A Brief History of DAD


Darlington Association on Disability was established in 1986 as a voluntary and charitable organisation led by disabled people. It exists to promote independence and choice, and supports disabled people and carers through the provision of services, support and information and by tackling issues locally and nationally. DAD promotes the social model of disability, and as part of that remit is actively involved in promoting disability equality and awareness of anti discrimination legislation.

DAD acts as a focal point for consultation with disabled people and carers. It also manages a range of services / projects to support its aims.

First aims were to:

  • Increase access
  • Bring ALL disabled people together
  • Hold regular social evenings

The organisation was originally based at Walkington House with 1 paid secretary. The Church used it in the evening, so typewriter, word processor, photocopier and telephone had to be unplugged and put away in a cupboard at the end of the day!


  • Took over local parent run playscheme
  • Appointed Lauren Robinson as Co-ordinator
  • Began to recruit volunteers


  • Christine Bennett joined, giving increased admin skills
  • D.A.D began to expand
  • Set up Volunteer Project
  • First Access Guide produced

1990: moved to Friends Meeting House in Skinnnergate. We had 3 staff.

1993: moved to Horsemarket

1993: Shopmobility started up.

1994: Carers Support Project launched

1996: Information Service launched

1998: Access Interest group launched

1998: Dimensions Disability Initiative launched


  • DAD marked the millennium with a flurry of activity. We published our first newsletter, keeping members up to date and creatively called ‘Voice of the Millennium’!
  • We also launched a D.A.D membership scheme and held a competition to design a new logo, resulting in our current iconic brick wall and D.A.D ‘breaking through barriers.’
  • In this year, D.A.D also published its Information Guide, a handy resource of local and national disability information. The website was also launched.

2001: 3 three volunteers and staff also became qualified trainers to deliver accredited Disability Equality Training. DAD has been delivering Disability Equality Training ever since.

2002: Direct Payments Support Service launched on behalf of the Council, based at Pease House.

DAD held its first General Meeting at Dimensions, West Lodge for members to have a say in future developments and influence the work of DAD.


  • Saw the launch of the Wheelygood website; an innovative accessibility map for Darlington Town Centre designed by DAD with funding from the Council’s Local Transport Plan. It went on to win the Institution of Highways and Transportation Accessibility Award in 2006.
  • 2005 was Year of the Volunteer. DAD held a recognition evening for all our volunteers, now numbering 160.
  • The Parents Forum was launched.

2006: DAD worked with the Council to produce its Disability Equality Scheme.

2007: Shopmobility celebrated its 40,000 customer.

2008: DAD became a Company limited by guarantee and in November the Parents Forum was re-launched, subsequently parent led and set up as a separate organisation CDCD (Carers of Disabled Children in Darlington.)

2009: DAD became a third party reporting centre for disability hate crime and Young Leaders began.

2010: Saw an explosion of activity within DAD. This was the year Carers Support Service went into partnership with YMCA to deliver Young Carers Project. Mentoring for Independence Project began at Dimensions, Citizen Experts began to be recruited and DAD began to support the Learning Disability Parliament.

Mission Statement

Darlington Association on Disability is an organisation led by disabled people, which exists to promote independence and choice.

DAD supports disabled people and carers through the provision of services, support and information and by tackling issues affecting disabled people both locally and nationally.

Safe Place Logo, yellow circle with the text Making our community a safe place around the outside

Investor in People Logo dialUK Logo with the word Serving the disability advice network


How you can support us

As a local organisation we very much rely on the support of our local community, and continue to support people flexibly to have greater choice and control and remove the barriers that disabled people and children experience in their everyday lives. We support over 2,000 people every year.  But we need your help.

Click here to find out how you can support us

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