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Disability Advisory Committee

Our Disability Advisory Committee members use their disability expertise to inform and advise the Commission’s work to protect and promote rights and equality for disabled people.

They will also support the development of the Commission’s new stakeholder engagement strategy.

The Committee was formed on 1 April 2017 and will continue until the end of March 2019.

Read the Committee’s draft terms of reference (Word). These are subject to review when the Committee’s new members meet.

Disability Advisory Committee members

Rachel has a background in clinical psychology and worked in mental health services for 30 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 inquiry 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 editor of Mental Health and Social Inclusion. In 2010, Rachel was awarded an OBE for services to mental health and voted Mind Champion of the Year.

Simone is a disabled woman who has been labelled as having learning difficulties and is on the neuro-diversity spectrum. She strongly believes that inclusive education is core to creating a fully inclusive society that welcomes all.

Simone has over 20 years’ experience of campaigning for disabled people’s rights and is currently working for Alliance for Inclusive Education. She also acts as an independent advocate for disabled people with learning difficulties and autism, who want to be off section and discharged from psychiatric hospitals, while responding to the Government’s review of mental health legislation.

Whilst working with the Alliance for Inclusive Education, United Kingdom Disabled People's Council (UKDPC) and People First, she influenced the implementation of new laws and policies and secure changes to existing laws and policies that advanced civil and human rights for disabled people in the areas of equality, community care, mental capacity, and children and family law.

She worked with Reclaiming Our Futures (a coalition of disabled people's organisations) to write their submission to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) shadow report. That helped the UNCRPD Monitoring Committee to address issues and to come up with recommendations for how the Government can move forward with their UNCRPD obligations.

In addition she has worked as an independent education advocate for Independent Parental Special Education Advice for 10 years.

Marc is Chief Policy Advisor at the children and young people’s mental health charity YoungMinds, and a visiting professor of Public Health at the University of Northampton.

Previously, Marc has worked in the NHS and charity sector leading research, policy development and programmes in the fields of disability, health and social care reform, childhood adversity and trauma, special educational needs (SEN), and human rights.

Helen is a highly respected inclusion professional with many years’ experience working with organisations from a variety of sectors. She was a driving force behind the diversity and inclusion agendas at BT and Sainsbury’s.

Through her inclusion consultancy she supports public, private and third sector organisations from across the world to remove barriers and create a more inclusive society. Her clients, who include the UN, come from industries such as law, insurance, retail, utilities, housing and technology. Helen creates strategies and tools that enable organisations to move beyond simple compliance towards improving the experience of employees at work.

Helen chaired the UK Department for Work and Pension's Disability Employer Engagement Steering Group, which helps employers to do more to support the employment of disabled people. She was appointed to the government’s Access to Work Expert Panel in 2012 and played a key role in the development of the Disability Confident campaign in 2013.

Helen has a post-graduate level qualification from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and is a Certified Disability Management Professional.

Sarah Coleman’s background is primarily in engagement, policy and influencing in disability organisations, both pan-disability and learning disability specific. She has built up her experience and expertise in disability and related policy over the years, in 2013 deciding to further her knowledge and skills in order to better influence local and national policy and provision.

She completed a postgraduate diploma in Public Policy and Management from Birkbeck College in 2015, which specialised in equality policy, public management and qualitative social research.

Sarah’s experience working and volunteering with disabled people spans a variety of disability organisations, local and national; user-led and non-user led.

She has held a variety of roles including youth worker, one to one support worker, advocate, leading community involvement projects and delivering disability equality training. She has also had her own lived experience of disability and has acted as a family carer. She now works in national policy, currently as a Policy Officer with Mencap, specialising in health policy for people with a learning disability. This mix of experience, together with a policy background, means Sarah feels able to consider disability issues from almost every angle.

Sarah is passionate about inclusion and notes that she is 'excellent at explaining complex topics, such as the work of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, in an accessible way'. This was a key element of her role as a trainer and group advocacy worker. She believes she is well placed to connect with a wide range of disabled people and seek their views and opinions.

Miro is a campaigner, researcher and adviser on disability rights. He is continuously involved in advancing disabled people's rights at a local, national and international level.

At the local level, having supported the design, development and delivery of local authority services, he continues to advise local and regional political figures on disability.

At the national level, he advises the Department for Work and Pensions and Department of Health, advising civil servants, producing reports and editing policy documents on issues pertaining to employment and access to services. He also works as a researcher within academia: collecting data, analysing policy and lectures on human rights to a global audience.

Miro previously worked as a project officer to the European Network on Independent Living with responsibility to work with the European Commission, produce strategies to tackle disability hate crime in European member states and create and deliver human rights study programmes for young disabled people across Europe. He completed six years as a member of Equality 2025, the UK government advisory network for disability issues across all government departments, for which he was deputy chair midway through his 2nd three-year term.

See Miro's profile on the Liverpool John Moore's University website

Fazilet began losing her sight at the age of nine, and was registered blind in her late teens. Despite this, she gained a degree in Sociology and Education at York University, and qualified as a solicitor at Guildford Law College.

She has challenged inequality throughout her career: as a solicitor in law centres, Race Equality Advisor at Southampton City Council and Equalities Manager at the London Borough of Lewisham.

For the following two decades she held director roles at the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People), where she increased the voice and engagement of people with lived experience of sight loss, and strengthened campaigning for an inclusive society. She stepped down as RNIB’s Deputy CEO in March 2018.

She has also held a number of non-executive roles, including:

  • Chair of the Law Centres Federation
  • trustee of a domestic violence charity supporting Asian women
  • trustee of a young homelessness charity; trustee of the Child Poverty Action Group
  • trustee of the National Council of Voluntary Organisations

Fazilet describes herself as naturally collaborative and believes greater impact can be achieved through working across boundaries.

Maddy is experienced in the disability sector through her employment, volunteering and academic pursuits which she sees as complementing expertise of current committee members including research, policy, mental health, young people, and health and social care.

However, the areas in which she feels she will add unique value are issues in education and inclusive education, and civic and public life. Maddy was previously National Disabled Students' Officer at the National Union of Students. She currently works in the third sector in Scotland, conducting research and strategy projects with a small learning disability charity.

In addition, she continues to be an active member of the disabled students’ movement and to have contact with many core organisations including trade unions and disabled peoples’ organisations. She is looking forward to contributing her experience as a young disabled woman, and ensuring the Disability Advisory Committee’s work is representative of disabled people with intersecting identities.

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.

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.

Colin Mackenzie Low, Baron Low of Dalston CBE, is a politician, law scholar and member of the House of Lords. He completed his undergraduate studies at Oxford University (BA) and attained a Diploma in Criminology from Cambridge University. He was a lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Leeds and later held a research post at City University London.

He is a Vice-President of the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) and former Chairman. He was also President of the European Blind Union between 2003 and 2011. He is a board member of the Snowdon Trust, which provides grants and scholarships for students with disabilities. Low is the Immediate Past President of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment.

Low was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2000 New Year Honours for services to the RNIB and disabled peoples' rights. In 2006 he was created a life peer as Baron Low of Dalston and he sits as a crossbencher. In 2014 he was awarded the Liberty Human Rights Campaign of the Year Award, for leading the campaign to ensure the protection of the Human Rights Act would apply to all residential care provided or arranged by local authorities. His victory forced the Government to accept the importance of guaranteeing human rights protections by demonstrating just how relevant those rights are for all.

Liz was Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK (and its legacy charity Radar) from 2007 to 2017, where she led work for equal participation for all, through programmes on independent living, career opportunities and shifts in cultural attitudes and behaviour.

Liz is a member of the Committee of Healthwatch England and the Social Security Advisory Committee and a Non-Executive Director of the Care Quality Commission.

With a background in mental health and disability policy, previous roles include Director of Policy and Communications at the Disability Rights Commission, where she led formal investigations and a new disability agenda’, and Policy Director of Mind. She led an independent review into disability employment programmes for government in 2011 and has published widely on mental health, disability and social participation.

She undertook a Harkness Fellowship in the USA resulting in a book (From Psychiatric Patient to Citizen, 2000, updated in 2016), was awarded an OBE in 2009 and an honorary doctorate from the University of Kent in 2014.

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 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 completed a Master’s degree in Management Studies. She became 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.

Nicholas has an extensive track record in working to advance disabled people’s rights, evidenced through his many research articles and publications (over 100), as well as the many presentations he has given in this field.

He is a Professor of Disability Research in the School of Social and Political Sciences and Director at the Centre for Disability Research at the University of Glasgow. He is a member of the core team of the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory and is a co-director of What Works Scotland, a research group funded by the Scottish Government and the Economic and Social Research Council, that aims to help local areas in Scotland use evidence to make decisions about public service development and reform.

He has played an active role with organisations of and for disabled people, acting as an officer and board member both in an advisory and collaborative capacity with these organisations, as they seek to develop solutions to the problems faced by their members. He has worked closely with statutory and non-statutory services, service providers and the designers of public services on the development and delivery of support for disabled people.

He has also advised politicians from both the UK and Scottish governments around disability rights and equality, policy and other disability issues, presenting to the Scottish Parliament on numerous occasions.

Colin Young is the Senior Policy and Outcomes Officer for Self-directed Support at the Health and Social Care Alliance. As part of the Changing Support Changing Lives initiative, Colin's role is to build the connections between the self-directed support strategy and health improvement.

Previously Colin was the Campaigns and Policy Officer for Children and Young People for Mencap in London. He led on Mencap’s responses to government consultations, prepared briefings for debates in both Houses of Parliament and delivered Mencap's key messages through the media.

Until September 2013, Colin was a member of Equality 2025, a UK non-governmental department body advising the Westminster Government on disability issues.

Colin is currently studying a PhD with the Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research at the University of Glasgow into the effect of childhood therapy on the identity of young disabled people.

Former Disability Committee

The Disability Advisory Committee builds on the work of the statutory Disability Committee, which was dissolved on 31 March 2017 by an order made under the Equality Act 2006.

Read the Disability Committee final report to the Board (Word).

Find out more about the Disability Committee on the National Archives website.

Last updated: 09 May 2018