Norfolk charity gets funding to help people with learning difficulties

A charity is celebrating a �50,000 windfall to help people with learning disabilities navigate health and social care services.

Opening Doors, which has offices in Norwich, Cromer and Great Yarmouth, is one of 51 organisations across England to receive funding from the Department of Health's Health and Social Care Volunteering Fund (HSCVF), out of a total of 429 applications.

Opening Doors is a user-led charity run by and for people with learning disabilities which specialises in recognising people as individuals.

Its mission is for all adults with learning disabilities in Norfolk to be confident individuals, controlling their own lives and making their own decisions, with support from people they trust.

It runs self advocacy groups in Norwich, Yarmouth, Holt, Attleborough and King's Lynn, which give people the confidence to look after themselves and stand up for themselves.

The �49,895 project will enable the charity to recruit and train more volunteers for health and social care support.

Janet Brandish, pictured, 41, from Heartsease, is a member of Opening Doors and a regular visitor to the doctor and hospital because of her cerebral palsy. She has a health book which contains details of all her medications which she said was very useful if she had to be admitted.

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But she added: 'The health service needs to be aware that people with disabilities find it difficult communicating with professionals because when they go to the GP or hospital or appointments, instead of talking to the person who the appointment is for, they talk to their carer or support worker instead.

'It makes people angry and upset because the appointment is for the person who has made the appointment and not the carer. I'd like to see them make changes and understand who they are speaking to and make their language a lot easier to understand.'

Sue Mickleburgh, senior advisor at Opening Doors, said: 'Many of our members have had bad experiences because they don't get sufficient time in the appointment or don't understand the medication they have got. With a fuller explanation they can understand better when they can take medication, what it can go with and why it is needed.

'At the moment they are not being treated as adults.'

More information is available at or by calling 01603 789 889.

Do you have a health-releated story? Call health reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email