Disability and Equality in Community Development
Supporting and Promoting Change

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Supporting and Promoting Change

A new way of learning to bring about change together

DFI were invited to present to a Summer School hosted by the Community Work Ireland (CWI) together with the Dept of Applied Social Studies in NUI Maynooth. The theme for the Summer School was " Connecting, Reflecting and Acting to Realise Social Change in Ireland. (Click here to visit their website). 

DFI presented on the topic: "Disability Rights and Equality - working with communities" outlined our Community Working methodology and was broadly and universally welcomed, with connections to other actions discussed and agreed. This was an energising and positive event and DFI are delighted to have been included in the 'line-up' for participation.

What does it mean to have a disability in Ireland?

  • 595,355 (13%) PWD in Ireland (Census, 2011)
  • 27,691 people registered on the National Intellectual Disability Database (NIDD), 99.8% of whom access at least one day service (NIDD, 2014)
  • 6,805 (29.7%) clients from the NPSDD with current service use and future service requirements
  • Of those in receipt of (ID) services in 2013, 11,519 people require alternative, additional, or enhanced services in the period 2014–2018 (NIDD, 2014)
  • 1 in 10 adults of working age have a disability
  • Disability increases sharply with age (5.4% under the age of 15 compared to 38% of those over 65)

 Some of the implications:

  • Individuals not at work due to illness or disability have the highest levels of consistent poverty at 17.6%. This overshadows the national rate of 7.7%
  • 48% of this group are at risk of deprivation, in contrast to a national average of 26.9%. This means that they struggle with the cost of adequate clothing and heating, and cannot afford to eat a meal with meat or fish every second day
  • One third of young adults (25 to 29 years) with a disability left school before completing second level compared to one in six of young adults with no disability
  • Only 20.7% of people with disabilities aged 15 and over are in employed compared to 50% of the general population in the same age.     

Local statistics for Kildare

  • Kildare has a total population of 210,312 people.
  • 12% of these, or 24,369 people, have a disability.
  • Employment in Kildare
  • In Kildare, of the number of people with a disability of working age, only 36% were at work.
  • This compares to 63% of people without a disability who were at work in the county.7
  • Education in Kildare
  • 15% of people with a disability in Kildare did not progress beyond primary education.  This compares to 3% of people without a disability.
  • 21% of people with a disability in Kildare ceased education at lower secondary level.  Just 13% of people without a disability left education at this level.
  • Only 43% of people with a disability in Kildare advanced to further education, compared to 60% of people without a disability
  • The highest level of education completed by people aged 15-49 in Kildare, both with and without a disability, whose education has now ceased

Observation on Community Work in Ireland 

  • Spatial Spread– traditionally in Ireland Community development work is carried out in geographical communities generally and more specifically in areas of Social and economic deprivation or disadvantage. This is totally acceptable as it promotes, allows and supports the capacity development of personal and community connections and collectivity. Its how Community Development works!
  • Specific to target groups – more recently in particular with the SICAP, the delivery of community supports and services has been restricted even more with budgetary constraints being one of the main drivers of targeted development initiatives.

Observation (Cont.)

  • Recognising that people with a disability are not an homogenous grouping and do not live in any specific geographical area and may also not be perceived as being socially disadvantaged, it is a challenge to develop a Community development response that is acceptable and workable.
  • However with the employment of Community Development workers DFI is moving towards supporting a more spatially integrated model that can encompass the whole of civil society for the purposes of integrated development initiatives and projects. We are making the way as we develop within this context.

 Who we are – PJ, Laura, Toni, Aine etc

  • We are the National Disability Strategy Local Implementation team from DFI
  • Our skills and expertise are in the area of Community Development, Policy implementation, Community work and group development, Adult Education and mentoring & Equality and Diversity training,
  • We have a strong belief in the ability of the person, the community and therefore the Civil Society to develop, achieve and change. We want to support that change  to include people with disabilities and their families as much as we can to achieve a more equal and inclusive society,


NDSIP, National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan
Four High Level Goals which directly influence the work of DFI,  outlined as follows;

 Legislation

  • The Disability Act 2005, and multiple statutes of equality legislation. Oireachtas na hEireann, Disability Act 2005.
  • National Disability Strategy (NDSIP),
  • HSE Service Plan 2014-201
  • Equality Act 2004; Oireachtas na hEireann,
  • Equal Status Act 2000. Oireachtas na hEireann

 Implementation

  • High Level Goal 1: Equal citizens
  • People with disabilities are free from discrimination. They are included as equals by public services that welcome and accommodate diversity.
  • High Level Goal 2:  Independence and choice
  • People with disabilities are supported to live the life they choose
  • High Level Goal 3:  Participation
  • People with disabilities live ordinary lives in ordinary places, participating in the life of the community.
  • High Level Goal 4: Maximise potential
  • People with disabilities are enabled to reach their full potential

 Community Participation training Network - A DFI Community Development initiative

 The specific aims of the Community Participation Training Network included:

A network of 10 organisations: Community groups, Disability Service providers and People with Disabilities coming together to learn about new Local Government structures and how to use them for the benefit of the whole community.

An excerpt from the Project evaluation states http://www.disability-federation.ie/index.php?uniqueID=11141

CPTN – Community Participation training network, To support the capacity of and direct representation of people with disabilities within local community structures.

  • To provide advocacy training to members of the network.
  • To train people with disabilities to become community representatives.
  • To facilitate networking opportunities, peer-support and sharing of information between network members.To build alliances between people with disabilities and other community representatives  
  • To build alliances between people with disabilities and other community representatives

Outcomes identified from the CPTN Evaluation report

A number of tangible outcomes were achieved by the Community Participation Training Network project including:

  • Participants gained confidence, energy and motivation from being involved and supported by Community Participation Training Network training programme.
  • A raising of awareness and consciousness about issues related to exclusion, self-advocacy, and in getting those issues as the ‘placed on the agenda’’ at local and county levels.
  • The Community Participation Training Network was built upon the ethos of providing a new and accessible way for people to participate in the life of their community and decision making structures. This was achieved through the encouragement of group development and autonomy, specific pre development and skills development training. The number of support and policy development groups has increased and existing group has development has been consolidated. This has resulted in greater participation in community action, policy and advocacy activity. 

A number of tangible outcomes were achieved by the Community Participation Training Network project including:

  • Participants gained confidence, energy and motivation from being involved and supported by Community Participation Training Network training programme.
  • A raising of awareness and consciousness about issues related to exclusion, self-advocacy, and in getting those issues as the ‘placed on the agenda’’ at local and county levels.
  • The Community Participation Training Network was built upon the ethos of providing a new and accessible way for people to participate in the life of their community and decision making structures. This was achieved through the encouragement of group development and autonomy, specific pre development and skills development training. The number of support and policy development groups has increased and existing group has development has been consolidated. This has resulted in greater participation in community action, policy and advocacy activity.

 Is the work of the DFI Community Development Worker duplication?

  • The Disability Federation of Ireland’s  Community development workers will be in a position to have the birds eye view of opportunities and chances in the community  and have and the remit to be as broad as is necessary.
  • The Community Development Worker will have the luxury of not being tied to operating ‘within a dedicated programme’ with rigidly defined target groups and parameters such as in the SICAP programme where work must take place within designated disadvantaged areas to be counted and where the address of the participants is crucial.

Duplication? (Cont.)

  • While inclusion and integration of people with disabilities is the key target of the work of the DFI Community Development Worker, by its very nature this means that all areas of life and community living are included in the work remit.
  • No other Community Development Worker or local actor in the locality will be in the same position to make these links and bring together such a diverse team of local actors to tackle an issue. This will be welcomed by many community workers from other agencies as they cannot initiate this kind of action in their own right and are often frustrated by this fact.

Community development workers:
What we do

The Workers’ perspective

 

 

  • •Speed Lobby
  • •Disability Cluster Group hosted by Bray Area Partnership
  • •Preparation within each organisation was key
  • •Voter Education Training
  • •Follow Up

 Additional Projects

Disability Bray.ie

  • Re-development of existing website
  • Collaborative process
  • Change in focus
  • Interactive Community Resource
  • Moderated by people with disabilities
  • Long term ambition: Potential Social Enterprise  
  • Self Advocacy Training and the identification of leaders
  • Scouting Ireland Collaboration
  • Building PPN Engagement
  • Encouraging representation on local fora (particularly in local Government)

 The story so far…

Positives

  • Collaborative working across the geographical divide
  • Internal team support
  • Positive Feedback
  • Strong Policy context
  • Identified need  

Challenges

  • Resistance to change/ Legacy of role
  • Absence of key stakeholders
  • Quick wins over sustainability to satisfy impatient funders

Initial steps – our first meetings aim to:

  • Create an atmosphere of trust and shared learning .
  • Provide a forum speak openly and willingly about our concerns, fears, lack of knowledge of one another's fields of expertise and strengths
  • Agree where our strengths and expertise are similar and equal i.e. in development of the person within the community, commitment to achievement and goal orientation, understanding of inclusion equality and diversity
  • I think we will find that we have more in common that we realise.
  • Agree a way forward together naming one or two early ‘wins’ along with more detailed activities or events later on.

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