What do we campaign on and why?

Two people doing hand-on-hand sign language

Sense has a proud record of campaigning to make sure that society addresses the needs of the people we support.  This can mean many things but has included supporting disabled people and their families to meet with MPs to share their experiences campaigning on social care and influencing the development of legislation (e.g. the Children and Families Act or Care Act) to ensure that it meets the needs of people who we serve.

There are many things we could campaign on –  and we always want to hear people’s ideas and feedback. The recent consultation with membership about Sense’s strategy for the next three years also gave us a strong steer. 

In order to be effective, we have to prioritise. When we’re considering what to work on and why we ask ourselves some key questions:

  • What is the problem and how many people does it affect?  It’s important for us to know the scale of the problem. If it is something that only affects a small group of people, this may not be the most impactful way to use our resources.
  • Is this something we can change? Sometimes there are ways we can tackle a problem – for example, by asking the Government to invest more money in something or to change a law.  At other times it’s not easy to see the solution – and if we don’t think we can bring about change then we are less likely to work on it.
  • Is there anyone else already working on this? There are many different organisations who campaign on different topics. Sometimes there is strength in joining with them to raise the profile of an issue. At other times, it’s better to leave the topic to the organisation to work on rather than duplicating the great work they’re doing. We sometimes direct people to other organisations’ campaigns if we know they’re working on something important.  We are also part of a number of coalitions of organisations, working together to achieve change.

We review our areas of work on an annual basis making sure that we’re focused on the things that matter to the people we support.

This year we will be concentrating on the following areas:

  • Adult social care: continuing to call for more investment in social care, and the importance of social care for disabled people.  We want to see:
    • An immediate short term funding solution which addresses the current gap in funding for adult social care
    • A longer-term solution which puts the social care system on a sustainable footing.  This needs to be a solution that addresses the needs of working-age disabled people (alongside older people and carers), pools risk across the population and doesn’t depend on an individual’s ability to work or accrue personal wealth.  It must also be a solution that focuses on social care as a whole, addressing not only daily personal care needs but vital preventative community-based services, communication support and more. 
  • Children’s social care: campaigning for more investment in children’s social care.  As part of the Disabled Children’s Partnership we are working together to address the challenges that families are facing in accessing support for disabled children and young people.  We want to see:
    • A plug for the £1.5 billion funding gap in children’s health and social care, alongside a longer-term solution
    • The appointment of a Minister for Disabled Children to help champion an integrated approach to meeting the needs of disabled children and their families
    • An early intervention fund to enable the development of inclusive, effective and strategic services that support the whole family and avoid a crisis.
  • Education: raising the difficulties families are having with the Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) process, as well as funding issues, and the challenges of accessing home to school transport.  We want to see:
    • Investment to address the funding gap in Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) provision and enables the ambitions of the Children and Families Act to be fully implemented
    • A more integrated approach to supporting children with SEND across education, health, and care
    • SEND support which is driven by the individual needs of the child rather than the reduced capacity of services available
  • Welfare benefits: ensuring that the application and assessment processes for disability benefits are accessible and that people get the support they need. We want to see:
    • A fully accessible application process for all welfare benefits, enabling all disabled people to have a choice, control, and independence
    • Recognition that work isn’t always the most meaningful or appropriate outcome for disabled people with complex needs and that volunteering, community participation and other activities are equally valued.
    • A system which allows disabled people to have career aspirations, and supports them to progress and develop without fear of being financially worse off.
    • Improvements to the Access to Work programme to ensure that it’s fully accessible for disabled people to manage their own claims.  It must also be better communicated to employers to increase awareness of its availability.
  • Loneliness: continuing to make sure that disabled people are considered in plans around tackling loneliness.  We want to see:
    • Disabled people at the heart of plans to address loneliness
    • A more accessible society, in terms of transport, public buildings and homes, so that disabled people can access social opportunities
    • Prioritisation of the importance of communication and connection as part of all policy areas including health and social care and welfare benefits. 

Whilst we know we can’t campaign on every issue, we are passionate about campaigning and the change it can bring about. That’s why we’ve written a guide for people who want to run their own campaigns. Click the button below to find out more!

Author: Sarah White

Sarah White is the Head of Public Policy and Campaigns at Sense.

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