A South Tyneside charity champ has narrowly missed out on receiving a lifetime achievement accolade at a glittering awards ceremony.

Founder of the Great North Dog Walk, Tony Carlisle was named as runner-up in the category at the National Diversity Awards held in Liverpool.

The event, held in The Anglican Cathedral, was attended by a number of celebrities – including actor Warwick Davis, known for playing characters Willow and Griphook in the Harry Potter films.

The 61-year-old, who has raised thousands for charity through his annual dog walk on the Leas, narrowly missed out taking the coveted award to GP Dr Lewis Turner who champions lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) causes. He said: “The energy in the Cathedral was electrifying on the night with around 500 individuals who had been chosen from almost 25,000 nominees.

“There were people there from all walks of life under one roof. The whole evening was a true display of unity, acceptance and togetherness. “I was proud to be shortlisted into a final group of eight. I would like to say thank you to everyone for their support and a special thank you to those individuals who took the time to nominate me.

“However, the highlight of the evening was meeting actor Warwick Davis. He won “Celebrity of the Year” and we spent several minutes chatting. He had read my biography in the posh programme and called me his Hero. I felt humbled yet elevated! Memories I will cherish. A true gentleman.”

The dad-of-three from South Shields, has been the organiser of the Great North Dog Walk in South Shields since its formation in 1990.

He was one of eight people nominated for a lifetime achievement in the awards which celebrate unity in society.

The awards – which are hailed as the UK’s grandest celebration of diversity – feature a range of categories such as the positive achievement award for age and positive role model award for gender.

In 28 years of the Great North Dog Walk, Mr Carlisle says £7.72million has been raised for a range of charities – with more to follow following this year’s event. Mr Carlisle says 33,149 dogs and 50,000 people took part in the latest Great North Dog Walk, which was held last month on the Leas, in South Shields.

This year’s event raised funds for the Chloe and Liam Together Forever Trust – created as a lasting legacy to South Tyneside sweethearts Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry, who were killed in the Manchester Arena bomb attack last May.

Among the special guests was Oskar Gillstrom, who runs an annual walk in Stockholm, Sweden.

Mr Carlisle is set to start the race there next year.

Source: Written by Lisa Nightingale, as featured in The Shields Gazette – https://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/south-shields-charity-champ-narrowly-misses-out-on-top-national-award-1-9355325


ADHD Foundation is celebrating double awards success after winning the Community Organisation Award for Disability at the National Diversity Awards and being nominated as Charity of the Year at the European Diversity Awards.

The foundation has been recognised for its ground-breaking work supporting children, young people and their families living with ADHD. Dr Tony Lloyd, chief executive of ADHD Foundation, collected the UK Diversity Award at a ceremony at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral on Friday evening. 

A leading mental health charity, ADHD Foundation is the largest ‘user-led’ ADHD agency in Europe. The accolades have been bestowed on the foundation for its work in promoting scientific evidence, forming dynamic partnerships with the likes of Witherslack Group, Obtech in Sweden, University of Salerno, Italy, and ADHD charities all over the world, and its role in the creation of UK and European impact reports (notably A Lifetime Lost, or A Lifetime Saved, and The Social and Economic Impact of ADHD with think-tank DEMOS), alongside tireless campaigning. It is credited with influencing policy and provision in the UK for those living with ADHD and co-existing conditions, helping to change attitudes, reducing stigma and stereotyping, and, in so doing, improving life chances for those with ADHD.

The National Diversity Awards celebrates the achievements of people who inspire other individuals through their work, their commitment to helping others, their infectious personalities and through adversity. The European Diversity Awards is the continent’s most prestigious and widely respected diversity event, recognising individuals and organisations who have made an outstanding contribution to equality, diversity and inclusion across Europe.

One example of the foundation’s campaigning work is the Umbrella Project – promoting ‘neurodiversity’ involving children with ADHD and autism celebrating their ‘super powers’, talents and employability with a public art project which saw hundreds of brightly coloured umbrellas above the streets of Liverpool and MediaCity, Salford. The foundation also stages the largest annual multi-disciplinary conference on ADHD, attended by over 800 delegates from the UK and Europe, taking place this year place from November 8 to 9 at Titanic Hotel, Liverpool.

Dr Tony Lloyd, chief executive of ADHD Foundation, said:

“We’re honoured to receive the award from the National Diversity Awards and to be nominated for the European Diversity Awards. These accolades reflect the immense work the whole organisation has put in over ten years to make ADHD Foundation the largest user-led service of its kind in Europe. These awards recognise the importance of the achievements of our users, reflected in the work the foundation does to support over 3,000 families across the UK each year and the training we provide to a further 4,000 teachers and healthcare professionals. We hope this success will help bring further attention to our objectives of challenging negative perceptions, bringing about positive change and inclusion within policy and build a positive foundation for life for people living with ADHD.”

Dr Kuben Naidoo, chairman of ADHD Foundation, added:
“Winning the ‘Community Organisation Award for Disability’ has affirmed the ADHD Foundation’s role as a leading charity that has made an outstanding contribution to the local community focusing on those with disabilities. This is an incredible honour and achievement and it is testament to the hard work and dedication of our CEO and staff as well as our patient and carer groups who have supported us since our inception.”
The award comes after Dr Lloyd himself was recently included in the OUTstanding Leading LGBT+ Public Sector Executives List, presented by the Financial Times in recognition of his work to promote workplace equality and drive change in the public sector, and his endless support for the LGBT+ community. Dr Lloyd was also bestowed the honour of National Leadership Club Award for Education by the All Party Parliamentary Group on ADHD at Westminster.
Source: The Guide Liverpool

Warwick Davis was clearly thrilled to receive a 2018 National Diversity Award tonight for his work on behalf of Little People UK. Winning Celebrity of the Year, he dedicated his award to Little People UK.

‘I dedicate this award to the members of #LittlePeopleUK, individuals with dwarfism throughout the UK & the world… you are all #PositivelyUnique.’

Warwick Davis is an actor, television presenter, writer, director and producer. He played the title characters in Willow and the Leprechaun film series, the Ewok Wicket in Return of the Jedi and Professor Filius Flitwick and Griphook in the Harry Potter films. Warwick, who has spoken out about the importance of diversity in the TV and film industry has fronted shows to challenge perceptions about dwarfism.

Along with his wife Samantha, Warwick co-founded Little People UK in 2012 to offer friendship and support to people with dwarfism, their families and friends, and help to build a positive future for those individuals. Since its inception, Little People UK has become a registered charity and an essential resource for the social, medical and financier needs of the little people community in the UK. To date it’s attracted 200 members, along with the support of highly respected surgeons.

Congratulations to Warwick – aka the hardest working man in showbusiness – for this very well deserved award.

Source – Fanthatracks


As the home of Europe’s oldest Chinese community, Liverpool always goes all out to celebrate Chinese New Year, and the start of the ‘China Dream’ cultural experience brought not only parades, artwork, crafts and story telling but also a a spell-binding light show, traditional dancing and fireworks that were heard for miles.

The city was dressed in red in preparation for the jam-packed weekend of festivities which kicked off on Friday 16th February 2018, a week after the official launch of China’s first Emperor and the Terrcotta Warriors exhibition at world museum. Beautiful red lanterns swayed from the Berry Street lampposts and were strung all along Nelson Street and beyond our beautiful Imperial Arch, ready to welcome thousands of families, friends and tourists as the weekends activities got under way.

Despite the cold weather and rain, we turned out in droves to watch the dragons, lions and unicorns dance to Great George Square where firecrackers, dancing and music entertained the masses. Twinned with Shanghai, Liverpool is famed for it’s warm welcome and seeing first-hand how our communities come together to embrace Chinese culture and join in the celebrations, just goes to show our unity.

At 6:30pm we all flocked to the Imperial Gate once more as the final showing of Jingwei’s Legacy illuminated theChinese Gate, Black E and The Arch Building. The projected story focuses on cultural diversity and the hope that communities can live together harmoniously regardless of their backgrounds or beliefs, and it received a huge round of applause from young and old, before a brilliant firework display brought a weekend of fun, food, culture and celebrations to an end.

Chinese New Year actually lasts until late February 2018 and there’s no better time to visit Chinatown and explorethe myriad of shops, restaurants, markets and community groups that make us such an important part of our city.


Source: The Guide Liverpool


Liverpool Football Club has been asked to introduce a pilot scheme which would allosupporters from the LGBT community to sit together at selected home games.

The suggestion, put forward at the first meeting of the club’s equality and diversity forum which took place ahead of Liverpool’s home fixture against Chelsea, was supported in principle by all present.

Summarising the proposal, forum member Paul Amann explained that the intention was not to seek extra match tickets for the LGBT community but to better accommodate those who are already entitled to tickets.

“What I am talking about is having the ability to book a block of seats, not at every home game, to allow transgender people to sit together with fans from the LGBT community,” he said.

“Things have moved on immeasurably but there is still some way to go. Transgender people regularly come to me and talk about their love for Liverpool and then talk about their fear of coming to a game.

“The vast majority of Liverpool fans would stand behind us but I am not a transgender person so I cannot imagine their worries and concerns so it is vital that we listen to them.”

Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore outlined the lengths that the club had gone to recently to assist a transgender person who had wanted to attend a game at Anfield.

Welcoming that show of support for an individual, Paul Amann said the club should build on its work with the LGBT community by looking to implement this proposal.

“We have over 100 registered members of Kop Outs and thousands following us on Twitter but it is about having the ability to come and watch a game together,” he added.

“It is about safety in numbers. It is about being together. It is about raising the confidence of an individual who is afraid to go to the match. It is about congregation. It is about raising awareness within the fan base as a whole. It is about all of these things.

“The Football Association has facilitated a similar scheme at Wembley for last couple of England games and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea all allow bookings to be in a group.”

Peter Moore confirmed that the club will look into the proposal, saying: “This is an action that would be relatively easy for us to do.”

Forum member Mahesh Hathi then added that he would be willing to facilitate the proposal. “There are fifteen or sixteen of us, all season ticket holders, who come to the match together and we would all be willing to give up our seats to accommodate this idea,” he said.

Peter Moore suggested that one way forward could be an exchange system which would allow season ticket holders to take general admission tickets in exchange for giving up their own seats. He added that such an initiative, if practical, could be extended to help younger fans to sit together.

The proposal was preceded by a presentation by Simon Thornton, Liverpool’s diversity and inclusion officer, who summarised the club’s objectives in his field.

“Our aim is to become one of the most inclusive football clubs and businesses in the UK,” he said. “We have a real opportunity to drive inclusion into everything we do.

“Becoming the first club to achieve the Premier League Equality Standard Advanced Level since the Standard transferred to the Premier League in 2015 underlined our commitment to this ambition and also highlighted the values that underpin our work.

“Our key goals are to maintain the Premier League equality standard, to raise the LFC profile in wider equality and diversity space and to achieve recognition for the work that we are doing. Also, our long term ambition to become a Stonewall Top 100 employer.”

Yunus Lunat then welcomed the recent introduction of a multi faith prayer room at Anfield and said the resource has been well received by those who use it but he has also been asked by supporters to make a request to the club to see if it is possible to facilitate washing facilities.

Simon Thornton said an expert on prayer rooms had recommended that the club should provide storage for prayer mats and religious literature but not wash facilities because that could lead to the prayer room being almost exclusive to the Muslim faith.

Yunus Lunat said: “If a supporter needs to wash and cannot access a washroom, the supporter cannot offer a prayer, and if this isn’t possible then the facility, as good as it is in so many other ways, is rendered useless, which is a shame. For the supporters who access the facility this is a priority rather than storage for prayer mats or literature, which have never been raised by any fan.”

Yunus Lunat also cautioned on literature. “Firstly, there has been no request or demand as supporters simply use the facility for a short prayer before vacating and secondly, it risks opening up to issues of policing, what is appropriate to some may not be to others and who is leaving the material?,” he added.

“I do not know any stadiums in this country which offer washing facilities and such an initiative would generate a lot of goodwill and positive publicity for LFC. All that is required for wudu (the Islamic procedure for washing parts of the body) is a tap and a sink coming out of the wall.”

Simon Thornton accepted the point and said he would look into the proposal. “It would be easy to do and it would also be cheap so there are no barriers in these respects so the next step for me would be to have a discussion with the ops team,” he said.

Riaz Ravat suggested a change in name for the facility, saying it would be better to call it a reflection room rather than a prayer room “because in that way it is more welcoming to everyone whether you have a faith or have none.”

Simon Thornton then made a second presentation, outlining the progress that Liverpool have made in making Anfield accessible to supporters with disabilities.

“The total number of wheelchair spaces now 263, plus more than 250 amenity and easy access seats,” he said. “There are also new access routes including adapted lifts. This is in keeping with our commitment to ensuring the club is as inclusive and as accessible as possible.”

Welcoming the progress that has been made, Steve Evans from Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association (LDSA) said: “It is really good what we are doing and I know it is something that is really appreciated.

“The situation now is massively different to what it has been in the past. When I became disabled in 2009 I thought I would not be able to come to Anfield again because that’s how little awareness there was about disability at the time but that situation has changed massively.”

At the end of the meeting, Tony Barrett, Liverpool’s head of club and supporter liaison, thanked all involved for their contributions. “As with the ticket availability forum, which was held a week earlier, the equality and diversity forum has made a really positive start,” he said.

“Once again, the suggestions were considered and realistic and the willingness of all forum members to work together and in collaboration with the club was clear throughout.”

Yunus Lunat added: “I would like to place on record how refreshing and encouraging it was that the CEO and senior club executives were in attendance and still committed to the forums as a follow on to the Supporters’ Committee, which sends all the right messages out about how important this area of work is to LFC.”


Source: www.LiverpoolFC.com

If you have been following me on social media you may have spotted that I was nominated for

The National Diversity Awards on International Women’s Day 2017. I had the great pleasure of attending the awards ceremony at the majestic Liverpool Anglican Cathedral on the 8th of September.

The night was aptly named in jest; ‘Donald Trump’s worst nightmare’ by comedian and National Diversity award-winner Adam Hill, as well as being incredibly inspired, I learned some huge lessons around tolerance.

Founded by Paul Sesay, with a focus on equality and inclusion, The National Diversity Awards celebrates the excellent achievements of grass-roots communities that tackle the issues in today’s society, giving them recognition for their dedication and hard work in striving for equality. It’s a hugely successful awards ceremony with this years awards being the sixth and biggest instalment yet with over 22,000 nominations.

I had proudly been nominated as a Positive Role Model for Race in the National Diversity Awards for the work I’ve been doing to bring diversity and race equality into the mainstream media and wedding industry. It was incredibly humbling to be amongst thousands of movers and shakers in the UK who are doing such meaningful things to push forward equality, a powerful and authentic camaraderie up until Friday, I simply had not experienced.

The camaraderie made me think about a few significant moments in our socio-political climates that have made a permanent dent in our history this year. Charlottesville and our racial divide. Grenfell Tower and our class divide. And after the current responses in the press about gender fluidity / gender neutral classrooms and John Lewis‘ decision to remove gender labels for boys and girls; all of the above events have opened up huge and divided debate, but what each of these moments all share in common is, intolerance to difference.

Why are we so intolerant to difference?

As a diversity consultant and of course founder of Nu Bride. I set myself up to be constantly questioned and challenged. As such, I spend a lot of my time defending diversity, justifying why diversity matters.

Championing for diversity, going ‘against the grain’, against the mainstream media and popular culture, where success and desirability has a bias on white, heterosexual, male and able-bodied, is no easy feat. It is isolating and it is tough.

Frequently challenged by the majority, by those who perhaps have become accustomed to privilege, by those who feel like strides towards equality can feel like ‘less than’ for the majority…

Well what about us? That’s not fair? All lives matter right?

Aside from the overarching theme to make each other and the world around us a better and more tolerant place, what the National Diversity Awards reminded me is that, not only is diversity important to give an accurate reflection of what life naturally is, celebrating diversity is imperative in educating and challenging this discourse, so difference is not questioned, so that it is seen as the norm. Until then, it will remain imperative to provide platforms for minorities, platforms that raise awareness of groups of people who have not been afforded the same opportunity as their peers because of their genetic make up, because of a bias that has been conditioned and hard-wired into our brains. A narrative that perpetuates our own subconscious bias, one that continuously tells us that disabled is less than, that women are less than, that homosexuality is less than, that black and ethnic minority groups are less than.

What the National Diversity Awards did beautifully, was to celebrate every aspect of diversity in a inclusive way. Which in my opinion is key, not segregating, not disempowering one over the other, but coming together, to shine a spotlight on those who are often assumed by our own subconscious bias as less than, but instead as incredible. As inspiring. As mind-blowing. As remarkable human beings.

There are so many more winners and nominees worthy of mention, some award-winners that stood out to me were, former actress and founder of Road Casting, Coralie Rose who won Entrepreneur Award of Excellence, for her commitment to casting real and underrepresented people in commercials, TV and film, inspired after not seeing people like herself or her family represented on TV and beyond. She was also responsible for casting the first Muslim girl wearing a hijab for H&M.

Another stand out winner was Community Organisation Award-Winner for Gender: Men Tell Health, a mental heath charity dedicated to helping men talk about their mental health and reduce male suicide.

Life Time Achievement award-winner Avril Hitman reduced me to tears, founder of Magpie Dance since 1985 an inclusive dance company for people with learning disabilities to express themselves through the power of dance her popularity was palpable. Positive Role Model for Disability winner and favourite James Sutliff – diagnosed with neurological disorder Dystonia which can cause muscle wastage, speech loss and lack of mobility. Defying all odds, James is a force to be reckoned with and was awarded for the impact he is making in the fitness industry as an extremely successful bodybuilder, personal trainer and disability coach.

And then there was the very talented and delightfully confident 12-year-old child prodigy; Joshua Beckford, who lives with Autism and exceeds exceptional expectations in academia, thought to be one of the smartest children in the entire world, who won the award for Positive Role Model for Age and brought the house down with an inspiring speech to follow your dreams. The confidence he naturally exuded was a lesson in itself

Hosted by The Scissor Sisters co lead vocalist, Ana Matroinc and Brian Dowling, with a goose bump inducing finale by delicious singer Mo Adeniran, winner of The Voice 2017, who blew the house down and got everyone on their feet with an impromptu jamming session with colleague Misha B – one of my favourite moments.

The awards had a refreshing focus on individuals, not just organisations and celebrities, but the grass-roots of communities across the UK following their passion and purpose to bring about positive change. Some overcoming incredible odds, others paving their own strident way to being the change they want to see in the world.

I left the National Diversity Awards feeling extremely inspired. I discovered that striving for diversity is not the lonely road I once thought it was. I personally didn’t make the finalist shortlist – but somehow my own journey in the National Diversity Awards seemed unimportant, I was inspired beyond belief by the camaraderie, by the inclusive tribe of equality seekers (or modern-day freedom riders as I like to call them) Not simply falling in line and accepting what is. But having the courage to be vulnerable, striving for more, recognising their part, their power and privilege in wanting and creating more for generations to come. I felt super proud to be part of that tribe.

Celebrating diversity and being an inclusive business owner and advocate goes beyond the tick box exercise – the ‘I’ve done it once’ badge of honour. Do it again and again and again and again. Not so it’s tokenism, not so it’s a badge of honour, but because it’s a true reflection of the remarkable souls who make up the United Kingdom.

Only when we consistently see different versions of intelligence, success, power, desirability, in our communities, in our workplaces, in our schools, in lecture halls, in our boardrooms in magazines, on TV, in films, on catwalks, that go beyond the pre-conditioned stereotype, will we truly start to accept each other as equals and evolve.

Join me in being that change.

SOURCE: http://nubride.com/2017/09/19/national-diversity-awards-2017/

Latest Blog

A Night To Remember…..

  • 1 year ago
  • written by NDA

Liverpool is an amazing place. One of those places you need to visit again and again to get the real feel of the place. It is full of culture, history and vibrancy. But why were we there? We were there, of course, to attend the National Diversity Awards.  The National Diversity Awards is a prestigious black-tie event that recognises, honours and  celebrates roles models, charities, organisations and entrepreneurs that are dedicated to enhancing diversity, equality and inclusion.

And I was amongst them…

I was honoured to have been nominated, let alone shortlisted from 22’000 applicants, to receive an Award for “Entrepreneur of Excellence.” Although I did not win, it was amazing to have been recognised and I appreciate all those that voted.

The Journey

My partner Dean and I jumped in a taxi with a couple we heard were going to the same place as us. We immediately clicked. As we got talking,  it was clear that we were sitting amongst two very special people. James Sutliff told us that he suffered from dystonia, a rare disorder that affects the neurological system as the body suffers from abnormal and repetitive spasms. This means speaking and eating can be a real challenge for James. It’s an invisible disorder. He said he just woke up one day feeling unwell. After he took a nap, he woke up and realised that his speech was slurred and severely distorted. He has been living with it for seven years.

His wife Sam is a phenomenal woman and never have I met a couple so in sync. The intuitive connection they both have was quite moving. Although we could understand most of what James was saying, Sam seamlessly filled in the gaps and interpreted. James told us in the car that he was nervous and that he hadn’t planned a speech. He had been nominated for Role Model for Disability.

Having an understanding of what it is like to live with a disability or disorder, James knows what it is like to feel marginalized. He is now a Disability Fitness Coach and model who coaches those who have severe autism, suffer from low self-esteem and have disabilities. He works on their physical fitness as well as their confidence at an emotional level and he achieve results! He is on a crusade to raise awareness about dystonia. By the time we left the car, we wanted James to win and were excited to have met such a down to earth and incredible couple.

On entering the cathedral, we were greeted with champagne and canapes. It was a glamourous affair and it was refreshing to be amongst movers, shakers and change-makers. I have to give kudos and respect to Paul Sesay, The Founder, for having the vision to create this event to celebrate so many people making a difference in the world. We took a few photos and I practiced my pose on the cathedral stairs (still working on it)  before we made our way to our table. Table 37!

Table 37

Now, I have to say,  I think we had the chattiest table in the whole cathedral. What I loved the most was that it truly was diverse. Each and every one had a story and a cause that was important to them and the support and cheers from the table were particularly touching. We had only known each other for the space of a few hours but were rooting for each other to win.

Here are a few of our table buddies who were up for nomination

  • Faye Waddams – Positive Role Model Award for Disability (her blog is here).
  • Revd. Andrew Foreshaw-Cain – Positive Role Model Award for Race, Faith and Religion
  • Kerri Swindells – Community Organisation Award for LGBT (National Ugly Mugs)
  • Gary  Pollard  –  Community Organisation Award for Gender (Men Tell Health)

     –(taken from Gary Pollard’s blog Men- Tell Health) Read here: Gary’s blog 

Other table mates were Kieran Bohan, Dell from Ugly Mugs, Luke Levine and Jacqueline Pollard (Gary’s lovely wife.) It was also great to finally meet my Facebook friend Sarah Lovatt-Ellis from Hyper-Fusion Theatre Company in the flesh who had also been nominated for an Award as well as the lovely Leanne Armitage, a young woman with a huge vision.

Two hours in, and we were ecstatic that Gary won it for Table 37…er I mean..all the fantastic work he has been doing. On a serious note, his organisation, “Men Tell Health is a male-focused mental health Community Interest Company. Their aim is to reduce male suicide and to help men understand, manage and accept their own mental well-being. They do this differently to almost everyone else. They do it in the way they talk about mental health, initially by using humour to destigmatise and to engage. This extraordinary organisation is the brainchild of Gary Pollard who lives with PTSD, depression and acute anxiety. What started out as a blog expanded to fill a major gap for men struggling and looking for help, creating a site that talked to people like a friend would, not like parents or Doctors. Men Tell Health are now the only men-specific mental health organisation in the region of Teesside, running three different types of men-only groups including SpeakEasy, PopStart, and ReBoot. Their life changing work has not gone unnoticed.”- NDA website.

Gary is a legend and truly deserves this Award and I know he will go on to help many more men. Men need outlets just as much, if not more so than women, as they are often taught to “suffer in silence” or grow up with the notion that “Big Boys Don’t Cry” or told to “Man up.” My belief is it is this very conditioning that suppresses a man from expressing himself and therefore leading to expressing himself in a much more harmful way further on down the line. What I love about Gary’s work is that he offers men a safe space to share their story and anxieties without judgement and with humour.

Another highlight was seeing my good friend Robyn Smart. I first met Robyn when I interviewed her on my Periscope Show, “Book Journey Mentor Uncut” on WOWTV. See interview here Interview Part I    Interview Part II    Prior to that, I remember spotting her at The Mind, Body and Spirit Festival quite a while ago now and being impressed with her plight to empower young children who were going through and overcoming an illness. I also loved her mission to empower young girls of Black Caribbean and African Heritage by creating strong protagonists, celebrating their culture and putting them on the map of  Children’s Fiction in the literary world!  She too had been nominated for an Award and was up for Positive Role Model for Gender.  Ten minutes before the second half of the Award ceremony, Robyn was saying she did not think she would win…

Screams exuded from our table when her name was announced as the winner! Well done Robyn. Well deserved!

Taking the opportunity to explore Liverpool, we visited the sites, one of which was Slave Museum. Having visited many similar museums and exhibitions before, I wondered what would be new. What struck me most was not the horrific abuse my ancestors faced but that the long-lasting effects of slavery still hang in the air. Reading the accounts of some of Liverpool’s residents (1940s-1970s) was heartbreaking. The overriding thought at the end of it all was, how much has really changed?  In school we are taught that slavery was “abolished” in 1807, however, slavery in British Colonies was only brought to an end in 1838 and 1865 in the USA, 1869 in Portugal and 1888 in Brazil. The ending of the slave trade did not end slavery itself. I look at the world today and wonder how free are our minds? Although the physical chains and shackles were removed, racial prejudice and systemic racism are very much alive and kicking today.

What this reinforced to me, is that we still have a long way to go in terms of equality but  it is up to us to put ourselves out there, break the mould and make a change. If our image cannot be found in mainstream books, if there are no Black literary heroes, if we are not celebrated and portrayed positively in mainstream media, then it is absolutely up to us to not sit back, to not complain about the way things are, but to make a real change and break barriers in a space of unity and strength through collaboration and with the spirit of “umoja” (Swahili for togetherness/unity).   As Martin Luther King said, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.“~ Martin Luther King, 1963

What was reinforced to me was the importance of the journey. It was great to have been nominated and it would have been amazing to have won, but my appreciation and gratitude are rooted in the steps that it took to get there. Conscious Dreams Publishing started off as a seed, an idea sprung from meeting so many women with powerful messages and stories that went unheard as well as a desire to place the unseen and unheard in the spotlight so that we can become our own storytellers, game-changers and change-makers. It started with a dream and the dream is coming true.  Three years ago, I published my first book looking for validation from mainstream publishers and getting “Nos.” I knew nothing of the industry but my determination to share my message with the world was stronger than my desire to stop. Stopping would have meant that 25 valuable stories and books would not have been published.

Journeys in our lives count. It’s easy to stop when the journey gets tough, but we mustn’t. No matter what we are going through, push on. Meeting James was a humbling reminder that, no matter what we face in our lives, we can turn it into a positive; we can turn it into a way to lead the way for others. Meeting James reminded us to never take anything for granted and to appreciate every step of the journey for tomorrow, as we desire it, is not granted.

And, as he graced the stage to accept his Award, Dean and I knew that our night was complete. Our cab companion we met at the start of our journey, who was so nervous about getting up on stage and speaking, won the Role Model Award for Disability, and as we cheered him on, I couldn’t think of a more deserving winner!

Able Magazine was again privileged to be media partner with the National Diversity Awards, who have secured themselves as the premier event honouring everyday role models and organisations leading the way to greater opportunity for diversity to flourish across Society.

Lead singer of the Scissor Sisters, Ana Matronic joined TV presenter, Brian Dowling to host the awards which were again held in Liverpool’s stunning Anglican cathedral to honour individuals and organisations across all strands of diversity. Nevertheless, there were several winners from the disability community.

Able Magazine has supported the National Diversity Awards from its inception six years ago and again, editor, Tom Jamison was on hand to present the Positive Role Model for Disability Award, joined on stage by Hollyoaks actress, Amy Conachan.

Body Builder James Sutliff was clearly surprised and thrilled to accept the award which recognises his impressive social media following to highlight issues regarding the neurological dysfunction disorder, Dystonia – which Sutliff himself lives with.

The Community Organisation Award for Disability was scooped by the Childhood Tumour Trust who have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of young people and their families affected by neurofibromatosis type 1.

Presenter of TV show, The Last Leg, Adam Hills, accepted the award for Celebrity of the Year and the Lifetime Achiever was announced as Avril Hitman BEM, who has devoted years of service to learning disabled people through Magpie Dance which she founded in 1985.

Able Magazine editor, Tom Jamison said: “With a record 22,000 nominations and votes received this year, it’s clear that anyone that reached the shortlist stage has done very well indeed.

Able Magazine continues to support the National Diversity Awards because they really do live and breathe their values. Honouring individuals and organisations that promote diversity so passionately raises awareness and a sense of empowerment that is difficult to measure. It’s Able Magazine’s privilege and pleasure to be involved as media partner.”

Source: http://ablemagazine.co.uk/national-diversity-awards-heroes/

A community worker who has dedicated more than 40 years of her life to helping people in Blackpool has been shortlisted for a national award.

Wendy Pearce, 72, is in line for recognition in the Lifetime Achievement category at the National Diversity Awards. Over the years she has worked with schools, young offenders and first time parents to try and improve their lives. And despite clocking up more than four decades, she has no intention of retiring just yet.

Wendy, who lives in Bispham, said: “I was speechless when the email came through informing me I had been shortlisted. “You don’t expect this kind of accolade after all the years of not being recognised.” The mother-of-three and grandmother has helped generations of people, and is still handing out advice now. She said: “Only a few months ago I had 26 young women on the babysitting course I run. “But over the years I have worked with a lot of young people in Blackpool, many of whom have come here from other parts of the country and so don’t have anyone close at hand. “Some are now in their 30s or 40s, and I bump into them when I am shopping or out in town. “I see young people with a lot of different issues but when they get their confidence, they are like butterflies taking off when they see what they can achieve. “There is always something you can find that they can shine at. Young people don’t see youth workers as a social worker, or a parent, or a teacher. “We slowly build up a relationship with them so they tell us things they wouldn’t tell other people, and it’s our job to ensure they get the help they need.” Wendy currently works for Blackpool Boys and Girls Club and the UR Potential on Central Drive.

Over the years she has also worked for the Youth Offending Team, Homestart on Grange Park and with the Millennium Volunteers, as well as at schools. She said: “I don’t want to retire, as there is still so much to do. “The work keeps me young and on my toes, and I just like watching young people grow and develop.” The presentation of the awards will take place at the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool on September 8.

The awards are supported by a number of celebrities including TV presenter Graham Norton. He said: “Promoting and celebrating diversity is close to my heart. “I want to wish all of this year’s shortlisted nominees the best of luck for the ceremony, you all deserve to win.”

SOURCE: Blackpool Gazette: http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/dedicated-wendy-in-line-for-award-1-8660304

The charity devoted to Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole has been shortlisted for a national diversity award.

The Mary Seacole Trust has been shortlisted for the National Diversity Awards (NDA) 2017.

Photo: Barney Newman

The charity, which promotes the legacy of Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole, has been nominated for the Community Organisation Award in the Race, Religion and Faith category.

UK charities and other role models, including British celebrities grime artist Stormzy, actress Denise Welch and actor Riz Ahmed, are among those nominated for their work to promote equality, diversity and inclusion.

The Mary Seacole Trust has taken over from the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal, the organisation which ran a 12-year community fundraising campaign to build a statue of the Jamaican-Scottish Victorian nurse who had been almost forgotten for over 100 years.

The statue was unveiled in June 2016 in the grounds of London’s St Thomas’ Hospital, across the Thames from the Houses of Parliament.

Mary Seacole Trust chair Trevor Sterling said: ‘We are thrilled to be shortlisted for such an important award.

‘The statue was funded by donations from thousands of individuals and organisations, bringing together people from a wide range of fields – the NHS, the military, the arts, politics and many others.

‘While the statue is important in symbolising and recognising Mary’s contribution, there is now an opportunity and responsibility to harness this unprecedented diversity of support to create a legacy beyond the statue.’

Mr Sterling said the recognition was an important milestone as work began on the trust’s key projects – educating schoolchildren about Mary Seacole and encouraging diversity in leadership within both the public and private sectors.

National Diversity Awards founder and chief executive Paul Sesay said: ‘I am so proud to be able to witness the journeys of some of the most inspiring role models this country has to offer.

‘Each year I am overwhelmed with the quality and quantity of nominations, and those shortlisted should know how privileged I am to share your stories with the nation.’

The awards ceremony will be held in Liverpool  on September 8th.

SOURCE: Nursing Standard: https://rcni.com/nursing-standard/newsroom/news/mary-seacole-charity-shortlisted-diversity-award-92586

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