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The History of the Fife Independent Disability Network

The History of the Fife Independent Disability Network

By Pauline Medd

This is an photo of Pauline Medd

Fife Independent Disability Network was formed in 1994, following Fife Regional Council’s changes of the equal opportunities consultative process. The first meeting, which was minuted, was in September 1994 (and it seems this was the first time the group came together as the Independent Disability Network).

The new process marked the end of the Disability Working Group, (which started in 1989 / 90 and brought together disable people and staff of Fife Regional Council to discuss issues which emerged). There was seen to be a need for an Independent group, which would represent the views of, disable people throughout Fife and meet on a regular basis to discuss issues of common concern. The Independent Disability Network Group and other disabled people in Fife met together with an interest in such independent provision.

Sheila Henderson (Reid Howie Associates) was involved with the Disability Working Group when she was the Equal Opportunities Officer at the Regional Council. Following the establishment of FIDN, RHA provided support with organising the meetings, undertaking adminastrive work and preparing the minutes from the beginning in 1994 until the first worker was appointed in 1995.

Come 2005 June 30th FIDN will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. It seems like yesterday that FIDN started up with a hand full of people frustrated with trying to get things done and changing problems to do with disability, on their own.

Fife Council funded us, to the tune of £500, which paid Sheila Henderson to run the meetings. After about a year it was suggested we formed our own group.

Bill Grey was chair
Elma Mitchell MBE was Secretary
Pauline Medd was Treasurer

Then it was what do we call ourselves that is when Fife Independent Disability was born. We especially wanted the Independent in the name as we did not want others dictating what our policy’s were, sad to say recently I have seen…Fife Disability Network which is not who we are.

We started off at St Claire Street Council Offices Kirkcaldy with Mandy in the office, we soon outgrew that, we then moved to our present office in The Foyer Bridge St Kirkcaldy.

After many years of trying simply to get our name about and being recognized as Fifes main Disability Group we are now recognized, this is due to all the hard working staff in the office and active management and committee.

We have found that it is better we have a hands on approach as it is people like our selves that is effected by wrong decision making and it is more cost effective if we are consulted in the beginning instead of after the mistakes have been made.

We have been and are involved in:

Social Works - "Home Care including 2 reports"

Transport - "Advice on trains, buses and stations"

Access - " With October 2004 now enforced, all buildings including Schools, Hospitals, and Countryside should be accessible, we like to make sure they are. The three areas central, west and north east Fife are looked after by three representatives from FIDN who look over plans which are submitted to Building Control or Planning for acceptance. They make sure disable people’s needs are met at the planning stage".

Sad to say sometimes our advice is freely given but not taken, which works out more expensive for the business in the long term.

Fife Independent Disability Network is a voluntary organisation and registered charity set up in order to provide a regular forum for raising issues relating to disability. People come together in an informal setting to share information, and discuss relevant issues, whether relating to discrimination service improvements or more general queries.

In 1997 the network received funding from Fife Council to employ a worker to develop and support the work of the network. This has proved to be a successful and valuable networking function for disabled people living in Fife.

In 2001 FIDN received funding from the Coalfield Regeneration Trust to employ a sessional worker to network in the West of Fife. This work lasted for 6 months and helped spread word of our work to the West Fife villages.

After producing a Work Plan in 2001, FIDN decided to produce Briefing Papers to inform people of issues. The first, on Transport was launched in November 2001. The second, on Home Care, was launched in July 2002.

Research and campaigning

FIDN recently listened to public concern about cuts to the Home Care Service. Following a Network meeting we consulted with the Manager of the Home Care Service in Fife and were able to give examples of the real effects on ordinary people. As a result £000s were added to this budget from the Scottish Executive. We then commissioned independent research to get a clear picture of this service.

Community action and consultation

FIDN listened to concerns from members of the public over transport issues in Fife. Volunteers from the Management Committee carried out research, produced a Transport Briefing Paper which informed every elected member (Councillors, MPs, MSPs) of the position. This information was also sent to relevant organisations (Railtrack, Stagecoach, etc) and was used to brief Fife Council's Transport Department. We also held workshops for disabled people to have an opportunity for their views on community transport to be heard. This led to meaningful consultation.

Committee work

Members of the Management Committee sit on various committees in Fife Council, NHS, etc. This way we are kept up to date with issues and have our say. We also feedback to members via Network meetings and our quarterly newsletter.

Consultation

For example we have several members who represent FIDN on the Access Assessment Group in Fife Council. We work alongside the Planning and Building Control Departments. This means that often potential access problems are sorted out at an early stage. It also means that FIDN via AAG can put pressure on manager.owners of buildings who do not go far enough under the Disability Discrimination Act to ensure access.

 

 

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Disabilities Fife
West Bridge Mill, Bridge Street,
Kirkcaldy, Fife, KY1 1TE
Scottish Charity No: SC 026112