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Contact the team: 0117 947 9911

Do you want to email us for assistance? Contact: [email protected]

About WECIL

WECIL is an award winning, user led organisation supporting Disabled people to live the life they choose. Our approach is fully person centred. Our staff have lived experience and this informs the support we offer.

Mission Statement

We are an organisation of Disabled people working together to enable choice. We challenge the barriers to independent living through the delivery of high-quality support and advice.

  • Provide a service for all Disabled people, whatever their background or needs;
  • Lead in best practice for the delivery and development of services that support Independent Living;
  • Deliver value for members, funders and service users by providing services that make a difference to people’s lives;
  • Challenge barriers to Independent Living wherever we encounter them;
  • Include the views and opinions of all our service users in everything we do;
  • Be seen as the first place to go by anyone looking for support for Independent Living.

We understand that everyone's needs are different. As a user led organisation, we know the benefits of individual, bespoke support and we are committed to doing our best to find that for you.

Graphic illustration of group of Disabled people chatting

User Led

We are an award winning, user led organisation dedicated to supporting independent living to create a more inclusive society. We work with anyone who identifies as being a Disabled person. 

Our Trustees

Black and white headshot of Ruth Pickersgill

Role: Chair of Trustees

She/Her

I am committed to promoting disability equality and to improving services for Disabled people in the region, and I am convinced this is best done through organisations led by, and accountable to, Disabled people ourselves. I was involved in the setting up of WECIL in 1995 and was its first Director, so I feel really privileged to now be able to serve as its Chair.

I enjoy working with such a committed and enthusiastic Board of Trustees, and particularly to be able to utilise their personal experience of trying to minimise disabling barriers . I am constantly amazed at the breadth of the work that WECIL staff are undertaking, and the most positive aspect of the role is hearing feed back from Disabled young people and adults and their families about the positive difference WECIL had made to their lives.

I have spent all of my professional career in equalities work, including being Principal Disability Equality Officer for a Local Authority in the 1990s, and have also delivered disability equality and other equality training to to a wide range of professionals and organisations for over 40 years. I have worked in three Disabled People's Organisations and also schools, colleges and the Council, always in leadership roles that involve making strategic and policy changes on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion issues. I was also elected as the local Councillor for Easton ward from 2016-21, and I have chaired several other Boards and governing bodies, and been a trustee of several refugee and equality organisations in the past.

I became Disabled in my early 20s whilst I was a primary teacher and had to give up work for a period. Having a physical impairment meant I had to rethink my career path and became drawn to equality work. I feel privileged to have worked with, and become friends with, so many amazing talented disabled people over the years, who I would otherwise never have met

Victoria Trustee Photo in Black and White

Role: Vice-Chair of Trustees

Treasurer 

WAIT Volunteer

 

She/Her

Vicki Kaye is a Trustee and holds the officer positions of Vice Chair and Treasurer. Vicki also volunteers for WECIL as a member of the WECIL Access & Inclusion Team (WAIT), formerly known as Bristol Physical Access Chain (BPAC), which underlines her commitment to improving accessibility and inclusion for Disabled people not just in Bristol, but across the country. Vicki brings to her Board roles expertise built up from her background in the legal profession as well voluntary experience including working at the Townsend Social Club for people with learning difficulties, chairing the parent/carer Lanercost Association at the North Bristol Hub.

Vicki is a user of WECIL’s Independent Living Payments Support services, benefiting from advice in managing her Direct Payment and from Payroll services to support her as an employer of Personal Assistants. Vicki tells us ‘I have lived experience of disability from the age of 12 and learned to negotiate the world of school, college and work without assistance. I also cared for my brother who had Down's Syndrome for many years. I didn't know I could get support until I was referred to Bristol city Council and WECIL. In many ways life has been a lot easier for me since then and enabled me to do the things I really want to do’.

Vicki’s engagement with WAIT leverages her background and personal experiences to influence positive changes in the built environment. WAIT collaborates with building owners, organisations, developers, and service providers in both the private and public sectors, striving to enhance access for all. Vicki’s role in this vital team emphasises her dedication to fostering environments that welcome everyone, reflecting her deep understanding of the challenges faced by Disabled people.

As a Trustee, Vicki supports WAIT’s efforts to raise awareness about the importance of embedding access and inclusion principles within all aspects of societal infrastructure. The team’s close partnership with Bristol City Council and its expanding influence throughout the region and beyond mirror Vicki’s hopes for a more inclusive society. Her work with WAIT and WECIL is a testament to her belief in the power of community-led initiatives to drive significant, lasting change.

Vicki’s involvement with WAIT not only showcases her professional expertise but also her personal commitment to making the world a more accessible and inclusive place for Disabled people. Her contributions to WAIT and WECIL exemplify her dedication to improving the quality of life for Disabled people, making her an invaluable asset to the organisation and the communities it serves.

Steve Trustee Photo in Black and White

Role: Trustee

He/Him

Steve Strong is a committed Trustee at WECIL, bringing his belief in the power of a user-led organisations for Disabled people in the area to the forefront of his role. He is driven by the desire to make a real difference in the lives of Disabled people and is passionate about WECIL's role in influencing decision-makers to improve practices within key local agencies.

Steve has recently retired from a distinguished career spanning the NHS, Social Services, and the Voluntary Sector, predominantly focusing on services for people with learning disabilities. His extensive experience includes working on the Personalisation agenda for the Department of Health, where he advocated for personalised care approaches and the implementation of Personal/Individual Budgets.

In 2001, Steve took on a secondment at the Department of Health as part of the Valuing People Support Team, dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with learning disabilities. This role later extended to the Personalisation Team and a year at the Office of Disability Issues, where he concentrated on implementing government policy to improve the life chances of Disabled people, with a particular emphasis on the crucial role of User-Led Organisations like WECIL.

Post-Department of Health, Steve worked as a Consultant for the National Development Team for Inclusion, lending his expertise to further the inclusion of Disabled people across various initiatives. Even in retirement, he continues to work as an advocate for people with learning disabilities, ensuring their voices are heard and considered in societal developments.

Steve's commitment to WECIL is informed by a career of advocacy and operational management, ensuring that the organization remains a strong and influential voice for Disabled people in the region. While Steve does not have personal experience of disability, he is passionately driven to ensure that people who are neurodivergent or learning disabled have their voices heard so that they can shape the services that they receive.

Black and white headshot of Lindi Doy

Role: Vice-Chair of Trustees

Lindi Doy serves as the Vice Chair at WECIL, motivated by a profound commitment to enhancing the lives of Disabled people and their families. Her decision to become a Trustee at WECIL stems from a deep-rooted belief in equality and inclusion for all, influenced by her upbringing in the developing world where her parents worked in healthcare. Lindi’s early experiences instilled in her a conviction that everyone deserves equal treatment, regardless of their circumstances.

Lindi finds great fulfilment in giving back to WECIL, which has previously supported her as a service user. She values the opportunity to contribute to a board that plays a significant role in supporting the Disabled communities across the West of England, enhancing the vibrancy and effectiveness of our organisation.

Her professional background in factual television production, with roles at BBC London and Bristol as well as in the independent sector, endowed her with a rich set of skills and experiences. Lindi underwent a life-changing aneurysm and brain injury in 2006. Since then, Lindi has continued her prolific contributions including volunteering with NHS Devon to deliver self-help courses and working with Bristol Mind as an information volunteer. Additionally, she contributes to The SS Great Britain's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion steering committee and Community Outreach, demonstrating her ongoing commitment to inclusion.

Lindi's personal journey with disability began with her brain injury, providing her with first-hand experience of the unique challenges posed by invisible impairments. She also supported her father following his sight loss due to macular degeneration, further deepening her understanding and empathy for the diverse experiences within the Disabled community.

Drawing on both her professional background and her lived experience of disability, Lindi views her role at WECIL as a privilege. She is dedicated to leveraging her insights and experiences to advocate for and support WECIL’s mission, embodying the values of equality and inclusion that have guided her throughout her life.

 

Karen -Trustee Photo in Black and White

Role: Trustee

I have been a trustee of WECIL since 2021.  My professional background is in social work. I qualified in 1992 and since then have worked with both adults and children and families. Most of my career being in fostering and adoption. I retired from this in 2019.  

Like most black people I have experienced racism. I have always had a sense of equality and justice and promoted equality, including the social model of disability within my work and personal life. I became disabled in 2017 and this has given me lived experience of how many challenges and barriers disabled people face in society. 

Previously I have been a trustee on the management committed of two HIV charities, and volunteered at a Hospice. I was also on the management committee at a charity promoting the development of black women. 

I am pleased to have joined WECIL as a trustee and aim to bring my skills and knowledge to this role, whilst also gaining new skills and knowledge

Elise Trustee Photo in Black and White

Role: Trustee

Chair of the Quality Subcommittee

I am hugely passionate about culture, equity and inclusion as a driver for change. The opportunity to play a defining role in leading on transformational change that WECIL represents is the motivating factor for my application. My goal in my work at Bristol City Council as the Arts Development manager in the strategic envisioning, development, and creative delivery of Bristol’s cultural programme and creative industries sector, is to make the biggest possible positive impact for its communities, visitors, and culture sector. Working within Bristol City Council’s Art Development team since 2016, I have wide connections within the cultural sector and can support WECIL to further develop your work in this area. I am an active member of the One City Culture Board and currently co-chair the DIY Arts Network. 

My own lived experience as a disabled, queer, white woman of being excluded in many contexts informs my practice. I advocate an inclusive way of working that embraces intersectionality and the interconnected nature of social categorisations, such as race, class, mental health, and gender. I think deeply about what inclusion and unseen diversity means and about how to adapt to open up opportunities for everyone and have put practices into place in all my work.

headshot of Karl Stephenson in Black and White

Role: Trustee 

She/Her

Frances Bathurst brings a wealth of experience and a deep personal connection to her role as a Trustee at WECIL. Her journey with WECIL began through personal support received during her time at UWE Bristol, where WECIL assisted in facilitating reasonable adjustments and a blue badge application through our workASSURED service, which is part of Disability.Inc’s consultancy support. This positive experience, coupled with a colleague's encouragement, led Frances to join WECIL as a Trustee, finding it a perfect match for her desire to volunteer in a role that aligns with her values and leverages her expertise in Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI).

 

At the core of what Frances values about her work with WECIL is the our commitment to the social model of disability, which focuses on removing societal barriers that disable people, rather than the individual's impairment. She is moved by the passion and dedication of everyone involved, from staff to volunteers, all united in their mission to advocate for Disabled people's rights and to create a more inclusive society.

 

Professionally, Frances serves as an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, with a five-year tenure as an EDI professional. Her background includes significant experience in data and evaluation, skills she brings to WECIL to help demonstrate the impact of our work.

On a personal level, Frances navigates life as a Disabled person with multiple health conditions, including Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Depression, ADHD, Ulcerative Proctitis, and mobility impairments. This lived experience, along with her role as a carer from a young age, informs her understanding of the diverse needs within the Disabled community.

 

Frances's journey has been one of learning and adaptation, gaining strength and insights from the Disabled community.

 

Frances proudly identifies as Disabled, valuing the unique perspectives and skills this brings, such as creative thinking and problem-solving abilities. Her dedication to advocating for Disabled people's rights and wellbeing is evident in both her professional work and volunteerism at WECIL.

 

Role: Trustee
Chair of the People Subcommittee

He/Him

John’s professional background is rich in Human Resources, having held the position of HR Director at both UK and international levels across several organizations. His extensive experience in HR and as a member of senior management teams equips him with a unique skill set that benefits WECIL beyond just HR expertise. Currently, John also serves as a trustee for Bristol Samaritans and Healthwatch (Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire), further demonstrating his commitment to community support and welfare.

While John does not identify as Disabled, his family's experience with neurodiversity has given him personal insight into the challenges and perspectives of Disabled individuals. This personal connection, combined with his professional acumen, makes him a valuable member of the WECIL team.

Serving on a Disabled People’s Organisation board, John finds great reward in being part of a team that is not only committed but also deeply insightful about the lives of Disabled people. He takes pride in contributing to WECIL’s efforts to empower and support the Disabled community, learning from his colleagues and sharing these insights to foster a deeper understanding of disability issues.

John’s role at WECIL is a testament to his belief in the power of support, inclusion, and the positive impact of shared experiences and expertise. His work continues to contribute significantly to the lives of Disabled individuals and their families in the West of England and beyond.

Black and White headshot of Dee

Role: Trustee
Trustee Member of the Health & Safety Committee

She/Her

DeeAnne (Dee) joined as a trustee December 2022. Dee has worked in the Social Housing sector for over 35 years. She is a Chartered Institute of Housing qualified housing professional and has held various positions.

Whilst working for Bristol City Council she has managed a variety of services, including Estate Management, Response Repairs, Benefits, Front of House, Tenants Participation, Project Management, Policy and Practice.

More recently she's been the key support lead officer for Bristol's Mayoral One City Housing and Communities Board, supporting the board Chair and members deliver the annual City's key priorities and held a leadership role driving change management and ensuring the delivery of regulatory compliance, policy and practices across Bristol’s strategical Landlord services.

Dee is Learning Disabled and has chosen to use her early retirement to support other Disabled people’s right to independent living by committing to work on WECIL’s Board of Trustees – where she contributes her expertise in housing issues and support the Health & Safety committee.

Our approach is fully user centred. Our staff have lived experience of Disability and this informs the support we offer.

Quality and Systems Team

Black and white headshot of Dominic Ellison

Job title: Chief Executive Officer
He/Him

 


Dominic Ellison leads WECIL as the Chief Executive, driven by a passion for social justice and an acute awareness of the systemic barriers Disabled people encounter. He is dedicated to promoting the right to independent living and ensuring that WECIL lives its values as a Disabled People’s Organisation, valuing the lived experience of Disabled people as pivotal in shaping services and commissioning decisions.
Prior to joining WECIL, Dominic played a significant leadership role within the co-operative movement, championing the belief that organisations should be controlled by those they serve. His experience has taught him that Disabled People’s Organisations are exemplary in translating values into impactful actions and have much to teach the co-operative movement.

Dominic relishes being part of a creative team that delivers innovative solutions to overcome barriers faced by Disabled people. Whether it's developing support services, co-producing platforms for activism, creating inclusive software, or launching social enterprises, the focus is consistently on enhancing rights, choice, control, and full inclusion for Disabled people in society.

With two decades of leadership experience in charities, co-operatives, and social enterprises, Dominic has devoted his career to effecting systemic change, championing sustainability, social justice, and community empowerment. His strategic and entrepreneurial approach has fostered transformative change in social care, housing, and community regeneration.

In addition to his role at WECIL, Dominic is an active member on several boards, contributing his expertise to Integrated Care Partnerships, economic development, health equity, and cultural initiatives. His wide-reaching influence is a testament to his commitment to inclusivity and community-driven progress.

Dominic’s approach to his role is informed by his experience of long-term health conditions including emphysema and Crohn's Disease. These conditions impact his daily life and deepen his commitment to the work of WECIL. His role is more than a job; it's an environment where mutual understanding and support flourish, empowering him to succeed both professionally and personally. Dominic’s leadership is not only strategic but empathetic, making WECIL an organisation that truly understands and advocates for Disabled people's rights.

 

 

Black and White photo of a community
Black and White photo of Laura

Job title: Quality and Systems Apprentice

Hello! My name is Laura. I first started at WECIL just over a year ago as a Quality and Systems Kickstarter. After I completed my first 6 months, I was then taken on as an Apprentice. I feel since starting at WECIL, I have had a huge burst in my confidence and I have been able to learn and develop many different skills that help me both in life, and to fulfil my role. When I am not at work I enjoy listening to music, playing video games, watching anime and drawing.

Black and white portrait of Connor

Job title: Quality and Systems Team Assistant

Hi, I joined WECIL in 2012 as a volunteer whilst I was also going to college. I enjoyed volunteering at WECIL but what an amazing feeling it was to get the apprenticeship back in 2016. I was amazed at how much I was still learning going from role to role.

In my current role as Quality and Systems Team Assistant, I carry out general administrative tasks and reception for both internal and external customers. I deal with the IT side of WECIL too, which I really do enjoy.

Outside of work, I enjoy reading, writing and spending time with my family and friends.

 

Finance Manager

Finance Officer

Graphic illustration of a diverse group of Disabled people next to WECIL sign

Navigators

Whatever your enquiry, our team of Navigators can signpost and give you support to access the right services for you. We understand that knowing where or how to begin accessing support can be confusing, and some language and policies are complicated – that is why our experienced team is here specifically to help you navigate and understand how WECIL or other organisations may be able to help you.

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Our volunteers

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We understand that everyone's needs are different. As a user led organisation, we know the benefits of individual, bespoke support and we are committed to doing our best to find that for you.

Social Model

WECIL is user led and the Social Model of Disability is at the heart of what we do. The Social Model of Disability states that people are disabled by societal, attitudinal and environmental barriers rather than their impairment. We help you understand this model and remove barriers to create a more inclusive society.

Unlike other organisations, our lived experience and understanding of what being inclusive and accessible actually means to a Disabled person helps you implement meaningful changes.

Woman in wheelchair pressing disabled elevator button

Policies

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We support a whole range of people who use and are looking to use WECIL’s services. You could be a Disabled person, a parent or carer, local authority or another charity.

Research and Reports

Annual Report 2023

The quality of WECIL’s work is evidenced in much of the feedback we get – particularly for the relatively new Navigators’ Team, who are able to take a person-centred and holistic approach to establishing what people need, and how it can best be provided without passing them from pillar to post, which is so often the experience when Disabled people look for support. 

Click and Chat Community 2022-23

WECIL are pleased to publish our impact report detailing the achievements of our first year of Lottery funded Click and Chat project. Our Navigator team have significantly adapted the way in which we work with people ensuring we work in a holistic, person centred way and the feedback speaks for itself!

Young Adult Advisory Board Report

The YAA Board were formed in April 2021 at the request of Bristol City Council. Over the course of the year, seven disabled adults, aged between 18 and 25 have volunteered the project. We are a group of young people who all identify as having some form of disability (either currently or at another point in our lives). 

Climate Action Plan 2023

We’re please to present our Climate Action Plan for 2023. We’ve assessed five key areas of our organisation covering: Travel, Community Engagement, Waste Management, Energy Use and Operations. Within the plan we’ve documented what we are doing to monitor and reduce our carbon footprint, we’ve also made time based commitments on the required improvements. For more information email: [email protected]

WECIL 5 Year Strategy

We believe that Disabled children and adults are entitled to the same rights, choice and control over their lives as non-Disabled People, and that they must be fully included in all aspects of society, and have influence over the issues that affect them. Our guidance and services help Disabled children and adults to live independently, our strategy to acheive this over the next 5 years is detailed in the document below.

Annual Report 2022

The last few years have been incredibly difficult for WECIL, and more importantly for all Disabled people. We have seen people who use our services continue to struggle with COVID-19 restrictions, often feeling anxious about impact, and feeling the effects of the enforced isolation they found themselves in.

Experiences of Disabled People

The “Experiences of Disabled Children and their Families during the COVID-19 Pandemic” survey was launched by WECIL in October of 2020. This was in direct response to WECIL hearing informally from families about their experiences during lockdown and wanting to capture this in a more formal way.

Annual Report 2021

Since 1995 we have been working to challenge restrictions and change the possibilities for Disabled people in the South West. These past 18 months have been one of the most difficult and heartbreaking times for the country yet again and unacceptably impacting Disabled People the hardest.

Strengthening the Voice

Disabled People in Bristol have a long and proud history of organising to advance their interests and to push for a greater say over how their communities and city are run. Since the late 1980s, Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) – which are controlled by the disabled people they represent.

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Charitable Objectives

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