What skills, abilities, experience and/or qualifications do you have that enable you to campaign and advocate on behalf of disabled people?

Sonny Bailey

I have worked with my Student Union as a disabled student officer, in which I was responsible for the implementation of quiet hours in Union spaces, as well as recognition of not every disability being visible by working with commerical services to insert disability friendly toilet signs on toilet doors. I am also the chair of a disability society at university, ensuring that our voices are heard in shaping University strategies and policies, and empowering students.

Richard Rieser

Having been a disabled person from 1949 I have learned that we need to embrace our identity as disabled people, regardless of the type of impairment – physical (mine), sensory, psycho-social or mental. Disabilism is an oppression and it can only be tackled collectively, where we work, live, play and in our political party through ‘social model’ policies. I fought as a teacher and trade unionist (NUT/NEU). I fought for disability equality justice for disabled people in many cases and campaigns. I have been involved in these struggles as Chair of the Alliance for Inclusive Education (1990-2002), BCODP/UKDPC Rep. at the European Disability Forum (2004-2013). Advising the Labour government on Inclusive Education (1997-2003.) Representing UK Disability Movement in New York at negotiations on the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2005 and 2006.) Coordinator of UK Disability History Month (2010 to date). Currently Director of World of Inclusion and General Secretary of the newly formed Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum. For the last 3 years I have been CLP Disability Officer and set up a Disabled Members’ Forum in Islington North and organised Disabled People for a Labour Victory. As a Party we need to relate to the key issues in the lives of the 13 million disabled people living in the UK. I have been a disabled member of the First Tier Tribunal of SENDIST (19 years) and Social Entitlement (5 years) so have a lot of first hand experience of Disability Living Allowance, PIP and SEN and Disability  issues as experienced by disabled people. As founder of Disability Equality in Education, I developed the largest network of disabled equality trainers in the UK and a wide range of training materials. 

EliSabeth Roberts

I am Mum to 18 year old twins with autism, adhd, pda, selective mutism, sensory processing disorder and anxiety. I have advocated for them for sixteen and continue to do so. They both have been repeatedly failed by the education system, the child and adolescent mental health system (CAMHS) and social care, primarily due to the repeated cuts that have been implemented by successive governments.

I set up and run Jigsaw Community group, which supports many families in Shropshire, by signposting and assisting parents to obtain an educational and healthcare plan, a diagnosis, obtaining benefits, crisis support and intervention.

I have previously organised inclusive activity groups for the whole family, inclusive outings and, advocated for families directly within schools and the CAMH service, whilst also doing sit-ins, when families are desperate.

I have organised a protest march to the CAMH service offices, where we had television, radio and newspaper coverage.

I have brought the heads of services; MP, Social Care, Education, CAMHS manager, Paediatrics, CEO of Shrewsbury & Telford NHS Trust and parents around the table, to discuss the failure of services and what needs to be done to provide a workable service.

I have attended many NHS Trust Governor meetings and spoken at the end of each one, to bring the experiences of families that I have supported.

I am a qualified diagnostic radiographer and have not been able to work, since the work schedules changed to start at 7am, with children who have major anxiety in the mornings, I could not continue.

I have qualified as a level 2 counsellor, currently doing a level 3 and have been undertaking an MSc in Autism Strategies.

I have made weighted blankets, at cost for families around the UK and Ireland, using my BSc (Hons) Degree, to create a technical file, as the blankets are classed as medical devices.

I helped to set up a specialist autism school, with six other people.

I now work as a specialist support worker, for pupils who have disabilities in a mainstream secondary school.”

Nik Oakley

First Head of Marketing for Party. Decades of campaigning experience for both the Party and a variety of pressure groups. Experienced media spokesperson.

Mr George Lindars-Hammond

I’m proud to have been a Councillor in Hillsborough since 2012 and I am Sheffield’s Cabinet member for Health and Social Care. I’ve served in a number of roles across the Labour Party and movement – in local branches and CLP, as a GMB branch officer and as a member of Open Labour’s founding-year committee.

I have hemiplegia, which is a form of cerebral palsy, affecting my left side. I’ve had hemiplegia all my life and it shaped my growing up hugely.  I couldn’t always do what others could and gave me experience of being excluded from so many opportunities that we should get to experience growing up.

I have had a huge range of experience in standing up for and representing people. One of my earliest involvements in Disabled people’s activism was when as a teenager, I helped create and run a youth club for autistic young people. Working with others, I realised that many bright young people didn’t have the space to come to and develop and I sought to provide a place for people to come together and thrive.

During my time at University, I was elected to represent Disabled Student’s at the Students Union and chaired the Disabled Student’s committee. I worked hard to refound a moribund Disability committee and whilst I was shocked at the level of discrimination faced by disabled students, by collective organisation we began a long path to better services for all students.

My first job was working for a disability charity, Disability Sheffield as an Employer Engagement Worker, working to increase the employment of disabled people in local businesses. After leaving this role, I became an activist and trustee for Disability Sheffield, remaining on the board for a five-year term, helping the organisation grow in difficult times.

Years later, now as Council cabinet member for social care, am passionate about transforming our services for Disabled people that need our services to thrive. It is a scandal how Disabled people have been cast aside by this Government and Councils face a tough job protecting the services which we rely on.”

John James Doherty

I was diagnosed with Tourettes Syndrome in 2011, when I was 53 years, I have been a Type 2 Diabetic Insulin user for the past 5 years and I have Back and Leg problems, so I do have a good knowledge of various form of disabilities, like many people, I did not perform well academically at school, I gained all my qualifications after I left and gained them through Night School and Work Experience, in 2006, I took voluntary redundancy from Land Rover in Solihull and spent a year and half as a volunteer at the Birmingham Disability Resource Centre, helping individuals with various forms of disability and gaining NVQ level 3 in advice and Guidance and also OCN Levels 1and 2 in Mentoring, NCON Level 2 Supporting People with a Learning Disability, NCFE level 2 in Counselling NCFE level 1 in Drug Awareness and GCSE equivalents in English and Mathematics,  In 2007 to 2010, I worked at Solihull College as a Learning Support Worker, with students of various ages with both physical and learning disabilities, until I had to give it due to a leg operation, in 2015 I was a volunteer for Marie curie giving Presentations for the Helpers Service and for the past two years I have volunteered at Birmingham Christmas Shelter, supporting Homeless People.

Kevin Watts

I am disabled

Emily Pomroy-Smith

The first and most important is that I have direct experience of living with disability. I am an ambulatory wheelchair user, with multiple diagnoses related to a genetic disorder that I have had from birth, though like many I was only diagnosed as an adult. I have had a successful career as a disabled person, am a mother, was a disabled parliamentary candidate, and am now a self employed business owner. In addition I have also been a carer for my father, who has bi polar, and have advocated for him and myself in our respective PIP claims, and his two appeals, and now have power of attorney. This role however is more than just being disabled.

I have worked for nearly twenty years in sales, management and design, and have experience in planning and chairing meetings, negotiating and dispute resolution, I am an effective and creative team player, able to listen, guide and lead. I am highly organised, articulate, adaptable and quick on my feet, or more accurately, wheels. I have no doubt that I would be able to transfer these skills to the Labour NEC.

Last year I was selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate for South West Wiltshire, a week later the General Election was called. I had to learn on the job, and with a huge amount of support from my CLP and campaign manager I thrived and despite the result in a Tory stronghold, by all accounts did a tremendous job under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. I learned a huge amount in a very short time, and have gone on to take a more active role in my CLP as Disabilities, Women’s, BAME, and LGBT Officer. I have found where I belong.

I think that it is really important that the Disabled Rep is factionally neutral and not tied to any specific union agenda. We need the rep to represent ALL disabled members, and to use their vote to prioritise disabled members above all else.

Geraldine Bird

I’ve campaigned for over 35 yrs, for rights of disabled people, I’m very active in Cambridge, and also I’m an advocate for disabled people so they have a voice and also parents with disabled children 

Kendrick Fowler

During the last 5 years I have  attended a number of disability events across the country. I have confidently  spoken in front of large crowds about my own experience as a disabled people .But also  listened  to the experiences of other disabled people and in order to gain a wider knowledge of the issues facing disabled people in the Labour Party.

I’m currently the disability officer for my CLP in this role I have advocated on behalf of disabled people within my CLP, organised meetings to discuss the issues affecting disabled members within the CLP and chaired and organised online meetings discussing a wide range of topics in relation to disability.

I was the equalities officer for the Lancashire branch of Unite Community from 2015 to 2017 when I stood down to be vice chair of the branch.During my time as the equalities officer  I successfully completed a  level 1 equalities rep qualification which  means I am able to  identify the legal rights of minority groups and the legal responsibilities of employers and organisations to these groups.

As someone who was able to achieve a university degree despite being written off by the education system due to a learning disability I understand the barriers disabled but also the potential every disabled person has to achieve.

I have campaigned on a number of occasions for Guide Dogs campaigns.this has involved lobby MP’s on behalf of the organisation and getting signatures from the public.

I have organised and participated in a number of campaigns and elections for the Labour Party and I understand the barriers that disabled people can face when campaigning especially in regard to leadership roles.

I have supported fellow disabled Labour members ensuring that they are not overlooked for various roles in the party. And are  able to attend party conference.

In the past I have challenged landlords and employers and have had sanctions overturned so I’m not afraid to challenge those in power and hold them to account.

James Driver

As someone that has been a wheelchair user all my life it allows me to experience how a lack of accessibility can affect your ability to participate in activities.  As someone that volunteers for the children’s charity Little hiccups I have worked with and provided support to many children with different conditions. Therefore this allows me to understand a vast amount of different impairments and what we as a party must do to become more inclusive for all. 

Ellen Morrison

I’m standing because of the experiences, comradeship and solidarity of the disabled people’s and trade union movement. I was introduced to the labour movement when I joined Unite Community in 2016, having experienced benefit sanctions and the work capability assessment and feeling politically powerless. (Although I came to identify as a disabled person in 2016, I’ve lived with chronic illness for most of my life, though didn’t have the understanding before then).

It was disabled trade union and labour activists who gave me a political home and a purpose, and I’ve been fighting for disabled people’s rights, both in and outside the labour movement, ever since.

It was fellow Unite Community activists who supported me to become the youngest branch secretary of the largest branch in our region. Together, we organised support for campaigns in solidarity with Sports Direct, McDonalds and NHS workers and British Airways crew.

Within Unite, I campaigned for disabled peoples’ rights: on the #SayNoToSanctions campaign with my branch, and as Chair of the region’s Young Members’ Committee, where I helped lead the successful campaign for Unite to support the scrapping of Universal Credit. The TUC – and the Labour Party – followed suit.

I am also a Labour Party activist; I presented a motion to create the role of Disability Officer, which had not existed in our CLP before. I was subsequently elected to it, and have used my position to advocate for disabled members’ interests locally.

I have organised and led campaigns, demonstrations and events with Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). From street protests, to international disabled people’s solidarity conferences to shutting down Parliament Square, DPAC have been on the frontline of challenging the government’s attacks on disabled people and I am proud to have been part of that.

I work part-time because of my fluctuating health conditions. Over the past few years I’ve had a number of jobs in user-led projects and disabled people’s organisations, mostly focused around policy and campaigning. I’ve gained a lot of experience in working with shadow ministers and backbenchers in trying to change policy, as well as improve bills going through Parliament (for example scrutinising the Mental Capacity Amendment Bill, and lobbying for amendments to improve it).

I’ve been involved with the Commission on Social Security since it started, as one of its ‘experts by experience’ commissioners and now I’m acting Co-Chair. The Commission is putting together proposals for a better welfare and benefits system, run in the interests of those who rely on it, and is informed by the lived experiences of benefit claimants who have used our existing inadequate systems.

Through my experiences, I’ve built up the skills needed to make my voice heard. But I know it’s only with the support of the wider movement, that we can really change things. I’m proud to be a candidate of and for the disabled people’s movement, and that’s why I’m standing for this role.