Disabled People's Commission Launches Plans to Improve Local Lives

Report's recommendations focus on 'community and council partnership'

The Disabled People's Commission in Hammersmith & Fulham has launched a report setting out far-reaching plans to improve the daily lives of many local residents and change the way that H&F Council makes decisions.

Audience at Launch of H&F Disabled People's Commission Report

In 2016, H&F Council asked well-known disability rights campaigner Tara Flood to lead the commission, with the aim of recommending a new way of doing things locally.

The DPC was made up of ten local Disabled people and guided by the principle of Nothing About Disabled Without Disabled People, they set about gathering the views of Disabled residents across the borough.

Two years on, the commission presented its final report to an audience at Hammersmith's Irish Cultural Centre.

It graphically highlights the many barriers still excluding local disabled residents from much of everyday life that most other residents may not experience.

The report's recommendations focus on a new approach to community and council partnership, that sees disabled residents and council representatives working together to change things.

Commission chair and long-time local resident Tara said: "We are calling for a new culture in local government which means that Disabled residents and decision makers are working together in an active way to plan, design and review policy and services that affect our lives, to get rid of the barriers we face.

"The traditional ways of working must change. We hope that our eight recommendations will see change in disabled residents' daily lives and help H&F become the most accessible and inclusive borough in London.

"“In many respects, this has been an easy report to write because it recommends what disabled people have been calling for over many years - that we must be partners in the re-organisation of society and particularly decision making in everything that affects our lives."

H&F Council says some changes have already been made. In 2015, the council abolished home care charges and guaranteed to continue funding disabled residents who were supported by the Independent Living Fund after the Government scrapped the scheme.

The DPC report recommendations were accepted by the Cabinet at its meeting in December 2017 and the council says other changes are underway.

One recent example of working towards co-production between H&F and residents was the design process for the new Hammersmith Town Hall and surrounding area and western end of King Street.

Over a six month period, paid members of a disabled residents team, worked with architects from Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and the council’s housing and regeneration officers to make sure that the buildings and the public space would be designed as much as possible to include everybody.

Architect Mark Rintoul described this co-production work as an "extremely beneficial collaboration".

"The disabled residents’ first-hand experience informed the design and allowed us to overcome some challenges," he said."This level of community engagement is truly pioneering and one we fully endorse.”

Team member Jane Wilmot said: "Working together meant we were able to raise issues early so the design team had time to respond with robust solutions. We strongly recommend this way of working because not only can it save time and money but disabled people were an integral part of creating a development that everyone can use."

Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of H&F Council, said: "I am deeply grateful to Tara and the other Commission members who have worked so hard. We are not afraid to challenge unfairness and old-fashioned thinking in how we work. And these recommendations will make a major difference as we move towards making changes."

You can see more pictures from the launch event on the council's Flickr gallery. Find out more about the commission here and read the report and its recommendations here.

June 25, 2018