In a previous job, I was lucky to be able to regularly travel to Wales and Scotland to talk with colleagues about work they were doing on disability in the devolved administrations.
Fortunately, I’ve had the same opportunity over the last couple of weeks, too.
In Wales, I visited the national infrastructure organisation, Disability Wales. It’s one of the oldest organisations of its kind, established in 1972, and has been a membership organisation for User-Led Organisations – some 300, in fact – for a significant portion of that time.
Disability Wales has done a significant amount of work with the Welsh Assembly Government over the last few years. Of many major successes, the latest is a result of a campaign they started in April 2010 called Independent Living Now. The result of this was a Manifesto for Independent Living which had 6 calls to action, and which has result in a Framework for Action on Independent Living that Welsh Assembly Government is taking forward.
Alongside this, they’re also doing some exciting work with police forces on disability hate crime, as well as some great stuff on the Welsh Assembly Government’s Communities 2.0 work (on which more can be found here and here). This is something Disability Wales have been doing themselves, too, including recently advertising for a role based around social media that’s the sort of thing I wish was around when I first started my career!
There are also a few excellent local DPULOs working in Wales, too: Cardiff & Vale Coalition of Disabled People and Bridgend Coalition of Disabled People are but a couple of examples.
Of course, there are some challenges in Wales. As always, local authorities and “traditional” voluntary sector infrastructure support pop up on the scene (or, rather, they don’t as often as we’d hope) and the history of disability being seen within an access setting means there are challenges for grassroots-led approaches to flourish. There’s also the issue of the geography of Wales: a trip from south to north (or the other way around) can take 4 or 5 hours to drive the 200 or so miles. As for public transport to do the same journey, the less said the better…
But it’s so encouraging to know organisations like Disability Wales are doing their thing. It will be great to see how the work of DPULOs continues to develop over the coming months and years.
(A post on my trip to Scotland will follow soon…)