Last update: February 2020
We’ve written this page based on the questions that we’re most often asked. We’ve checked it out with our service users to make sure that it’s helpful. If you can’t find the answer to your question here, please get in touch.
If there’s anything you think would be helpful to add, please let us know.
- social and learning activities (for people over 18)
- befriending (for people over 18)
- grants (for people of any age)
We use the Equality and Human Rights Commission definition:
“You are disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.
- ‘substantial’ is more than minor or trivial, e.g. it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task like getting dressed
- ‘long-term’ means 12 months or more, e.g. a breathing condition that develops as a result of a lung infection.”
However, Ecas supports people only with a physical disability. The following conditions, on their own, do not meet the definition: psychiatric disorders, learning difficulties, behavioural disorders, developmental delay, Down’s syndrome, autism, visual or hearing impairment, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, HIV and back pain.
You must live in Edinburgh or Lothian for activities and grants. You must live in Edinburgh for befriending.
You apply using the form for each service, which you can download here. We are happy to discuss beforehand.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone us on 0131 475 2344
- Visit us at Norton Park, 57 Albion Road, Edinburgh, EH7 5QY
Our office hours are Monday to Thursday 9am to 4.30pm and Friday 9am to 3.30pm.
Yes. We are registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office. We have the necessary data protection policies and procedures. If you need more information about how we store and manage your data (name, address and so on) please contact us.
Ecas has a duty to protect all clients, volunteers and staff from abuse. We expect all clients, whatever service(s) or support they receive from us, to behave suitably, and to respect each other, staff and volunteers. If a client does not do so, we would discuss this with them.
We reserve the right, in the interests of other clients and to protect our staff and volunteers, to withdraw our services or support. We would do this as follows:
a. Verbal warning from the manager (we minute this)
b. Written warning by the manager
c. Panel meeting involving three directors and chief executive to consider withdrawing or suspending the Ecas service to the client
In exceptional circumstances, the manager, in consultation with the chief executive, could suspend a client immediately before the panel takes place.
Anyone who lives in Edinburgh or Lothian, who is over 18 and who is physically disabled (see FAQ 1.2). There is no upper age limit. Because of demand, we prefer to give the service to those who can’t access other similar services in their community. But we consider all applications which meet our criteria.
We offer art, craft, swimming, yoga, seated tai chi, music, reading and creative writing, and computing. The activities are run by qualified and experienced group leaders. They take place weekly, for 43 weeks a year. We provide materials for all activities.
Locations and activities may change, so check with us (0131 475 2344).
- Art: Norton Park and at Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre, EH13 9EU.
- Craft, seated tai chi, reading and creative writing, computing, internet café: Norton Park [https://www.nortonpark.org].
- Music: Out of the Blue Drill Hall, 36 Dalmeny Street, EH6 8RG.
- Swimming: Astley Ainslie Hospital, Grange Loan, Edinburgh EH9 2HL.
- Yoga: Longstone Resource Centre, 62 Longstone Street EH14 2DA.
All venues are fully accessible. We pay particular attention to the health and safety of our clients.
Activities cost £1.15 an hour. We ask you to pay this in advance for each term. We do not give refunds unless we cancel an activity or if you are in hospital for three weeks or more.
No – everyone pays the same amount.
Our activities are very popular. So, we allow each client to attend one activity for each subject (art and craft are one subject; all activities using a computer are one subject). You can sign up for a maximum of three activities. If we have spare places, you may be able to sign up for more. If so, we’d ask you to give this up if we need the space for someone new to get the chance to join in. We can help with transport costs for a maximum of two activities (see FAQ 2.8).
We will keep your place for you for six months, and for longer if there isn’t a waiting list.
We know that transport costs can stop people going to things. We can help meet the costs of attending a maximum of two activities. You can download the application form here. Note:
- We provide support with transport costs – we do not fully fund transport
- We allocate an amount for booking taxis or HcL (formerly Handicabs) on the Ecas account by arrangement with us
- We review grants every year. We check the spending monthly and if your transport expenses seem excessive, we’ll discuss this with you. We may have to suspend the arrangement
- We assume that clients use HcL for 50% (half) of their journeys, and that they use a taxicard for taxi journeys
- We expect clients with a car or power chair provided under Motability or who get the mobility component of either Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment (PIP), to use these towards their costs
- We do not give anyone more than £600 a year for each activity they attend (see also FAQ 2.6)
- If there is a choice of location for an activity, Ecas will provide support with transport costs for only the location nearest to your home
- If you think we haven’t given you enough to meet the costs of getting to our activities, you can ask our grants committee to review this, if what you are asking for is within the £600 limit. This may take up to five months. The committee’s decision is final
No. Ecas staff provide limited (and not intimate) assistance only. Ecas staff may have no training in moving and assisting and are not trained to provide personal care. You are welcome to bring your personal assistant/carer to activities. We may be able to help with the cost of having a personal assistant for activities. You must bring appropriate mobility aids to allow you to move unaided between your transport, the venue where the activities are held and other facilities.
Ecas does not provide personal care, but welcomes any personal assistant you bring with you. Ecas is not registered with the Care Commission to provide intimate care. More at FAQs 2.9 and 2.11.
If you need a personal assistant in order to attend Ecas activities, we may be able to help you find funding. In exceptional cases, after consultation between Ecas and the care manager, we may be able to pay for a set number of hours at a rate acceptable to Ecas. This will take account of social care rates charged by recognised agencies.
For as long as you want and as long as you meet our criteria (see FAQ 1.2).
The same rules for behaviour (see FAQ 1.8) apply to taxis and other transport. See also FAQ 2.8.
We review and evaluate our work with clients who use our activities service to gather their views about our work. We also have a client consultation group (CCG) with a representative from each activity, chaired by an Ecas director. It meets when wider consultation is required.
If you want to make a formal complaint, it is best to use the complaints procedure. Copies are of the procedure are available to clients upon request. We aim to deal with all complaints quickly and fairly.
3. Ecas grants fund
For support with transport costs see FAQ 2.8.
Anyone, of any age, who lives in Edinburgh and Lothian and who has a physical disability can apply. (See FAQ 1.2 for definition of physical disability.) Arthritis, obesity and cardio-respiratory conditions, on their own, do not qualify.
You can apply for things which will improve your life like holidays, special equipment, white goods, furniture, laptops and household items. If you want to apply for a grant to help maintain and repair powered wheelchairs or scooters, you must send us evidence that you have third party insurance.
No, we do not provide grants for items or holidays that you have already paid for.
- Standard grants of up to £750 (successful applicants must wait for at least two years before reapplying)
- Higher grants of up to £1,500 (successful applicants must wait for at least four years before reapplying)
- Holiday grants of up to £750 (successful applicants must wait for at least 2 years before reapplying)
- Holiday grants of up to £1,000 (successful applicants must wait for at least 3 years before reapplying)
- We consider grants above £1,500 on an exceptional basis
Grants for transport for activities under FAQ 2.8 are not included here.
We usually pay grants to whoever supplies the goods or services. Ecas does not give money direct to clients.
If you meet the conditions below, you can apply directly to Ecas without needing a sponsor or medical report as long as you send the documents we ask for. We will ask for further medical information if necessary.
The conditions are:
- You get DLA at the higher rate for mobility due to a physical disability (see FAQs 1.2 and 3.1). Please send a copy of the award letter with your application AND
- You get Income Support, Pension Credit or Housing Benefit. Please send a copy of the award letter with your application (evidence of Universal Credit alone without further evidence of individual benefits/support components is not enough) AND
- You must state clearly on the application form the nature and impact of the physical disability
For all other applicants, you need your sponsor (such as an NHS community health worker, practice nurse, social worker or health visitor) to complete the relevant section on the form. We may also need a GP or hospital doctor to complete the medical section (see FAQ 3.7 for exceptions to this). If you are not sure about any of the above, please get in touch with us. Ecas does not pay for fees which GPs or others might charge you for medical reports.
If you get DLA at the higher rate, you do not need to give us a medical certificate. But you do need to give us a copy of your award letter.
If you do not get DLA at the higher rate, you need to give us a medical certificate. Ecas does not pay for any fees you are charged for a medical certificate.
We want to make sure that Ecas funds are spent fairly. But we also try not to ask you for too many personal details. In general, if you can show us that you get Income Support, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit that is all we need to know. If you cannot provide such evidence, or choose not to, then you can fill in a more detailed questionnaire, and we will then look at those details.
Yes. Contact the Ecas office for advice.
Please allow up to eight weeks after you’ve sent us your documents. If it is going to take longer than that, we will let you or your sponsor know. Sometimes, we can fast-track a grant. Please get in touch with us to discuss.
Yes. You can request one review of a grant decision. Please write to the chief executive. The chief executive will ask the committee to review the decision at its next meeting. It may take up to five months for a decision to be reviewed. The committee’s decision is final.
Not at present.
4. Befriending Service
The Ecas Befriending Service provides support to isolated, physically disabled adults aged over 18, and living in Edinburgh. By ‘isolated’ we mean people who do not get any support to attend activities, or take part in their community or leisure activities or whose social life is limited because of a physical disability. An example is someone who has few or no visits from family or friends.
Ecas checks the backgrounds of volunteers (disclosure checks) and trains volunteers to visit physically disabled adults at home, providing companionship and a chance to get involved in their community. Depending on what the befriender and befriendee agree, they might go on outings such as shopping, or visits to galleries, the cinema and so on. Ecas also provides support, such as transport costs, to help a client continue or renew their friendships (we call this service ‘facilitated friendship’). This is helpful for people who are finding it difficult to meet their friends, perhaps because they now live in different parts of the city.
There is more information on the website. Please contact us if you can’t find what you are looking for or if you’d like to discuss anything with us. We want to hear from you.