Drilling into the fund for independent living

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 Rosalind Tyler-Greig outlines the importance of the Drill fund to advance independent living for disabled peopleGreig,

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23rd May 2017 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

The UK-wide disability research into independent living and learning (Drill) programme last week opened for a second and final open funding call.  

If you’re not a disability rights worker or a disability researcher, the fervour pitch about this new programme may well have been swallowed up in the general din of funding news.

But let me tell you why it’s time to tune into the unique sound of Drill – and perhaps even to think about what you could secure with its support.

Drill is all about co-production. You’re probably already thinking, talking or doing co-production. At the very least, you’ve heard it’s the way to go for any service provider worth their salt. For us, co-production is also the way to go in the world of disability research – and we’re looking for people to take us there.

The programme buzzed to life in 2016 with the launch of its first funding call. Delivered by Inclusion Scotland and three national partners – Disability Action Northern Ireland, Disability Wales and Disability Rights UK – it has been powered from the start by the priorities of disabled people. A large-scale consultation with disabled people at the beginning of the programme established its research priorities - and Drill went on to attract two hundred and seven applications looking at barriers across civic, public, social and economic life.

To impress, applicants had to show how their project had been ‘co-produced in equal partnership’ and would be ‘led by’ disabled people. Consultation alone wouldn’t cut it – we looked for projects with disabled people in the driving seat, setting the agenda and steering the work. And this is when Drill makes change happens.

Dr Rosalind Tyler-Greig

Dr Rosalind Tyler-Greig

The programme wants to find solutions to advance independent living for disabled people. That means solutions to the barriers that prevent disabled people from participating in social, economic and political life on a level with non-disabled people.  And we’re delighted that it’s on course to do just that.

The 21 projects funded so far are innovative and exciting. Moreover, we’re proud that five of them are Scottish. In the hiatus between policy and practice, our projects are probing for the solutions that will be pivotal for disabled people. Scotland’s projects will suggest solutions around supported decision-making, political and civic involvement, self-directed support, housing, and social participation strategies.

People First Scotland, in partnership with Animate Consulting, were one of the first to bring Drill funding to Scotland. Their project, Does it Matter? speaks directly to the Scottish Government’s commitment to align the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act with the United Nations Disabled People’s Convention by 2018. And this convention promotes supported decision making – a vital tool if people with learning disabilities are to have real autonomy and choice in their lives.

Another of Scotland’s first grantees is Voices of Experience (VoX) which has partnered with the Mental Health Foundation and the Scottish Mental Health Research Collective for their project, Increasing Participation in Civic and Public Life: Co-producing Solutions.

For too long, disabled people have been the passive subjects of research – there has been research about disabled people. Traditionally we have not been leaders, or even equal partners, in disability research.  Imagine being shut out of a conversation so relevant to you - and the powerlessness this hands to you.

The slogan of the disability movement is ‘nothing about us, without us’.  We want Drill funds to be used to bring that slogan to life in the disability research world. Disability research should be for disabled people, which means being devised by disabled people and taken forward by disabled people, in a way that brings us genuine gains.  It means handing power to disabled people.

If you want the power (or a share of it) to tell us something new about independent living for disabled people, you’ll find all the tools you need to apply here:  www.drilluk.org.uk You’ll have until 8th August to get your application in. In the meantime, I’ll be happy to have a chat if you’ve got any questions please contact me.  

Rosalind Tyler-Greig is Drill programme officer at Inclusion Scotland