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Research Bulletin, December 2020

Hello all,

Rather than the usual monthly recap, this edition is a bit is a writers Christmas special, which is about what might be called the Manchester style – or, referencing for everyone.

In my research writings I have been experimenting in recent years with something like an Easy Words style of referencing other works. I’d be interested to know if anyone else has been working along these lines too.

For non-academic readers, a referencing system is an agreed common way to link to the work of other people. This makes sure that everyone involved gets a fair credit for the work they have done.

However, I think that some of the referencing systems have become over-complicated and confusing. Firstly there isn’t one system, but at least six. And secondly, there a variations within each system. And they all use complicated punctuation to try to explain what is going on in each case.

To me, it’s essentially become like a coding system, and one where writers can be criticised and marked down for things like a misplaced semi-colon. And small groups of academics have started to adopt their own particular sub-styles and systems, I feel almost in a cliquish way.

Here are some examples of the main systems.

MLA: Hunt, Paul, ed. Stigma: The experience of disability. London; Dublin [etc.]: G. Chapman, 1966.

APA: Hunt, P. (Ed.). (1966). Stigma: The experience of disability. London; Dublin [etc.]: G. Chapman.

Chicago: Hunt, Paul, ed. Stigma: The experience of disability. London; Dublin [etc.]: G. Chapman, 1966.

Harvard: Hunt, P. ed., 1966. Stigma: The experience of disability. London; Dublin [etc.]: G. Chapman.

Vancouver: Hunt P, editor. Stigma: The experience of disability. London; Dublin [etc.]: G. Chapman; 1966.

(with thanks to the Google Scholar citation system)

My attempts at an Easy Words style of a clearer referencing has produced these types of examples.

Manchester: Paul Hunt, 1966, [edited a book called] Stigma: The experience of disability, [published by] G. Chapman [a company based in] London, Dublin and elsewhere.

and some other examples in the same style are –

Link, [a TV programme broadcast on] 22 June 1986, A form of Apartheid – a profile of Vic Finkelstein, [a television programme made by] Central TV, part of ITV.

Jenny Morris, 1997, Care or empowerment? A disability rights perspective, [a paper published in the journal] Social Policy & Administration, volume 31 issue 1, pages 54 – 60.

Jo Smith, 1 January 2018, [a post on] Twitter, screenshot accessible at www….

Carol Thomas, 1993, Disability and impairment, [chapter 2 in a book called] Disabling barriers – enabling environments, [published by] Sage [reprinted in 2004, 2013].

The basic suggestions so far are:

1. In the main text the common author-date system is still used. This means that the author’s family name and the year of their work are written in round brackets. This give people the credit for an idea or for their words describing that idea. For example, "A letter was printed in The Guardian newspaper (Hunt 1972)."

All the other suggestions here apply to the list of references (credits) at the end of what has been written or shown.

2. Use square brackets to add your explanations that will make the reference clearer.

3. Use people’s proper names, so its "Judy Heumann" and not "Heumann, Judy". Use people’s full names unless a person has deliberately chosen to be known by their initials only. For example, J K Rowling. The list can still be in alphabetic order of the family name.

4. Use bold if you need to emphasise a word or phrase, and do not use italics and do not use underlining. Don’t emphasise too many words. This helps visually impaired people.

5. Use punctuation as little as possible.

Feedback on this Manchester style is welcome, either in social media or directly to me.

Thanks for reading as ever, and with the season’s greetings,

stay safe,


Research Bulletins, back copies can be found here:

Research Bulletin, November 2020

Hello all,

This is my monthly update on research interests, and here are some recent developments that might be useful to know.

1. A calendar for 2021

You may know that I’ve got into the habit of getting a wall calendar printed each year with some historic photos of the history of the disabled people’s movement and culture in England. The photos generally come from my (and others’) past and research. This year I’ve chosen photos which mostly have a media theme, so that somewhere in the image is a film or TV news crew.

2. Mental health

This year has been a great strain on many people and it’s already been said that the next pandemic will be in our mental health. I’ve had a long interest in radical and community-based mental health groups, starting with Manchester Mind in the late 1970s. As you might expect, I’ve catalogued an archive collection for Manchester Mind from 1970 – 1990, though I suggest it’s a very different organisation now. This was where I first learnt about the social model.

In my bones I feel there is a need now to think about a radical mental health model that works with disabled people’s lived experiences this year.

For example, understanding the isolation and degrees of threat that were higher than in the general population, as well as the neglect and mismanagement by government that led to so many disabled people dying (supported housing, care homes, etc) as well as being left without support. There were also community-led responses in self-organisation and protection such as The Bunker on Facebook.

I’m not thinking about this as a funding bid (no doubt many are being made) but rather as an area in need of further discussions with safeguards and with a radical community-based understanding. I’d welcome any discussions, one-to-one in confidence or wider, as people wish.

As a matter of interest, I’m seeing similar mental health issues in the Excluded-UK community which represents three million people, usually freelance workers and many in the creative industries, who fall between the cracks of poorly targeted government support. It gets quite technical, but in short some people have had less that £600 since March and don’t qualify even for Universal Credit. It’s an oppressive mess and the suicide rate within the group is awful.

3. Sian Vasey

I noted last month the sad news of Sian’s recent death. There was an online tribute and commemoration held by many of her friends and colleagues, and a topic that was raised on that day was our wish to record some kind of memoir of Sian’s life. So in the year ahead I’ve offered to facilitate producing a book of her life and three of her close friends have kindly agreed to be its editors.

4. Hearing Voices Network

Last month I covered a number of plans that are being made for the International Day of Disabled People, this Thursday 3 December.

One item that is being held over until early next year is a video made by the Manchester Hearing Voices Group which I helped facilitate. The hope is to time the video with a wider physical post-covid exhibition, all related to the relaunch of the Manchester group. This group previously led to the creation of the network of hearing voices groups that exists today around the world, having started in Manchester in the 1980s. And by some of my friends involved in Manchester Mind at the time.

Stay safe,


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Working in a Hostile Environment

I was in a meeting recently with a staff member of a national newspaper, and one of the topics they mentioned was on the issue of working in a hostile environment.

As part of their job they had been sent into war zones and similar conflicts, so their HR people had sent them on a training course beforehand. It covered topics like first aid, flak jackets, tracking devices, and avoiding harm. There were policies such as checking in three times a day, and always sharing movements and plans.

Clearly their employer was being very responsible, and risk assessments were built into their work.

And it got me wondering.

We can easily understand that a war zone somewhere else in the world is dangerous. We might even think that sometimes there might be dangerous assignments closer to home, such as covering a large protest or investigating and tracking down violent criminals.

But what about people who work in social policy in the UK?

It has been government policy for at least ten years to create a hostile environment for many people. It has become structural. The experience of the Windrush generation of Black British people and the Home Office is one stark example. And the experience of disabled people at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is another. The experience of local authorities – councils – and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is yet another.

But how far have third sector employers in the UK in the field of social policy appreciated that their staff are working in a hostile environment? Just because bullets are not flying overhead there is a danger that the risk is being under-estimated. People are still dying, especially when even the meanest of benefits have been withdrawn.

Years and years of relentless hostility will always cause their own damage, harm and trauma. It has been known for a long time that a key stress factor at work is the lack of control that anyone might have over their daily work. Build up that pressure over years and years, cuts upon cuts, and then add hostile policies and demeaning comments by national politicians (such as scroungers, work-shy, benefit cheats) – it all piles up.

A journalist would not be left in a war zone for a decade by their employer without a break. After a decade of cuts and hostilities in the UK I wonder if some third sector employers need to look again at the appalling external and policy environments their own staff have endured, to consider what more can be done to provide at least some of the much-needed respite and relief. Even without new money, though so very much needed, I believe there are still many non-financial improvements and reliefs that could be started or extended.

Research Bulletin, September 2020

Hi all,

Well, it’s a strange world for us all at the moment. Here’s my monthly update in case there’s anything new here that might help or be of interest to you.

1. Becky Fields’ autobiography

Becky Fields is a pen-name for legal reasons of a disabled woman who was systematically abused for years as a child and young adult by her mother. Before she died she wrote her story of that abuse and how she managed to escape it to live independently, and despite many safeguarding errors including by social services staff. Becky’s manuscript found its way to me and now it is published.

– SILENT NO LONGER, Becky Fields, 2020. ( ISBN 978 1913 1481 02 ) Free online and £4.99 as a paperback.

“I cannot say that I have felt much like a warrior whilst writing this book. I have shed many tears and had to set the book aside for weeks on end to give my heart a break from reliving the awfulness that was part of my early life. Yet, like a true warrior, I did see my task through to the end. I cannot say what will become of my efforts. But if this book helps anyone or even make one person think a little about what we, as a society, must do to put an end to this terrible crime, then it will have been worthwhile.”

2. Television

BBC Two have commissioned two TV production companies to make programmes on the history of disabled people’s campaigning. Both stop in 1995 with the (flawed) Disability Discrimination Act; I guess because the BBC want to avoid anything in the last 25 years that might be politically controversial, which is a shame and gap that others need to fill.

The first programme will be a drama-documentary based on the Disabled People’s Direct Action Network (DAN) in the early 1990s. And the second programme will take a wider look at campaigning, starting around 1900. I’ve been sending the researchers at both companies various summaries and publications in case they help with accuracy.

3. Campaign interviews

There is a very interesting new kid on the research block, an organisation that is planning to safely interview disabled campaigners. I can’t say more at this stage, but hopefully there will be a public launch soon.

4. Plans

Manchester is a vibrant hub for anyone interested in the political histories of disabled people. Three examples:

– a – Plans are underway for an exciting range of online contributions on the International Day of Disabled People, 3 December, focussed on the Central Library with support from Manchester City Council.

– b – The People’s History Museum in Manchester is making plans for a substantial exhibition with disabled people under the banner, “Nothing About Us Without Us”.

– c – The DigiFest organised by Manchester Histories to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alf Morris MP’s landmark law – the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 – drew a lot of interest and comment, mostly positive.

5. Park House

Within the NHS there is an archaic proposal for a new large locked mental health hospital to be built in north Manchester to serve a massive area. Unfortunately it has some political support at the moment because it is one of the government’s promised “new 40 hospitals” and few politicians want to criticise that openly at the moment, unfortunately.

So, a campaign is underway led by the Hearing Voices Network based in Hulme at the Niamos Radical Arts Centre ( M15 5EU ) to get the planned locked mega-hospital abandoned and instead to use the money to build up genuine community-based mental health services across the city and beyond, which I support.

Some of the Archives+ materials from the Manchester Mind Collection from 1970 to 1990 have proved useful in showing how community-based mental health services are the only effective way forward, something we have known for some time now. Much better than people in distress being taken miles to be locked up, away from families, friends and communities, and only to be discharged later with a bus ticket, a box of tablets and precious little community-based support.

Stay safe,


Research Bulletins back copies:

PS – if you’re interested in climate change and transport, there are details of some ideas for new electric battery trains instead of diesel on my website.

Electric Battery Trains in 2021 with 60 miles range and 7 minutes recharge – doing the right thing

Imagine electric battery trains next year from Buxton to Manchester … and from Blackburn, Warrington, Sheffield, and more.

With the climate crisis facing us all, we know we need to reduce carbon emissions. Electric trains using overhead wires help us today by replacing diesel trains, but about a third of the network still has no overhead wires, mostly on rural and semi-rural lines. And it can take ten years to get new overhead wires added to one line, but we and our planet have run out of spare time.

Battery trains today can have a range of 60 miles and a recharge time of 7 minutes. This innovation allows for the necessary rapid transition to an all-electric railway. This will also bring air quality improvements, not least in our inner cities around main stations and lines.

However, while we already have the technology we still too often collectively fail to deliver the changes we know we need. This article hopefully suggests some ways forward, for discussion but mostly with the purpose of assisting action.

The idea of battery trains is not new. There are examples of services running in Ireland in the 1930s and in Scotland in the 1950s. Of course, battery technology has changed since then but the fundamentals are the same.

Currently there are various projects and initiatives for battery trains on specific lines, such as from north Wales to the Wirral, and from Chester to Crewe. There is also a frankly crawling programme of adding overhead wires, such as in the Lakes District. But the nervous breakdown that the railways organisations suffered while trying to add overhead wires around Bolton and Preston is still an open wound.

So we need to consider a rapid and intensive programme of introducing battery trains across the network, and not just more time-buying projects.

From the outside it often seems that the rail system or family of organisations and stakeholders was deliberately designed to be self-sabotaging. The speeding up of rail connections east-west between the cities across the north, sometimes called HS3 or the Crossrail of the North, has a government minister having to hold regular meetings, chasing progress, fixing misunderstandings and such, basically unblocking the drains.

A title like HS4 or CrossRail of the North for the rapid introduction of battery trains doesn’t quite work, but the political and organisational context is much the same, maybe worse given the wider number of local authority stakeholders.

In my days working at the North West regional development agency there was a phrase only ever used internally and at select frustrating moments, to differentiate between the rarer environmental programmes that led to real change, and some other ineffective initiatives which were “di*king about”. Harsh but true, and self-aware.

So, battery trains at pace and at scale in the UK rail family outside of London – a massive challenge to all of us.

Imagine a train station next to a church yard and bin store which needs some extra land for a transformer to recharge the trains. Imagine the parish council, the church trustees, Network Rail, the train operator, Highways England, the county council, sitting around a table in good faith. And shaking hands on a land swap – we have your old bins area, and we give you this other unused area for a new remembrance garden or whatever. And a photo of everyone for the local paper.

Frankly this would normally take months, if not years. Surveys, feasibility studies, reports, consultations, funding requests, sometimes appointing a programme director. Funding is then earmarked from control period ninety-nine.

Of course there is still a place for pilot projects. The hydrogen fuel cell enthusiasts deserve their chance. The tri-mode and quad-mode train lobbies similarly.

I’m still keen on reviving the Regional Eurostars, in case anyone is interested, business case on request.

But none of this should stop us electrifying the railways at scale and at pace – action this day. Better for the planet to do now and ask forgiveness, than to wait another day.

Research Bulletin, August 2020

Welcome to this monthly research bulletin.

1. Social care – lessons from the National Campaign for the Young Chronic Sick, 1960s

A reminder on social care politics, with the suggestions to take social care back into the NHS, that disabled people were campaigning 50 years ago for social care to be taken out of the NHS, which Alf Morris achieved with his new law in 1970. For more on the disabled people’s National Campaign for the Young Chronic Sick please see attached.

2. The Campaign for Accessible Transport anniversary next month

We should note that 26 September will be the 30th anniversary of the disabled people’s Campaign for Accessible Transport (CAT) demo which stopped the buses on Oxford Street in London, leading to arrests and court hearings. CAT was London-based, and started around four years before DAN which was national. There was regional and national TV coverage. For some rough notes as resource material for any events etc, please see attached. Maybe something for Inclusion London to consider?

3. Book

I am making a start on writing **a biography and memoir of Lorraine Gradwell** for publication probably in 2021. It’s not easy, and as in all writing please don’t ask me how it’s going etc – it needs to stay private between me and the keyboard for the while. Thanks.

4. The Circular Economy from Disabled People’s Perspectives …

I’ve been thinking about the current awful state of affairs, and what might be done to protect the future as well as protecting the past with archives and such. My thinking at the moment is around the Circular Economy from Disabled People’s Perspectives.

In a nutshell, the idea of the circular economy is where **nothing is waste** just as in nature. We rightly think a lot about the climate emergency and zero carbon, and by thinking of carbon emissions as a pollution then the circular economy can include fighting climate breakdown as well as ocean plastics, land degradation etc. So I wonder if some work around The Circular Economy from Disabled People’s Perspectives might bring some fresh thinking to the debate, and might help some green activists (let’s be frank here about some stereotypes) to not see disabled people as essentially over-consumers with no agency. And for disabled people’s input in environmental thinking to be seen as something more substantial than debating plastic straws. Do please get in touch if this interests you. Ideally it would not be a talking shop, but would create community knowledge.

Cheers all and stay safe, it isn’t over yet by a long chalk.


Back copies:

Research Bulletin, July 2020

There are two main topics to report this month.

1. The (new) Disabled People’s Archive

This month the Executive Council of the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP) decided that because the GMCDP Archive had grown a great deal, it was now time to name it the Disabled People’s Archive.

This new name recognises the leading role that the GMCDP Archive Development Project has played for 18 years since 2002 in storing and protecting the history of the campaigns of radical disabled people and Disabled People’s Organisations.

More details:

2. The (new) Rosalie Wilkins Collection in the DPA

In 1972 Rosalie Wilkins, a young disabled woman , started her career as a TV presenter and interviewer in a documentary on Het Dorp, a “village” for disabled people in The Netherlands (Holland). The programme was made by the World In Action team at Granada TV in Manchester and was broadcast by ITV nationally.

This led on to her presenting the “Link” programme, every fortnight from 1975 to 1988. This was made by one of the ITV regional companies – ATV, later called Central, based in Birmingham, then by Coffers Bare Productions, and for broadcast on national ITV, later transferring to Channel 4.

Rosalie has kindly donated around 10 VHS tapes and some of her supporting documents to the Disabled Peoples Archive. Where possible these analogue tapes have been copied into MP4 digital format.

Copyright notice – these tapes and files are strictly for *private research* viewing only.

The conversion process used from VHS to MP4 involves the lid of the VCR (video cassette recorder) being off to help monitor for any tape jams, and a circuit breaker being added for safety. Hopefully after lockdown we may be able to access more professional systems.

Keep well and safe,


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Research Bulletin, June 2020

Hello and welcome to this monthly summary of my community research, the fifth so far. This month there is a new publication of findings online for you, plus the usual updates. The over-arching theme of Independent Living campaigns continues.

I could write at length about the current pandemic in England and the government’s appalling policies and practices, but in a nutshell I am following the grown-ups in Scotland for the time being. If the English government’s health policy was herd immunity, it changed some time ago to become the herd graveyard. Breath-taking incompetence.

1. 2020 – Independent Living and Covid-19

Previously I’ve been looking here at the number of deaths of people living in care comes compared with people living in the community, and my strong conclusion continues that Independent Living saves lives.

However, let’s not be naive and think that numbers alone will persuade the various vested interests that the game is up on profits and segregated institutions. This blog is my summary of what I think the coming battle for social care might well look like.

2. 1970 – Alf Morris 50th anniversary

In February I circulated some draft Research Notes for comment on the campaign by disabled people and allies in the 1960s which led to Alf Morris writing the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 (CSDPA). Thanks for comments and the final version is here (pdf).

For every social services department, the 1970s was the first time they made contact with many disabled people, and that was because of this new law. Books have been written on the years after the CSDPA, but very little has yet been researched or written about the years beforehand, and only one (an autobiography) on the campaigns by disabled people to live independently with support. This is even though disabled people’s campaign for independent living featured in a mini-series on BBC2 television in 1968 (page 16 in the pdf link above).

3. 1995 – DDA 25th anniversary and DAN demos

The news embargo has been lifted on a forthcoming docu-drama being made for BBC2 this year on the Disabled People’s Direct Action Network (DAN) and the campaigns in the early 1990s for civil rights leading to the (flawed) Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). The GMCDP Archive has an extensive set of papers and objects in its DAN Collection, and we’ve been told the collection is providing useful research material for the writers of the programme. Details on the BBC Media Centre here.

4. GMCDP Archive

I’ve been listing the names of the various collections within the archive in recent bulletins, and some new ones that are waiting to join. These collections have been generously donated by disabled people’s organisations and by individual disabled people from the campaigns they have been involved in over the years. A recent assessment of the archive noted that it is now “130 linear metres,” or 14 double-decker buses long as a colleague helpfully calculated. With the pandemic lockdown the archive development can only be home-based at the moment, and we are hopeful of announcing more developments soon.

Keep well everyone


Previous copies of this Bulletin are online:

Research Bulletin, May 2020

Research Bulletin, April 2020

Research Bulletin, March 2020

Research Bulletin, February 2020

The Battle for the New Normal in Social Care

If Engels was living today he would be visiting care homes in Manchester, not factories.

In the Covid-19 pandemic more people have died in care homes than in hospitals, with current estimates north of 22,000 fatalities in care homes in the UK. This awful reality is being seen in Canada, USA, Spain, Sweden and across the western world. Further casualties must be expected. Social care is not just about elderly people in care homes, millions of people are living in their own flats and houses with support and 1 in 6 residents living in care homes is of working age. But care homes for elderly people are now the battle ground.

Care homes rely on low pay, zero-hours and migrant labour. They were financially unsustainable even before Covid-19, and the pandemic has broken the model wide open. A battle is starting for the new normal in social care and the defenders of care homes are lining up for the fight. As in a medieval campaign so far we can see four camps limbering up. For convenience we can call these camps the Corporatist, the Capitalist, the Collectivist and the Community. So let’s examine their battle plans in turn.

The Corporatist camp believes that good practices will prevail, and that better regulations and smarter procurement will provide the answers. It especially likes non profit providers such as the big charities and social landlords because they talk the same language. The generals in the camp are the Care Quality Commission and Public Health England, with their local lieutenants in the new Clinical Commissioning Groups. Their two weaknesses are their stores are empty and they don’t know when they have been out-manoeuvred.

The Capitalist camp believes that their ruthlessness (which in public they call innovation) will see off all other options. This camp has the best supply lines; donors with large levers inside government, thinktanks, and some media. The property bubble has given them superprofits by signing offshore mortgages and putting the winnings in a different company, leaving the care home accounts looking bleak, leading to more excuses for even less pay and worse job security. The big reductions in overnight wages is a recent example. Their weakness is they can’t help attacking each other, even though they pay lobbyists to say they have a united front and a common interest in serving humanity.

The Collectivist camp is newer. They believe that care homes as a business model are fine, it’s just the bosses that need fixing. Their generals include the TUC and the We Own It campaign, and their battle plan is to nationalise care homes as a sister arm to the NHS. Their battle cry is for a new National Care Service. This campaign has some merit, social care has always been the poor relation of the NHS. The mass eviction of tens of thousands of delayed discharge hospital patients (bed blockers as the troops would say) despite many being Covid-19 infectious will haunt many decent people in the NHS. The suspension of the Care Act and subsequent wholesale evictions from hospital wards showed what community care means inside the NHS when push comes to shove. The weaknesses of the collectivist camp are that they see care homes as an industry, and they underestimate the power of the big hospital barons to suck the money out of community care. To be fair, others make the same mistake.

Finally, away in the far corner is the Community camp, the smallest band of fighters. They aren’t new to the battle, they’ve been skirmishing in the shadows of policy since the 1960s and maybe earlier, with groups such as the National Campaign for the Young Chronic Sick which helped the Labour party pass a law in 1970 to liberate disabled people from a lifetime spent in a hospital bed to live independently by taking responsibilities away from the NHS and giving them to councils with social services departments. The 1970s and 1980s saw more campaigns against segregated care institutions, and the idea of independent living with support in the community started to take hold. Scores of disabled people visited Berkeley in California to learn how disabled people there passed on their knowledge to the next generation through centres for independent living. The campaign for independent living rumbles on, and the generals in this camp include the Reclaiming Our Future Alliance and Disabled People Against Cuts. Their weakness is that ten years of austerity, and marginal funding for years before that, has left their organisations empty or gone.

So, which of the Corporatist, Capitalist, Collectivist and Community campaigns will prevail in the coming battle for the new normal in social care?

We know that independent living has saved lives when compared with care homes. Given the international crisis in social care, the leadership failures in many western governments, and in response the rise of localism and mutuality as the most resilient response, it’s too soon to write off the community campaign for independent living.

On a new hub for disabled people’s organisations in Greater Manchester

I believe that many disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) in Greater Manchester would benefit from coming together by having a hub again for offices and meetings. The previous hub was closed seven years ago by austerity cuts.

Eight months ago I wrote about the need and benefits of a new hub – the link is below.

So it might seem odd during the covid-19 pandemic to be thinking now about being close together again. DPOs are campaigning hard on the appalling number of deaths in care homes, and on the lack of emergency support for disabled people who are shielding or isolating during the lockdown.

But I think we also need to put a marker down, to demand a say on the social designs of the future that are being started now, the “new normal”.

After the previous hub was closed in the years of austerity, many DPOs have been using offices which are much smaller than before, cramped, and dispersed, and often less accessible.

What if the “new normal” says that people who are younger and non-disabled can happily move about, socialise, go out to events, but the “vulnerable” will have to stay indoors and keep using zoom. And DPOs as responsible employers will be rightly worried about the thought of staff teams being asked to return to their small offices.

So some new thinking is required.

Firstly, a covid-19 vaccine is not certain, and if possible it will take many months to develop, and no-one can say yet how long it would stay effective for. There are other coronaviruses in nature where no vaccine for humans has ever been made despite many years of effort. And secondly, many people now agree that we need to redesign our new social arrangements to make us more pandemic-resilient against any future plagues that will come our way. There is good scientific research on the increasing interactions between humans and wildlife which is accelerating the movement of viruses between species.

So what might a pandemic-resilient new hub for DPOs look like?

My early guess is that it will be flexible, but not open plan. Given the circulation space needed for disabled people who are wheelchair users, this means larger offices which are not over-occupied by people or furniture. The previous hub had some of this, partly by accident because it was a retrofit of an institution which typically has larger rooms.

The new hub will also need to have a range of good transport connections, so probably near but not in the middle of a city or town, with significant parking for disabled drivers, with good public transport links (trams, buses, trains), easily walkable and with safe cycling routes. These are all general desirable features, so it means looking for a hub design or location that might also attractive to other organisations with more clout – and not accepting the cast-off options.

In design terms, the hardest element of a new hub would be the meeting spaces within it. A core feature of the previous hub, as well as the synergies of many DPOs sharing the same place and all the conversations and joint working that resulted, was it’s ability to hold large meetings of disabled people without rubbish access. The parking was sufficient, the circulation space was (mostly) flexible, the necessary tech was built in, and the toilets were many and dispersed. Perhaps most importantly, the hub tenants were very skilled and knew how to run an accessible large meeting.

No-one yet has a blueprint for all of these requirements, but I feel the debate needs to start before DPOs are given “the answer” without even getting a chance to ask the question, what do we need now?

My previous blog post on a new hub

Keep well everyone.