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Martin Routledge offers his thoughts on independent living

Ahead of a meeting with disabled leaders and others to debate strategies and tactics to address the current threats to independent living for disabled people, Martin Routledge, In Control's head of operations offers his views in a blog for 'Authors of Our Lives'.

At a time when progress towards independent living is at greater risk than ever, Martin discusses some of the challenges faced by disabled people in ensuring that independent living is supported.

He poses many questions - no doubt to be debated at the coming meeting where together with disabled leaders and Sue Bott, In Control trustee, he will look at how together they can tackle this issue.

'These are incredibly worrying times for disabled people.  Progress towards independent living is at greater risk than it has been for decades. People who care about this must act, but what to do?'

In a time when services are moving towards personalisation, Martin questions why disability remains marginalised and why there isn't the same political and community support for the independence of disabled people as there is for the wider social care community.

He suggests that independent living is sacrificed in favour of more institutionalised 'solutions' and that attempts to personalise fail when up against a system that seems to see this as less of a priority than in other cases.

Looking at the many stakeholders involved, the real question is  how this can be changed, and change quickly.

'There isn't a single actor (usually we think of central government) that could just adjust its behaviour and bring independent living about. We need to think about a combination of tactical and strategic activities running in parallel that might achieve positive short term developments which can support and link with more major shifts.'

In light of the numerous stakeholders that would need to work together, Martin suggests that there is a real need for partners to work together, developing strategies that are linked but in reality this may prove problematic to bring into place due to the varied nature of each agency's own agendas.

'We will need to be principled, pragmatic and opportunistic all at the same time.  The threats currently faced can provide energy, determination and drive the construction of alliances.'

In his blog he puts forward a range of specific and broader activities designed to help build the right conditions to enable this partner-working to happen. These include: developing strong and powerfully communicated narratives that demonstrate why independent living is the right thing for disabled people and society through to finding ways to generate investment in national and local leadership.

While not suggesting that this work will be easy or will be possible, Martin sees the need for some sort of organisation as being paramount to ensuring that these issues and challenges can be addressed.

'As a minimum I would suggest a coalition of disabled leaders and their organisations to generate a core mission and agree key activities in a plan. Such a coalition could be supported by a wide range of other groups and individuals based around sign up to the mission and accepting the leadership of the coalition.'

'In Control are very keen to play whatever role we can to support such a development.'

To read the full blog visit: http://theindependentlivingdebate.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/independent-living-making-the-future-together/

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Last Updated : 15 December 2013. Page Author: marijke.hirst.