Bike ride to help ‘Get The Message’ over communication problems

A PENDLE man will be urging people to “Get the Message” today with a bike ride to promote unique calling cards for people with communications difficulties.

Bruce Jowett (34), from Colne, will lead 25 cyclists for a 50-mile ride around Hyndburn and the Ribble Valley to launch the Community Equipment and Disability Advice - or CEDA - Centre’s new service.

Occupational therapists Michelle Gascoigne and Sarah Heyes, who run the CEDA Centre at St Peter’s Health and Leisure Centre, Burnley, have teamed up with East Lancashire Lions to provide bespoke cards which explain service users’ individual communication needs. It is believed the service is the first of its kind.

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They were spurred into action when Bruce, who suffers from mild cerebral palsy, visited the CEDA centre 10 months ago.

Bruce said: “Over the last couple of years I had experienced a few nasty incidents, with people thinking I was taking the mickey out of people with more severe disabilities, or thinking I’m slurring my speech because I’m drunk.

“I’ve had trouble getting into pubs and clubs as bouncers think I’ve had too much to drink, and in stressful situations like that it’s even more difficult for me to make clear exactly what my condition is. It can be very embarrassing.

“I visited my GP at first to ask if there was any sort of scheme available to help, and he advised me to visit the CEDA Centre. That’s how it all got started, because when Michelle and Sarah looked into it for me, they realised there was nothing available.”

Sarah and Michelle approached the Lions for help in funding printing costs, and struck a deal with a local print firm to secure discounted short print-runs, meaning any service user can now take advantage of the scheme.

They worked with patient groups to design the cards, and the first will be available for use from Sunday. Bruce, a keen cyclist, came up with the idea of a cycle tour to raise awareness of the service, and will be joined by friends and Lions members on the bike ride.

The cyclists will set off from Reedley Rugby Club at 8 a.m. on Sunday, visiting the Haslingden Lions in Bury Road, Haslingden, before heading to Sparth House, Altham, to join in the Accrington Lions’ charter lunch. After lunch, they will visit Clitheroe Lions at the Spread Eagle, Sawley, before heading back to Reedley Rugby Club.