Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Link round-up

Blog round up 

Stuck for something to read? Why not check out some blogs that we like: 

Disability Rights UK project with the Universities of Salford and Dundee featured in IET online magazine: 


NESTA speaker at our AGM writes about inclusive technology: 


And finally, here's a picture of our birthday cake. The Disability Rights Handbook is 40 this year!

We'll be celebrating Disability History Month from the end of November through to the end of December. Check back soon to read some of our featured pieces!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Going the Distance and Covering the Miles

Going the Distance and Covering the Miles: Travelling for campaigning

by Leo Capella

Travelling from Hereford 

It’s official, a key part of campaigning is travelling. Whether travelling on trains, coaches and even very occasionally aeroplanes volunteers and professionals can expect to cover many miles in the name of the cause that they support. I should know as a few weeks ago I went to Hereford and Birmingham to speak to students at the Royal National College for the Blind and a careers fair at Birmingham Children’s Hospital respectively and will be travelling to Leeds City College a few weeks from now, all in the name of spreading the word about 'I Can Make It'.

As a volunteer, travelling for campaigning taught me independent living through putting me in a comfortable place such as a hotel and doing disability representative duties (being a conference delegate), yet at the same time it took me out of my comfort zone meeting different and diverse people away from home.  It also opened up places in England that at one time that I would have been interested but never dreamed of going to such as Darlington, Sheffield and Blackpool.

It’s not sightseeing though! As a volunteer I had to make sure that I got to where I needed to be on time, fully prepared and zeroed in to the task at hand. As a professional it’s pretty much working and tearing my head away from the beautiful scenery rushing by outside the window to focus on preparation for an event or writing up/evaluating what’s happened after it. Time out of the office is time away from it so you have to make sure you do what you can do (especially thanks to Wi-Fi on trains which allows you to intermittently keep in touch with the office or the office to keep in touch with you!).  

Campaign poster for I Can Make It

And it’s not all plain sailing either. Going to Hereford because of train delays I missed my connection to Hereford at Newport. However I was able to check with staff at station, get a later train to Hereford and then get a taxi to the Royal National College for the Blind where I was going to give a talk at. This was a far cry from being a nervous emotional wreck at the National Union of Students annual conference at Blackpool several years ago. Not to forget that when I volunteered for Skill: The National Bureau for Students with Disabilities (a charity whose ghost still whispers sweetly around DRUK) sometimes I would have to “brave” or rather sit on Saturday rail replacement bus services for part of the way to and from London in order to go to Skill Council. I found out that for all the horror that they can strike into the hearts of travellers they sometimes have their comforts. Some of those comforts including being able to listen to the coach drivers radio which might be switched on to something rather interesting… like The Six Nations!

I hope I can visit some of the places I’ve been to again, this time as a tourist; Blackpool had its own charm about it as did Manchester and Sheffield. Above all, aside from the confidence improvement in travelling mid to long distance, the short distance journeys are also ones that have been notable. I’ve also seen sights and places in London I never knew about, going to JCOS in Barnet for one of my previous jobs and learning about people with disabilities and health conditions in different settings including youth clubs and auditoriums. Not to forget walking in some of the great corridors of power including the House of Lords, but that’s hopefully for another blog post!

All the experience I accumulated both as a volunteer and professional meant that last week I was able to go solo on a personal pilgrimage by train to Berlin on a 10 hour 24 minute journey from Audley End in Essex to Berlin Hauptbahnof in Germany. This is something that involved multiple changes in different countries and a delay on the final leg. My experiences also inspired me to apply for the NCVO Young Leaders exchange to go to Japan, neither of which I would have done ten years ago. 

Overall travelling’s been an important part of campaigning for me which has developed me hugely as a person. As we recruit new volunteers to form the great spiders web of opportunity that will be I Can Make It, I hope that they - whether through travelling short hops or long leaps to our training days or other events – will develop their own confidence to new heights through new experiences on the road, rails or whatever pathway they use.

Leo is Project Manager for I Can Make It. 

I Can Make It is a campaign run by and for young disabled people for better job opportunities. It aims to influence existing spending by businesses and local government to open up more job opportunities for young people living with health conditions or disability’

For more on the campaign email Leo Capella leo.capella@disabilityrightsuk.org.


Monday, 26 October 2015

Why I wanted to join I Can Make It

Hello, this is Leo Capella, Project Manager for I Can Make It. By now you’ve probably seen the webpage, adverts and catchy videos for 'I Can Make It' our campaign for and run by young people with health conditions or disability.  


Well you may not know that aside from trying to open up new employment opportunities this campaign is also about young people with disabilities and health conditions getting involved with Disability Rights UK and sharing their stories with each other, which includes their own struggles and successes in finding jobs.


So with that in mind here’s our first blog post from one of our volunteers. She’s called Zoe Hilton Webb and she does a great job of helping me on Fridays every week. By the way we’re still looking for volunteers (or perfectly suspecting victims!) to be part of our rising network so if you’re inspired by this blog post then please look at www.icanmakeit.me.uk for more information. Take it away Zoe!  


I decided to join I Can Make It because I wanted to volunteer for Disability Rights UK. They really helped me when I needed it and I wanted to give something back to a great organisation.

For myself, I really wanted to join other people who were finding it hard to get into employment. I have attended so many interviews and have got nowhere, leading me into depression. I wanted to help make the public aware how difficult it is for disabled people to get into employment as I don’t feel people realize just how hard it is. I wanted to meet other people who were in the same position as I was so I could share my advice and hear what other people had experienced. I wanted to learn new skills and gain new knowledge as well as enhancing my CV to show employers that I am volunteering with Disability Rights UK.

As well as all this, I wanted to help change people’s attitudes in society so that people begin to have an understanding on how to treat disabled people equally. I feel that at the moment disabled people are not treated fairly and we need to challenge this because if we don’t then it will carry on. I wanted to help highlight the problem that as disabled people we want to get into employment, but there is not enough being done to help us. I feel that if we don’t do something about disabled people getting into employment soon then the problem will get bigger and disabled people will still be finding it really hard to get into employment.

I feel that others should join I Can Make It because I feel it is a fantastic project that Disability Rights UK are doing. If you want to learn new skills and gain new knowledge then this is a fantastic opportunity where you are able to do all that as well as share ideas with others who may be in the same situation as you. You can meet new people and make new friends while sharing ideas and talking about your own experiences.

By being part of I Can Make It you are also working together with Disability Rights UK which is a fantastic charity. The team that you are working with are fantastic and are very supportive and want to hear what you have to say. Being part of I Can Make It shows that you are not alone, that there are other people that are in the same situation as you and that you can help each other. Your involvement shows that there still is a problem and that if we all come together we can make sure that people know about it and we can come together to sort it.  

Zoe Hilton Webb

Friday, 25 September 2015

Phil Friend on why disabled people need to be at the heart of planning and delivery of physical activity and sport

Phil has more than thirty years’ experience of working in the field of disability, social inclusion and equal opportunities and really understands the needs of modern complex organisations. 

Phil is the Chair of the Get Yourself Active national steering group and is interested in how we can make a difference to disabled people through better opportunities for physical activity and sport. 

Many years ago, when I was considerably younger, a disabled friend of mine took me along to a wheelchair basketball training session suggesting that I might enjoy it. He was right, I loved playing and I really appreciated the opportunity to meet new people, travel to different places and make new friends.

I have very fond memories of those times but looking back I find it strange that the issue of disability discrimination or disability rights never really got discussed.

Many sport centres were inaccessible or were very reluctant to allow wheelchair users to use their facilities. On one occasion I recall our team being asked to leave a venue because we had the black tyres on our wheelchairs and they might mark the floors! We got pretty cross but we didn’t have the right to do anything about it. How different things are now, but it is still true to say that disability sport and disability rights are not natural bedfellows.

Since London 2012 we have seen disabled people’s user led organisations and sports providers making greater efforts to encourage more disabled people to become active.

Get Yourself Active is a great example of this growing collaboration and innovation. The project includes a number of key stakeholders ranging from local government, health organisations, and sporting organisations, including Sport England and national governing bodies.

Locally, the project is being delivered by Disabled People’s User Lead Organisations (DPULO’s) to support and encourage disabled people to access sport and physical activity. It also seeks to understand the behaviours and attitudes of disabled people towards sport and physical activity, and what would have to be done to encourage them to participate more regularly. A major component of the project is the focus on understanding the value and benefits of signing-off personal budgets for individuals wanting to use some of their funding to access sport or physical activity.

The Get Yourself Active project demonstrates the importance and value of having disabled people at the heart of planning and delivery and it’s a wonderful example of co-production.

If we are really serious about building on the legacy from London 2012 we will need to do much more to encourage sporting organisations and other key stakeholders to see the benefits of engaging with disabled people and their organisations and remove any barriers that inhibit participation. We will need to have a much clearer understanding of what encourages disabled people to become more active and then develop meaningful ways of helping them to participate.

I know from personal experience how much fun there is to be had from participating in some form of physical activity. We just need to ensure that everyone, regardless of the level of his or her impairment, has an equal chance to give it a go!

Phil Friend

September 2015

Steve Souter 'I hope to use my skills and experience to help people get active'

Steve Souter works at Leicester Centre for Integrated Living and has lots of experience in supporting and advising local disabled people on rights and responsibilities.

Hello, my name is Steve Souter and I am the Get Yourself Active coordinator covering Leicester City along with my colleague John Coster. The rest of the time I am responsible for the Information Advice and Guidance Hotline here at Leicester Centre for Integrated Living. It is great to be part of leading on the Get Yourself Active programme at LCiL and I am looking forward to finding ways to get more people active.

In my role at LCiL I often speak to disabled people who want to do more social activities and I have signposted those to local sports and leisure activity groups. More recently I have informed people about the sports taster sessions we are having here at LCiL, all of whom seem very keen to take part. We know that many people want to have a go at something before they committ to taking part so we hope the taster sessions will get people thinking about what they really want to do!

Working at LCiL I speak to disabled people on a daily basis, so I know about the barriers in society which some disabled people face to get fit and healthy and of the benefits which this can bring. I hope to use my skills and experience to help people get active with this project.

If you would like to get in touch with Steve please visit our contact page.
Steve Souter
September 2015

Tom Bell 'The skills and experience user led organisations can offer the sport sector is an exciting prospect'

Tom works for CheshireCentre for Independent Living and through his experience of working in disability sport will connect people up with local opportunities.

Sport and physical activity has been a big part of my life from a young age. When I’m not playing it, one of my biggest past times is watching it– although supporting Sunderland AFC can make that experience testing to say the least!!

I have found that sport and physical activity has brought me many benefits in my life, not just helping to keep fit and healthy, but I have also met some of my closest friends through teams I have played in and social events related to a sports club.

I stumbled into the disability sport sector when I was at university at Sheffield Hallam. One particular module involved being on placement at a local club. Being based in Sheffield, the majority of class mates were targeting Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday Football Club as their placement destination. With a bit of research of local clubs I came across Sheffield Disability Sport Club for adults. After my completing my placement there, I continued to volunteer at the club as I loved the atmosphere the weekly session brought. Also from a coaching perspective it allowed me to learn new sports and skills that I could add to my coaching portfolio. From there, I volunteered at the Goalball World Championships in 2010 in Sheffield, where I witnessed the elite end of disability sport, which was truly unbelievable.

Having been involved in sports development with the county sports partnership in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent, I understand the importance that user led organisations have in the development of disability sport, and how they can influence positive and effective change to ensure all disabled people have the opportunity to participate in sports and physical activities of their choice at a local and national level. The skills and experience Disable Peoples User Led Organisations can offer the sport sector is an exciting prospect and through the Get Yourself Active project, I am positive that opportunities for disabled people to engage in sport and physical activity will increase throughout the duration.

If you want to get in touch with Tom please visit the Get Yourself Active contact page.

Thomas Bell
September 2015

Tom Fadden, Physical activity and sport needs to 'become a regular choice and part of everyday life'

Tom Fadden works for Equal Lives, Norfolk and has amongst other things personal and professional experience of the benefits of using personal budgets to take part in physical activity and sport.


My name is Tom I am one of the Get Yourself Active project officers based at Equal Lives working across Norfolk with my colleague Russell. We will deliver a new and exciting project that aims to get more disabled people active and regularly participating in sport and physical activity.

My background.

I have been working for Equal Lives for just under two years as part of the community engagement team working on projects in the community, ranging from advice, to personal budget support. Prior to working for Equal Lives I worked in branding marketing and social media.

For as long as I can remember I have always been interested in sport particularly wheelchair basketball, which I have been playing for over 20 years. My passion for the sport led to me setting up and running a Wheelchair basketball club in Norfolk alongside this have also completed my level 1 coaching qualifications.

In addition to basketball I also have an interest in several sports including martial arts, archery swimming and generally trying to keep myself fit at the gym!

I see the Get Yourself Active project is a fantastic opportunity for us to bring sports and activity opportunities to a wider number of disabled people across Norfolk and at the same time removing some of the barriers to accessing sporting activity on a regular basis.

Working with disabled people, health and social care professionals and sports providers I aim to, as part of the project, raise the profile of sport and physical activity for disabled people and for it to become a regular choice and part of everyday life.

If you want to get in touch with Tom please visit the Get Yourself Active contact page.
Tom Fadden
September 2015
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