Merton Centre for Independent Living growing despite cuts in the current climate of funding cuts, charities and community groups are finding it ever harder to make ends meet. However, Merton CIL has been bucking the trend. Merton CIL is an organisation run by disabled people promoting the inclusion, choice, and independence of disabled people in Merton. They were established in 2008 to provide a voice for disabled people in the borough and to provide support in all areas of their lives.
Although there are many centres for independent living around the country, and the world, Merton didn’t have one, so the organisation lobbied hard to get funding from the local council to support running of services in 2012. Since then, Merton CIL has gone from strength to strength thanks to the generosity of a wide range of grants. Manager Lyla Adwan-Kamara says “in such a difficult funding climate, we’ve been very well supported, which we didn’t necessarily expect as a new organisation. It means that we can deliver several great services this year, and I’m particularly excited about the upcoming launch of our advocacy service, part funded by Trust for London, which will support local disabled people, particularly those affected by Welfare Reform. We are very fortunate to have secured this funding.”
In addition to Advocacy Services launching in the Summer, Merton CIL is hoping to secure funding to continue running Advice and Information sessions for disabled people in Merton which piloted earlier this year thanks to local housing association Merton Priory Homes. Merton CIL Advisor, Justyna, says “obviously with people concerned about welfare cuts, most people so far have needed advice on things like changes to Disability Living Allowance, but we can give advice and information in lots of other areas too.”
Merton CIL’s other main service is their Peer Support Programme, run through volunteers trained in coaching techniques with a grant from Office of Disability Initiatives. “The peer support workers have such a great energy along with first-hand experience of dealing with all sorts of disability issues. Being able to chat through things with someone you know has been there is so much better in terms of thinking through different options and choices to a problem. I’ve spent time training with the team and they are ready to go and I know they have the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives” said freelance musician and Disability Equality Facilitator, John Kelly.
To find out more about what Merton CIL does or to join as a member and have your say, contact Merton CIL on firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.mertoncil.org.uk
You can also find them on Twitter: @MertonCIL and on Facebook: Mertoncil