As MPs and Peers return to Parliament tomorrow following the Christmas recess and embrace the start of a new Parliamentary term – along with the start of a new year – we in the Conservative Disability Group (CDG) – look forward to the next 12 months ahead and the opportunities and challenges it will present to us.
But before we set out the focus of our future priorities, this is a useful opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved in 2018 and the strong foundations we have established for what we aim to achieve in 2019.
Over the many years that we have been in existence – as we approach our 30th birthday - the greatest strength of our organisation has, and will continue to be, the insight and experiences of our membership. We are very fortunate as an organisation to have a depth and broad scope of individuals from across the country, with different experiences and perspectives on disability, who all come together to influence our thinking and help determine our priorities for the year ahead. It is for this reason that the Conservative Disability Group means business! If you are interested in joining the CDG please do so by clicking the 'Get Involved' section here.
In 2018 we held our annual colloquium event on ‘The Power of the Purple Pound’ to showcase the value of the spending power of disabled consumers and the opportunities this presents to those businesses which respond to this spending power. This successful event included a key note address from the Minister for Disabled People, Health & Work – Sarah Newton MP – and was well attended by a range of individuals with an interest and experience of disability and reflected the concerns and aspirations of many disabled people. The event was also well attended by many of our Parliamentary supporters and later in 2018 we hosted a roundtable event in Parliament, when we launched a report on some of the key themes discussed on the day. The report can be accessed here and additional information on the 2018 Colloquium can be accessed here.
In 2019 we will be holding a similar event on the theme of ‘Disability Means Business’ and further details will be available on our website soon. This year’s event will build on the success of last year’s and showcase examples of commercial best practice and include disabled people talking about their first-hand experiences of establishing successful businesses which have benefitted from the opportunities presented by the power of the purple pound.
During 2018 we also hosted a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham about how do we make ‘Society more inclusive for people with hidden disabilities?’ and once again we heard first hand from a range of organisations and individuals in the areas of autism, mental health and epilepsy. The Minister for Disabled People, Health & Work joined us for the fringe event and more details can be found here. We are currently planning the details for our fringe event at the 2019 Conservative Party Conference in Manchester and further details will be available on our website in future.
In 2018 we also:
- Expanded our membership
- Gained a number of new parliamentary supporters from across the UK
- Relaunched our members’ newsletter
- Enhanced our presence on social media
- Hosted more events
- Responded to more relevant party policy papers
- Helped to improve the overall accessibility of the party conference
- Established new links with a range of partner organisations and allies both inside and outside of the Conservative Party, and the wider disability sector
- Introduced new guest blogs to our website
- Met with and engaged with more people across the country
- As well as much more besides!
In 2019 we intend to build on this progress and continue to raise our profile and increase our influence.
In particular we shall continue to promote the Government’s new EnAble Fund to help support the accessibility requirements of disabled candidates and work in partnership with our Parliamentary supporters and the Conservative Party to deliver on the recommendations made in the Pickles’ Review following the 2017 General Election and help to support more disabled candidates in the future. To continue to involve our members in our work and provide more and exciting opportunities for this to happen will be a key focus and priority for the CDG throughout 2019 and we would welcome your thoughts and ideas about how we can achieve this.
2018 was a strong and successful year for the CDG and we have no doubt that 2019 will be one also. We look forward to working with a range of individuals, organisations and our growing membership and expanding base of supporters to deliver on our priorities for the year ahead. Thank you for your continued support for the CDG.