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:

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.

Beyond Barriers – Improving Library Services for all in Solihull

As part of the Strengthening Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations programme, I’m always keen to hear about how DPULOs are doing interesting work in their local communities. Enable-Solihull is doing some fascinating work with their local council on the topic of libraries as community hubs – read below for more details. If you’d like to share a similar story/success, freel free to leave a comment and I’ll follow up.

Enable-Solihull is a User-Led Disability Organisation based in Solihull, West Midlands. In close partnership with Solihull Council’s Libraries and Action for Blind People, we are currently organising two Beyond Barriers events.

Solihull Borough’s libraries are vital community hubs; not only the gateway to a vast range of information and entertainment, but also valued community meeting places. Our libraries should be readily available and fully accessible to all members of our community.

Although Solihull libraries provide a range of support services for disabled people, people are not necessarily aware of these. In addition, there may be other physical and social barriers that prevent disabled people from using these services. It is vital to engage with the local community to understand what their needs are and to be able to respond to them.

These events aim to raise awareness of these specialised services and to explore with disabled people any barriers they face in accessing these services.

Following the two sessions, Enable-Solihull and Action for Blind People will work with Solihull Council to put together an action plan to make improvements and address any concerns that are raised by this engagement.

The first of the two open mornings takes place at Chelmsley Wood Library on Thursday 6th December, with the second event at Solihull Central Library on Tuesday 22nd January 2013. Both events run from 11:00am – 1:00pm, with an optional tour of our library facilities beginning at 11:00am. Please see flyer for full details.

Independent Living Information Points

In January, a brand-new disability and social care signposting and information service Independent Living Information Points will be launched. This will be available to the public on a drop-in basis and based in community libraries.

This will initially be a pilot scheme, with the service initially available in the two main libraries in the Borough: Chelmsley Wood Library and Solihull Central Library.

This new service will be delivered by trained volunteers and is seen as being the first step to developing a Centre of Independent Living (CIL) for disabled people and carers in Solihull.

This new service is being provided by Solihull Independent Living Consortium (SILC). SILC is led by Enable-Solihull and is a partnership of local charities involved in providing health and social care services to Solihull people.

Services offered by SILC members include home care, advice and information services, day services, leisure activities and care homes. The members of SILC are Enable-Solihull, SoLO, Family Care Trust, DIAL Solihull, Solihull Carers Centre, Age UK Solihull, Solihull Care Ltd and SWICDA (Solihull Workforce in Care Development Association).

For more information on Enable-Solihull visit:

For more information on SILC Visit:

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

Strengthening DPULOs Programme monthly update, no.8 (September 2012) #dpulo

This is the eighth 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 the seventh update here.

1. DPULOs at the heart of the government’s disability work

On 17 September, the government published documents which set out its approach to the commitment to enable disabled people to fulfil their potential and play a full role in society.

“Fulfilling Potential: the discussions so far” summarised what the government heard from disabled people and their organisations, whilst “Fulfilling Potential: next steps” outlines areas for action. You can read both of these documents here.

The role of Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations is central to the government’s work on disability – a role that is made clear in both of the Fulfilling Potential documents.

In two dedicated posts, we have highlighted where DPULOs are recognised within Fulfilling Potential. This will also support you refer to these parts in your own conversations with local councils and other funders.

2. Significant Facilitation Fund milestone on the horizon…

The Strengthening DPULOs Programme is close to awarding over £1m to DPULOs. So far, we have awarded over £910,000 to 68 DPULOs so far. Good stuff, but always more to do! If you want to know more about how to access the £3m Facilitation Fund, visit

If you’re a DPULO in Scotland or Wales, don’t forget that the Strengthening DPULOs Programme is now available for you, too.  The dedicated Ambassador for Scotland is Margaret Simpson and the dedicated Ambassador for Wales is Cerrys Hill. You can find their contract details here.

3. Speaking of success…

A DPULO supported by the Facilitation Fund wins European Diversity Award from Google: “Georgie” – which is a phone app for blind people created by Communication for Blind People – won the “Outstanding use of tech in the field of diversity” award, sponsored by Google. You can read more here:

4. Breakthrough National Independent Living Awards

Don’t forget: Breakthrough UK is currently receiving nominations for its 5th National Independent Living Awards. These are a tremendous opportunity to showcase the work you do, either by yourself or working with other partners. To find out more and enter, please visit their website.

The closing date for applications is Monday 15 October 2012.

5. Useful resources

One key part of the Strengthening DPULOs Programme is to share learning and useful resources. Some useful links to recent information we’ve published are 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 now “liked” every DPULO we know about on Facebook and will regularly share news from them around the country. If you are on Facebook you can keep in touch with the programme through our regularly updated page:

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.

The favourable version of outsourcing?

An interesting report from the Guardian last week on the wholesale outsourcing of palliative care in two health trusts to the voluntary sector:

Since 1 April the hospice has been run by Sue Ryder, after NHS Berkshire West primary care trust outsourced its entire specialist palliative care services to the charity. The move mirrors a similar development in Rotherham where earlier this year the NHS transferred specialist palliative services to the local hospice.

Although the voluntary sector provides much end-of-life care locally across the UK, this is the first time that it has been given responsibility for an area’s entire palliative services.

As such, end-of-life care is at the vanguard of the government’s “any qualified provider” policy. Last week, the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, announced that up to £1bn of NHS services would be opened to competition from voluntary organisations and the private sector.

For both Berkshire West and Rotherham, the drive to outsource palliative care comes from the Department of Health’s transforming community services programme, which in 2009 instructed primary care trusts to stop directly providing services. While some PCTs opted to transfer responsibility for palliative care to foundation trusts or community foundation trusts, Rotherham and Berkshire West outsourced to the voluntary sector.

I imagine there would have been an interesting reaction if a service was outsourced wholesale to the private sector, so I’d be interested to know people’s views on why outsourcing to the voluntary sector is seen as more favourable (assuming it’s not just me projecting such a view on to this)?

I’d also be interested in people’s views on the report that Sue Ryder will need to raise £2m a year in addition to the £2m it receives from Rotherham NHS – a match funding contribution of 100%.

Finally, it would also be interesting to see what sort of commissioning intentions informed this move, and whether and how these were translated into procurement processes. For example, could either NHS Berkshire West or Rotherham specify that the contract go to a provider in the voluntary sector? I don’t believe this is possible (especially for contracts of the size awarded), so the decision-making process behind these moves would be fascinating to see.

Why is cutting funding to the VCS thought of as an “easy option”?

I’ve been puzzling over something David Cameron has said on a few occasions (including at Prime Minister’s Questions):

When it comes to looking at and trimming your budgets, don’t do the easy thing, which is to cut money to the voluntary bodies and organisations working in our communities.

Why would Cameron think that cutting money to the voluntary and community sector is the “easy thing”? I can think of 6 reasons why he may think that’s the case (it goes without saying I don’t agree with the points below):

  1. There is a perception that the work done in the VCS is not as vital as what others do
  2. The sector is less well organised than other sectors and so can’t defend itself
  3. The arrangements between the sector and local councils / commissioners aren’t as solid as they are with other non-public providers
  4. There isn’t generally the same quality of individuals in the VCS as there is elsewhere
  5. The sector is more dependent on commissioners than non-VCS providers, meaning it has to bend over backwards to make commissioners happy
  6. The attitude of the VCS means they’d be willing to do the same or more for less.

All of these reasons would be wrong, of course. But it’s an interesting thought experiment as to why the Prime Minister thinks what he does.