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.