The UK’s leading representative voice of disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) has expressed surprise and concern over the proposed merger between three other national disability organisations.
RADAR, the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL) and Disability Alliance (DA) announced this week that they hope to “unify” within the next 12 months.
But the UK Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC) said it was concerned that the new organisation could encroach on its own role representing disabled people and DPOs.
Jaspal Dhani, chief executive of UKDPC, said news of the proposed merger had come as a surprise and that he was “a little bit taken aback as to why dialogue has not happened with UKDPC”.
He said the new organisation “appears to be sharing the same aims and objectives” as UKDPC, such as representing DPOs’ views and influencing the policy agenda.
The announcement comes as UKDPC is itself steadily developing its own “new approach”, following Dhani’s appointment at the end of last year.
Dhani suggested that UKDPC, which represents DPOs and individual disabled people and works with “diverse communities”, could be “better positioned” to reach those communities than the new merged organisation.
He said: “We as an organisation are evaluating what this means in terms of a threat to UKDPC but also in terms of exploring future opportunities as well.
“The concern literally is not knowing how blurred the boundary is between what we are already doing and what they want to do.”
He said he had already arranged to meet Liz Sayce, RADAR’s chief executive, to discuss his concerns and “give us a chance to further explore what this new entity is about”.
But he said the announcement would also provide an opportunity for UKDPC to “re-evaluate and address what we are doing”.
This could mean a greater focus on particular areas, such as the concerns of disabled people from different minority groups, including the black and minority ethnic and LGBT communities, and older people.
15 September 2010