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Disabled people take the lead on £5 million research project

15 September 2015

PRESS RELEASE- For immediate use

Disabled people will be at the forefront of designing projects for a new £5 million research programme to explore how disabled people can live more independent lives.  The DRILL programme, which is launched in England on 15 September, will see disabled people working with academics and policy makers to develop research and pilot projects that will show how they, and people with long term health conditions, can be better supported to be full citizens.

The DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) programme is fully funded by Big Lottery Fund and will be delivered by Disability Rights UK, Disability Action Northern Ireland, Inclusion Scotland and Disability Wales.

Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said:

“This is the first research programme in the world which ensures disabled people, and the issues that matter to us, are central to research funding decisions. The aim is to build a better evidence base on the initiatives and support that enable disabled people to take full part in society. When everyone can participate in the world we live in, it makes sense for us all”.

DRILL is expecting to fund a total of 40 research proposals and pilot projects over a 5 year period. It will investigate how public money can be best used to enable disabled people to be full citizens – taking part socially, economically and politically; and what solutions will work best in a changing world (with changes in how we live, how we communicate, our economic position and how we use technologies) and for people living with a range of different impairments and circumstances.  

The criteria for funding will be decided after engagement events with disabled people around the UK, under the themes of peer support, autonomy, resilience and social, economic and civic participation. Disabled people and their organisations will be supported to work on their bids in partnership with academics and policy makers.

Speaking at the launch, Baroness Jane Campbell said:

“Without the independent living movement I would probably be living in an institution watching daytime TV; it seems a tad unlikely I would be in the House of Lords, shaping legislation. We need new solutions for a changing world, which is why it’s so great that the DRILL programme will be providing the evidence to create independent living opportunities in the future for more disabled people and, most importantly, will help ensure they do not slide backwards into dependency”.

Disability academic Dr Tom Shakespeare added:

“Research can make a real difference to disabled people’s lives.  It documents our experiences, and the barriers we face.  But the best research is done in partnership with disabled people themselves. I am looking forward to the new research findings with real excitement.”

The first round of funding is expected to be launched in April 2016. For more information on DRILL, please go to www.drilluk.org.uk.


For further information contact Ben Furner on 07946 355795 or Ben@furnercommunications.co.uk.

Notes to editors: The DRILL programme is being delivered by Disability Rights UK, Disability Action Northern Ireland, Disability Wales and Inclusion Scotland.

Each country will have a National Advisory Group, including disabled people, academics and policy makers, who will provide advice, scrutinise research proposals, make recommendations and help promote and disseminate the findings.  A Central Research Committee, made up of disabled people, academics and policy influencers from across the UK will make the final decision on which research proposals receive funding.

Dr Tom Shakespeare is senior lecturer in medical sociology, Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia.

The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery for good causes and invest over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes. Since June 2004 have awarded over £8 billion to projects that make a difference to people and communities in need, from early years intervention to commemorative travel funding for World War Two veterans.