History of Disability Huntingdonshire ("DISH")
In response to a need expressed by disabled people and their carers to have a specialist information and advice service on all aspects of disability, the Disability Information Service Huntingdonshire (DISH) was set up in 1991 by the Huntingdonshire Coalition of Disabled People. DISH is a registered charity and the service operates across the whole of Huntingdonshire, a mainly rural area within the boundaries of Cambridgeshire.
DISH was set up with initial funding provided by Cambridgeshire Social Services and the Opportunities for Volunteering Scheme (a national government initiative administered by RADAR). In October 1991 the service began operating from the Chrysalis Centre, a Social Services Day Centre, in Huntingdon with one member of staff and a team of volunteers. As demand for its services grew, DISH moved in 1993 to the Disability Resource Centre at Papworth Everard and by 1995 additional drop-in centres at Huntingdon, St. Neots and St. Ives were in operation in addition to a home visiting scheme. In 1996 a representation service was made available to people needing assistance at Disability Appeal Tribunals. In 1999 DISH was awarded a grant of £90,000 from the National Lotteries Charities Board, now known as the Community Fund, for a three-year welfare benefits project.
DISH was awarded charity status in 1997 and two years ago moved into Pendrill Court, a new building where we work alongside some of our partner organisations including the Cambridgeshire Alliance for Independent Living and the Disability Cambridgeshire. Pendrill Court is also home to an innovative new public library fully accessible to disabled people.
All of DISH’s trustees are connected with disability issues. The chair has many years of experience of working in the voluntary sector and the rest of the board is made up of people with disabilities, carers and people working in the disability field. It is written in DISH’s constitution that 51% of trustees should be either disabled people, carers or have strong connections within the disability field.
DISH is a member of DIAL UK, a national organisation serving the needs of disability information and advice centres. DIAL provides training, management support and current information about social policy, welfare benefits and legal issues.
DISH currently employs four part-time staff: a Project Manager, an Information Officer, a Welfare Rights Advisor and a Family Advisor. DISH is also supported by volunteers, who have either a disability themselves, or experience of caring for a disabled relative.