Now that the Mayor elections have passed, the Disability Equality Commission Working Group will start preparing for the recruitment of a Chairperson and Commissioners. The working group is made up of Disabled people and their organisations, including the Forum.
The Forum originally got a commitment from Deputy Mayor Asher Craig, back in 2017, that as soon as the Race Commission was established, the Council would set up a Disability Equality Commission. So we were delighted when, last November, the Council invited Disabled people’s organisations to form a working group to help set up the Commission.
The Forum has been involved with this working group since shortly after it was set up. So far, along with all the other working group members, we have been involved in drawing up some terms of reference and job descriptions for the Chairperson and Commissioners.
These roles are unpaid, not because that is what all the working group wanted but because none of the people on the other Commissions are paid and, until it has been running for a while, there isn’t the money to pay people. Also, the working group felt that until we have raised more money the top priority was to spend the small amount of money available on meeting people’s access needs.
Who gets to be a Commissioner or the Chairperson will be decided by interview. Anyone who fits the essential criteria for the role, and lives in Bristol, will be able to apply.
Although the working group is nearly all Disabled people and their organisations, the Commission will be part of the Council’s One City office (the same as the Women’s and Race Commissions) not a totally independent one. This means that some aspects of how it is set up and works, has to be agreed by the Council.
As happens when doing things as a group, every person or organisation has had some of their proposals accepted and some not. Anyone who has tried organising something together with their friends or family will have experienced this! However, as a starting point, we are hopeful that the Disability Equality Commission will be able to improve the lives of Disabled people in the city, over the next 5 years.
The Commission’s focus in its first few years will not be up to the working group. That will be decided by the Chairperson and Commissioners, once they have been recruited.
We expect the Commission to do some research on the latest information about Disabled people in Bristol, and survey them about their priorities, before it decided what priorities to work on first.
We will keep you updated on progress over the next few months.