Together All Are Able

Together All Are Able (TAAA) is a small Community Interest Company (CIC) organisation on the Wirral run by and for disabled people. Vicky, Jenny and Kieran are 3 of the 5 Directors of the company together with their colleagues Lynn and David.

We are the bosses of this organisation. We don’t answer to the council or anyone else

TAAA is a membership organisation for disabled people and their families. The organisation has a strong self-advocacy role locally, regionally and nationally and offers support and activities for its members.

The journey to TAAA

Vicky, Jenny and Kieran have strong personal experience as disabled people. Kieran and Vicky both attended special schools and experienced the low expectations people had of them.

I attended a local special school and quickly realised the work I was being given was nowhere near the same level as the people I knew who were at mainstream school. There was zero ambition and zero aspiration for people

From school Kieran went to residential college where he saw some of his peers going off to University. This made him realise what was possible and sparked a fire in him to improve his own life and the lives of other people. Vicky and Jenny graduated from the development programme ‘Partners in Policymaking’ which helped them learn about the history of disabled people.

It was quite depressing. But it put the fire our bellies to want to make a difference to disabled people, particularly those who use services

Jenny and Vicky were offered an opportunity by the local Council to develop self-advocacy on the Wirral. After some early challenges the pair, together with colleague David set up Together All Are Able in 2011, where Kieran joined them in 2013.

What helped?

Every member of the team has strong personal qualities that have enabled them to start and sustain TAAA.

Without that drive I don’t know if we’d be here today

In the early days the team were supported by the Council and Wirral Connect a local community and third sector development organisation. Wirral Connect helped the team think through the legal issues of setting up a CIC.

TAAA are based within a small sports centre which is run by a local charity.  The charity offers TAAA use of an office and other facilities at a very low rent. Every member of the team gives time and goodwill for free and this has been a strong factor in the sustainability of the organisation.

Social media has played a strong part in raising the profile of TAAA locally, regionally and nationally; giving the Directors an opportunity to air their views and experiences and connecting them to other people and organisations of a like mind.

Social media has been a godsend. It has given TAAA a verbal platform. It has really raised our profile

Challenges

The team gained early support from the Council, but this was withdrawn, and they lost the venue where they had been based. The team faced uncertainty as to the future of their emerging organisation.

The team have been challenged by attitudes towards disabled people and selfadvocacy.

They say that people can’t speak up for themselves

Achievements and impact

The team feel proud that their organisation is truly led by disabled people and that is surviving over time.

We are still here. That is a real achievement

TAAA has a positive relationship with the council and CCG and feel their voice is heard and has influence. The Directors also play a strong role on the national stage. Jenny recently won the Derek Russell trophy for outstanding leadership and Vicky was nominated as a leader on Dimensions Leaders List. Setting up and running TAAA has had a big personal impact on Jenny, Vicky and Kieran.

It has given me a lot of confidence…but not much free time!

It has put self-advocacy on the map locally and opened doors to much wider opportunities to engage and influence.

Our voice, the disabled voice, is heard locally, regionally and nationally

The future

Jenny, Vicky and Kieran would like to see TAAA grow with more members and offering more services and activities. The fact that they are independent is seen as key to their continued success.

Self-advocacy groups up and down the country are failing as their funding is cut. We don’t get funding so don’t have to worry about that

The team would like to develop their income streams and eventually be properly paid for the work that they do.