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Achievements and successes

In our third full year (April 2014 – March 2015) we reached more than 1.3 million people with information developed by and for disabled people

  • Our free factsheets attracted more than 1.3 million downloads. Information is power – and over 90% of users surveyed said our factsheets were useful to their particular purposes.
  • We had over 10,000 deeper contacts with individuals through events and advice services. Our personal budgets helpline (formerly independent living advice line) won a prestigious Zero Project award for international good practice.
  • We published and sold over 13,000 copies of our Disability Rights Handbook and launched two new publications: Taking Charge, a practical guide to living with a disability or health condition; and Into Further Education, a careers guide for disabled students.
  • We engaged thousands of disabled people in our campaigns. For example our Freedom of Information request enabled people to see what their local authority was planning to do with its resource allocation after the closure of the Independent Living Fund – many disabled people campaigned locally as a result.

Delivering projects, working with local Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) and others, to demonstrate new approaches to disabled people’s participation

  • We published guides on creating more inclusive communities, including a literature review, lessons learned, and guides for DPOs and local authorities.
  • We established a Leadership Academy and delivered a career development programme for a cohort of 25 disabled people keen to progress in their careers. The programme was very well received, with several participants securing promotions with the support of the programme, and is set to be expanded.
  • We completed a project to remove barriers to apprenticeships for disabled people in London, working with employers, training providers and colleges.
  • We continued, with our Ambassador Stephen Brookes, to promote guidance for DPOs acting as ‘third party hate crime reporting centres’. Evidence from Blackpool shows reports of crime go up significantly when you can report safely to another disabled person. We delivered a project to improve good practice materials for DPOs in supporting individuals to use personal budgets to manage their own support and live independent lives.

Influencing policy and practice on the basis of lived experience and good practice led by disabled people

  • Linking with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, we published a literature review and report on factors that support both young disabled people and those acquiring an impairment later in life to acquire skills for employment. All content was rooted in our student helpline data and experience.
  • We delivered work with Shaping Our Lives and Change to embed user-led developments in health and social care, working as Department of Health strategic partners. This included spreading peer support and user-driven commissioning of health and social care.
  • Working with a group of DPOs and others, we influenced government to make improvements to the Access to Work scheme. Although some challenges remain, we argued the principle that Access to Work should be given as a personal budget.
  • We influenced government to consult on proposed changes to Disabled Students’ Allowances, rather than introduce changes that could jeopardise disabled people’s university careers.
  • The Work and Pensions Select Committee reflected our strong written and oral evidence objecting to how sanctions are applied to disabled people.
  • We influenced the government to change its website and factsheet information to make clear that people on Employment and Support Allowance can undertake permitted work and can do so indefinitely.
  • We provided the Secretariat to the influential All Party Parliamentary Disability Group, which brings disabled people’s voices into Parliament.
  • We chaired the Disability Action Alliance, which brings together DPOs with private and public sector organisations to stimulate practical change. Achievements included the roll-out of a travel card to enable disabled people to communicate their access needs easily and the launch of a Charter on Disabled People and Volunteering.

Our plans and priorities 2015-16 onwards

We are currently consulting on a new Strategic Plan to run from April 2016.

Our top priorities are set to be:

Independent living: getting a life

More disabled people exercising choice and control over our lives, to realise the human right to participate fully in society.

Career opportunities: getting work, education and skills

Greater equality at work – a reduced gap between disabled and non-disabled people’s employment and pay.

Creating a sea change in attitudes and behaviours

Influencing public attitudes and behaviours, creating a new narrative, especially in the media, and more positive messages about disabled people.

Confirmed activities include:

  • Get Yourself Active project, run jointly with three DPOs, to enable disabled people to use personal budgets for sport and physical activity
  • Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning (DRILL) project, the world’s first major research programme on independent living led by disabled people, in partnership with our sister organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • I Can Make It campaign to open up employment opportunities for young disabled people
  • Online videos and interactive resources on further education, higher education, apprenticeships and high quality work experience
  • Developing a new policy agenda for independent living in practice
  • Tracking Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and the impact of its roll-out, working with the Disability Benefits Consortium, and promoting understanding of the Care Act
  • Developing our successful Leadership Academy offering career development programmes run by and for disabled people
  • In the Making digital fabrication laboratory project promoting disabled people’s engagement in new technologies
  • Informing the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of disabled people’s rights in the UK