Raising awareness and changing policy

We want to create a society where all people are equally valued. That’s why we work hard to raise awareness of the issues that are important to disabled people — influencing governments, businesses and the public to create a better world.

By working alongside disabled people and partners, such as other charities, we focus in particular on social care, health and housing issues. We work in many ways from suggesting changes to laws to influencing the way local authorities support disabled people. Our aim is to make sure that, across every section of society, disabled people have the support they need to live independent lives.

What we achieved last year

Making sure that the new Care Act delivers positive results for disabled people

Alarm clock with ‘End 15-minute care’We worked hard to make sure that the new Care Act set out guidance to end 15-minute care — an issue that regularly topped the news agenda last year. We continued work on our ‘End 15-minute Care’ campaign with great success.

The government produced statutory guidance to the Care Act, explaining to councils in England that visits of less than 30 minutes are never acceptable for personal, intimate care, such as support for bathing and dressing, unless in exceptional circumstances.

We shall be monitoring whether all councils comply with this important guidance in the months to come. Also, parties across the political spectrum committed to ending inappropriate 15-minute care. Our campaign was featured on the front pages, including Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail, and on the BBC’s Daily Politics; and was nominated for three awards, winning the Chartered Institute of Public Relation’s award for Best Use of Media Relations 2014.

We also worked to help disabled people who are struggling to get support. If a person asks the council for support but is turned down, the only thing they can do is appeal — to the same council. We felt they should be able to appeal to an independent reviewer. So, working alongside partner organisations such as the Care and Support Alliance, we secured an amendment to the Care Act — this amendment will allow the government to create these independent reviews.

Stacie and May‘The report into the real cost of disabled-friendly homes told the story of me and my daughter May who desperately need a disabled-friendly home... it ignited interest from the media and within an hour I was contacted by my local council to discuss our housing situation.’ — Stacie Lewis, campaigner

Launching a new campaign to make sure all political parties work with disabled people in mind

Supporters of our Home Truths campaignA consultation showed us that housing was a major concern for disabled people — many struggle to find homes that are adaptable or wheelchair-accessible. So we launched our Home Truths campaign, calling for more disabled- friendly homes to be built in the UK.

We ran petitions, backed by thousands of campaigners. We also produced three research reports, showing the evidence supporting the issue. These were covered in national media, including the Guardian, the Observer and the Times.

Now, guidelines for more disabled-friendly homes have been added to the government’s official building standards. At the moment these guidelines are optional — but we’ll push for them to become basic minimum requirements. We’re also working with local authorities, to make sure all new-build homes are disabled-friendly, so that disabled people won’t just be more comfortable in their own homes, but will be more able to visit friends and family too.

Continuing to raise awareness of our work

Over the past year, we have continued to increase the reach of our work. We doubled our national and local media coverage, including appearing on the front page of a number of national newspapers.

Our website, re-launched in February, now has an average of nearly 35,000 visitors every month — a 40% increase. Also, we now have 70% more connections on Facebook and 45% more on Twitter. In May, our patron, Her Majesty the Queen, generously held a reception at St James’s Palace to celebrate our work. Dedicated staff, volunteers and disabled people met the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and other supporters including Professor Stephen Hawking.

Veronica Thomas handing Her Majesty the Queen a bouquet

‘It was such an honour to meet The Queen and give her the flowers. She had a wonderful smile and a really good sense of humour. It was such a privilege to meet her in the flesh and my heart skipped a beat when she was talking to me.’ — Veronica, a long-standing visitor of Randall Close day centre

What we will do in the next year

  • Continue to monitor how councils use 15-minute care visits, and keep up the pressure to stop councils using them inappropriately.
  • Be heavily involved in monitoring the implementation of the Care Act, to create real change for disabled people.
  • Continue our Home Truths campaign, to improve housing for disabled people. Specifically, we’ll work to make sure that more councils and developers take up the government’s optional standards — and we’ll campaign for them to become basic minimum standards.
  • Work with the new government after the general election to make sure that new policies take disabled people into account.

Spotlight on volunteering

Local campaigners handing in a petition at Welsh ParliamentIt’s not just the Leonard Cheshire team campaigning to support disabled people. 2,000 volunteers have joined our campaigns — and run their own.

These volunteers give their time in many ways. Many of them write to MPs and sign our petitions. Others lead their own campaigns to influence local planning or transport decisions.

And when we ran our campaign to end 15-minute care, campaigners in our local services designed clocks to highlight the issue in a distinctive way — we used their designs in our campaign materials.