Who are we?
Spokz People CIC was established in 2009 and is a not-for-profit social enterprise. We aim to enable more disabled people and their family members to access disability-affirming psychological support. We want to reduce the stigma of discussing mental health when you or a family member are disabled. Our services are effective because of our personal understanding of disability as well as our therapist background. We are able to work in a more holistic and flexible way compared with many other services, who often have no or little disability experience. We look at both a person’s impairment and all the factors that affect their ability to be a full and equal participant in society.
What is the Community & Programme?
Our service is designed for disabled people and their families. It enables you to work with a peer to improve your mental health and wellbeing.There is a forum, chat room, regular live events and Q&As, and videos from disabled people, including The Last Leg presenter Alex Brooker, disability advocate and Gogglebox star Simon Minty, and disabled influencer and Co-founder of Disability Horizons Martyn Sibley. It includes information and tool kits on how to improve self-esteem, build resilience, find meaning in life and manage the many challenging situations being disabled brings. Due to waiting lists for our 1-2-1 support, we wanted to support many more people and the Lottery funded the development of this service.
Who is our membership for?
Our community is aimed at any adult whose life is touched by disability: disabled people, those living with life limiting or health conditions, partners, parents and family members. We aim to support each other, learn together and provide a safe space to increase our wellbeing, maintain good mental health and find new ways to manage common challenging disability situations. Is membership suitable for cognitive impairment or neurodiversity? We get asked this question fairly often for people who have experienced strokes, brain injury or have learning difficulties or are neurodiverse. The programme is not in an easy-read format, but does contain supportive images, illustrations, summaries and videos. Most videos have captions and are transcribed. To help you to check if the programme is suitable, check out the ‘Sample Of Wellbeing Programme’ at the bottom of this page. We also have a 30 day FREE trial so you can see if our support is right for you.
What do you get with your membership?
- Our Community: Peer support is so important for our wellbeing and mental health. Many people living with disability feel isolated and we have many ways you can connect with other members. Whether that is by attending our weekly live Zoom groups, through our forum or our 1-2-1 instant chat function. You can share your own story by uploading videos and you can also learn through watching others’ videos, including a few disabled celebrities if that interests you. There is also the option of working through the programme with a buddy if you meet someone suitable. Our weekly live Zoom meetings vary but are always led by a qualified therapist to ensure everyone has a safe space to share. Sometimes they are informal meets where you set the topic and share and learn with other members. Other times there are themed events where we explore a section of the programme in more detail to support those members who may feel stuck. Sometimes we have special guests.
- Our Wellbeing Programme is tailored specifically towards living with disability and the 12 chapters cover a range of things, from emergency support if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, to how to maintain good mental health when you feel worn down by assessments, negative comments by others. There’s the opportunity to look at your sleep, nutrition and exercise, as well as opportunities to explore finding new meaning and purpose as a disabled person or family. We use text, images, videos and exercises to help you think about what changes you would like to work towards.The programme helps you prepare for change slowly, by explaining how to set goals and how to deal with setbacks. We explore the different relationships in our lives with friends, partners, PAs and professionals and offer tools on how to manage these better. Overall, our programme is about finding belonging as a disabled person or family, improving your self-esteem, and managing those situations that drain our energy, leaving you hopefully with more time to find opportunities of joy and contentment. We also recognise that many of us have and do experience trauma and we spend some time helping you work through this through exercises and videos. There are plenty of links to other resources, websites and books for those that like to delve a bit deeper. If you feel overwhelmed, you can choose to dip in and out of sections of the programme so you can work at a pace to suit you.
Suzanne, one of our members: “I love the Spokz People model, so unique and so so needed!” – May 2022
Kimberley Pett, one of our members: “Spokz People’s support is ideal, they have a real understanding of the challenges I face day to day. It has been much more relevant to my needs than the generic NHS CBT type courses I have been directed to previously. It really identifies the kind of issues that arise through chronic illnesses. The community aspects mean you can discuss and interact with people going through similar problems and share advice and ideas and feel less alone in what you are going through. I personally have always found one to one therapy very challenging as I find it very hard to talk about how I’m finding things. This kind of group discussion gives me the opportunity to think about and explore my situation by listening to others’ experiences, without having to find the words for my own feelings. Mel, who leads the group, is a really positive person and so even though we are often talking about things that we find difficult, the mood is always positive and fun and I come out feeling I’ve had a great time (something I’ve never found with previous therapy) and I look forward to it each week. It’s really good being able to work through a programme at your own pace as well, but have the support of others to motivate you and support you along the way. I wasn’t sure about this before I started, but I would 100% recommend this to anyone.” – May 2022
Sample of Wellbeing Programme
Ah yes, there it is. The word that society wants us to be, resilient. Underneath this is the message that disabled people must show they can be resilient to the often unfair and poor treatment in society. Often this is about the other person needing to feel less scared about their worry of becoming disabled.
This is not the resilience we are talking about. We are talking about the helpful resilience skills we can learn or build on to help resist frequent negative experiences and messages. Resilience so that our own wellbeing is less impacted.
Being disabled is at times extremely hard and challenging and we must respect that and acknowledge that there may be times when we don’t want to fight any more. At the same time, there are times when disability teaches us very useful things about ourselves and others and we may struggle to put this learning into words. [cut section….]
What word would you choose that gives you something to aim positively for? …[cut section]
We can choose to believe something else right? Just because x% of the population says something, does that mean it’s right? Or right for us? Can we question if it’s valid for our lives? Would we feel better about ourselves if we start changing what we believe? ….. [ cut section]
If we can learn to leave our comfort zone and push through the fear, we can get into the learning and growth zones where we will find more fulfilment in our lives, regardless of our situations.’
Hope and joy
Yes, there is plenty to be had. We can all find a way to live more content, meaningful lives whilst disabled. We wouldn’t be writing this if we didn’t think that was possible. We’ll talk more about this later, but sometimes a natural human consequence of living with the experiences of challenging things like disability can reduce the creative approach-seeking parts of our brain: the part that wants to find meaning and try different things to solve situations. [cut section…] This resource is about reawakening the resources you already have, building on them and exploring new ones to give you more ideas on what you would like to change. [cut section…]
Membership Fee: £50 a year or £5 a month (£1.15 a week)
We receive £10,000 a year from the lottery to support our work. Because of this, we can offer this low membership fee to members. To help us all value the world around us, we think it’s important to tell you that the true price of our support (if we didn’t receive lottery funding) is around £250 a year. If you wanted to have 1-2-1 support with a private therapist or coach, this usually costs between £45-60 a week.
For a fraction of these costs you can access our support which includes weekly live support from a qualified therapist and use of the community and other resources to support you between meetings. As a non-profit we keep fees as low as possible, while covering our costs, which are around £13,000-£15,000 each year.
So, as well as needing your membership fee to keep us going, research shows that it is important for your wellbeing that you contribute, even if a small amount. When you invest in something, you are more motivated and committed to turn up and work towards making change. For the price of less than half a coffee or tea a week, you can access a wealth of support.
30 Day FREE Trial
Finances are tight for many of us and you may be unsure if being a member is right for you. To help you decide, try our free trial. Here’s how:
Select the ‘Register Here To Pay Monthly’ or ‘Register Here To Pay Annually’ button and sign up. You enter your card details in the registration and after the trial month you automatically go onto either the monthly £5 or £50 annual membership, depending on what button you select. You can cancel your trial or membership at any point in the main menu (Go to ‘Members’, then select ‘Subscription’ from the dropdown and you can cancel here).
Free membership grants
We do not want anyone who needs our support to be unable to access it due to funds. If you genuinely cannot afford £1.15 a week, and have explored reducing spending in another area of your life to afford the membership fee, do get in touch with us on email@example.com before or during your free trial period. We have free membership grants available for those that need them. We are trialling free memberships grants for 2023/2024 to see if we can boost our membership and stay afloat as an organisation. We may not always be able to offer this option if our funding is reduced in the future.
Once you register, you will be sent an automatic welcome email with all instructions on how to use the community. Get in touch if you do not receive this within 30 minutes. You can also find a link to this email on your dashboard under ‘New To The Programme’.
Find out more before signing up?
Join one of our regular online live Q&A meetings hosted by Mel or Kim (no, not the 1980s British Pop Duo! ?). We answer your questions and concerns and give you a tour of the Community. Ask for details of the next event or any other questions through our Get In Touch Form.
Kiran: “I just wanted to say thank you for a great meeting last week. ???? Hopefully see you soon!” June 2023
Tina: “Since starting the programme I’ve had some overwhelming moments, but I took the time to calm down, answer the reflective questions and found how to overcome the obstacles. I realised that all the answers were within me, I just needed a reminder how to ask the right questions. One of the breathing techniques wasn’t effective for me, but the safe space and life graph exercises worked absolutely brilliantly and much better than any other thing I’ve tried before. It helped me acknowledge no matter how challenging life events were I still made progress and discovered my strengths. Working through the programme brought so much calmness for me. I will certainly go back to hearing other members experiences in the short videos once I finish the hard work with putting in the pillars for my new life. It is hard for me to focus on the videos right now because I am too anxious about what is coming after. Thank you all again for such an eye-opening Community & Programme and learning to live well with spinal injury” – Tina Ceferin, May 2022