The William Merritt Disabled Living Centre is a registered charity: number 513001, and a charitable company limited by guarantee: number 01638939.
We offer impartial advice and assessments for people of all ages living with a disability or long-term condition to help them achieve greater independence and fulfilment. From medical fitness-to-drive assessments, to scooters, stair lifts and much more, we help people make good choices to enhance daily living. Most, but not all, assessments are free of charge. Please look at the Services section of this website.
We are a member of Driving Mobility. As a regional centre, we offer car access assessments for drivers and passengers, fitness-to-drive assessments and driving lessons in our adapted vehicles.
For the year 2022-23
|Visitors to the Centre||4,288|
|Assessments carried out||1,355|
|Requests for information||893|
|Telephone calls received||18,500|
Our latest Annual Report is here
The William Merritt Disabled Living Centre was named after Councillor William Merritt SRN, RMN who served for many years as a charge nurse in the geriatric department at St. James’ Hospital, Leeds. He was elected to the City Council in May 1946.
His main interest at the Council was in social services and in 1953 he pioneered the development of the city’s Welfare Scheme for the Disabled. He was a member of the Leeds NHS Executive Council and was Deputy Lord Mayor of Leeds in 1972.
In 1980, during his time as Chairman of the Council’s social services committee, it was agreed to establish the Centre. Unhappily William Merritt died before it opened in 1981 and it was unanimously agreed that the Centre should bear his name in recognition of his work for disabled people over many years. The opening was, appropriately, during the International Year of Disabled People, and at first the Centre used two former wards of St Mary’s Hospital in Armley. After 36 happy years, in 2017 it moved to its present, more suitable building, in Rodley.
The Centre’s founders were Professor Anne Chamberlain OBE, Arthur Goldthope OBE and Derek James OBE. Professor Chamberlain is currently Vice Chair of the board of trustees and Chair of its Clinical Advisory Group.
The William Merritt Disabled Living Centre is led by General Manager David Blythe supported by an experienced team of occupational therapists, driving instructors and administrators.
Senior staff include:
Hannah Davy, Administration Manager – Leeds
Tracy Waldron, Administration Manager – Sheffield
Lauren Harris, Driving Assessment Services Manager
Rachel Hirst, Occupational Therapist
The board of trustees has wide experience in social services and healthcare as well as lived experience of disability. The Chair and Secretary to the board is Keith Murray, the Vice Chair and Chair of the Clinical Advisory Group is Professor Anne Chamberlain, OBE. The Honorary Treasurer is David Bruce.
Anne Chamberlain, OBE
Kieran Preston, OBE
Attending board meetings:
Councillor Kevin Ritchie – Leeds City Council
Please use this page to see our latest opportunities for volunteering, jobs and trustees.
We are always looking for volunteers to join us, who are valued members of our team. If you have experience in administration, building maintenance, gardening or organising events please contact the Centre.
Management of the William Merritt Disabled Living Centre is overseen by a group of trustees, who meet bi-monthly. Trustees are responsible for ensuring the charity has a clear vision, strategy and policy framework and for monitoring its performance.
Trustees are expected to work as team members and have proven leadership and/or innovation in their field, with desirable areas of expertise including (but not limited to) marketing/fundraising, organisational administration, occupational therapy and healthcare. All trustees should have experience or understanding of disability issues. We also welcome candidates who have previously used our services or those with a long-term condition looking to contribute to the work of the Centre.
The positions are not remunerated.
If you would like more information or an application pack, please contact the Centre.