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, supporting 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 and projects to support its aims.


  • The organisation was originally based at Walkington house, Darlington, with one paid secretary. The Church used the building in the evening, so the typewriter, word processor, photocopier, and telephone had to be unplugged and put away in a cupboard at the end of the day!
  • Our first aims were to: increase access, bring ALL disabled people together, and hold regular social evenings.


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


  • Christine Bennett joined, providing increased administrative skills
  • DAD began to expand, setting up the Volunteer Project and producing the First Access Guide


  • Moved to Friends Meeting House in Skinnnergate. We had 3 staff.


  • Moved to the Horsemarket, Darlington
  • Shopmobility Project launched


  • Carers Support Project launched


  • Information Service launched


  • Access Interest group launched
  • Dimensions Disability Initiative launched


  • Published our first newsletter (‘Voice of the Millennium’), keeping our members up to date
  • Launched DAD membership scheme
  • Held a competition to design a new logo, resulting in our current iconic brick wall with DAD ‘Breaking Through Barriers’
  • Published the Information Guide – a handy resource of local and national disability information
  • Launched the DAD website


  • Three volunteers and staff became qualified trainers to deliver accredited Disability Equality Training. DAD has been delivering this training ever since!


  • Direct Payments Support Service launched on behalf of the local Council, based at Pease House, Darlington
  • 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


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


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


  • Shopmobility celebrated its 40,000th customer.


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


  • DAD became a third-party reporting centre for disability hate crime
  • Young Leaders Project launched


  • 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.
  • The Carers Support Service went into partnership with YMCA to deliver the Young Carers Project
  • Mentoring for the Independence Project began at Dimensions
  • DAD began to recruit Citizens Experts
  • 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.

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How you can support us

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

Click here to find out how you can support us

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