Recognition for Leeds charity CHANGE

The work of a Leeds-based charity that campaigns for equal rights for people with learning disabilities has been recognised as an international example of good practice in its field by its inclusion in the Zero Project Report 2013.

CHANGE, a charity and social enterprise based at Shine Business Centre in Harehills, successfully promotes and implements the rights of people with disabilities with its peer-to-peer model of co-working. For over 15 years, CHANGE has employed people with learning disabilities in key roles on proper salaries and as equal members of staff.

Staff work collaboratively on a range of publications, pictures and videos which are used by the NHS, local authorities and in education settings to explain healthcare and lifestyle topics to people with learning disabilities in easy-to-understand language with explanatory illustrations. CHANGE staff also run training sessions to make services aware of the access needs of people with learning disabilities. All of the training is delivered by Trainers for Changeprofessional and experienced trainers with learning disabilities.

This model of equality in the workplace has been selected for inclusion in the Zero Project Report 2013, a study commissioned by the Essl Foundation to compare the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in more than 50 countries around the world. With a specific focus on disabilities and employment, the report includes examples of good practice and good policy in this area. The report is published on 3 December 2012, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and launched at the Vienna International Film Festival for Human Rights.

CHANGE’s founder and director, Philipa Bragman, has also been asked to present at the Zero Project’s conference in Vienna in February 2013. The conference, entitled ‘The Right to Work: Good Policies and Practices for Persons with Disabilities’, will bring together over 200 high-level decision makers, disability rights experts, people with disabilities and social entrepreneurs from around the world. The Zero Project’s aim is ‘a world without boundaries’ and the conference will discuss outstanding examples of practical responses to the major global challenge of how people with disabilities can exercise the right to work.

“It’s testament to the hard work and dedication of the CHANGE team in Leeds that our commitment to breaking down barriers for people with disabilities has been recognised on the international stage in this way,” says Philipa. “Our co-worker model has been an inspiration for other countries, with CHANGE staff asked to share good practice with peers in Moldova, Czech Republic and Bulgaria and show them what can be achieved.”

CHANGE has also recently won the prestigious Patient Resource of the Year Award from the British Medical Association (BMA) for its Accessible Cancer Book series. The books are written in an easy-to-understand way with clear illustrations – as are all of CHANGE’s publications – making complex and emotive information accessible and understandable to people with learning disabilities.

The Zero Project 2013 report is available now at www.zeroproject.org

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