Strengthening Voices, Realising Rights - Disability Initiative

60 second overview

Strengthening Voices, Realising Rights is a new initiative to bolster the capacity of Deaf & Disabled People's organisations (DPPOs) to protect and promote equal rights for Deaf and Disabled Londoners.

The initiative is being launched with an inaugural funding programme to support DPPOs facing rising demand for advice, information and advocacy services from Deaf and Disabled Londoners affected by welfare reform and austerity cutbacks.

The programme is funded by Trust for London and City Bridge Trust. It was set up following representations made to funders by Inclusion London on behalf of DDPOs across the capital. 

The funding programme is now open and closes on October 17th at 5:00pm. Details of how to apply along with the application form can be found below.

What are we doing?

This initiative aims to invest and to help drive investments and collaborative approaches to advance equal rights for Deaf and Disabled people. 


Our specific objectives are to:

  • Provide funds to increase the availability of accessible, high quality, user-led services and activities to tackle poverty, challenge discrimination, and enable community inclusion across London; 
  • Invest in the sector’s capacity by supporting DDPOs to become more connected, impactful, resilient and sustainable; 
  • Share learning within the UK funding community to contribute to disability-inclusive funding practices and strategic approaches to supporting the issues championed by DDPOs.
  • Pilot the involvement of people who identify as Disabled to provide expertise stemming from lived experiences, to inform and shape decision-making. 

The money comes from a pooled fund which is managed by Trust for London, and currently supported financially by Trust for London and City Bridge Trust. The fund has 3 elements:

  1. Individual grants to increase the capacity of DDPOs, and support Disabled people to exercise their rights and access services.
  2. A capacity building programme to support DDPOs to grow in effectiveness. 
  3. Strengthening DDPO’s advocacy capabilities. This is a ‘learn and adjust as the programme develops’ component.

How to apply to the pooled fund

1. Read the guidelines to see if you are eligible.

2. The funding guidelines are available below in a standard format. We also have them available below in an Easy Read format which is designed to make information more accessible. It is a style of information often chosen by people with learning disabilities, although other groups can find it useful too. Just select the guidelines in the format that is right for you, standard or Easy Read.

3.. If eligible, fill out the application form which is also available in standard and Easy Read format. Details of where to send it are in the form itself.

Funding guidelines

Funding guidelines (SVRR) 30.4 KB

Strengthening Voices Funding Guidelines_Easy Read SVRR.docx 1.8 MB

Application form

Application Form (SVRR) 43.0 KB

Strengthening Voices application form_Easy Read.docx 18.2 MB

Closing date

The funding programme is open from Monday September 3rd until October 17th at 5:00pm. 


Why we are we launching this programme

What's the issue?

Deaf and Disabled people have been disproportionally affected by austerity, bearing 29% of all public expenditure cuts in the UK.  The impacts are severe. A vast body of evidence shows that Deaf and Disabled people now face increasing levels of poverty, exclusion and discrimination, effectively turning the clock back on years of progress towards greater equality for this group. 

 Disabled people and families with a disabled member make up 48% -nearly half- of all people living in poverty in the UK. In London, 34% of people with a Disabled adult in the household are in poverty, compared with 25% of people without a Disabled adult in the household.  A survey in 2014 found that nearly four out of 10 disabled adults (36%) were failing to have basic needs met (i.e unable to eat, wash, dress, get out of the house) due to underfunded services. 

A 2017 review of the Government’s progress in fulfilling commitments to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities found evidence of persistent poverty, a treadmill of punitive assessments, and of unmet social care needs which exclude people from community life and the life chances and opportunities we all come to expect.  The Review qualified these findings as  

"grave and systematic violations of Disabled people's rights"
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The UN Review Team recognition of what disabled campaigners have been saying for years highlights the need for a renewed focus on Disability rights. Key to this new focus is the recognition of the vital role of organisations run by and for Disabled people in protecting and advancing equality for disabled people. Informed by lived experiences of disability, Deaf and Disabled People’s organisations (DDPOs) have a formidable track record of amplifying the voices of Disabled people both in terms of policy and campaigning work, as well as developing services as part of the solution. 

However, DDPOs have been historically under-funded and are facing significant losses in capacity due to funding cuts, and losing out to larger generic agencies that are not user-led. Many funders struggle with the concept of disability as a system of social restrictions imposed on people with impairments and hence in acknowledging the importance of Disabled people driving their own agendas for change.  Just as women lead the struggle for women’s equality, and BAME groups are at the forefront of demands for racial justice, disabled people demand the right to be the leaders of their own movement for equal rights and social justice. 

What's the evidence


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