Congratulations to DFID for winning Campaign of the Month with the Global Disability Summit.

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Congratulations to DFID for winning Campaign of the Month with the Global Disability Summit. The summit took place on 24 July 2018 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London and brought together more than 1000 delegates from governments, donors, private sector organisations, charities and organisations of persons with disabilities.

Penny Mordaunt Disability Summit

Globally, 1 in 8 people have a disability, yet for too long people with disabilities in the world’s poorest countries have not been able to fulfil their potential due to stigma or lack of practical support. Until now, it has been a neglected issue in international development. The summit brought together governments and organisations from around the world, with the aim of transforming the lives of people with disabilities.

DFID ran an integrated influencing and communications campaign building up to the London summit. This included holding satellite events in target countries around the world to highlight the importance of tackling stigma and discrimination around disability and encourage those governments to make commitments at the summit.


  • Behaviour change – influence governments and international organisations to make financial and non-financial commitments to increase support and opportunities for people with disabilities;
  • Engagement – build momentum towards the Global Disability Summit among UK and international audiences, building a network of supporters;
  • Awareness – increase awareness of and public support for the UK’s work to support people with disabilities around the world.


  1. In-country – policy makers and influencers in developing countries who were asked to make commitments at the summit;
  2. Marginally Engaged – 37% of the UK public who are concerned about how the aid budget is spent and are sceptical about its effectiveness;
  3. Engaged – 28% of the UK public who are supportive of aid and involved positively in development.


DFID harnessed its international network to hold satellite events in targeted countries in the run up to the summit to motivate governments to make commitments.

In the UK, DFID delivered a series of communications activities using individual stories of people with disabilities around the world to create relatable and engaging content to show the UK’s leadership in driving global change. This activity was kick-started with a planned media moment with the Secretary of State when she became the first ever Minister to make a statement in Parliament in sign language. This galvanised media and public interest in the summit.


  1. In-country: The communications team supported DFID country offices to hold satellite events in the run up to the London summit. These events were used to highlight the UK’s own commitments on the issue and to urge country governments to step up. The events were accompanied by a range of proactive communications, targeted at policy makers, to publicly influence governments and demonstrate UK leadership. This included op-eds and media interviews from DFID Heads of Office and British High Commissioners and Ambassadors.
  2. UK media moment: To create a buzz ahead of the Secretary of State’s statement in parliament, DFID warmed up a wide range of media and stakeholders, including lobby journalists, Politico and RedBox. Once it was covered by the Guardian and BBC online, it was picked up widely across print, broadcast and social media. The sign language statement was then translated into Arabic for use on FCO Arabic social media, reaching over 60,300 people.
  3. DFID stories: DFID used the statement in Parliament as a hook to engage journalists and stakeholders, selling in highly visual stories that demonstrated the importance of supporting people with disabilities. We also worked with British disabled people to act as advocates for DFID’s work.


No-cost evaluation was carried out using qualitative and quantitative data from in-house media and social media monitoring, assessing sentiment and determining whether coverage had carried DFID messaging.


Objective 1: Securing commitments

Communications activity ahead of the summit supported DFID’s country offices to influence international policy makers which, as a result, led to:

  • 320 organisations and governments signing the Charter for Change to support the rights of people with disabilities
  • 170 commitments from around the world to tackle the stigma and discrimination faced by people with disabilities.

Objective 2: Build momentum

The use of sign language in Parliament received 16 pieces of major coverage, featuring on ITV and Channel 4 News, reaching the marginally engaged. The clip of the Secretary of State using sign language became DFID’s best-ever performing social media post, reaching over 500K people.

We also secured approximately 50 additional pieces of coverage in the run up to and around the summit across national, specialist, online and international media, including BBC World Service and the East African. Working with the BBC, we supplied images and content to create DFID’s first photo gallery on the BBC website, which has a monthly readership of 561.9m people. Coverage was overwhelmingly positive and reflected DFID messaging.

Objective 3: Increase awareness and public support

The Secretary of State’s use of sign language and our wider targeted communications enabled us to reach audiences we have never reached before and illustrate the impact aid is having in supporting people with disabilities.

For example, a comment on Reddit where we posted the clip of the Secretary of State, said: “My mum actually rang me. She works for a disability charity. She told me she was with a deaf woman when they saw it and she busted out crying. I think it’s safe to say this might seem a little thing but to a few it’s engagement with government they’ve never had”.

The campaign was a whole Communications Division effort, led by:

  • Beatrice Arscott, Senior Media Officer, DFID
  • Steph Moor, Senior Media Officer, DFID
  • Alastair Bayliss, Senior Media Officer, DFID
  • Joanna Harrison, Senior Content Producer, DFID
  • Sheena Ariyapala, Content Producer, DFID
  • Jas Malhi, International Comms Officer, DFID
  • Sara Valenti, Internal Comms Officer, DFID
  • Hannah Zainuddin, Press Officer, DFID
  • Emma Tilley, Deputy Head of News

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