Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Silver Linings

I love a discount, I don't love being disabled, but the two collide in some lovely money saving opportunities, I thought everyone knew about, but after speaking to disabled friends who didn't I decided to share a few tips and tricks to save some pennies as we all know /DLA/PIP doesn't get us very far!

Every cloud has a silver lining....
Cinema

I put this one first as it's my favourite discount of them all! If you don't already, get yourself a CEA card. Set up by the Cinema Exhibitors Association, this little gem of plastic gets your "carer" (In my case this is anyone willing to be dragged to see all the films!) a free ticket when accompanying you. I believe it's for your safety, it's thought sensible that you bring a friend since we're vulnerable in emergency situations. 

If I take a friend along we would share the discount and only pay for one ticket between us..... but wait, it gets better. Most UK cinema chains have introduced monthly pay schemes where you can see as many films and you like, as many times as you like, BUT if you have a CEA card you can use them together. 

So, today Mike and I saw La La Land (Incredible!) and Split (Genius!) and it only cost my £17.99 fee for us both to go, my carer still goes free and I only pay my Odeon direct debit, today should have cost us £42 now any other films we see this month are effectively free!

For more information on CEA cards go here https://www.ceacard.co.uk/

Home

Living expenses, when you live on benefits, can be stressful but there is help available. If you are a recipient of ESA you are entitled to apply for a council tax reduction, because most of us have to adapt our homes or even extend them, this could push our homes into higher council tax rates, hence why this discount is available. 

To contact your local council about this reduction go here https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council

When buying the aforementioned disabled equipment or adaptions keep in mind that you do not pay VAT on them. They are necessities to our way of life and they are not cheap, even with the VAT removed, so make sure that if you purchase anything related to your disability that you get the VAT off, 

If you have a water meter some water companies will cap your bill if you can prove that you use a lot of water because of your disability. Contact your own water supplier for information.

Car

As a disabled woman, I have to rely on other A LOT and this includes being driven around, with public transport being such a pain with any mobility aids our car is a God send. Unlike non-disabled people, we cannot hop on a train or on a bus, so if you get DLA/PIP you do not have to pay your car tax. 

To read up on car Tax Exception go here https://www.gov.uk/vehicle-exempt-from-vehicle-tax

The infamous disabled blue badges, don't just let you park on double yellow lines or nearer to the door at Tesco, they also mean that you are exempt from the Dartford tunnel charges (and most other paid for bridges in the UK) and the London Congestion charge too to apply go to https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/congestion-charge/discounts-and-exemptions

Plus until the Brexit (ever!) happens, you can use your badges in Europe for parking and (as we did in Pisa, Italy) use them for car park discounts, 

To apply for a Blue Badge go here https://www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge

Theme Parks/Theatre's/Events

If you are partial to a rollercoaster, a gig at the O2 or a day at a Duxford Airshow, always ask about their disability discounts. I have seen many a show where Mike and I have only had to pay for one ticket, I assume since a lot of us cannot get around freely and alone, companies feel sorry for the poor bugger dragged along to any shows, this is part of why you get a free carer. 

Theme parks general give you a free pass for your carer, a discount for yourself and if a second carer is needed they give them discounts off their ticket too. It's all about planning, phoning the venue before hand or checking their websites for details and some places have dedicated phone lines for disabled customers. 

Hope this helps some of you out there! Let me know how you get on!

Until Next Wednesday

L xxx

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If you missed last weeks vlog watch it below or please click here, and because I'm an idiot, here is a photo of Teddy that I forgot to add to the end of last week's vlog video!

Gorgeous Teddy who has now gone home - Boo :(



Thursday, 2 February 2017

Tapping to Wicked


I’m sorry I’m a day late! To be honest, Monday and Tuesday were pretty much written off with pain and sleep, and yesterday (Wednesday i.e. blog day!) my sister, Nicola, and I went to see the West End show Wicked and by the time we got home, I was in enough pain to warrant a dinner and bed!



Wicked, the hit West End/Broadway show is mesmerising and about to go on a tour. The storyline hones in on the unlikely friendship between the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, and Glinda the Good from the epic Wizard of OZ books/films. 

Speaking of unlikely friendships, our trip to see the show largely came from my own one. You see our day out was planned by TAP Events who organise matinee outings to big shows in London. TAP is owned and run by Martin and Karen.



I've known Karen for 16 years, and the reason our friendship is an unusual one, is that Karen is my ex-boyfriends Mum. My ex and I split up 12 years ago and yet Karen and I remained friends. Some think it's a tad odd but Karen is one of my closest friends who I love, respect and enjoy spending time with, however unlikely our friendship is!

Anyway...

Getting to London is a sore subject with me. I adore our capital and city of my birth, but getting around in a wheelchair is difficult in such a historic and busy place. The excellent thing about Tap Events is that being a Southend local company, they collect patrons at pick up points all around town and they're happy to take wheelchairs! 

I was treating my sister to the show, as her Birthday present, as I've seen the show before. The coach dropped us right outside the theatre but we had a couple of hours to explore, get lunch and shop. 

At 2:30, we were greeted at the theatre doors by Kara, Victoria Apollo's, assistances coordinator, who explained where we were seated, where the disabled loo's were, and then took us in via platform lifts to our dress circle seats, where we had an amazing view of the whole stage.




The show is no less incredible than the first time I saw it. In fact, Wicked get better each time, I think I was so enthralled the first time that I didn't fully take it in. The music, the voices, the costumes and set design were all mesmerising, I adore the way Wicked plot weaves effortlessly into the well known OZ tales and I found myself getting a tad emotional in parts because it is such a beautiful, emotive funny show. 

Luckily, since this was Nicola's Birthday gift, she loved the show, which by the way was her first foray into the West End, and said that she has caught the theatre bug. When I asked her what she thought of the show she simply said Wicked... what more can you say?

Nicola and I

After the show, the lovely Kara came and escorted us through the theatre back outside into the chilly February night, where our coach was waiting for us and although by this point I was exhausted and in agony,  we were both on the wonderful high show's like Wicked put you on. 

A huge thanks to Martin and Karen at Tap Events, I cannot recommend their service enough, they look after you every step of the trip, competitive prices for the shows are standard and you don't have to faff around on the trains and tubes. You do have to be able to take a few steps on and off the coach but every one helps to you and let you take your time (and boy do I take my time). I'll be using their services a lot in the future.

Go see Wicked!

Until next Wednesday,
L xxx

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

ESA Benefit Review

It's vlog week!

I had my Employment Support Allowance Benefit review today. I was terrified. I think this week's blog shows just how distressing the whole process is for disabled people. Let me know what you think!



If you can't see this weeks vlog then please click here! Remember to subscribe and leave a comment too!

Until next Wednesday!
L x