Welcome to DAD's 2017 Annual Report

Darlington Association on Disability is an organisation led by disabled people, which exists to promote independence and choice. DAD supports disabled people and carers through the provision of services, support and information and by tackling issues affecting disabled people both locally and nationally.

Chair’s report to members

The majority of non-disabled people I talk with tell me the austerity cuts are an inconvenience to them. However, the majority of disabled people and carers are experiencing life changing negative effects. The cuts also affect the way organisations like Darlington Association on Disability (DAD) can give support to people.

Competition is increasing at an alarming rate for the ever-decreasing funding available to charities and the voluntary sector. With this in mind I express my immense gratitude to all our financial supporters from providers of large grants to people who fundraise, donate or put spare cash in a collection box. I offer all of them my sincere thanks.

The contract to deliver the Carers Support Service that DAD has provided successfully for many years on behalf of Darlington Borough Council went out to tender.  Unfortunately, there was no way DAD could deliver the service at the same high standard and match or be less than the lowest bidder for the contract. Sadly, we say goodbye to the service and the staff who have worked so hard to make the Carers Support Service successful.  I share with them the disappointment of having to let the service go to another provider and offer them all my heartfelt thanks.  DAD has supported carers for thirty years; we will continue to do so through other projects and other successful funding opportunities.

As we say goodbye to one service we welcome a new pilot service as DAD is developing and delivering a Hate Crime Advocacy Service. This new service joins DAD’s portfolio of services for disabled people.

I cannot overstate how appreciative I am to the management, staff and volunteers who have worked extremely hard to ensure DAD fulfils its commitments to disabled people and delivers services that are so badly needed. I acknowledge the role played by Chief Executive, Lauren Robinson along with senior managers, Tracy Roberts and Rosemary Berks and I thank them for all their hard work, commitment and professionalism.

I offer my warmest thanks to my fellow trustees for their time and hard work that often goes unseen.

Gordon Pybus, Chairman

Structure, Governance and Management

Governing document
The Charity is controlled by its governing document, a deed of trust, and constitutes a limited company, limited by guarantee, as defined by the Companies Act 2006.

DAD has been a registered charity since 1986. In June 2008 Members agreed to transfer the assets and liabilities of the unincorporated Charity to a Company Limited by Guarantee, as defined by the Companies Act 2006, and a Registered Charity.

As a user led organisation DAD consulted and involved members, people who use our services, staff and volunteers in developing the Memorandum and Articles that now govern the organisation and this is the sixth report of the Company. The charity is controlled by its governing document that ensures the organisation is user led, requiring a minimum of 75% of Trustees to be disabled people.

The current legal structure provides a strong basis to secure tenders for services and ensure that disabled people and carers can govern, develop and run the services they identify are needed to ensure independence, choice and control.

Recruitment and appointment of new trustees
The Trustees are appointed on a three-year rotation to govern the business of the association. Members at the Annual General Meeting approve the appointment of Trustees as Directors of the Company. The general membership includes individual disabled people and carers, representatives from local groups and the local authority. The Chairperson or the Vice Chairperson and either the Secretary or Honorary Treasurer must be a disabled person. The Memorandum and Articles allows for up to nine Trustees.

Induction and training of new trustees
Trustees, as Directors of the Company, regularly discuss their responsibilities as Company Directors and understand them. As new Directors are recruited they receive an induction to the organisation, including a copy of the Charities Commission guide for Trustees, information on charity accounting and the organisation's policies and procedures. All Trustees undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service check. Trustees undertake additional training as appropriate throughout the year including Health and Safety and Safeguarding training.

Organisational structure
The Trustees met eight times during the period of this report and various sub committees including policy, finance and health and safety, met between those meetings and reported to the Trustees.

To ensure the Association has the capacity to develop and address the many changes the organisation faces, operational responsibility is delegated to a Senior Management Team led by a full time Chief Executive. This team oversees the day to day running of the organisation including 66 staff which includes 5 governance, 6 project organisers and 55 support staff together with an average of 80 volunteers.

Risk management
The Trustees have examined the major strategic, business and operational risks facing the organisation and systems have been established to monitor and review these risks. Trustees purchase an external advisory and insurance service to ensure Health and Safety and Personnel risks are minimised. DAD also holds the NHS Better Health at Work Silver Award to ensure support for promoting good health of staff and volunteers.

Finance systems and reporting are also regularly reviewed to ensure compliance. Specialist advice is sought from DAD's accountants when required. Reports identifying risks are also considered by Trustees at their meetings throughout the year.

A full review of insurance requirements is conducted regularly and the necessary cover purchased with support from a specialist broker.

Objectives and aims
a) to relieve the needs of disabled people and carers, for the public benefit, resident but not limited to, Darlington and the surrounding areas. In particular, but not exclusively by the promotion of equality, diversity and independence through the provision of services, support, information and training; and

b) to direct, promote and support the efficient working of charitable organisations, voluntary bodies and statutory bodies in their work to relieve disability ("the Objects"). 
Significant activities
Darlington Association on Disability (DAD) was established in 1986 as a voluntary and charitable organisation led by disabled people and this year celebrates its 30th anniversary. It exists to promote independence and choice of disabled people and supports disabled people and carers through the provision of services, support and information and by tackling issues affecting disabled people locally and nationally. DAD promotes the Social Model of Disability and as part of that ethos is actively involved in promoting disability equality and awareness raising. As an organisation, DAD endeavours to ensure that its services are responsive and not prescriptive.

DAD has five strategic aims that it works to achieve;

  • Promote the Social Model of Disability.
  • Ensure disabled people and carers are involved in all its work.
  • Provide high quality services to promote independence and choice.
  • Improve access to services, consultation and involvement for sensory impaired people, younger people and people from minority ethnic groups.
  • Ensure that DAD has a secure, sustainable and independent future.

These aims are met in two ways:

Firstly, DAD acts with disability groups, individual disabled people and carers to jointly tackle issues affecting them in Darlington and the surrounding area and to enable involvement and consultation with service providers, voluntary, public and private sector.  Secondly, DAD develops and delivers services with direct involvement of disabled people and carers. DAD is able to contact approximately 2700 disabled people and carers locally.

All of the organisation's work relies on volunteers who receive ongoing support and training to ensure that they can make the most of their volunteering role, developing new skills and self-confidence. Many disabled people act as role models and mentors for other disabled people to volunteer. Many young people volunteer to support the children and young people's service.

Members play a vital role in the organisation ensuring that DAD remains user led and a recruitment drive has been launched as part of the 30th Anniversary celebrations. A grant has also been received from the Big Lottery Celebrate programme to hold a series of events to raise awareness of the organisation’s achievements and enable disabled people and carers to come together.  

DAD recruited 10 new volunteers to support the essential work towards breaking down barriers and at March 2017 DAD had 41 regular active volunteers and 37 volunteers supporting DAD's children's and young people's project.

During the year, DAD has continued to manage and co-ordinate a wide range of services and support for disabled people and carers regardless of age or impairment. This report outlines a summary of the work and key achievements;

Access Interest Group

The Access Interest Group works with organisations and businesses across Darlington promoting equality. Disabled people have worked with the Local Authority to ensure good access to facilities and services including the refurbishment of the Civic Theatre and development of the children’s theatre, consultations on pavements and dropped kerbs for new housing schemes. All planning applications are monitored and formal comments are made on disability issues identified.

Positive discussions have been held with Licencing regarding disability equality training for taxi drivers. Involvement with Durham & Darlington Police and the Police and Crime and Victims Commissioner (PCVC) has continued to raise the issues around recognition of Hate Crime and support for victims. This has led to investment in the development of a Hate Crime Advocacy Service by the PCVC to support people, across all the equality strands, who face Hate Crime. DAD has a representative on the Durham & Darlington Police Disability Independent Advisory Group. This group advises the police on all aspects of policing where disability is a factor from carrying out their duties to staffing.

DAD fed into the national campaign led by Guide Dogs for the Blind to keep pavements clear. DAD secured a ban on ‘A boards’ in 2002 in Darlington and has recently been successful in demonstrating why it needs to remain to ensure people have equal access to the Town Centre and its facilities.


DAD has a contract to deliver general statutory Advocacy, including Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA), Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA), Relevant Persons Representatives (RPR) and Care Act advocacy for the Local Council and Clinical Commissioning Group. Referrals increased by 20% in the year to 718 with an increasing demand for the new Care Act service as required by the new legislation and the RPR service for people in Care homes.

The Hate Crime Advocacy Service development is also based with the team to ensure high quality advocacy is delivered by trained and experienced advocates.
Advocates have received ongoing training to deliver the requirements of the Care Act, to increase our capacity to deliver IMCA and to ensure advocates have a thorough understanding of the Court of Protection procedures. The issues that people require support with are wide and varied from housing, issues on discharge from hospital, ongoing care and safety, legal processes and tribunals.

Carers Support Service

Carers Support Service has offered information and one to one support, development of support groups for carers and facilitation of consultation and involvement. Funding from the Better Care Fund also enabled the service to provide personalised grants, short breaks, health and wellbeing days and Prepare for Work Programme for carers.  Over 170 carers received in depth support during the year. There were 325 new referrals and 211 of those agreed to join the carers register for Darlington.

Children and Young Peoples Service (ChYPS)

ChYPS delivers support for play and leisure, facilitates the Parents Forum to identify and influence issues of importance for them and their children, supports Young Leaders to have a voice on issues affecting young disabled people and provides Independent Supporters to provide advice and information to children, young people and families who have a right to an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan.

197 children and young people, aged 3 – 19, are registered to attend play and leisure activities during school holidays with 77 attending throughout the year and a further 12 had one to one support at weekends and evenings to access mainstream activities. They were supported by a team of trained and qualified staff and 37 volunteers to have equal access to opportunities.

Young Leaders met regularly throughout the year and a second group was developed for a younger age group.

Independent Support dealt with 66 referrals for support for Education Health and Care plans.

The Independent Living Hub

The Independent Living Hub supports disabled people to develop new skills, have access to education, employment, leisure and social activities. Mentoring for Independence also supports young disabled people to develop independent living skills.

On average 37 people per week access the Hub where they receive support to access activities, courses or support to be independent in the community. A wide range of activities take place including; information sessions from local groups such as Credit Union; Health and Wellbeing activities such as Mindfulness; job related activities including CV writing, interview skills and using the internet. Peer Support is ongoing and the foundation of all activities at the Hub. Funding for short breaks for carers has enabled 27 people to attend and be well supported to try new activities so that the disabled person and carer can have a break from each other.

Direct Payments Support Service

Direct Payments Support Service enables people to manage a payment from Social Services for their assessed needs, and have choice and control over how their needs are met, in order to lead independent lives. This includes the provision of managed accounts. In July, we were successful in a tender to deliver Employer Support to people who use Direct Payments from Middlesbrough Council, extending our reach across Tees Valley.

The Middlesbrough service has received 52 new referrals and advised almost 200 employers. 42 people received recruitment support for Personal Assistants. The Darlington service supported 268 people who use their direct payment to employ Personal Assistants and a further 144 people to have a managed account and new software has increased efficiency. Support includes the provision of payroll including auto enrolment for pensions, employer support, recruitment and information. Peer support groups were held in Darlington and Middlesbrough. The service has also begun to support people with Personal Health budgets.

Skills for Care

Another successful bid for funding enabled us to provide 295 training sessions for employers and their Personal Assistants across Darlington, County Durham and Middlesbrough. Training options included First Aid, Manual Handling, Disability Equality and Mental Capacity Act. This is an opportunity only available to Disabled Peoples Organisations and we have made a further application to continue this valuable work.

Information Provision

Information Provision continues to be delivered from across the organisation following the loss of the dedicated funding for the service in September. DAD still aims to be the first point of contact for disabled people and carers. We have dealt with numerous enquiries regarding changes to peoples’ social care packages and the increased charges for services following the implementation of the Darlington Council medium term financial plan to reduce costs.

Self Advocacy

DAD continued to facilitate groups such as Young Leaders, People’s Parliament and Parent Forum, all of which are crucial to ensure people have a voice, opportunities for self-advocacy and co-production. Young Leaders continued to meet and raise issues affecting young disabled people.  Alongside People’s Parliament they participated in the Be Safe Be Confident programme, funded by the Police, Crime and Victims Commissioner, raising awareness of how to stay safe when out and about and on line.

People’s Parliament has also been involved in delivering the Re-Thinking Advocacy Project, funded by Inclusion North, to look at new models of advocacy.

Parent Forum has been very proactive ensuring parents have a voice and encourage co-production of support to parents, children and young people through the development of the new Local Authority Children and Young People’s plan.

Accessible Taxi Service

Accessible Taxi Service has continued to develop providing over 3000 journeys, 55% were customers who required wheelchair access and 70% of customers were disabled people and their families. An additional driver was appointed to extend the availability of the vehicle and a marketing video was launched, funded by Darlington Borough Council. 

Voluntary Sector Brokerage

The partnership with Age UK Darlington and Darlington MIND has continued to supply voluntary sector brokers to support work in Multi-Disciplinary Teams in every GP practice in Darlington and to provide support to older and disabled people who have attended Accident and Emergency departments. The community support provided by a range of organisations aims to support them to stay safe in their own homes and prevent admission to hospital. Over 104 people were supported by brokers. The service will be developed from April to provide Social Prescribing to a wider range of people aiming to increase health and wellbeing.

DAD has also provided brokerage support for carers and patients in hospital, where the need for residential care has been identified and to choose an appropriate home on discharge from hospital. The service has been as flexible as possible to ensure access for carers who may work and to provide timely support by operating evening and weekends over seven days a week, therefore supporting the reduction of delays in discharges. During the five month pilot DAD supported 48 individuals and carers.

Public Benefit

The Charity's aims and achievements are set out within this report. The activities set out in this report have been undertaken to further the Charity's charitable purposes for the public benefit. The Trustees have complied with the duty under Section 4 of the Charities Act 2011 to have due regard to public benefit guidance published by the Charity Commission and the Trustees have paid due regard to this guidance in deciding what activities the Charity should undertake.

DAD continued to monitor, evaluate and develop all of DAD's projects to ensure that each is providing the best possible service and is supporting disabled people and carers to increase opportunities and choice.

In order to try to address a very difficult time of public sector cuts, changing funding streams, multiple negative impacts on disabled people and carers from local and national changes; DAD Trustees, staff and members worked hard to promote the organisation and to ensure awareness is raised across the community that DAD supports disabled people, carers and their families, children of all ages, young people and older people, regardless of impairment.

Review of financial activities and affairs

The financial affairs of the Association were managed by a Trustee sub-committee that met eight times throughout the year and reported to the Trustees.

Despite the complexities facing the organisation with reductions in funding and increased demand, the organisation took some hard decisions at the end of the previous financial year which have ensured that financial stability has been maintained in the year and a small surplus was generated to replenish reserves that had to be spent in the previous year. Reduced resources have meant that staff have worked incredibly hard to generate the surplus. Some services are still being subsidised by general funds such as volunteering and the children and young people’s service, where they are key to the organisation’s mission. The taxi operation is also continuing to require a subsidy as it operates in a very different environment to other similar businesses. Trustees are carefully monitoring the position in these areas. The loss of the Carers Support Service contract at the beginning of the new financial year will also impact on the organisation’s core costs. However new projects and opportunities are emerging such as the Hate Crime Advocacy Service and the Social Prescribing consortium and funding applications are focusing on support for young people and opportunities to strengthen trading. In particular, we have been successful in securing a grant from Big Potential to enable us to look at the growth of Personal Health Budgets and Direct Payments in neighbouring areas.

The Trustees also launched a 30th Anniversary fundraising appeal, the first of its kind for the organisation, aiming to raise awareness of our work and to increase funds to maintain the organisation’s work. 

The incoming resources for the 12 month period amounted to £1,077,126 of which £17,915 was for restricted projects and £1,059,211 was attributable to general funds before expenditure. 
Implementing charging for services to be purchased with personal budgets has led to an increase in Fundraising Trading income totalling £369,499 compared to £346,519 in the previous year reflecting the changing nature of the organisations funding.

Reserves policy
The Trustees established a policy whereby the unrestricted funds not committed or invested in tangible fixed assets ('the free reserves') held by the charity should be between 3 and 6 months of the resources expended in general funds. This is the level assessed by Trustees that would enable the organisation to manage risks associated with a sudden loss of funding and in this year, that has proved a very prudent approach. The level of free reserves at the year end is £203,904.

Contracts with Darlington Borough Council during the period were received for Advocacy, Direct Payment Support Service, Carers Support Service, Information Worker and the Independent Living Hub.

Contracts were also in place with Age UK for MDT and the Clinical Commissioning Group for Mental Health Advocacy and Hospital Brokerage. Grants were received from the Department for Education, Department of Health, Skills for Care, the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), the Bailey Thomas Charitable Fund, Police Crime and Victims Commissioner, County Durham Foundation, Inclusion North and the Big Lottery.

DAD wish to thank all funders and supporters of the organisation. In particular, the many people who give hours of their time, expertise, skills and knowledge to ensure that DAD continues to be a successful organisation. Volunteers work at all levels of the organisation. As a User Led Organisation, disabled people and carers volunteer as Trustees, work across all projects which DAD operates, get involved in co-production, consultation, impact assessments, web site development, management, mentoring, fundraising, one to one support and many more roles. Volunteers are the backbone of the organisation and our thanks and appreciation go to all of them

Future Developments

DAD will continue to work hard to be at the centre of supporting disabled people and carers who will be impacted by the multiple cuts proposed to the Local Authority budgets which will affect everything from social care, to housing and transport. This is in addition to the swathing cuts to the welfare system and the previous closure of the Independent Living Fund at a national level.

Trustees, the Chief Executive and the Senior Management team have worked to secure a balanced budget for the forthcoming year whilst minimising the impact on staff and the support we can offer. Although our town centre base has had to close, we will be ensuring that wherever possible we promote the work of the organisation and what we can offer to ensure disabled people know where to go to for support.

DAD will continue to raise the issues which affect disabled people and carers locally, regionally and nationally including Hate Crime, ‘Better Health’ proposals for changes to NHS services in the region, Personal Health Budgets, support for employment and training such as Access to Work and the implementation of the Care Act.

Partnership working with others in the voluntary sector and across public sector organisations is likely to have a larger impact on the organisation and create opportunities to influence and press for genuine co production.

Continued support for the groups DAD facilitates such as Young Leaders, People’s Parliament and Parent Forum, will be crucial to ensure people have a voice and opportunities for self-advocacy and co-production. Securing resources for them to continue will be a high priority.

DAD will continue to ensure that the organisation has a strong presence going forward, promoting the organisation as a Centre for Independent Living available to support all disabled people and carers. DAD, a user led organisation, is proud to be part of the Independent Living movement and one of a growing number of organisations across the country that are run by disabled people and carers, as they are the experts in knowing how best to support people to be independent.

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How you can support us

As a local organisation we very much rely on the support of our local community, and continue to support people flexibly to have greater choice and control and remove the barriers that disabled people and children experience in their everyday lives. We support over 2,000 people every year.  But we need your help.

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