As an Ambassador for the Office for Disability Issues Strengthening DPULOs programme, one of the best parts of the job is getting out and actually seeing other groups, what stage of development they are at and meeting the faces behind the organisation.
This week, thanks to the lack of snow, I was able to visit two such groups.
The first of these was the Personalisation Support Group in Doncaster.
The PSG is a group of people with mental health issues that supported each other when there was a refusal to give anyone with a mental health condition in a particular area a Direct Payment. The group asked other disability groups for support, but didn’t receive any and eventually successfully challenged this using a judicial review.
The group is supported on a voluntary basis by Kelly Hicks (Independent Social Worker), who has recently been named Social Worker of the Year.
The group has recently applied for and were successful in getting a grant from the Strengthening DPULOs Facilitation Fund grant for a project called Support Buddies, This funding is for a variety of training courses, marketing and promotional materials.
Meeting the group was a fantastic experience as I could actually see the benefits of the grant we had made. The group meets weekly in a church hall and are lively, committed to the project and to each other.
They support each other not just in an emotional way, but also in practical ways: in one fantastic example a member had recently moved house and around 10 members had assisted her, from changing light bulbs, decorating and moving furniture.
The group have loads of ideas and want to have premises, new services and one member is making a film of the work they are doing. They are keen to work with other organisations and have just started joint meetings with Active Independence, who have also received funding from the Facilitation Fund and are also a relatively new group.
It really was an excellent visit and the group had lots of questions for me as to how they can develop, but also wanted to express their thanks to the Strengthening DPULO programme for their support.
My second visit was to Lincolnshire Independent Living (LIL).
LIL is a small user led organisation formed in 2011, that is aiming to cover the whole of Lincolnshire, covering both large urban areas and isolated rural communities. Currently, they have no office base, around 90 members and have two part time staff .
They have small funding for two projects:
- To develop a peer-to-peer support user network (aiming to support disabled people and carers)
- A Quality checking service, looking at organisations from a disability perspective.
They have an idea that they want to develop a “virtual CIL” which may rely on workers using laptops and mobile phones, rather than having an office base, due to the size of the geographical area. This is an interesting idea, but they need to develop a clear idea of what services they want to run. They have ideas around information, Direct Payments, etc and I tried to give them some ideas of how other CILs have developed.