X-Factor winners Rak-Su give a #UKCharityWeek message of support

X-Factor winners Rak-Su give a #UKCharityWeek message of support

2017 X-Factor Winners Rak-Su have joined the nation in getting behind Charity Today’s #UKCharityWeek campaign

Ashley Fongho, Jamaal Shurland, Mustafa Rahimtulla and Myles Stephenson were all on hand to send their good wishes out to the nation with campaign patron Anna Kennedy OBE, but not before being photo bombed by Santa Claus!

Speaking on behalf of the group Myles, said:

“We want to give a massive shout out to UK Charity Week and all the wonderful people that are working hard for all the wonderful charities out there. Keep on working hard and thank you for the dedication.”

#UKCharityWeek campaign founder Lee Rayment said:

“It is great to see the likes of Rak-Su throwing their weight behind UK charities and volunteers. It’s a difficult time for many of them, in particular, the smaller community-based ones. Christmas takes its toll on the best of us financially, so it’s important we recognise the extra burden austerity and cuts are putting on our charities when they are left to pick up the pieces.”

#UKCharityWeek is a campaign designed to give the people of the United Kingdom an opportunity to place awareness and fundraising for charities high on the national agenda, and at a time of the year when people are statistically at their most giving. #UKCharityWeek is always held within the first full week of December, which in the case of 2018 is 3rd-9th December.

Learning Disabled and Autistic Leaders honoured for 2018

Learning Disabled and Autistic Leaders honoured for 2018

Monday 3rd December 2018 is the International Day of Disabled Persons and 60 leading individuals with learning disabilities and/or autism have today been awarded in the Dimensions ‘Learning Disability and Autism Leaders List 2018. From pressing for change in local communities or on a national stage, to remarkable achievements in sport, arts, entertainment, work and education, winners are breaking through stereotypes and challenging social attitudes.

A panel of 14 judges including people with learning disabilities and autism, journalists and prominent figures selected the winners from nearly 600 nominees. 

The judging panel included:

  • John Harris – Guardian journalist
  • Gary Bourlet – expert by experience
  • Barney Cullum – editor, Learning Disability Today)
  • Kate Ansell – BBC journalist
  • Lisa Carr – editor, Care Talk
  • Anna Kennedy OBE – Autism campaigner
  • Andrea Sutcliffe – former head, Care Quality Commission
  • Kaliya Franklin – Learning Disability England 
  • John Lish – expert by experience
  • Jane Evans – Voluntary Organisations Disability Group
  • Angharad Jenkins  – editor, Care Management Matters
  • Gail Hanrahan – family consultant
  • Rachel Outram – expert by experience
  • Paul Pargeter  – Dimensions

Young Leader and Lifetime Achievement awards were selected by Steve Scown, CEO of Dimensions.

Anna Kennedy who was selected as one of the judges said: “Honoured to be asked to be a judge. It was difficult to choose there were many worthy winners going the extra mile for their chosen cause. Congratulations to all the finalists!”

Steve Scown, CEO of Dimensions, who selected the Young Leader and Lifetime Achievement awards, said: “Choosing winners was inspiring, humbling and incredibly difficult. I hope that policymakers, journalists and others now take note and make use of their remarkable skills and determination to achieve change.”

Take Ursula, who at the age of 88 has learned to read. Ben, who uses his lived experiences to teach people about challenging behaviour. Autistic, non-speaking Christopher, who is helping people worldwide to express themselves, often for the first time. And Heidi, who is battling to change attitudes to Downs syndrome under the banner ‘don’t screen us out.’ Four extraordinary people representing the tip of the iceberg.

Welcoming the Leaders List, Sarah Newton MP, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work said, “The list celebrates the extraordinary achievements of people with learning disabilities and autism, offering role models to inspire our future leaders. It is also an opportunity for the media to accelerate change and break down unnecessary barriers and stigma.”

Scown continued, “Just 6% of people with learning disabilities, and 16% of people with autism, are in work. People with learning disabilities die over 20 years before their non-learning disabled counterparts. Three quarters of people with autism and learning disabilities experience hate crime.

“And yet, across the country, people with learning disabilities and autism are advocating to make life better by changing national policy and practice, and entrenched social attitudes. They are spokespeople, lobbyists, experts by experience. They are actors and singers. They are film makers, receptionists, DJs. The List celebrates their achievements, larger and smaller alike, understanding that nominees may face significant barriers due to their disability.”

The Learning Disability and Autism Leaders List – created by not-for-profit support provider Dimensions in association with Learning Disability England and the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group- is the first such listing to celebrate the dedicated, selfless work of 60 of these individuals.

Their voices deserve to be heard. Find, and share them, click here and get involved in the celebration using #LDALeadersList2018

About Dimensions

In 1976, armed with a single phone in a rented office, Dimensions began supporting people with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs out of institutions, helping them lead ordinary lives in their local communities.

Forty years on, our work is fundamentally unchanged: we support people with learning disabilities and autism to have a louder voice, choice and control in their lives. Our 7000 colleagues deliver ambitious, effective, personalised support often with those whose previous support has not been successful.

Working alongside our colleagues are family members and many of the people we support. They could be quality checkers, interviewers or members of our Council. Their voices and experiences inform the research we use to deliver improved outcomes. Together, we continue to prove that life really can get better.

About Learning Disability England

LDE is the first membership organisation bringing together people with learning disabilities, families, professionals and organisations. We put people with learning disabilities first – in everything we do and how we are run. We are challenging – when it comes to what people with learning disabilities and families want, need and have a right to.

We work together – with people with learning disabilities, families, professionals, organisations and the government to achieve better lives for people with learning disabilities. We are empowering – by making sure our members have power and can act on behalf of Learning Disability England with confidence and clarity.We are creative and try new things – by thinking differently about how we can solve problems and not being afraid to get it wrong sometimes.

About VODG

The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group represents leading not-for-profit providers of services and support to disabled people.We bring together the skills, experience and knowledge of member organisations to share learning, challenge barriers, influence policy and promote good practice.

Our members support people of all ages with a wide range of physical, sensory or cognitive impairments or mental health needs. Our vision is of a world where disabled people have full choice and control over their lives.

Chrissie introduces Anna to ‘Cuddle Bed’

Chrissie introduces Anna to ‘Cuddle Bed’

Today I pre-recorded my regular show for Women’s Radio Station talking ‘All things Autism.’ I met the lovely Chrissie Lowery who travelled from Stroud to see me in Covent Garden .

Chrissie is a mum to 5 children and one of her twins has a diagnosis of autism. Chrissie shared :

‘In my 20’s I worked in special education, learning disabilities and then when I was doing a business HND I worked in a residential home for adults who had autism. 

I went on to run two of those homes and a then I completed my psychiatric nurse training.

My first position was on intensive care and I had my twins during this time. Unfortunately, I contracted Cytomeglaovirus (CMV) and my twins had congenital CMV and they arrived 3 months early and very sick.

My son Zack was diagnosed late at 8 years old after being labelled a naughty child by his primary school head teacher and was put on permanent risk of exclusion.

We had had an incredible fight since then, with tribunals, the LEA but he is not settled at secondary school and he is also a ambassador for Autism himself.

I became unwell in 2013 and my son was diagnosed at the end of that year, I was pretty much housebound and my son just could not sleep. He nested and tried to put everything he possibly could into his bed to self soothe. I then taught myself to sew and my business was born, I made him a cuddle bed which he still has on his bed today (though he really needs a teenager size). My business has started go grow and we have been featured in The NAS Yam magazine, local newspapers, magazines, BBC radio and next month we are in Thats Life. My twins also love going live on my page and one of those was featured in Forbes. I also won The Dragoness’ Den award 2 years ago.

Zack helps me with fabric and products and we now have a range that help with full body pressure and soothing for a comfy safe space. I have a range of products to suit all budgets and I support schools and special schools donating when I can. I am still on a small business but if I can grow I can do so much more. I have a new Cuddle Bed that is a multi-sensory one which Zack has chosen fabrics, lights, music, smells and textures but this is just in the prototype stage and we are looking to possibly crowd fund next year.’

After our interview I gave Chrissie a tour of my beloved Covent Garden since it was her first visit. Chrissie has kindly donated a prize for our charity raffle and is supporting #UKCharityweek of which I am a Patron.

Here are a couple of Chrissie’s  blogs: