Three of the most influential national disability organisations are hoping to merge within 12 months, they announced this week.
RADAR, the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL) and Disability Alliance (DA) said they had been “exploring” the possibility of closer working for the last 18 months.
Each organisation will now consult with its members about the proposal to create a single disabled people’s organisation, provisionally to be called the Disability Rights Partnership.
There are no plans for any redundancies among the combined 35 staff of the three organisations, RADAR said.
Neil Coyle, DA’s director of policy, said the “unification” was not because any of the organisations were facing financial problems, but because “we can do more collectively than we can apart”.
He said the new organisation would provide a more powerful voice to address disabled people’s concerns, and would build and improve upon the existing support and services provided by the three partners.
Sir Bert Massie, a former RADAR chief executive and still a vice-president, welcomed the move.
He said disabled people needed an organisation that could campaign and lobby government on the big issues but was not a service-provider reliant on short-term government contracts, like so many disability organisations.
Sir Bert said that RADAR’s campaigning influence and skill, DA’s expertise on the “huge” issue of disability benefits and NCIL’s work promoting independent living would “come together rather nicely”.
He added: “What’s important now is that it moves very quickly. What would be dangerous would be a long period of indecision.”
In a statement, RADAR, NCIL and DA said the new organisation would provide “an integrated service for disabled people” and would be led by disabled people.
They said this week’s announcement that Vanessa Stanislas, DA’s chief executive, would be leaving for another job on 1 October had “offered an opportunity to inject new energy” into their discussions.
They said their shared vision was about realising rights and equality for disabled people, but warned that society would only change when disability was “at the heart of public policy” and “when disabled people speak for themselves and determine their own future”.
RADAR was formed in 1977 and is a national campaigning network of disability organisations and disabled people; NCIL was set up by the British Council of Disabled People in 1996, becoming independent in 2003, and promotes the concept of independent living; while DA, which was formed in 1974, campaigns and provides information on the link between disability and poverty.
Members have been asked to give their views about the proposed merger by the end of this month, with debates to take place at their annual general meetings this autumn, with RADAR’s on 13 October. Final decisions are likely at general meetings next spring.
They hope the new organisation will be established by the middle of 2011.
15 September 2010