Disability charity celebrates 40th anniversary, but urges more volunteers to help

40th anniversary dinner for the Disability Information Advice Line. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

40th anniversary dinner for the Disability Information Advice Line. Picture: MARK ATHERTON - Credit: Archant

A charity which helps disabled people across the area has celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Weston and North Somerset Disability Information and Advice Line (DIAL) provides free, impartial information and support to disabled people, their families, carers and voluntary organisations.

The charity, which is based in Walliscote Grove Road, helps about 600 people a year, but volunteers have seen an increase in demand for its services over the past two years.

It offers welfare and financial help to people who receive Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) from the Government.

A celebratory dinner was held at The Grove Restaurant on November 6, which was attended by service users, Dr Paul Phillips, the principal and chief executive of Weston College, Weston's former MP Brian Cotter and its current mayor Mark Canniford.

DIAL was formed in November 1979 and started life with very little money and had its office at the former Red Cross Depot for four years.

Funding is a struggle as the group manages on around £5,000 a year and is run entirely by volunteers.

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Volunteer Jill Hopkins, who is disabled, told the Mercury: "It was a lovely day and seeing some old faces, some from the very beginning, was special.

"The amount of people getting turned down for PIPs now is mind boggling.

"We do struggle for funding and we hope to find enough to keep us going.

"I think because we approach our work through a disability perspective, we understand the issues people are going through and can work to help them."

DIAL aims to combat the poverty and social exclusion faced by disabled people and to promote their full participation in society.

The group works closely with Volunteer Action North Somerset to facilitate the provision of high-quality disability information and advice in the community.

Jill added: "One of our sayings is that as a disabled person you are on the same planet but in a different world, so we know what people are going through."

Anyone interested in volunteering with DIAL or donating to the charity can call 01934 419426 or email mail@westondial.co.uk