Tag Archives: funding

The Access to Elected Office Fund – changing the world one political appointment at time

Today Minister for Women and Equalities Helen Grant announced that the fund will continue for another year, and be extended.

Helen nailed the central issue and reason it was created in the first place when she said: “Disabled candidates can often be faced with additional costs that make standing for election more difficult than their non-disabled counterparts.”

The fund also “creates the space for disabled people to play a key role in these decision-making processes, but can also lead to increased visibility in public life, and ultimately change attitudes towards disability” according to Scope chair Alice Maynard.

In the run up to the 2010 election the Conservative party manifesto committed to “introduce a £1 million fund to help disabled people who want to become MPs, councillors or other elected officials with the extra costs they face in running for office”.

The fund idea was then reflected in the coalition agreement after the election.

Since the fund was launched in July 2012 there have been over sixty applications to the fund, which will now also cover Parish and Town Council elections.

The Local Government Association Be a councilor campaign is also being expanded and will now help aspiring disabled candidates by providing coaching, mentoring and training, to help build their confidence, knowledge and skills.

Everyone involved deserves a huge amount of credit, for recognising the potential disabled people have, and the benefits they can bring to our communities and political life. Crucially that is being backed up with money, time and commitment, particularly at a time the public purse is under pressure.

Disabled people are still massively under-represented in public life, but here’s hoping that more people take the plunge and use to its full potential.

In you’re interested you can apply on the Access to Elected Office Fund website.

Lesley’s story: My day centre funding is under threat

Guest post from Nick Duquemin, Stories Assistant at Scope.

I spend a lot of my time interviewing disabled people and their families. Many use council-funded social care, and almost everyone I’ve met is worried about how cuts to services and funding are going to affect them.

When I arrive at Lesley’s home one Monday afternoon, her mum, Jan, tellsPicture of Lesley me she isn’t home yet. Routine is very important for Lesley, 45, who has Down’s syndrome, and she couldn’t bear to miss a moment at the Goldhay Arts day centre in Peterborough.

Lesley’s been going to the centre five days a week for the whole of her adult life. She chose it because she loves to act, dance and do art, and it is her main source of social contact. She has friends there whom she has known for two decades.

Jan holds down two part-time jobs, which she fits around her daughter’s needs. Lesley gets frightened if she is left alone in the house for too long. Without day care, Jan would be unable to work.

But Lesley and Jan fear they will soon lose this lifeline. Peterborough City Council, which funds Lesley’s day care, currently supports people, like Lesley, whose needs have been assessed as ‘moderate’.

Now it plans to raise that threshold to a higher level, ‘substantial’, which means that only those with more urgent care needs will receive funding.

Lesley and her mum are worried she will lose her place at Goldhay Arts if she is reassessed as being of moderate need.

Jan has had to fight on countless occasions to make sure Lesley gets the care she needs, but she is dreading this latest battle. Worst of all is the uncertainty.

“You seem to hear a different thing every time you ask,” she says. “It could be that next week we get a letter saying she hasn’t got a place.”

Lesley arrives home and proudly shows me pictures of her family, including her dad and her stepdad, both of whom have passed away.

Then she brings down more photographs from upstairs – this time of herself, dressed up at the arts centre’s summer ball and performing in talent contests on holiday. Jan stresses that Lesley’s confidence comes from her time at day care, and Lesley agrees.

“All my friends would miss me if I’m not there, and I can’t make new friends. I’ve got lots of friends at Goldhay Arts; I’ve known some of them for 18 years,” she says.

I’d be bored, I hate staying in. I’d be sad – a lot. I’d be scared if anything goes wrong, because I love that place.”

Lesley’s day care gives her a link to the outside world, and it means she can live her life as she chooses.

Without it, she and Jan would feel very alone.

How do you use your social care? Share your stories on Twitter using the hashtag #WhatDoYouDoWithYours and follow other people’s stories.