Overview of GMCDP
GMCDP and its members have a long record of campaigning for the rights and inclusion of disabled people, running projects specifically with young disabled people, training both disabled and non-disabled people, providing information, advocacy and peer support.
GMCDP was established in 1985, following 4 years of hard work by a group of disabled individuals from Greater Manchester. This involved meeting up with other disabled people around the UK who were setting up similar organisations, working out what GMCDP would do, writing a constitution and bringing together more disabled people from the Greater Manchester area.
During the 1980s, GMCDP staff and members did a significant amount of work. It included:
• Networking with other disabled people’s groups from around the UK and the world;
• Organising conferences (for example integrated living and disability arts conferences);
• Consultations with local authorities about access to housing, transport and adult social care provision.
Since the late 1980s, GMCDP has produced information – constantly keeping disabled people informed through the Information Bulletin, regularly producing and updating information sheets, and publishing occasional briefing papers and campaign material.
GMCDP has also published the nationally respected magazine, Coalition, a space for (often heated) debate about issues important to disabled people.
In 1990, GMCDP launched its first project specifically for young disabled people under 25 years old. There have consistently been such projects since.
The 1990s saw young disabled people taking part in independent living skills training, drama workshops, Kulture Klub social club and information provision sessions.
The Disability Action Training Project was very successful, offering training to both disabled and non-disabled people in disability equality, job-seeking skills and, of course, training the trainers, in order to build up a pool of quality trainers.
GMCDP continued to organise and take part in conferences in the 1990s and 2000s. They have included: Inclusive Education, the Disabled People’s Movement, the Social Model of Disability, Disability Hate Crime (with the Crown Prosecution Service), and Transitions and Young Disabled People.
GMCDP continued to provide training to both disabled and non-disabled people in the 2000s and still does today in the 2010s. Areas covered include disability equality, independent living issues, skills for seeking employment, travel training, and meeting and consultancy skills.
Training is an effective tool for highlighting and challenging the barriers and negative attitudes disabled people face, giving the opportunity for service providers and individuals to look at how the barriers can be removed.
Campaigning is also a continuous feature of GMCDP. This is not always by being out on the streets demonstrating, it also includes what some people may think of as the more tedious background work of writing to MPs and Councillors to influence votes in Parliament and local authorities.
GMCDP has been involved in campaigns around transport (access to coach travel), changes in eligibility criteria for social care services, concerns over welfare reforms, the closure of the Independent Living Fund, the campaign against the recent Assisted Suicide Bill, and challenges to austerity cuts.
GMCDP finds ways for everyone to be involved in campaigning, whether out on marches or lobbies or in the background. In 2014 members of GMCDP attended a workshop at the People’s History Museum, to learn about banner making and put theory into practice.
• Disabled people’s right to choice and control over our lives
• Resources and support some disabled people need to achieve this
• Removal of barriers.
In 2010, the GMCDP started a very successful 5-year Lottery funded project called Including Young Disabled People, which worked with young disabled people throughout Greater Manchester. In 2016, the project continued its work in developing young disabled people into the next generation of leaders at GMCDP with the project Shaping Our Inclusion.
In October 2016, GMCDP was invited by the Labour Party to be involved in the Labour Party’s Disability Roadshow, which formed the basis of the Labour Party’s disabled people’s manifesto.
In 2017, GMCDP held a hustings event for the Greater Manchester’s inaugural mayoral candidates, which focused on disability issues. At the same time, GMCDP drafted a disabled people’s manifesto alongside other disabled people’s organisations throughout Greater Manchester.
Thoughts and Reflections on Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People
This film features some interviews with members of Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People from around 1995/1996, talking about the history and work of GMCDP. This was originally filmed at a 10-year anniversary celebration and includes some interviews with:
(in order of appearance) Ken Lumb, Dorothy Whittaker, Kevin Hyett, Lorraine Gradwell, Neville Strowger, Martin Pagel, Ian Stanton, Thelma Tomlinson, Angela Madeley, Linda Marsh, Brian Hilton, Audrey Stanton and Alison Blake – all of whom were key players in the early days of the organisation.