Disabled future media stars rewarded Turner bursary

The results are in for the UK’s bursary awards that aim to get talented disabled people working in the UK media.

Currently, though disabled people make up 18% of the population, only 2% of people in producing and directing roles declared they were disabled (Skillset, 2010).

The two bursaries, awarded by Turner Broadcasting, the company behind channels including CNN and Cartoon Network, are the outcome of an innovative partnership between Turner and Leonard Cheshire Disability that aims to enable disabled people to develop careers in the media industry.

Both bursary winners are alumni of Leonard Cheshire Disability’s pioneering Ability Media programme. Students had the opportunity be part of a crew and to put into practice skills learnt through their video production course.

Pedro Perez from Rotherhithe, London, was one of the winners. He will use his bursary to buy a much-needed video camera. The 43-year-old is passionate about making films and feels that the video production course he studied through the Ability Media programme gave him the confidence to pursue the career he has always wanted.

“The tutor at the centre was very encouraging and taught me how to produce, film and edit a documentary,” says Pedro who has chronic fatigue.

“I want to make films about social issues including mental health and injustice, giving me an opportunity to highlight these areas and look at possible solutions and dilemmas. The bursary will help me to get more experience and build on my existing knowledge.

“I feel very proud to have won the award. It is not about the money, although that has been fantastic, it is the recognition of my work and the support I received from the panel who made the decision. If anything it reinforced my creativity and desire to carry on doing things in the media.”

Andrew Douglas studied animation, podcast and moving image courses. The 49-year-old, who has depression, has gained valuable skills. He says: “The course through the Ability Media programme has taught me about all aspects of film making from directing to making a camera work.

“I’ve not been able to practice editing at home as my PC is too slow. The bursary will enable me to buy a MAC and this will really help. I am working with a local community group at the moment, supporting them to make a film about who they are and what they represent. I have filmed a dance group and interviewed people of all ages. It has been a great opportunity to put my skills to good use and I have loved it.”

Hugo Middlemas, Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Fundraising Director, said: “It is terrific news Turner Broadcasting is making this commitment to give disabled and disadvantaged people opportunities to break into broadcasting.

“These bursaries will help give the winners the crucial ‘leg up’ they need to launch successful future careers and use their talents. I look forward to following the students’ progress so they can make their mark within the media to ensure their voices are heard.”

Nick Hart of Turner Broadcasting said: “We felt strongly there was a need to increase the representation of disabled people in the workforce and embarked on this partnership to make this happen. We have been so impressed with the standard of applications, and chose Pedro and Andrew because they both show real talent and flair.”

The four bursary finalists were interviewed by senior producers from Turner’s CNN and Cartoon Network channels and the winners were awarded £1,000 each.

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