At age six, most young children are entering first grade, but not for the extraordinary Joshua Beckford.

Living with high-functioning autism, the child prodigy from Tottenham was, at the age of six, the youngest person ever to attend the prestigious Oxford University.

He received a certificate of excellence after getting distinctions in all his courses which were part of an online learning platform for gifted children.

Now 13 years, the young scholar who has dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon was recently listed in the top 30 most remarkable people in the world with Autism who have impacted society.

But he has his father to thank for this incredible feat. At just 10 months old, Beckford’s father, Knox Daniel, discovered his son’s unique learning capability while he was sitting on his lap in front of the computer.

With the keyboard being the child’s interest, Daniel said: “I started telling [Joshua] what the letters on the keyboard were and I realized that he was remembering and could understand.”

“So, if I told him to point to a letter, he could do it… Then we moved on to colours,” Daniel added.

At the age of three, Beckford could read fluently using phonics. He learned to speak Japanese and even taught himself to touch-type on a computer before he could learn to write.

“Since the age of four, I was on my dad’s laptop and it had a body simulator where I would pull out organs,” said Beckford.

In 2011, his father was aware of a programme at Oxford University that was specific to children between the age of eight and thirteen. To challenge his son, he wrote to Oxford with the hopes of getting admission for his child even though he was younger than the age prescribed for the programme.

Fortunately, Beckford was given the chance to enrol, becoming the youngest student ever accepted. The brilliant chap took a course in philosophy and history and passed both with distinction.

Beckford was too advanced for a standard curriculum; hence he was home-schooled, according to Spectacular Magazine.

Having a keen interest in the affairs of Egypt throughout his studies, the young genius is working on a children’s book about the historic and ancient nation.

Aside from his academic prowess, Beckford serves as the face of the National Autistic Society’s Black and Minority campaign. Being one with high-functioning autism, the young child helps to highlight the challenges minority groups face in their attempt to acquire autism support and services.

Last month, the wonder child was appointed Low Income Families Education (L.I.F.E) Support Ambassador for Boys Mentoring Advocacy Network in Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and the United Kingdom.

BMAN Low Income Families Education (LIFE) Support was established to create educational opportunities for children from low-income families so that they have a hope of positively contributing to a thriving society.

Beckford will further hold a live mentoring session with teenagers and his father, Daniel, will facilitate a mentoring session with parents at the Father And Son Together [FAST] initiative event in Nigeria in August 2019.

In 2017, Beckford won The Positive Role Model Award for Age at The National Diversity Awards, an event which celebrates the excellent achievements of grass-root communities that tackle the issues in today’s society.

The young boy also raises funds for three autism charities (two in Africa and one in the U.K.) and is celebrated for his campaigns to save the environment. He recently wrote the poem Saving Mother Earth at the TEDx International Conference in Vienna.

Parenting a child with high-functioning autism comes with its own challenges, his father added.

“[Joshua] doesn’t like loud noises and always walks on his tip toes and he always eats from the same plate, using the same cutlery, and drinks from the same cup,” hesaid.

He is, however, proud of his son’s achievements and believes he has a bright future ahead.

“I want to save the earth. I want to change the world and change peoples’ ideas to doing the right things about earth,” Beckford once said of his future.

Source – Face 2 Face Africa . com

Abbey has been a human rights advocate in his home country of Uganda, the UK, the Netherlands and France for fifteen years, and is the founder and Director of Out & Proud African LGBTI (OPAL). He was thrown into police cells, tortured and persecuted for promoting homosexuality among Ugandans, and has dedicated his life to challenging homophobia and discrimination. Since 2013, he has helped 86 LGBTI asylum seekers from all over Africa to secure refugee status in France, 70 in the Netherlands, and over 100 in the UK. He has taken risks in exposing himself to media rather than leading the quiet life he would prefer. Recovery from torture and frequent rejection, despite his hope that the UK might welcome him, testifies to his strength and aspiration to serve as a role model, and an inspiration in saving lives.

We spoke with Abbey after he won The Positive Role Model Award for LGBT at The National Diversity Awards 2018. Here’s what he had to say:

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

All the nominees were great in their categories. The line-up was, and when I saw my name among the seven wonderful people who have done exceedingly well, it was a victory bless itself.  Jason John – the work he has done in Trinidad and Tobago is heart-breaking, Virginie Assal, Khakan Qureshi, Sgt Guy Lowe-Barrow, Tracy O’hara, Rebecca Tallon and Shaun Dellenty all those people are great. And I will follow and try to learn from them.

What were your thoughts after winning The Positive Role Model Award for LGBT?

As I mentioned earlier on, the line-up was so strong and fabulous, whose members were a cut above the rest, and whose individuals have made a difference to stand out and be counted. Therefore, finding my name in their midst was nothing but a plus, to say the least.

Despite the fact that I have always admired people who win, it had never clicked into my mind that I would one day be one of them, though, to be honest, I had always considered, in the event of such a thing happening to me, would be a real honour. I often get my satisfaction from changing someone’s life. The people who did not have hope when they hope today is enough for me. However, when my name was called, I was overwhelmed, it all appeared like a dream: it was crazy, incredible and surreal.

What happened to me rekindled and sent my mind burning with the idea that “things I consider to be small mean big things to others; what I have all along been doing for people were services that I considered ordinary and done on humanitarian grounds, yet the recipients perceived them from a different perspective. “My resolve to help the LGBT asylum seekers and refugees was not calculated to win recognitions. To it was like a therapy that relived me from the past suffering. I went through the painful experiences both in my country and in the UK. The experience was so dreadful and scary. This makes me understand what it means to rub shoulders with death, to look direct into the ugly face of death, to suffer: my heart bleeds when I start imaging that other people are going through what I experienced. I wouldn’t like them to experience that kind of suffering, and that is the reason I thought, that even if I don’t have what it takes to effectively help them out, I would still use the limited resources I have to help them.

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

In my community back home in Uganda, my name has spread like a bush fire in the harmattan, reaching even the remotest part of my country. The people from my community are now aware of the meaning of the acronym “LGBT’.” Of course, they were excited that a Ugandan in the UK had won such a respectable award, and for that matter, they wanted to know the meaning of LGBT, in order to understand the value of the award. However, after knowing exactly what LGBT means, they were very angry.

Nevertheless, despite their unhappiness, their awareness of LGBT in their community may help to provoke some kind of interest to find out why many Ugandans, including people from their local communities are fleeing to the UK and other parts of the world. This may draw their attention to the fact that many are struggling to escape in order to find their way to the UK so as to save their lives from torture, incarceration and possible death because of the draconian laws and mob justice initiated by cultural homophobia. This may help to change their attitude and possibly learn to be tolerant with people who are different from them.

However, the LGBT people and members of OPAL were excited to see one of their members winning such an award. It was cool and surreal.

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

My next step is even to work more. I have just finished my Masters. I am going to do a PhD next year. I am going to use the award as a springboard to push me even further. My interest now is to fight HIV, and Mental Health stigma among LGBT African Community. I will also use it to acquire some funding so that I could even do more. It is an honour and indeed something that can add to my many victories to come.

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

I believe the work I do is so important in my community because there are no many Black led charities in London which support LGBT African asylum seekers and refugees. People come to me when they have lost hope. For example, when Lazia Nabbanja came to me, she was on the brink of suicide, within few weeks after knowing her, the Home Office detained her and tried to deport her. While in the detention, she attempted suicide on three occasions. When I went to see her, I promised her that no one would deport her. I visited her at least once a week for the six month she was in detetion. I am happy to say that on 11 October 2018, the Home Office granted her refugee status, she is now thinking of joining college to do nursing and start rebuilding her life.

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

It is vitally important for them to be highlighted because people need to know the challenges and struggles minorities face. Additionally, recognising the unsung heroes helps to motivate and revitalise their zeal to work even harder, because they will know that their work is changing lives, being acknowledged and appreciated

Who or What is your inspiration?

My inspiration was my father. My father told me that you could be whoever and whatever I wanted to be as long as I was willing to work hard. That was a very powerful statement that proceeded from my father’s mouth. It was a statement of intent and purpose. It reminded me of the philosophical statement that “you are what you think and speak”

If you think small, you will likewise be a man of small, meaningless achievements. Why? Because when you think, you use your mind. Negative thinking reduces the thinker into a slave – you develop a slave-mentality that binds you and becomes a major barrier to your progress or any form of advancement – it kills your handwork spirit and determination to do anything.

If you speak negative about yourself, you will be a nonentity. Why? because there is power in the word. Whatever you say binds you. If it is negative it becomes a curse against your life. Therefore, I compared this philosophy with my father’s statement and found them in positive concurrence: very powerful. I have tried them and found how powerful they are.

What were your thoughts on The National Diversity Awards Ceremony? Did you enjoy your evening?

I had wishful thoughts, thoughts expressing the real need for continuity, and never ever to think of stopping this kind of function, for various reasons: The first reason concerns fellowship> this occasion provides the opportunity for men and women of valour to meet and fellowship by engaging in sharing of experiences and ideas.

Even more importantly is the fact that novices, those attending and getting recognition for the first time, will find this a remarkably gainful experience as they stand to benefit emotionally, psychologically and intellectually – there will be the feel-good-factor that leads to confidence building, morale boost and upskilling through interpersonal communication.

Last but not least, occasions of this magnitude offer real opportunities for making friends and creating a base of fraternity.

To be told you are going to fail your exams is a hammer blow for any child. For Abdul-Karim, however, the harsh words of one teacher went even further.

“’You are going to fail in life’, he told me”.

At the same school, however, one teacher inspired him, putting him on the path to becoming a spoken word artist, respected Brixton youth worker and as of last month, a National Diversity Award winner. His media teacher was the first black male teacher he had ever seen. Abdul-Karim went on to study the subject at college. “Representation matters,” he says.

We meet in a cafe behind Brixton Library, which is also the HQ of Young Lambeth Co-operative (YLC), where Abdul-Karim is a Pathway Coordinator. Abdoul, 20, joins us. Earlier this year he was voted onto the YLC steering board after his mentor Abdul-Karim put him forward. As part of his responsibilities, Abdoul refers youth in need to YLC’s social workers. “He’s one of the highest referrers,” says Abdul-Karim.

Young people need mentors, says Abdoul. “A teacher can teach you about a subject but a mentor teaches you about life.”

He hasn’t always been so responsible. The third of six children, he was kicked out of home last year. He was hanging “with bad crowds and doing silly things”, he admits.

When Abdoul was arrested a few years ago, he realised how much the police had on him. “I swear this city has a camera for every two people,” he says. Now, as most local police know him, he’s no longer stopped and searched.

Abdoul has since found accommodation with charity Centrepoint. Under Abdul-Karim’s guidance, he’s successfully completed a SIA security guard training course. He’s in the YouTube reality show Real Life Brixton, under his artist name ‘Traumz’ and is writing his own film script.

Other young people look up to Abdoul. “Before I’d just give them advice,” he says. As part of YLC, he feels he can talk to them in a different way. Engaging community leadership is crucial for tackling youth violence, says Abdul-Karim. He quotes an African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Years of austerity have taken their toll on Brixton, which “used to be very close-knit,” he says. Gentrification, institutional racism and an abdication of responsibility have also taken their toll.

Abdoul agrees: “Right now, there’s no love in the community. Why would you look at another brother, and want to kill him?”

Both men resist blaming youth violence on social media and drill music, a kind of rap. Abdul-Karim sees drill’s glorification of violence as a symptom rather than a cause. “It can sink into your heart,” says Abdoul, then adds, “but it depends on how weak your mind is.”

Last year, Abdul-Karim made a documentary about youth crime called Road 2 Recovery to raise awareness among the Muslim community. Faith leaders need to be accountable for their young congregation’s behaviour, he says. “Often they only care about what’s happening in these four walls.”

The film’s debut brought together 300 people from mosques and prisons, as well as activists and concerned families. Abdul-Karim wants Muslim leaders to install a youth worker at every major mosque. He thinks the Mayor should focus more on the grass-roots: Khan “inherited a difficult job,” but “he’s not doing enough to engage.”

Then on the Friday following this interview, Abdul-Karim was recognised with a National Diversity Award in the ‘Positive Role Model for Age’ category. He had been overwhelmed, after his nomination, by everyone else’s self-written bios, much longer than his own. Nevertheless, he was shortlisted. His mum and aunt were over the moon at his victory – all the more so because he, and they, didn’t attend his graduation ceremony from Goldsmith’s. This prize represented a kind of atonement.

“The most amazing thing about receiving the award is that the community voted, and I’m bringing back to a community that needs hope, ” Abdul-Karim says.

If his stellar work continues, perhaps years from now, we’ll see Abdoul on stage collecting that very same award.

 

Source – Lambeth Life

 

I am sat here on a windy, wet Saturday (22nd September) in my quirky flat reminiscing on the last 2 weeks! It has been absolutely incredible and a rollercoaster of emotions! I knew September was going to be full on but I didn’t anticipate just how busy it would be and I am super proud that my body managed to get through the taxing schedule.

So, this is what I have been up to…

Presenting at the Association of Stoma care Nurses (ASCN) Conference in Birmingham

This was the first event of September and started on the 9th and lasted 3 days! This was my first time attending ASCN and it was extremely interesting. Coloplast invited me because I wear Coloplast products and have been involved with advocating their products this year and I was also presenting some preliminary research in the main theatre on the Monday. The first surprise was seeing both myself and Steve’s picture at the entrance of the International Conference Centre and other pictures dotted around inside!

What an incredible 2 weeks

It was great getting the chance to speak to lots of stoma care nurses, the companies, charities and other advocates that attended. I particularly enjoyed the presentations that were very interesting around the theme ‘Breaking barriers and enhancing relationships’. There were many interesting talks regarding sex and intimacy with a stoma, bridging the dementia gap in stoma care and many other topics.

On Monday the 9th September I was very honoured to be able to present to many stoma care nurses ‘The Urostomy – The Poor Relation?’ regarding preliminary research highlighting a knowledge gap amongst other healthcare professionals in different wards, departments and primary care (GP’s). To say I was nervous is probably an understatement I think the 8-minute presentation took over my life the week before but I knew I had something important to say. This meant a lot to me and standing up there I felt like it wasn’t just me but the urostomy community as a whole highlighting this much-needed subject that impacts us every time we go into hospital. I am very lucky to have amazing friends with me who helped calm me down and I am very grateful to all of them. I really enjoyed delivering the presentation and I was blown away by the amazing feedback. It was a chance to also highlight that this preliminary research will now be taken on as an official study which is a big win for the urostomy and urinary diversion (mitrofanoff and neobladder) community. Richard a researcher from Colostomy UK helped me with this and when I saw him and Libby afterwards there were a few tears of gratitude.

What an incredible 2 weeks 2

When the conference closed on Tuesday 11th I was planning to go straight to The Academy of Fab Stuff event called Super at Six in Birmingham sharing best practice in the NHS. However, I was very tired and decided it was probably best to go home and sleep.

National Diversity Awards Ceremony in Liverpool

I had a few days rest until Friday 14th September where I travelled to Liverpool (what an amazing city) to attend The National Diversity Awards in Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. I was shortlisted for the category ‘Positive Role Model for Disability’ and was asked to attend the event alongside 7 other awesome shortlisted nominees. To be honest, I was in complete shock I was nominated let alone to get shortlisted so, I felt like a winner just by being there and speaking to some incredible people.

The venue was out of this world and it just felt really magical! When Warwick Davies won ‘Celebrity of the Year Award category’ he began his speech by saying “Welcome to Hogwarts…” which was very fitting!

What an incredible 2 weeks 3

My mum was my plus one and was really looking forward to attending. Due to Steve’s operation being cancelled he was also able to attend which meant a lot. All 3 of us got dressed up and were looking forward to the evening. It truly was magical and the food was another level! When they got to the presenting I felt a bit nervous but to be honest, I seriously didn’t think I would win and I was really enjoying the atmosphere and energy.

Then it was my category and I listened while all our names got read out! I felt super proud listening to the bio about me and mentioned ostomy awareness but also the work I do regarding urostomy awareness campaigning amongst the general public and healthcare professionals. As the names got read out, I looked to the other table who I thought may have won ready to clap and suddenly they announce my name ‘Rachel Jury’…

What an incredible 2 weeks 5

Well…the shock on my face must have been a picture! I started making my way to the front shaking and just completely bewildered. While this was happening 3 videos from Steve, Stephie and Louise got shown which were really lovely and what they said about me. While that was going on I was introduced to the presenters of the award Ash Palmisciano and a guy representing the sponsor of that award Blackberry. Brian Dowling commented on my shaking and I also got meet him and Ana Matronic (from Scissor Sisters). A picture was taken and then I went to the stand. The picture below was when I was looking out in complete shock and astonishment where I put a hand on my forehead in disbelief.

What an incredible 2 weeks 7

Once the videos had stopped it was my turn to speak. Well, the tears started and I announced that I was in shock, that I had no speech prepared and instead spoke from the heart. I thanking my family, Steve, my friends and said how this is a win for the ostomy community as a whole and shows that you can live life to the fullest with 1 or 2 stoma bags. Short and sweet but I think it came across well. I then had to do an interview and some more photos where I clocked my mum hysterically crying in pure happiness and we had this picture taken of us.

What an incredible 2 weeks 4

I have nearly died many times and my family have been through so much but to show I have now turned it around and mum attending with me meant the world.

We watched all the other category winners and managed to speak to lots of people after. I met some awesome people on my table iichild and the incredible work they do, some lovely ladies from Safe Haven and an awesome lady up for lifetime achiever award called Anne Ross. There was an after party which was brilliant meeting many other people and catching up with Simon again.

What an incredible 2 weeks 6

The next day I met up with another ostomate, Sue who I very much look up to regarding the work she does with physicians and research. The night before I was talking to Sammy Davies (Warwick’s wife to get a spare pouch signed for somebody) but unfortunately I had missed them but we messaged and met up on the Saturday. It was lovely meeting Warwick but for me, it was all about Sammy. She had recently had sepsis and we had a huge connection and that will stay with me forever!

 

What an incredible 2 weeks 12

Steve and I travelled back to Birmingham and my mum back to South Wales. I was still in shock but I felt proud thinking of the broken, lost girl I was to the award I have just won being a ‘role model’.

Talking at the ‘Capital Market Days’ in Copenhagen

I had a day’s rest before I was due to fly to Copenhagen early Monday morning. Originally, Steve got asked to do this but had to decline due to his surgery date (however this did get pushed back in the end) I was due to fly to Copenhagen and I have never flown on my own before. I was nervous but I knew this would be another personal accomplishment. A blog post will follow about this soon.

 

What an incredible 2 weeks 8

I arrived in Copenhagen, rehearsed the interview with the Director of Communications for Coloplast and that night had a lovely meal with Anne-Marie.

What an incredible 2 weeks 9

On Tuesday I had the lovely Thalia Skye looking after me and keeping me company. The room was full of bankers, analysts and journalists mainly for a side of the business I had not previously have thought about. The interview on stage went really well and the questions although different were very interesting and thought-provoking. This was the first time a product user had been on stage at this kind of event. I spoke to many people and then eventually had to say my goodbyes to Thalia not before I gave her some British tea and made my way to the airport.

What an incredible 2 weeks 10

I flew back through the storm last week and I wasn’t too bad. I have ticked another personal goal off and have proven I can fly on my own!

Back in Bournemouth

I arrived back here last Friday and have been busy with a sigmoidoscopy and some more speaking events this week.

However, I feel this weekend I really need a break and will be switching my social media off tonight and just stop. I feel a bit overwhelmed and I think need a moment to ground myself do the hobbies I enjoy (chess, reading and some art) so I can come back stronger next week.

Thank you for reading and for all your continued support.

Rachel x

 

Source – Rocking2Stomas

Parents have spoken of their wishes to build a centre for children with autism.

Aaron and Rachael Pearson are looking to raise £50,000 for the Autism Inclusion Centre. The couple, from Denmead, have a son with the condition and want to expand on Rachael’s charity Autism Isolation No More which she runs from their front room.The centre will create a place where children with autism and their families can go to have fun and relax.

Aaron and Rachael’s plans come just days after the pair were both successful in winning national awards. Rachael won the Positive Role Model for Gender Award at the National Diversity Awards after she turned their living room into a sensory space for youngsters with autism.Meanwhile, Aaron won £10,000 worth of building materials after winning Jewson’s Building Better Communities Trade Hero 2018 award.

Rachael said: ‘We want to try and buy a piece of land so we can build a log cabin and move all our services from our living room there. ‘There will be a place for all the sensory equipment and children and families can go in and relax, parents can chat and join in a play session and stay for longer.’At the moment I can only work with families on an individual basis but I want to hold group events.

That’s beneficial for the children because social interaction is more enjoyable for them.’A number of Rachael’s family members are autistic including her two sons, her brother and nephew.She added: ‘I saw the lack of support my mother had with children with autism, it affected my life. If she had support there are so many things that could have been different.

‘As a parent of a child with autism you can feel lonely, the sleep deprivation is awful.’I provide support for parents and want them to know they’re not alone, I’ll never judge.’

Rachael and Aaron will use the prize from Jewson to help start the log cabin but need funds to get it off the ground. Aaron said: ‘We’ve got the building materials now we’re basically trying to get the project off the ground.‘It’s a mission we both have and it would fulfil us.’

Anyone wishing to donate should visit autismisolationnomore.com.

Source – Written by Ellie Pilmoor & Tamara Siddiqui as featured in The News – https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/health/denmead-parents-call-for-donations-to-help-build-autism-children-s-centre-1-8647460

Mental Health and Wellbeing Charity Touchstone ranked number 1 for a second year in a row on The Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers List earlier this year, showcasing exceptional levels of representation across all protected characteristics at Senior Management, Executive and Board level. The Leeds based charity was born in 1982 after it was acknowledged that large numbers of vulnerable people were left feeling isolated and distressed. More than 30 years on and Touchstone provide services to over 6,000 people per year, aiming to make the cities they work in more culturally competent. Their strong submission showcases phenomenal commitment to diversity across various topics including recruitment, training, community initiatives, employee engagement and mentoring schemes. Evidence provided is a testament to Touchstone’s passion and determination to putting equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of the charity.

We spoke with Alison Lowe, CEO at Touchstone after they won The Diverse Company Award at The National Diversity Awards 2018. Here’s what she had to say:

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

We were really blown away to be included alongside the quality shortlisted nominees and actually thought we would not win.

What were your thoughts after winning The Diverse Company of the Year Award?

Amazed, delighted and determined to keep up the hard work of making Touchstone, and everywhere we operate, the best and most inclusive place we can.  We recognise we can’t change the world – but we can change our little bit of it – and we will whilst ever we have the passion and resources to do so.

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

Our staff are really proud of our achievement and they tell us it spurs them on to be part of the inclusion solution everyday.  We have been inundated with good will and messages of support from a wide range of partners and stakeholders who are delighted for us, but also for the credit this brings on the communities we work in and with.

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

We are asking our Diversity Action Group to review the application we submitted to identify where we can improve in time for our next submission in 2019.  We have already identified areas of good practice from other organisations around disability practice, for example, which we are going to introduce at Touchstone to increase our inclusion practice even more.

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

We feel that Touchstone is a safe place to work and receive services.  We are passionate about bringing our vision of an inclusive world for all to the widest audience possible – and by showcasing our successes on platforms such as NDA – we are spreading the love and the message that hope wins through.

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

Because we all matter.  We all have hearts that can be broken and hope that can be extinguished by a cruel or unthinking word. Inclusion means we give hope the heat it needs to catch fire and burn bright – long after that person is no longer here – to inspire others to do great things in the world and give life to our vision of an inclusive world.

Who or What is your inspiration?

People who can forgive and move on to be their best whilst expecting the best from others.  I suppose Nelson Mandela personifies this most aptly but anyone really who has experienced hate or injustice because of who they are but who combats this with passion and love.

What were your thoughts on The National Diversity Awards Ceremony? Did you enjoy your evening?

The National Diversity Awards were amazing.  The setting was majestic and stunning and we felt like VIPs all night long – the goody bags certainly were popular too. There was world class entertainment that met a diverse range of needs and tastes and the food was scrumptious!  We will certainly be there in 2019.

 

The ADHD Foundation is the largest ‘user led’ ADHD agency in Europe and is credited with influencing policy and provision in the UK for those living with ADHD and co existing conditions. The Foundation’s work in promoting scientific evidence, UK and European impact reports and tireless campaigning, have helped to change attitudes and reduce stigma, improving life chances for those with ADHD. One brilliant example of their campaigning was the Umbrella Project, involving children with ADHD and autism, celebrating their gifts, talents and employability and the installation of a public art project of hundreds of brightly coloured umbrellas above the streets of Liverpool and Salford. This went viral globally, attracting over 30 million media hits. The largest provider of training for professionals and schools in the UK, the Foundation enjoys dynamic partnerships with other charities, agencies and businesses nationally.

We spoke with Dr Tony Lloyd CEO at ADHD Foundation after they won The Community Organisation Award for Disability at The National Diversity Awards 2018. Here’s what they had to say:

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

All the nominees were deserving of recognition for their work and dedication.

What were your thoughts after winning The Community Organisation Award for Disability?

As an organisation that has worked tirelessly in the past ten years to influence the ‘national conversation’ around ADHD, we were absolutely delighted – not just for us but especially for the ADHD community in the UK.

ADHD affects 1 in 20 people. Many live happily and successfully with ADHD – but many don’t.  We know for example that 40% experience anxiety and depression, that 18% self harm, that over 30% have co-occurring high functioning autism,  over 70% have another co-occurring learning difficulty.   All these challenges are often not seen or understood by the public, by schools, even by family doctors such is the level of stigma and discrimination about the condition.

It is therefore often impossible  for people to learn how to live successfully with a ‘neurodiversity’ that others – and those in public services dismiss as ‘A  problem relating to children who don’t know how to behave’.

Our strength based approach, challenges  a deficit model of intelligence aim to ‘enable’ those who are ‘disabled’  by a narrow view of intelligence, giftedness, talent and employability. Enabling those with ADHD to see themselves as ‘different’ but not ‘ less than’ – while at the same time trying to influence policy and provision  so that the vulnerability is supported – especially in childhood , has been a unique challenge for us as a user led charity.

Winning this award is testament to the fact that we have influenced hearts and minds, we have influenced other professionals and that we have influenced the media in particular, to promote the concept of ‘neurodiversity’ and in so doing encouraged and supported those in public life to be more openly honest about living with ADHD and showcasing  living successfully with ADHD.  The ND Awards have helped to raise public awareness of the issue, break down stigma and hopefully enable others to recognise that they,  or someone they know, may have ADHD so they can ‘name it, accept it, manage it, get support for it when they need it, celebrate it, live successfully with it – and not be defined or disabled by it.

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

Overwhelmingly positive! It’s a bit early to say exactly what impact this has had yet.  We hope this award will make others listen to our message, gain support and benefit from what we do.

We hope also that charitable Trusts, employee giving schemes and Corporate & Social Responsibility Directors will consider our charity as an organisation worthy of their support in the future.

As a charity, ADHD has never attracted popular support and certainly we have never generated very much financial resources through  unrestricted donations – but this has begun to change in the past three years.

Most of all, we are genuinely thankful for the recognition and appreciation of who we are, what we do and why and how do it. Somehow, it validates the effort, sacrifice and commitment of so many staff and volunteers.  There is a long way to go we know, this award is a wonderful milestone on the journey!

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

We are a growing organisation and as a charity we have a strong business model to ensure our sustainability –  we don’t measure success based on how much funding we have, but on the impact we have and the difference we make…

We are nominated for European Awards Charity of the Year – that really would be truly wonderful and help put ADHD in the spotlight of national conversation – so we are delighted to be a finalist and hopefully a winner in that.  We didn’t have a template to follow and we have been incredibly fortunate in so many ways so for us we will hopefully be able to do more to help other ADHD support groups and charities across Europe to develop and support  many other children, families and adults.

Service transformation is a ‘constant’ for us so we are looking anew at how we improve everything we do – we are especially delighted that the Umbrella Project will also now happen in London, Manchester, Dublin and Liverpool next year – and in small ways in many schools across the UK. This will not only ensure there are big bright uplifting and colourful public art displays of umbrellas suspended above the street in other cities (and classrooms) but also that many children will as a directl result have lessons in schools about diversity – especially ‘neurodiversity’ and that they will understand what it means to live with ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and sensory processing difficulties – and celebrate neurodiversity!

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

It is impossible  to measure this accurately – we provide a range of mental health and education services – mostly in the north west but we also provide training across the UK to schools and health professionals – we believe that ADHD, mental health and the ‘dignity of difference’ is everyone’s business – not just ours.  So… we aspire, through educating everyone, professionals, parents, children, service providers, commissioners, so that they are aware and understand the needs and potential of those with ADHD.

There are so many ‘creatives’ with ADHD, so many athletes, professional footballers, artists, musicians, marketeers, entrepreneurs – and so many waiting to realise their potential,  – hopefully what we do will help in some small way to achieve their goals in life and realise their potential.

It is more than just providing services and support – it is about making ‘neurodiversity’ valued by everyone – especially those who are neurodiverse.

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

We could write a book….. but ultimately it is about human evolution, humanity in its rich diversity of colour, race, ability, faith, sexuality, intelligences, innovation, vulnerability.. and humility.

We all do better when we know better. Highlighting diversity, equality and inclusion is about highlighting humanity in all its glorious colour and genius and celebrating that !

Who or What is your inspiration?

Every human being who carried with them a story of belonging, acceptance, triumph, brokenness, love, simplicity – greatness is not fame.

I personally always remember those who were ‘kind’ – throughout my entire life, kindness is the quality that has always stood out. For me it is the only measure. Kindness is imbued with integrity – it seeks nothing for itself, it is experienced not advertised and it transforms human beings who are fortunate enough to have received it and live in appreciation of it.

What were your thoughts on The National Diversity Awards Ceremony? Did you enjoy your evening?

A wonderful celebration – uplifting; I had a grin on my face the whole evening, my self and my colleagues and supporters where inspired by the individuals and organisations nominated – many who do unseen and unsung work – and this was their night.  Best awards event I have ever experienced.

..and very well organised!

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

Black women are too often objectified, demonised and face threats to our lives just for speaking out. Our voices must be lifted, says ZITA HOLBOURNE – Winner of the National Diversity Awards 2012. Positive Role Model Award for Race.

Press for progress is the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, focused on equal pay and standing up to gender violence and harassment.

To achieve gender parity at the current rate of progress we would have to wait 200 years.

We deserve equality in our lifetime, but to achieve it we need men as well as women to stand up for gender equality.

It’s encouraging to see women-led campaigns such as #timeup and #metoo but it is essential that women’s movements and feminist spaces are inclusive of all women.

Women who are black, migrant, lesbian, bisexual, trans, disabled, younger and older face not just gender discrimination and disadvantage but double or multiple discrimination and as such there is an even more adverse impact on them when it comes to achieving equal pay, accessing jobs and services and just having a seat at the table.

In addition to this, intersectional women face a disproportionate impact of austerity and as campaigners are more likely to face harassment, abuse, trolling, death threats and misogyny.

As if all of that was not hard enough to contend with, we are often excluded from women’s structures and movements or, if we are included, it is a tokenistic approach to tick the box.

Then, when we create our own safe spaces and practise self-care, we are accused of being separatist or oversensitive.

If we are to achieve progress for gender equality, we must build a movement that is fully inclusive of all women’s experiences and voices and not pay lip service to equality nor have a hierarchy of equality rights.

There should be no expectation of us to be twice as good as our white counterparts in order to participate.

We do not need to be talked about, as we are perfectly capable of speaking for ourselves.

Solidarity for the real struggles that black women and other intersectional women face has to be real and meaningful.

Symbolic solidarity is good, but we also need practical solidarity with a physical presence.

Black women, illustrated very clearly by the experience of Diane Abbott MP, are repeatedly targeted for abuse online and physically in an attempt to silence us.

We are objectified, demonised and face threats to our lives just for speaking out, whether we are standing up for the rights of women or black people or for the human rights of all of us.

If the global women’s movement is to be truly progressive, inclusive and achieve gender parity, it has to be a movement that is led by all women for the benefit of all women.

We have to acknowledge our intersectionality and recognise that some women have more privilege than others and some women are more disadvantaged and marginalised than others.

We have a real chance to build on the momentum of current women’s movements and in marking the 100-year anniversary of some women gaining the vote, but, unless we stand with all our sisters and lift all our voices, progress will be slow.

This must come hand in hand with challenging the patriarchal society we live in and it means that men must be accountable for their actions and examine their own behaviours.

I am part of an all-black women’s choir called Nawi Collective. We sing for freedom, for equality, for justice. We are named after Nawi, who was the last survivor of the all-women Amazon army in the kingdom of Dahomey which is believed to be the inspiration for the Dora Milaje warriors of Marvel’s Black Panther.

Our collective is made up of inspirational and strong, predominantly young, black women and, before and after our performance exactly one week before International Women’s Day at London’s Jazz Cafe in the green room, we debated the meaning of feminism and who feminism is for.

All the women I spoke with felt that current feminist movements were not about them and the struggles they face because of race, ethnicity, gender, age, class etc and were not inclusive of them.

Our collective, while focused around singing and performing, is equally important as a safe space to come together, recharge our batteries, exhale and feel invigorated for the struggles of #everydayracism and #everydaysexism we must navigate to get through each waking day.

It was founded by an amazing young black woman, Amina Gichinga, who is our choir leader, a musician, vocalist, campaigner and activist.

Such spaces are essential for women who face multiple discrimination in the same way spaces for other intersectional women exist, for example, the fantastic Sisters of Frida providing a space for disabled women.

Many other women globally create safe and empowering spaces for women, sometimes at great risk to their own safety, such as the rural women’s groups of Swaziland, with 350 women coming together to form a Progressive Women’s Charter that was launched on International Women’s Day in 2016 and includes declarations relating to patriarchal culture, religion, gender, land, food sovereignty, marriages, governance, education, health, disabilities and media.

In Swaziland one in three girls experience sexual violence, 31 per cent of women are HIV positive, marital rape is legal and out of 65 delegates to the House of Assembly only four are women.

Every other month, for the past three-and-a-half years, my organisation Black Activists Rising Against Cuts UK has been co-ordinating solidarity and humanitarian aid distributions and convoys to our sisters and brothers who are refugees in northern France.

While the majority of those who are currently there are men or boys, there are a number of women, many with young children, who have faced horrific experiences, forcing them to flee for their lives on long and perilous journeys to face inhumane conditions living outside in Calais and other parts of France and Europe, where they are often harassed by police who take and destroy tents and blankets.

Where are the voices of these women in the discourse about gender equality? They are not included and are scapegoated as less than human, coming to steal jobs and housing by politicians and the media.

Those celebrities using their voices to say #metoo #timesup and #pressforprogress have the privilege and opportunity to use their global positions to bring about real change in the way people think of feminism and women’s movements. So my message to them for IWD is to not just lift your own voice but to use your power to empower all women to use their voices — if you have a platform, share it with a sister.

Sometimes in order to make progress we have to challenge not just those outside but challenge our own perceptions about what progress looks like.

Zita Holbourne is the national vice-president of PCS, a member of the national executive of Artists Union England, elected to the TUC race relations committee, co-founder and national chair of Barac UK, an artist, curator, poet, author, writer and vocalist. She is elected to the Action for Southern Africa (Actsa) NEC and you can read more about the charter and our solidarity work with Swazi women via www.actsa.org.

Source: Morning Star.

Latest Blog

Avril Hitman: What next?

  • 1 year ago
  • written by NDA

There is still much to do in the world of inclusion and equality, even in the 21st century.  Individuals with a learning disability can be excluded from participating fully in society through being disadvantaged by their disability.

Leadership opportunities are still lacking. Arts Council England recently published statistics, detailing that 20% of the working age of the population identify as disabled; however they only make up 4% of staff at Arts Council funded organisations, and only 6% at Arts Council England. It seems there is still much work to do to change the balance of these statistics and what lies behind them.

My work over 32 years since founding Magpie Dance has enabled dancers with a learning disability to take leadership roles on main stages as role models for society to learn from, challenging stereotypes and assumptions.  For the many thousands of participants who have accessed Magpie’s projects since its inception, the key is ‘unlocking individual potential and ability’.

I’m keen to utilise my considerable experience and expertise, which enables me to share the learning from my career spanning 32 years as Artistic and Executive Director of Magpie Dance.

I can offer insights into the process of developing a highly successful start up and it’s longevity, resilience and developing inclusive opportunities for thousands of people with a learning disability over 32 years plus.

I’m available for consulting and speaking in the following areas of interest:

  • Public speaking at conferences, events and seminars to share the success and challenges of a start–up. Sharing the ‘Magpie story’ learning from the successes and challenges from very modest beginnings to a highly successful national organisation working with people who are often excluded through their disability.
  • Mentoring leaders
  • Team development
  • Developing individual and team potential
  • Overcoming challenges and stereotypes

Winning the National Diversity Awards Lifetime Achievement Award is a true recognition of the importance of inclusion in the communities in which we live. I believe it is our collective responsibility to ensure that individuals with a learning disability should be respected and valued members of society.

 

Source: Avril Hitman BEM, FRSA           

avrilhitman@gmail.com

T: 07946 600486

                  

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