Written by Berni Vincent
My recent appointment by the Office of Disability Issues (ODI) as an Ambassador for the “Strengthening Disabled Peoples User Led Programme” comes as a pleasant surprise.
My decision to apply for the position was fuelled by my passionate belief that all Disabled People regardless of impairment, background or experience have an equal right to be included in society and have choice and control about the way we live our life.
The programme builds on Government recommendations made in the “Building the Life Chances of Disabled Peoples Report (2005)”. The initiative is also the result of significant work by SCIL and other Disabled People’s User Led Organisations (DPULOs).
DPULOs are essentially about personal development, a shared identity and collective purpose. They are about telling our stories, growing together and ultimately using the whole of our combined experience to bring about change in our local communities and society as a whole.
By building co-productive relationships with commissioners, partners and community agencies, DPULOs raise awareness of the discriminatory barriers that Disabled People face on a daily basis which in turn shape policy and service delivery.
My role as an Ambassador will enable me to use my experience and skills – key tasks will include:
Raising awareness about the role and potential of DPULOs.
Building capacity across local regions by sharing good practise, attending meetings, training, mentoring, etc.
Supporting DPULOs with successful applications to the “Facilitation Fund” – a cash limited fund that will enable DPULOs to make a specific difference to their future sustainability.
I share my role with eleven other Ambassadors, who like me, will work in specific regions – seconded for up to three days per month. Ambassadors are accountable to Rich Watts National Lead who is seconded from “Essex Coalition of Disabled People” and works closely with the ODI. (You can hear Rich and Berni talking about her role below)
Disabled People’s organisations are experiencing tough times. This programme will build on the strengths of DPULOs, share good practice where needed and raise the profile of DPULOs unique potential – together we will be in a stronger position to enable more choice and control for Disabled People across impairments and in hard to reach communities.