A valuable contribution to employment for disabled people

Disability Rights UK has today published an excellent paper, written by Neil Crowther and Liz Sayce, about disabled people taking control of employment.

It’s a short paper worth reading in full, so below are just a few quick reflections.

  • Recognising disabled people as a seriously under-used resource that can contribute to the UK’s position in the “global race” and our overall economic performance is an excellent frame
  • It’s hard to argue with the conclusion that the general and specialist work programmes aren’t working for the people who need them most because they’re, erm, not working! The data brought together to show this is the case is excellent and thorough.
  • The programmes are also incredibly poor value for money. At a time when there’s even more need for every £1 to be spent well, we should ensure as many of those £1s are spent on interventions that are known to work for people who need them (such as Individual Placement and Support, IPS, for people with mental health problems)
  • Where to start with end-to-end, behemoth providers? Let’s just stick with (a) they don’t make the most of the expertise that other providers have when it comes to specialist employment support; and (b) they don’t enable personalised approaches (possibly because they don’t get personalisation?)
  • There’s a significant role for peer support to play in supporting people into and retaining employment.

One final point: it’s great to see the report’s recommendations pushing so hard for personalised approaches in employment. There has been a tendency for personalisation to be seen only in the context of health and social care ; important as it is in those policy areas, personalisation is something we must strive for in public sector provision that affects all areas of disabled people’s lives.


Shopmobility Lochaber’s experience of implementing PQASSO #dpulo

PQASSO is a quality assurance system that many Voluntary & Community Sector organisations – including DPULOs – think about. Below, Shopmobility Lochaber – a DPULO based in Inverness-shire, Scotland – share their detailed experiences of obtaining PQASSO.

Sharing DASH’s journey (#dpulo)

It’s always great to hear about the difference the Facilitation Fund has made to a DPULO. Below, the Disablement Association Hillingdon – DASH – share what they’ve done through their Facilitation Fund award. Thanks to Angela Wegener for sending this to us.

Our award through the Facilitation Fund has led us on a journey that has opened up a number of opportunities for DASH as an organisation and its service users.

This award enabled us to set up a retail arm as Accredited Retailers for the Transforming Community Equipment Service, raising a small income by dispensing prescriptions and selling small aids and adaptations.

At the same time as this service was set up, our successful three year Transitions Project was coming to an end. This project had provided support for young people with a disability aged 16-25. The knowledge gained from this project had shown us that there was a real need to provide supported work experience placements for young people with disabilities, who when they leave college do not have any opportunity to gain experience and find employment.

Working with Hillingdon Adult Education we set up a small pilot project to trial work experience placements for a small number of their students who were on an ALDD course, giving them the opportunity to experience retail work at our office, in a supportive environment. This pilot was so successful that we decided to apply for funding from the Cadburys Foundation to enable us to continue to run it. This funding was granted, enabling us to employ a member of staff to oversee our new work experience programme.

This project has gone from strength to strength; we now work in partnership with property agents Knight Frank who kindly provide property maintenance work experience placements in their local office complex, Hyde Park Hayes, for young people once they have completed an initial six week assessment here with us. We are hoping that this will expand in the New Year to provide opportunities in working in their reception.

A number of young people have also been able to gain a Level 1 FA coaching qualification in football, and will be volunteering in local schools assisting at lunch time and after school clubs. It is hoped that in the future they will be paid a sessional fee for this.

We are also exploring the possibility of putting in a joint bid for funding with Hillingdon Adult Education, which will enable us to provide work experience placements at our local Rural Activities Garden Centre in their new café and shop.

You can find out more about DASH on their website here: http://www.dash.org.uk/

Strengthening DPULOs Programme monthly bulletin, no. 10 (end of year edition) #dpulo

This is the tenth monthly update about the Strengthening DPULOs Programme. This is also the last update of 2012, so rather than the usual mix of links and stories (which will begin again in January) I thought it would be useful to reflect on where the DPULOs agenda has got to.

2012: a year for DPULOs?

At the start of the year I suggested 2012 could be the year for DPULOs. There were 3 reasons for this view:

  1. There was a detectable shift towards leveling the playing field for different types of providers in public services
  2. There was proof that DPULOs could be clear about the value they add in representing disabled people’s voices locally
  3. The evidence for the difference DPULOs make was starting to come through, and stakeholders were starting to take note.

What we’ve seen over the last 12 months is further evidence for each of the points above. For example:

  1. DPULOs, social enterprises and mutuals are starting to be treated differently – and for the better – in the way public services are commissioned. Liverpool is one good example and we’ll have more in the New Year
  2. There is now significant evidence of the difference the voice of disabled people in their local communities, represented through DPULOs can make. This isn’t just in saving money (though that’s important), but also in the improvements in people’s quality of life. Just look at the evidence here.
  3. There is also now much more evidence than there’s ever been of the unique value DPULOs add when they deliver local services. They increase choice and control. They’re trusted more. They deliver a return on investment. And they save money. The evidence is here.

As a result, there’s been a major shift in thinking: the question I used to be asked all the time was “What is a DPULO?” Now, the question I am asked is “Now I know the difference they can make, how can I get the most out of one in my local area?”

Government has taken note, too: where DPULOs used to be thought of mainly in terms of social care, now they are reflected in several areas of policy:

  • In the ODI’s Fulfilling Potential documents and Right to Control Trailblazers
  • In the Home Office’s Hate Crime Action Plan
  • In the DWP’s drive to increase take up of Access to Work
  • In the DfE’s new approach to SEN and disability
  • In DCLG’s Community Budgets work
  • In the Cabinet Office’s Open Public Services White Paper
  • (A full list is here)

Not only this, but the Strengthening DPULOs Programme has provided over £1m of funding through the Facilitation Fund to enhance the sustainability of DPULOs (see here) .

And we’re thinking ahead to the future, too: whilst keeping on with the good stuff we’ve been doing, we’ll be getting new work going  in areas such as:

  • Examples of DPULOs working well with commissioners
  • DPULOs and Making It Real in social care
  • DPULOs and local Healthwatch
  • DPULOs and young disabled people
  • DPULOs, social media and accessible engagement
  • DPULOs and fundraising
  • Mapping the DPULO sector
  • Further evidence on the return on investment DPULOs deliver.

What about 2013?

Despite all of the positives of 2012, it has of course been an incredibly challenging year. DPULOs have not been immune from this, partly because of the significant challenges that disabled people themselves have faced and will continue to face.

And we know that circumstances facing DPULOs are likely to be just as hard, if not harder, into the future as local government and others also face a tough time.

But I am optimistic. As Baroness Campbell said:

Disabled people are the best problem solvers.

In a year that will see lots of problems for lots of different people and organisations, what better people and organisations to have working with you than disabled people and Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations?

Over the festive period, I shall reflect on the incredible work that all of you have done through your DPULOs in your local communities, and think forward to what you will continue to achieve in 2013 and beyond.

I hope you have a restful and relaxing holiday.

Rich Watts

(On behalf of all at the Strengthening DPULOs Programme team)

Find out more about the Programme

To find out more about the Strengthening DPULOs Programme, you can visit our website. We also regularly update our Facebook the page with lots of information you will hopefully find useful, plus news from other DPULOs: http://www.facebook.com/dpulos. If you are on Twitter, you can share information and find out more about DPULOs using the hashtag #dpulo. Please also remember to use the #dpulo hashtag if ever you’re tweeting about your work

You can find all 9 of the previous monthly updates here.

Contact us

For information, biographies, contact details and details of the areas covered by each of the DPULO Ambassadors covers, please visit the Ambassadors page.

If you have any questions about the Facilitation Fund or any part Strengthening DPULOs Programme, please contact odi.businessperformance@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Please feel free to forward this information on to any DPULOs, networks or stakeholders you think might find it interesting.

DPULOs, peer support and Access to Work – Expression of Interest


The Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey MP, recently announced further measures to ensure disabled people can benefit from Access to Work.

The Government will also implement a package of measures recommended by the Access to Work expert panel, chaired by Mike Adams from the Essex Coalition of Disabled People (ecdp).

The full notice can be found in the DWP’s pressroom. Further information about Access to Work can be found on GOV.UK.

One of the measures recommended by the Access to Work expert panel is for “Grassroots disability organisations (Disabled People’s User Led Organisations) to look at what else can be done to provide one-to-one peer support to disabled people using the Access to Work scheme”.

This Expression of Interest outlines how you can get involved in this work.

DPULOs, peer support and Access to Work – background

DPULOs currently deliver peer support in areas such as social care and volunteering. Evidence from social care reports show people have more choice and control and flexibility over their care and support through peer-led approaches, including in assessment, care planning and implementation. Formal programmes in health – such as the Expert Patient Programme – are also built on principle of peer support.

We are now keen to look at how peer support can work for people using Access to Work in their local area.

There is a variety of options for DPULOs to deliver peer support activities in their local area which could both complement and supplement support provided through the Access to Work process. These include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • Buddying scheme – pairing up individuals with similar impairments / conditions or employment situations who use Access to Work
  • Advice – DPULOs can provide focussed and targeted advice on specific groups, eg people with learning disabilities or mental health conditions, or young disabled people
  • Support – DPULOs could provide support to employers and encourage and up skill JCP advisers to support employers in their local area
  • Workshops – DPULOs could arrange Access to Work workshops with groups of people in preparation for starting work or long-term sick employees returning to work. Workshops would be able to identify what help is available and enable employees to have an opportunity to share learning of what works
  • Other forms of peer support – DPULOs can offer various other forms of peer support, such as one-to-one, on the telephone, or as mentoring in the workplace. Workplace peer support could also be used to enable disabled employees to progress in work and more importantly keep the job.

What we are going to do

Working through the Strengthening Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations programme, we are inviting local DPULOs to put forward their ideas for delivering innovative peer support for people using Access to Work. This can be either a new project, or build on something you are already doing.

We are aiming to start this work as soon as possible. Expressions of Interest are invited below, and will be marked according to the criteria highlighted.

Organisations that are successful at the Expression of Interest stage will be asked to write a full proposal for consideration at a special meeting of the Facilitation Fund Board, which will comprise members of the Access to Work Expert Panel and Ambassadors from the Strengthening DPULOs Programme.

We are looking for around 10 local DPULOs to deliver a project. We anticipate these projects beginning in January 2013 and running for approximately 12 months, including evaluation.

Please note: any DPULO is eligible to express an interest, even if you have already received funding from the Facilitation Fund. The normal Facilitation Fund financial limits will not apply to this work. For further information on this, please contact Rich Watts (details below).

Expressions of Interest

We would like DPULOs to submit a brief (no more than 4 sides A4) Expression of Interest to deliver an innovative peer support project for AtW in their local area.

Your Expression of Interest will be marked against the following criteria:

  • The DPULO’s knowledge, understanding and expertise regarding Access to Work and the barriers individuals face
  • The DPULO’s track record in delivering peer support approaches that result in tangible differences in their local area
  • The DPULO’s idea for an innovative peer support project for Access to Work in their local area
  • The scalability of the proposed innovative peer support project
  • The DPULO’s approach to partnership work in delivering the project
  • The DPULO’s approach to capturing learning and evaluating the effectiveness of the project
  • The DPULO’s capacity to demonstrate the ability to deliver this work over the next 12 months
  • The proposed cost for this project and its value for money.

Expressions of Interest will be considered and marked by the Strengthening DPULOs Programme and members of the Access to Work Expert panel. Shortlisted DPULOs will be chosen solely on the basis of the information provided.

Please submit your Expression of Interest to Richard.Watts1@dwp.gsi.gov.uk by 5pm on Friday 14 December.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with Rich above. Similarly, if you know a DPULO who may be interested in this opportunity, please pass this information on to them.

November 2012

DPULOs Making A Difference: working with commissioners – be a case study #dpulo

The Strengthening DPULOs programme is bringing together a collection of case studies exploring how DPULOs and commissioners have worked well together for the benefit of disabled people in their communities.

A full summary of this work is outlined at the end of this post.

The collection of case studies will show commissioners how practically DPULOs can work with them, in anticipation that it will encourage them to start, or continue, working closely with DPULOs in their area.

Living Options Devon will be coordinating this work on behalf of the Strengthening DPULOs programme.

How you can get involved

We are looking for a range of case study examples for the collection. As the coordinating DPULO, Living Options Devon will work with the DPULOs who are contributing case studies to support their effective contribution.

The Strengthening DPULOs programme have agreed to pay each DPULO who contributes a case study for one day’s work at £340 per day.

What is needed

There is a lot of good work happening between DPULOs and commissioners. We are looking for case studies that showcase a range of examples of good practice. This means that unfortunately we won’t be able to include every DPULO who expresses an interest.

A list of case study examples which we would like the collection to include has been put together, in coproduction with DPULOs, commissioners and other interested stakeholders – these are outlined below.  We would like to hear from you if your DPULO could provide us with a case study which fits any of these examples, though we are particularly interested in the examples which are in italics.

  • Commissioners reserving contracts for DPULOs using existing legislation and regulations (i.e. article 19 of the EU Procurement Directive Significant contracts being issued for voice/engagement-related work
  • Strategic partnerships / secondments between DPULOs and commissioners
  • Commissioners working with DPULOs to support their move into new service delivery areas or taking over a failing service
  • Effective engagement between DPULOs and emerging Health & Wellbeing Boards and local HealthWatch organisations
  • A commissioner using a Section 106 agreement to benefit / establish a ULO
  • How DPULOs and commissioners have worked together to deliver value for money at a time of austerity
  • How commissioners and DPULOs have worked constructively together without compromising independence or voice
  • A DPULO working with a commissioner to coproduce a tender specification
  • How a DPULO and commissioner have worked together to address TUPE issues
  • An example of a DPULO and commissioner working effectively together in employment, education or transport

If you would be interested in sharing your experiences and learning through a case study so that other DPULOs and commissioners can benefit please use the contact details below with a brief explanation of:

  • The practicalities of the relationship between your DPULO and the commissioner
  • If the relationship with your commissioner relates to one of the examples above please identify which and explain
  • A brief summary of the successful results of this relationship.

Please email your reply to Kelly Mavro at Living Options – Kelly.Mavro@livingoptions.org – by 10 December 2012.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Kelly via email or phone 01392 459222.

Please share this information with any other people/networks who you think might be interested.

#EssexUnite – a #dpulo peer-led employment programme

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Essex Unite – a peer-led employment programme run by ecdp (a DPULO based in Essex).

In partnership with Jobcentre Plus and the private sector group MITIE, Essex Uniteis a ground-breaking work experience training programme that offers unemployed disabled people the opportunity to participate in meaningful work placements.

What is unique about the programme is that it’s a peer-led programme: disabled individuals supporting other disabled individuals to achieve their aspirations and life goals.

The first week of Essex Unite has now taken place – a pre-placement week offering a number of training courses before the 16 people involved head off to 6 weeks of work experience with matched employers.

Full details of the first 5 days of the Essex Unite course can be found on ecdp’s website below:

There are a couple of things in particular to look out for. The first is this Audioboo of Leanne, one of the participants, talking about her experiences

The others are the interest that BBC Essex has taken in the programme. Dave Monk from BBC Essex will be following participants as they progress, and the first installment (in two parts) is below.

To keep up-to-date, you can follow the programme via www.ecdp.org.uk/essex-unite

*For info, I’m seconded from ecdp to the Strengthening DPULOs Programme.

Essex Unite – exciting example of a #dpulo working in employment

Though it is undoubtedly a tough environment at the moment, it’s important to highlight when there are examples of successes for DPULOs across the country. Below is news of some work ecdp – a DPULO based in Chelmsford, Essex – are doing in the area of employment, kindly contributed by their Director of Insight, Paschal Kane.

ecdp is an Essex-based organisation run by and for disabled people with a long and well established history of working to enhance the lives of disabled people within the Essex community.

In partnership with Jobcentre Plus and the private sector group MITIE, ecdp is delighted to announce a ground-breaking work experience training programme designed to offer unemployed disabled individuals the opportunity to participate in meaningful work placements to give them the drive, experience and confidence needed to get into paid employment.

The programme is called ‘Essex Unite’ and is a commitment between the partners to offer bespoke training, delivered flexibly at the right pace for 18 disabled individuals. It is an 8 week programme which will include a pre-placement week offering a number of training courses such as, how to deliver good customer service, how to develop leadership skills and how to manage health and stress levels. It also includes 6 weeks of valuable work experience, with participants being matched with appropriate employers in order to gain the right level of experience to support them back into work.

Following the work placement, individuals will participate in a post programme transition week which will include CV and job interview workshops. For three months after the programme, ecdp will continue to support Essex Unite participants to ensure that they build on their experience and capitalize on employment opportunities.

What is unique about Essex Unite is that it is a peer to peer led programme, with disabled individuals supporting other disabled individuals to achieve their aspirations and life goals.

The success of ‘Essex Unite’ depends on developing new partnership opportunities with organisations which share our ambitions to nurture talent and provide an equal chance for all. ecdp has already secured a number of work placement commitments from a variety of private, public and third sector stakeholders but there is more work to do to ensure the programme has a lasting legacy.  With ‘Essex Unite’ the goal is to develop a new model of co-operation between the public and private sector to tackle social problems at a local level. Building on the well-established principles of corporate social responsibility, ecdp believe this innovative and creative training programme will not only enhance the private and public sectors understanding of disability but ultimately lead to higher retention rates, greater productivity and better community relations.

Essex Unite milestones:

  • Breakfast Launch Event on 31st July, Cllr. Anne Brown of Essex County Council to speak
  • Participant open day – end of August (exact date tbd).
  • Work Experience Programme Start – Beginning of September

#Remploy changes and #DPULO: the £1.5m Community Support Fund

The week before last, the Government made an announcement that disability employment support services will be focused on individuals rather than institutions.  This was in response to the Sayce Review and how the £320m protected budget for disability employment could be used more effectively to support thousands more disabled people into work.

As part of the announcement, the Government guaranteed an £8m package of tailored support for up to 18 months to support all disabled Remploy staff affected by the changes.

As some of you might know, my work focuses on what Disabled People’s User- Led Organisations can and already do contribute to public service reform and society more generally. This includes looking at ways of (a) how to ensure there are more DPULOs, and (b) how to ensure they are sustainable.

After the disability employment support announcement last week, some people on Twitter and in other places highlighted that there could be a role for disabled people’s user-led organisations and voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations to play in providing support or opportunities in the changes taking place.

For example, Julie Newman of the UK Disabled People’s Council suggested:

Disabled Remploy workers should be supported to set up user-led social enterprises.

Similarly, Mark Brown (of One in Four magazine) asked:

How about each threatened #remploy factory looking at becoming #dpulo (disabled people’s user led org) or #socent? Do you think it might work?

(A question that was reported in Society Guardian Daily, no less!)

Such suggestions very much informed and tallied with thinking on how best the support package could be distributed or used.

What I’m very pleased to say, therefore, is that the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller MP, highlighted that part of the £8m support package announced – some £1.5m of it, in fact – will be made available to DPULOs and VCS organisations through a dedicated Community Support Fund. (This was mentioned in the oral statement and the Commons debate – columns 952 and 965 here.)

This Community Support Fund will provide grants to local DPULOs and VCS organisations to support Remploy employees in making the transition from sheltered employment to mainstream employment. The CSF would be focused particularly in the geographic areas in which Remploy employees will live, and so will include working in Wales and Scotland as well as England.

What that support looks like, though, is very much down to the local DPULO to determine, working with the people they support and taking account of local circumstances.

Personally, I think this is a tremendous opportunity for DPULOs to show how they can provide local, personalised support that responds directly to the requirements of disabled people in their local communities. They will specifically make a difference to people affected by the announcement made about disability employment support services. We have some funding to support this role and have a great opportunity to positively and constructively shape this so the support is made available in the best way possible.

You can keep up-to-date on the DPULO work I’m involved in via Twitter (@rich_w), through the Strengthening DPULOs Programme Facebook page or use the #dpulo hashtag.

Man walks into a column, no.36: Jobs

No, not a(nother) paean to the iPhone or iPad in memory of Apple’s departing chief exec, but the latest instalment in At Times Like This I Wish I Was American, as President Bartlett – sorry, Obama – gives a state of the nation speech to a nation in a pretty terrible state.

With Labor Day behind us (them) and the campaigning for 2012 entering the phase when (some) Americans actually pay (some) attention, consider this a starting pistol post, in the hope that we can maintain a healthy amount of gazing across the Atlantic on arbitrary constant as the election itself draws nearer.

If you haven’t already and have a half hour to spare you really could do worse than spending it watching the full thing. Not as soaring as others in the Obama Canon, maybe, but impressively direct and well-crafted and, it almost goes without saying, delivered with style. The tone and content can be well summed up with this excerpt:

The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours. The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy; whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.

Throughout Obama expertly married the local and the global, the everyday and the political. Held together by the ringing refrain, repeated time and again, of ‘pass this jobs bill’. The most profound passage though, for me, was when the President addressed head-on the inherent and to many the fascinating duality at the heart of the American psyche. In response to the GOP creed that government should just ‘get out of the way’, Obama said:

Yes, we are rugged individualists. Yes, we are strong and self-reliant. And it has been the drive and initiative of our workers and entrepreneurs that has made this economy the engine and envy of the world. But there has always been another thread running throughout our history – a belief that we are all connected; and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation.

Because when Americans say they want to be left alone to get on with it, they don’t mean really left alone, they mean ‘left to do the kind of things I want to do with my kind of people‘. I was reminded of the studies quoted in David Brooks’ The Social Animal which appear to show that in the States (especially) people choose party affiliation based on views handed down by their parents, or early in adulthood based on stereotypes of what ‘Democrats’ and ‘Republicans’ are like, and then stick with whichever camp they think is most similar to them. Policy choices barely figure.

Then, party affiliation becomes the independent variable, shaping views on key issues (survey data suggests that, for example, people become Republicans first and then place increasing value on limited government, rather than the other way around) and – crucially in the current context – shaping perceptions of reality. Whether, for instance, in the case of one study, inflation had risen or fallen.

And that’s the point: however good this speech was, its substantive effect on the minds of voters is likely to be limited, making Democrats happier and Republicans angrier. Independents will continue to wait and see whether the economy picks up. The chances of a fillip within the next twelve months or so are limited when so many households and businesses are still continuing to pay down pre-crisis debt.

Anyway, with GOP members of congress in deeply intransigent mood, Obama’s Administration has little chance of getting his proposals through, so whether they’ll work or not is largely academic. What the President achieved, though, in using any president’s most potent weapon – the bully pulpit – to good effect, was to lay down the gauntlet, allowing him to credibly place the blame at the door of Congress when things don’t get better. Risky strategy, but the only one realistically open to him at this time of US decline.