Parmi Dheensa the founder and executive director of award-winning charity Include Me TOO was invited to join and contribute in the review marking the 10th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) held at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva during 2016. This is when it came apparent to her that the conversation needed to be shared wider here in the UK.
“During the CRDP 10th Anniversary review I highlighted and presented examples of how the UK has consistently failed to recognise the multi-discrimination experienced by our diverse disabled community, particularly as we have in place the Equality Act which outlines protected characteristics, yet our government has taken no action to reduce multiple discrimination and address the inequalities experienced by two BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) generations.
“I have had many conversations here in the UK and over the years; met many disabled children, young people and their families who are not aware of their rights, and do not feel they are included, sharing their experiences of limited opportunities and choices, reinforced negative stereotypes and how a place and sense of belonging in society seem out of reach.
“I have also met many disabled people and parents who have stories to share overcoming barriers and challenges, creating solutions, building their resilience, breaking down taboos and taking charge of the narrative that needs to happen, to create awareness, inclusion, recognising we all – regardless of different levels of abilities – should be respected, valued and have a sense of belonging in society.
“Hence the platform we started building nearly ten years ago to support the voices of our diverse disabled children and young people, increasing representation and participation to influence positive change can be strengthened by us all coming together. We need to have the conversations outside the walls of Westminster and the City of London, enabling others to take their place on the platform as changemakers and ‘not being left behind.
“We were delighted to share our vision with World Health Innovation Summit Organisation and Birmingham City University, who we partnered with to organise the #LeavingNoOneBehind National Summit.
“#LeavingNoOneBehind was a huge success, and we are already planning for 2018 a two-day summit leading from this. The panels covered a range of issues which were presented by disabled champions, advocates, parents and carers all providing a depth of knowledge, insights, expertise, views and ideas.
“Amongst the personal testimonies were: Isabelle Garratt, sharing her son’s harrowing experience at an Assessment Treatment Unit; Carly Jones on the safeguarding of girls and women with autism; Dan White on why it is important for his daughter and her peers to have positive disabled role models in all media for them to relate to, and represent them, creating the Department of Ability Comic with his daughter Emily.
“This event certainly started much needed conversations during the lead up to the event. Let’s continue learning and inspiring to achieve a shared vision: a disability inclusive and safe society for all.”