H&F celebrates International Day of Disabled People 2022

A special event was held at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre on Friday (2 December) to mark this year’s International Day of Disabled People.

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Nothing about Disabled People without Disabled People

Every year Disabled people get together in the borough to celebrate our lives, our achievements and just enjoy being together. Hammersmith & Fulham Council was proud to support this year's celebrations which were held at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, and co-hosted with our local organisation of Disabled people, Action on Disability.

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Disability activist Michelle Daley (left) and retired Paralympic athlete Tara Flood (right) were among the panel speakers at the event

The theme this year was wellbeing so we took the opportunity to work with Action on Disability to launch the council’s new vision for Independent Living, a vision Disabled people have struggled for decades to see being adopted and put into practice. Hammersmith & Fulham is the first local authority in England to develop such a vision working together with local Disabled people.

Read H&F Council's Independent Living Vision Statement.

To help us celebrate International Day we invited a few exciting speakers including the long-time disability rights activist and campaigner for independent living, John Evans who spoke about growing up as a  Disabled person in the 1960s and 70s, and his pioneering fight in the 1980s to leave the institution he was placed in – a kickstart to the independent living movement.

John said: “When I was in my 20s, I was placed in an institution as this was my only option. But I fought to show everyone that Disabled people could live in their own homes.”

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Cllr Ben Coleman (left), Deputy Leader of H&F, and David Isaac (right), Co-production Coordinator at H&F Council

And Michelle Daley shared her experiences of Independent Living as a Disabled woman. Michelle was also in conversation with three of Action on Disability’s younger members about their experiences of getting their rights and the changes that society still needs to make.

“One of the key next steps that we need to tackle is our understanding of choice,” said Michelle. “Choice isn’t the decision that my carers give me between going to bed at 6pm or 11pm, those are options. Choice is having the ability to go to bed whenever you want to. And it is only by working to ensure every Disabled person has choice that we can achieve equality and equity in society. This must be a key focus.”

Cllr Ben Coleman, Deputy Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, attended the event and spoke about the council’s commitment to Independent Living and to support all Disabled people in H&F to have the same choice and control as any other resident.

Listening to Disabled residents is what led us to become the only borough in England to abolish charges for ‘home care’ support and why our focus now is on supporting residents to live independently at home.

As a result, we are now working together in co-production with Disabled residents on important developments in housing, inclusive design, and digital inclusion.

Action on Disability’s Chief Executive, David Buxton said: “Independent Living is not just about Disabled people getting support from social services, we get that, but covers all the day to day barriers Disabled people experience.”

Since 2018, H&F Council has committed to transforming our public services to ensure they meet the recommendations of our Disabled People’s Commission report Nothing About Disabled People Without Disabled People, which was unveiled in 2018. The report highlighted the many barriers excluding local Disabled residents from day-to-day life and set out far reaching recommendations to improve how the council makes decisions.

This included Disabled residents and the council working together as equal co-producers of change.

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