DFI Newsletter – August 2023

August Update 


Welcome to our August Member update!


We have a number of different training opportunities for you this month: Public Sector Duty Workshops, Key Worker Training, a Masterclass series from We Act and a workshop on digital accessibility.


We invite you to our next Policy and Advocacy Members Forum on 14 September.  


We recently welcomed three new DFI Members: Autism Support Louth and Meath; Dara Community Living; and, Employability West Cork. You can find out more about them here.


We have some changes to the DFI Board to share with you.


We also want to say thank you for your support of our Self-Advocate Media Training course which is now full.


We are grateful for your support of our Take Action email campaign which has now concluded.  Our email campaign conclued as the pay talks between the unions and the Government relating to the funding of staff in voluntary Section 39 funded organisations broke down. Our Section 39 advocacy work will continue to get this issue resolved.


We also invite you to save the date for #MakeWayDay23 on Friday 22 September and to contact us for resources!


In this month’s Member Spotlight we feature Sligo Centre for Independent Living. 


In this issue:
Member Spotlight


Actioning Advocacy



Health Update 


Eye on Europe


Events and Consultations


Policy & Research




The DFI Podcast 


Member Spotlight



Sligo Centre for Independent Living 


This month’s Member Spotlight focuses on Sligo Centre for Independent Living (Sligo CIL). 


Sligo CIL is a not for profit organistation set up in 1996 by a group of local people with physical disabilities – Sean Brennan RIP, Eugene O’Brien RIP, Tom Cunningham and Gerry McEvoy. It continues to have strong representation of people with a disability at a director level today. Its purpose is to promote self-determination and independence for individuals living with a disability while also fostering their integration and inclusion into the wider community. Sligo CIL is independently run but affiliated to a larger network of CILs nationally and internationally and prides itself on being a professional modern non-profit organisation, now providing all aspects of non-medical support to people with disabilities.


DFI’s Communications Manager Brenda Drumm, met with Sligo CIL’s CEO Maria Mulligan, and asked her about the history of the organisation, the services provided, the challenges in 2023 and what keeps her going!


Listen to the interview with Maria in full here.


Watch the Sligo CIL Postcard here on Tik Tok.


You can find out more about the work of Sligo CIL here.


If you like to be featured in the Member Spotlight please email Brenda.

Events and Consultations 
Introducing the new chair of the DFI Board
At our AGM on 29 June a number of board changes were acknowledged by outgoing Chair of the DFI Board Fran Brennan. Fran paid tribute to outgoing Board Members Pat Clarke, Wendy McCarry and Darragh McDonald and welcomed DFI’s two new Board Members Aoife Lambe who works with MS Ireland and Padraig Hannafin who works with the Rehab Group.


At the DFI Board meeting following our AGM our CEO John Dolan paid tribute to Fran Brennan as he stood down as Chair of the Board as his three year term concluded. John said, “Fran commenced as Chair in 2020 in the height of the Covid crisis and not long after we commenced grappling with remote meetings. This was a big challenge to us all and Fran led us capably into that method of doing the board work.


“I mark Fran’s time as Chairperson with two strong memories. Firstly his consistent time and attention to his role and secondly how he always brought the focus back to the member organisations within DFI. In this he was conscious, just as in his organisation, Polio Survivors Ireland, that so many disabled people rely on the work of the organisations to stand up for them and with them to make critical improvements in their day to day lives.”


Fran continues to serve on the Board of DFI.


Elections at the recent DFI Board meeting saw Michael Doyle take the position of Chair; Gráinne O’Leary taking the position of First Vice Chairperson; and, Siobhan Long taking the position of Second Vice Chairperson. You can find all the DFI Board details here.


Commenting on his election Michael Doyle said, “It’s an honour to be appointed Chairperson of DFI. I look forward to working with the board and the executive of DFI to progress our mission of achieving an Ireland where people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of society. I recognise that I take up this position at a time when member organisations are facing unprecedented challenges and that the expertise and dedication of the staff in DFI are more than ever an essential resource for our members to help highlight and address these issues.”

Building capacity and education opportunities around the public sector equality and human rights duty for DFI members 
DFI has been developing its capacity to implement the public sector equality and human rights duty (the Duty), a statutory obligation on public bodies to have regard for the need to eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and protect the human rights of staff, service-users and policy beneficiaries, taking into account all of the organisation’s functions.


While the Duty is directly addressed to public bodies, it is clear that it will indirectly impact on and become a requirement for our member organisations in receipt of state funding (section 38 and 39 organisations).


Training for DFI Member Organisations 


In response to this, DFI established a working group, secured funding from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, and engaged Values Lab to develop supports for and provide training to DFI and our member organisations in relation to implementing the Duty.


It is that this initiative will limit the additional burden of implementing the Duty on over-stretched organisations, while enabling them to reap what are considerable benefits for organisations from implementing this Duty.


The working group has developed a set of templates for member organisations to support them to implement the Duty.


Who will be delivering the training? 


The training will be delivered by Rachel Mullen and Niall Crowley, co-founders of Values Lab.


Watch this short two minute video where Rachel outlines all you need to know about the value of the training and gives a brief overview of what the tools that have been developed.


Choose your Zoom Training Session now


It is intended that member organisations might select one training session from the options below:



Please note that these links are for self-registration.


Who should attend?


It is suggested that you might identify between two and four staff from your organisation to attend one session. Those attending would ideally be: senior managers and/or staff who have a particular role in the development of organisational policies and plans.


Geraldine from Blanchardstown CIL shares her experience of the training session: 


“I am really glad that I took part in this workshop. It was really useful for such a small, local organisation like us. The training gave us the opportunity to clarify how to roll out the templates in our organisation. We have spread the word about it to our board and the templates are helpful in planning for our next work plan and shows that we are working from a human rights perspective and how to report on it. We are all about autonomy and voice of the person and the templates and the training encouraged us to ensure those voices are heard.  The templates and the discussion affirmed what we are doing already, and the process of developing the templates showed us how to name and show it.”


If you have any queries about this upcoming training please email Kevin.

A campaign Thank You for 3,327 emails sent to TDs and Senators on the crisis in disability services 

On 1 June we launched an email campaign inviting people to send an email to their local TDs and Senators about the viability of disability services which are threatened by the ongoing recruitment and retention issues in Section 39 disability funded organisations.


The email reminded TDs and Senators that the Government has a commitment to provide sustainable quality services as outlined in the current Programme for Government and the Department of Health’s Disability Capacity Review (2021) and that none of this can happen if organisations cannot recruit and retain the staff needed to deliver their existing funded services.


The email campaign took place from 1 June to the Summer recess with an official end date of 31 July 2023. We finished the campaign with a total of 3,327 emails sent to TDs and Senators! We offer our thanks to you for the support of this campaign!


The DFI email campaign conclued as the pay talks between the unions and the Government relating to the funding of staff in voluntary Section 39 funded organisations broke down. You can read the statement we issued on the breakdown of the talks here.


The Disability Federation of Ireland will continue to work with its member organisations and on behalf of disabled people and their families to get this resolved.

Disability awareness and inclusion training 
We are currently reviewing our disability awareness and inclusion training module, which we have most recently delivered to multiple local authority staff in county councils across Ireland.


These sessions have been co-delivered with a person with a disability and we are keen to ensure this voice is represented more strongly as we update our module content.


With this in mind we are planning a one-day workshop for Thursday 28 September in our Dublin office. We are inviting member organisations who would like to offer feedback to us on our training module to be part of the workshop. Member organisations can contribute either through a staff member or a service owner representing on the day.


Spaces are limited at the workshop but we will do our best to accommodate opinions or inputs through other formats.


If you are interested in being involved of this review of our disability awareness and inclusion training, please email Kevin for more information.

Save the Date for #MakeWayDay23 – Friday 22 September 
Make Way Day 2023 is coming to a street where you live on Friday 22 Septemer.


Make Way Day is an annual campaign to raise public awareness about the problems caused by obstacles blocking footpaths which create access and health/safety issues for people with disabilities.


Get in touch with us if there is something you are planning for Make Way Day this year. You can also share your plans on social media using our hashtag #MakeWayDay23.


We are delighted to be working with An Garda Síochána again this year on the campaign.


Our online survey tool will be available once again on the website www.makewayday.com.


We have stickers and hashtag signs available to order if you are planning an event and would like some visuals. Please email Brenda for more information and to be added to our mailing list for receipt of this year’s social media kit.


Pictured above are DFI staff members marking the two month countdown on 22 July last. 


Marketing Masterclass Series from We Act 
We Act is joining forces with The National Lottery to offer a Marketing Masterclass Series.


Staff and volunteers from across the charity and community sector are invited to attend these free online communications training sessions. These sessions will be facilitated by experts in their fields who will share practical tips and tools to help you and your organisation reach the right audiences and share the work you do in ways that are engaging and impactful.


The three-part series will be held on Zoom, and is free to attend, simply register for each session at the links below:


Thursday, 31 August, 11:00 – 12.30pm: Finding Your Online Voice 

Click here to register 


Thursday, 7 September, 11:00 – 12:30 PM: Managing Media Relationships

Click here to register 


Thursday, 14 September, 11:00 – 12:30 PM: Driving Meaningful Traffic to Your Site

Click here to register 


Actioning Self-Advocacy

Self-Advocate Media Training in November 2023 
We are grateful for your support in filling our Self-Advocate Media Training course which will take place in November.


Places were be limited to 10, but a waiting list for the next course in Spring 2024 is also available. Email PJ Cleere to be added to the list.


To get a flavour of what’s involved in the Media Training course click on the link below to watch our media training participants (pictured above with Miriam O’Callaghan and the DFI team) sharing their experience of the course from March of this year.

Click here to watch our Media Training video 
Self-Advocacy Awareness Training for Key Workers and Carers 
DFI are hosting four training sessions on Self-Advocacy for Key Workers and Carers. Participants will be offered inputs on advocacy, self-advocacy, health and wellbeing for the keywork or carer, facilitation skills and group work.


The training sessions will take place online starting on 20 September and continuing on 27 September and on 4 and 11 October 2023.


There are 20 places available on the course. As well as the inputs highlighted above, participants will have time to network and share experiences with one another in this space.


We are taking applications by email to Áine O’Sullivan, Community Development Officer with DFI. The closing date for applicants is 6 September. Email Áine or call 086 171 7119.


Policy & Research

DFI calls for action on Cost of Disability at Pre-Budget Forum – Strawman Consultaton in Autumn 

DFI recently attended the Department of Social Protection’s Pre Budget Forum. It was great to see many DFI members there. As always, we highlighted the disproportionately high disability poverty rates, low employment rates, and the increasingly urgent need to address the extra Cost of Disability. We participated in a well-attended ‘Disability and Caring’ workshop, where all organisations present were united in their call for a Cost of Disability payment in the forthcoming budget. You can read our detailed submission to the Department of Social Protection, which contains all the latest research and statistics on disability poverty, here.


At the forum, Minister Heather Humphreys spoke about the pending ‘strawman’ consultation as the way her Department will address Cost of Disability. The government commitment is to “develop and consult on a ‘strawman’ proposal for the restructuring of long term disability payments to simplify the system and take account of the concerns expressed in the Make Work Pay report.” We anticipate that this consultation will take place in the Autumn, and will keep members updated, as it will be an important process for us all to engage with.


Reminder about our Budget 2024 Landing Page 


We have a new landing page for #Budget24 on our website which includes our own materials along with member organisation content and wider sector materials. If you have a Pre-Budget Submission or a resource that you would like us to include there, please email Brenda.

Click here for our #Budget24 landing page 
Energy Poverty – your feedback is needed to inform our advocacy 
As we’ve previously highlighted, DFI is increasingly working on Energy Poverty. We recently attended the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities’ Consumer Stakeholder Group meeting, where we highlighted the importance of considering the needs of disabled people, as plans and customer protection measures are being developed for another cold and expensive Winter ahead. We’ve also had some discussions with the Energy Poverty Unity in the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, as they try to make sure that supports on energy poverty reach those most in need this year.

Is energy poverty coming up in your work, and are the disabled people you support struggling to pay their bills? Does your organisation provide funds to support people with their extra energy needs, due to disability? We’d love to hear more from members about the level of need and their work in this area, so we can reflect that in our advocacy.


If you’re interested to know more about this area of our work, do drop a line to Fleachta.

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – Public Awareness Funding 
Each year the Department of Social Protection provides funding for small initiatives to promote public awareness of the UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This funding is open to anti-poverty organisations and groups working with people experiencing poverty at national or local level.


Last year DFI was awarded one of these grants, and with the help of DFI members MS Ireland and CRC, and their self-advocates, we made a video about the Cost of Disability, which you can see here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xy9Y1Lucpeg. It would be great to see some DFI members getting this grant this year.


The Department has announced that applications for the UN Day 2023 funding initiative are now welcome with a closing date of August 25, 2023.


The theme of this year’s UN Day events is: Let dignity be our compass: working together towards change to end persistent poverty


For more information check out this link.

Join us for our next Policy and Advocacy Members Forum on 14 September 
The next meeting of our Policy and Advocacy Members Forum will take place on Thursday 14 September from 11.00am to12.30pm.


This member forum is a collective space to support members to share updates and intelligence, collectively strategise on policy and advocacy developments, and to support networking and peer engagement for relevant staff across member organisations.

We expect to talk about Budget 2024 and hear about your priorities and advocacy work, and to discuss upcoming policy developments and consultations.


Drop Fleachta a line if you’re interested in learning more about this member space and getting involved.

‘Left Out in the Cold’ – Friends of the Earth Energy Poverty Webinar 
Friends of the Earth are inviting registrations for a webinar entitled ‘Left Out in the Cold’ which is taking place on 4 September.


Energy poverty reached a new high in Ireland this year at 29% of households. Energy prices have skyrocketed leaving those most vulnerable to price increases to bear the brunt – the elderly, single parents, Travellers, disabled people, and tenants of all types in substandard accommodation.

Meanwhile, residential property contributes to 11% of our greenhouse gas emissions with poorer insulated housing requiring more fossil fuels to heat.


During this webinar questions will be posed on who benefits from this current setup and how we can reduce emissions in a faster and fairer way so no one is left behind. Can we simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lessen energy poverty through retrofitting? Can we guarantee warm homes for all?

Join them on Zoom on Monday 4 September from 7.00pm where they will be discussing the impacts of energy poverty and solutions to these crises. With a mix of activists and practitioners they will dig into the human impacts of this issue and what decision-makers can do to solve it, particularly in the run-up to Budget 2024.

Speakers will include Alejandro Criado of CATU, Dr James Casey, from Independent Living Movement Ireland and a speaker from the Ballyfermot Traveller Action Project.

Register Here
Annual Report 2022: National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities 
The 2022 Annual Report for the National Advocacy Service (NAS) for People with Disabilities and the Patient Advocacy Service was launched on 31 July 2023.


The report shows that in 2022, the Patient Advocacy Service saw an increase of 54% in service enquiries. NAS provided 3,576 instances of advocacy and received 3,201 initial enquiries.


The most common issues were around capacity building, housing, residential and healthcare settings, decision making, and social care.


You can read the report in full here.


Health Update 

HSE Health Regions Implementation Plan published 

The Government has published the HSE Health Regions Implementation Plan and approved the recruitment of the six Regional Executive Officer posts to lead these regions. Health Regions offer an exciting opportunity to shape the future of health and social care and will allow us to deliver safer, better care that is planned and funded in line with local and regional needs. This plan sets out the direction of travel for the Health Regions implementation over the next 18 months.  You are encouraged to review the plan as the implementation of Health Regions is a major transformation as well as a complex programme that will impact all of us.


Following this publication the Health Regions Programme Team in collaboration with HSE Communications has developed a presentation for your information. This presentation is designed to keep you up to date on the current status and future phases of implementation of the Health Regions Programme.


Click here for the plan and the presentation so as all organisations become aware of the challenges and milestones in our pursuit of more integrated patient centred services at a local level.


There will be ongoing updates as the programme progresses and further detail can be found on the Health Regions web page.


If you have any queries do not hesitate to contact the Health Regions Programme directly on healthregions.team@hse.ie


DFI also welcomes your comments and queries to Cathy.

Correspondence relating to increasing cases of Covid-19
We have recieved correspondence issued by the Chief Clinical Officer regarding increasing cases of Covid-19. Click on the link below to access the letter.


Please note within the letter, the need for ongoing effective prevention and controls.

Click here for text of letter 
Online Training on Digital Accessibility from the European Disability Forum 
We invite you to register for an online training workshop on digital accessibility on 12 September from 2:00pm to 4:30pm.


The training will include theory and practical exercises, as well as questions and answers. It will be of particular interest to those working in communications, marketing and digital media in your organisation.


The training is offered by the European Disability Forum.  All are welcome. Click on the registration link below.


Registration Link 

 An Eye on Europe


The European Disability Card and passenger rights – what does it entail?
After many years of campaigning by EDF and its members, the European Disability Card is one step closer to becoming a reality when the European Commission publishes their proposal for a law expanding the Card in September.


As announced in the Disability Rights Strategy 2021-2030, the EU Disability Card will be one of the “Flagship Initiatives”, and was one of the key initiatives for 2023 announced by the President of the Commission during the State of the European Union address.


The history of the EU Disability Card


The proposal for a EU Disability Card dates back from 2010, when the Disability Movement began campaigning for it. Initially, it was referred to as the “European Mobility Card” to emphasise the aspect of freedom of movement within the EU. However, later on, the European Commission decided to rename it as the “Disability Card.”

From 2016 to 2018, the EU conducted a pilot project across eight Member States (Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Malta, Romania, Slovenia). This initiative funded the Card’s launch and the establishment of national databases, where service providers could offer benefits to Card holders. The project operated on the principle of mutual recognition, allowing participating Member States to acknowledge the EU Disability Card from other countries, even if it followed national regulations. The project’s evaluation deemed it a successful endeavour and recommended further continuation.


For more on the results of the pilot project and what the card will mean click here.


 The DFI Podcast


Episode Six of the DFI podcast on the recruitment and retention crisis in disability services 
Episode Six of The DFI Podcast is focusing on the recruitment and retention crisis in the disability sector.


Disability organisations providing services, under contract from the HSE, right across the country are gravely worried. The non-reversal of deep cuts to pay and services during the recession, which ended in 2013, is not news to government. This situation has been festering for over a decade and it is compounded by a crisis where staff are leaving to simply move to the HSE and elsewhere to get the government agreed pay and conditions. Consequently, services to disabled people are being further restricted and downgraded on a daily basis for some time.


DFI’s Communications Manager Brenda Drumm spoke to DFI CEO John Dolan about the recruitment and retention crisis in disability services. She also spoke to Mags Rodgers of the Neurological Alliance of Ireland and to Kath Wall from the Board of Donegal Centre for Independent Living.  Donna Russell who has been using the Donegal CIL service for 18 years also spoke to Brenda along with personal assistant with Donegal CIL Stephanie Bonner.


Click here to listen to Episode Six.


DFI is delighted to be partnering with TTM Healthcare Solutions on this project.


Click here to subscribe to all episodes of The DFI Podcast on Spotify.

Democracy through civic engagement and participation grant 
The Saint Stephen’s Green Trust is now inviting applications under a new funding programme in 2023 that aims to contribute to a ‘high energy democracy’ by supporting civil society groups to:


  • Engage in participative and deliberative democracy initiatives that harness the power of civil society to transform democratic decisionmaking processes
  • Develop progressive platforms for collective power and influence which use valuesbased approaches to identify elements of transformative change
  • Create spaces for participation and voice, particularly among those who are most marginalised


This is a one-off grant programme to fund groups on the island of Ireland up to €15,000 for work taking place over 12 to 18 months.


The closing date for receipt of applications is Thursday 14 September 2023. To apply or learn more click on the link below.

Application link 
DFI Annual Report 2022 
For more on all of the content featured in our newsletter see www.disability-federation.ie.


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We try to bring you news items that may be of interest to our readers. And while Cork CIL makes every reasonable effort to provide information that is as comprehensive, accurate and clear as possible, the information provided on this site is of a general nature. The news and stories shared on this page are often from third party organisations. The ideas and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the original authors and are not necessarily shared or promoted by Cork CIL. Responses to articles and queries about third party information should be addressed to the original author.