Rethinking our rail system

I’m really looking forward to working with Keith Williams and the other members of the expert challenge panel on the rail review, and colleagues at DfT, to rethink our railways so that they really work for passengers.  It’s such an important issue – unless we can move around freely and easily, we can’t work, enjoy time with distant friends and relatives, travel to new parts of the country and expand our horizons…

Today you can join in – there is a call for evidence on the DfT website.  Please do!  We need to hear from those who use the railway, those who would like to but don’t or can’t, and those who think it’s just not for them.  Most of us would agree something fairly radical is required…so let’s get those ideas in!  But it’s not just the innovative ideas that I want to hear.  If there’s something in particular that causes you problems, whether or not you can suggest how to solve it, please let us know.

Thanks in advance for your contribution.

Tackling poverty in Milton Keynes

I’m honoured to have been appointed a Trustee of Milton Keynes Community Foundation this year.  Our ‘Vital Signs‘ report highlights the strengths and challenges for Milton Keynes and a key issue for us is poverty.  On 28th March we held a workshop to explore how the voluntary and community sector in Milton Keynes can work together to address the challenge.  There was some really useful and innovative thinking and it was good to meet people from around the sector.  I am looking forward to seeing progress on the issue going forward.

International Women’s Forum Breakfast

IWF Logo

The first International Women’s Forum (IWF) Breakfast event of 2016 has set the tone for a great year. It was a privilege to be able to hear Jenny Watson, Chair of The Electoral Commission and long term campaigner for women’s rights, speak at this event in London.

 

Jenny shared many fascinating insights into the electoral processes, as well as some of the key challenges they face in ensuring that the Referendum engages as many voters, in as many ways as possible, to enable them to exercise their right to vote.

 

Rethinking an inclusive approach

Revitalise LogoOn the 24 March I was delighted to be able to facilitate a Board Strategy session for Revitalise. Revitalise is an established national charity that provides short breaks and holidays for disabled people and carers.

The board session was lively and provided a useful opportunity for board members to discuss and think through what makes for an inclusive Revitalise offering; what does inclusion really mean in the context of their vision, mission and values?

For me, it was rewarding seeing board members enthusiastically sharing ideas about how they could deliver more inclusive services in order to enhance the great work Revitalise does. I’m looking forward to hearing how their thinking develops in future.

 

Celebrating 100 Leading Ladies

Leading LadiesI attended a wonderfully affirming event last week in London listening to award-winning international photographer Nancy Honey speaking about her book ‘100 Leading Ladies’.

 

The book is co-authored by Nancy and former Times journalist Hattie Garlick and is a celebration of 100 senior influential women in Britain today.  It promotes diversity and recognises achievements across a range of sectors and specialisms. Importantly it helps transform the perception of what is possible for women to achieve.

 

We often hear about the ongoing inequality that women experience so it’s especially encouraging when events like this one, jointly hosted by the IOD and IWF, celebrate success. And around International Woman’s Day it was a great way for women to come together to show support for each other – with a few men too!

Judging at the Disability Smart Awards

December 15th will see the winners announced for this year’s much anticipated Business Disability Forum Disability Smart Awards at an event hosted by HSBC in London.

Disability Smart Awards

As Chair of the panels judging a number of categories I am heartened to see not only large organisations but smaller ones too becoming more ‘disability smart’ and mainstreaming positive practice in both culture and strategy.

In particular, I was impressed with the holistic approach to customers’ needs and the way in which new technologies are being exploited to provide inclusive services.

Sincere congratulations to all the entrants – it was a hard job deciding between them all!

Disabled Role Models in the Public Sector

The List Influence

With the recent publication by the Disability News Service of The List identifying the UK’s most influential disabled people in 10 categories, I was privileged to see my name on the 2014 Public Service top 10 influencers list.

 

It got me thinking that, whilst the list is impressive, I can easily name another 10 impressive disabled people who are making an impact on public life but are not necessarily as well known or as ‘noticed’. I wondered if part of the problem was visibility – lots of disabled people are doing interesting things and making a difference across society through their work in public service, but that work goes largely unsung.

 

So while it may be true that there are not enough disabled role models in society, perhaps that’s because we don’t look hard enough – and because people find it difficult to think of themselves as ‘role models’. It would be great to see a whole host of other names on the list next year!

A Good Read

disabling barriers

I took delivery of the book Disabling Barriers, Enabling Environments the other day.  This is the third edition of a great book that I’ve had on my shelves since the days when I was a disability trainer and consultant back in the ’90s.  It was particularly exciting, though, as this latest edition includes a chapter that I wrote, on Genetics, Disability and Bioethics, drawing largely on my experience with the Human Genetics Commission.  It’s available on Amazon, should you wish to buy it!