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What We Do at Disability Sheffield CIL

Disability Sheffield, Centre for Independent Living, are a membership and user led organisation, run and controlled by disabled people. We promote independent living for disabled people in Sheffield. By independent living, we mean that disabled people have the same freedom and rights to exercise choice and control over their own lives as any other person.

It’s hard to know where to start in terms of our work load and our aims and objectives but perhaps we are doing something right, because we have made the shortlist for the Guardian Charity Awards 2016, which is very exciting. Or… maybe it’s just because disabled people and our supporters tell us how important our services are to them.

There are a number of projects we have on the go at any given time which touch on many aspects of independent living, whether that’s education, employment, health & social care, the built environment or equal rights.

Services for disabled people
Our disability Information Service is provided by staff and volunteers who have direct experience of disability themselves and we have been answering enquiries from disabled people for over three decades.

We fight for disabled peoples’ access to business and services and through the Access Card, a card like no other, translating a disability or impairment into symbols which highlight the barriers faced and the reasonable adjustments people need. It’s all based on our rights under the Equality Act 2010 and provider responsibilities.

Disability Sheffield has worked in partnership with Sheffield City Council and Job Centre Plus to try and work towards increasing the support for disabled people who live in Sheffield get around employment to narrow that gap, producing an accessible toolkit which is hosted on our website and a training course on ‘Employment and Disability’.

We have designed and developed our Personal Assistants Register, designed by people who have experience of recruiting PAs and who understand how time-consuming and frustrating a process it can be.

One of the most vital services we provide is our free confidential and independent Advocacy Service for disabled people. The service is for adults over the age of 18 living in Sheffield – it’s sometimes frustrating because of a lack of funding but it’s sometimes the one and only thing that will fight for peoples’ independence and maintain or improve peoples’ lives.

We advocate for people who are having difficulty accessing the health and social care services they need; we work with people on a one to one basis using our team of staff and volunteers.

Voice and influence

Disability Sheffield plays an important role in ensuring that disabled peoples’ views are effectively represented in the city. Sometimes we will work with other groups, organisations and stakeholders to increase the impact of our ‘voice’ on the way in which decisions are made by Sheffield City Council and other organisations about disabled peoples’ lives.

A great example of our work includes the support we give to Sheffield Voices, a group of people with learning difficulties, a self-advocacy group who meet once a week to talk about what matters in their lives.

This user led group of people with a learning difficulties are committed to getting better at self-advocacy and give other people a chance to get involved. Their aim is live in a time when they don’t have jargon for describing an activity that most people take for granted.

So, though we’re a small local organisation, we have a huge work load where we make an impact probably bigger than the sum of our parts.

For example, together with a local group called Faith Star we supported the Disability Hub and Religion & Belief Hub in hosting an action event on Hate Crime, exploring the meaning of disability hate crime in relation to disability hate incidence and disability discrimination; the impacts of disability hate crimes on victims, and ways to stop it.

We campaign for regular counselling to disabled people and families victimised or facing attacks due to having impairment, because we all need help on how to handle these issues and how we can collectively help to reduce or stop hate crime and incidents in UK.

One very positive step has already been taken in Sheffield where Stop Hate UK in conjunction with South Yorkshire Police have recently developed the first Hate Crime Scrutiny panel, to review the way in which South Yorkshire Police investigate incidents motivated by hatred or prejudice based on Disability.

You can view the Sheffield Voices Hate Crime video here.

Editor’s note: If you would like to know more about what behaviour would be a hate crime or how to report a hate crime, True Vision have some useful information. Report it now.

By Andrew Crooks
Disability Sheffield Centre for Independent Living
Twitter: @DisabilitySheff

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