DPOs welcome Incapacity Rights UK’s determination to give up charities’ foyer group – Incapacity Information Service
A leading national disability organization (DPO) has announced that it is leaving a powerful lobby group of disability charities to work primarily with other DPOs rather than non-user-led organizations.
Disability Rights UK (DR UK) said the move to withdraw from the Disability Charities Consortium (DCC) was part of a strategy review to ensure “greater amplification” of the voices of disabled people.
The consortium is frequently consulted by the government and these discussions are often used as evidence that ministers are speaking and listening to people with disabilities and their organizations, but there are few or no public announcements and no website.
The withdrawal of DR UK means that the consortium will no longer have affiliates that are run and controlled by disabled people.
The other members are Mencap, the National Autistic Society, Mind, Leonard Cheshire, Scope, Action on Hearing Loss, RNIB, Sense, and the Business Disability Forum.
Kamran Mallick, the executive director of DR UK, said in a statement that his organization was considering how to “work more deeply, with more listening and greater amplification of the voices of people with disabilities”.
He later told the Disability News Service (DNS): “As the leading national DPO, we are already working closely with a network of grassroots DPOs across the UK.
“We want disabled people to understand that we are disabled people who work with disabled people to ensure that our voices are heard directly by the government.
“We want to create a stronger voice for the DPO, based on the real life experiences of disabled people, so that the government will listen better and take action, and we want to be a part of that.”
He said there had been no specific decisions from DCC that led DR UK to leave the consortium.
In the statement, he said it had become “clearer than ever” as the pandemic began that disabled people’s voices were “in danger of being lost”.
But he said the crisis had strengthened disabled people’s determination to “gather our voices, speak the truth loud and clear to the power and make sure we are heard”.
Mallick pointed out the new Our Voices group of 15 DSBs from DR UK members who have been coming together since the beginning of the pandemic and meeting regularly “to share what is working and what is going on in their local areas across the UK does not work ”. , and which he hopes will expand.
He said DR UK also wanted to “give full input and support” to the new DPO Forum England set up by DPOs to influence the government.
He said that DR UK has “always been user-guided” and “strives to remain user-guided” while its board of directors, leadership team, members and the “vast majority” of its staff are disabled people.
He said that most of its work would now be done with DSB, who are led and directed by disabled people, although it would continue to work with DCC organizations where their collective knowledge and experience “work more closely together”.
Tracey Lazard, Managing Director of Inclusion London, another influential data protection officer who works with user-centric organizations across the capital, said: “We welcome the long-awaited decision by DR UK to leave the DCC.
“We cannot think of an example where the DCC has used its influence, its personal talks with ministers, or its own vast, combined resources to support DSB or to amplify our voices.
“But we know that both the DCC and the government have benefited tremendously from pretending to consult with DSB about DR UK’s longstanding membership of DCC.
“It is vital that DSB and our broader movement work together in solidarity to ensure that the needs, problems, experiences and aspirations of disabled people and our organizations are heard and we look forward to working with DR UK on this to reach.”
Ellen Clifford, a member of the National Steering Group for Disabled People Against Cuts, also welcomed the DR UK’s decision.
She said: “Over the years the government has consistently used disability charity engagement as a cover for cuts and changes that have devastated the lives of disabled people.
“There have also been dubious claims about working with DDPOs [Deaf and disabled people’s organisations].
“By leaving the DCC, DR UK is effectively depriving the government of the opportunity to justify highly regressive measures through involvement through the DCC.
“This is of particular importance given the UK’s upcoming review under the UN Disability Rights Convention and the obligation on governments to associate specifically with DDPOs rather than charities.”
But Clifford was also critical of DR UK.
She said: “In 2017, Mike Oliver criticized the DR UK for its lack of political activism and included it in a ‘stinging censure’ directed at disabled charities which he labeled as ‘parasitic’.
“Whether leaving DCC is a solid new direction for DR UK remains to be seen, but you are more than welcome to join the ranks of us who understand the importance of radical campaigning to resist attacks on disabled people.”
A spokesman for the consortium said its members did not believe that DR UK’s decision would undermine DCC’s credibility and that they “are helping them do what they see fit at this point”.
When asked if the consortium believes that the government should now focus more on the organizations and networks that are or represent DSBs, she said, “The government needs to do a lot more to work with DSBs and organizations, represent the DSB.
“The DCC has consistently urged the government to engage meaningfully with these groups and will continue to do so.”
Mark Hodgkinson and Diane Lightfoot, co-chairs of the consortium, said DCC has “always been an informal and flexible coalition of disabled charities.”
They said their members “continue to urge the government to proactively work with a variety of organizations, including DPOs and disabled people, to inform strategy development and identify obstacles and solutions with and for disabled people”.
They added: “As the current co-chair of the consortium, we support Disability Rights UK’s decision to review the way it works and seek to maximize its impact.
“Disability Rights UK is playing a hugely important role leading the sector and advocating change. We are very grateful for all that DR UK has done in the DCC.
“We look forward to continuing to support and work with them to ensure the voices and experiences of the UK’s 14 million people with disabilities are heard.”
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