Just in case you have been wondering why Disability Wales’ Citizen Directed Cooperatives Cymru project has seemed a little quiet lately, have no fear as the project has been busy ticking away nicely in the background. Please read on to find out what has been happening with the project so far.
Rebecca Newsome has left Disability Wales and she has been replaced by Jeff Brattan-Wilson. Jeff started in July and he has been busy meeting the various people involved in the project.
You may already know about the exciting cooperative group being formed in Monmouth, currently called ‘My Life, My Choice Cooperative’. Becky Kisnorbo has been appointed as Cooperative Development Manager and she will be working closely with the group.
For the benefit of our new readers and perhaps a useful reminder for others, here are the project’s objectives:
- To raise awareness and understanding of citizen directed co-operatives as a means of empowering disabled people to manage their direct payments more effectively;
- To promote the value of citizen directed co-operatives as an alternative to traditional direct payment schemes;
- To work with stakeholders from interested local authority areas to establish one or more functioning citizen-led direct payments co-operatives in Wales;
- To develop a co-operative model and supporting learning resource that can be replicated across Wales and beyond; and
- To increase overall take-up of direct payments across Wales, particularly among under-represented groups.
The project has been formed simply because direct payments is not suitable for everybody. Not everyone is prepared to become an employer nor wants the responsibilities that being an employer entails.
This project was formed to examine the rationale behind having a citizen directed cooperative, where the cooperative would be led and governed by those who are in receipt of direct payments or by others who receive direct payments on behalf of someone (parent carers etc.).
This is possibly the UK’s first ever project where citizens who are in receipt of direct payments are being given a voice and a platform to lead a cooperative to ensure services are meeting users’ needs.
Being part of a cooperative gives people an opportunity to influence the decision making process of the cooperative and be supported without having to become an employer, as the cooperative takes responsibility for all employment requirements.
Another main benefit for the cooperative is that the users would be able to meet other like-minded people and establish networks, which will hopefully reduce the isolation many people currently face.
This project has a unique chance to transform people’s lives. Also, it will educate interested stakeholders, and allow them to share their findings. On a positive note, there have been a few cases where direct payments have been pooled together to commission various activities.
Sadly, the uptake of direct payments in Wales is quite low. Even more so with the under-represented communities of BME, LGBT, older people and those with mental health conditions etc..
As part of this project, Jeff has been engaging with various sectors (public and voluntary) to explore different ways in which to raise awareness of direct payments within all communities. It is important that more people are aware of direct payments, including families, friends and professionals.
The project is funded by the Big Lottery’s BIG Innovation fund and works in partnership with the Wales Co-operative Centre.
If you are interested in finding out more information, please contact Jeff Brattan-Wilson firstname.lastname@example.org or 02920 887325.