Real is unique

Real is the leading disabled people’s organisation in Tower Hamlets:

  • We’re driven by the social model of disability
  • We’re user-led, by disabled people
  • We support people with any disability or impairment
  • We support people from all ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, faith identity or age groups

Our constitution proves we’re serious about what makes us different.


1. We’re driven by the social model of disability

Everything we do is driven by the social model of disability. This means we believe it’s the barriers created by society that cause inequality. By dismantling those barriers, disabled people will have fair access to opportunities and improved life chances.

Some organisations still operate on the medical model of disability – defining people by their impairment and using that impairment to explain the barriers that prevent equality. This attitude patronises disabled people, does little to remove societal barriers and therefore maintains inequality.


2. We’re user-led, by disabled people

Our people don’t just use our service, they lead and direct it. All of our board members and 75% of our front-line staff are disabled people. This means our services are planned, delivered and improved in ways that work best for local disabled people.

As well as disabled people who are our clients, we’re connected with local disabled people as allies. This helps us make the organisation relevant to people with a wide range of needs and with various levels of impairment.

Other organisations are run “on behalf of” disabled people. Some organisations are run by friends and carers. Some are run by professionals with no personal connection to disability. No matter how well-meaning or skilled non-disabled people are, they will never fully understand the reality of being disabled. This means their services and support are developed with second-hand insight, and they don’t ring true with the mantras of “choice and control” and “nothing about us without us”.


3. We support people with any disability or impairment

We support people with any type of impairment or disability. This also means we support people who have more than one impairment or disability. We recognise the complexity of multiple impairments and can personalise our support to address many areas in one go.

Some organisations only support people with one type of impairment. As well as excluding people with other impairments, this means clients can only get support for one part of their lives from that organisation and must connect with another organisation to deal with any other aspect.


4. We support everyone

As well as working pan-disability, we support disabled adults from any ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, faith identity or age group. We offer support in English, Bengali, Sylhetti, Somali, Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.

The diversity of our staff means users can connect with someone who shares their identity and/or language. It also means our staff share information with each other to make our services more respectful and accessible. So, we have the best of both worlds – specialised understanding with an holistic approach.

Our open client group also means we can connect with people from the same family or support friends and neighbours who want to join together.


5. It says so in our constitution

The things that make us unique are backed-up by our constitution. So, we’ve got the legal framework needed to support any disabled person in Tower Hamlets.



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