Medway Disability Network

The young founder of what is thought to be Medway’s only online disability network says he is delighted at the success of the group’s first off-line event, which took place recently at St. Justus Church in Rochester.

Twenty-four-year old Joseph Wastell, who himself has a disability, set up the Disability Medway Network on Facebook only a year ago. The aim is to encourage people with disabilities in the region to take a more active part in society, by providing a central place for them to find the support they need. He initiated the group following his own experience of finding it difficult to access information.

Nineteen groups and charities took part in the event, which was hosted at St. Justus Church - of which Joseph is a member. The aim was to allow people and carers of those with disabilities the opportunity to meet groups and charities from across Medway in person; it also allowed organisations to network with each other too, with some meeting for the first time.

Joseph, who is committed to getting the voice of disabled people heard, said that everyone should have the chance to lead a fulfilling life:

“I believe that the way to improving people’s life chances is to build up their confidence. Many disabled people are missing out, simply because it can be so hard to find out what groups are out there to support them.”

He added: “By bringing information about all the different disability needs groups together in one online place, and by running events like this fayre, I hope that disabled people will find it easier to access the help they need, and that this in turn will allow them to take a more active part in society.”

The event was funded by Involving Medway, an initiative run by Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, designed to encourage people to get involved with and help make decisions about health provision in the area. It aims to help residents lead healthier, happier lives through improved participation in community groups and activities. Rosie Anderson, Project Manager for Involving Medway, said that she had initially been unware that a group like this didn’t already exist:

“I was very surprised. An event like this is therefore so vital, as it brings together the community in Medway who have identified that they have a disability and would like to share information and support each other. This can only be beneficial to improving their health and life outcomes.”

Reverend Helen Burn, vicar of St. Justus Church said:

“As a church family we would always seek to be a welcoming and supportive place for people with disabilities, but just as with wider society, we know there is always more we can do. I am therefore really grateful that we have Joseph to help us learn and challenge us on what we do.

“I’m thrilled to see such a wonderful turn out and can only congratulate him on his commitment to making it happen.”

The Disability Medway Network can be found on Facebook and people just need to ask to join.  There are plans to create a website to make it even easier for people to find the information they need. Further fayres are planned to take place in the near future.




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