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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) or complete our evaluation form - you can find it here.

A bit about me - I have 2 children, aged 23 and 21. I registered as a childminder when they first started school so that I could work and still be around for them, a job that I continue to do now (when not working for PDF) even though my children are all grown up! So all in all, I have been looking after children for the last 22 years - glutton for punishment I hear you say - perhaps - but like everything in life it has its ups and downs and on the whole it has been a very rewarding and enjoyable experience, enabling me to look after my own children and help working parents too.

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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