Below is a copy of a column that appeared in the 100th edition of Able Magazine, written by Maria Miller MP, Minister for Disabled People. The original is available here: Able Magazine Ministerial column
Congratulations to Able Magazine on the 100th edition. To mark this big occasion I’d like to talk about those small grassroots organisations that can make such a real difference to the everyday lives of disabled people.
Disabled People’s User Led Organisations (DPULOs) are run by and for disabled people and play a vital role in making sure disabled people have their voices heard at every level. In many cases DPULOs already provide support and services alongside those provided by the public sector and are often better at doing so as they can draw on their own first hand experiences of disability and have clear ideas about what works and what doesn’t.
Back in July last year I launched a £3m fund to help strengthen DPULOs by giving out pots of money to fund individual projects on the ground. The idea was based on feedback I had received from these organisations that a little funding at the right time can make all the difference to the support they are able to provide to disabled people. Today, not only are we celebrating 100 editions of Able Magazine, we can also announce that we have reached our own milestone this summer of half a million pounds in payments through our DPULO fund.
Organisations that have already benefited include Communication for Blind People based in North London. They are using the money in a very creative way to develop a smartphone app for blind travellers. The app helps to alert blind people that they are approaching their destination when using public transport.
Then there’s ‘My Life, My Choice’ in Oxford who told us their grant is helping them to realise their dream of running their own Sting Radio show. They not only to play music produced by people with learning disabilities, but give out information and speak up for their members over the airwaves.
Other organisations are using the money to give invaluable day-to-day support like the Personalisation Forum Group in the North East. They told me they were “over the moon” with their grant which will contribute toward setting up a service user group for disabled people in Doncaster.
DASH, a DPULO in Hillingdon, supports disabled people in the local community through a ‘one stop shop’ service. The service will mean disabled people who are being assessed for equipment by an occupational therapist can have their prescription redeemed just a few doors down the corridor in the organisation’s office.
In total 61 applications for funding have been received from DPULOs across England, the majority of which have been successful. Of those, 50% are pan- impairment organisations, nearly 10% learning disability organisations and nearly 10% mental health specific organisations. The biggest number of successful bids have been received from the North East, South West and Greater London areas, so I’m keen to encourage more applications from all areas, particularly the Midlands and East of England.
We still have millions of pounds left, so if you are already part of a DPULO, then this is an opportunity to raise its profile and build on the successes you have already achieved. If you would like to bid for money for specific projects and help shape the future provision for disabled people, you can do so by visiting: http://www.odi.gov.uk/dpuloprogramme or http://www.facebook.com/dpulos
You can also catch up with us on Twitter at #dpulo – there is a regular #dpulo chat every Tuesday night between 8-9pm