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Gateshead Access Panel have a long history of partnership working with Gateshead Council, particularly with the former Department of Architectural Services. This partnership has increased over the last few years and GAP now have a close working relationship with all the services within Gateshead Council's Communities and Environment.

The Disability Equality Service User Involvement Forum (DESUIF) was established in January 2009. The Forum is facilitated by Gateshead Access Panel with its members including disabled people and carers, their representatives and user led organisations. The Forum meets on a monthly basis to discuss issues relating to disability equality and inclusive design that impacts upon people's access to environments and service facilities, as well as commenting on and informing current and future provision.

There are currently two types of DESUIF meeting; technical and focus group. The technical meetings provide access consultancy to officers and design teams about inclusive design issues and disability equality considerations. The Focus Group meetings are for more general discussions to obtain first-hand service user feedback on issues such as; adaptations, inclusive play, open spaces etc. The information obtained from these discussions is used to inform technical discussions on projects, reviews and strategies. The Focus Group meetings can also involve site visits so that officers and service users can experience facilities, such as at the council's leisure centres and public parks.  Gateshead Council's Communities and Environment Group greatly values it's partnership with Gateshead Access Panel and the DESUIF meetings. The forum provides both consultancy and service user feedback which assists the Council to deliver inclusive environments, projects, policies and procedures. The meetings are seen as an essential part of Communities and Environment meeting it's disability equality obligations.

Partnership working with Gateshead Access Panel and DESUIF is very important and greatly valued. The partnership's advice and feedback has informed many projects, policies and procedures to help make Gateshead as inclusive as possible. We look forward to continuing this partnership to support Gateshead's aim to create environments for social and economic inclusion.

Updated Friday 25 Sep 2015

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