Japanese exchange

The first half of our Japanese Young Core Leaders of Civil Society is complete, and it’s been an amazing success. Working with the Council for Disabled Children, NCVO hosted a group of young leaders from the Japanese disability sector for 10 days. Travelling between London and Leeds, the group were introduced to a range of our members working with and on behalf of people with disabilities.

The group came from a range of backgrounds including education, rehabilitation, healthcare and the charity sector.

The visit was specifically designed to give the participants a wider perspective of the field; from government policy and legislation to project development and front line work. We selected organisations that we felt represented best practice, innovative approaches and inspirational ways socially including people with disabilities.

We started with some pretty intense meetings with the Office for Civil Society and the Office for Disability Issues. Together, we looked at the development of government policy and how UK ministers work closely with other sectors to deliver the best possible support for the disabled. After learning about how NCVO operates between the government and the charity sector, we began our visits to organisations across London.

Over the course of the week we visited the National Autistic Society, the Council for Disabled Children, a Leonard Cheshire run residential home as well as their Randall Close Resource Centre in Battersea before finishing up with Action for Kids.

Looking beyond London

We didn’t want our exchange to be too London centric, so we whisked the group away to sunny Leeds. There, they visited two more wonderful organisations (Change and People in Action) and also took part in some homestays with families that work with, on behalf of, or directly support people with disabilities.

What we learned

So what did they learn after powering through this hectic, cross-country schedule? Well, while Japan apparently has significantly more success in the employment of disabled school leavers, there is still a lot that can be learned from UK sector. Participants praised our approach to healthcare provision; the fact, generally speaking, the person with the disability is able to make their own decisions and lead on their own healthcare plan was seen as a liberating and extremely empowering approach. Participants were also able to see examples of projects that successfully bring communities together, not only to support those with disabilities, but to help people in general. The need to see people beyond their disability in both Japan and the UK was seen as ultimate aspiration in moving forward, and by working together, sectors in both Japan and the UK may be able to make this a reality. Once the full programme has been completed, a report about the experiences of all participants will be made available.

Thank you

NCVO would like to thank all of the organisations that were involved in this half of the programme. Their continued support has made it this programme more successful than ever before. UK participants for the second half of the exchange have already been selected, and we look forward to bringing them together in anticipation of their upcoming trip, so watch this space!

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Verity Buckley supported NCVO's EU and international team, working on various projects and flagship events.

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