DPULOs at the heart of government’s disability work / #fulfillingpotential

Yesterday, the government published documents which set out its approach to the commitment to enable disabled people to fulfil their potential and play a full role in society.

“Fulfilling Potential: the discussions so far” summarised what the government heard from disabled people and their organisations, whilst “Fulfilling Potential: next steps” outlines areas for action.

There will be many thoughts and reflections on these documents from other quarters; I wanted to focus on the role of Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations in each of the documents. This is both to (a) show how DPULOs are central to the government’s work in this area; and (b) to equip DPULOs with parts of the document they can refer to in their own conversations with local councils and other funders.

(Note: there are a significant number of references in both Fulfilling Potential documents to disabled people’s organisations. This will include DPULOs, but because it can also include organisations that aren’t user-led, I’ve only drawn out below specific references to DPULOs.)

First, let’s have a look at Fulfilling Potential: the discussions so far.

In the first instance, it is worth noting that a considerable number of disabled people and DPULOs responded to the original discussion document. Around 5,000 people shared their views, including through 63 events and 187 organisations. Truly, the voice of disabled people has been captured in the discussions on this document.

In the employment section, paragraph 2.60 highlights DPULOS will be involved in the introduction of buddy systems and role models to support employers and disabled entrepreneurs.

In discussing the transition from being a young person to an adult, paragraph 2.63 notes that many people felt that ongoing specialist support services in the community for supporting transitions should be provided by DPULOs.

In paragraph 3.30, the experience and importance of DPULOs in supporting people to make choices and exercise their rights – through advice, support and advocacy – is highlighted. Paragraph 3.32 takes this further and says the next phase of work on the disability strategy will explore further ways to improve advocacy and peer networks, using the Strengthening DPULOs Programme to support DPULOs to do this. Paragraph 3.34 also notes DPULOs as being a key part of providing information in the local community alongside other sources of information.

Paragraph 4.3 notes the role that DPULOs can play in increasing awareness of disabeld people’s rights

Paragraph 4.30 talks about the government’s hate crime action plan, “Challenge it, report it, stop it”, which includes several references to the role DPULOs have to play in addressing disability hate crime.

The role of user-led organisations run and controlled by people with mental health conditions is noted in paragraph 4.48, in being part of the Ministerial Advisory Group on the Mental Health Strategy.

Encouragingly, paragraph 4.53 talks about the governmetn’s push to award contracts to small and medium enterprises and voluntary organiastions. This includes a commitment to enabling DPULOs (amongst others) to do more in this area, and that the Crown Representative for the Voluntary Sector will help to open up more opportunities for organisations such as DPULOs.

Finally, paragraphs 4.54 and 4.55 talk directly about the Strengthening DPULOs Programme. It highlights:

  • The £3m Facilitation Fund, specifically for DPULOs
  • The practical support offered by Ambassadors and the National Lead role
  • The fact the programme now operates in England, Scotland and Wales
  • The work the programme is doing with commissioners to highlight the value that DPULOs add to public service delivery
  • Our “Making A Difference” series, looking at topics such as disability hate crime and working with commissioners
  • Our joint work with DH to help shape and deliver local HealthWatch organisations.

In a separate post, I’ll have a look at how DPULOs are central to “Fulfilling Potential: next steps”.

(If you’d like to know more about the Strengthening DPULOs Programme, there is information on the ODI website and on our dedicated Facebook page.)


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

6 thoughts on “DPULOs at the heart of government’s disability work / #fulfillingpotential”

  1. With such a commitment to DP ULOs I am surprised that they don’t figure at all in the government’s reform of “special needs education”. I would see a strong role for DP ULOs in supporting disabled children and their families who take up the option of a personal budget. As far as I am aware none of the Pathfinder Projects are testing this as an option.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. For info, I know that the Preparing for Adulthood programme – which is part of DfE’s work – is keen on looking at the role of DPULOs.

      Also, through the Facilitation Fund, a DPULO in the London region has been funded to get involved in one of the Pathfinders in the area.

      Thus, activity is happening – just not always possible to include it!

      Hope this helps 🙂

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