SENDPO was created by a number of established Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) in the region of South-East England (outside London) in 2011 to improve communications and build capacity between those user-led organisations specifically run and controlled by disabled people. Initial funding was provided in October 2011 by Surrey County Council and the Health and Social Care Partnership South-East to set up the network, and in October 2012 Surrey County Council awarded a further five-year grant to continue the work of the network.
SENDPO believes that if disabled people are to take control of their own lives, then we have to persuade statutory partners to embrace one of the Disability Movement’s slogans, “Nothing about us without us”, and urge them to work with disabled people to commission solutions which advance the development of grassroots, locally based ULOs (and specifically from our perspective, DPOs).
The region of South East England (excluding London) has 19 first tier local authorities with responsibility for social care. SENDPO currently has 33 member DPOs. In recent years larger charities have been commissioned more and more to provide services like Direct Payments Support Services, which have historically been a major source of income for local DPOs but one which has become entangled in tendering processes that DPOs find place them at a disadvantage. Therefore this presents a challenge in terms of expanding coverage of the region by organisations which are full DPOs. SENDPO recognizes the valuable contribution of smaller organisations run and controlled by disabled people who do not aspire to be a full DPO, and believes that those smaller organisations have the same support requirements that a network can offer. SENDPO will therefore aim to increase the coverage of those organisations across the region.