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DR UK AGM and Conference report 2016

08 November 2016

Disability Rights UK AGM and Conference on Equal participation for all – together we can be stronger - 7 November 2016 - Resource for London

Anne Beales DR UK Chair

About 72 people came together for our conference on Equal Participation for All: Working Together for Real Change on 7th November – plus over 150 watching on-line and many more using the hashtag #securingourrights. We held far-reaching discussions on how to move forward.  

Key points raised on the day were:


We want to get disability on to the agenda of Brexit negotiations: ensuring our rights are sustained and increased; and that EU funding is replaced by funding that is equally strong on

a) supporting Disabled People’s Organisations and

b) requiring attention to disability equality.

Anna Lawson, Professor at Leeds University, gave us a great presentation on Brexit and we have a live survey to find your views on priorities for disabled people in Brexit negotiations.

First Panel discussion

Our panel of Gary Bourlet (Learning Disability England), Rachel Perkins (Senior Consultant ImROC), Tom Hendrie (Cheshire CIL)  and Evan Odell (Disability Rights UK) shared powerful points on:

  • How people with learning disabilities are forced to live with people they don’t want to live with: people want fun, choice, something to get up for and the support to do it. View Gary's presentation

  • How the Mental Health Act was used over 62,000 times last year to compulsorily detain or treat people – and it goes up every year. This is a major human rights issue. View Rachel's  presentation

  • The critical role of Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) in supporting disabled people’s full participation.

  • The importance of developing our own knowledge, to shape future policy. View Evan's presentation

Living with dementia

Our Rights, Our Dementia

We were excited to be joined for the first time by people living with dementia, building links between dementia and disability rights. DEEP launched a great new booklet Our Rights, Our Dementia. We found a lot of points in common: for instance, people with dementia and also people living with mental health issues often have to live with people they don’t choose, just as Gary described in relation to people with learning disabilities.

Second Panel discussion

Our second panel of David Isaac (Chair, EHRC), Neil Crowther (independent expert on equality and human rights) and Disability Rights UK Ambassador Stephen Brookes focused on:

  • The role of the Equality and Human Rights Commission – planning a new report on disability, and a cumulative impact assessment of policies affecting disabled people; seeking strategic legal cases; and keeping up the dialogue with Disability Rights UK.

  • The Shadow Report on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – being produced by Disability Rights UK, written by Neil Crowther (View Neil's presentation). This is a vital opportunity to raise human rights issues and hold government to account.

  • The need for DR UK to have a stronger regional presence: Stephen Brookes proposed a set of regional ambassadors, to ensure real reach and getting away from being ‘London-centric’. View Stephen's presentation

Round-table discussions

In round-table discussions members came up with suggestions for ways forward, which included:

  • Communicating so we all sing from the same hymn sheet – making disabled people a force to be reckoned with

  • Using social media for activism and on-line support groups

  • Telling stories to have influence

  • Moving our narrative from welfare to the ‘right to contribute’

  • Linking DPOs to lawyers – to secure rights

  • Working in partnership with ally organisations (including non-disabled allies) – and exploring joint funding, bringing in funds for DPOs

  • Agreeing universal standards, to hold local councils to account – and suggesting local Scrutiny Committee inquiries into independent living, having a home, disabled people’s participation, with guidance from DR UK on format

  • Showing DPOs have strong advantages over organisations not led by disabled people

  • Bringing in more - and more diverse - DR UK members

  • On Brexit – getting evidence from disabled people/DPOs, and other countries on their models (eg Norway), influencing officials and suggesting an All-party Parliamentary Disability Group session to interest politicians of all parties in getting a good deal for disabled people from Brexit negotiations.

We will be following up these vital agendas. A huge thank you to everyone for participating.

Professor Anna Lawson, Leeds University
Anna Lawson's presentation
Gary Bourlet, from Learning Disability England, talks about the the example of learning  disabilities and learning in Australia
Questions to be considered during the table discussions
Launch of Our Rights, Our Dementia
Liz Sayce and David Isaac, EHRC
Rachel Perkins and Tom Hendrie during the table discussions
Those Get Yourself Active Penguins turn up everywhere