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Disability justice fund, round two: what we’ve learned so far, and what we want to fund next

Joanna web
Joanna web

Author: Joanna Wootten, grants manager

Over a third of families in London that include a Disabled person are in poverty. And almost half of people living in poverty are Disabled or are living in a household with someone that is Disabled.

In 2022, we created a £3 million Disability Justice Fund in partnership with City Bridge Foundation to build the capacity of Deaf and Disabled people’s organisations to advocate for changes we need to see for a fairer, more just society.

We distributed over £1m to 16 projects across London in the first round of funding. This November we open for applications for the second round.

What we learned from round one

We wanted to ensure Disabled people were at the heart of decision-making for the fund right from the start. So we appointed an eight-person Disability justice fund Advisory Panel to work with us for the duration of the fund. Shortlisting and decision making was done collectively by the panel, Trust for London and City Bridge Foundation.

It was a demanding process for all involved, especially given the tight timeline between the launch of the fund and the recruitment of panel members. Building rapport and effective collaboration took some time, but the outcome was well worth it, with some outstanding grants awarded in round one.

We’ve also found it an enriching and valuable experience. For example, one panel member is Iyiola Olafimihan, a Disabled consultant/activist and campaigner who has been involved in disability justice work for over 20 years. Iyiola said:

My horizon and knowledge in participatory grantmaking has been incredibly enlarged. Meeting so many people with a range of perspectives and lived experience has been so refreshing and amazing proving that collective working is surely the best approach to empowering our communities.

Iyiola Olafimihan, a Disabled consultant/activist and campaigner

An important thing that we learned was that for joint decision-making to be meaningful, we need to allow sufficient time. All eight panel members have jobs and other responsibilities. This means scheduling time for everyone to read and discuss the applications properly and do them justice, as well as taking account of adjustments and religious festivals such as Easter, Ramadan, Passover and bank holidays. In round one, panel members were working over the Christmas period, and we don’t want to do that again. This is why we’ve built more time into timelines for round two - although the deadline for applications is 4 March, shortlisting decisions will be made in May, and final decisions will be made by the end of July.

What we want to see from round two

I asked panel members and staff what we wanted to see from round two. We all agreed that we want to see a range of applications – after all, many things and organisations need to be in place for a strong vibrant diverse and sustainable movement.

Here is a selection of quotes from our panel members, on the type of work they would like to fund (this is a list of thoughts and suggestions and by no means exhaustive):

Intersectional and cross-movement

I’d be excited to welcome more applications that place intersectional inclusion at the heart of what they do, and delve deeper into the disability rights movement.

Projects that link the disability movement with other movements such as climate justice, black lives matter or other areas of social injustice.

Innovation and building on what’s already there

Projects that are alternative, radical and challenge ableist ways of working and seeing the world.

Funding quirky projects and encouraging partnerships will inject creativity and innovation into the movement.

Enabling London borough DPOs to reach out and connect with more people and bring them into the movement.

Partnership and collaboration

The movement won’t flourish unless we all support and help each other. It would be great to see projects where organisations are helping each other to grow or exploring working together collectively – it could be in relation to office functions or campaigning.

A wide range of lived experience

We need to see more projects led by people with learning difficulties if the movement is to be truly inclusive.

I would love to see groups and projects focusing on younger and/or older people. The movement won’t succeed unless it’s intergenerational.


Focusing on areas like HR, leadership and finances is essential, as neglecting these aspects can lead to difficulties including staff turnover and burnout. If the infrastructure and support is there, staff will be able to focus on campaigning.

Hopefully, these thoughts inspire you, but please visit the funding page and check out the funding guidelines before completing your application to increase your chances of success. You can also attend an information webinar and book a 1:1 call with a grants manager for advice and guidance. (When we looked at round one data, we saw that organisations who applied without having attended an information webinar or having a meeting with a grant manager were less likely to be successful.)

Good luck!

Round two of the Disability justice fund will open for applications on Monday 20 November 2023.