Valueing the Work Of A Disabled person’s Organisation


The Disability Discrimination Act calls on local authorities to promote partnerships with organisations of disabled people. to consult with disabled people about things that affect them, to promote the disability equality duty.

Reward and Recognition calls for disabled people to be valued and paid appropriate wages for their particpation in local authority processes.

Can you tell me where any of these things are happening? It would be good to know.

Disabled people have been calling for a fair days pay for a fair days work for years. That it is not happening keeps us excluded. it means when we sit around the table we do so as unequal partners.

Coincidentally I am writing this whilst listening to Viktor Krauss’s Far From Enough. Maybe that’s what i should have called this blog entry. If anything positive is happening out there and i truly hope there is then it is Far From Enough.

Imagine my thrill today then when i met with three academics from the London Metropolitan University (LMU) who were asking me to get involved with them for a fee. They want me involved, they want the organisation i work for, Brent Advocacy Concerns (BAC) involved and they want our disabled members involved. And they are talking about money.

They do a host of things at the LMU. We can match them at BAC. They have the resources. We don’t. Our match comes from the work we do, the links we have, our expert knowledge about our lives as disabled people.

My relationship with the LMU is older than they know. One of their staff team gave a reference for one of our peer advocates. He spoke well of them. I have considered studying there. But to all intents and purposes our working relationship grew from a conference held there on the transformation of social care. I was there in support of a local Authority that had used us to develop training and protocols concerning service user involvement in the recruitment of staff. Whilst this work had been done in partnership it was also effectively a co-production, something which the Transformation of Social Care calls for – local authorities and disabled people and their organisations doing things together.

These are some of the themes we have in common:

  1. Their big interest is in social work students – those ‘people’ who want to be social workers. These students  have an interest in the personalisation program. This is a new approach adding to direct payments and promoting the independence of disabled people. Some of our members are leading on this. They are asking to be assessed under this heading and social services staff members are sayng never heard of it. We had the same experience with Direct Payments. We are having to tell council staff how to do their job in order to achieve the independent life styles that we want. The ones that you take for granted.
  2. Service User Involvement in Staff and Student Recruitment. LMU started this process this year (i believe). We started it last year. Maybe we can compare processes, use the knowledge and experience of our members to help the university recruit people who have the attributes to go on and do the job.
  3. Students receive seminars, teaching, classes. they hope to work with disabled people. Why not receive information from the life experience of disabled people. LMU have done this before. Our members can contribute this and can become a useful resource.
  4. Students have their work assessed. At BAC our members assess the training of council staff on a course called communicating with disabled people. Our members have learned the skills to assess and can transfer these skills to benfit LMU and their students.
  5. LMU use freelance trainers. I am also a freelance trainer.
  6. LMU hold courses in digital media. Students are looking to make films about the stories of people. Our people have these stories. Some of them want to tell them using film. We have already started doing this at BAC. http://www.brentadvocacy.co.uk/pages/blogs/kenny-vestervelt.php We have a campaigning film called Sick Bucket in production which needs finishing. See my posts on this blog for further information; https://detrich.wordpress.com/2008/04/09/sick-note-britain-what-disabled-people-are-sick-of/ and https://detrich.wordpress.com/2008/04/30/sick-note-britain-what-disabled-people-are-sick-of-part-2/ And of course some of you will already know about City of Justice a film we made with people with learning disabilities to explore their hopes, their aspirations, the barriers they face and concerns about community safety. 
  7. They are also developing community radio. At BAC we have 35 disabled people signed up to take training in community radio. This is organisaed by our Black Minority Ethnic Advocate. We are developing this group to put out messages on disability and black minority ethnic issues. This is a resource LMU can call on.

All this is at the negotiation stage. nothing is written in stone. If LMU can start to make opening enquiries what is stopping you from doing the same and having a fair and equal relationship with disabled people’s organisations.

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2 Comments »

  1. Yours is the first I have heard where it is truly a partnership, all other examples of involvement are simply tokenistic reporting of what has gone on without any involvement and certainly not paid involvement of disabled groups.

  2. detrich said

    Many thanks Andrew.
    I had a training session with peer advocates yesterday who were keen to say that the key to the removal of discriminatory barriers is consultation. I rejected this. It is my view that consultation has always been about someone coming to tell you what they are going to do, listening to your cautionary comments and then doing what they said they would do. I have seen scores of disabled people criticising what someone is going to do but the plan to do it still goes ahead. If hundreds of disabled people were consulted this would still be tokenistic. It will always be tokenistic as long as we are listened to without being heard.

    I have found involvement to be different to consultation. During involvement exercises we sit around the table as unequal partners and we make suggestions on how things could be from the start of a process. then our more equal partners do what they were going to do anyway. But we are still sitting around the table and we are still throwing shit against the wall and you know what…..over time some of it will stick.

    As involvement is a move on from consultation co-production will be a move on from involvement and i am very optimistic about this. The transformation of social care also calls for leadership from disabled people and again i am reasonably optimistic about this. The difficulty with leadership is who picks our leaders and can we trust them. I received the news of a disabled person’s death yesterday and i celebrated. i have not been so happy for a long time. He was a nightmare for disabled people. He was perceived to be a leader and made things hard for us. He was petty. He was small minded. He believed that if he could make it to meetings on time all disabled people could make it on time and as he could do the work without expenses all disabled people should do the work without expenses. Opinion was a strong point. He would sit in conferences and ask self centred questions and lots of them, excluding others who had something to say and he was given carte blanche to be as mean and petty as he liked because he was a former council worker, before the onset of impairment, he knew how councils worked and he was on their side. Sorry, i just needed to offload that. I think the point is i have sympathies with your view but i also think we are evolving and improving as a movement, on a local level, but we have to be careful of the progress we are making. It’s a fragile growth thing and things are easily put back.

    best wishes

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