Hammersmith’s new Disabled People’s Commission – Tara Flood

Guest post from Tara Flood on why she, as its chair, is determined to squeeze every drop of possibility out of Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s new Disabled People’s Commission

This is a guest post from Tara Flood, Inclusion London board member and chair of Hammersmith and Fulham’s Disabled People’s Commission

Disabled People's Commission Chair Tara Flood (left) with Cllr Sue Fennimore, H&F Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion

Disability Commission Chair Tara Flood (left) with Cllr Sue Fennimore, H&F Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion

So much of what Disabled people are facing at the moment is grim, shocking and probably illegal and so when a new Hammersmith & Fulham Disabled People’s Commission had its first meeting on the 13th September, I’m not sure me or my fellow Commissioners could quite believe it!

The Disabled People’s Commission is an initiative being funded by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and its forward thinking leader, Steve Cowan. Disabled activists have been lobbying Steve and his fellow councillors for some time and he has spoken about his thinking being influenced by HAFCAC (Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition Against Cuts), which is a Disabled person led campaign group in the borough. HAFCAC can count amongst its achievements getting the council to end homecare charging and ensuring that Hammersmith & Fulham Council ringfenced ILF funding when it was closed by the Government. I think HAFCAC can also be credited for the council seeking to engage with Disabled people in a more strategic and lasting way.

There are nine of us on the Commission. We are all Disabled people living in the borough so we have a great combined knowledge about many of the issues facing Disabled people locally.

We have drafted a Terms of Reference that is rights focused, to guide our work and decision making, but the real challenge will be how we decide and prioritise what issues we should focus on. I did a bit of research before the Commission got started and speaking to a number of Disabled people and organisations in the borough it is clear that there is a huge range of concerns about services, transport, education, access, employment – many of which are a priority for Disabled people wherever we live. So there is a need for us to think about where we need to put our efforts if we are going to make a difference and quickly. At the moment the Commission has a shelf life of 16 months because we need to finish our work before the local elections in 2018.

To make the biggest impact we are going to focus on how to embed real co-production in borough decision making, so not just the council, but health, police etc. We are determined to not be just a talking shop so will be identifying service design and delivery and local decision making opportunities that we can test out real life co-production.

I’ve already said that there is a huge amount for the Commission to do and not much time to do it but we’re determined to squeeze every drop of possibility out of this opportunity and find real and lasting ways to make sure Disabled people are co-producers in all decision making that affects our lives – watch this space!

Nothing About Us Without Us!!

Tara Flood (Director, ALLFIE)