The online presence of DPULOs – anecdotal findings (updated)

I’ve spent much of the last couple of days mapping what disabled people’s user-led organisations there are. This work is part of the Strengthening DPULOs Programme that I’m involved with, and draws upon other mapping exercises that have happened previously.

(It goes without saying that mapping and gapping is an art in itself, which people often pay very good money for others to do. Still, at this stage of the work I’m involved with, a relatively rough and ready mapping exercise – building on much more extensive work that others have done – will suffice.)

As part of the mapping, I’ve been finding out what kind of presence DPULOs have online. The results – as unscientific and anecdotal as they are – make for interesting reading.

To summarise:

  • The vast majority of DPULOs have a website
  • The websites themselves are very mixed: some are incredibly good, some are standard, a small few are quite poor
  • Associated with this, some have clearly had professional design and input
  • Others – though only a handful – are using slightly customized, off-the-shelf products like WordPress, Movable Type and Squarespace to run their online presence
  • In terms of social media, many more than I expected have a Facebook presence – approaching around a third of all DPULOs I’ve identified so far
  • Each has around 50-100 “likes” for their Facebook page, which I’m guessing is around the average for voluntary and community sector organisations
  • Relatively few DPULOs are on Twitter. I have compiled a fairly comprehensive list of those that are on Twitter here
  • There is a spattering of organisations using channels such as Flickr, YouTube, Audioboo, LinkedIn etc.

I’m working on the basis that this position is not dissimilar to any other subsection of the voluntary and community sector. If it is dissimilar, then I’d be keen to know the reasons why, as this would suggest a stream of work that could be particularly useful for DPULOs.

In the meantime, there are 4 (superficial) implications that occur to me as a result of this:

  1. A relatively low cost and low barrier means by which DPULOs can establish a local presence is not currently being fully explored to its potential
  2. Facebook is a popular tool that DPULOs are beginning to recognise is of value to their offer
  3. Twitter is less popular with disabled people’s organisations. Where individuals have used it to a great extent, the same can’t be said of organisations that are controlled by and for disabled people
  4. There is a business opportunity for someone to develop the websites (based on off-the-shelf products) and social media offering of DPULOs through a relatively low-cost offer. The added value of such of an offer would be significant, since the use of websites and social media are under-utilised by the DPULO “sector” as a whole.

Would be really interested to know if people have any other reflections on this, and importantly any ideas or stuff they know is already happening that can help address some of these points.

Update: this article from the Chief Executive of the Media Trust is pertinent to this post:

In a world in which local voices can have global reach, charities and NGOs have urgent and exciting new opportunities to give voice to their causes, to empower communities and citizens, and to be responsive to their needs and aspirations. Digital media has the power to enable charities and communities to become more integrated and cohesive – but finding the skills, strategies and resources can throw up some huge challenges to small and large organisations, many of which are juggling complex bottom lines around service delivery, campaigning and income generation.


The start of the #dpulo programme

In July 2011, a programme to strengthen Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations was launched by the Office for Disability Issues. This story captures the early phase of that programme.

.The programme was launched on 20 July

Strengthening Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations Programme: Office for Disability Issues – ODI projects

On July 20th Maria Miller, the Minister for Disabled People, launched the new programme to support disabled people’s User Led organisations (DPULOs). This will be a £3million investment over four years that will aim to promote the growth and improve the sustainability of user led organisations.
At the launch event, I made some remarks as the National Lead about what I hope the programme will
Strengthening DPULOs programme — National Lead role

I was today announced as the National Lead for the Strengthening Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations (DPULOs) programme. The full press release is available here. Below is a copy of the brief speech I gave at the launch event, which was held at the excellent Vassall Centre Trust in Bristol.

After the launch, one of my main priorities was to meet each of the 12 Ambassadors who will work closely with me on the programme. Audioboos with some of those Ambassadors are below.

Berni has also written a blogpost about her appointment as an Ambassador:
Strengthening Disabled People”s User Led Organisations

Written by Berni Vincent My recent appointment by the Office of Disability Issues (ODI) as an Ambassador for the “Strengthening Disabled Peoples User Led Programme” comes as a pleasant surpr…
Amongst many other things, Cumbria CIL has an IT refurbishment service, a picture of which is below.
The home of Choices and Rights in Hull is called Jude Lodge – named after one of the member of staff’s hearing assistance dog, Jude (pictured below).
When meeting with Barry, he also took the time to show me how the Victoria & Albert Museum makes its items accessible.

I also visited Lynne, the CEO at Cheshire CIL. Unfortunately, the Audioboo disappeared from my phone. By small way of recompense for this, below is a picture of CCIL’s reception plaque!

The Strengthening DPULOs Programme builds on some work that has been undertaken before, including that done by Disability LIB.

Welcome to the Disability Lib site

Disability LIB is a partnership project of 7 organisations funded by the Big Lottery Fund to provide range of capacity building support to Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs) in England (2007 – 2011). We are currently changing some of the content on the site and will be launching a range of videos and toolkits shortly as part of the legacy of the project.

My good friend Stephen heads up Disability LIB. Here we are talking with each other following our meet up about the learning we can share across our respective work.

Going forward, I’m keen to ensure the programme covers all impairment groups – including people with mental health conditions and learning disabilities. I’ve met NSUN already – an excellent mental health survivors / users network.

Really interesting couple of hours with Sarah and Fran from @NSUNnews. Great #mentalhealth #dpulo doing strong user voice work.
August 8, 2011
I mentioned I met excellent @NSUNnews today. Here’s their site: useful if you’re interested in #mentalhealth and #dpulo:
August 8, 2011

I hope this has given a flavour of the work I’ve been doing out and about with the programme so far. I am keen to use social media and other communications as much as possible to get across what the programme is doing. Let me know what you think and what you think should be included in this type of communications.

(Note: These are personal views only!)

On blogging in 2011

I’ve recorded an audioboo on what you can expect from this blog in 2011. Click below to listen.