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Dene Dunn

Dene Dunn

Hi my name is Dene and I work for Portsmouth Disability Forum maintaining and developing their websites. We are always looking to improve our website and welcome any feedback you may have as this helps us to create a website that is easy to navigate, understand and meets your information needs. If you have any suggestions please feel free to email me (denedunn@blueyonder.co.uk).

Just before Christmas the team at Portsmouth Disability  Forum were pleased to welcome Gavin Brechany, from St Thomas Neighbourhood Police Team, Disability Support Network (Core Member) Divisional Hate Crime Working Group (Core Member) - a bit of a mouthful but what he had to say was really interesting.

Gavin himself became disabled following an accident so has a personal interest in hate crime towards disabled people.

I don’t know about you but I would hazard a guess that at some time most of us experience abuse of some kind, for many of us we would not recognise it as a ‘hate crime’, we maybe put it down to ignorance and move on.

Hate crimes are any crimes that are targeted at a person because of hostility or prejudice towards that person’s:

  • disability
  • race or ethnicity
  • religion or belief
  • sexual orientation
  • transgender identity

This can be committed against a person or property.

A victim does not have to be a member of the group at which the hostility is targeted. In fact, anyone could be a victim of a hate crime.

The majority of hate crimes and hate incidents are not emergencies and therefore do not need to be reported in quite the same way through a 999 call.

True Vision is a national web based hate crime resource.  It is packed with information for clients, practitioners and investigators. 

Here at Portsmouth Disability Forum, we have become third party reporters. That is to say, if someone comes into our centre and mentions anything we would recognise as a hate crime, we will support them in reporting it using the True Vision website.

I think for many of us we would worry about the repercussions of making such a report. Well we were assured any action taken would be with the person’s agreement and in most situations a restorative approach would be taken, that is to say; if the person could be identified, the police would initiate an approach of education and awareness raising before any serious action was taken.

In most situations reporting an incident will add to the ongoing register which gives the police statistical evidence to ensure resources are maintained to keep the website going and the work of officers like Gavin in our communities.

If you would like to know more, or sadly want to report an incident, do come into the Centre anytime Monday – Friday from 10am-4pm where a member of our team will be more than happy to help you.


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People use our Disability Information Advice Line (DIAL) in many of different ways.  Sid became disabled following a road traffic accident which resulted in him losing a leg. He first visited DIAL in 2011 when he was refused Employment Support Allowance (ESA) following a referral from the Job Centre. With some accurate and up-to-date information and advice from the team and support from a specialist worker he was successful in his appeal and his support was reinstated.  

Many of our clients are ‘repeat users’; it would seem once they have used us they realise we have a wealth of knowledge and expertise as well as extremely good networks we can tap into.

Sid returned just last year, on this occasion he had experienced difficulties in paying his water bill and this had resulted in arrears building up to a sizable sum. Liaising with Portsmouth and Southern Water the team were able to negotiate acceptance on the special ‘Essential Scheme’, this is available, on occasions, to people who have arrears over £500. A match payment plan is put into place; where for every pound paid by Sid it is matched by Portsmouth and Southern Water on a quarterly basis.

Sid agreed £20 a month, he set up his direct debit and put it to the back of his mind thinking Portsmouth and Southern Water would be matching that every three months.

He became very worried when he received a further threatening demand, stating that he still owed a substantial amount of money. He turned to DIAL again for support.

He visited the Centre where he met one of our DIAL workers. Once she had ascertained all the facts and with his permission she rang the appropriate department, on his behalf, to query the demand; she calmly reminded them of their commitment to the Essential Scheme.

Speaking calmly, but firmly, she was able to establish that the scheme had not been actioned correctly and therefore the matching had not been initiated by Portsmouth and Southern Water.

The Dial worker was assertive with the company and following a number of communications she received an apology and was able to get the agreement from Portsmouth and Southern Water to back date their contribution to January, its original start date.

Sid, left the building much relieved and very appreciative of all the DIAL team has done, as he said ‘I just wouldn’t have known where to start and with all the pain I am in; my energy is taken up just getting through the day.’

To find out more about DIAL please click here


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This project is for adults 18+ who are experiencing loneliness/ social isolation and want to get out in the community to engage more but lack confidence to do so.

The team are part of the Independence and Wellbeing Team, Adult Social Care.

People can be referred by professional, self-referral or a family member/friend, all need to have gained consent beforehand.

Community Connectors provide short term intervention- usually about 6-8 weeks but this varies depending on the needs of the person, support can be given for us to 12weeks.

There are three Community Connectors in the team, one full-time and two part-time and a pool of volunteers. When a referral is received the Community Connector will meet with the person to complete a short assessment. This time is about getting to know the person, their interests, what they would like to achieve to alleviate their social isolation and loneliness. This could be pursuing old interests, visiting a friend, attending a social group or activity class, using public transport – the list is endless and really depends on what the person feels they want.

Everything that is put in place has to be self-sustainable so that the client is able to continue when our support ends.  

People using the service have to be about to get out of their homes independently, the project is not aimed at people who are house bound or need assistance with a wheel chair. This is a preventative intervention and is about empowering the individual to do things for themselves if people are looking for a befriender, they would be signposted to a befriending service. 

For further information please call 02392 841762 or email Julie at robers@portsmouthcc.gov.uk


For details of Community Connectors drop-in sessions please click on the link below:

pdfCommunity Connectors Drop-in Sessions.pdf

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