A new £3 million fund is set to provide a “really exciting” and “radical” opportunity to transform the disability movement in London.
The new Disability Justice Fund aims to strengthen the foundations of the movement in the capital, strengthen the ability of disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) to push for social change, and widen and diversify their membership base.
Tracey Lazard, chief executive of Inclusion London, which is supporting the fund, said it was a “really welcome investment in our movement” and a “radical” step for a disabled people’s movement that has gradually become “trapped in service delivery”.
She said: “What is really exciting about this fund is that it is absolutely focused on movement building and not service delivery.
“It’s an opportunity for DPOs in London to get funding to do all the things that we haven’t had any funding to do for at least 12 years.”
She said this could mean funding for DPOs to diversify and expand their membership, build the skills of their members, work in collaboration with other DPOs, or strengthen the voice and influence of their community.
Lazard (pictured) said: “It’s all of the glue that has created the change we have brought about over the last 40 years, that nobody funds.”
The programme is being run by Trust for London, which will continue to liaise with City Bridge Trust, and is now looking for London DPOs to apply for grants from the fund.
There are believed to be about 100 DPOs in the capital, with Inclusion London actively working with about 70 of them.
Lazard said: “We are just trying to get the word out there to make sure all our DPOs know about this and make the most of this opportunity.”
She said she hoped there would also be an opportunity for intersectional DPOs to secure funding for “collaborative working”.
The Disability Justice Fund could see DPOs funded to reach out to communities they currently do not reach, such as disabled people in institutions, or to groups of people who do not currently identify as disabled, and it might even mean funding for new DPOs to be set up to fill gaps in the movement in London.
It is also an opportunity for DPOs to be funded to engage with members to identify key policy issues and think through those issues, and then support their membership to start to co-produce policy positions.
Lazard said the launch of the fund recognised that the disability movement was “the engine of the change that we want to see” but also that it needed support because it had been “pretty decimated” in recent years.
Inclusion London will provide one-to-one advice for individual DPOs that are considering applying to the fund, and it is also hosting three round-table events that will discuss how the fund could help build the disability movement in the capital, the first of them taking place on Tuesday (26 July).
Lazard said: “It’s a chance to put service delivery aside and say, ‘what is a movement, and what do we want to achieve?’”
A big part of these discussions will be about “diversifying, extending, strengthening and deepening” membership, activism and leadership, she said, and they could also talk about possible new partnerships between DPOs that could seek joint funding for some of the “really big issues” they face.
Lazard said the new scheme showed how other funders could be working with DPOs and the disability movement to think “more strategically and long-term” for the sector.
She said many disabled activists and people working in the movement were “running on empty” and will need the support from the new fund just “to keep going”.
She said: “It’s a really welcome investment in our movement that has been decimated and has been operating in a hostile environment, and that’s not going to change any time soon, so it’s an absolutely critical intervention and hopefully will sustain the movement over the next period.”
James Lee, project manager at City Bridge Trust, said: “Beyond the contribution of much-needed funding for London’s Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs), we hope the principles of co-creation and transfer of power that have guided this fund will prove to be just as valuable, encouraging our peers in the funding sector to think about the design and delivery of their own programmes for DDPOs.
“Whilst it is fantastic that we can offer this support to organisations in London, we know there is a clear need for this kind of support across the UK, and our ambition is for this fund to encourage others into action.
“As a disabled person myself, I am so pleased to see funders recognising the value of our lived experiences in shaping the creation of programmes such as this.”
Joanna Wootten, grants manager at Trust for London, said: “We hope our fund will help to make tangible the words ‘nothing about us without us’.
“We have designed it in collaboration with experts by experience, with the ambition of empowering a vibrant and intersectional disability justice movement.
“We’re proud of our history of support for Deaf and disabled people’s organisations, and we’re excited to continue our ongoing journey of listening and learning with the Disability Justice Fund.”
The deadline for applications to the fund is 3 October.
A note from the editor:
Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations.
Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009.
Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…