Montage of pictures from members meeting

Defiant Lives: GMCDP hosted a community screening of Defiant Lives on Tuesday 20th March. We thought it was important that disabled people got the opportunity to see this film, as it documents the rise of the disabled people’s movement in Britain, Australia and America.

Members Meeting: GMCDP felt that given that the film focussed on our history as a Disabled People’s Movement, it was also a great opportunity to get members together and have our first members meeting in a few years.


What happened?

Over 35 people attended the screening of the film, most of whom then stayed for the members meeting held after the film.

At the members meeting, attendees got into groups of around 6 people, to allow more time for discussion, and to ensure everyone got a chance to have their input. Each table focussed on the following areas:

  • what people thought of the film
  • what GMCDP can do to improve its inclusion of members as a members organisation
  • what members feel the membership should/could be doing
  • whether people thought there was a Disabled People’s Movement anymore
  • what members would like to see GMCDP campaigning on

Members had an hour to discuss these topics, and each table had a facilitator, to take notes so that the various discussions could be shared with all GMCDP members.

Key areas

  • The key areas which were a common theme and came up on each table as an area of importance were:
  • GMCDP needs to have regular members meetings, both to engage with new members, but also to improve its inclusion of members. It also needs to provide more opportunities in general for members to get involved with the organisation
  • Recruitment of new members is key to the organisation’s future
  • We need to be doing this in a variety of ways, including remotely through social media; members meetings; open events and social events
  • As an organisation we need more frequent communications with our members. We need to use things like social media, as well as traditional methods previously used such as newsletters

What happens next?

Based on the input from members, GMCDP is going to do the following:

  • Host another members meeting in May
  • Organise a summer social event (e.g. a picnic)
  • Organise a training session on self-advocacy for members
  • Our Communications Sub-group is going to be looking at how to set up a sustainable GMCDP Members Newsletter at their April meeting. We will then send out our first newsletter, which will include the dates, times and venues for these events


What worked about the members meeting?

  • It was good, good discussions and opportunity to reflect on the film
  • Disabled people coming together to learn about their disability rights history. To inspire them to continue fighting in such an oppressive climate
  • The film
  • Bringing people together

What didn’t work about the members meeting?

  • Quite noisy – could do with separate rooms for the discussion
  • Location was hard to find, and it only had one accessible toilet
  • Microphone! (issues with sound feedback)
  • Nothing!

What could be improved?

  • Facebook Group (for remote engagement between meetings)
  • Social aspect – needs to be fun and welcoming. Doesn’t always need to be “worthy!”
  • The venue and location
  • Feedback from each table
  • More people, and more social events to bring people together to discuss issues

All attendees said they would like to see future members meetings. Members who attended felt that this was a crucial part of a membership organisation, and that regular meetings will organically grow the organisation, and help the organisation to be more inclusive of its membership.

Member’s thoughts

We asked members to tell us why they were members of GMCDP, and their favourite thing about our organisation. Here are just some of the things members said of GMCDP:

'My favourite thing about GMCDP... is the sense of community and having a movement toward the better equality of disabled people’s rights.'

'I am a member of GMCDP because... a collective bring power and inclusion together'

'My favourite thing about GMCDP... is we are still fighting for the rights of disabled people 30+ years on!'

'I am a member of GMCDP because... I believe it is a good way for disabled people to group together to effect change and stop the reversal of rights for disabled people'

The complete notes from our table discussions

We have included the complete notes from all the tables on this page, as many attendees wanted the opportunity to have feedback from each table on the night of the event.

We are conscious they are quite lengthy, but we wanted to ensure everyone’s views were accurately presented.

Biggest thing you took from the film

We asked members to introduce themselves, and to discuss the most important thing they took from the film.

  • Importance of protesting
  • To keep on going
  • Our history – some elements were unknown
  • How important it is to organise; the self – determination of disabled people; resilience; and determination
  • Difficulty in organising commonality of purpose
  • Seeing all the things gone before BUT thinking of all the ways we have to go
  • Pictures of the hospitals – very hard hitting as there are still disabled people in there
  • The amount of campaigning being done these days – more difficult to get together (physically) and decide what to campaign against now
  • To be as independent as possible need the funds and support provided to do so. PA’s need to be funded in the right way, and paid to do a proper job
  • We are still struggling – more things to fight for and the struggle goes on
  • Charity is on its way back – voluntary sector is being funded to provide services

What can you do as a member?

As part of this discussion we were looking at what members feel they are able to get involved in, and whether they thought GMCDP is inclusive as a member’s organisation.

  • GMCDP does a fairly good job
  • Recruitment should always be high in our thoughts
  • Skill sharing amongst disabled people must keep happening
  • Political representation and participation:
  • How can we reach politicians (who can implement things)?
  • Disabled people need to be in political positions
  • Only 7 self-defining disabled MPs
  • Encourage “politics” – civil enforcement – be involved in local government
  • Co-produce (but usually on “their” terms)
  • Need to get involved politically knowing your “stuff”, and your own rights
  • Not enough people know about GMCDP – we need a pool of members who are active
  • Volunteer (GMCDP needs to know other skills to direct us to do things)
  • Responsibility of older people from organisation to make young people to know history – intergenerational work
  • Just being a member is a commitment in itself
  • Dispelling charity idea in our conversation
  • How to go from being “involved”, to being “more involved”?
  • Sub-groups are a good way for new members to get involved (?)
  • Can we use “resources” of members more as an organisation?
  • Could we fundraise in other ways?
  • Partnering with other organisations?
  • Coalition magazine?
  • More members meetings including things like films
  • Needs to be easier for members to be actively involved
  • The young people focus means that everyone inevitably ages out of the projects
  • People don’t know what GMCDP does (projects etc) – need to get more information out there
  • Lack of core funding/conditionality of funding
  • We need people who can write funding applications

What more can GMCDP be doing to make it an effective membership organisation?

During this discussion, we looked at what members thought of our level of communications; whether members feel involved, and how we can engage and involve members remotely.

The discussions also broadened out into how GMCDP used to operate, versus how it operates now

Do members feel involved?

  • Not as much as we used to


  • Communication is key (e.g. a mail out used to happen)
  • Should be a monthly membership newsletter, which is largely created by members for members (facilitated by staff)
  • Is there an over-reliance on social media? Momentum went out on the streets, and social media sometimes misses the connection of being face to face
  • Could use stuff like 'whatsapp'
  • Got to be visible:
  • Telephone
  • Local community events
  • Festivals and fairs
  • Road fair (disability rights)
  • Information worker
  • Communications worker

Ideas and suggestions:

  • What is available at the moment? – there needs to be campaigning/activism; and need to do events like this event
  • More events like this in the other boroughs of GM
  • Making the membership free permanently is crucial. We can welcome donations, but keep membership sign up free
  • There are too many meetings and not enough doing – e.g. training sessions, skills shares, barbecues and fun things – doesn’t always have to be “worthy” for it to be both useful and important
  • Remote engagement – moderated skype groups, or ones in which people don’t need to sign-in (e.g. or
  • We are Manchester centric, which is hard to avoid…discussions were had on whether we could hold things in other boroughs, but it was acknowledge there are some cost and logistic problems with that
  • Regular meetings on current topics
  • People could focus on what they’re enthusiastic about, e.g. Sub-group for position statements/theory, which could also overlap with the magazine
  • Remote involvement – the website is much better now, and we can look at ways of doing more online (however we need to ensure we aren’t excluding people by just using the internet)
  • We could have members meetings on different topics
  • More nights like this event, with a social aspect – self-advocates dinner conference for example
  • Need to harness the original idea of Pride - should have a Disability “Pride” (but name it something other than Pride e.g. National Freedom March) – needs to be something new
  • Need to be getting out there and being where there is a captive audience
  • More co-operation and co-production (e.g. with organisations/movements like Street Kitchen, DPAC, BLM, DAN, Action for Trans Health)
  • Outreach is key and we should look at how things crossover with other campaigns and seek them out (e.g. issues of straws being an access issue for some disabled people should be raised as part of engagement with environmental campaigns)
  • Outreach to disabled migrants
  • Consultations

Inclusivity and intersectionality

  • Governments tactic is often to “divide and rule”, therefore by oppressed groups joining together we are stronger
  • We should pay attention to people who are already intersectional
  • On intersectionality – involvement and awareness of people from different groups leads to a wider understanding of people’s relationships and treatment with institutions and with authority, which can be very difficult for various groups of people

Things GMCDP used to do which worked well in relation to membership involvement:

  • We used to have an annual barbecue – really good at attracting new members
  • Information worker
  • Active outreach – stalls at events etc
  • We were training disabled people
  • Used to set up table at market stalls – getting out there and meeting disabled people
  • Independence festivals (a UK-wide event, not specifically GMCDP)

Is there a Disabled People’s Movement anymore?

Members discussed whether they thought the Disabled People’s Movement has lost its drive (as talked about in Defiant Lives), or whether it has simply changed

  • Loosely (very loosely)
  • The movement doesn’t have to be exactly the same, the movement works differently now, so it looks different
  • Our DPO’s aren’t addressing the causes of problems
  • Some people getting their access needs met meant they completely disengaged and abandoned the movement
  • Nothing changed for those who are still in institutions, or those who have been put in them since
  • It’s like a post-war demilitarised environment
  • DPAC is visible and has new people, but many don’t know history of Disabled People’s Movement. DPAC is also very different from GMCDP
  • ROFA – National DPO organisation, but not many members. Could be good if they had more members
  • Not “arts” based much anymore like we used to be strong on
  • Benefits cuts…2 groups can learn from each other:
  • Older experienced activists, academics
  • Younger people with either invisible impairments, or who maybe don’t identify as disabled people

Lack of connectivity between Disabled People’s Groups:

  • Lack of connectivity between DPO’s is really the difficultly
  • We aren’t singing from the same hymn sheet as disabled people’s organisations/groups
  • Groups tend to be specific and single-issue – not many “coalitions” anymore
  • No-one is speaking to each other
  • It’s more individual and separate organisations rather than one collective movement
  • There are multiple disabled people’s movement’s at the moment – it would be good to bring them together
  • Don’t have anything national anymore (e.g. BCODP)

What would you like to see GMCDP campaigning for?

Cuts, poverty and accessibility:

  • Cuts
  • Where is the protests against dismantling of NHS from DPO’s?
  • Venues accessibility is key
  • Transport, especially busses
  • Poverty - encompasses everything, including ATW and housing
  • Accessibility

Independent Living:

  • Reminding/education about dangers of segregation, being denied civil rights/human rights
  • Existence of “nursing homes” in Manchester – crucial as we can still be dumped in them
  • Right to be independent living, especially in relation to housing
  • Young disabled people are in private nursing/care homes
  • Residential care (forcing people into it)
  • Independent living/ quality PA support and PA wages
  • Direct Advocacy is needed
  • The Coalition used to give free training so people could become their own advocate, and advocate or support others. Have to get everybody skilled up to defend their own lives (this is needed across the board). Getting 50 – 100 people for a day’s training with a skilled train the trainer) teach them to become a warrior
  • Benefits advocacy