WiltshireCIL was supported through the Facilitation Fund of the Strengthening DPULOs Programme to explore the issues local disabled people wanted to focus on, and so enhance their sustainability. Below, Clare Evans – the Chair of WiltshireCIL – shares some reflections on their recent work.
The best thing about a strengthening DPULO grant is that you can apply for funding to meet disabled peoples’ agenda and not have to fit into funders’ agenda.
WiltshireCIL got a grant to reach more disabled people by involving members as volunteers in meeting the needs of others.
We started by inviting any disabled people from our mailing list of several hundred to come and discuss how the project should develop.
Four areas came up as priorities:
- Informing disabled people about social policy to enable them to influence it
- To provide disabled people with learning IT opportunities
- Investigating how to assist self funders on social care
- Supporting disabled people influence locally and gain skills targeting Salisbury area of Wiltshire
As we draw to the end of our year long project we can see that some areas have been followed through successfully while others not so.
First the “not so” ones! We advertised widely an opportunity to learn IT skills from scratch and had 5 people enrol but only 2 finished the 4 sessions and there’s been no demand for more despite extensive advertising. It’s a bit worrying when you know the Welfare Reform changes are based on everyone getting online to fill in forms, but somehow people don’t perceive local organisations as being able to support them with this.
Secondly we had plans with a local access group to develop some sessions in Salisbury but their leader became hospitalised and plans are on hold.
However what did work beyond our expectations was putting on an information session about the Welfare Reform changes – we are now planning our third conference; also similarly for ILF users. A combination of speakers, presenting the facts clearly and an opportunity to discuss in groups in a safe place has met peoples’ needs though they remain anxious about the future. For self funders, we first contacted those who attended our Self Funders Forum for their ideas and then carried out a survey. We are now producing a signposting guide and Wiltshire Council has asked us to work with them on the issue to ensure we’re both as effective as possible.
We’re in touch with many more disabled people and are building systems to ensure we can publicise ourselves to them and others again.
Look out for the formal evaluation we’re preparing for the spring!