Asian People's Disability Alliance

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Asian People's Disability Alliance's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Asian People's Disability Alliance is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

CEO Zeenat Jeewa
APDA: Winner of a London
Asian Business Award
For the past 30 years, the Asian People’s Disability Alliance
has provided services to meet the needs of disabled people
and carers in the Asian community. APDA recognises the
importance of cultural sensitivity in its work, which allows it to
provide and tailor the most effective support it can. CEO Zeenat
Jeewa explains how the charity is able to provide care to any
and all in the Asian community who require it.
We’ve been providing our culturally sensitive support to local Asian communities
from our centre in Harlesden in Brent for 30 years. We support those of all faiths
and none, and we are not part of any larger organisation. Our mission is to provide
support services which are appropriate to the needs of disabled Asian people, their
carers and those who are elderly and lonely, thereby supporting their wellbeing
and independence and, simultaneously, lessening the state’s contingent liability to
provide more expensive and institutional provision.
Surprisingly perhaps, we are just as relevant today as we were 30 years ago.
In 1989, there was simply no support for disabled Asian people. Today, there
is support but it is generic and lacks the cultural sensitivity that is central
to our services and essential when dealing with the issues that concern the
Understanding the needs of the community
All disabled Asian people suffer two disadvantages. The first, from society
generally, is a consequence of the “medical” model of disability. The second comes
from within their own communities and is largely driven by cultural norms.
»CEO: Zeenat Jeewa
»Established in 1989
»Based in Harlesden
»Services: Day, home and
respite care for the disabled
Asian community
»No. of employees: 35
Asian People’s
Disability Alliance
Highlighting best practice
If you are a disabled Asian woman,
you suffer a third disadvantage – as a
disabled woman, role-based traditions
change slowly. Of course, there is
generalisation here and the position
differs from community to community
and with age and education.
We understand this environment.
The social model of disability and our
lived experience underpins our direct
services. We are a user-led, non-
political Deaf and Disabled People’s
Organisation, managed by Asian
people with personal experience of
disability and caring. We are also
a successful social enterprise with
a sustainable annual turnover of
Selecting the right projects
Almost all our income comes from
contract work for local authorities.
Compared to many charities
supporting vulnerable people, we
do not have to chase ever-scarcer
funding as we only bid for funding
when a project directly adds value to
For example, we secured funding from
the Big Lottery, through Disability
Rights UK, to carry out research into
the barriers to independent living faced
by disabled Asian women. We knew
from desk research that people from
South Asian communities experience
high levels of disability compared to
the general population. However,
much of the research was dated and
focused on disability in children rather
than adults, with a tendency to neglect
social deprivation and exclusion and
with insufficient emphasis on the
interaction between identity, disability
and gender. We also noted a tendency
to assume a homogeneity in the term
“Asian” that neglected the ethnic,
cultural, religious and geographic
differences within and between
communities. Some of our findings
were at odds with conventional
wisdom, although the importance
of the third sector as a lifeline was
confirmed time and again.
Our services and beyond
We are unique in that we match
our services directly to the needs of
Asian people with disabilities, their
carers and their families. We provide
support irrespective of age or situation
and provide services that consider
Asian traditions, practices and family
relationships as well as language, diet
and religion.
Our main direct services are day, home
and respite care, all carried out by staff
that share a common language and
cultural background with the client.
We operate five days a week with
some 60 disabled people attending
on one or more days. All of our clients
are Asian and disabled and we reject
a time-task approach: we will only
provide care in units of at least an hour
and we codesign the care with the
client or family.
APDA’s 30th anniversary
We are unique
in that we
match our
directly to the
needs of Asian
people with
We provide
support and
services that
consider Asian
practices and
We advocate with, and for, our clients
when they make representations
about their social care support,
housing needs or medical care,
managing their cases if asked to do
so. We also support user-led groups
for Asian women with mental health
issues. Beyond this, we campaign and
advocate for the needs and rights
of Asian disabled people across the
UK and internationally and we have
consultative status on Economic
and Social Development with the
Adapting to a challenging
Ultimately, the greatest challenges we
face are financial, something which
has been exacerbated over recent
years because of the consequences of
austerity measures.
The access-to-services bar has been
raised while commissioners have
sought, understandably, to drive
down the price they will pay. The
consequence is a reduction in the
discretionary activities that have always
characterised our provision.
As a result, our clients have changed.
Five years ago, we had a good
balance of ages and disabilities.
Now, nearly all new referrals are very
elderly with often complex age-
related disabilities. This has inevitably
changed our personality. Put simply,
we need additional space to provide a
specialist provision for our clients with
dementia, which would be helped by
We understand the importance of
outcomes and KPIs, providing these are
realistic and proportionate. However,
these can often be tick-box exercises
imposed on us to meet someone
else’s needs with little thought being
given to the environment in which
we operate. We sometimes feel that
completing a form takes precedence
over the wellbeing of the client.
A sustainable future
Unless approaches to commissioning
radically change, we have a sustainable
future. As long as Asian communities
preserve their traditions and culture,
at least in part, there will be a need
for culturally sensitive support that
only Asian user-led organisations can
properly provide.
However, a change to a solely prime
contractor model does not offer a
level playing field to smaller social
enterprises such as us. Not only would
we lose out, so too would our clients,
and the cultural sensitivity of the
provision would almost certainly be
We know that younger disabled Asian
people may prefer community-based
provision to our primarily premises-
based provision and so we will aim
to provide it. To do this, we have
purchased three accessible minibuses
and constructed a staff team that can
deliver in the community. Ultimately,
the success of this will come down to
realistic funding being available.
As long as
preserve their
traditions and
culture …
there will be a
need for
support that
only Asian
can properly
APDA’s wheelchair
Bollywood dance group

This article was sponsored by Asian People's Disability Alliance. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development