Mikey Akers

SHORTLISTED NOMINEE: 

POSITIVE ROLE MODEL AWARD FOR DISABILITY –


16 year old Mikey was diagnosed with verbal dyspraxia (a neurological speech condition) when he was two and a half years old. It’s a condition which affects 1-2 people per 1000, and makes it difficult to produce the precise movements required for speech. Learning to talk is a very slow process and those affected need to pronounce a word correctly 1000 times before it comes naturally. When Mikey was 13 he wrote a poem called ‘I am the Boy’. The poem led to Mikey creating Mikey’s Wish, a small charitable cause that raises awareness of the condition as well as funds to support children who learn differently. Mikey has donated funds to the Dyspraxia Foundation and £1,000 to his local primary school, which helped four pupils gain access to speech therapy. Last year, he was awarded the Young Achiever Award at the Pride of Birmingham Awards.


SHARING IS CARING!

Joeli Brearley

SHORTLISTED NOMINEE: 

POSITIVE ROLE MODEL AWARD FOR GENDER –


Joeli is a relentless campaigner for gender equality and a mother of two young boys. She is the Chief Executive and founder of The Motherhood Plan CIC, which operates the ‘Young Mums Collective’ and ‘Pregnant Then Screwed.’ Pregnant Then Screwed exists to protect, support and promote the rights of mothers who suffer the effects of systemic, cultural, and institutional discrimination through various activities, including: A free legal advice service, a website where women post their stories of discrimination anonymously, lobbying the Government for legislative change, and a mentor scheme that supports women who are considering legal action against their employer. The ‘Young Mums Collective’ enables mums under the age of 25 to fulfill their career aspirations through live streamed workshops and peer to peer support. Since 2015 Joeli has supported over 1000 women who have encountered discriminatory behaviour.


SHARING IS CARING!

2017 WINNER: 

POSITIVE ROLE MODEL AWARD FOR RACE, RELIGION & FAITH –


Currently Assistant Director of Finance and Procurement at a London Housing Association, Morenike continues to make transformational changes and contributions to the organisation. In addition to her day job, Morenike is passionate about developing and seeing others excel in their chosen career. Having mentored several candidates, Morenike recognised that many are being held back from higher aspirations, largely due to a negative mind-set and ineffective work ethics. Identifying the gap in the marketplace has compelled her to create “Career Nuggets”, a social enterprise aiming to bridge this gap. Morenike is also an award winning author of 2 bestseller books, selling over 1,000 copies to date. This remarkable individual is being applauded for giving back so much on top of her day job, including investing her own funds and time into Career Nuggets. Her impact within the BAME community is outstanding.


We spoke with Morenike after she won The Positive Role Model Award for Race/Faith/Religion at The National Diversity Awards 2017. Here’s what she had to say:

What were your thoughts on the other shortlisted nominees within your category?

They were all phenomenal, I thought that all shortlisted nominees were all winners, doing amazing work in different capacities.

Although you were unable to attend the ceremony, what were your thoughts after winning The Positive Role Model Award for Race/Faith/Religion?

I still completely overwhelmed, I didn’t think I would win it, as the category was very strong. However, I am grateful to the person (s) who nominated and voted for me. They have given me a gift that money cannot buy – they have given me so much joy and encouragement. I really want to appreciate Paul Sesay for creating such an amazing platform too. I am sorry I was unable to attend due to being caught up at a prior engagement of educating and empowering some youths in the area of their career development. It still seems like a dream and it is so nice to be recognised and appreciated. Winning the National Diversity Award has motivated and encouraged me more to continue to do what I am passionate about, which is giving back and helping people progress in their desired careers.

What reaction have you received from supporters/fellow employees since winning the award?

I have received so many congratulations from so many different people. Winning the award has created a lot more awareness of me and my social enterprise ‘Career Nuggets’. People have been checking me out on my social media platforms, sending me messages… all this as helped me gain greater exposure.

How will you utilise winning the award?

Firstly, I am going to use The National Diversity Award winner signature. Winning the award has given me the confidence to look for new opportunities in areas I would not have considered before. Presently, I single-handedly sponsor all that I do, now I am going to venture out and look for people to collaborate with and possibly get some sponsors too. I am sure this award will allow me to leverage with large organisations and gain their support.

Now that you have won a National Diversity Award, what are you going to go from here? What are your next steps?

My next steps will be  now to speak much more about areas of diversity and winning a National Diversity Award will give me the courage and strength to do so. I feel like I am now an ambassador of The NDA and will encourage others to nominate. Winning a National Diversity Award will empower me to share my knowledge of Diversity and Inclusion.

In your own words, how do you feel the work you are carrying out is making a difference?

I am making a difference because I am reaching individuals who may not have had as many opportunities as others might have had in the areas of career. Having a career is beyond having just a very good qualification. I help people find solutions to the gap they have from where they are (As is position) to where they want to be  (To be position) in their chosen career. I have been able to give people hope, skills, financial independence and access to opportunities they wouldn’t have come across. I believe I am also a connector and have been able to use my network to create opportunities for others.

Why do you think it is important to highlight Diversity, Equality and Inclusion?

It’s so important to highlight Diversity, Equality and Inclusion in all we do because we can achieve much more by having people from diverse backgrounds working together. For example, a diverse office is a beautiful place to work, allowing people to be themselves leading to a ‘realness’ and positivity within the work place. It increases productivity and helps businesses to grow.

Who or What is your inspiration?

My inspiration is my late mum, she was a single parent who just gave as much as she could to allow us as many opportunities as we could without a father figure at home. We were content and never felt like we missed out on anything. She had so much drive for her two daughters to succeed in life. I am also a Christian so my faith in God is also my inspiration and driving force behind what I do.


SHARING IS CARING!

Positive Role Model (Race)

Ben Forbes

  • 2 years ago
  • written by NDA

SHORTLISTED NOMINEE: 

POSITIVE ROLE MODEL AWARD FOR RACE, RELIGION & FAITH –


Ben is a dedicated and passionate individual with a unique story. He has considerable experience in partnership working within the Metropolitan Police Services Trident Gang Crime Command, under the Specialist Operations & Crime Directorate. He is an expert in youth engagement, diversionary and preventative measures, with specialisms in youth engagement, gang culture and community engagement. Ben took the brave choice to promote his story (A Copper’s Tail) and has conquered huge hurdles to turn his life around. He works tirelessly to be a role model and ensure that young BME men are diverted away from criminal culture and make a positive contribution to society. This inspirational individual is focused on breaking down community barriers and working with hard-to-reach communities to overcome numerous social and cultural barriers between the Police and the Public.


SHARING IS CARING!

Positive Role Model (LGBT)

Ian Ashton

  • 2 years ago
  • written by NDA

SHORTLISTED NOMINEE: 

POSITIVE ROLE MODEL AWARD FOR LGBT –


Ian has worked for Lancashire Constabulary for over 23 years performing a number of roles including Immediate Response, Neighbourhood Policing, Motorway, Road Policing, Strategic Equality & Diversity and most recently the Community Cohesion and Hate Crime Officer for West Division covering Blackpool and Lancaster. Ian came out quite late in life and at a time when there was only one other openly gay male police office in Lancashire. Since then, he has shown relentless commitment to equality, devoting his time and energy to raising awareness of LGBT+ issues. Ian is the chair of the LGB&T Staff Support Network for Lancashire Constabulary and has been performing this role for nearly 10 years. Outside of work he is a Trustee for Lancashire LGB&T, Horizon and sits on the board for URPotential. Ian has clearly impacted his peers, which was evident through numerous endorsements.


SHARING IS CARING!

SHORTLISTED NOMINEE: 

POSITIVE ROLE MODEL AWARD FOR LGBT –


Karen joined the Army in 1995 – pre lifting of the Ban on homosexuality in the military. She became a mother in 1999 and “came out” in 2009. In 2011 Karen became involved with the Army LGBT Forum, a small group of people striving to make a difference in Army policy. She started to attend conferences and working groups to build her knowledge of LGBT issues in the military. It was at these events that Karen understood that soldiers needed a voice – Karen was to be that voice. Appointed the forum Chair in 2014, Karen actively works with policy makers in ensuring that all LGBT+ rights and law are indoctrinated into Army policy. She has helped to raise the profile and impact of the forum’s work, shaping the Army’s thinking and perception of all LGBT+ issues with relentless passion. Karen continues to support the community and the broader diversity agenda, not only within the Army but beyond.


SHARING IS CARING!

SHORTLISTED NOMINEE: 

POSITIVE ROLE MODEL AWARD FOR DISABILITY –


A former primary school teacher with Asperger Syndrome, Chris Bonnello is now a nationwide speaker and tutor for autistic students who are outside of the education system. After leaving mainstream teaching Chris launched Autistic Not Weird (http://autisticnotweird.com) and its associated Facebook community, with the intention of sharing his insight about autism from both a personal and professional perspective. He discusses autism and Asperger’s with eager enthusiasm, and is honest about difficult topics including his mental health history and challenges he faced while growing up. His website has reached over 1,200,000 page views in its first two years, and 63,000 people have joined his community on Facebook. Chris is also now a published author: his first book, “What We Love Most About Life: insights from 150 young people across the autism spectrum” sold over 1,200 copies on its first run.


SHARING IS CARING!

SHORTLISTED NOMINEE: 

POSITIVE ROLE MODEL AWARD FOR DISABILITY –


Natasha is a 22 year old Elite Disability Gymnast. On May 27th 2013, her life changed forever when she went into anaphylactic shock. 4 years, 250+ epipens and multiple intensive care admissions later, Natasha has been diagnosed with a rare life threatening condition called Mast Cell Activation (MCAS); causing her to live in a constant state of allergic reaction. Despite this, Natasha trains and competes as a gymnast.

Since starting disability gymnastics in November 2014 she has won 19 British titles, been ranked number one for three years running and was named Inspiring Young Woman of the Year 2015. Natasha is a patron of Birtenshaw, a Charity based in Bolton for children and adults with Special Education Needs and Disabilities. She also volunteers regularly for Scope and Mast Cell Action, helping to raise awareness of MCAS and change people’s perceptions of disability.


SHARING IS CARING!

Positive Role Model (Age)

Zach Brookes

  • 2 years ago
  • written by NDA

SHORTLISTED NOMINEE: 

POSITIVE ROLE MODEL AWARD FOR AGE –


Zach Brookes is a 22-year-old tennis player and coach with a passion for his sport and a story to tell. Since first picking up a racket at the age of seven, tennis has helped Zach through tougher times, and now provides him with a platform to push himself and also help others. Zach competed in men’s competitions for two years before revealing he was transgender, sharing his story through the rainbow laces campaign and attracting national media attention. Zach has also been diagnosed with autism and has achieved gold and silver medals in regional tournaments in the run up the Special Olympics. He has delivered awareness training for students at his previous college, and is part of Stonewalls Trans Advisory Group. Zach is on a mission to break down barriers in sport and has been a courageous voice, not only for himself in the face of considerable challenges, but for others less able.


SHARING IS CARING!

SHORTLISTED NOMINEE: 

POSITIVE ROLE MODEL AWARD FOR AGE –


Cathy’s life’s journey came to an abrupt cross road in 2009, when she was made redundant (twice!), her marriage broke down and she was very ill with asthma and IBS. Suffering from depression and having to re-think her career, Cathy attended a yoga class which changed her life forever. She is now a qualified Yoga teacher and established Diversity Yoga to bring strength, mobility, wellbeing and stress relief to everyone, regardless of their age, background or physical ability. She also founded Soapbox Coaching to help people speak and communicate with clarity, conviction and confidence. Cathy uses yoga breathing and stress release techniques to help people overcome debilitating glossophobia. By Cathy’s own admission her life started at 50, and she is now inspiring countless other individuals who may find themselves in a similar situation.


SHARING IS CARING!

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