Summary of ‘Disability Manifesto’ now available

With the General Election just a week away, many people are still deciding on who they are going to vote for. The election campaign has been dominated by issues such as social care and welfare reform, although sadly the horrific terrorist attack in Manchester has focused everyone’s minds on the issue of safety and security.

Our ‘Disability Manifesto’ which sets out what Disabled People would like political parties to commit to doing in the next Parliament, has been a great success. We are aware that it is a fairly long document so we have summarised the key commitments for each topic area into a short document so people can see at a glance what Disabled People want the political parties to sign up to.

We hope this summary document will be easier for some people to access. We will also be tweeting out the key commitments between now and the big day as well as releasing a video with some very special guests discussing our manifesto so keep an eye on our blog and Facebook page over the next few days.

If you want to read the full manifesto, please visit our Disability Manifesto page


SPECTRUM 2017 Disability Manifesto out now!

There are more than 13.3 million Disabled People and people with long-term health conditions in the UK – a very sizeable part of the electorate in 2017.

We believe it is essential for Disabled People’s voices to be heard in the debates around the 2017 General Election – not only because they represent a large number of votes but, more importantly, because they are deeply affected by so many of the key issues at the heart of political debate.

On the 25th May 2017, SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living will be launching our Disabled People’s DISABILITY MANIFESTO – a pragmatic and realistic range of proposals which shows how the Government, any Government, could address the unfairness, the indignities and the discrimination that Disabled People have faced because of austerity measures.manifestocover2017


The launch of the DISABILITY Manifesto will be the start of our campaign to bring the needs, and the solutions that Disabled People are proposing, to the eyes and minds of the electorate, and into the minds of politicians and policy makers.

Disabled People Concerned About Snap Election 

So, here we go again! Britain will be going to the polls in just a matter of weeks to elect a new government, after Theresa May shocked the country by announcing a snap general election on June the 8th. The short timescale has concerned many Disabled People’s Organisations such as ourselves and Merton Centre for Independent Living. 

Merton CIL highlight three ways that the short timescale may impact on Disabled People’s ability to exercise her democratic right to vote. 

Firstly, some Disabled People may need support to register to vote. You have until the 22nd May to register to vote in the upcoming general election so if you are not already registered to vote then you can do it online at 

Secondly, despite much campaigning, some Disabled People still find that their local polling station is not accessible. It is true that you can opt for a postal vote but in 2017, it surely shouldn’t be too much to ask for polling stations to meet the needs of Disabled People.

Finally, there is a very real concern about whether the party manifestos will be available in accessible formats in good time. Different political parties have in the past neglected this issue until being lobbied hard by Disabled People’s Organisations. With much to do in six weeks, what is the bet that the needs of Disabled People in all these different areas will not be seen as a priority by political parties? 

Leaving aside the practical issues, there is also a concern that Disability issues will yet again be overlooked during the election. Sure, we might get a brief mention if the social care crisis gets raised (and we hope it does!) but we share the concern of many that the election will be focused on one issue – Brexit. As Merton CIL rightly state ‘We are concerned that this election might be dominated by Brexit, when so many of our members and local Disabled people have many other very important issues to raise, which are often forgotten about.’

Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting some of these ‘forgotten’ issues and holding all political parties to account. Let us know what really matters to you. You can Tweet us at @SPECTRUMCIL or visit our Facebook page

Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning (DRILL)

Disability Rights UK (DRUK) has a Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning (DRILL) Roadshow event for the South East here at Unity 12 on 29th September 2015!

The DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) is a new innovative 5 year UK wide programme, funded by the Big Lottery, which will deliver the world’s first major research programme led by Disabled People.

The four nation programme is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and delivered by Disability Action in partnership with Disability Rights UK, Disability Wales and Inclusion Scotland.

The partnership brings together the major pan-disability organisations in each UK nation, working together with powerful groups of academics with diverse expertise to create a new and innovative research agenda in each nation and UK-wide. 

The research programme which will be delivered over five years will involve a number of significant research projects specifically engaging disabled people looking at areas contributing to independent living and learning. The findings will lead to a number of pilot projects aimed at enhancing the lives of disabled people.

DRILL aims to work in partnership with Disabled People, academics and policy makers to build a better evidence base about approaches that enable people to live independently, which will be used to inform future policy and service provision, as well as giving greater voice to disabled people in the issues that impact them.

SPECTRUM are delighted that one of the roadshow events will be here in Southampton. This will give local Disabled People from the region the chance to find out more about the project and how they can get involved.

By signing up to attend  one of the national roadshow events, you will get the chance to tell DRILL what are the most important issues to you, what you think of the ideas DRILL have come up with so far, and what you think would improve your life.

To get involved, come along to one of the DRILL Road Shows – To book a place at one of the roadshow events contact Sophie Walsh at

As well as the Southampton roadshow, there are other events around the country so check out the Disability Rights UK website for further details. If you can’t make it to one of the roadshows why not email your thoughts to .

Is “Special Educational Needs” a term that should be used in 2013?

inclusion_symbolTo begin our series of blog posts on Inclusion in Education, Berni Vincent discusses the term ‘Special Educational Needs’….

There was a time when User Led Organisations (ULOs) would ardently debate the use of terms and language that present an inaccurate and disempowering image of Disabled People.

In recent times ULO have been forced to focus limited resources and energy on maintaining survival with no guarantee that future funding will be available. This has meant that debates on language and other issues related to ULOs’ history and philosophy have more often than not taken a back seat as we struggle to just survive.

In such difficult times when user led organisations are struggling to survive and Disabled People face cuts to support packages and disability hate crime is on the rise, it is even more important that we get back to basics and debate the issues so that we can understand where negative language came from and how it feeds into the stereotypes that society has of Disabled People.

Term like ‘Special Educational needs’ is one such hot potato that in days gone by was avoided by ULOs and replaced for the preferred term ‘inclusion in education – a term that represents involvement in the educational process rather than putting the focus inappropriately on special.

Despite some positive developments in the area of supported education Government departments continue to use the term ‘Special Educational Needs’.  One example being The Department of Education consultation report (March 2011) “Support aspirations a new approach” which is littered with positive aspirations. Labelling Disabled People as having special educational needs seems to take little account that in the midst of terminology there is a unique human being who just happens to need support with accessing the barriers in education.

How do ULOs get back to a place where we can debate the key issues. What does special needs have to do with education? Have our needs as disabled people changed? Is it ever appropriate for a ULO to use this term and if it is how can we communicate this in a way that stays true to our philosophy and educates and avoids alienating those less politically informed organisations that we approach for funding and rely on. Send us your comments through the blog or tweet @SPECTRUMCil using the hashtag #InclEd

ULOs need to be seen as organisations that are not fearful of looking at different sides of an argument. Reflection and debate is necessary to organisations. We have a responsibility to educate, share history to grow and evolve future generations, newcomers and developing leaders.

Berni Vincent July 2013

Breathing New Life into Personalisation

The Hampshire PEP are pleased to announce that their Conference this year will be held on the 20th of March in Winchester, featuring a wide range of speakers, including Michelle Daley, Bob Rhodes, Shahana Ramsden and Sarah Carr.

We hope to be able to show people that personalisation is not just about social care, but is also affecting the way people get support in education and employment. There will be plenty of interactive workshops throughout the day, as well as an opportunity to question our expert speakers and  the Director of Hampshire Adult Services, Gill Duncan.

We are sure it will be an informative day as well as being a lot of fun. It is also a great way to meet other people and network and we hope it will encourage more people to get involved in User Led Organisations in Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth.

For more information, please download our joining pack with all the details of how you can be part of this exciting event.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at @HantsPEP

Get involved with the PEP…..from your own home

We often hear from Disabled People and Carers who would like to get involved in the Hampshire Personalisation Expert Panel but would find it difficult to attend our meetings. This is for a variety of reasons such as inaccessible public transport, other caring responsibilities or not having a Personal Assistant available to support them.

With this in mind, the PEP are planning to do more work online over the next year. As well as holding online meetings on the Web, you can also keep up to date with the PEP through our new Facebook page. We will also be live tweeting our meetings from April 2012 onwards. Just click on the Twitter button below.