Disability Committee

This page introduces the Commission's Disability Committee, explains its purpose, lists who is on the Committee, and provides some background information about the individuals involved. 

You can contact the Disability Committee by email

About the Committee

The Disability Committee is a statutory decision-making committee, established by the Equality Act 2006. At least half of its members must be disabled people and the chair must be (or have been) a disabled person.

The functions delegated to the Disability Committee are the Commission's duties as they relate to 'disability matters' in:

  • promoting understanding of the importance of equality and diversity;
  • encouraging good practice;
  • promoting equality of opportunity;
  • promoting awareness and understanding of rights;
  • enforcing equality law;
  • working towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination and harassment;
  • promoting understanding of good relations.

The Commission retains its powers and duties where they relate partly to disability and partly to other matters. However, the Commission must consult the Disability Committee on matters affecting disabled people.

The Disability Committee must consult the Commission's Scotland and Wales committees on disability advice to national governments.

Members of the Disability Committee

Lord Chris Holmes MBE
Disability Commissioner and Chair of the Disability Committee

Lord Holmes of Richmond is Britain's most successful Paralympic swimmer, winning six gold medals at a single games and a total of 9 throughout his career. As Director of Paralympic Integration for London 2012 he was responsible for leading the team that planned and delivered the 2012 London Paralympic Games. A lifelong campaigner for equality and inclusion, Chris was appointed to the House of Lords in 2013 as Lord Holmes of Richmond. Chris is supporter and patron of several charities including The Duke of Edinburgh Awards, the Queens Diamond Jubilee Trust, Help for Heroes, the British Paralympic Association and Guide Dogs. Chris undertakes regular public speaking engagements in the UK and around the world.

Kirsten Hearn
Vice-chair of the Disability Committee
Term of office: 1 February 2013 to 31 January 2015

Kirsten is an experienced advisor to government and key agencies as a non-executive director and a freelance trainer, researcher and consultant. Originally trained as a fine artist, Kirsten started an empowerment coaching and training consultancy after a 16 year local authority career working in the field of equality and diversity. She also began to work as a non-executive director and independent advisor to a range of organisations running or shaping public services, including police, transport and central government. In all, she has been a founder, active member, committee member or chair of twenty local, regional or national voluntary organisations, addressing a range of equality, diversity and community issues.

She is on the Board of a voluntary group in East London dealing with disability hate crime and domestic violence. She has been a member of and chair of Inclusion London for five years and is currently an independent member of the Parole Board, member of the Disabled People's Transport Advisory Committee; and until recently Vice-chair of the Consortium of LGBT Community and Voluntary Organisations. She has held many roles in various public bodies involved in policing and transport in London, the Arts Council, Equality 2025, and the DWP Office for Disability Issues Disability Equality Delivery Board. She was elected to Haringey Council in London in May 2014.

Saghir Alam OBE 
Term of office: 22 September 2014 to 31 March 2017

Saghir is a leading expert in human rights and diversity especially in the area of multiple identities in Age, Disability, Faith and Race. He has a legal and business background.

He is Chair of Action on Disability Development International, a British international development agency working with disabled people in Africa and Asia.He is patron of Include Me Too and Ethnic Disabled Children Society. He chairs Global Diversity and is a Senior Partner of Equality Group He is Chair of the UK BME Council and the Faith and Education Institute.

Previously, he was a Disability Rights Commissioner. He also served as Independent Governor for Westminster Democracy Foundation and was a member of Equality 2025. He also served as a Non–Executive Director of the NHS Hospital Trust and National Probation Board and Vice Chairman of a Local Council Standards Board.

Saghir was awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to disabled people.

Dr Marc Bush
Term of office: 22 September 2014 to 31 March 2017

Marc is Director of Policy and Intelligence at Healthwatch England, the consumer champion for health and social care. He is responsible for overseeing Healthwatch England’s policy development, intelligence architecture, consumer insight and special inquiries.

He has a diverse background working across the development and implementation of public policy relating to disability, employment, financial inclusion and welfare, health and social care reform, children and Special Educational Needs (SEN), crime and offending.

Marc is a former Head of Research and Public Policy at Scope , run parliamentary and public inquiries, and has acted as an advisor for statutory bodies, parliamentarians, Government departments and charities. He also has an academic background in frontline research with young people on the autistic spectrum.

Professor Anna Lawson
Term of office: 22 September 2014 to 31 March 2017

Anna is a professor in Law at the University of Leeds and deputy director of the University's interdisciplinary Centre for Disability Studies. She has published extensively in the field of disability equality and human rights and played a lead role in a range of multinational research projects on this topic. For instance, she has coordinated the accessibility strand of the EU Academic Network of Experts on Disability (ANED) since 2011; and is also currently playing a lead role in a 10-country project on access to justice for disabled children.

Anna plays an active role in disability organisations. She participated in the ad hoc committee which drafted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and is currently a trustee of CHANGE (a Leeds-based national human rights organisation focusing on the rights of people with learning difficulties and led by disabled people ). She has previously been a trustee of RNIB, the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre, and various local disabled people's organisations.

Michelle de Oude
Term of office: 1 February 2013 to 31 January 2015

Michelle is the County Community Relations and Equality Officer for Norfolk, managing a number of partnership projects. She is also Chair of the Hate Free Network delivering partnership working on Hate Crime in Norfolk. She has run a small disability consultancy for seven years and has been the British Standard’s Institute ‘Design for all’ co-ordinator.

Dr Rachel Perkins OBE
Term of office: 22 September 2014 to 31 March 2017

Rachel has a background in clinical psychology and worked in mental health services for thirty years in a range of senior positions. She is now a freelance consultant and a member of the Implementing Recovery through Organisational Change project team.

She is also a long term user of mental health services and has had a number of national advisory roles. She was Chair of Equality 2025 and a member of Mind's Commission of Enquiry into Acute and Crisis Care. In 2009, Rachel led an independent review into how Government might better support people with mental health problems to gain work and prosper in employment. She has written and spoken widely about recovery and social inclusion for people with mental health conditions and has pioneered the UK development of programmes to help people with mental health difficulties to access employment and education based on the Individual Placement with Support approach. She is Chair of the Department of Health Working Group on Equalities in Mental Health.

In 2010 Rachel was awarded an OBE for services to mental health and voted Mind Champion of the Year.

Professor Swaran Singh
Term of office: 15 January 2013 to 14 January 2018

Swaran is a Board member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. He was nominated by the Chair of EHRC to be a member of the Disability Committee in January 2013 and this was approved by the Board.   He is Head of Division, Mental Health and Wellbeing, at the University of Warwick. He is also an honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust as well as Hub Lead of the Mental Health Research Network (MHRN) at the Heart of England Hub.

Swaran has worked within the NHS at clinical, academic and managerial levels and is an academic respected in his field, having written extensively on ethnicity and mental health.

He has also engaged in voluntary work dealing with human rights abuses in India.

Teresa Waldron
Term of office: 1 February 2013 to 31 January 2015

Teresa Waldron currently works as Partnerships, Projects and Social Policy Co-ordinator at Derbyshire Law Centre, an organisation that provides free legal advice and casework services in the field of social welfare law, including equality, discrimination and human rights. Teresa is also a member of East Midlands Academic Health Science Network's Patient and Public Involvement.

She was an advisory member of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) Disabled People Involvement Forum, advising ACAS on disability and employment issues. Previously Teresa has worked as an Equality and Disability Consultant for a local council. She has also worked as an Expert by Experience inspector for the Care Quality Commission (formerly known as CSCI) having previously worked for five years part-time as a community care law practitioner at the Law Centre.

Teresa was a member of the Disability Living Allowance Advisory Board and a trustee of the Law Centres Federation's Executive Committee, Deaf Equality Forward and the United Kingdom Council on Deafness (UKCOD) Boards. She was Chair and Vice-Chair of LINKS Council for Voluntary Service. Teresa used to work as a Community Development worker at Derbyshire Centre for Inclusive Living and as a Youth worker for Derbyshire County Council.

Helen Chipchase
Term of office: 1 February 2015 to 31 March 2017

Helen is an experienced inclusion consultant, and was previously interim Head of Diversity at Sainsbury’s, and Disability and Carers Lead at BT Group with a proven track record of collaboration with disabled people, government and private sector.

Helen chaired the DWPs Disability Employer Engagement Steering Group, contributed to the Sayce Review and the subsequent DWP Access to Work Expert Panel and played a key role in the development of the Disability Confident campaign.

Helen is a Trustee for UCanDoIT, a charity which supports people with disabilities to use technology by delivering 1-1 sessions to people in their own homes.

She is a fully qualified HR practitioner (MCIPD), and a Certified Disability Management Professional (CDMP).

Rob Greig CBE
Term of office: 1 February 2015 to 31 March 2017

Rob is Chief Executive of the National Development Team for Inclusion, a social change agency concerned with promoting better lives for disabled and older people and others at risk of social and economic exclusion. Previously he was Government's National Director for Learning Disabilities at the Department of Health, providing leadership on the delivery of the cross-Government Valuing People Now policy.

He was the creator and original manager of the Valuing People Support Team and the prime author of Valuing People. For the Office of Disability Issues he was the Vice-Chair of the Expert Panel that oversaw the development of the Independent Living Strategy. He has also managed and planned mental health and learning disability services in both local government and the NHS and managed a voluntary sector development programme. In 1995 he established the Community Care Development Centre at King's College London.

Rob was awarded a CBE in 2010 for services to disabled people.

Michele Scattergood
Term of office: 1 February 2015 to 31 March 2017

Michele is Chief Executive of Breakthrough UK, a disabled people's organisation operating in Greater Manchester and North West England. She is a member of Manchester Leaders Forum, has a seat on the Manchester Voluntary Sector Assembly and is a founder of the North West Network of Disabled Peoples Organisations.

Michele has over twenty years’ experience of working within disability issues. In 1990 she became involved with the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People and was made the General Manager in 1993. She subsequently worked as a Disability Equality Officer for Manchester City Council and successfully completed a Master’s degree in Management Studies. She became the Team Leader of the Corporate Performance, Research and Intelligence Team at Manchester City Council and organised research into quality of life issues. During her time with the Council, Michele was keen to maintain an interest in the Voluntary Sector, and held the positions of Chair and Deputy Chair at Breakthrough UK from 2003 to 2005.

Michele has been a Community Governor for Bridgewater High School in Warrington since 2006.

Disability Committee workplans

Disability Committee workplan 2013/14

Disability Committee workplan 2012/13

Disability Committee workplan 2011/12

Disability Committee workplan 2010/11

The Committee's role was reviewed in 2012/2013 as part of a mandatory consultation under the Equality Act 2006. Details of the review can be found below:

Independent review of the Disability Committee.

Last Updated: 28 Oct 2014