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An important message from DR UK CEO Liz Sayce

17 January 2017

A message from Liz

I wanted to let you know that after 10 years as CEO of Disability Rights UK and its legacy charity Radar, I’ve decided the time is right to retire from full-time work and move on. This has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve made as I love this job, in particular the incredible team, the great relationships with members and partner organisations and the chance to be part of a network with such rock-solid shared commitment to the vision of equal participation for all. It’s been a huge privilege to be CEO over this time.

I will leave at the end of May 2017 and the role will be advertised shortly.

Reflecting on the 10 years, there have been both great highs and real challenges. Amongst the highs has been merging 3 organisations to create a new, national disability rights organisation that can genuinely describe itself as ‘disabled people leading change’ (with 86% of Trustees having lived experience of disability and over 60% of staff; and decisions in the hands of our voting members, all disabled people or Disabled People’s Organisations). And then co-developing a new strategy and building the confidence of partners and funders, so that we have been able to reach over 1.5 million disabled people each year with desperately needed information and advice on rights, and set up innovative programmes to test new approaches – from research led by disabled people into independent living solutions (DRILL) to opening up job opportunities for young disabled people (I Can Make It). We have worked with partners to shape debate, inform policy and campaign: for instance, helping get ‘peer support for employment’ on the map, influencing apprenticeships to be more inclusive and campaigning successfully for specific changes to proposals on issues including PIP, housing benefit and social care.

But the challenges are huge. In 2016 we held 7 events around the country on the UN Convention – and heard again and again how disabled people’s rights to live independently in the community, or even to have basic access, are often simply not met. We will report on this soon. There has been a damaging slippage in debate on disability to seeing support in terms of protecting so called ‘vulnerable’ people – rather than support being a springboard to equal participation, an investment in people’s potential. And the prevalence of poverty amongst disabled people places deep restrictions on participating in ordinary activities in our communities. On top of that many DPOs struggle financially with sustained cuts in public funding. DR UK was fortunate to resolve a historic pension deficit and is in a sustainable financial position for the future.  

It’s been amazing to work with such great colleagues and allies over these sometimes turbulent years. We’ve seen that it’s through alliances and joining forces that we have the greatest chance of achieving positive change. 

I'd like to offer my personal thanks to all of you who have supported me and Disability Rights UK over the last decade

Best wishes

Liz

And a message from Anne Beales, chair of DRUK

We’re very sorry to see Liz go, but appreciate the reasons why and wish her all the very best in her retirement from full time work.

We are grateful for the time, energy and commitment she has brought to both Radar and Disability Rights UK over the years, as well as the wider sector.

She will leave us with a solid legacy which we will continue to build on, and ensure that DRUK continues to be ‘disabled people leading change.

We will begin the recruitment of Liz’ successor shortly. We will be recruiting someone who has personal experience of disability, or living with a long term health condition, to replace her.