The Every Disabled Child Matters (EDCM) campaign was created in light of the 2006 parliamentary hearings on services for disabled children.
The aim of the campaign, originally projected to last three years, was to protect the rights and justices of disabled children and their families so that they have access to the right services and support needed. EDCM lasted ten years with subsidiary campaigns each having their own aims, but taking into account the general aim at all times.
How did the campaign work?
Over the years the project was delivered using a selection of online and offline tactics. In the early years the focus was on engaging politicians and families through en masse protests, political briefings and party conference fringe events, all of which were used to overturn policy initiatives. In the later years the project’s focus shifted online – building a vibrant social media presence, especially on Facebook. This provided a new audience for EDCM where supporters could speak candidly about their own experiences – making the campaign more public facing. Through this new audience EDCM encouraged supporters to campaign for themselves to change things locally. This was done through the launch of a collection of ten online campaigning guides as well as through online e-actions for projects such as the Disabled Children’s Charter. The Charter asked for the local Health and Wellbeing Board to take into account disabled children and their families when addressing their joint commissioning duties.
What did EDCM achieve over 10 years?
In its lifetime, EDCM helped to secure £440 million of extra funding for services for disabled children. Alongside the Special Educational Consortium the campaign was instrumental in lobbying, and measuring implementation of the Children and Families Act 2014, the biggest change in SEND legislation.
Other campaign achievements include 2580 people taking the ‘Right from the Start’ supporter action which called for supporters to share EDCM’s General Election report with their Parliamentary Prospective Candidates. Over 100 candidates were lobbied, opening up the possibility for conversation with future MPs and 1043 people downloaded the ‘Right from the Start’ report. From this action the campaign met with 27 MPs through individual meetings and the Parliamentary launch event of the report in January 2015.
With Contact A Family and the Family Childcare Trust, EDCM launched the independent Parliamentary Inquiry into childcare for disabled children in July 2014. A year later the updated campaign ‘Levelling the Playing Field’ was launched with the two charities and lobbying began for the Childcare Bill alongside SEC. EDCM had amendments tabled during the passage through the Lords by Baroness Tyler and Baroness Pinnock.
For the campaign’s final report ‘Short Breaks in 2015: An Uncertain Future’ 5 focus groups were held, with the campaign team talking to 31 parents and emailing every LA (152) a freedom of information request asking about cuts to the short breaks budget from 2011/12 financial year. The response rate for these FOIs was 85% based on 139 responses. The final written report was submitted as part of the consultation process to the Comprehensive Spending Review and has since reached the office of Edward Timpson, Minister of State for Children and Families who is keeping the report under review.
One of the biggest lessons EDCM has learnt is that empirical evidence is imperative to campaigning, especially when trying to influence government policy. Real life case studies also bring a more humane element and this is something EDCM always brought, by consulting with families in focus groups or via online conversation.