Young Leaders


Visit to Town Hall

Young People from DAD enjoyed a visit to Darlington Town Hall last week after being invited to visit by Darlington Mayor, Councillor Veronica Copeland.

The Mayor gave a tour of the Mayor’s Parlour and talked to young people about the role of the Mayor and local disability history with the opportunity for young people to ask the Mayor questions.

They all really enjoyed the evening and thank the Mayor for inviting them.

Photo showing Young People and Staff with Mayor Veronica Copeland
(The above photo shows DAD Young People and some Staff members with Darlington Mayor, Councillor Veronica Copeland)

Young NCB Advisory Group

Congratulations to Lauren, one of DAD's Young Leaders, who has recently successfully applied to become a member of the Young National Children's Bureau (NCB) Advisory Group.

The Young NCB Advisory Group is a group of 20 children and young people from across England who come together to advise NCB on strategic direction and project development.

The group, who are aged 11-24, meet 4 times a year to discuss a range of issues facing children and young people today such as mental health, child poverty and education.

NCB make sure that children and young people’s views and experiences inform every aspect of their work in order to bring about lasting change for them, others, their services and their communities.

Well done Lauren!

Inclusive Play

On November 22nd, some of our Young Leaders visited a local Guides group to talk about the language we use when talking about impairments and disabled people. They then worked with the Guides to think about the games and activities they do and how they could be adapted to be more inclusive for disabled young people before playing some inclusive games.

Well done Young Leaders and thank you to the Guides for inviting them!


Congratulations to Alisha, one of our Young Leaders.

Alisha has successfully applied to become a member of the Council for Disabled Children and KIDS FLARE (Friendship, Learning, Achieve, Reach and Empower) Advisory Group.

FLARE are the young national advisors to the Department for Education on the implementation of the SEND reforms.

The group works together to share their views and experiences to help understand how disabled children and young people and those with SEND want to receive the support and services they need.

Alisha will be attending her fist meeting this weekend in London.

Read more information about FLARE and the Building the Participation of Children and Young People agenda.

Council for disabled children logo Making Ourselves Heard logo


Young Leaders, have been working with the Anti Bullying Alliance and the Council for Disabled Children on the All Together Programme to make a short film about some of the positive things that they use the internet for and staying safe online.

The All Together Programme offers training support and resources to schools to help them combat bullying. The programme has been developed over the last three years and builds upon the work of the Anti-Bullying Alliance’s previous SEND anti-bullying champion programme which saw positive results, the programme includes a special focus on reducing bullying of disabled children and those with SEN but aims to reduce bullying of all children and young people.

This video now forms part of the resources available through the programme and is being shared through national networks to raise awareness and combat bullying.

You can view the video here.

Young Leaders provide feedback

The Darlington Safeguarding Board have asked Young Leaders for some feedback about their new website.

Young leaders viewed the website and produced a report with some positive feedback as they liked the pictures, colours, contact details, interactive videos and found it easy to use.  The group also made some recommendations for improvements as they found there was lots of text in some areas, lots of big words used, close layout and that some icons were too small.

Young Leaders hope that the recommendations are taken into consideration and changes are made to make the website more accessible to disabled children and young people.

Young Leaders make a difference

The Northern Echo published this article about the work done by Young Leaders on 28th April 2017.


DAD provides Inclusion, Participation and Leadership opportunities for disabled young people aged between 14-25 years through its Young Leaders Project. The intention is that young disabled people gain skills and experience in order to influence DAD and other services. 
Young Leaders is a user led group and aims to achieve the following:

  • Have an impact on D.A.D by influencing decision making internally
  • Improve accessibility of services
  • Widen public attitudes with regards disability and change negative attitudes
  • Develop leadership skills in members

Why Young Leaders is important

Young Leaders is important for several reasons. Firstly it actively involves young disabled people in DAD, which could potentially lead them to play prominent roles within the organisation in the future. 
It is also the only organisation of its kind within Darlington, and as such it plays a fairly prominent role within the community. Without it young disabled people would be completely without representation. 
Thirdly it also provides a voice and a place for young disabled people to express their views. This is vital as young people as a whole, are often marginalised by society. This is even more true for young disabled people,

What we want to achieve

  • Ensure the setting up of a DAD Facebook page
  • Open up the group to all ages and allow membership from the wider public
  • Continue to work with and in greater cohesion with other Young People’s organisations
  • Increase young people’s influence within DAD
  • Increase the number of members through wider recruitment

Where we would like to see the Young Leaders group and Disability rights in 25 years?

I would like to think that Young Leaders will keep going and raise more awareness. I would like to work with other organisations in 25 years and keep fighting against Disablism. - James
Its hard to say what might happen in 25 years; but hopefully prejudice and discrimination will be a lot less or to be really optimistic, non-existent. As Young Leaders we will have done lots more to promote DAD and at the very least the Facebook page will be up and running - Chloe
I would like to see Young Leaders progressing further and looking towards the future I would love to see the Young Leaders have a new name and aiming towards any age and let any individuals in for the right reasons - Damian
Young Leaders will definitely survive for the next 5 years. However towards the end of the period in question Young Leaders are likely evolve into another project or disintegrate as Young Disabled people become more socially included. I would like the project to go into a large viable part of DAD but largely independent of it and completely user led, as well as more inclusive to all ages and disabilities. - Gerry
Young Leaders should be more publicised and not just Disabled Young people. I would like to see more impact on other services around the country and more groups set up like Young Leaders. - Sammy
I would like Young Leaders to do everything for other people like we have in the past and we are in the present and will in the future. What I like about Young Leaders is that we are working for everyone and everyone likes to hear about us. In the coming years I would like to actually see us on TV and I would like us to be celebrities and be famous. We are loving the future, so come on the future! - David

What Young Leaders have achieved so far

We have been involved in the recruitment of staff who work with us e.g. Inclusion Coordinator, Finance and Administrative worker.

Most of us became Young Inspectors. We have inspected many places such as the library, DAD, and Harewood House, checking for accessibility and attitude to service users and young people.
We have worked with an organisation called DOSH to get funding for resources to support our projects. 
Other organisations that we have worked with are-

  • YMCA
  • Changemakers
  • Connexions
  • Groundworks
  • Youth of Today

We have spoken at local and national events, such as:

  • Darlington Parent Carer Forum (formerly Carers of Disabled Children in Darlington CDCD)
  • Birmingham & London DisLIB Conferences
  • Regional network of Parent Carer Forums

We have met with influential figures such as:

  • Bill Dixon (Leader of the Council)
  • John Williams (Ex Leader of the Council)
  • Jenny Chapman (MP for Darlington)
  • Murray Rose (Director of People, Darlington Borough Council)
  • Peter Barron (Editor of the Northern Echo)

We are attempting to work in partnership with other Young People’s organisations in Darlington such as the Youth Services T3. We have also started working organisations such as Splinter and Extreme which are young disabled peoples groups in the North East. 
We have held several Young people’s forums - focusing on themes such as Equality and having our say in DAD. 
We have attended DAD’s Stakeholder Forum - sharing our views on matters that affect DAD. 
We have also attended Darlington Borough council’s Talking Together events and shared our views about what is important for young disabled people
We have had training from Alison John Associates, which gave us skills to use in speaking up and campaigning
We as members have grown in confidence. We have more of a say in who we are and what we do. ‘I was quiet and now I have my own opinion.’

Young Leaders Picture Gallery

Photo of Young Leader with Darlington MP Jenny Chapman
(Photo of Young Leader with Darlington MP Jenny Chapman)
Photo of Young Leader with a presentation
(Photo of Young Leader with a presentation)
Photo of Young Leader with the Leader of Darlington Borough Council
(Photo of Young Leader with the Leader of Darlington Borough Council)
Photo of Young Leaders at a Forum event sitting around a table
(Photo of Young Leaders at a Forum event)
Photo of Young Leaders delivering a presentation at the DAD AGM
(Photo of Young Leaders delivering a presentation at the DAD AGM)

Investing in Children

Young Leaders at the Youth Forum being presented with the certificate for DAD
(Young Leaders at the Youth Forum being presented with the certificate for DAD in recognition of Investing in Children)

Investing in Children is concerned with the human rights of children and young people. In particular, Investing in Children works to ensure that children and young people have a voice, and are able to influence the services they use.

DAD has demonstrated, to the satisfaction of the young people/children who use the service that they have been involved in dialogue, and change has come about as a result. The Young Leaders have been involved in the consultation process which involved completing a chart of evidence of children and young people's participation and meeting with the Investing in Children team.

This led to a report being completed recommending DAD for Investing in Children status. The certificate was presented to the Young Leaders at the Youth Forum on Saturday 19th March 2011, who were pleased to see the results of their voices being heard.

Contact Details

To find out more about the group please contact the ChYPS team:
Tel: 01325 489999, option 3
Text: 07624818780

Useful links


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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