You can read about the full history of this project here in our paper, “Building Bridges”.
But in short, WhatWeNeed.Support is a spin-off from a separate programme of work that Dan Holloway and Chris Fitch have been collaborating with Experian. This work focused on making businesses more accessible to disabled and vulnerable consumers.
The Support Lists on this website were originally developed as a part of this work. After an approach from Dan and Chris, Experian agreed to make the Support Lists open-source and available in the public domain so anyone could use and benefit from them.
Dan and Chris therefore created WhatWeNeed.Support to both share these Support Lists, and allow people with lived experience of disability and vulnerability to improve them.
As part of creating the Support Lists, Dan and Chris initially drew on research conducted with people with lived experience (n=1400 survey participants and n=20 qualitative interviews), and also engaged with national charities.
Discussions were also held with financial service companies and other essential service firms. Here our aim was to establish which support could currently be met and which could not. We also wanted to understand the reasons why some needs couldn’t be met.
WhatWeNeed.Support is independently run by a team who live with disability, have experience of vulnerable situations, or specialise in this area.
The project also has an Oversight Group which governs the website and development of the central support needs lists. At least one-third of this Oversight Group are people with lived experience, who sit alongside firms, industry specialists, and other advisers.
Furthermore, it is a core value of the project that those with lived experience be paid a fair rate for their work. So we give paid opportunities to people with lived experience to contribute to the site’s monthly blog. And we also pay disabled members of the Oversight Group.
WhatWeNeed.Support is focused on practically changing everyday services – like banking, energy, water, retail, and beyond – so they are no longer inaccessible and difficult to use for disabled and vulnerable consumers.
To do this, the project will publish all those support needs, reasonable adjustments, and changes suggested by users of this website so that anyone can review and benefit from these (see our Code of Conduct).
We will also share the support needs that website users share with our Oversight Group, with these being presented, promoted, and discussed with firms for potential adoption.
Finally, we will hold an annual virtual conference where any WhatWeNeed.Support user can come and discuss the suggestions made in that year, and contribute to our annual report of recommended changes that firms, businesses, and institutions should make.