Monday, 20 May 2024
Monday, 20 May 2024

Two learning disabled adults win big in the Leaders’ List Awards

TWO adults supported by learning disability charity Hft are celebrating today after their success in the Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List Awards 2024, held at the O2 in London recently.

Richard, a learning disabled man from Telford, won the Work and Education category for his tireless volunteering work for a local hospice and the children’s charity, Barnardo’s, while Rachael, from Halifax, was a finalist in the Advocacy, policy and the media category.

Richard, who has been supported in Ironbridge by Hft since 1988, likes to keep busy and says he likes to volunteer because he wants to give back to society.

Senior support worker, Robert Jackson explained:

“Richard volunteers because he likes to be helpful.

“He works in the charity shop for both charities and likes that he is able to meet people while giving back to the society.”

Richard’s next aim is to be able to type on a computer. He plans to visit the local library to practise his typing and use the knowledge he has gained from a computer competency course he recently completed with the council.

Richard said:

“I was very surprised that I won an award and was so excited to share the news with my support workers.”

Rachael was nominated for this prestigious award in recognition of her outstanding work in Hft’s campaigning and taking a lead in her life.

Over the past year or so, Rachael has thrown herself into advocacy work, taking every opportunity to speak up about the barriers faced by learning disabled people– particularly attitudinal barriers – in an effort to make a change.

She said:

“I like to be an advocate for change and help to make things better for people.”

She plays an important role in Hft’s allies’ group which helped the charity prepare to launch its new 10-year strategy earlier in April.

She explained why she wanted to be a part of it:

“I want to support people with a learning disability and help raise awareness.”

Rachael also attended the parliamentary launch of Hft’s campaign Voices for Our Future, speaking to MPs and Peers about one of the key issues, attitudes.

She said:

“It was amazing, I’d do it again if I could.”

She highlighted her own experiences of bullying and prejudice because of her learning disability and eloquently explained to decision-makers what she thought should change. Rachael felt it was important to make the trip to Westminster to highlight her experiences and call for change.

Most recently, she has become an NHS Oliver McGowan trainer, helping to ensure that the needs of learning disabled adults are met by healthcare professionals.

Rachael explained how it feels to be a trainer:

“It’s fantastic. Hopefully, there will be more understanding for people with learning disabilities and autism.”

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