Supporting capacity building in Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations

My colleague in the disability user-led sector, Jaspal Dhani, who is CEO of the United Kingdom Disabled People’s Council, has been interviewed in the latest edition of Disability Now.

He speaks with customary passion and some of the points he makes – exploring, for example, how the relationship between Disabled People’s Organisations and local authorities has developed and changed – are worth noting.

Equally, there are some points it would be remiss of me not to address – my part-time secondment role from a disabled people’s user-led organisation in Essex is as National Lead to the capacity building programme he mentions.

The two key points he makes about the Strengthening DPULOs Programme are as follows:

  1. The funding element of the Strengthening DPULOs Programme – called the Facilitation Fund – is underspent
  2. The Strengthening DPULOs Programme is focused on funding project work, rather than on providing money for core funding, which he says “the ODI [has] got wrong”

These are useful points to raise, and I thought it would be helpful to offer a perspective on them both, plus one additional point:

  1. The Strengthening DPULOs Programme has funded over 50 disabled people’s user-led organisations and awarded over £500k since the programme was launched on 20 July 2011. This equates to one award a week since the programme started, and we’re constantly encouraging applications from as many organisations as possible. Indeed, the press notice celebrating the milestones above explicitly calls for more bids from DPULOs, and I hope UKDPC (and others) will share this news far and wide amongst its networks! In time, it is possible the Facilitation Fund will become overspent, and I hope there won’t then be comments that there isn’t enough money to respond to what DPULOs want! (Though, of course, (a) there can never be enough money, and so (b) there probably will be such comments!)
  2. The criteria for the Facilitation Fund were coproduced with DPULOs themselves. So the criteria for the Fund aren’t based on what ODI thinks organisations need to be sustainable, but what organisations themselves think they need to be sustainable.

My additional point is this: it’s a shame the interview doesn’t mention the fact that UKDPC itself has received one of the largest awards that has been made from the Facilitation Fund. My reason is simple: the award to UKDPC represented for me what the Facilitation Fund is all about. This was to enable UKDPC to develop its membership base from its current 41 organisations (as of January 2012) and consultation with 200 DPOs, with a view to them representing even more disabled people’s organisations and disabled people’s’ voices in the future.

So, just in case anyone is in any doubt: the funding part of the Strengthening DPULOs Programme (the Facilitation Fund) is open for business. What’s more, there are local Ambassadors who would be more than happy to talk with you about your ideas and what the Facilitation Fund can support (their names, areas they cover and contact details are available here).

And for prompting me to remind people about these things, I thank Jaspal and his interview in Disability Now!

(Note: as always, these are personal views.)


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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