An approach to equality and diversity, including practical tips (by Living Options Devon)
An approach to equality and diversity including some practical tips for otherDPULOs – by Living Options DevonIntroductionIn common with many other DPULOs, Living Options Devon, is concerned with championingneeds and rights, as well as providing vital practical support so that disabled and Deaf peoplecan live the life they choose. Our aim is to empower disabled and Deaf people, through aninclusive and evidenced based approach which ensures the work is properly targeted,necessary, proportionate and relevant. Based in Exeter and Barnstaple, 80% of LOD’s Boardand 40% of employees are disabled or Deaf (British Sign Language users). We have over 1000disabled and Deaf members who live or work in Devon. We have become involved in variousUK pilot projects, regional and national work which means that people outside Devon alsobenefit.During 2012, LOD was shortlisted for the European Diversity Charity of the Year (sponsored bySociety General). This paper sets out our approach to Equality and Diversity and the impact weare having on disabled and Deaf people across Devon.How we support diversity and inclusion (what our impact is)1. Deaf and disabled people are empowered through participation and involvementOver the last 20 years LOD has developed strong disability and Deaf networks across Devon.This has been done through local forums of disabled people, facilitated by its staff, alongsidebespoke focus groups and surveys. LOD consults widely on a range of issues that affect thelives of disabled people including strategies for transport, engagement, health, social care andchildren’s services. We provide training and support to enable disabled and Deaf people tobetter participate in consultation and become more influential in their communities.LOD is the lead agency for the Fusion Consortium, recognised by the Department of Healthand Devon County Council as The User Led Organisation for Devon meeting all the DoHcriteria. Fusion is a Consortium of three ULOs for carers and disabled people. The Board ismade up of disabled people. All the members of the Consortium work together to ensure thatall disabled people have a stronger voice, are treated fairly, empowered to live the life theychoose and reach their full potential.2. LOD has built trust and confidence with the community and public service providers where Deaf and disabled people’s voices are heard so that needs can be met
LOD has established trust and credibility within the community and with public services whichmeans people will seek help when they have an issue, be willing to take part in consultations,and public services will invite its members to participate on boards and consultation exercises.We have developed positive working relationships through good communication, debate,education, constructive challenge, honesty and a clear understanding of purpose, roles andresponsibilities. Our experience has taught us that respect and collaboration gives us all astronger voice.LOD works provides Deaf awareness, accredited British Sign Language training and disabilityequality training, consultancy to a variety of voluntary, public and private organisations. Ourresearch department is regularly commissioned to undertake research on a range of disabilityissues. LOD also provides many disability access audits for businesses and public services inthe region.3. Leading by example when providing informationOur website www.livingoptions.org and magazine Positive Living aim to provide examples ofhow to present information in an exciting and accessible way. Positive Living is written bydisabled people, for disabled people; its editor and designer has a visual impairment4. More Deaf and disabled people are supported and can access servicesLOD is the lead agency for the Devon Advocacy Consortium, providing advocacy for allvulnerable people across Devon to enable better access to health and social care services.The Deaf-Led Services Programme employ Deaf workers reach out to an otherwise excludedcommunity, enabling Deaf people to access jobs, health and social care consultations, andproviding a range of advocacy, advice and information. Working with the council, LOD’s work onthe Charter for British Sign Language is recognised at a national level by the British DeafAssociation.We run the Devon and Torbay Personal Assistant Bank. PAs are employed to help anindividual live independently and do the activities they want to do. The Bank makes recruitmentof PAs easy by bringing PAs and people looking to recruit a PA together.The Community Support Service is a service for people with limited mobility living in North andMid Devon (very rural areas) offering specially supported volunteers who can providecompanionship and support from gardening, dog walking to visiting the theatre.5. LOD influences national agendasLOD has successfully campaigned for disabled peoples’ organisations to be recognisednationally as important players in the development of services for disabled and Deaf people.6. More disabled people can access our beautiful countryside and waterwaysCountryside Mobility provides easy access to the south west countryside. Tramper all-terrainmobility scooters and wheelchair accessible Wheelyboats can be hired at certain outdoorattractions. LOD sourced the funding and runs this scheme under a fully sustainable businessmodel.7. Services are checked that they are accessible and suitable for disabled peopleLOD provides 25 ‘Experts by Experience’ as part of national consortia of organisations to helpthe CQC assess care services across the Region.
The experts have brought insights into shortcomings, some of them serious, that others may have failed to spot – Steven Rose, Chief Executive, Choice Support – National consortium leadSome Case Studies showing the impact we have on people, their families and their lives Having been involved in a gymnastics accident over forty years ago, I became involved with LOD from its beginning...In my view we have made a big difference to the lives of many disabled people and will continue to do so in future – Peter, Trustee. When I was Registered Blind (Macular Disease) I felt I had lost my identity and worried about how we were going to pay the bills… Within a couple of years of LOD support and encouragement, I developed skills I didn’t know I had and gained up to date qualifications. Through my involvement with LOD I have been able to use my experience to turn my life around and help other people with disabilities gain confidence and develop their skills – Helen, Editor Positive Living.Examples of LOD research include: ‘Making Personalisation of care and support work for allcommunities in the English Regions’ commissioned by the EHRC and delivered in partnershipwith Age Concern Devon; and research into Disability Hate Crime commissioned by Devonand Cornwall Police. LOD helped Devon County Council design a Community Needs Survey and access its 700 members. We were impressed at a 40% return rate, of which 60% of people were Deaf or disabled. As a result I will be commissioning LOD to pull together a panel of experts to design our ‘be prepared’ information leaflet/video – I think they’ll be able to do it better than we will! – Jo Hooper, Equality Officer, DCC.Over 3,000 copies of Positive Devon Living are distributed in standard format, BSL, text only,PDF web based, large print and audio. Over 90 people are involved, sharing their experiences,explaining how they overcome difficulties and using their skills in its production: When LOD started producing Positive Devon Living magazine, not only did they welcome an article from my perspective of being housebound, but asked me to write others. I am also a member of the Devon Disability eNetwork, a small group of people who find attending meetings difficult. These two outlets have enabled me to have a say. – KateSarah first contacted LOD’s Advocacy Team to find out how she could receive affordablepersonal care. The team found Sarah a Personal Assistant who charges less than an agencyand this has made a big difference to Sarah who no longer has to worry about the cost.The Deaf Project provided help to 242 people in 2011 and over 400 in 2012. During 2011Barnstaple’s See Hear Centre helped 1,569 people access sensory advice and equipment,avoiding the 100 mile round trip to Exeter.Countryside Mobility: Over 500 disabled people have benefited from the countryside mobilityproject at 30 south west locations: Charlie has cerebral palsy and cannot walk without a walking frame or using a wheelchair… Finding the Tramper at Durlston was a revelation… once we had signed up we went 3 weekends in a row… we could walk normally, he could go where he wanted… – Lynette
I have until now had to sit in the car whenever there’s a walk in prospect. Now I can go too – it’s GREAT! And as it happens, I’m also a fly fisherman and have used Wheelyboats. Thank you for giving me back my mobility in the countryside – Patrick I used to love walking on Dartmoor, Exmoor and Roadford Reservoir, and Haldon Forest but because of a serious back problem was no longer able to access these places… I have once again been to places that I thought I would never see again, Just brilliant – OssieSummaryLOD promotes equality and diversity through everything we do. As well as statistics, we find theuse of stories, photographs and case studies is a powerful way of engaging with grant funders,commissioners and other stakeholders. We hope that other DPULOs will find something usefulwithin this paper to promote your own sustainability.