Merger leads to concern over new DPO’s name


The UK’s leading disabled people’s organisation (DPO) has raised serious concerns over the new name chosen by a trio of national disability charities that are set to merge.

Members of the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL) decided last week to back the merger, which had already been approved by RADAR and Disability Alliance (DA). The trio propose to call their new organisation Disability Rights UK.

But senior figures within the UK Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC) are concerned that the name of the new DPO is too close to UKDPC’s human rights offshoot, Disability Rights Watch UK.

Disability Rights Watch UK, which was set up last year, aims to ensure that disabled people and DPOs are “fully involved” in monitoring how the UK government is implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

UKDPC believes the new DPO’s name will cause confusion among funders and has written this week to the chief executives of RADAR, NCIL and DA, asking them to reconsider.

Disability Rights Watch UK is establishing a growing international reputation, with UKDPC’s chief executive, Jaspal Dhani, returning this week from a trip to South Africa in which he gave a presentation to local DPOs and other organisations about its work. Dhani was invited to give the presentation in Johannesburg by the British Council.

Julie Newman, UKDPC’s acting chair, will visit Brussels next week to represent UKDPC and Disability Rights Watch UK at a European Union “work forum” on the UN convention.

Dhani said the project’s growing international reputation was “absolutely” a reason to avoid any confusion caused by a new, similarly-named DPO.

He said: “DPOs in other countries have responded really favourably. What we are doing here in Britain is unique. It is not being replicated anywhere else. We can develop up-to-date reports and analysis and share that with DPO partners in other parts of the world.

“Disability Rights Watch UK as a brand, as a project, is not just something we are promoting domestically, it is recognised internationally.”

Newman added: “We have had some concerns but I have written to all three chief executives.

“We are hoping any difficulties can be overcome amicably and we will be awaiting the response to the letter in the next two weeks.”

UKDPC has said it cannot decide whether it will work alongside the new merged organisation until it starts work.

No-one from DA, RADAR or NCIL was available to comment.

A UKDPC delegation was in South Africa for the eighth world assembly of Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI), the network of national DPOs.

Among the issues raised by UKDPC with other DPOs were the struggle for inclusive education, the UK government’s implementation of the UN convention, and the importance of UK Disability History Month, which aims to raise the profile of the fight for equality and human rights in the UK.

A workshop at the assembly that was headed by two young disabled activists from the UK, Lucy Mason and Zara Todd, led to a recommendation for DPI to set up its first group for young disabled people.

Dhani said UKDPC would continue to push DPI’s executive committee to establish such a group.

19 October 2011

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