Working towards better outcomes internationally

Two schoolgirls outside their schoolThere are more than a billion disabled people around the world, making up 15% of our global population. Unfortunately, they’re one of the most disadvantaged and marginalised groups in society. They are routinely denied basic human rights — cut off from education, employment and healthcare. Many live in extreme poverty. That’s why we focus on delivering:

  • Innovative long-term development programmes that help disabled people to escape poverty, positively changing their lives and communities.
  • Campaigns against injustice faced by disabled people, to change society for the better.
  • World-class research at our Inclusive Development Centre at University College London, so we can use data and evidence to influence policy, practice and programmes.

We’re also proud to host the secretariat for the Leonard Cheshire Disability Global Alliance: a network of over 200 independently managed Cheshire organisations working in 54 countries across Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.

What we achieved last year

Helping disabled children in Africa and Asia into primary school

Schoolgirl using crutchesWe helped 5,500 disabled children to get a primary education in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone. As part of our inclusive approach, we worked with families, local government officials and teachers to support them to learn more about disability. We also worked to adapt schools and teaching approaches, to make them more inclusive and more responsive to the needs of disabled children.

Our work in Sierra Leone was severely affected by the ebola crisis. As the country focused its efforts on containing the spread of ebola, almost all school children had to stop travelling to school. We learned that, in humanitarian situations, we need to work with a wide network of agencies, governments and local partners — this way, we can make sure disabled people are included in humanitarian efforts and don’t get left behind.

‘When my daughter joined school, it was the happiest moment in my life.’ — mother of a disabled child supported to go to school

Improving access to livelihood opportunities for disabled adults in Africa and Asia through training and support into employment

Beneficiary of one of our Access to Livelihoods programmesWe worked with more than 7,900 disabled people in nine countries across Africa and Asia, opening up opportunities for them to earn a living. We also evaluated our employment programmes in Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda — we found that over 90% of participants found work as a direct result of the training and employment support we gave them. We found that some disabled people had even formed community groups to raise awareness and advocate for policy change at local and national level.

In India, we launched a new project to support disabled women who are affected by domestic violence. This project aims to help almost 100 disabled women into training and employment. It also aims to raise awareness of violence against disabled women, and advocate for policy change and better support in society.

Making sure that disability is included in the international development agenda

We continued to work closely with international development partners to influence the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): a set of global targets established by the United Nations. To do this, we collaborated with the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and other organisations. Together, we made sure disability was included in the provisional drafts of the SDGs.

We supported the Department for International Development (DFID), in collaboration with UN DESA, with their global meeting on developing a greater understanding of disability data and in fostering a ‘data revolution’. We also worked closely with other organisations to contribute to DFID’s Disability Framework — this sets out DFID’s vision for disability as well as the steps they’ll take to strengthen disability inclusion in DFID policies and programmes.

‘I was stuck without capital and knowledge, but I have them now thanks to this project. My capacity to care for my family and prospects of having my children go to school can be seen.’ — beneficiary of our Access to Livelihoods programme

What we will do in the next year

  • Work with the Leonard Cheshire Global Alliance network to enrich the lives of over 12,000 disabled people in Africa and Asia.
  • Raise our profile as a partner of choice in disability matters — and play a significant part as the agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals is finalised and launched by governments, donors and other organisations.
  • Increase our research and learning capabilities. This will give us the evidence we need to influence policy and improve our programmes.