Historical Background

Fife Independent Disability Network (FIDN) was formed in 1994, following Fife Regional Council’s changes of the equal opportunities consultative process. The first meeting, which had a recorded minute, was in September of that year (and it seems this was the first time the group came together as the Independent Disability Network).

 

The new process marked the end of the Disability Working Group, (which started in 1989 / 90 and brought together disabled people and staff of Fife Regional Council to discuss issues which emerged). At this point of time, there was seen to be a need for an Independent group, which would represent the views of, disabled people throughout Fife and meet on a regular basis to discuss issues of common concern. The gap at that time was an Independent Disability Network Group that met with those challenged physically or mentally with an interest in such independent provision.

 

As a result help was provided to build the organisation by Reid Howie Associates (RHA). RHA organised all the administration, for the Disability Working Group. This continued following the establishment of FIDN. Again RHA provided the support such as organising meetings, undertaking administration and preparing the minutes from the beginning in 1994 until our first worker was appointed in 1995.

 

Then, Fife Council funded us, to the tune of £500, which paid Sheila Henderson to run the meetings.  After about a year it was suggested that we form our own group.
The founder members being
  • Bill Gray MBE – Chair, Elma
  • Mitchell MBE – Secretary,
  • and Pauline Medd – Treasurer.
The next challenge was to decide a name for the organisation and hence the Fife Independent DisabilityNetwork was born. We started off at St Claire Street, Council Offices, Kirkcaldy which we soon outgrew. Then we moved to our present office at West Bridge Mill, Bridge St, Kirkcaldy.

After many years of trying simply to get our name about and being recognised as Fife’s main Disability Group were recognised as FIDN and now Disabilities Fife. This is due to all the hard working staff, and volunteers in the office, their active management and the efforts of our management committee.

 

We have found that it is better to have a hands on approach as it is people like ourselves that is effected by wrong decision making. It is more cost effective if we are consulted at the outset of a project instead of after the event when mistakes have been made.

Historically, we have been and are involved in consultations

Such as:
Social Works – “Home Care including 2 reports”
Transport – “Advice on trains, buses and stations”

Access Panel

With October 2004 and Equalities Act 2010 now enforced, all buildings including Schools, Hospitals, and Countryside should be accessible, and we like to make sure they are. At that point of time there were three areas. That is:- Central, West and North East Fife each looked after by representatives from FIDN. Those representatives looked over plans which are submitted to Building Control or Planning for acceptance. They made sure disabled people’s needs are met at the planning stage
Sad to say sometimes our advice is freely given but not taken.

This is often a costly mistake for any such organisations.  In 1997 the network received funding from Fife Council to employ a worker to develop and support the work of the network. This was proved to be a successful and a valuable networking function for disabled people living in Fife.

 

Coalfield Regeneration Trust 

In 2001 FIDN received funding from the Coalfield Regeneration Trust to employ a sessional worker (not employed under a contract) to network in the West of Fife. This work lasted for 6 months and helped spread word of our work to the West Fife villages.

Work Plans

After producing a Work Plan in 2001, FIDN decided to produce Briefing Papers to inform people of issues. The first, on Transport was launched in November 2001. 

 

The second, on Home Care, was launched in July 2002.  Research and campaigning FIDN in 2005 listened to public concern about cuts to the Home Care Service. Following a Network meeting we consulted with the Manager of the Home Care Service in Fife and were able to give examples of the real effects on ordinary people.

 

As a result thousands of pounds were added to this budget from the Scottish Executive.

 

We then commissioned independent research to get a clear picture of this service.  

Community action and consultation

FIDN listened to concerns from members of the public over transport issues in Fife. Volunteers from the Management Committee carried out research, produced a Transport Briefing Paper which informed every elected member (Councillors, MPs, MSPs) of the position. This information was also sent to relevant organisations (RailTrack, Stagecoach, etc) and was used to brief Fife Council’s Transport Department. We also held workshops for disabled people to have an opportunity for their views on community transport to be heard. This led to meaningful consultation.

 

Consultation Work

Members of the Management Committee participate in various consultative groups in Fife Council, NHS, Fife Voluntary Action and Fife Centre for Equalities etc. This way we are kept up to date with issues and have our say. We also give feedback to members via Network meetings and our quarterly and shortly a more regular newsletter.

Recent History

The Good News…

Currently we are involved in Self Directed Support working with Disabled Persons Housing Service in Fife and a Young Carers’ Respite Project and some not so good news is included below… 

 

In 2013 Fife Independent Disability Network changed its name to Disabilities Fife.

In 2014 Fife Council as a result of an executive decision to create an Equalities Hub, cut Disabilities Fife, Fife Forum and Frae Fife’s funding to zero. As a result Disabilities Fife lost their two paid employees and Disabilities Fife now relies on the goodwill of our Management Committee (volunteers) and volunteer workers to continue our service to our members and the general public in Fife and beyond.   The bad news is that we were legally obliged to make redundancy payments to one of our employees, and despite Fife Council’s consultation process no help was provided with that unexpected expense.

 

We did flag up all the issues but in our view they were ignored during the consultation process. There should have been a full equalities impact assessment but as far as we are concerned none had been carried out.  To balance this there was a report to Councillors and this did give a very high level summary of the impact but did not go in our view into sufficient detail.
If the Councillors had the benefit of a full report a different decision might well have been taken.

The fantastic news is that thanks to funding from Young Start two new posts have been created in 2017 for a specific Young Carers’ project

 

Our external funding has brought in over £30,000 to Fife for 2016/2017. Of that £6,000 has been awarded to a Fife based consultancy to write a long term business plan for Disabilities Fife.

Additionally, £4,000 was ringed fenced for a new website.

 

The balance to be used for two projects, that is Young Carers and training in the use of tablets etc., for the disabled.