DRILL Blog and News

Health and Care Research Wales- Supporting Social Care research Survey


The new Social Care Research Strategy sets out a vision ‘For Wales to be internationally renowned for its excellent social care research that supports the people of Wales by informing and improving social care policy and practice.’  In order to achieve this people who use services, people who provide services and the public in general need to be more aware of research evidence and how it can be applied to their lives. The Strategy will be launched in the next few months and the implementation will support activities that will achieve this vision.


Health and Care Research Wales have a training programme that supports research in Wales. However, there is a need for an increase in training that has a social care research focus. We want to make sure that the training meets the requirements of people involved in research. We have developed a survey for people interested in social care research to help us understand what the training programme should include.

The links below will take you to the survey. The closing date for the survey is 1st January 2018.




Catherine Poulter. Social Care Research Manager. Health and Care Research Wales.



Blog Post: Leading Disability Research


Hello, my name is Keith Lynch and I am the Vice-Chair person of People First (Scotland) and   I want to tell you about the research we did with support from DRILL.


Before I do that I want to tell you a little bit about People First. Our organisation is a user-led learning disabled person’s organisation. This means that all our members and all our Directors have learning disabilities. We hire the staff that support us to do the work we chose to do.


The title of our research project was ‘Does it matter? Decision-making by people with learning disabilities’.

Since the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities there has been a lot of attention on how people with learning disabilities make decisions.


The UN Convention says that no person with a disability should have their right to make decisions taken away. We agree with this. In Scotland, more and more people with learning disabilities are having their right to make decisions taken away from them by Guardianship orders.


Some of my former colleagues who were Directors on the People First Board have been put under Guardianship orders, and are no longer allowed to make decisions for themselves.


The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has said that Guardianships should be replaced by supported decision-making.


We wanted to know more about decision-making by people with learning disabilities because we want to persuade the Scottish Government to change their laws. We also wanted to know what kind of support helps people to make their own decisions.


To do the research we partnered with researchers from a company called Animate Consulting. They helped us by telling us how to do research and the different ways we could do the research. They also did most of the reading and wrote the final report for us.


I was involved as a peer researcher and also sat on the steering group. The steering group met with the researchers once a month to talk about the research. We made all the big decisions that had to do with the research like coming up with the research questions, making sure we had enough people to take part, and commenting on the report draft by the researchers.


As a peer researcher I was supported to facilitate focus groups of members. I also did a couple of one-to-one interviews. For me this was a great part of the research. I enjoyed meeting members that I had not met before. It was also very interesting to hear how people felt about making decisions. We found that making decisions matters very much to people with learning disabilities. Most people said that making their own decisions helped them feel confident and in control.


I think it’s very important that we have been able to share the views of people with learning disabilities in our report and show what they think good support looks like. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my experience of being involved in the DRILL research.


If you want to know more about the work we do you can have a look at our website www.peoplefirstscotland.org/news/.


We are delighted to be the first DRILL project to publish our report. This research has been important to us for many reasons and especially because it highlights that there should be ‘nothing about us, without us’.

> Read the Research Report – ‘Does it matter? Decision-making by people with learning disabilities’


Keith Lynch,
Vice-Chair People First (Scotland)

Final call for applications for DRILL funding is now closed

The Disability Research on Independent Living & Learning Programme’s (DRILL) final open call for applications is now closed.  DRILL is fully funded by the Big Lottery Fund and is delivered in partnership by Disability Action, Disability Rights UK, Disability Wales and Inclusion Scotland.


DRILL is led by disabled people and funds coproduced research and pilot projects to find solutions about how disabled people can live as full citizens and take part socially, economically and politically.  To date almost £1.5 million has been committed to projects in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  Find out more on these projects here.


In the final funding call which closed on 8 August 2017, we received over 100 applications from across the UK.  DRILL will now begin a process of assessing the applications by using our National Advisory Groups (NAGs) and the Central Research Committee (CRC).  It is anticipated that applicants will be aware of the outcome by the end of November 2017.


Thank you for your interest in the DRILL Programme.


Dr Sally Witcher OBE
Chief Executive Officer, Inclusion Scotland  

Kevin Doherty
Chief Executive Officer, Disability Action

Kamran Mallick
Chief Executive Officer, Disability Rights UK

Rhian Davies
Chief Executive Officer, Disability Wales


Blog Post: DRILL through history, beyond the present for the future

Tony O’Reilly

Taking a look at the world today it seems that the equality agenda, has taken a backward step. Brexit and the quest for the leadership of American democracy has been characterised by many as a global manifestation of a backlash against progressive forces that sought to promote equality for all. We are left simply to reflect on the apathy or cacophony of angry voices as a guide in choosing moral leadership to uphold the nobility of human rights and the future of democracy. Gone in an instance is the history of struggle and endurance that must inform and shape progressive forces in our future.  It is in this history that lies our desire to look beyond the dark clouds of our history, from the politics of superficial opposition to the politics of inclusion.


Such progressive forces perhaps, through the lens of rose tinted glasses of a dreamer, were often rooted in the social conscience of the civil rights movements so prevalent it appears in the Europe and United States of the 1960s.  In the idealism of the young Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, my hero of the Russian Revolution of the 1980s and 1990s (not the one of 1917). His policies of glasnost (“openness”) and perestroika  (“restructuring”) gave so much hope for the flowering of human rights…..


When DRILL was first conceived by the four disability organisations involved and funded by the National Lottery, they didn’t imagine it would measure up to advancing the human rights of disabled people as other movements had progressed in the 1960’s. It will be a quiet revolution and one where information and knowledge alone will be mightier than any single street protest that preceded it. As for my heroes, in this wider modern and new revolution, it has to be the people who conceived this ambitious undertaking, despite the global doom and gloom, they have chosen to continue this struggle fighting with all their might for what is right; no matter the odds or the weight of history. My views, your views, our views, do matter. If DRILL says anything, it proclaims precisely that.


Two things are certain. You and me when we work in solidarity with each other:  we become an us. Together we make a difference. Alone, without the other disabled and non- disabled, we our drowned by popularism – which by definition excludes the minority, no matter how reasonable or compassionate our voice. Secondly, by the very nature of DRILL, and indeed our movement we will always challenge popularism born of ignorance, fear and despair.  The struggle for equality and human rights and the desire for knowledge and enlightenment is exactly that.  It is keeping faith in the good, in the struggle for a better tomorrow, bound neither by the past or the present, by a hard or soft Brexit or dare we say any resident in the White House.


This is an edited extract.  Tony’s full blog can be viewed here – June – Tony O’Reilly Blog


Tony O’Reilly is a member of the North West Forum of People with Disabilities and the Northern Ireland DRILL National Advisory Group.  He has been an activist in the human rights movement for over 25 years.  He is a dreamer and a doer.

Eleven new disability research projects receive £1 million as DRILL calls for new bids


Eleven projects across the UK are the latest to receive between £39,000 and £150,000 each of previously awarded funding to explore aspects of how disabled people can live as full citizens in our society.


The projects, which include exploring employment opportunites, housing and social care services for disabled people, are the latest to be funded by DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) programme, a £5 million research scheme led by disabled people and funded by Big Lottery Fund.


The announcement coincides with DRILL’s call for new bids for funding, which is announced this week – it is looking to allocate another £1 million.


All DRILL projects are led by disabled people or people with long term health conditions, working in co-production with academics and policy makers.


The latest grants were approved by the DRILL Central Research Committee, which is chaired by Professor Tom Shakespeare. He said:

“Once again, a terrific set of applications to the DRILL scheme. The Research Committee are delighted to be able to support work about adapted housing, autism, young disabled people, disabled parents and other important issues, from all parts of the United Kingdom. It’s particularly rewarding to see the strong new relationships which are emerging between disabled people’s organisations and university researchers.”


Lead partners on the latest projects to be awarded funding are:


  • Change (Leeds)
  • Research Institute for Consumer Affairs (RICA)
  • Sheffield Occupational Health Advisory Service
  • University of Coventry
  • University of Bedfordshire
  • Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living


Northern Ireland

  • Praxis



  • University of Stirling
  • Horizon Housing
  • University of Glasgow



  • Cardiff University


Launched in 2015, the DRILL programme is fully funded by Big Lottery Fund and delivered by Disability Rights UK, Disability Action Northern Ireland, Inclusion Scotland and Disability Wales. DRILL is expecting to fund up to 40 research pilots and projects over a five-year period, all led by disabled people.


Potential projects have until 8th August to put their bids in for the new round of funding.


More information on DRILL can be found on the main Funding page.

Details of the funded projects can be found in the Projects Section

Blog Post: DRILL Calling!


Our ground-breaking DRILL Programme is now well underway as we announce the latest tranche of projects awarded £1 million in total as well as the call for the second round of proposals to fill some of the research gaps and identify solutions to barriers faced by disabled people in achieving independent living.


We have been thrilled by the sheer number and quality of proposals (over 200) received from across the UK for research and pilot projects led by disabled people, in co-production with research experts. This demonstrates an appetite amongst disabled people to build our own knowledge and test innovations to enable disabled people to participate fully in society.


New DRILL Projects

DRILL funded projects enable disabled people pose the research questions and co-design the whole approach, with research partners. The questions disabled people put are simply not the same as those often asked by academics and professionals. DRILL’s research will reveal new knowledge, new insights, that could lead to new solutions and new ways of doing things that will make a real difference to disabled people’s lives in the UK.


For example, disabled people are consumers with cash to spend and will want to ensure that purchases are good value as well as meeting their requirements. The project Rate it! to be delivered by lead partner Research Institute for Consumer Affairs (RICA) will involve disabled people in producing product reviews, offering a peer perspective.


Several of the projects funded relate to independent living at different points in the life cycle.  The University of Coventry leads on a project to define quality and rights-based Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) for disabled young people whilst Wiltshire CIL’s project ImaYDiT will explore the transition from childhood to adulthood. Horizon Housing in Scotland’s initiative Match Me will look at the rented accommodation needs of disabled people whilst the University of Stirling will research the costs and benefits of good self-directed support. Support for disabled parents will be investigated by the University of Bedfordshire and partners.


Given the topicality of tackling the disability employment gap, the DRILL portfolio now includes some innovative projects focussing on barriers to the job market. These include CHANGE’s research into employing peer support workers with learning difficulties in services to people with learning difficulties; Sheffield Occupational Health Advisory Service’s project to explore employer perceptions on barriers to work; and Cardiff University’s research – Legally Disabled? – into the specific barriers to disabled people’s employment in the legal profession.


We are particularly glad to have funded projects that are led or co-led by people who often have little or no voice at all. These include: research led by Praxis in Northern Ireland into the experiences of people with mental health issues and intellectual disabilities regarding decision making processes; and the University of Glasgow’s initiative to examine barriers faced by people with autism.


Together with the ten small project and fast-track grants awarded in 2016, DRILL’s portfolio now consists of 21 projects totalling £1.5m. Competition has been fierce and we know that there will have been disappointment among bidders who were not successful this time. We are delighted to announce therefore that there is another opportunity to apply for funding.


Calling New Proposals

Our approach and priorities for the 2nd Call is based upon several factors: what disabled people told us at the DRILL roadshow events in 2015; the insight provided by the funding applications received in the 1st Call and; our ongoing engagement with disabled people across the UK. As before DRILL projects must be about one of the following 4 themes:


  • Participating in the economy, or
  • Participating in civic and public life, or
  • Participating in the community and social life, or
  • Participating in anything!


Based on the projects funded to date, we have identified several gaps so this time we will be particularly interested in proposals that seek solutions in specific areas. Full details can be found in the Guidance.


Most importantly we are looking to fund projects that have been developed in coproduction with people with lived experience of disability or long-term health conditions. We want the DRILL Programme to include a wide range of different experiences and perspectives. We are keen to fund a range of projects which tap into the diversity of people and experiences in the UK.



Over and above the findings and recommendations that all DRILL projects will generate, is the legacy we aim to achieve in linking Disabled People’s Organisations with researchers. For the first time in the history of the UK Disabled People’s Movement we will have the academic partners and the skills to set the research agenda, prioritising and posing our own questions on the issues of most importance to us and thereby sustaining DRILL’s work well into the future.



Rhian Davies

Chief Executive, Disability Wales

Blog Post – Empowerment matters: An evaluation of the Dementia NI service

Dementia NI Antrim group 2405

People with dementia often report losing confidence following a diagnosis and can sometimes experience feeling marginalised and stigmatised in society.

Dementia NI was established in January 2015 by five individuals with dementia, to support and enable others with dementia to have their voices heard.

Since launching in 2015, members have been involved in activities including public speaking, engaging with policy makers and service providers in Northern Ireland, raising awareness and challenging stigma and assumptions about dementia.

But what exactly empowers people with dementia and how can this learning about empowerment be translated to other contexts, for different individuals and in different circumstances? These are questions that will be addressed by our exciting new research project between Queen’s University Belfast and Dementia NI, funded by the DRILL programme.

We are delighted to be partnering with Dementia NI as part of an evaluation of the organisation’s empowerment programmes. Informed by the principles of realist research this evaluation will be co-produced by people with dementia to help understand what works well about the programmes, for who and in which situations. This will include interviews, observations and questionnaires with members, volunteers and staff. The knowledge developed through the evaluation will support current and future members of Dementia NI as they continue to develop empowerment groups across Northern Ireland. It is expected that recommendations will also be applicable more generally to empowerment of people living with other disabilities.

We are excited to be involved in a project that focuses on empowering people to live well with dementia. This research project will centre on listening to and learning from the voices of people with dementia. In the words of Dementia NI members:

“We want people to come and ask us, not make assumptions about and decisions for us.” (Dementia NI)


Dr Paul Best is a lecturer in Social Work at Queen’s University Belfast and will be leading this project in collaboration with Dementia NI.

Tara Collins is the programme manager of Dementia NI.

Mabel Stevenson is a research assistant at Queen’s University Belfast on this project.

Dementia NI – www.dementiani.org

02890 68 67 68

Email: [email protected]


Blog Post- Introducing a research project ‘Young People and friendships: what matters to us?’


38% of disabled young people feel lonely most days (Sense, 2016). It almost rolls off the tongue, ‘lonely most days’ as a glib, catch-all phase. But if we properly listen to disabled young people, we will become aware of a very stark situation that needs urgent action.


In evaluative research, C.A.R.P. Collaborations has been working with disabled young people who use the Building Bridges project, a community connecting and transition service, in Monmouthshire. These young people have explained exactly what ‘lonely most days’ actually means; through reflection on what life is like now, since they have had support to maintain friendships: ‘I was existing, but now I’m living.’ Having friends means that ‘I’m not alone now. I felt incredibly alone. I started suffering from OCD, anxiety and I had my learning difficulty and I was all alone.’ And loneliness often brings low self-esteem with it: ‘Since joining Building Bridges I realised I was not so bad’.

These descriptions paint a bleak picture of transition experience. But this experience is not shared across all young people. Why is it that most (by no means all) non-disabled young people’s life trajectories lead them to find their path in the world through apprenticeships or further learning, sexual relationships, networks of friendships and a variety of options ahead of them whilst; in various small evaluation and service development assessments that C.A.R.P. Collaborations has undertaken, this blossoming of social life, or indeed participation in the adult world, does not appear to be a common experience for disabled young people. Without certain types of transition support or access to community activities young disabled people often describe themselves as ‘all alone’.


Social life and friendship are often seen as trivial; particularly within the eyes of social researchers who feel there are more weighty problems to investigate. However, re-reading these quotes, we can see that social lives and community participation are crucial; to both wellbeing and identity. But we need to know so much more in order to give the same opportunities and dreams to disabled young people that the majority of non-disabled young people currently have. The DRILL programme has enabled us to do exactly this. We are working across South East Wales to find out what are the patterns of friendship for disabled young people in transition to adulthood? What helps to maintain friendships and what are the attitudinal, organisational and environmental barriers that stop their participation in social life?


But who are the best people to do that investigation? Should a research project rely upon the C.A.R.P. staff team; all of whom are academically trained, non-disabled and aged over 45? We can empathise as individuals and analyse as academics; but to really get it right we need those young people in our research team. They are the people who know this issue, who have so accurately described the experience of friendship and explained the full implications of what ‘lonely most days’ actually means. They are also the people who will know what needs to happen to change in service design to change this bleak social reality. So the research project involves training and mentoring young disabled people to take work placements in researcher roles and work with us to explore these important questions. We are at the early stages of this peer research journey and hope our next blog opportunity will be a video account from a peer researcher colleague.


Vikki Butler is research director within Community Action in Research and Policy (C.A.R.P.) Collaborations, a social business and workers’ co-operative based in Swansea.


Tweets from @drill_uk

Spinner Loading new posts...
Rosalind Tyler-Greig Rosalind Tyler-Greig @RosalindGreig

Fab blog from Keith Lynch at #PeopleFirstScotland on their #drilluk research. And read the research report here:… https://t.co/sxncqkq6wT

2 months ago
Sean Fitzsimons Sean Fitzsimons @ballyaltonboy

Required reading from Keith Lynch of People First Scotland on their brilliant #coproduced #DRILLUK research on supp… https://t.co/IA697Io409

2 months ago

@chessmartinez ‘nothing about us without us’ =such a powerful philosophy.& centre of #drilluk work as 1st #Disabledhttps://t.co/ahrolkEGza

2 months ago

At #drilluk we love research about finding solutions & improving lives. Opportunity to join @jrf_uk discussion on… https://t.co/JeZkuAp2c9

2 months ago

Our Programme Board had a fab meeting in #Wales last week.
@KamranMallick-thanks for the photo,& a really warm wel… https://t.co/YSEWaoIaMJ

2 months ago

Calling all #Disabled people – please help @RicaUK research accessibility improvements to #review websites
#drilluk https://t.co/8p2dvSo3gO

2 months ago
Disability Rights UK Disability Rights UK @DisRightsUK

DRILL is looking to allocate another £1 million funding for research projects. Closes 8 August 2017. #DRILLUK https://t.co/w0rTEfQrNq

4 months ago

Check out #drilluk first research report Does it Matter? Decision Making by People with Learning Disabilities:

4 months ago

Check out #drilluk first research report Does it Matter? Decision Making by People with Learning Disabilities:

4 months ago
Animate Consulting Animate Consulting @AnimateConsults

Animate’s research with People 1st Scot on decision making by people with learning disabilities is out! https://t.co/4OTrQNcWH5 #drilluk

4 months ago
Disability Rights UK Disability Rights UK @DisRightsUK

DRILL is looking to allocate another £1 million funding for research projects. Closes 8 August 2017. #DRILLUK https://t.co/w0rTEfQrNq

4 months ago

We’re SO excited to hear that People First Scotland &@AnimateConsults have today published #drilluk’s 1st research report! Link coming soon!

4 months ago
Disability Rights UK Disability Rights UK @DisRightsUK

DRILL is looking to allocate another £1 million funding for research projects. Closes 8 August 2017. #DRILLUK https://t.co/w0rTEfQrNq

4 months ago

#drilluk parents discussed #summerholidays over lunch break today! Some suggestions for days out during days off he… https://t.co/0hfuKo6BlW

4 months ago
Disability Rights UK Disability Rights UK @DisRightsUK

DRILL is looking to allocate another £1 million funding for research projects. Closes 8 August 2017. #DRILLUK https://t.co/w0rTEfQrNq

4 months ago
Rosalind Tyler-Greig Rosalind Tyler-Greig @RosalindGreig

Off to #Belfast to meet with #drilluk team. Looking forward to discussion & planning 😊

4 months ago