Fightback 4 Justice – simply known to others as Fightback – is a grassroots organisation which supports disabled people in their applications and appeals for a whole host of welfare rights.
Fightback was initially set up by its founding CEO, Michelle Cardno, due to her desire to use her expertise in law to help others. Prior to this, Michelle both volunteered and worked for the Citizens Advice Bureau. Once she was made redundant after three years as a paid worker for CAB, Michelle decided that her vocation was still to help others – and so, Fightback was born.
Initially starting life as a Facebook group offering legal help and advice to disabled people, Fightback has grown from strength to strength. Due to a growing clientele at the beginning of Fightback’s journey as an organisation, Michelle had to enlist upon the help of a trusted friend with benefits knowledge in order to progress further. She has since trained these volunteers to advise on various issues which has in turn increased the reach of the group.
For 18 months, Michelle grew the organisation from her own home before accepting a position at a law company, continuing to represent clients at tribunals and assisting with form completion and advising on benefits in the process. However, due to the law company’s aims and objectives not meeting those of Fightback, Michelle soon resigned.
Having plundered most of her funds into helping others, Michelle was left with the dilemma of either finding a new job elsewhere, or continuing with her dream of helping others through Fightback. With the encouragement and support of her Fightback volunteers, Michelle opted for the latter and set up Fightback’s flagship office in Bury, Lancashire.
Due to the high demand for Fightback’s services, Michelle knew she couldn’t walk away from all of the sick and disabled people who genuinely needed help. The bold move to set up a flagship office has so far proven to be a successful one, as Fightback continue to efficiently help thousands of people with various welfare queries and issues.
In addition to this, Fightback’s Facebook page reaches over 60,000 people a week, whilst they also have over 12,000 followers on Twitter. Fightback also has a forum with hundreds of notes which have been produced courtesy of Michelle’s expertise. These notes, which are free to access, cover various issues and allow people to fight back themselves. The quality of these advisory notes and templates is so impressive that other social media groups share them regularly – extending Fightback’s reach even further.
Having such an extensive reach not only helps Fightback to address a huge raft of different issues which various sick and disabled people have to deal with, but it also raises awareness of such issues and projects them in the public eye. This subsequently provides a platform which not only gives the community a voice, but also allows them to know that they are not alone.
Arguably though, the most impressive thing about Fightback is the fact that the majority of its volunteers have disabilities and have faced adversity themselves. It is through being helped that these volunteers also feel compelled to help others. They recognise and can empathise with the difficulties and challenges and also the depths of despair that many fellow “Fightbackers”, as they are affectionately known, face.
Prior to being shortlisted for the Community Organisation for Disability award at The National Diversity Awards 2014, Fightback won the Peoples’ Champion award at Left Foot Forward due to the remarkable work that they do to help others secure their entitled welfare rights. They will be hoping to add to their accolades come September 26th at the Hurlingham Club.