Mike Adams – who was recently awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List – is an Ambassador for the Strengthening DPULOs Programme. Below he shares his experiences of being an Ambassador so far, particularly in working with a new DPULO in Redbridge.
The comic actor Kenneth Williams said he enjoyed being interviewed as it forced him to think hard about his thoughts and views which may never have naturally reached the surface without being interrogated by questions.
I feel the above experience is akin to the role of being an Ambassador: thoughts, knowledge and experience banked in your brain but not necessarily tapped unless asked a direct question. For Ambassadors the direct questions are increasingly coming from a group of new and exciting DPULO’s wanting to be the next generation of organisations moving the disability movement forward.
For me this is why the role of Ambassador is both exciting but challenging. Challenging because I have to tap into my disability memory bank and reconsider the assumptions I have made – and see whether they still stack up in 2012; and exciting because the innovative ideas and approaches taken by these new and hungry organisations means there is a much greater chance of sustainability, and all the positive things which will flow from this for DPULO’s and disabled individuals..
A couple of weeks ago I met with the Centre for Independent and Inclusive Living (CiiL) from Redbridge. The purpose was to support an understanding of the experience of large DPULO’s and (hopefully) provide some hints and tips around strategy and leadership.
Most comforting for me was the reinforcement for them about what they expected, knew and intended to do. It is always a good outcome and quick win to be able to simply confirm what people have always thought! The meeting involved representatives from the relatively new Board and a key staff member. Great progress has been made in a short space of time including fully grasping the fact that disabled people are demanding high quality services and a space for their individual and collective lived experience to be heard.
The Board has a wide breadth and depth of lived experience coupled with a clear and achievable vision for the future: in terms of the services it wants to deliver, the way it intends to engage and empower its members, and equally important the partners it knows its going to need to develop and grow.
I was equally impressed with their analysis and understanding of the national DPULO programme and how they can leverage value. This extends from being part of emerging networks, tapping peoples little black books for names and intelligence, and thinking through how over time potential funding from the Facilitation Fund might help to accelerate areas of growth and thus potential sustainability.
The benefit of being an Ambassador is definitely a two way street. Their ideas and perspective will be taken back in terms of my day job and used to inform current and new business of an existing DPULO.
I am looking forward to working with the organisation over the next 18 months and will share my perspective of their trials, tribulations and successes with you as we go along.