Policy Press

Independent futures

Creating user-led disability services in a disabling society

By Colin Barnes and Geoffrey Mercer


Apr 28, 2006

Page count

232 pages

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BASW/Policy Press titles




240 x 172 mm


Policy Press
Independent futures

The number of disability related support services controlled and run by disabled people themselves has increased significantly in the UK and internationally over the past forty years. As a result, greater user involvement in service provision and delivery is a key priority for many western Governments. This book provides the first comprehensive review and analysis of these developments in the UK.

Drawing on evidence from a range of sources, including material from the first national study of user-controlled services, this book provides a critical evaluation of the development and organisation of user-controlled services in the UK and identifies the principal forces - economic, political and cultural - that influence and inhibit their further development. It summarises and discusses the policy implications for the future development of services and includes an up-to-date and comprehensive literature and research review.

"Independent futures" is essential reading for academics and students on a range of courses including: health and social care; social work; allied health professions, such as nursing, occupational therapy and speech therapy; social policy; sociology; and psychology. It will also be of interest to practitioners and policy makers who need a reliable overview of current policy and critical analysis of key issues affecting future policy and practice.

"This should be essential reading for decision-makers, politicians and, not least, disabled people with an interest in their own futures." Community Care

" ... the book remains a powerful summary of the existing state of user-led services and a challenge to all involved to support user-led services in future." Professional Social Work

"Independent futures provides a timely and critical evaluation of user controlled services, identifying principle forces that inhibit their development and explaining the implications for social policy. It presents essential evidence and analysis for policy makers working within health, social care, education, housing and equality. It will also be a vital text for both undergraduate and postgraduate students in the social sciences and government and politics." Jane Campbell, Chair, Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE)

Colin Barnes is Professor of Disability Studies and Geof Mercer is Reader in Disability Studies, both at the Centre for Disability Studies in the School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds.

Examining user-led services; Traditional approaches: disability policy and the welfare state; Disability activism and the struggle for independent living; Researching user-led organisations; User-led organisations: building an alternative approach; Service design and delivery: opportunities and constraints; Service users' views and experiences; Politics and campaigning; Policy change or retrenchment?; Future directions.