Press Release: Innovative Research Programme to Improve Welsh Disabled People's Lives

All Wales People First and CARP Collaborations in Swansea are to receive a share of £400K being awarded across the UK this autumn. The money is for leading innovative new research projects exploring how disabled people can live as full citizens in our society as well as what changes and support will make that achievable. Both research  projects will be led by disabled people, and they will receive nearly £80K between them from the Big Lottery Fund. Each will develop approaches and research questions, working alongside academics and policy makers. While disabled people often struggle to have their voices heard, they will be shaping research through the programme.

CARP Collaborations is running research on young disabled people and friendship. It aims to answer how patterns of friendship change between school, college, and post-education as well as between term-time and holidays. They also want to establish what helps or hinders friendships from being formed and maintained. Furthermore, they want to establish how friendships are linked to participation in community activities. Other questions in the study include assessing if young disabled people are at risk of social isolation, what contributes to that isolation and what can relieve it.

Vikki Butler of CARP Collaborations said:

“Young people who use our partner organisation Building Bridges service describe how, before getting support from the service, they used to spend all day alone in their rooms or that they only had family to socialise with. This research aims to benefit young disabled people across Wales through finding out how we can support friendships and ensure that all young people, regardless of disability, have plenty of strong friendships and socialising opportunities.

The facts about disabled people’s isolation are stark. UK figures from Sense found that 38% of disabled young people feel lonely most days, with the figure being 1/4 of the disabled adult population. Generally 29% of disabled people reported only seeing a friend once a month.

All Wales People First’s project concerns self-advocacy for disabled people. Self-advocacy is about people speaking up for themselves, which is fundamental for independent living. The research will develop an evaluation tool so self-advocacy projects can evidence their effectiveness, making it easier for them to attract future funding. Despite being so crucial to independent living, attracting funding has been hard for self-advocacy projects as it has been difficult for them to demonstrate effectiveness. As a result of the project, more people with learning difficulties will be able to act as self-advocates and speak out on issues that affect them, thereby gaining greater independence.

Joe Powell of All Wales People First said:

“Self-advocacy helps people to be active in their social circle and be better citizens. Our project will enable people with disabilities to have a louder voice in saying what works for them in projects that aim to improve their self-advocacy skills. Improving these projects will mean more and better self-advocates who can take control of their own lives and influence society to have positive images of disabled people.

Grants were approved by the DRILL Central Research Committee, which is chaired by Dr. Tom Shakespeare. He said:
“Historically, research led by disabled people has been instrumental in influencing policy and practice, from the first Disability Discrimination laws 20 years ago to policies to give disabled people more choice and control over our own support. We sometimes find the questions posed by disabled people are different from those posed by non-disabled academics, and so this research has the potential to answer questions of most concern to disabled people. The programme will involve sharing knowledge, research and skills through genuine co-production between disabled people and academics and should leave a legacy of greater skills for all involved.

Each application is co-produced between a disabled people’s organisation and academic researchers. In addition, by involving disability groups in research, disabled people’s organisations can build their ability to conduct their own research, which will make them more effective.

Rhian Davies, DW Chief Executive, said:

“Disability Wales is excited about the impact that these research projects will have in Wales: tackling the isolation of young disabled adults and encouraging people with learning difficulties to stand up for what they need. Moreover it will help create a much needed research community among disabled people in Wales which is so vital to identifying solutions that make achieving independent living a reality.

CARP Collaboration’s project is expected to last for one year, and end on 31st October 2017. All Wales People First’s project will last for 18 months, and is due to end during summer 2018.

Disability Wales Logo Funded by the Big Lottery Fund logo. DRILL logo



Notes to editors:

  • For media enquiries, please contact:

Jody Mellor, DRILL Wales Programme Officer 029 2088 7325

William Sullivan, Disability Wales Marketing and Social Media Officer 029 2088 7325

  • For further information visit
  • Disability Wales is the national association of disabled people’s organisations in Wales championing the rights, equality and independence of all disabled people.
  • CARP Collaborations is a new Swansea based social business, and research company.
  • All Wales People First is the voice of self-advocacy groups and all people with learning disabilities in Wales.
  • The DRILL programme is being delivered by Disability Rights UK, Disability Action Northern Ireland, Disability Wales and Inclusion Scotland.
  • Each country has a National Advisory Group, including disabled people, academics and policy makers, who provide advice, scrutinise research proposals, make recommendations and help promote and disseminate the findings.  A Central Research Committee, made up of disabled people, academics and policy influencers from across the UK makes the final decision on which research proposals receive funding.
  • Professor Tom Shakespeare is senior lecturer in medical sociology, Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia.
  • The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It puts people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects.
  • It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Every year it invests over £650 million and awards around 12,000 grants across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
  • Since June 2004, the Big Lottery Fund has awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.



Lead Partner: Title of Project: Value:
C.A.R.P. Collaborations Young people and friendships – what matters to us? £39,985
All Wales People Evaluating for improvement: devloping a tool kit that self-advocates can use to check if projects deliver what they promise. £39,968.89

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