Chelsea Smith Polaroid

Say hello to Chelsea

The Disability Resource Centre was recently awarded Best Local Business Award for Houghton Regis and Chelsea Smith was the member of staff chosen to accept this prestigious award. Chelsea was proud to attend the event hosted by Houghton Regis Town Mayor, Cllr Yvonne Farrell at the Houghton Regis Memorial Hall this year.

Chelsea said “I was elated that we won this award. As Community Engagement Officer, I have been working with many of the other nominated charities in my role making connections with local service providers and referring our clients to them. I know how great these charities and volunteer groups are – the competition was really tough!”

Chelsea with Houghton Regis Town Mayor, Cllr Yvonne Farrell (right), and Dunstable Town Mayor, Cllr Liz Jones (left)

The photo shows Chelsea with Houghton Regis Town Mayor, Cllr Yvonne Farrell (right), and Dunstable Town Mayor, Cllr Liz Jones (left).

Chelsea talked to us about the awards evening, her role working at the charity and some of the exciting new things the charity is planning


Firstly we asked Chelsea what it was like at the awards evening:

“I was very pleased to see Liz Jones at the event. Whilst Mayor of Dunstable, Liz has been extremely supportive of The Disability Resource Centre. As one of her chosen charities for the year 2022 – 2023, Liz has really helped to make sure that people in our local communities know all about the work that we do to support disabled people. The event was sponsored by Spicer and Co. Chartered Accountants, and the award was presented by Steven and Suzanne Spicer.”

So how does The Disability Resource Centre support its clients?

Chelsea said “As Community Engagement Officer at The Disability Resource Centre, I spread awareness about the huge number of ways the charity can support the local community. I find out about all the many support services across the region, so that everyone in the whole charity team can direct people to other experts if necessary.”

Chelsea said “At The Disability Resource Centre, we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and supportive community. Our service users trust us time and time again to help them with a wide range of ways. When I was a payroll officer, I spoke with many of our service users and let them know that we were here for more than just their payroll needs. It feels great to be a part of a resource that people can rely on for so many different things.”

“I go out into as many different locations within the Bedford, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) community as I can, so that I can feed back all of the resources to our call centre team. This means that when anyone phones with any question at all, we have the answer. We are like the Yellow Pages of disability. Having all of the answers, all in one place. It takes people’s stress away.”

Chelsea is working with other local partners in the Disability Network Group to organise a ‘Disability Pride’ event in July that will involve four events during the month, all related to disability. The Disability Resource Centre offers holistic support that is free and immediate.

We asked Chelsea how The Disability Resource Centre supports its staff?

Chelsea said “As a disabled person myself, this was the first job I had applied for where I felt confident to tick the box saying that I had a disability. My heart condition is invisible, but means that I have to be careful of exerting myself, and have to take time to attend hospital visits to monitor my high-tech pacemaker.”

Chelsea says that the charity are completely understanding, and let her work within her limits. Chelsea says she has repaid The Disability Resource Centre for their understanding as she has grown and developed in her role. Chelsea has undertaken a management training course, funded by The Disability Resource Centre with the Institute for Leadership and Management (ILM) and has moved from her original role in payroll, through the department delivering training courses, and into the community engagement role.

Chelsea has built on the experience gained by working in each department, and is confident to tell service users about all of the ways that the charity can support them. Having had her disability all of her life, and helping to act as an unpaid carer for her brother with autism, Chelsea is a true ‘expert by experience’, and fully relates to the needs of the charity’s service users. Chelsea brings her lived experience to the role, every day, to offer a fully understanding service to every service user she meets.

How do you help to improve the services offered by The Disability Resource Centre?

“When I am out in the local community, I come across lots of interesting ideas that could be incorporated into the working of the charity. So I report back to the teams and to the Continuous Improvement Group at The Disability Resource Centre to make sure that any good and appropriate ideas are taken forward.”

Helping local people through the cost of living crisis

Chelsea has been heavily involved in the charity’s ‘Winter Warm Hub’, engaging with the attendees, making soup and facilitating information sessions and craft activities. Many people are having trouble understanding their energy bills at the moment, and dealing with the cost of living, and this is something that experts at The Disability Resource Centre can support people to manage for themselves.

Chelsea speaks about one client who has attended several of the charity’s training programmes including Support Into Employment (SIE), the Care Academy (skills for being a PA) and the Winter Warm Hub. The client’s boiler broke just before Christmas. Chelsea and the team supported her to write emails and make phone calls to her providers, and, between them, they managed to obtain funding for a new
boiler, replacement windows and loft insulation. Some of the attendees of the Winter Warmth Hub have formed friendship groups and have gone on shopping trips together. Started with no funding, this initiative has been a great success.

New Community Café

Now that the weather is warmer, staff and users of the Winter Warmth Hub would like it to continue. A need has been identified for a Community Café in the area. Exciting plans are afoot to create such a café on Mayfield Road. Food hygiene inspection has taken place, with a 5-star rating, and staff and volunteers are being trained in allergies and food hygiene. Run mostly by volunteers, some of whom attended the Winter Warm Hub, this will be a great opportunity to reach out to more members of the local community, offering friendship, support and guidance with any issues that they might have, in a safe and welcoming space.

The Disability Resource Centre is an award-winning charity

Browse our website for help from our charity:

We are here so that disabled people and their families have somewhere to turn if they need help in any situation

Working with local communities to support anyone with a disability or health condition in Milton Keynes, Luton and across Bedfordshire.

Phone: 01582 470 900
WhatsApp and text: 07826366477

© 2023 The Disability Resource Centre. Registered Charity No. 1041712. Company Limited by Guarantee No.2898000.

Room 1, The Rufus Centre, Steppingley Road, Flitwick, Bedfordshire, MK45 1AH.

Our charity is here to help you if you live in Bedfordshire, Luton, Milton Keynes and surrounding towns and villages.

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Call the helpline on 0300 303 0201. Open Monday to Friday in office hours and on Tuesdays we are open for telephone calls until 7pm.

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