Who We Are
We challenge social injustice and health inequalities. We work alongside disabled people and people with experience of mental health difficulties to make an ordinary life achievable for all.
Changing Our Lives is a rights-based organisation
Our approach rests firmly on the social model of disability. As such, we don’t believe people’s lives should be limited or defined by labels or diagnoses, and we are committed to reframing how society views mental health and disability.
Our vision is of a society in which disabled people and people with lived experience of mental health difficulties of all ages are afforded universal human rights, resulting in them being in control of their own lives as equal citizens
The following values shape the culture of the organisation, underpinning the way we behave and the way we challenge social injustice as we work to develop solutions based on equality and an improved quality of life.
All people should be seen as people first. We should not be seen simply in relation to a disability or a mental health difficulty. These labels should not be used to define us as a person, segregate us, remove us from society, or limit us in any way.
We are all inter-dependent; we all need support in our lives. No one is too disabled or too affected by mental health difficulties to lead an independent life. Being independent means having choice and control over your own life with as much or as little support as you need. It does not mean being on your own and doing everything for yourself.
All people are citizens in their own right and have the same human, legal and civil rights as each other.
At Changing Our Lives, we pride ourselves on our unique brand. These elements are what makes up this brand:
As an organisation, we are brave in the work we do. We are not afraid to be maverick. We know that changing cultures, attitudes and behaviour takes courage, time and persistence, but can be done if met with grit, determination and a will to succeed.
We are not a talking-shop: we focus on achieving outcomes that result in sustainable and meaningful change.
We work in the heart of communities as we know the people in those communities are often best placed to find solutions to local problems: the closer you are to the problem, the closer you are to the solution.
The accuracy of our information, an attention to detail, up-to-date knowledge, and a questioning and reflective approach provide us with a solid footing to create positive change.
We only pursue and accept funding if we believe a piece of work will result in outcomes that align with our values and brand. We don’t seek to grow the organisation for its own sake; neither do we hunt for funding to sustain areas of work that have little impact.
The philosophy and principles of coproduction underpin our entire approach. Coproduction is about people working together as equal and reciprocal partners, having the skills and knowledge to create opportunities and solve problems.
Developing the right relationships is key to our success. We proactively build strategic partnerships and nurture alliances with influential, value driven people and organisations. We draw on these relationships to bring about improvements to people’s lives.
Innovation and creativity
We use creative approaches, including media and the arts, to communicate and engage with people and to bring about positive change.
Work local, think national
We pride ourselves on improving people’s lives at a local level. We then take this learning and best practice to a national level.
How We Work
We work with disabled people and people with lived experience of mental health difficulties of all ages. Whilst all of the individuals we work with experience multiple disadvantages and discrimination, some of our projects specifically target the following groups of people:
People with the label of profound and multiple learning disabilities.
People from minority ethnic communities.
People who find themselves stripped of the most basic human rights
(for example, hospital inpatients).
Whether we are working with disabled people, people with lived experience of mental health difficulties or professionals, we never have one standard approach or set of tools. We look at the issue at hand and work out which tools and approaches best suit the situation.