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:


Report from Wiltshire CIL on ILF consultation

This is a good report on the work done by Wiltshire CIL – a DPULO in the South West – on the Independent Living Fund. This is a great example of the support a DPULO provides people, as well as how they can help represent people’s views on different issues.

#dpulo Disability Cornwall awarded Investors in People gold status

This is great news: Disability Cornwall has been awarded the gold status for Investors in People. It’s particularly good news because it’s an award that any business or organisation would recognise, and shows the standard that DPULOs often operate at.

Below is the full press release from Disability Cornwall about their award. Congratulations to them on their achievement.

Disability Cornwall staff, Directors and volunteers celebrated their achievement on being awarded the highly prestigious Investors in People – Gold Standard by wearing gold at a special Away Day event held at Tregenna Castle on Friday.

Following a rigorous assessment that included lengthy interviews with all staff, Disability Cornwall now joins the top 3 of organisations across the UK who have achieved the GOLD standard. This standard is only given to organisations who can demonstrate excellence in developing and supporting their staff, and the charity needed to meet more than 165 evidence requirement standards that included commitment to values, personal development and social responsibility.

Chief Executive, Jane Johnson commented:

We are absolutely delighted to receive this extremely prestigious award. This is a fantastic result and the Assessor, Carolyn Inger was most complimentary in her feedback, stating the staff she met were some of the most committed, passionate and truly nice people she has ever had the pleasure of talking to, and that their attitude and competence, in her experience is second to none. It’s a great acknowledgement for the quality and personal commitment of staff and Directors to the continuous improvement of both themselves, our organisation, and the people we are here to support. It is said that if you get the right people in business the rest will follow.

Carolyn Inger, Investor in People Assessor working on behalf of Inspiring Business Performance LTD added:

Disability Cornwall has a totally positive culture, a real family feel, exceptional team working and true consideration for people as people. This combined with high skill levels, knowledge and experience of staff who feel really valued, as they make a difference to the lives of disabled people, generates not only a passion and buzz for the work undertaken, but also a highly successful organisation which has gone from strength to strength over the last few years.

Disability Cornwall is the leading pan disability organisation with a mission to facilitate a fully inclusive society in Cornwall through empowering disabled people to achieve independence, choice and control. In addition to being a representative body for equality, they provide a range of services including the Disability Information and Advice Line (DIAL) supporting more than 3000 people per year alone and Discover magazine, a disability lifestyle publication, in addition to a range of support services for personal budgets and for businesses, including access auditing, consultation and training.

You can find out more about Disability Cornwall here:

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: 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

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

Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations: a full overview

Information regarding Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations – the what, who, how, where etc. – tends to be found in very many places indeed.

With my centralising tendencies, I thought it would be useful to publish a post that links together some of the key information available here about DPULOs. In turn, these posts link on to a wide array of resources available.

This is by no means comprehensive, so please do let me know (in the comments, via @rich_w on Twitter or via Facebook) if there’s anything I need to add in.

What is a DPULO?

What DPULOs exist?

What do DPULOs do?

What value do DPULOs add?

See also the evidence section below

What does the government think of DPULOs?

What evidence is there concerning DPULOs?

#DPULO delivering services: overview

research in practice for adults kindly asked me to write a contribution to their “Strategic Briefings” series, on the topic of Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations. Below I’ve extracted and amended the section about DPULOs and their unique service deliver. The publication will be available from ripfa’s website soon.

DPULOs are run by and for disabled people and uniquely add value to the services they deliver. They typically have legitimacy and credibility from the perspective of both users and commissioners, and can provide a user-led contribution to all parts of the care and support process.

DPULOs operate on both the supply- (i.e. service delivery / business) and demand- (i.e. user representation / voice) sides. They balance these roles to uniquely add value to the local social care economy (and beyond).

DPULOs come in all shapes and sizes: some can have a long history and be well established in their local area; others can be newly-formed and emerging in response to local circumstances.

What this work looks like

DPULOs can deliver a range of services drawing on the lived experience of users. Such services typically support people to navigate the care and support system, rather than deliver services at the end. The offer of DPULOs can include:

  • Information, Advice & Guidance
  • Supported self-assessment
  • Support planning
  • Brokerage
  • (Non-complex) supported reviews
  • PA recruitment and employment support
  • Training for employers and employees
  • Advocacy services

DPULOs are increasingly delivering services that people can purchase with their Personal Budget too, including:

  • Domiciliary care and support
  • Payroll services
  • Equipment services
  • Leisure services

DPULOs can also act as hubs for coordinating and managing user-led and wider voluntary and independent sector provision.

Beyond social care, DPULOs also offer a wide range of services, including (but not limited to):

  • Welfare / benefits advice
  • Training, especially disability equality training
  • Access auditing
  • Hate crime third party reporting centres
  • Alternative format translation.

Evidence of effectiveness

  • Choice and control in service delivery is an important aspect of the social care economy – valued both by users and government
  • 89% of people in an area who experienced user-led IAG secured a Direct Payment, compared to 13% who used LA-led provision
  • POET survey and ODI’s Support, Advocacy and Brokerage project both indicated people who had support from ULOs had better support for navigating the care and support system and that achieved better outcomes
  • 100% of people who used independent, user-led support planning service secured a Direct Payment and felt that they had more choice and control, compared to 17% who used LA-led support planning
  • Charity Commission reported that 59% of people agree they trust charities more if they are providing services within their local community
  • This support is also deliverable in crisis situations – Leeds User-Led Crisis Service in Leeds saves commissioners £28k per year
  • Evidence from Right to Control Trailblazers indicates that ULOs can help people to coordinate their care and support across different funding streams. This is partly because ULOs are more nimble in responding to user needs and are able to “join the dots up on the ground” across different (public) bodies.

Options for early, effective action

To make the most out of any local DPULO that exists, below are some effective options that are relatively easy to undertake:

  • Assess current provision of different types of support service, especially those that could be provided by a DPULO
  • Prioritise where DPULOs can make the most valuable contribution to strategic priorities
  • Consider piloting DPULO involvement in specific service development opportunities
  • Consider commissioning specifically from local providers only, particularly those in the voluntary sector or with specific expertise (such as DPULOs)
  • Consider using Article 19 of the EU Public Contracts Directive to reserve contracts for DPULOs
  • Ensure tendering processes are accessible for DPULOs
  • Use the agreed principles of the Local Compact to inform commissioning arrangements.

DPULOs and fundraising – discussion and options paper Expression of Interest


For a variety of reasons, many Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations have not engaged in fundraising activities.

As the current funding based for DPULOs faces more and more challenges, an increasing number of DPULOs are looking afresh at the issue of fundraising and whether it represents an opportunity to their organisation and its sustainability.

Whilst the Strengthening DPULOs Programme itself has not views on whether or not DPULOs should or shouldn’t engage in fundraising, we recognise the challenges facing DPULOs in considering the pros and cons of this potential source of income.

We would therefore like to explore this issue in more depth, and create a practical options tool to support DPULOs in their own deliberations on this topic.

What we are going to do

We would like to commission a discussion and options paper – from a DPULO itself – to explore the issue of DPULOs and fundraising.

The objectives of the discussion and options paper would be to:

  • Set out the historical perspective of DPULOs and the issue of fundraising
  • Summarise current fundraising trends, as well as government initiatives to further encourage different types of giving
  • Highlight any relevant good practice of DPULOs currently undertaking fundraising activity
  • Identify as far as possible the general pros of why a DPULO should consider engaging in fundraising
  • Identify as far as possible the general cons of why a DPULO shouldn’t consider engaging in fundraising
  • Create a practical options tool that can support a DPULO in their deliberations on fundraising, comprising:
    • Examples of different forms of fundraising (e.g. Gift Aid, door-to-door, online, legacies, direct mail)
    • The pros and cons of each form of fundraising for DPULOs
    • Signpost to relevant resources to implement any decision the DPULO takes.

The structure of the paper would broadly reflect the objectives above.

How you can get involved

We would like to commission a DPULO to write this discussion and options paper. The work would be primarily desk-based, although we are open to any suggestions organisations have that would enable the objectives above to be achieved whilst also delivering value for money.

As a broad guide, we anticipate this work would take between 15-20 days to complete.

Expressions of Interest

We would like organisations to submit a brief (no more than 2 sides A4) Expression of Interest to deliver this discussion and options paper

Your Expression of Interest should cover:

  • The DPULO’s understanding and experience of the historical relationship between DPULOs and charitable giving / fundraising
  • The DPULO’s knowledge of current trends in fundraising and giving, and government initiatives to encourage this
  • Experience of developing tools / templates for others to use
  • Your organisation’s capacity to demonstrate the ability to deliver this work in a short timescale
  • Your proposed daily rate for this work.

This Expression of Interest will be considered and marked by the Strengthening DPULOs Programme team, and the successful organisation will be chosen solely on the basis of the information provided. The work will be resourced through a grant to the successful organisation.

Please submit your Expression of Interest to by 5pm on Friday 14 December.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with Rich above. Similarly, if you know an organisation that may be interested, please pass this information on to them.

November 2012

#DPULO bulletin extra edition: over £1m awarded to DPULOs, working with commissioners, and Access to Work

Three pieces of good news through the Strengthening DPULOs Programme that I couldn’t wait any longer to share them…

The Strengthening DPULOs Programme has 3 pieces of news that are so good that we couldn’t wait until the end of the month to share them with you!

These are highlighted below. Remember: if you use social media and would like to stay up-to-date on relevant DPULO news, you can find regular updates on our Facebook page and on Twitter using the hashtag #dpulo.

1. Strengthening DPULOs Programme Facilitation Fund passes £1m mark

Over £1.2m has been awarded to more than 80 DPULOs through the Strengthening DPULOs Programme Facilitation Fund since it began in July 2011.

The full press notice is available here.

We have updated the website, guidance notes and application forms to make information about the Facilitation Fund easier to access. You can find this here.

Please do consider submitting a bid soon – we’re keen to ensure the Facilitation Fund benefits as many DPULOs in as many areas as possible!

2. DPULOs Making A Diference: working with commissioners

Living Options Devon – a DPULO in the south west – is bringing together a collection of case studies on behalf of the Strengthening DPULOs Programme to explore how DPULOs and commissioners have worked well together for the benefit of disabled people in their communities. The focus will be on practical solutions and will encourage commissioners to start, or continue, working closely with DPULOs in their area.

We are looking for a range of case study examples for the collection on a range of different topics, and can pay DPULOs £340 for their involvement in the work.

To find out what case studies we’re looking for and to get in touch with us on this, please visit DPULOs Making A Difference: working with commissioners.

3. Access to Work

Some positive changes to Access to Work were announced earlier this week – you can read the full press release here.

In announcing the changes, the Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey MP, also highlighted that DPULOs will be invited to look at what else can be done to provide one-to-one peer support to disabled people using the Access to Work scheme. More information will follow on this soon.

Please feel free to share this update with your networks. The next Strengthening DPULOs Programme monthly bulletin will be sent next week. If you have anything you would like to include in it, please let me know –

Over £1m of Government funding awarded to grassroots disability organisations #dpulo

Below is a copy of a press notice issued about the Strengthening Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations, which has recently passed through a key milestone – over £1m awarded to DPULOs.

Over one million pounds has now been awarded as part of a programme to help bolster small grassroots disability organisations, the Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey announces today.

The programme is now set to be extended to Northern Ireland so that other organisations can benefit from the GBP3million fund which was launched last summer.

Esther McVey MP, Minister for Disabled People, said:

“Disabled Peoples User Led Organisations are run by and for disabled people and play a vital role in making sure disabled people have their voices heard at every level.

“In many cases DPULOs already provide support and services alongside those provided by the public sector and often they are better at doing so as they can draw on their own first hand experiences of a disability.  They have clear ideas about what works and what doesn’t.

“The idea of the fund was based on feedback we had received from small disability organisations that a little funding at the right time can make all the difference to the support they are able to provide to disabled people.

“We still have millions of pounds left, so if you are already part of a DPULO, then this is an opportunity to raise its profile and build on the successes you have already achieved.”

The DPULO programme is making a significant difference to grassroots organisations and their local communities through awards from the Facilitation Fund to organisations such as the Communication for Blind and Disabled People.

One of the DPULOs received an award after developing a smart phone navigation app for blind people. The app – called “Georgie” – has since won the “Google Outstanding Use of Technology in the Field of Diversity” award at the European Diversity Awards 2012 at the end of September.

Roger Wilson-Hinds of Communication for Blind and Disabled People thanked the DPULO programme and said:

“Without you it wouldn’t have happened!”

Cheshire Centre for Independent Living was awarded £28,735 to develop an online peer support forum in the north west. Lindsey Walton-Hardy, Deputy Chief Executive of the Centre, said:

“We’ve wanted to develop our peer support offer to disabled people locally for a long time. This welcome award provides us with the opportunity to turn our idea into reality. Not only will this be of great benefit to disabled people locally, but it will also support Cheshire CIL to become more sustainable.”

Any organisations wishing to bid for money for specific projects and help shape the future provision for disabled people, can do so by visiting – or

Note to editors:

Strengthening DPULOs Programme monthly update, no.9 (October 2012) #dpulo

This is the ninth monthly update about the Strengthening DPULOs Programme, which aims to ensure DPULOs can provide a strong voice for disabled people by being more sustainable. You can find all 8 of the previous updates here.

There has been so much useful information published this month that this update is a bumper edition of useful links and resources. A special edition of the update – with some good news about the Strengthening DPULOs Programme and about our work with partners on Healthwatch – will follow very soon.

Useful resources

One key part of the Strengthening DPULOs Programme is to share learning and useful resources. Our bumper edition of useful links and resources is below:

If you have any learning or resources you’d like to share or have any resources you’d particularly like, please let us know (contact details are at the bottom of this update).

Find out more about the Programme

To find out more about the Strengthening DPULOs Programme, you can visit our website.

We have 193 “likes” on our Facebook page. If you are on Facebook, can you help us get to over 200? We regularly update the page with lots of information you will hopefully find useful, plus news from other DPULOs:

If you are on Twitter, you can share information and find out more about DPULOs using the hashtag #dpulo.

As always, we’d be grateful if you can spread the word and publicise this news throughout your networks / newsletters / websites etc. We’d also be grateful for any feedback you have on this regular email.

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

Please feel free to forward this information on to any DPULOs, networks or stakeholders you think might find it interesting. If you didn’t receive the original email, please share your contact details with us so you can receive our monthly emails.