Welcome to DAD's 2019 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.

Chairman's Report

Disability discrimination legislation has been in place for 24 years and yet there are still countless venues, services and facilities still not accessible to many disabled people. There is too much reliance on minimum standards by providers, as well as looking for loopholes and using the argument of 'reasonable adjustment', as if it gives a right to do very little.  The same applies with employment and education, where a similar attitude exists. Sadly this attitude of 'equality is okay as long as it doesn't affect me or my budget' exists in the thinking of many decision makers.

This negativity prevents many disabled people from living the kind of life that non-disabled people take for granted, from fulfilling their ambitions and reaching goals. As a disability organisation led by disabled people, Darlington Association on Disability (DAD) recognises the importance of disabled people being involved in decisions that affect them. Being involved can help towards removing the ignorance that leads to disability discrimination, or poor services that are the result of ignorance in decision making.

To this end, DAD continues to actively support and encourage disabled people to be involved in consultation. DAD also takes every opportunity to raise disability access and discrimination issues both locally and nationally.

The demand on DAD services has increased immensely, at a time when disability organisations like DAD are finding themselves in a more competitive financial arena.  The demand for funding has increased with fewer funders in a position to meet that demand.  Securing core funding is an ever present struggle and I cannot overstate, how appreciative I am to all our financial supporters, especially in these times of uncertainty and offer them my sincere thanks.

Staff and volunteers have worked extremely hard to ensure DAD fulfils its commitments to disabled people. They have not only supported disabled people and carers, but also each other, through exceptionally difficult times. Many of them going that extra mile, above and beyond, as the demand on services have grown.  I am immensely grateful and offer my heartfelt thanks to them all.

I acknowledge the roles played by Chief Executive, Lauren Robinson, Deputy Chief Executive, Tracy Roberts and Senior Manager, Rosemary Berks, who have all done an outstanding job by continuing to make DAD an organisation that is envied by other towns and I thank them for their loyalty and dedication.                             

I am indebted to my fellow trustees for their support to me and their continued hard work and commitment to DAD.  I also thank them for their many hours of hands on work within the organisation that often goes unseen by others.

Gordon Pybus, Chairman


The trustees who are also directors of the charity for the purposes of the Companies Act 2006, present their report with the financial statements of the charity for the year ended 31 March 2019. The trustees have adopted the provisions of Accounting and Reporting by Charities: Statement of Recommended Practice applicable to charities preparing their accounts in accordance with the Financial Reporting Standard applicable in the UK and Republic of Ireland (FRS 102) (effective 1 January 2015).

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").


Darlington Association on Disability (DAD) was established in 1986 as a voluntary and charitable organisation led by disabled people. 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.

- Improves 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.

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 anyone who is new to the organisation is encouraged to become a member in order to be able to influence the organisation. During the year membership has increased by 11% to 184 at March 2019, 65% are disabled people.

DAD recruited 18 new volunteers to support the essential work towards breaking down barriers and at March 2019 DAD had 37 regular active volunteers and 17 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. As part of the planning process Trustees agreed a number of key actions to take the organisation forward, particularly building on our strategy to work in other areas where the organisations skills and expertise are needed. Key to this strategy has been the appointment of a Deputy Chief Executive to build capacity to take the developments forward. Funding was also secured through Fresh Ideas to underpin this strategy and this enabled the organisation to undertake 'lean process mapping' to make improvements, source and purchase a secure cloud based Management Information System, replace an outdated telephone system and increase lone working arrangements in order to undertake work across a wider geographical area particularly extending our work in Advocacy and Direct Payments where we have particular skills and expertise as a user led organisation. This report outlines key achievements across all our work;


Access Interest Group

The group works with organisations and businesses across Darlington promoting equality. Disabled people have worked with the Darlington Council to ensure good access to facilities and services. Promoting the Equality Duty is a high priority alongside the need for training where ever possible. Access audits have been carried out involving young people to increase their knowledge. The group also continued to actively promote obstacle free pavements through the monitoring of A Boards, input into pavement café licensing and the national campaign to support no parking on pavements. Information was submitted to the consultation on the Darlington Plan regarding the need for more wheelchair accessible homes built to the new standards. All planning applications to Darlington Council are monitored and formal comments are made on any disability issues identified.

Involvement with Durham & Darlington Police and the Police and Crime and Victims Commissioners office (PCVC) has continued to raise the issues around recognition of Hate Crime and support for victims. This has led to continued investment in the development of a Hate Crime Advocacy Service by the PCVC to support people, across all the equality strands, facing Hate Crime. Following a presentation at The Hate Crime Conference, and ongoing input to the advisory groups, the Commissioner supported the need for changes to the legislation to include 'incitement' for disability hate crimes and crimes against disabled people.



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 Darlington and Hartlepool Council and the local Clinical Commissioning Group as well as many Local Authorities making spot purchases. Over 650 new referrals were received by the advocacy service, an increase of almost 40% compared to the previous year.

All advocates hold, or are working towards, the National Advocacy Qualification to ensure that the team have the up to date knowledge and skills necessary to support people to access the services they need and to ensure that their rights are upheld.

DAD was successful in securing a contract to be part of the Tees Valley advocacy framework, with a view to the work starting in May 2019.

The Hate Crime Advocacy Service is also based with the team to ensure high quality advocacy is delivered by trained and experienced advocates. Our partnership with Show Racism the Red Card and Querkey, supported 37 people facing Hate Crimes with 16 referrals classed as Disability Hate Crime. Advocates have received ongoing training to deliver the requirements of the Care Act, to increase our capacity to deliver IMCA. The issues that people require support with are wide and varied including issues on discharge from hospital, ongoing care and safety, legal processes and tribunals.


Carers Support

DAD has continued to actively support carers in a number of ways including the provision of short breaks, funded by the Better Care Fund and the Respite Association. Parent carers receive breaks using DASH play schemes through the offer of subsidised places. The Independent Living Hub supported 31 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. This included our Mentoring for Independence sessions where 11 young people were supported to gain independent living skills including travel training, cooking, confidence building and making friends.  Breaks for carers improve their health and wellbeing and enhance dignity and respect by providing carers with an improved service, and affording them recognition for their vital role.


Children and Young Peoples Service (ChYPS)

ChYPS delivers DASH play schemes, weekly social and leisure opportunities for young people, facilitates the Parents Forum to identify and influence issues of importance for them and their children and supports Young Leaders to have a voice on issues affecting young disabled people.  Over 130 children and young people, aged 3 - 18, are registered to attend play and leisure activities during school holidays with 85 attending throughout the year. A successful Partnership bid by Tees Valley YMCA and DAD to the Big Lottery Funded Youth Investment Programme has enabled us to continue to deliver 192 play and leisure sessions, attended regularly by up to 20 young people.  The partnership enabled a weekly social and leisure session to be developed for young people aged 14 - 18 years. Children and young people were supported by a team of trained and qualified staff and 19 volunteers, enabling them to have equal access to opportunities.


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 56 people actively access the Hub where they receive support to access activities, courses or support to be independent in the community.   With the benefit of funding from County Durham Community Foundation and Better Care Funding, we have again been able to run a wide range of activities, including; information sessions from local groups such as The Fire Service, Police, Credit Union and Alzheimer's Society and other activities including safe use of the internet, Cyber Bullying sessions, Hate Crime Awareness and sessions held by Healthwatch Darlington.

Peer Support is ongoing and is the foundation of all activities at the Hub. Health and Wellbeing activities such as Wiggle & Giggle, Art Therapy, Pony Therapy and Mindfulness have also proved popular.  Leisure activities such as Cake decorating, Afternoon Tea, Gardening sessions, Hub Pub lunch (cooked by disabled people) Planet Leisure visits and Picnics in the park were also very well attended.


Direct Payments Support Service

This service enables people to manage a payment from Social Services for their assessed needs, and to have choice and control over how their social care needs are met, in order to lead independent lives. This includes the provision of managed accounts.

The Middlesbrough service has received 37 new referrals and had contact with and supported, on average, 30 people per month.

The Darlington service has received 33 new referrals and had contact with and supported on average 280 people per month.

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.

DAD have expanded further into the Tees Valley to operate a service as part of a framework of providers for Redcar and Cleveland Council, at March 2019 we are supporting 22 employers.

People have been supported to set up and manage a personal health budget (PHB) and DAD worked in partnership with Neurokey, Middlesbrough and Stockton MIND and the Wildlife Trust to hold an event to promote PHB's in Tees Valley.


Skills for Care

Another successful bid for funding enabled us to provide 27 training courses across Darlington, Middlesbrough and Redcar. Training options included First Aid, Manual Handling, Disability Equality and Mental Capacity Act. We delivered training to 40 individual Direct Payment Employers and 31 Personal Assistants.  This is an opportunity only available to User Led Organisations and this funding has also been secured for the 2019 -2020 programme.


Information Provision

Information provision continues to be delivered from across the organisation following the loss of the dedicated funding for the service. DAD still aims to be the first point of contact for disabled people and carers. We have dealt with over 100 enquiries regarding changes to peoples' social care packages, equipment, housing, welfare rights and the increased charges for services following the implementation of the Darlington Council medium term financial plan to reduce costs.  At our Stakeholder meetings members continue to raise issues of welfare rights and housing and ask DAD to provide more support in these areas.


Self Advocacy

Young Leaders continue to give their feedback to Darlington Borough Council on the development of the new Local Offer. Two Young Leaders became members of a Youth Focus North East steering group and one Young Leader successfully applied to become a member of the National Children's Bureau's young advisory board.

Parents Forum has been very proactive ensuring parents have a voice and encourage co-production of support to parents, children and young people with parent representatives being active members of various work streams across education, health and social care as well as sitting on the SEND Steering Group and have developed strong links with regional and national networks.

This year Darlington's Peoples Parliament has supported its members' to access information and services by sending a letter to their GP detailing their access needs. Information has also been provided in an accessible format about eye care, diabetes, healthy eating, hate crime reporting, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and understanding Autism. Parliament has also acted as consultants in a quality assurance role on three easy read projects for CQC and other agencies; we aim to increase this role.

Peer support drop ins were held monthly where people discussed aspirations, social media, hobbies, labels people can be given, hospital passports, volunteer work and current issues in people's lives.


Accessible Taxi Service

The Taxi Service unfortunately had to cease trading in October 2018 due to the lack of drivers and rising costs. DAD is aiming to keep the wheelchair accessible car in operation as we understand, from customer feedback, how valuable a high quality accessible service is. DAD applied for a Community Transport licence and is aiming to pilot a service for people who require transport and support.


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.

Plans have been developed to increase our reach across Tees Valley and beyond in order to support more disabled people and carers and meet demand as statutory services reduce.



Financial position

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

Despite the complexities facing the organisation with reductions in funding and increased demand, the organisation continues to take hard decisions to ensure that financial stability has been maintained in the year and a break even position was achieved.   Reduced resources have meant that staff have worked incredibly hard. Some services were still being subsidised by general funds during the year such as information and advice, volunteering and the taxi service, where they are key to the organisation's mission. Trustees are carefully monitoring the position in these areas. Contracts with partners were maintained for both the Hate Crime Advocacy Service and the Youth Investment Fund with YMCA.  Opportunities to strengthen trading were boosted by a grant from the Fresh Ideas programme to fund capacity building for Direct Payments and Personal Health budget support developments. The grant has been instrumental in funding a range of improvements, such as the new Management Information System, to enable the organisation to grow.

Darlington Building Society have continued to provide invaluable support to People's Parliament by donating the use of the Board Room at the Building Society's head office.

The TSB bank adopted the organisation as their local Charity of The Year for a second year running and we appreciate the ongoing support from bank customers and staff fundraising efforts. Supporters have donated items for sale, ran fundraising stalls, purchased raffle tickets, donated in lieu of Christmas cards and much more. We very much appreciate all of the donations made throughout the year.

The incoming resources for the 12 month period amounted to £973,915 of which £119,087 was for restricted projects and £854,828 was attributable to general funds before expenditure.

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. In the current climate it is very difficult to come close to this level. The level of free reserves at the year end is £204,666.

Contracts were in place with Darlington, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland Councils to support people with Direct Payments.  A new contract with Redcar and Cleveland Council for the provision of the Tees Advocacy Framework was also secured to begin in May 2019.

Other contracts with Darlington Borough Council during the period were received for Advocacy, Short breaks for Carers and the Independent Living Hub.

Contracts were also in place with, the Clinical Commissioning Group for Mental Health Advocacy. Grants were received from Tees Valley YMCA to deliver the Youth Investment Fund, Police Crime and Victims Commissioner, Skills for Care, County Durham Community Foundation for Health and Wellbeing activities and The Respite Association.

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



DAD will continue to work hard to be at the centre of supporting disabled people and carers who continue to be impacted by cuts to Local Authority budgets in addition to the swathing cuts to the welfare system.

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.

Our Business Plan review has focused on how we can extend the reach of the organisation to support disabled people and carers across a wider geographical area as our expertise is being valued in other areas. Sustainability is a key focus for the organisation and there has been a careful balance to maintain between internal focus on much needed improvements to ensure a solid foundation going forward, alongside the planning and implementation of the developments in new locations. We were fortunate to recruit two new Trustees at the beginning of the year to ensure that Governance was strengthened to undertake this expansion.  DAD will continue to raise the issues which affect disabled people and carers locally, regionally and nationally through partnership working with others in the voluntary sector and across public sector organisations. 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.



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