Annual Report 2015 – 2016

NEWCASTLE DISABILITY FORUM
TRUSTEES REPORT AND FINANCIAL STATEMENTS For the period 10 April 2015 to 31 March 2016
Charity Number 1156622
Newcastle Disability Forum
Eliminating Barriers; Promoting Access; Enabling Participation
Contents
Introduction  2
Chair’s Report     3
Treasurer’s Report  4
Trustees     5
The Team    6
Overview   7
Conferences/ Seminars/ Events
Representation and Support
Achievements
Members/ Participants Feedback
Declaration 11

2.  IntroductionNewcastle Disability Forum, also known as NDF or the Forum, works on behalf of, and with, disabled and elderly people and their carers to support and enable them to fulfil their aspirations, maintain their independence and live the life they choose.  The Forum also works with individuals, organisations and communities to enhance access to information, services and facilities in order to create a more fair society.

Established in 1988, the Forum became a registered charity (1092038) in 2002 and achieved Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) status in April 2014, adopting the Charity Commission approved CIO- Association model constitution as its governing document.  While the charity registration number changed from 1092038 to 1156622 with the change of legal status, the Forum remains a registered charity.

Professional Advisers  

Independent Examiners:  Ellison Services, NCVS, Higham House, Higham Place, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AF.
Training and Support:  NCVS, Higham House, Higham Place, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AF.3.  Chair Report 
Welcome to 2015 – 2016 Newcastle Disability Forum, Annual Report.   This has been a very busy year for the Forum not least in relation to our access work.  We continue to be involved in a variety of access issues across the City.  The monitoring of existing safe access aids and procedures is a never ending task which goes on at all times with the help and support of our members.  They are the eyes and ears of the City, its ever vigilant watchdogs.  We have again been able to share our members’ ‘lived experience’ to inform responses and recommendations to consultations, walkabouts etc.
The ‘open to all with an interest in access’, Forum Access Group, held 5 meetings in Newcastle Civic Centre, our thanks to Newcastle City Council officers for their interest and support.  Trustees and/or members attended meetings of the Local Access Forum, the Regional Access Group, Nexus Transport Group meetings and the Cycling Stakeholders Group ensuring that disabled peoples’ needs and wishes, in relation to development and on-going usage, are considered at all stages.  We have also been instrumental in helping individuals and groups deal with organisations to address access issues to their mutual benefit.
The day to day work of the Forum continues to flourish, membership has increased and new partnerships have been established.  These include OrCam, Polyphotonix, The Quality of Life Partnership and Dementia Care. We continue to be the ‘voice for disabled people’ on a wide range of groups.
Again I am able to report that the financial situation has remained steady, with the Forum managing to hold its head above water while retaining a minimum of four months reserves, in addition to operating capital.  However securing funding, particularly core funding, continues to be very challenging and a top priority for us.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the team for their hard work throughout the year and my fellow Trustees for their commitment, diligence and support.
Alison Blackburn
Chair
4.  Treasurer’s Report

The full financial statements for the Forum for the period from 1st April 2015 – 31st March 2016, are contained in the independent examiner’s report at.  This is the Forum’s first 12 month accounting period since becoming registered as a CIO.  Though the Trustees face the future with confidence that the Forum will continue to prosper, the accounts do reflect the difficulties faced by the voluntary sector.

Funding received from the organisations listed below has enabled the Forum to continue working for and with disabled people.

• Age UK • Newcastle City Council  • Souter Trust  • The Rothley Trust

Our thanks go to all our funders, without you the Forum would be unable to function.
Despite the challenging economic times and the limitations resulting from continuing austerity measures, I am pleased to be able to report that the Forum has survived another year, has no funds in deficit and carries forward a small but welcome surplus.  However, as in previous years, the biggest challenge faced by the Forum is that of raising sufficient funding, especially the core funding needed to maintain and develop the organisation.
Many charities are applying for funding from organisations with limited funds to give, so competition is quite fierce.  Our Office Manager, Janice Croft, and her small group of volunteers have done sterling work, not only in the vitally important realm of fund raising, but in the everyday running of the Forum.  As Treasurer, I am grateful to Janice for her unflagging commitment and unfailing dedication to the Forum.  We are in the lucky position of being able to continue our work at NDF for the foreseeable future with our team, ably led by Alison and a small but committed team of Trustees.

Elizabeth Black

Treasurer
 
5.  Trustees
The following people have served as Trustees of Newcastle Disability Forum during the period covered by this report:
Ms Alison Blackburn   Chair

Mrs Elizabeth Black   Treasurer

Mr Waqar Bashir Ahmed  Trustee

Dr. Joanne Money   Trustee

Mr Kumud Wijayaratna  Trustee

The Team

Janice Croft   Office Manager

Mike Ward  Volunteer

Ernie Miller Volunteer

The Forum relies heavily on the skills and support of its volunteers.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank our current volunteers Mike and Ernie for all their hard work.  We would find it difficult to manage without you.

 
 6   Overview
Limited capacity and limited funding have continued to constrain the services the Forum is able to offer its members.  Despite this, what follows is a flavour, though by no means a comprehensive list, of the work we have undertaken/been involved in during the year covered by this report.
Trustees Meetings
The Trustees met, to guide and monitor the progress of the organisation, in May ’15 (the inaugural meeting of NDF/CIO), July ’15, September ’15, December ’15, and March ’16.  To ensure continued efficient and effective management of the Forum and to complement the skills and commitment of the 5 Trustees, recruitment of Trustees remains one of the Forum’s priorities.
Open Meetings 
Increase in membership continues at a small but steady pace. Open Meetings, open to members, organisations and anyone with an interest in disability issues, took place in May ‘15, July ‘15, September ’15 and March ’16.  Expectation of bad weather and the subsequently difficulty/risk involved in travel for disabled people dictates that no Open Meetings take place during January.  Speakers at the Open Meetings included:
• Louise Coulthard – Tyne and Wear Fire Service • Alison Black – Retired Public Health Inspector • Moira Hopkins – PolyPhotonix – Sleep Mask
AGM
The Annual General Meeting was held in September.  In accordance with CIO guidelines one of the Trustees resigned and the two co-opted Trustees were duly elected by the membership.
Disability Awareness Training
The Forum delivered 6 disability awareness training sessions to the Newcastle City’s taxi drivers.  61 drivers attended the training, gaining knowledge of, and confidence in, how to support and help disabled customers. They also gained a certificate without which their licences would be under threat.  84% of those attending training rated it as very beneficial. The Scout Group at Heaton Congregational Church also received awareness training to support their work towards their disability badge.
Exhibitions
DNEX
The Forum exhibited at DNEX after a gap of several years.  This helped raise the profile of the Forum and helped strengthen and increase our networks as well as generating individual contact with members of the public.  Visitors took the opportunity to raise issues of concern which we have raised with appropriate organisations and businesses.
Disabled Access Day
To celebrate Disabled Access Day, 12th March 2016, the Forum hosted an exhibition/event at Newcastle City Library to showcase the work we do with partner organisations to promote disabled access. We were supported by Disability North, Newcastle City Council – Libraries and Highway Departments, Nexus, Tyne Sound News, Virgin East Coast and Newcastle Hospitals.  30+ people visited the event – their queries and comments covered a wide variety of topics e.g. ‘travel insurance’, benefit entitlement, hospital appointments and parking, supported travel.
7.  Other Activities
The Chair’s report has highlighted the work of the Forum’s Access Group which also includes sharing the lived experience of the Forum’s members. 
8. Christmas Celebration
The Forum had a small in-house celebration with members and friends each bringing a plate of food to share.  It was well attended with members who struggled to get to the regular open meetings due to health problems making that extra effort.  People said they appreciated being able to just relax and chat informally.  It was enjoyed by all.Representation and Support
The Trustees, staff and members continue to ensure the views and experiences of disabled people are represented at a variety of Forums which include:
• Local Access Forum

• Regional Access Forum

• Police and Crime Commissioner’s Disability Advisory Group

• Regional Retinal Screening Board

• Diabetes UK – National Strategic Planning Group

• NHS Hospitals Trust – Diversity and Human Rights Working Group

• Newcastle City Council Policy Cabinet Meetings

• North East Ambulance Stakeholders Group

In addition the Forum endeavours to assist organisations wishing to access disabled people’s opinions by responding to requests for consultation either by email or through events.  Consultation events facilitated by the Forum during 2015-16 included:
• Age UK Business Engagement Consultation Event; • RNIB – consultation on brochure about diabetes-related eye conditions; • Sight Services – feasibility of a combined voluntary transport group; • Newcastle City Council  – development of cycle routes through the City; • Newcastle City Council Budget Proposal Consultation Event

9.  Partnerships
Newcastle Disability Forum continues to work in cooperation and partnership with a range of organisations which include:
• Disability North • Northumbria University • Newcastle City Council • OrCam • PolyPhotonix • Newcastle City Libraries • NCVS • Quality of Life Partnership • Dementia Care 

10.  Signature and Declaration

Declaration: I declare, in my capacity of charity Trustee/Chair, that:
• The Trustees of NDF have approved the report above;  and • Have authorised me to sign it on their behalf.

Signature:

Full Name:  Alison Elizabeth Blackburn

Position: Chair of Trustees

Date 6th July 2016

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