LDPO: the inaugural interaction

Venue: Leeds Civic Hall

LDPO Members Present: Mostafa Kamal (Acting-Chair), Hannah McGurk, Steve Graby (Secretary), Tom Harris, Chris Shanks (Treasurer),  Sophie Yasmin, Anzir Boodoo, Peadar O’Dea (Chair), Maggie Griffiths & Gill Crawshaw.

LDPO successfully carried out our first public meeting, held on the 3rd of May 2018 at Leeds Civic Hall.

Convincing representatives from different organisations to sit together under the same roof for any amount of time to discuss ideas is difficult, given the fragmented nature of many DPO’s which is caused by the government’s ‘divide and conquer’ tactic, which ensures that DPO’s have to fight each other for resources in order to simply remain operational. So it was no small feat that LDPO managed to bring so many different parties together.

The meeting was chaired by our public relations officer Mostafa Kamal, who thankfully has experience in these sorts of things. The general vibe I got from the room was one of relief, relief perhaps that a new DPO was starting up, as someone said at the event ‘when so many others were being forced to close.’ Our proposal to focus our groups efforts on alleviating the social isolation of disabled people in Leeds seemed to go down well, however it also seemed that quite a few of those present wanted/expected political action from LDPO. More than one individual suggested we work with the Labour Party, to get campaigns started, this is a topic that the committee has discussed at length, and which I am probably guilty of talking about for too long at the meeting itself in response to the suggestions to join forces with Labour.

I am mindful that not everyone got to speak at the meeting, but there was a half hour or so for networking after the event in which LDPO members interacted with different people in the room, so hopefully this included some who did not get to speak publically.

There is a general feeling I believe that Leeds should be doing more to create inclusive spaces and policies for disabled people. There were a number of representatives from the council who attended the event, many of whom we had already met to discuss collaborative working with the LDPO and Leeds City Council, and we hope to work together to address some of these issues, and provide a platform for disabled people’s voices. 

LDPO has a lot to think about after this event, we followed it up with another committee meeting a few days later, and we feel we have some good ideas in the pipeline. We will need to try and meet the expectation that was echoed at the meeting, that we engage in some sort of political campaigns but also be realistic and mindful about what we can actually achieve.

For a first public meeting though, it seemed to go surprisingly smoothly for the most part. We have made more important contacts, and we have a general roadmap for projects we want to pursue, which will hopefully lead to exciting things in the future.

~ By Peader O’Dea

Update: at the time of publication on our previous site (April 3, 2019), our committee positions are:

Chair: Mostafa Atta

Deputy Chairs: Leo Gunn, Peader O’Dea

Secretary: Rebecca Porter

Treasurer: Chris Shanks

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