The Disability Foundation (TDF) is a charity that offers complementary therapies to any person with any disability or chronic health condition, their families and carers and was founded in 1998 by disabled actress Julie Fernandez and her friend Janet Desmond together with Michele Freedman, who had vast experience in working with disability and in fundraising for needy causes. With the first donation from Richard Desmond, TDF was set up as a limited company and registered charity, gaining its charitable status and becoming operational to the public in 1999.
Julie has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, otherwise known as brittle bones. A permanent wheelchair user and with 70 operations behind her, Julie highlighted that there was a gap in support for people affected by any disability/chronic health condition as well as those caring and working closely with disability and at the same time recognised the benefits of complementary therapies on the health and quality of life for this group of people. With over 10 million disabled people in the UK alone, there was not one charity that had no age, ethnic or religious barrier that dealt with every type of disability or chronic health condition. The formation of TDF changed this. TDF was set up to offer complementary therapies to disabled people and their carers and now covers a wide range of medical conditions.
Julie and Janet left in February 2010 but their mission continues with the current Board of Trustees: Michele Freedman (Founder and Vice Chair) Robin Gibbons (Chair), Ruth Vickers and Rebecca Lowrie. In March 2013 TDF went through a period of significant transformation in order to create a sustainable future – part of TDF’s strategic plan moving forward. This enabled TDF to involve many more users through the extension of opening hours as well as utilise volunteer therapists for the very first time which enabled TDF to modify and develop services more effectively. All Trustees have had hands-on experience of the charity and are all advocates of complementary health care in conjunction with conventional medicine and believe in the necessity to provide this service well into the future. In addition, most staff members have had their own personal experience of disability or of caring for someone with a disability – this adds to quality of care TDF provides for its users.