Message from the chair

Sally Davis

This year has been one of transition and renewal ahead of the centenary of our founder’s birth.

I am delighted to welcome Neil Heslop as our new CEO. Neil joined us for the second half of the year and brings an important personal perspective on disability and strong experience of growing sustainable and innovative organisations.

Together with Neil and his management team, the trustees have refreshed our strategy to honour the humanitarian spirit of our founder by renewing our commitment to supporting the aspirations of people with disabilities around the world.

Building upon our social care heritage in the UK and the global movement that Leonard created, our ambition is to continue extending our impact in communities, and to increase our reach by supporting more disabled people in developing the skills and confidence that aid their journeys to fulfilling and independent lives. The views and ambitions of disabled people are at the heart of our work.

Our Future Choices initiative has provided insight and momentum to guide our approach of how we will better enhance the lives of those we support.

We will ensure that this innovation becomes our new normal by creating a permanent customer council that collects and reflects the views of all people with disabilities, both those we support and those we don’t currently serve, to ensure that our future services remain valued by all.

Our international work has been a particular highlight this year and continues to go from strength to strength. Our experience in Africa and Asia with inclusive education and access to livelihoods programmes, where we have supported tens of thousands of people with disabilities, has enabled us to influence the agendas of international policy makers through deepened partnerships with the World Bank, UNESCO and the ILO.

We are enormously thankful for the wonderful dedication of our staff. A major initiative in our UK social care environment this year has been to introduce a new services employment framework, to ensure we are a great and fair place to work.

We have shown our commitment to our frontline people by paying well above the national living wage, investing in learning and development and ensuring clear career pathways.

I particularly appreciate the many members of the Staff Association who played a key role in facilitating these developments.

The financial headwinds of recent times have continued into this year and I am therefore pleased to report that our financial performance has been stable.

In an especially challenging external environment and in a year of leadership transition internally, our financial performance is a great credit to the management team.

As we develop future services, there will be a requirement to invest and we will need to consider how to most appropriately finance these plans.

We are profoundly grateful for the generosity of our corporate and individual donors, who enable us to extend our support to so many people through activities in individual services in the UK and international programmes around the world.

My thanks also go to our volunteer trustees who bring a wealth of experience and devote countless hours in the service of our organisation.

We look forward to increasing our impact in the years ahead.Sally Davis signature

Sally Davis