Developing Deaf and Disabled Leaders for the future

Updates on our project to support lived experience leadership.

About the project

We are delighted to announce our new 18 month leadership training and development programme. This is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

DDPOs face significant challenges in “bringing on” new Deaf and Disabled leaders or accessing leadership development programmes that are accessible and right for DDPOs. In response, we have designed a leadership programme to trial with 10 Deaf/Disabled people who have shown an interest or potential for leadership. Using “human centred design” theories and techniques, we will support participants to identify their own leadership development goals and work practically on leading a change (with coaching and training). Together we will analyse and understand what support is most effective in achieving leadership success.

You can view a powerpoint presentation about the project here: Developing Deaf and Disabled Leaders

We also have a new Leadership information and resources page. This includes useful toolkits and resources related to leadership and links to other training and workshops to support leadership practice.

Who is leading the leadership programme

This programme is being led by Alex Hendra, Inclusion London’s Associate Business Consultant. She has extensive experience in business development and service design support with DDPOs. Additionally she has experience of co-designing highly successful leadership programmes with Disabled young people.

Getting started. August -November 2019.
Leadership Workshops and setting up peer learning groups

In August 2019 we recruited 10 Deaf /Disabled people from within our existing networks of DDPOs to take part. These include trustees, staff and volunteers who want to develop their leadership skills and confidence, and who show interest and signs of becoming potential new leaders.

Picture of 7 people on Inclusion London's leadership programme making "empathy boxes" to explore their goals, motivations and fears. They are using a mixture of art materials to design their boxes

Workshop 1  September: Our first workshop introduced the programme and gave participants a chance to get to know each other. We explored what leadership is; individual goals, fears and motivations; and learned about ‘design thinking’. The day was a mix of discussion and exercises. We made a collage of inspiring leaders, recorded a radio interview and built ’empathy boxes’ to explore in depth people’s goals, motivations and fears. Everyone jumped into the session with enthusiasm. We were hugely impressed by everyone’s willingness to challenge themselves.

Workshop 2 October:Picture showint the stages of a "design cycle"
We started with some creative thinking challenges to get  everyone warmed up and thinking outside of the box. We set a design challenge, to encourage participants to jump right in and experience a “design cycle” for themselves. The group spent 90 minutes working on the “problem” of making our training environment and training experience more accessible and comfortable for our group with very wide ranging access needs. They came up with great ideas, some of which they prototyped and trialled immediately. We will trial other ideas during future workshops. Later, participants learned about “change canvases” and how to use them to explore and plan a change.

We covered a lot in a short afternoon. Most people went away feeling more confident about drawing up their own change canvas. Several took up the opportunity of coaching support before the next session to work through tricky parts of their plan.

Change Canvas describing one of Lived Experience Leadership Participant's planned changeWorkshop 3 November:
Our participants came back together to share their change plans, and tell each other the “story” of the change they want to make. We set up three peer support groups to support each other over the next few months. Each group discussed how they would keep in touch. They shared their expectations of each other and what support they think they will need. Peer groups gave each other feedback, ideas and support with their change plans, which everyone found helpful.

Participants fed back that the workshops had been challenging but useful.

  • “Overall I think the workshop was very helpful, especially going through my peers’ change plans. I was also very happy about who I was paired up with. I feel we have a lot to offer each other. Actually I feel they have more to offer me than me offering anything to them. Although I am hoping throughout the project as time and more work is put into this, and                                                                        from the things I learn, I will become helpful to my peers.”
    “I found pairing up and learning from their suggestions beneficial, also learning about their change plan, seeing how
    some suggestions can link to one another.”

Making Progress December 2019-June 2020:

It was exciting and inspiring to see the range of change plans people are embarking on, and we can’t wait to see people’s progress on making them happen! We will keep you up to date with the highlights here:

December 2019

  • Great progress from Bh in her plans for setting up campaigns groups of visually impaired people in London. She has been making really good use of new links and support from Inclusion London’s campaigns team.
  •  Lovely to see M building up her confidence in her plan for better referral systems and collaborative working amongst organisations in a North London borough. Fantastic to see M start to recognise the strengths her neurodiversity brings to leadership. Really looking forward to more of the innovative ideas that are already flowing.
  • Humbled by G’s willingness to use coaching to think very deeply and honestly about barriers she has faced to leadership. Looking forward to seeing if her change experiments help her to build confidence and self-belief.
  • Impressed by J’s hard work and determination in developing improved financial leadership and planning in her organisation. It’s going to make such a difference to organisational effectiveness.

January 2020

  • Congratulations to B who got a funding application submitted- she’d been working on it for a while and putting off submitting, but she used support from her peer group to overcome her worries, and coaching support to finish off the bid…and she has just heard it has been successful! No stopping B now with her plans for more participatory arts projects led by Disabled people in West London, and great collaborative working with local DDPO RUILS.
  • Watching with interest as A plans an event in West London to bring mental health service users  and professionals together to explore innovative approaches to information sharing and collaborative working. Great to see a fresh approach being trialled. Impressed that A is willing to challenge herself and consider change experiments that will take her well outside her comfort zone.

February 2020

  • Bh has made great use of her training budget from the programme. She has enrolled on a Sheila McKechnie Foundation Influencing Change London course, to learn more advanced campaigns skills. She is finding it really helpful, particularly the support to work through a particular campaign, and the inspirational talks from successful campaigners
  • One of our peer groups is generating fascinating learning about what neurodiversity brings to leadership, and the particular challenges faced by leaders with access barriers that are less visible. Very thankful for this group’s willingness to explore their experiences so deeply. We are all learning so much from each other.

March 2020

  • Bh has found being able to share experiences and learning with other leaders with lived experience an enormous confidence boost. So, when the opportunity came to apply for the CoChair position of a national BME working group run by Vision UK she jumped at the chance. She is delighted to have been successful: “I would have had doubts about applying before, I lacked confidence of what I could bring. It’s really helped being around other leaders with lived experience”,
  • A managed to secure her largest funding bid yet. This allows her existing project to be financially safe and includes expansion to the neighbouring borough for 2 years. Congratulations A!

April 2020

  • As Covid 19 lock down challenges us all, we are supporting our leaders to think about how to use their skills to evolve and adapt their approaches. Some of our leaders have health conditions which mean they are in self-isolation but it’s not stopping them from taking action and leading change from their homes:
  • A has been quick to respond. Her planned events are on hold, but she is working with her local DDPO and leading a team of volunteers to provide phone support to vulnerable people. She’s working well with her fellow volunteers to think about how to overcome communication and technology barriers so that information and support can get through to the most isolated people.
  • G has a crucial role in supporting team morale at a time when staff are having to adjust to massive changes and new pressures. She is able to reflect that her newfound leadership confidence is really paying off at this challenging time.