Multi-million pound disability research programme seek proposals

Press Release:

The UK-wide Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning (DRILL) Programme invites research teams led by disabled people to respond to its first call for proposals. DRILL is a partnership of 4 national disabled people’s organisations across the UK, including Disability Wales.


Funded by a £5 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund, DRILL is the world’s first major research programme led by disabled people. It aims to produce robust academic research and pilot projects to advance understanding of what independent living means for disabled people, and to influence policy and practice to improve disabled people’s lives.


An essential criteria is that research teams are expected to coproduce projects in equal partnership with academics, policy makers and others. This innovatory approach is designed to put disabled people in control of producing research, instead of merely being research subjects.

The Programme’s main theme is participation, including in the economy, community and social life, civic and public life, and other areas of importance to disabled people.


Rhian Davies, Chief Executive Officer of Disability Wales, said:


“Our aim is to produce new evidence on what would support disabled people to access their right to independent living and take full part in society. The Programme includes potential for pilot projects to test the evidence in practice and find out what will make a real difference to the quality of disabled people’s lives. We’re looking forward to receiving some exciting proposals”.


Dr. Tom Shakespeare, Chair of DRILL’s Central Research Committee for DRILL, added:

“The starting gun has been fired on a very exciting competitive research process. We are looking for teams that have great ideas, true partnership between researchers and disabled people, and with real chance of improving the lives of disabled people. This is the first round of a five year funding programme that will change disabled people’s lives for the better.”

This is the first call for applications, with three more anticipated over the next 4 years. The deadline is 27 July 2016.


Organisations can apply for grants of up to £150,000. Proposals will initially be assessed by a National Advisory Group.  The Central Research Committee consisting of disabled people, academics and policy experts will make a final decision on which projects receive funding.


Fast Track Applications will find out if they have been successful in September 2016.  Larger applications using a 2 Stage Application process will find out in March 2017.


Further information about the DRILL programme, including details of the grant application process, is available at



Notes for Editors


Media enquiries


Rhian Davies, Chief Executive – 07775 504540

Miranda French, Policy and Programmes Manager – 07748 903178

Paul Swann, DRILL Wales Programme Officer – 07899 928772

Email: – Office tel: 02920 887325


The DRILL Programme is being delivered by Disability Rights UK, Disability Action Northern Ireland, Inclusion Scotland and Disability Wales. Disability Wales is the national association of disabled people’s organisations, striving for rights, equality and independent living for all disabled people.


Independent living means “All disabled people having the same choice, control, dignity and freedom as any other citizen, at home, in education, at work, and as members of the community. This does not necessarily mean disabled people doing things for themselves but it does mean having the right to practical assistance based on their choices and aspirations (DRILL, 2016). Independent Living is a human right under Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. Welsh Government published its Framework for Action on Independent Living in 2013.


The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery and invest over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes.


Since June 2004 we have awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people. Every year we fund 13,000 small local projects tackling big social problems like poor mental health and homelessness.

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