Centre for Independent Living


Darlington's Centre for Independent Living, DAD provides services which enable disabled people and carers to control their lives.

We help and support disabled people, their families and carers through:


DAD brings disabled people together to improve access for disabled people by addressing barriers created by both the physical and attitudinal environment.

DAD promotes good practice around access issues, and works with planners and providers to improve access to services. DAD works with organisations from the planning stage through to delivery to ensure their services are accessible.

DAD also advises public bodies how to discharge the duties imposed on them by the Equality Act

Some examples of our work include-

  • Looking at planning applications to make sure access to a building / service has been considered
  • Monitoring the frequency and sites of goods on the pavement and A boards, and supporting the Council to enforce regulations to keep pavements clear
  • Supporting the implementation of the Disability Equality Duty 

To find out more contact-


‘Advocacy is about enabling every person to have a voice of their own and ensuring that they are not excluded because they do not express their views in ways that people understand’ (A voice of their own, BILD, 2006)

DAD supports disabled people and carers to say what they want, secure their rights and get services that they need. DAD also encourages self advocacy.

DAD’s Advocacy Project is a free and independent service for individuals and carers.

Some examples of our work include-

  • Working with disabled people and parents of disabled children to make sure their views are included in social care assessments and decisions
  • Enabling carers to access appropriate services
  • Supporting people to improve life skills including confidence building and using their experience positively

To find out more contact-


DAD is a non political organisation. However it actively campaigns on issues which affect the lives of disabled people, families with disabled children and carers. DAD listens to its members and tries to influence decisions that are being made at a local and national level.

Some examples of our work include-

  • Gathering evidence and making the Council aware of the impact of the cuts on disabled people and carers
  • Submitting consultation responses where the Government calls for evidence on issues such as welfare reforms
  • Joining national campaigns led by organisation such as the Alliance for Inclusive Education and Scope

To find out more contact please email us at mail@darlingtondisability.org.


Co-production refers to a way of working where decision-makers and disabled people and / or carers work together to make a decision or develop a service which works for everyone. Co-production is built on the principle that those who are affected by a service are best placed to help design it.

DAD supports and encourages co-production. It tries to make sure that disabled people and carers are involved fully and at the earliest possible opportunity when policies or services are being developed.

Some examples of our work include-

  • Supporting carers who sit on the Carers Strategy Steering Group
  • Working with the Peoples Parliament to enable people with learning difficulties to develop skills in co-production
  • Developing and supporting Citizen Experts who contribute to disability impact assessments, and support other disabled people and carers around the issues of Personalisation

To find out more contact-

Information and Advice

DAD provides comprehensive, up to date information and advice on a wide range of topics. The organisation also supports disabled people and carers to make informed choices and increase independence through access to disability rights based information

Some examples of our work include-

  • Providing information to disabled people, parents of disabled children and carers through a range of newsletters, factsheets and meetings
  • Supporting disabled people and carers through casework, to challenge discrimination and other decisions which negatively impact on their lives
  • Signposting disabled people and carers to other local, regional and national services
  • Advising play and childcare settings on how to make their service inclusive

To find out more contact-

Peer Support

Disabled people are experts in the barriers which face them and how to tackle such barriers. Peer support offers the opportunity to share experiences and to support others in making informed, independent choices.

DAD offers opportunities for disabled people of all ages and carers to learn from one another, and to work together to tackle issues.

Some examples of our work include-

  • Bringing people who use Direct Payments together for peer support
  • Developing opportunities for young disabled people to develop skills as peer mentors

To find out more contact-

Services to support choice, control, flexibility and inclusion

DAD provides services which enable disabled people and carers gain and maintain control over their life. This includes personal assistance and person centred support services.

Some examples of our work include -

  • Supporting disabled people to devise Personal Development Plans, including community involvement, education, training, leisure and employment
  • Working with young people to develop independent living skills, including money management
  • Providing inclusive holiday play care
  • Operating a PA Register

To find out more contact-


DAD offers training on a wide range of topics to practitioners and advisers, voluntary sector organisations, disabled people and carers.

Some examples of our training include-

  • Disability Equality
  • Equality Act
  • Language and etiquette
  • Making information accessible
  • Personalisation
  • Support Planning
  • Effective communication for play / childcare providers
  • Inclusive play
  • Carer awareness for health settings
  • Loop systems
  • Rights for disabled young people (co-delivered)

To find out more contact-

User Led

A user led organisation (ULO) is an organisation that is run and controlled by people who use services, including disabled people, mental health service users, people with learning difficulties, their families and carers’. (SCIE 2009)

DAD began as a charity in 1986 led by disabled people. We are now also a company limited by guarantee and have a Board of Trustees. As a user led organisation the majority of Trustees are disabled people, who direct the work of DAD.

A ULO is an organisation based on clear values of independence, involvement and peer support. Second, unlike other voluntary sector organisations, service users control the organisation (power). Finally, ULOs are uniquely identified by their knowledge, which is based on direct, lived experience. These three criteria define a ULO. (Shaping Our Lives 2009).

Some examples of how this impacts on our work include-

  • Working with our Young Leaders project to produce leaders of the future, including potential Trustees
  • Actively recruiting disabled people and carers as staff, volunteers and mentors
  • Holding a regular Stakeholder Forum where any member of DAD can raise issues of concern

To find out more contact please email us at mail@darlingtondisability.org.

Support to use personal budgets and Direct Payments.

DAD is committed to disabled people, parents and carers having more choice and control over the assessed services they receive. DAD offers information, advice and support to people to explore and use Personal Budgets, Direct Payments and Personal Health Budgets.

Staff can also assist with the self assessment process and support planning

Some examples of our work include-

  • Support for people who choose to employ their own personal assistants and support workers, including a full payroll service and recruiting and advertising support
  • Working with the Local Authority Pathfinder Pilot towards a single assessment process for disabled children and young people, which includes support planning
  • Developing a peer mentoring service which enables people with experience of Direct Payments and Personal Budgets to support others

To find out more contact-

Support we provide includes:

Play schemes for children, hate crime reporting centre, and much more.

We are always interested in hearing from people who would like to volunteer to support us in our work, including our summer play scheme.

We support anyone regardless of age or impairment.


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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