I am in a fortunate position to be part of a programme that aims to build the strength and sustainability of disabled people’s user-led organisations (DPULOs – an acronym that could do with sharpening up a bit). This is so they can provide a strong voice for disabled people at a local level, as well as provide services to support disabled people to have more choice and control over every aspect of their lives (for example, employment, social care, health and leisure).
The programme has 4 key components: Ambassadors, Experts, the Facilitation Fund, and someone who links it all together (which is my role).
In this (personal) post, I wanted to briefly talk about the Ambassadors.
They are an absolutely vital part of the programme. They provide the “missing link” between the energy, ability and sheer inventiveness of local disabled people who want to make things better and the resource, scale and leverage/links that central and local government can provide.
Having met individually with each of the 12 Ambassadors involved in the programme, covering almost every area of England, last week they all came together for the first time. Some photos of the day are here.
It was a privilege to be in the room with so many people that had made such a difference in the work they do in the lives of disabled people. The expertise that each of the Ambassadors had – in areas as diverse as leisure and culture, disability hate crime, housing, employment, volunteering, enabling peer support, social care and health – was quite something.
Inevitably, in a programme that aims to support organisations as diverse as DPULOs, there is no template for what an Ambassador might do. Broadly, though, there are 3 areas they’ll focus on:
- Reacting to the queries, questions and requests that DPULOs ask of them. With their experience, expertise and networks, Ambassadors can support DPULOs to have the right conversation or right piece of information at the right time
- Being proactive and making the case for DPULOs. Not only that, but Ambassadors can talk with commissioners, businesses and local people to see what they’re doing to support DPULOs and suggest ways in which they can work together with them
- Making sure the Strengthening DPULOs programme is working as well as it can be. This includes making decisions on which applicants to the Facilitation Fund will receive a financial award and ensuring that all learning from the programme (and beyond) is captured and shared
There is no doubt it’s a demanding role. But having met each of the Ambassadors and learning about what they’ve done, I know we have the right people doing the business!
If you’d like to know more about the Ambassadors who are involved and snippets about their experiences, you can read about them here.
If you’d like to know more about the programme in general – and especially if you work for a Disabled People’s User-Led Organisation – then feel free to get in touch with me.