Compiled by an independent judging panel after sifting through more than 700 nominations, the final list of the UK’s 100 most influential disabled people is an inspirational roll call of activists, mentors and advocates who are making a difference every day to the lives of people with disabilities.
By Alison Dando
Congratulating this year’s 100, Shaw Trust CEO, Nick Bell said the Power List not only aimed to celebrate today’s key influencers, but also to inspire the next generation. “We still have much to do to create a fully inclusive and fairer society. The Shaw Trust Power List aims to change perceptions of disability, tackle social exclusion and provide role models for the young, talented leaders of tomorrow.”
Able Magazine takes a look at some of the people who made the Power 100 to showcase the diverse range of truly amazing champions of social inclusion and disability rights we have in the UK today.
CEO, Rocket Girl Coaching
Equality campaigner, personal coach, accessible aviation advocate and soon-to-be Able Magazine contributor, Mary Doyle, flew into the Power 100, for her work in helping disabled people to fulfil their potential.
With over 25 years’ experience working in global software and telecoms, Mary now runs her own professional coaching business, Rocket Girl Coaching, inspired by her lifelong love of aviation. Having learnt to fly solo at the age of 42, Mary is passionate about disabled people reaching their full potential in all areas of life. “Being a wheelchair user and global manager has given me the drive for disability to be normalised in business and outside of the office.”
Founder, The Diversability Card
Disability rights advocate and social entrepreneur, Shani Dhanda was selected for her pioneering work to help reduce the financial pressure that people can face due to the extra costs of living with a disability. Shani, who has brittle bone disease, is founder of The Diversability Card, the UK’s first official discount card for disabled people.
An award-winning fundraiser, Shani has raised more than £450,000 for charity and recently created the Asian Woman Festival, to celebrate the female Asian identity. She has also collaborated with Virgin Media as a disability programme manager, encouraging change in diversity and inclusion strategies across the business.
Police officer, West Yorkshire Police
Nick Rook was recognised by the Power 100 for his work promoting inclusion as part of the West Yorkshire Police Disability Association.
Registered disabled after developing an ulcer four years ago which resulted in the loss of sight in his right eye, Nick has been supported by the RNIB to make adaptations and continue with his career. Promoted to Chief Inspector earlier this year, he now works to promote diversity and inclusion across the force.
Nick, who was also diagnosed with dyslexia in his thirties, said: “My advice to any person is not to give up and to remember, you decide where your limits are, not others.”
President, Harrow and Brent United Deaf Club
Deaf since birth, Asif has worked tirelessly throughout his career to remove barriers for disabled people, particularly those with hearing loss.
He is currently president of the Harrow and Brent United Deaf Club as well as Chair of Hearing Loss Professionals UK Network. Working with the Harrow and Brent United Deaf Club, Asif has led various initiatives to improve access, including supporting Harrow Council and the Greater London Authority to sign up to the British Sign Language (BSL) Charter.
Asif has also been an ambassador for the Government Equalities Office and sat on advisory boards for the British Council, the Runnymede Trust, the Department of Transport and the Department for Work and Pensions.
Restricted Growth Association UK
Writer, mentor and Restricted Growth Association UK trustee, Eugene has been commended in the Power 100 for his work challenging cultural stereotypes of people with dwarfism.
Eugene has worked in communications, policy, and public relations for a number of organisations including a local council and a leading university. He has also written numerous articles for the mainstream media advocating more authentic and positive representations and effectively uses his social media presence to highlight the discrimination people with dwarfism can face. His message is powerful to all of us: “Your body is beautiful, and your power is inherent, no matter how loudly others may try to deny it. Never be in doubt that you matter.”
Ruby’s honest, humorous and at times, unflinching blogs about her experience of living with chronic pain caught the attention of the Power 100 panel for the way they highlight the issue of ‘invisible disability’.
Diagnosed at 15 with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Ruby’s blog (rubyj0nes.blogspot.com) charts her journey as a young woman dealing with pain, fatigue and mobility issues. She writes about the successes and challenges of her condition, in amongst posts about everyday teenage life and uses her social media presence to challenge assumptions about what disability ‘looks’ like. She says: “My EDS isn’t the only aspect of my
personality, but it is certainly a part of me.”
Visually impaired since birth, Theresa – or Tee – has only been climbing for a couple of years but has already earned podium places in every competition she’s entered.
With Tee now also experiencing hearing loss, her climbing has increasingly become a central focus in her life. She’s taken part in the British Mountaineering Council Paraclimbing series for the past two years and has travelled all over the country to compete.
Tee writes about her experiences in her blog, seemyway.co.uk, covering accessibility, sport and everyday life. She’s also a motivational speaker and guide dog volunteer. On her Power 100 placing, Tee says: “I have this one life to live and just hope my blog can help others to live theirs.”
Placida Uzoamaka Ojinnaka
Hardworking legal eagle Placida caught the Power 100 panel’s attention with her roll call of advocacy and volunteer work tackling social care, education, employment and disability issues.
Placida is an activist and lobbyist who is passionate about disability rights and equal access. A qualified interpersonal mediator and law student mentor, she’s also a committee member of the Law Society’s Lawyers with Disabilities Division.
A Jo Cox Leadership Programme graduate, her most recent achievements include persuading the Law Society to ‘go purple’ part of this year’s Disability Confident campaign. The final word goes to Placida: “Be positive and always try, never give up. If you are listening to naysayers, use their negativity to drive your ambitions.”
Disability Power List 2018 Top 10
1. Alex Brooker
– Presenter and co-host of Channel 4’s The Last Leg
2. Jonnie Peacock MBE
– Sprinter, double Paralympic gold medallist
3. Baroness Jane Campbell
– Disability rights campaigner
4. Martyn Sibley
– Travel writer, podcaster, entrepreneur and activist
5. Adam Hills
– Comedian and host on Channel 4’s The Last Leg
6. Warwick Davis
– Actor and founder of the Reduced Height Theatre Company
7. Ruth Owen OBE
– CEO of youth disability charity Whizz-Kidz
8. Gary Bourlet
– Co-founder of People First England and Learning Disability England
9. Neil Milliken
– Head of accessibility and inclusion at global digital services company, Atos
10. Nancy Doyle
– CEO of neurodiversity social enterprise Genius Within CIC
“To get all these disabled people together, and acknowledge them, in one publication. It’s fantastic.”
Power 100 2019
Do you know a disability activist who could make the grade in next year’s Disability Power list? Then put them forward – nominations for the Power 100 2019 will open on 3 December. Full details to be listed at www.disabilitypower100.com/nominate-for-power100-2019/
Shaw Trust is a national charity helping people enter work, gain an education, develop their career, improve their wellbeing and rebuild their lives. For more information on their work go to www.shaw-trust.org.uk