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  • Writer's picturePhilip J Connolly

"Creating our Own Weather" DRN's theory of change

Rainforests occupy only 6% of the earth's surface but 50% of the world's animals live there. Why? Its because rainforests create their own weather. This thought set me on a path to thinking about our own ecosystem too. So how can we create our own weather or rather our own resources too? Just as the animals appear to have worked out where in the ecosystem they belong we also need to have an understanding of our ecosystem and how to adapt to it or how it should adapt to us. My "Resilience Plus" model is focused upon the economic participation of disabled people but though it has a beginning and an end along an imaginary equator the influencing factors are connected within a web with the person on the journey. The poles are the two contextual ones of at an imaginary Antarctic attitudes and at an imaginary Artic - the availability of jobs.

Models are a way of simplifying complex situations. Models can be both our tools and our masters. The current model of disability popular with campaigners, known as the social model appears to offer simplicity but really offers over simplicity. It suggests that disabled people merely have to locate the centre of power and present a well argued evidence based case to one or more decision makers and the desired change will follow. This leads advocacy organisations into thinking that they simply need to have ever better research. Consider however the illegality of the current national disability strategy, the omission of targeted policy in the Levelling UP Plan and how long it has taken DWP to release its own research into the in/adequacy of benefits. No, it appears the Government really doesn't want us to be free of them. It has an historic role for us perhaps as a utility labour pool to keep wages low, a population to blame for the national debt or low productivity, or are we supposed to take the place of the immigrants who have gone home, in the Government's affections.

If we are to avoid all that prejudice we will need to start with an improved model. The social model leads to us having to get in front of the decision maker. WE need to locate them, contact them, dialogue with them, present arguments and research, win their approval and support for change. I am doing precisely this with the CEO of the Local Enterprise partnership at present. We are almost in the last chance saloon. In that saloon the respectable approach is at an end and I or another advocate finds a means of having leverage over the decision maker such as going to court.

Now supposing there were ways of not having to depend so much on the decision maker, supposing we could make the decision ourselves. Now that's about

a transfer of power. there are several routes to the transfer of power. Narrative change is foremost. Rights is clearly near the top as is co-production but both of these are required because other routes have too often not succeeded i.e. inclusive mainstream provision. However there are three other centres of power for the DRN: 1) inclusive innovation in technology (remember the intellectual property rights of the internet were actually given away by Tim Berners-Lee),2) business models (remember the creation of social enterprise by Mohammed Younus) and 3) consumer groups of the product or service including of course the services that give us elections and wider democracy. To organise along these lines gives us more power because we would have more options for change. We would have more power.

The social model requires non-disabled people to buy into our concepts, language and culture but in the UK as in almost every country four in every five are not disabled and there is little in the way of incentives for them to do so; consider the omission of incentives in "Disability Confident" for example. Instead the Disability Resilience Network says that we are the best practice in their own desire to be more resilient.

Join the Disability Resilience Network (DRN) and make disability everyone's concern. Fill in the free membership form at and join us either in person or on zoom for our first meeting of 2022 on February 9th in Leeds


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