Friends, I’ve been slack on the blogging front. I can only apologise. [You’d not noticed? Oh. – ed]
Firstly, may I wish all of you a very Happy New Year. I hope you had a restful and relaxing festive break and are looking forward to 2012.
I have no doubt it will be a challenging year in general. But I’m looking forward to the opportunities this will provide for Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations DPULOs) and the work we can do together to make the most of these opportunities.
The festive break was a useful time for reflecting on public service reforms and the role DPULOs can play.
There is a detectable shift towards levelling the playing field for different types of public service provision – see, for example, the focus on mutuals and social enterprises. I am therefore planning to get into the habit of adding “… and DPULOs” to the end of any sentence I (or anyone else says!) about these different types of organisations providing public services.
Similarly, recognising the different ways in which “voice” is made up will be an important part of the debate when it comes to DPULOs. Voice isn’t just one activity – it can be informing, consulting, involving, collaborating, empowering and representing. It will be good for us to be clear about the value DPULOs add in each type of voice-related activity, and not just throw them all into one big pot.
Finally, on the point about evidence, one of the key pushes in the early part of the year will be how we demonstrate to all stakeholders how DPULOs make a difference. It will be important to show people who commission public services (amongst others) that DPULOs uniquely add value both financially and in terms of the outcomes they secure for disabled people.
The proof will be in the pudding.
These thoughts will guide much of the Strengthening DPULOs Programme throughout the first part of the year. This will include the programme strategy, communications with DPULOs and others, our events work and the way in which we influence commissioners – locally and centrally.
I’ll most likely be blogging on DPULOs a lot this year – for sharing emerging thinking / ideas / musings, good practice, the occasional mis-steps and, most importantly, the difference DPULOs are making.