In 1989, at a time when there were no UK laws to protect disabled people from discrimination, the Avon Coalition of Disabled People (ACDP) was formed. Part of their work was to campaign for ‘Independent Living Services’ to be made available to disabled people. This would give disabled people who were supported by the local authority, the option to decide on and manage their own support needs, instead of the council deciding how they would be ‘taken care of’.
This was a radical proposal at the time, but the ACDP was successful in its mission, and in 1994 secured funding to set up an organisation to deliver Independent Living Services in the Avon area. The organisation was named The West of England Centre for Inclusive Living (WECIL), and was officially launched in September 1995, by Jane Campbell – then Chair of the British Council of Disabled People.
The launch of this Centre for Independent Living (CIL) was part of a nationwide movement of CILs, set up by disabled people to manage their own services. WECIL is now one of the largest CILs in the country, and along the way we have developed a range of other services which support disabled people in different areas of their lives. In 2016, we incorporated another Disabled People’s User-led Organisation (DPULO) into WECIL – Action on Disability on Work (ADWUK) – thus adding employment services into our holistic package of support. We are proud of our pioneering roots, and continue to be led by disabled people – developing innovative and person-centred services. All of which support our guiding aim of enabling disabled people to have more choice and control over their own lives.
ADWUK supported over 1,000 disabled people to fulfil their potential in work and provided advice to over 150 organisations.