Research to make a Difference

You can read our new 2022 Research and Development Strategy

The world has changed for everyone, for some a lot, for others a little. Before it changed, Difference North East wanted to find out what prevented disabled folk going out and about, enjoying public space, going to the shops, or just out for the day.

We wanted to know this because we think that there are disabled people out there that rarely or never get a chance to go out. Of course, we know that many disabled people go out whenever they want to, but there are others who feel unable to do so. We wanted to know because if there was a problem we can try and help because we think that is a human right for disabled people to go out unfettered, when they want to.

Then COVID-19 happened and all of a sudden, nobody could go out! Now we are nearly at the end of all restrictions and everyone is looking to go out again. But for some people it may not be that straightforward and if my experience is shared by anyone, things seem to have got much worse. So, we want to know from others in the disabled club what stops them from going out now. We especially wanted to find out if anything made people feel trapped and if COVID-19 has made it more difficult for people to go out.

You can help us understand these barriers by completing our questionnaire online or Downloading it as a Word document here and emailing it us.

You can also send a video and or an audio recording via email, or phone Christopher to talk them through (07813 7895329).

Every completed questionnaire shall be entered into a £20 Amazon voucher draw.

Stop People Dying Too Young

Inclusion North, Learning Disability England, Difference North East and British Institute of Human Rights are working together to ask the Ministerial Oversight Group on Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation to involve people with lived experience in their work as equal members and to recognise the invaluable contribution they need to make to this work.

The Ministerial Oversight Group was set up to oversee the delivery of the Care Quality Commission’s recommendations on Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation decisions set out in their report ‘Protect, Respect, Connect – decisions about living and dying well during Covid-19’. This report showed poor involvement, poor record keeping and a lack of oversight and scrutiny, with decisions being made that were not individualised and not in line with people’s wishes or human rights. People with a learning disability, older people and people with dementia were particularly affected, and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people were less likely to know that a Do Not Resuscitate decision had existed for them.

We have co-produced a letter that we intend to send to the Ministerial Oversight Group – see below– and we are seeking your support to demonstrate that this is an issue that a large number of us have concerns about, to encourage the Group to listen and act.

If you wish to add your support, please reply to before 22nd October. We will then add your organisation’s name to the list of signatories.

Thank you in advance.

MOG easy read letter

Accessible Cities Campaign

Thank you to those who took part in our ‘Our City, Our Say’ discussions. The impetus for these discussions was Newcastle Councils ‘Newcastle 2030’ plans for transforming the city. We wanted to find out what would make our cities easier to access.

We want to make sure that disabled voices are heard in any decisions that affect us. We spoke to people with varying access and support needs. We asked what people like and/or need to do in the city, and what stops them doing it.

A photograph of two people walking down a street in a busy city, holding up a colourful banner which reads, 'Disabled people fight back. Equality. Nothing about us without us'.

Here are the key topics that came up:

  • Training
  • Parking and Blue Badges, Public Transport, and Metro Stations
  • Digital and Technology
  • Local Businesses Incentives and Employment
  • Policy, Attitudinal Change, and Intersections of Discrimination
  • Support, Assistance and Safety
  • Built Environment: Lifts, Level Access, Opportunities for Alterations
  • Communication: Disabled People in Decision Making, and Accessible Information Formats
  • Barriers

We have sent our response to the City Transformation plans to Newcastle City Council. You can read it here Letter to City Council Accessible Cities 2021

Take One Challenge 


The GAAD logo, which is the word GAAD in navy blue font, enclosed in a circle with a small keyboard graphic, which sits at a roughly 5 o'clock position on the circle.

It’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day and we’re delighted to see your responses to our Take One Challenge!

Take One Challenge Responses

Keep up the good work 👏


Thursday, 20th May 2021 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day – GAAD.

The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion. 

Difference is supporting GAAD by asking you to participate in our Take One Challenge. 

Take just one action between now and 20th May to improve accessibility, either as an individual or an organisation – no matter how small.

A laptop displaying a large purple number one.


Looking for some ideas on how to make accessibility improvements?

Here are a few. You might also want to check the Global Accessibility Awareness Day Website for some great resources and events. 


Develop your team 

  • There is lots of great accessibility guidance and training out there – why not ask each of your colleagues to update their knowledge on one aspect of accessibility and share with the rest of the team? 
  • Take a look at the great resources on the Enhance The UK and AbilityNet websites 
  • Ask your disabled colleagues and customers about any difficulties they have using your website, forms or online documents 

Develop your corporate style 

  • Make sure your house style is inclusive and accessible 
  • Talk to your marketing team about accessible design and make sure your guidance on fonts, colours and logos includes accessibility, e.g. Does it stipulate a minimum font size? Does it state that all images should have an image description? 

Update your documents 

  • Take a document from your website and update it to improve accessibility 
  • Use an in-built accessibility checker, like the Microsoft Accessibility Checker 

Make your website more inclusive 

  • You don’t necessarily need a whole new website – you will be able to make small improvements which add up to a much more inclusive design 
  • Remove clutter – simple, clear and clean is better for everyone 
  • Check all your images have an Alt Text description 
  • Add captions, or a transcript, to any videos on your website 

Still not sure what to do or need further advice – talk to us and we can point you in the right direction. 

When you have taken your action, drop us an email or send us a video to tell us about it:  



Letter to North East MPs

We have written to all of the region’s MPs, making them aware of our work and seeking their support to progress disability equality across all areas of life.

Our letter highlights the disadvantages faced by disabled people in many important areas, and asks that discussions on recovery and ‘levelling up’ take account of the needs and rights of disabled people.

Letter to North East MPs



Disability Strategy

In December 2020, Difference submitted the following letter to the Government’s Disability Unit, outlining our priorities for the new national Disability Strategy.

We had some serious concerns about the consultation process, which we felt was under-resourced and did not adequately involve Disabled People’s Organisations.

Disability Strategy Letter



Manifesto for a Better Normal 

The Coronavirus crisis has been a terrible, damaging time for many disabled people in our region. The impact has been felt in many ways – physical, mental and financial. However, this period has also opened up some new ways of delivering services and introduced new ways of working that are more accessible for many disabled people.

As we head into a huge recession, with backlogs in healthcare and the threat of further waves of COVID, disabled people face more damaging impacts that threaten to erode any progress we have made towards equality over recent years. 

Now is the time to take stock, learn from our mistakes and plan for a fairer, better normal for disabled people. 

A group of north east user-led charities, including Difference North East, Disability North, Inclusion North, United Response, Newcastle Vision Support, Just Fair, Recoco and Skills for People, has worked together to come up with a ‘Manifesto for a Better Normal’. Based on our experiences of supporting disabled people before and during the COVID crisis, we have set out aspects of policy and practice that have let disabled people down, and those that have helped and could continue to help as part of a new approach. 

Manifesto – Briefing

Manifesto – Full Report

Manifesto – Briefing – Easyread

Manifesto – Full Report – Easyread

Contacts: full contact details are contained in the report for all those charities that have contributed to the Manifesto. Difference contact –  



EPIC Plan Tips

EPIC Plan – Easyread


EPIC Example – Alphabetti Theatre

Here’s an example of a great EPIC plan that’s been put in place at Newcastle’s Alphabetti Theatre. They’ve taken the opportunity of the forced closure to make some great changes to Alphabetti’s building, facilities and systems, with the overall aim of improving access for disabled audiences, performers and staff.

EPIC case study – Alphabetti


EPIC Example – Difference North East 

EPIC Plan – Difference North East



Better ConNEcted

Image Description: Better Connected LogoDifference is working with a number of north east organisations and individuals to address the issue of digital exclusion in our region. We believe that good digital access is essential for accessing goods, services and information. It is no longer a luxury, but a right that we should all enjoy. 

We are particularly keen that the needs of disabled people are considered, and are looking at ways of improving knowledge, skills and confidence about digital accessibility and assistive technology in our region. 

Read our latest blog on this campaign. 

Check out the excellent campaign website to find out more and see how you can support this work. 

Contacts: email the campaign team at or