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Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency

Chairperson's Address

DESSA was established in 2001 to work with community development organisations in promoting the inclusion of disabled people within a community development context. Specifically, DESSA’s brief is to enhance the capability of the community & voluntary sector to develop actions and ways of working to ensure the active involvement and inclusion of disabled people in community life.2017 was a year of change and growth for DESSA. Key actions included building the capacity of parents and families; delivering Disability Equality and Competency training; developing strategic partnerships; and supporting implementation of disability policy in the community.A record number of 600 individuals – people with lived experience of disability, parents, staff and volunteers within community development organisations and staff within disability service organisations engaged in training and availed of a range of supports delivered by DESSA during the year.DESSA developed strategic partnerships with Kildare Library Services, Kerry Education Training Board, Galway Autism Project, Grangegorman Area Based Childcare Network and Waterford Children and Young People’s Services Committee. This partnership work allowed us to support over 100 families throughout the year. The innovative Local Area Co-ordination project, supported by the Dormant Accounts Fund, has proved to be hugely successful in in creating real opportunities for social inclusion for individuals with disabilities and in building community capacity in County Leitrim.  The project was completed in June 2017.I would like to thank the staff of DESSA as well as my colleagues on the Board for their dedication to DESSA’s work. Their commitment has contributed to the success of our work both with disabled people and community development organisations. I would like to say a special word of thanks to Peter Kearns, who managed the Local Area Co-ordination project which ended in 2017. Peter’s skills and experience made DESSA the unique organisation that it is – responsive, strong on values and effective.I would also like to thank our funders for their ongoing support and commitment to DESSA. Our work, in promoting the greater inclusion of disabled people in Irish life cannot be valued, promoted or encouraged enough.I look forward to the continued challenge of this work in 2018. Jacqui Browne Chairperson