Following a particularly unpleasant 3 month illness which has caused my permanent deafness it was imperative that I reviewed my work load, and reduced the amount of toil and travelling to a more realistic level, so inevitably some of my national work had to be terminated. It was therefore following some serious thought and deep regret that I decided to retire from the Disability Action Alliance Steering Group, of which I have been an active member from its inception.
When the Fulfilling Potential project came to life, I was delighted to be asked to become involved, as I have always worked on the principle that real change can only be seen when we work together to make it happen.
Being part of the driving force of the formation of the Disability Action Alliance has been something of which I have been proud, and I have been a believer in overcoming the challenges we faced which have been at times substantial, not the least being from some doubters in the disabled community. To create a large meaningful cross sector network of organisations committed to making a difference to the lives of disabled people is a massive and lasting result. Those who know me are aware that I have consistently advocated the idea that designing and delivering innovative change and identifying and spreading good practice, especially at local level, by bringing together disabled people’s organisations with organisations from public, private and third sector, and have shown this is not an impossible dream.
The Alliance has grown from small roots and now advises and works in areas of finance, service commissioning, sport, health and many other aspects of life in which all too often disabled people are not given due consideration. But for me the success has been in what I am proud to call the ‘Blackpool model’ of joint work and engagement. This has seen the growth of influence of disabled people in my key interests of all aspects of public transport, including the creation of disability reference and training groups for bus and train operators. We are also involved in leading community work with local authorities and NGO’s, and more recently I was lead in developing a specific project aimed at increasing the active inclusion of disabled people in a wide range of public bodies and appointments.
I know that the Chair Liz Sayce and members of the steering group, and the collective members of the Alliance will continue to assist influencing lives of disabled people in the community, and so I can finally say that I have deeply enjoyed being part of something vitally important for disabled people, and I will still continue to be a less visible but active member in my role with the Disability Hate Crime network, a task which has to continue to ensure that while we look at day to day life, we don’t forget that disabled people still are viewed with hostility and fear by some areas of society.
Stephen Brookes MBE
Coordinator Disability Hate Crime Network www.dhcn.info
Ambassador – Disability Rights UK. www.disabilityrightsuk.org
Ambassador – Donna’s Dream House www.donnasdreamhouse.co.uk
Director – Blackpool Transport www.blackpooltransport.com