More disabled groups set to benefit from £3m fund

Below is a copy of some exciting news about the Strengthening DPULOs Programme, which is being extended into Scotland and Wales from today. Great news!

From today, disabled grassroots organisations in Scotland and Wales – which can make a real difference to the everyday lives of disabled people on the ground – will be able to access a £3 million fund.

Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations (DPULOs) run by and for disabled people, often provide support and services alongside those provided by the public sector.  Drawing on their own first hand experience of disability, they have clear ideas about what works and what doesn’t.

Now these organisations in Scotland and Wales will be able to bid for pots of money to fund individual projects that will help them to become more sustainable.  More than half a million has already been paid out by the ‘Strengthening DPULO Programme’ in England since it was launched a year ago.

Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller said:

“Back in July last year I launched a £3m fund to help strengthen grassroots organisations by giving out pots of money to fund individual projects on the ground.

“The idea was based on feedback I received from these 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 have millions of pounds to invest, so I would urge people who are part of DPULOs in Scotland and Wales to apply to the fund and take this is an opportunity build on the successes they have already achieved.”

As well as offering financial support, the Strengthening DPULOs Programme will provide Scottish and Welsh DPULOs with support and advice on how to strengthen and make their organisations more sustainable through two new Ambassadors.

Rhian Davies, Chief Executive of Disability Wales, said:

“The extension of the Strengthening DPULOs Programme into Wales means that Welsh DPOs can now access specific funding aimed at supporting their growth as well as their ability to advocate and deliver even more effectively on behalf of disabled people.”

Jim Elder Woodward OBE, Convenor of Independent Living in Scotland Steering Group, said:

“It has never been more important to grow and strengthen the capacity of this influence. That is why the Independent Living in Scotland project (ILiS) welcomes the ODI’s plans to support disabled people and their organisations to grow in strength and influence, and we look forward to working with the Strengthening DPULOs Programme to build on work here in Scotland.”

Examples of how the Strengthening DPULO programme is making a difference to the lives of disabled people in the local community include:

  • Communication for Blind People based in North London which is using the funding they have received to develop a smartphone app for blind travellers.  The app will help blind people to explain where to get off public transport and when they arrive at their destination.
  • My Life My Choice in Oxford is using its grant to help it realise the dream of running the StingRadio show.  This not only plays music from people with learning disabilities, it also gives its listeners key information and a voice on the airwaves.
  • The Personalisation Forum Group in the North East is just one of many organisations which are using the money to give invaluable day to day support to its users.  They are ‘over the moon’ with their grant which will contribute toward setting up a service user group in for disabled people in Doncaster.
  • DASH, a DPULO in Hillingdon supports disabled people in the local community through a ‘one stop shop’ service. The service will mean disabled people who are being assessed for equipment by an occupational therapist can have their prescription redeemed a few doors down the corridor in the organisation’s office.

People can find out more about the Strengthening DPULOs scheme and Facilitation Fund by visiting or


Visiting Disability Wales – a national #dpulo

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…)