Coinciding with the launch of the new Aspire website, we are also launching our new integrated blog.  For our first post, we will be highlighting some successes from the last financial year.  2014/2015 has been a busy year for campaigning and research at Aspire.  We had some amazing wins last year and hope to build on our successes in the last financial year.  We have met both the Minister and the Shadow Minister for Disabled People and built relationships to help raise issues affecting spinal cord injured people to key decision makers. 

Mark Harper MP meeting InstructAbility graduate Lindsey Leggit

Our housing report highlighted the need for more wheelchair accessible housing in the country.  Data that we collected from local authorities in England showed that it would take six years just to meet current demand for wheelchair accessible housing in the country.  This didn’t even take into account people newly coming into the system. We also showed that fewer wheelchair accessible homes were built in the previous year compared to 2005. 

Our work has led to closer collaboration between housing associations and charities to bring this issue forward to government. 

European Elections 
In the lead up to the 2014 European elections, Aspire contacted all political parties to gain their support for the European Accessibility Act. The Act focuses on goods and services procured in the European Union by public bodies. Companies that want to supply to this market would have to ensure that they consider the accessibility of their products. Therefore, companies will know that when they are developing products, not considering the needs of disabled people will harm their chances to supply to public bodies in the European Union. Candidates from Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats got back to us to indicate their support for our cause and this is an issue we continue to fight for. 

Casework successes
Finally, the local wins that Aspire has been involved in, have had an immediate positive impact to people with Spinal Cord Injury today. One case that Aspire championed in particular was a positive highlight in 2014. 

Ricky Perrin had accepted a temporary tenancy in London after his local authority in Brighton had conceded that there was not any suitable accessible housing for him in his area.  The Council agreed that he could stay in London while he waited for suitable housing in Brighton.  At the same time, Ricky had an assessment for a full time permanent wheelchair.  After having his voucher entitlement contribution from the local NHS agreed, it was later decided that the funds would not be released as Ricky did not have a permanent Brighton address.  After intervention by Aspire, common sense prevailed and the Clinical Commissioning Group in Brighton agreed to release funds so that Ricky could purchase his permanent wheelchair. 

Aspire will be campaigning for more accessible housing and building on our casework successes throughout the year.  Stay up to date by regularly checking our new blog.