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How one parent’s battle for justice and equity for her disabled child has helped thousands of families affected by Special Educational Needs and Disabilities…
A few weeks after she had won her High Court battle with her local authority in October 2017, Chrissa Wadlow felt compelled to share her experience with other parents and carers in the hope it would prevent what she and her family had gone through from happening to anyone else.
Fast forward to May 2019, and Chrissa has supported thousands of parents and carers by organising over 80 empowering events all over the country, extending her support to professionals who support children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND), too. When you see things in black and white, like this, it’s no surprise Chrissa has been nominated 14 times for a National Diversity Award in 2019.
“Parents were crying out for impartial information and support, and I was overwhelmed by the response to my first few events which were only ever meant to be a bit of information sharing to empower others who found themselves in the same position as me. I am truly amazed that we have come this far, and I’m truly honoured to have received so many nominations” states Chrissa.
Chrissa’s efforts were in high demand, and very quickly with a lot of hard work and research, she had the backing from top UK experts in the SEND professional community.
Originally set up for just parents and carers Chrissa quickly realised that professionals needed the information and support too. “If we want our children to fully benefit from what we have on offer, it’s essential we are all reading from the same hymn sheet” Chrissa states.
As a result hundreds of parents, carers and teachers now access the services and support of Sunshine Support every week.
“We get requests to visit a lot of cities all over the UK… There is such a crisis within Special Educational Needs & Disabilities that families need our expert advice and support. So it seemed natural to tour the country with our workshops”
Sharing the Sunshine around England and Wales
2019, just a year after founding the organisation, Chrissa made the decision to take Sunshine Support on a tour across England and Wales.
With the help of her husband and co-director, Tom, and educational expert and Head of SEND Marguerite Haye, Chrissa launched the service in London in April 2019. The launch had the backing from national, award-winning law firm HCB Solicitors, headed up by Nathan Davies and Andrew Barrowclough.
“It was essential for us to have a law firm to support our families who had the infrastructure to support the ambition that we have to share our support and expertise nationwide. With Nathan Davies winning my own case, I whole heartedly recommend him and his team to our families”
Empowering Parents, Carers and Professionals
Sunshine Support workshops empower attendees by providing knowledge that isn’t otherwise available through funded and commissioned services in the local authorities or NHS. Parents regularly feedback that the workshops are far more thorough and insightful than those run by authorities, providing actual practical tips and strategies that empower them as parents and advocates and the biggest bonus is that they’re not restricted to what advice has been commissioned.
Such workshops include:
There are many more that are planned, too!
National Diversity Awards – Nominations!
Chrissa was very surprised to be in receipt of her first nomination for the NDAs, it wasn’t until a few days before the voting closed that she realised there had been more than one!
“Looking at previous winners, competition is fierce for these sorts of high profile awards. I am not expecting to win, but my mission is to put SEND on the map, so to speak, and if our nominations have improved awareness, then I’m thrilled. There is a huge movement happening within the field of SEND, and I’m so passionate about being a part of it!”
Chrissa has instigated a lot of media attention surrounding SEND in the last 18 months.
Have a read of some of the nominations for Sunshine Support’s recommendations for an NDA:
“Sunshine Support has done some incredible work for children with educational needs and support to parents all over U.K. amazing work has been done and Chrissa puts her heart and soul into her work with the children.”
“They have taken the knowledge and expertise gained in their own personal battles with education for their daughter and decided to help so many others. They have brought experts In educational law, occupational, sensory and speech therapists to the people that would have struggled to access or understand their need for their child, alone.. I applaud them for giving up so much of their free time to act as advocates and provide coffee mornings and support to anyone facing challenges with their child’s special educational needs and giving reassurance the they are not alone and there is support and understanding out there. Autism is one of their personal strengths but they are open to helping anyone in need. They are a non profit organisation and unlike some of the more career driven groups on Facebook etc, they have not lost the empathy, patience and understanding this is so desperately needed by the families under so much stress. There is a national SEND crisis and schools are simply unable to cope and therefore ignore or cannot fund the support or diagnostics needed to help the children in their care achieve to the best of their abilities. Sunshine Support was set up in Derby in a response to the cries for help from local families and I have personally benefited from attending their free legal advice clinic and law workshop. I couldn’t hope to afford it or understand where my child’s rights were being infringed. Now I have set up my child in a new school and he has all the support he needs. Parent confidence and knowledge is key and sunshine support do their best to deliver it to those in need and have taken their independent specialists all across the country to share the burden and help families to help themselves. Long may Mrs Chrissa Wadlow and team continue to do such great work, despite the huge pressure it puts on her family. Our families Thank her so much !”
“Chrissa and Sunshine Support have helped us through arming us with relevant information and support to help to negotiate the tough process of applying for and maintaining EHCP for our 2 boys with disabilities. The support gives parents more of a level playing field when negotiating and seeking the right help for their additional needs/disabled children in school”
“She has spearheaded this charity to enlighten and support parents and families through the minefield that is SEND support whilst overcoming hurdles of her own. She has an amazing team who she has chosen for their specific skills within the areas the specialised in. And now is taking her workshops which offer a vast amount of information countrywide SHE DESERVES THIS AWARD”
The official announcement of the shortlisted nominees will take place on 1st July. Chrissa and the team at Sunshine Support wishes everyone nominated the greatest success! It’s a major achievement to have come this far!
Source – Sunshine – Support . org
‘Fastest-Growing Language’ Will Finally Include World’s Largest Minority.
As a person with a disability, I have never seen myself represented in the vast range of emojis – those small digital images – found on smartphones. There are magician, mermaid and merman, zombie, and vampire emojis. There are thousands of emojis but up until now, no one with a disability.
That is all about to change. Later this year, smartphones will have 59 new emojis representing people with disabilities. The new icons include men and women with a range of disabilities. There will be people with a white cane, with a service dog, with prosthetic limbs, using a wheelchair, and with a hearing aid. There is also an emoji of someone using sign language.
Emojis have become a crucial part of how many of us communicate. They can help share congratulations, personal news, good and bad moods, wishes, and plans. In fact, emoji is thought to be the fastest-growing language. It is only right that people with disabilities, as the world’s largest minority, are represented in, and able to access, culture and communication like this equally.
There is still a long way to go for full inclusion and accurate representation of people with disabilities, but it is a big step forward to be included in the emojis. I am looking forward to sending my first emoji with a white cane.
Scissor Sister favourite Ana Matronic united with TV presenter Brian Dowling to host the 07th annual National Diversity Awards on Friday 14th September.
Community organisations and role models from across the UK headed to the breathtaking Liverpool Anglican Cathedral on 14th September to witness the countries 2018 winners being crowned the best of British diversity.
A number of special guests made an appearance at the UK’s largest diversity awards to show their support for the incredible nominees who have changed the lives of many.
Hot on the heels from Celebrity Big Brother, Gabby Allen joined Love Island Favourite Samira Mighty to praise advocates and charities for their outstanding achievements. Scouse sensations Claire Sweeney, Jennifer Ellison and Marcus Collins also applauded this year’s nominees alongside the cast of Hollyoaks, Emmerdale and Coronation Street, in addition to The Gloves are Off presenter Johnny Nelson.
Sir Lenny Henry CBE, shortlisted nominee for the Celebrity of the Year gong said;
“Diversity to me means involving everybody without any discrimination; its means having integrated groups in society, it means fairness and total inclusion and that’s what the National Diversity Awards are about. Congratulations to everyone who has been nominated, you’re all doing a fantastic job, rock on!”
Leading global brand Johnson & Johnson were headline sponsors of the pioneering awards that have paid tribute to over 700 grass root charities and diversity champions since its inception.
Joining the likes of the Open University, Blackberry, The British Army, Direct Line Group, HSBC Nielsen, MI5, Lush Spa and the Financial Ombudsman, Johnson & Johnson are listed amongst a host of companies recognising diverse talent.
Clare Lee, Head of Human Resources, Great Britain & Ireland, Johnson & Johnson, said;
“At Johnson & Johnson, we are committed to the values of diversity and inclusion that encourage all employees to use their unique experiences and ideas to create a better, healthier world. We proudly join the National Diversity Awards as a Platinum and Lifetime Achiever Award sponsor. The Awards celebrate “unity” in society and a new generation of role models, and that diversity is about everyone’s unique perspective – all backgrounds, beliefs and range of human experiences – coming together. Through inclusion we create a deep sense of belonging, where people are valued, ideas are heard, and everyone can perform at their best. Johnson & Johnson believes that a strong diversity & inclusion strategy allows us to benefit from the opportunities presented by a diverse world. We are committed to excelling in this area because we know that to succeed, grow and innovate, we need our employee population to reflect the diversity of the world we serve.”
A record 24,584 people nominated this year alone with an astonishing 124 nominees being recognised for their various achievements nationwide. Amongst those being commended were the real stars of this show; freedom fighters, domestic violence campaigners and trans rights activists, all of whom work tirelessly to combat injustice without acknowledgement or praise.
The energy in the room was an intrinsically positive one, with each nominee being extremely supportive of each other. The evening was kicked off by founder of the NDA’s Paul Sesay, discussing the importance of the National Diversity Awards and what inspired him to create the ceremony.
“Each year we witness selfless work being carried out by community groups and role models who do not ask for the thanks and praise that they deserve”. Said Mr Sesay. “It is a privilege to recognise your bravery, resilience and courage.”
Soap stars Rishi Nair and Shelley King presented the first award of the night to community champion Abdul-Karim Abdullah, who has supported thousands of young people across the country to eliminate knife crime, gang crime and serious youth violence.
Rocking2Stomas blogger Rachel Jury was next to receiving a gong in the positive role model category, using her impressive following to shine a light on urostomy awareness. Recently, Rachel went to the beach in a bikini with her two stomas visible and wrote a Facebook post to remove stigma that garnered 40,000 views.
Former Real Housewives of Cheshire star Leanne Brown gifted autism isolation no more founder Rachael Pearson the gender accolade for converting her home into a sensory space for children and parents. Out & Proud African LGBTI (OPAL) founder and human rights activist Abbey Kiwanuka was named LGBT role model of the year for helping 86 LGBTI asylum seekers from all over Africa to secure refugee status in France, 70 in the Netherlands, and over 100 in the UK.
British sprinter Anyika Onuora and former professional rugby league footballer Ikram Butt awarded five time award winning sportswoman and cricket ambassador Salma Bi the positive role model award for race, faith and religion, whilst quadriplegic Geoff Holt MBE scooped the Entrepreneur of Excellence Award for founding Wetwheels, taking more than 5,000 disabled people on the water each year.
Another highlight of the evening came when actor Warwick Davis accepted the Celebrity of the Year Award for co-founding Little People UK, offering friendship and support to people with dwarfism. Mental health and well being charity Touchstone were presented with the Diverse Company Award and Strength With In Me Foundation were hailed for tackling domestic abuse and relationships using a combination of interactive workshops, debates and conferences.
ADHD Foundation were commended for changing attitudes and improving life chances through tireless campaigning, with their umbrella project attracting over 30 million media hits.
Action Breaks Silence were applauded for offering free self defence training to over 50,000 women and girls at risk of gender-based violence, and Sail NI were praised for supporting over 300 transgender people and their families across the Northern Ireland.
Kick It Out, the UK’s Leading organisation campaigning for equality in football, beat seven other competitors for the Race, Faith & Religion category, and Radio Reverb emerged as the winner of the Community Organisation Award (Multi-strand) for broadcasting a host of diverse shows 24/7 to a listenership of 30,000.
After decades of supporting thousands of LGB&T people across Lancashire, Dr. Lewis Turner received the prestigious lifetime achiever award with a list of tremendous achievements being recongised by judges.
Jelli Studios, Gold Medallists at this year’s Dance World Cup, wowed the audience with an energetic performance portraying a powerful message. X factor runner up and West End star Marcus Collins also showcased his sensational vocals filling the dance floor with a wave of uplifted faces.
Designed to highlight the country’s most inspirational and selfless people, the NDA’s are supported by the likes of Stephen Fry, Adam Hills and Ade Adepitan MBE amongst many.
Talk show legend Graham Norton said “’Promoting and celebrating diversity is close to my heart, which is why I am thrilled to support The National Diversity Awards! Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees, you all deserve to win!”
The National Diversity Awards was a real feel good ceremony, where each nominee had earned their right to be in attendance for their fantastic work in their specific community.
The Golden Globes of the diversity world was a wholeheartedness event refreshingly celebrated in such swanky style, that it was evident who were the stars of this show, the well-deserving, humble and extraordinary nominees.
The full list of winners is as follows:
Positive Role Model for Age: Abdul-Karim Abdullah
Positive Role Model for Disability: Rachel Jury
Positive Role Model for Gender: Rachael Pearson
Positive Role Model for LGBT: Abbey Kiwanuka
Positive Role Model for Race, Faith & Religion: Salma Bi
Community Organisation Award for Age: Strength Within Me Foundation
Community Organisation Award for Disability: ADHD Foundation Trust
Community Organisation Award for Gender: Action Breaks Silence
Community Organisation Award for LGBT: Sail NI
Community Organisation Award for Race, Faith & Religion: Kick It Out
Community Organisation Award for Multi-strand: Radio Reverb
Entrepreneur of Excellence: Geoff Holt MBE
Celebrity of the Year: Warwick Davis
Diverse Company: Touchstone
Lifetime Achiever: Dr Lewis Turner
COMMUNITY ORGANISATION AWARD FOR RACE, RELIGION & FAITH –
Wirral Change is an award winning Registered Charity and is totally community-led, primarily focusing on Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) issues and supporting people at the margins of society, including asylum seekers and refugees. They have been delivering services to Wirral’s disadvantaged communities since 2006 and are unique in their reach to excluded members of our communities. They are recognised and valued locally by commissioners for bridge building, connecting and supporting BAMER communities who are not engaged with or accessing services. Wirral Change empowers people through advocacy, support, education and intervention, enabling people to improve their lives, prospects and all aspects of wellbeing. They deal with housing, employment, benefits, health, legal status, domestic violence and provide multiple social activities. This impressive charity brings diverse communities together; reducing isolation and discrimination.
SHARING IS CARING!
Anne Ross single-handedly founded The ADD-vance ADHD and Autism Trust in 1996. Over 20 years ago there was no support available for families whose children showed symptoms of ADHD, a little-known disability at that time. Anne worked tirelessly to fill this gap and has continued to campaign for change in education and understanding amongst parents and professionals. Today ADD-vance draws on the coaching, training and administrative skills of over 20 dedicated employees and volunteers to deliver much needed support to parents and professionals involved in caring for children affected by ADHD, autism and related conditions. Anne has nurtured a sustainable and vital resource for local families, from using her own time and operating a helpline from her home in the 1990s, to the charitable organisation it is today, providing help and support to over 4,500 people in Hertfordshire each year.
SHARING IS CARING!
Charities which help people with disabilities in developing countries have been given a major funding boost.
AbleChild Africa, Humanity and Inclusion, British and Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group, Orbis Charitable Trust and Deafkidz concentrate a lot of their work on people with disabilities who can be marginalised by society.
They work with people of all ages in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Afghanistan where people with disabilities are often the most vulnerable in society.
Many of these charities work in health and education to ensure people with disabilities are getting the support they need including; eye care services in hard to reach areas, support to deaf communities and where possible helping people with disabilities find suitable employment.
These grants come in the second round of funding from UK Aid Direct, announced by the Department for International Development. In total, 30 small and medium sized civil society organisations, who work on a wide range of issues throughout the developing world will benefit. As well as projects focussed on disability inclusion, funding will also be provided to projects working on food security and nutrition as well preventing violence against women and children.
UK Aid Direct has already reached more than 3 million people, through 147 grants, across 31 countries.
Announcing the latest round of funding, Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt said:
An estimated 800 million people with disabilities live in developing countries. Many of these people continue to face appalling levels of stigma, discrimination and abuse, and all too often miss out on the opportunities that are the right of every person.
Small and medium sized charities offer a wealth of experience, expertise and skills essential to our mission to find innovative new solutions to complex development problems.
Many of these charities represent the best of British expertise and I am extremely proud that through UK Aid Direct, we are strengthening our great partnerships with them to improve the lives of those living in extreme poverty.
The UK government will co-host its first-ever Global Disability Summit in London in July alongside the International Disability Alliance and the Government of Kenya. The summit will bring together leaders from the private sector, governments, donor agencies and charities to raise awareness of this under-prioritised issue and show our commitment to transform the lives of people with disabilities. It will secure ambitious commitments to make a tangible difference to the lives of millions of people around the world.
Lauren Watters, Head of Programmes at AbleChild Africa said:
The UK government is leading the way for disability inclusive development and we are tremendously excited that it has identified the need to empower Youth with Disabilities in Rwanda through UK Aid Direct. Our project will facilitate meaningful youth involvement tackling the multiple barriers this group face and supporting their full inclusion into society.
Steve Crump, Founder of Deafkidz:
It is extremely gratifying that the UK government has acknowledged our important mission to help deaf children around the world live safely and without fear through the UK Aid Direct scheme. Our work is vital, not only to provide vulnerable children with the ear and hearing care they need, but also to change the dangerous stigmas they face each day.
There are 30 Aid Match Direct grants being announced with a total funding of £28,968,130
Further information and the full list of recipients of the latest UK Aid Direct grants are available here: www.ukaiddirect.org/news/
UK Aid Direct is a five-year; £150 million programme currently changing the lives of over 3 million of the world’s poorest people with UK aid from the UK Government.
Funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), UK Aid Direct was established in 2014 as a successor to the Global Poverty Action Fund (GPAF), which was created in 2010.
UK Aid Direct is a challenge fund designed to support the UK’s commitments to achieving the Global Goals.
Funding rounds will continue until 2020.
The UK Government will co-host its first ever disability summit later this year that will focus on four central themes:
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