Independent Living Today
Welcome to a special BUMPER Summer 2009 edition of our Newsletter,
keeping you informed about issues and developments within services aimed
at helping people maintain their independence. This edition includes a
number of articles to help keep people safer in their own homes.
Highlights of today’s Newsletter include:
A day in the life of…Teesside and District Society for the Blind
Stockton Independent Living Centre Update
In this day and age we need to have our wits about us with regard
to who we let into our houses. Thefts and deceptions are rare,
but it is still sensible to know how we could be duped into parting
with our money or belongings, and what to do if it happens. The
following articles demonstrate some of the techniques that can be
used by a few unscrupulous people:
1. Doorstep Crimes
Who are Bogus Callers? Bogus Callers, are criminals who adopt a number
of guises: plumbers, high pressure sales people, builders, gardeners, people who offer to
tarmac your drive.
What is a Bogus Caller incident? A bogus caller incident is typically 'an incident where the
caller gave false or misleading details to gain entry to premises or obtain work, and either by
their manner, actions or persistence, stole or otherwise deceived or confused the occupant into
parting with cash or property'.
They are responsible for a distressing crime often aimed at the most vulnerable members of
our community. The actions of these people can have serious consequences on the quality of
life of many victims.
They will use every trick in the book to get inside your house and rummage through your
possessions, taking anything of value they can find. You may think you have the best hiding
place for your valuables; chances are they'll find them.
Bogus callers can appear to be very believable. They can take on many forms, dress as utility
workers, trades-people, or even police officers. They are particularly persuasive and articulate
and can easily talk their way into people's homes. Once in they will steal money and valuables.
Our research shows that older people are their main targets
Beating the Bogus Caller
STOP! (Are you expecting anyone?)
CHAIN! (Always use door chain)
CHECK! (Double check caller identification)
Always Report Bogus Caller Crime - Call Cleveland Police on 01642 326326
The type of things they will say to try and get into your home:
I'm here to check the pipes
I need to check the water/turn the water off (I'm laying pipes / water main has bust)
The water is unfit for drinking
I need to check for damp
There has been a gas explosion up the road
I've lost my football/kite/puppy/cat
Can I use your toilet?
Can I have a glass of water?
Can I borrow a pen/a piece of paper to write a note?
Can I see John/Jane? (or any other fictitious name)
I'm interested in buying antiques or books
You have won a prize in a raffle - can I measure up for the prizes/write down your
I'm from Age Concern - can I take down the number of your pension book?
Try not to keep lots of cash in the house and keep things like your pension book,
savings book, cheque book and cards well hidden.
Most utilities and service staff will make an appointment prior to coming to your house
and should not turn up unannounced.
If someone unexpected who you do not know comes to your house do not let them in
until you are absolutely sure they are genuine.
If you have any doubts - Keep them out!
An example of Distraction burglary could be someone calling at your front door whilst
their accomplice enters via the backdoor then taking the opportunity to steal whatever
belongings they can find. The advice remains the same, STOP, CHAIN, CHECK! and keep
both your front and back doors locked. As one Cleveland Police Officer states “We would
urge people to be extremely vigilant when opening the door to strangers. Unless they can
confirm their identity, do not let them into your homes. If a person says they are from a utility
company, please ring that company before allowing access to your home.”
Cleveland Police can provide you with 'How to beat the bogus caller' leaflets and door stickers
free of charge. We can also obtain audio cassettes on the subject for the visually impaired.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the number given above. (Many
thanks to the Crime Prevention Team at Cleveland Police for this article). Alternatively please
contact Independent Living (contact details on the last page) and a sticker will be posted out to
Hardly a week goes by these days without someone knocking on
your door asking if you`d like new windows, have your trees or
hedges trimmed or your drive block-paved. Doorstep selling can be convenient at times, but
very often older or vulnerable people can be pressured into buying something they do not want
or that is not good value for money by a salesperson using clever selling tactics. In October
2008 there were some changes made to the law on buying from a salesperson in your home.
Now, in most cases, you have seven days to cancel a purchase worth over £35. In addition,
you must be given details of your cancellation rights in writing. Some of the best known ploys
for tempting you to part with your cash include:
“I`m on your doorstep. I`ve got a little present for you, you`ve got to let me in or it`s just
“I find out what your interests are, I draw you in – yes I love watching the tennis too –
now you just can`t say no!”
“I rush you into a decision to buy now – or lose a special discount I`ve just made up”
“I`m friendly and approachable and get you to agree with me and trust me – that way it`s
harder for you to say no to me”
“I tell you three people down your road bought from me just last week, so if it`s good
enough for them…..”
“I tell you that my products are endorsed and recommended by experts just to make you
feel secure and more likely to buy from me”
Vulnerable people are often talked into purchasing goods or services, often because they are
told their health or wellbeing, or the state of their roof or guttering will be so much worse if they
don`t. Some have said saying yes seemed to be the easiest way to get them out of their
house. And the doorstep sellers are very much aware of this, in fact some of them depend on
Many local authorities run campaigns in a bid to help residents deal with this kind of high
pressure selling, giving out stickers or posters to put in the front door or window, and offer
advice such as:
Remember this person is not your friend, and does not care about you, your house or your
wellbeing - they just want to make a sale.
If you don`t want them to come in – don`t let them in – it`s your home.
Don`t get drawn into conversations about your family or interests – this is not a social call –
they just want to gain your trust
Don`t be taken in by their incredible discounts – remember that the price they start with will
be plucked from the sky, just so they can bring it down by huge amounts, offering you a
“today only discount”
Don`t let them baffle or bamboozle you – they will try so that they make you feel they are
the expert and you are in need of what they are selling. Don`t be drawn in. If something
does need doing, if your roof really does need replacing, you can get quotes at your leisure
and choose a firm to do it without pressure.
Keep this in mind:- do you really want this product and are you happy with the price – if the
answer is no then ask them to leave
If they will not leave, say you will contact the police. Some people do not want to take no
for an answer and will be very persuasive!
However, if you do feel it is the right decision for you to purchase from a doorstep seller,
remember these golden rules:
Have a price in mind that you believe to be fair or appropriate – if their price is a long way
off, think again. It is really best to shop around, and not a good idea to buy on impulse
If you do want the product or service they are selling, and you are sure you are happy with
the price, ask for the details in writing, by way of a contract or sales agreement, including
details of your right to cancel and how to contact them. That way you will have a 7 day
cooling off period and should you decide to cancel, you must write to them within 7 days,
asking for a proof of cancellation. If you have already paid, they have up to 30 days to
refund your money. However, there are times when you cannot cancel the agreement, for
example if work has already commenced, or if the goods were made to your specific
requirements or have already been used (unless faulty). Consumer Direct will be able to
give you more specific advice.
Be suspicious if they say there is nothing in writing to give – this could give them the
freedom to up the price, or come back with hidden extra costs, and there would be little
come-back if you don`t know how to contact them again.
Remember this is your home, not their shop or office, they must respect that and only allow
them into rooms you are comfortable with.
Bear in mind the reports of purses or jewellery going missing whilst you`ve been making a
cup of tea, or when they`ve had to “pay a little call” – and of people being driven in the
sellers` van to the cash-point to withdraw large amounts of money – so even saying “I don`t
have that kind of cash in the house” won`t always be a good enough excuse for some
Sometimes, if you are looking to purchase a stair lift or have some work done, you can
arrange for a salesperson to call at your house, but consider the following:
Check their identity when they arrive – ask for their ID badge or ring their company so you
can be sure they are who they say they are.
Make sure you are in control – not the salesperson. You ask the questions, not them.
Keep your wits about you and make notes if you need to, or ask a neighbour or friend to be
there during the appointment.
Take the opportunity before-hand to do your homework, check with other companies
offering similar goods or services – don`t be hurried into making a decision based on an
only available now discount. The discount may be on a price that was way too high in the
first place – so is it really a bargain? Don`t sign on the spot unless you are sure you are
happy with the small print. And don`t forget to always ask about the cooling-off period.
Traders who display the joint Direct
Selling Association and Office of Fair
Trading Approved Code logo should
offer reliable customer service
TrustMark is a new scheme supported by the
Department for Business, Enterprise and
Regulatory Reform, trade bodies and consumer
groups to help people find reliable and reputable
tradespeople to carry out repair, maintenance and
improvement work inside and outside their homes.
The Office of Fair Trading is keen to bring this message to elderly consumers in particular.
Please pass on as appropriate. For more information please contact: Direct Selling
Association – 020 7497 1234 www.dsa.org.uk Office of Fair Trading: www.oft.gov.uk/codes
Disabled Living foundation: 0845 130 9177 www.dlf.org.uk To put an end to unsolicited
telephone calls which can lead to unwanted sales visits register with the Telephone Preference
Service: 020 7291 3320 www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps Or contact the consumer advice service
funded by the government: Consumer Direct: 08454 04 05 06 www.consumerdirect.gov.uk
2. Scams – And How To Avoid Them!
Every day, people throughout the UK are falling victim to scams of
one kind or another. It could be an unexpected prize draw or lottery win, or a chance to invest
in an exciting new money-making or investment programme. But remember - if it sounds too
good to be true, it probably is.
Scams are dishonest attempts to part you with your money. Scams may reach you in the form
of letters, emails, telephone calls and text messages and take many forms including fake
lotteries, miracle health goods, bogus holidays, phony job offers, pyramid schemes, internet
fraud and financial scams. Click here to find out about common types of scams.
Look out for these warning signs if something seems too good to be true:
Was the offer unsolicited?
Why do I have to respond at once? What's the rush?
Do I have to make a purchase to win a prize?
Do I have to ring a premium rate number?
Do I have to give my bank or credit card details?
Is the business reluctant to give their address or contact details?
Am I being asked to keep it confidential?
Does it look too good to be true?
Useful Tips: Follow these useful tips to safeguard yourself from scammers:
Ask for full contact details, including the street address of the company
Take notes of conversations, including names, dates and times
Read letters carefully and seek professional advice [such as an accountant or
solicitor if significant amounts of money or responsibilities are involved]
Independently verify any claims made by a sales person, investment adviser or
advertisement. In the UK, all companies must be registered with Companies House.
Read the small print on any documentation and be sure you understand all the terms
and conditions of any offer made to you
Take your time to make a decision and resist any urge to 'act now'
Don't provide any personal or financial information before you establish the company is
Don't judge a company or sales person by how professional they or their promotional
Don't ever be afraid to ask questions and don't let embarrassment or fear prevent you
from reporting fraud or abuse to the appropriate authorities
Never pay for a 'free' gift. If it's a 'free' gift, you shouldn't have to pay for it.
Never give your bank account or credit card details out. If a caller says they are from
your bank / credit card company / utilities provider, etc. and asks you for your account
details, don`t give them, ask for their name and a telephone number and call them back
– they will be happy to oblige if they are for real as they do not want to see their
For more information please contact: The Mailing Preference Service 0845 703 4599 or
www.mpsonline.org.uk to request that unsolicited mail addressed to you be stopped, or the
Telephone Preference Service to request that unsolicited phonecalls be stopped.
By clicking on the following link you can visit the website of Companies House 0303 1234 500
email@example.com to check whether a company has been registered and is
trading legitimately within the UK.
Click the link for The charities commission firstname.lastname@example.org:
www.charitycommission.gov.uk or phone 0845 3000 218 where they can advise you whether a
charity is genuine.
Check the following website for advice about being safe on the internet www.getsafeonline.org
If you think you have been the victim of a scam please call Consumer Direct for advice on
You can also report it on the Consumer Direct 'Report a scam' pages. This helps collect
information about current scams, and may help prevent other people falling victim. (many
thanks to Consumer Direct for this article)
3. Heat-wave Advice
It seems in this country we`re never quite happy whatever the weather – we
object when it`s cold, we object when it`s hot! Whilst many of us grab the opportunity to bask
in the sunshine, extreme heat can have a harmful effect on the health of the more vulnerable
We can all be affected by the heat if we`re not sensible, with greater risks of dehydration,
sunburn, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Those most at risk though are the very young and
the very old, and people who already have health conditions, especially heart and respiratory
problems – the heat can make their symptoms worse. Top tips for coping during a heat-wave
check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after
shut and shade windows when it is hotter outside than inside and open them for
ventilation when it is cooler outside
people with serious health problems (for example heart conditions) should avoid going
out in the heat, especially between 11.00 am and 3.00 pm
drink cold drinks like water or fruit juice regularly and avoid tea, coffee and alcohol
stay tuned to the weather forecast and plan ahead with supplies
keep plenty of water to hand
stay in the shade where possible
wear a sunhat, use a hand-held or room / table top fan if you have one
make sure you keep putting suntan lotion on – don`t risk being burnt – this is not only
painful and harmful at the time but can also have serious risks for later in life, such
as malignant melanomas
identify the coolest room in the house, so you can go there to keep cool or sleep
There are four stages of alert regarding the weather:
1 (green) no apparent danger but keep alert and prepared
2 (yellow) alert and ready – triggered when the risk is 60% or more for the
threshold temperature being reached in 1 or more regions for at least 2
consecutive days and a night – In the North East the threshold
temperature is 28 degrees in the day and 15 at night.
3 (amber) when the forecast is greater than a 90% risk for the following
day, and health and wellbeing of the more vulnerable is at risk
4 (red) emergency – when the weather is so severe and prolonged that
illness or death may occur to anyone, not just the more vulnerable.
During the week commencing 29th June 2009 we were at alert level 3
Heat exhaustion occurs when the temperature inside the body, known as the core
temperature, rises to between 37-40C (98.6-104F). At that temperature, levels of water and
salt in the body begin to drop leading to a range of symptoms such as nausea, feeling faint and
Left untreated heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke. Heatstroke occurs when a
person’s core temperature rises above 40C (104F). At that temperature cells inside the body
begin to break down and many of the important functions of the body stop working.
There are two types of heatstroke: Classic heatstroke usually affects the elderly, infants and
people with chronic health conditions and develops during unusually hot weather, such as
during a heatwave. Exertional heatstroke usually affects young active people who are
engaged in strenuous physical activity for a long period of time in hot environments. For
example, cases of exertional heatstroke have occurred in outdoor workers, eg builders,
Symptoms of heatstroke can include mental confusion, rapid shallow breathing
(hyperventilation) and loss of consciousness. Heatstroke is a medical emergency. Left
untreated heatstroke can cause multiple organ failure, brain damage and death.
If a person with heat exhaustion is taken quickly to a cool place and given plenty of water to
drink they should begin to feel better within 30 minutes and experience no long-term
complications. Without treatment, however, they could then develop heatstroke.
Heatstroke is a very serious condition and should be treated immediately. Treatment involves
rapidly cooling the body to reduce the core temperature. With rapid treatment, 90% of people
with heatstroke will survive. Without rapid treatment, the survival rate can be as low as 20%;
especially amongst vulnerable people, such as the elderly.
People are advised to contact their local environmental health officer if they have concerns for
themselves or a vulnerable friend, neighbour or relative. Environmental health practitioners at
local authorities can visit to inspect the condition of a home for hazards to health, including
3. Teesside and District Society for the Blind
We are an independent Charity based in Middlesbrough. We cover the County Council
Boundaries of Stockton, Middlesbrough & Redcar & Cleveland. Our aim is to “promote
independence for people with a visual impairment.” One of the services we offer is a Home
Our Home Visiting Service matches volunteers with clients who are blind or visually impaired.
The volunteer visits the client in their own home either once a week or once a fortnight and
stays for about an hour. The volunteer can just sit and chat to the client or read their post for
them or help them to make phone calls. Some volunteers are happy to accompany the client
to hospital or doctors appointments or just for a walk around the block. The service is a lifeline
to the clients. Some clients suffer a lack of confidence when they lose their sight and by
having a volunteer it can help them regain their confidence and also to remain as independent
as possible in their own homes.
I feel I make a real difference to the lady I visit.
I sometimes take the lady I visit for a walk around the block. It is something really easy
for you and me to do but for her it is really difficult as she worries about tripping and
When I first started to visit my client I found it quite difficult but the more I get to know
him the more I admire him and how he manages. He has had such an interesting life
and it’s great to hear listen to his stories. He is a different man to when I first started to
My volunteer comes to visit me once a week. I really look forward to the visit I don’t
think of them as a volunteer I think of them as a friend.
I can talk to my volunteer about things I can’t talk to my family about. She has time for
me where my family always seem to be rushing from one place to another.
My family live away and it gives them peace of mind to know I have a regular visitor.
The service is quite low on volunteers and is currently recruiting. Volunteering can be a very
rewarding experience. All volunteers are trained in visual awareness, supported and
supervised regularly by TSB staff.
If you or someone you know would like to access the service and receive a home visit, this can
be done by a referral being made either by your social worker, GP, yourself, a friend or a
member of your family. This is a very popular service and there may be a short waiting list.
For more information, or if you would like to become a volunteer, please contact Sue
Simpson, Teesside and District Society for the Blind, Stockton Road, Middlesbrough
TS5 4AH Tel 01642 247518 or visit www.teessideblind.co.uk (many thanks to Sue
Simpson, volunteer co-ordinator for providing this valuable insight into the service)
4. SILC Update
Time doesn`t stand still at SILC. Over the last few months considerable changes have taken
place at the Independent Living Centre in Hardwick. Not only is the Stroke Clinic well and truly
established, and in fact expanding (more about that later) but it is now developing a courtyard
wheelchair and scooter assessment area. This will enable people who are new users of
such machines to gain confidence and expertise in the control of their chair or scooter. It also
gives prospective buyers of expensive scooters the opportunity to try one before they buy one.
Lastly, it enables people to receive a specialist OT assessment to identify whether their
eyesight, cognition, reflexes and physical ability are sufficient to enable them to drive a scooter
safely. This is a hugely positive addition to the Independent Living Centre, phone 01642
524750 for more information.
The Stroke Clinic has gone from strength to strength. The Wednesday Drop-in is seeing
many people through its doors. In friendly and informal surroundings, people who have
experienced a stroke and their carers can receive an assessment, information, support and
therapies, such as physio or light gardening in the newly established raised flower beds. Due
to the popularity of this clinic, a new Tuesday group has been introduced. Created so that
people can meet socially, enjoy a cup of tea and a chat whilst partaking of some gentle
exercise, both this group and the Wednesday clinic can be accessed by contacting SILC on
Electoral Register - It’s on a “need to know basis”
Democratic Services at Stockton Council needs to know
if the Electoral (Voter) Register is accurate. So every
year they carry out a canvass of all residential properties
in the Borough to check that they have the correct
details. The canvass is now under way, so all homes
will be receiving a registration form showing who
is listed as a voter at that address.
By law, everyone entitled to vote must make
sure that they are on the Register. Therefore
you must check the information on the form.
Democratic Services needs to know if it’s still the same.
You can easily do this by using the internet, freephone,
texting service, or by signing and sending the form back.
If the details have changed, they need to know what
those changes are. So you will need to mark the changes on the form, sign it and send it back
in the pre-paid envelope.
The Electoral Register will be used for the next Parliamentary Election which is due to be held
by June 2010. If you are not on the Register you will not be able to vote.
If you need any help with the form or have any questions, please call the Annual Registration
helpline on 526196 or e-mail email@example.com .
Tell us what you Want!
This Newsletter has been in print now for a year. How do you think
it`s doing – what would you change, what do you want to see featured?
Would your service users like a newsletter aimed at them, giving specific
information about services available to support them? If you have a
comment or suggestion to make, please let us know!
We’re on the Web!
www.stockton.gov.uk and enter Independent Living into the search tool
And we also have a dedicated email address for all your
independent living enquiries:
or you can write to us at:
Adult Strategy Team, Tithebarn House (1st Floor),
High Newham Court,
Stockton TS19 8RH
Tel 01642 528490 Fax 01642 528457
If you have any articles or events that you would like publicising please send
articles to the above email or postal address by October 12th 2009