormously over the years. Summer seemed such a daunting stretch of difficult outings and restrictions. CHAOS opened up our options and gave us a reason to enjoy outings, less pressure, inclusion, for the whole family and full acceptance. Brilliant!’

To run Coping with CHAOS it costs £265,000 per year and therefore the service relies on grants, donations and volunteers.

If you can get involved and help in anyway, please do get in touch on 01202 855105.

Dorset Adults with Disabilities Need You!

Diverse Abilities, the only charity in Dorset that supports children and adults with profound physical and learning disabilities, is giving the local community an opportunity to work within its supported living team. It is encouraging those that are looking for a new career in care to attend a recruitment event on Saturday 26 April from 9am until 3pm at the charity’s central office based near Tower Park.

The Dorset disability charity supports 35 adults to live as independently as possible in their own home and get out and about in the local community. As the demand for the charity’s services continues to grow it is looking to expand and is therefore seeking individuals to join its team to provide the vital services that are crucial to those the charity supports in Adult Services.

There are many prospects for those that join the charity’s services. It is great for those that require full time hours and are looking to progress within the care sector or for those that require part-time hours that are studying or have a busy family life.

No experience is necessary for the roles as all staff have the opportunity to gain qualifications, such as a diploma level three in health and social care, and full training is provided in-house.

Lee Brady, from Diverse Abilities, said: “We offer flexible working with hours available on the weekend and evenings – perfect for those that may wish to return to work after having children or are studying at college or university. The role of support assistant at in our Adult Services is ideal for someone that wants to learn and either start a career or progress further. The roles we offer really do cater for everyone!”

Scarlett Taylor, 24 from Bournemouth, is a Team Leader at Diverse Abilities. She started working in the supported living team as a Support Assistant, working 20 hours a week as she was studying. Once Scarlett finished studying she increased her hours and within six months progressed to a Team Leader position. She said: “Diverse Abilities Plus is a fantastic company to work for – the training provided is brilliant, they are extremely supportive and I am very thankful that they encouraged me to progress. The role of Support Assistant is perfect for those that wish to work flexible hours and if you wish to up your hours or progress to a higher role this is possible, which is a great incentive to work with a charity that supports those with disabilities in Dorset.”

At the recruitment event, attendees will have the opportunity to speak with representatives from the charity and find out what it is like to work for Diverse Abilities Plus, while meeting a number of adults currently supported by the charity. Full details of how to apply will also be available on the day.

The event will be held at the charity’s head office at Unit C, Acorn Business Park, Ling Road, Poole BH12 4NZ. For further information please contact Lee Brady on 01202 718266 or email

DCCI Chief Executive joins Charity’s Apprentice Challenge Judging Panel

Ian Girling, the Dorset Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Chief Executive, has joined the judging panel for Diverse Abilities’ Apprentice Challenge, taking place at the Cumberland Hotel in Bournemouth on Wednesday 4 June.

The challenge is a full day event taking place from 9am until 5.30pm. Teams of six will take part in three apprentice themed tasks and compete against each other in order to succeed and win on the day. There will also be a pre-event task for participants to complete in the weeks leading up to the event. The challenges will be themed around equality, diversity and disability; therefore participants will also learn a lot on the day, as well as having great fun.

Ian will be joining Eric, one of the people the charity supports, who will be taking on the role of business man Alan Sugar!

Lottie Forte, who works at Diverse Abilities and is organising the event, said: “We are very pleased that Ian is joining the judging panel. Ian brings with him a wealth of knowledge of the Dorset business community and will help the panel make the right decisions about the teams taking part and whether they should be fired or be a winner!”

Ian Girling said: “I’m delighted to have been asked to be a judge. This is a great cause and there is no doubt it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Lottie added: “The challenge is set to be fun, great for team bonding and very competitive. Everyone that takes part will be helping us continue the vital services Dorset disability charity runs, supporting children and adults with profound physical and learning disabilities.”

To enter the Apprentice Challenge the team fee is £100. The minimum age for entry is 18 years. If you would like to take part or find out further information, please contact Lottie Forte on 01202 718266 or email

For more information regarding Diverse Abilities Plus please visit the Facebook page at

Disability Wessex Urges Government to Act Now and Support Those with Disabilities

As reported by UK Parliament (, reforms to the support provided for housing costs and the household benefit cap are causing financial hardship to vulnerable people, including those with disabilities in Dorset.

Disability Wessex, the advice service of Dorset-based charity Diverse Abilities, is frustrated to read that these reforms, which include the social sector size criteria (SSSC) also known as ‘bedroom tax’ and the ‘spare room subsidy’, are effecting those with disabilities, who were not the originally intended targets, and are unlikely to be able to change their circumstance without Government help.

Nikki Haswell, Advice Manager at Disability Wessex, said: “The SSSC is having a particular impact on people with disabilities who have adapted homes or need a room to accommodate a support worker and we witness the distress caused by the welfare reforms brought in 2012 on an almost daily basis. Last year we supported 94 people with a disability at their appeal hearings and are proud to say that 71 per cent were successful, but nevertheless it is very sad to see that some are not when the reforms are hitting genuinely sick and disabled people.”

The report published by the Work and Pensions Committee on 2 April recommends that anyone living in a home that has been significantly adapted for them should be exempt from the SSSC. The report further urges the Government to exempt all households that contain a person in receipt of higher level disability benefits (DLA or PIP) from the SSSC.

Nikki added: “The welfare changes are punishing some of the most vulnerable people in our society who are genuinely sick and disabled. The report could be a positive way forward and I hope the government take on board the report’s recommendations to support those with disabilities in our local area and further afield.”

The Advice Team at Disability Wessex assists disabled people and carers to access the support and services to which they are entitled. It also helps individuals and their families who have been diagnosed with conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, MND, Stroke, MS and brain injury, to get Lasting Power of Attorney or Deputyship in place.

For further information please visit or contact Nikki Haswell, Advice Service Manager on 07880 197332 or 01202 718266.

Dorset Woman Prepares for Arctic Challenge for Charity

Rachel Turner, 26, from Bournemouth, is taking part in a chilly but rewarding adventure in aid of Dorset-based charity Diverse Abilities. Next year Rachel will be setting off to Sweden from 9 – 17 January to take part in the Arctic Challenge and raise funds for the charity that supports children and adults with disabilities in the whole of the county.

During the adventure challenge Rachel will have the chance to live in a cold environment and satisfy her survival instinct. The seven day event includes taking part in husky driving, snowmobiling safari around the mountains, ice fishing, cross country skiing, building shelters and snow-holes and much more. Plus get the chance to see the Northern Lights – a once in-a-lifetime experience! The week finishes with a day of rest and relaxation where you can recuperate in a hot tub (Swedish style) and a sauna, and enjoy a BBQ.

Rachel decided to take part in this challenge as she wanted to raise funds for the charity that has supported her brother, Sam aged 24, for the past ten years. Sam has been supported by Barnabas – the day opportunities service and Smithers and Shapes – the short break and home support provision.

She said: “I was looking for an opportunity to gain confidence, get out of my comfort zone, try something new and to help others at the same time. Raising money for Diverse Abilities Plus is very personal to me as my brother uses a number of the services provided by the charity. I am very excited to be taking part and hope others from the Dorset join me.”

To date Rachel has raised £690.00. As part of her fundraising she has held a disco for those with disabilities at the Orange Rooms in Bournemouth but is looking to raise more funds. If you would like to sponsor her please visit

Sally Hobbs, from Poole, undertook the Arctic Challenge this year and works for Diverse Abilities. She said: “I love raising money for Diverse Abilities as it is such a worthy cause and it is great to see how fundraisers can help children and adults supported by the charity. I have previously undertaken a skydive, been part of the Harry Paye Day parade and Grooves on the Green but I wanted to do something much bigger and the Arctic Challenge was perfect. The whole trip was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I would definitely recommend it to anyone!”

Entry is £200 and minimum sponsorship is £2,750. Diverse Abilities provides full support prior to the event and ideas for fundraising to help those taking part reach their target. Those that sign up will also partake in a free pre-arctic survival training weekend in Devon in November 2014.

Diverse Abilities is looking for eager individuals to join her in this winter wonderland experience. For further information please contact Sharon Wells on 01202 718266 or email