To celebrate the start of 2024, we share some of our favourite contributors from the last year alongside important figures in the disability community to find out their hopes and goals for the year ahead.
Disability activist, author, and Enable columnist
My hopes and goals for the year ahead is simply this: take a breath I tend to always be in a rush, like a ticking timer is about to go off in my chest, irrespective if I have somewhere to be or something I should be doing. Perhaps this is to do with my ongoing battle with general anxiety disorder (GAD) and perhaps a little bit to do with my internalised ableism, which had always pushed me to fit into an enabled world always desperately trying to keep up with my abled friends and colleagues at their pace. So, this year, I’m going to allow myself to simply take a breath, slow down and let the world come to me for a change.
CEO of Ambitious about Autism
Most autistic young people want the teachers who support them to understand their needs better. 95% of autistic young people told us they think teachers need specific training on autism. We know that this would lead to a reduction in school exclusions, improved mental health and better outcomes for young people when they leave education.
We hope that in 2024, the government and other political parties will commit to making autism training compulsory for all education staff, so autistic children and young people can thrive and realise their ambitions.
Author of Unmasked
My hopes for the year ahead are to continue my unmasking journey and find better ways of working with my brain rather than against it. My autism and ADHD diagnoses brought me so much validation, but I still frequently find myself struggling with burnout in a neurotypical world. I’m hoping 2024 can be more restful, balanced, and help me discover an even more authentic Ellie.
Founder and director of Able Move
2024 will be a year of continued focus on providing crucial guidance and change on accessibility to the aviation industry, through research, insight, innovation and legislation. At the same time, I hope to launch a book, raise money for charity, and highlight the barriers faced by many wheelchair users wanting to access the great outdoors.
Founder of accessible fashion brand Dewey
In the unfolding chapters of 2024, our focus is on amplifying the voices of the community and addressing the unique needs of disabled individuals. Our ongoing dialogue with the community guides us to craft sustainable and inclusive clothing and footwear options that serve the community of short statue individuals under 5ft. As we work towards expansion through thoughtful investment, our commitment is rooted in cherishing every individual, ensuring our designs contribute to a more inclusive and sustainable world.
CEO of the MS Society
It’s been a difficult year for many people with MS, so in 2024 we want to continue campaigning on the issues that matter to our community – from improving access to disability benefits to strengthening neurological services. Last year we launched our ground-breaking Octopus trial, which could help us find life-changing new treatments for progressive MS up to three times faster. And in 2024, we’re excited to be opening even more Octopus trial sites across the UK. We’re also delighted to be hosting MS Frontiers – the UK’s largest biennial conference for MS research.
CEO of We Are Purple
As Purple Tuesday becomes the Accessibility Partner for the National Lottery (from 1 February 2024), I hope it will provide a real springboard to raise awareness and promote understanding about all things disability. And change the disability conversation.
I would love to go to New York to model or anywhere in America to do the fashion shows. I love travelling so hopefully opportunities will come my way. I’d really like to be involved more in TV, and maybe one day have my own chat show or appear in a soap. I’ll be very happy with lots more modelling work with lovely brands and high street names, and to hopefully have some more covers.
CEO and founder of Neurodiversity in Business
I hope that Neurodiversity in Business can lift neurodiversity out of the “too hard to deal with” bucket in 2024.
CEO of Down’s Syndrome Association
I’m really excited to see the impact that our Listen Include Respect (LIR) Inclusion Advisers, Catherine and Joe, will have in 2024. They will be developing and delivering training to support government departments and linked external agencies to transform processes to make sure they are accessible and inclusive. We’ll also be involving more and more people who have Down’s syndrome in the work of the DSA at all levels, and on World Down Syndrome Day (21 March) we will be joining with organisations across the world to #EndTheStereotypes.
CEO of Business Disability Forum
Many of the barriers that disabled people experience, both when looking for work and once in a job, are created by policy making which is not joined up and which does not involve employers and disabled people themselves. In 2024, we want to see employers and disabled people at the heart of the conversation, so that barriers are removed from the get-go. This is vital in the context of AI for example, where we need all voices in the room to ensure that the positives for disability inclusion, like workplace adjustments, are maximised, and the negatives, including the risks of building in bias and exclusion, are designed out. Only by including everyone can we create workplaces and employment opportunities that work for everyone.”
Laura Winson and Zoe Proctor
In the new year at Zebedee, our focus is, as always, advancing the cause of inclusivity within the media industry. We want to see our talent take centre stage not only in front of the camera but also behind it, contributing to a more diverse and representative creative process. We would love to work with some great fashion and tech brands and are dedicated to finding opportunities for our models to thrive in significant TV and film roles. We love seeing our talent on screen. We have an exciting Channel 4 TV documentary coming out in February 2024, chronicling Zebedee’s tireless efforts for a more inclusive world. This presents an exciting platform to share our vision and inspire widespread change.
Euan MacDonald MBE
Founder of Euan’s Guide
Euan’s Guide’s goals for 2024 focus on our community. We want to hear from even more people who are happy to share their experiences of disabled access with us. If you’ve never reviewed before then head over to EuansGuide.com to get started – we have tens of thousands of people who use the website each and every month to find and share disabled access information and we regularly get told that just one review can give someone the confidence to visit somewhere new. We’re also hoping to welcome even more “Toilet Warriors” to help us make accessible loos safer! We’ve distributed over 150,000 Red Cord Cards thanks to our volunteers, let’s aim for 200k in 2024!
Operations Manager for Carers First
In 2024, I hope that our work will lead to more people being recognised as unpaid carers. I hope that they will contact Carers First, so we can help them to benefit from our exceptional support services which are designed to enhance carers’ wellbeing.
Acting CEO of Mencap
As Acting CEO of Mencap, I feel privileged to be leading this wonderful organisation. Our vision is for the UK to be the best place for people with a learning disability to lead happy and heathy lives.
As we look to 2024. We continue to drive our campaign Homes not Hospitals. Thousands of autistic people and people with a learning disability are detained in mental health units, with many subjected to physical restraint, inappropriate use of anti-psychotic medication, solitary confinement and are at increased risk of abuse and neglect. We need investment in the right community support as well as Mental Health Act reform to ensure people with a learning disability and/or autistic people don’t get trapped in mental health hospitals. Working with families, other charities and MPs, we strive to bringing an end to this human rights scandal.
Josie Scantlebury, Receptionist at Mencap, London
Please don’t turn away from this important message. Think for a second about how good it will feel when we’re finally able to end discrimination, pre-judgement and unfairness. Now think for a second about how close we may be to getting that chance.
All we want to do is to make a little noise right now. Draw people’s attention and to make them more aware of the bigger issues in various situations – like people with a learning disability wanting to work but not being given the support to do so because of negative employer attitudes and a lack of inclusive hiring methods, like inaccessible application forms and interviews. There needs to be more supported internships and work trials, so people with a learning disability can demonstrate their employability. Thousands of unemployed people with a learning disability want a job and deserve more opportunities to get paid work. I hope these things happen in 2024.
William Kettle, Office Assistant at Mencap, London
I am working on a top-secret project which I am hoping to launch in 2024. My other goal is to become a Mencap Myth Buster. I hope to see more people with a learning disability in West End shows, as I love the theatre and would like them to be more inclusive. And I want to see more people with a learning disability get into paid employment.
Bernie Conway, People Administrator at Mencap, London
I work in recruitment and am also an Expert by Lived Experience for The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training, which makes sure health and social care professionals have the right skills to support people with a learning disability and autism.What I hope to achieve in 2024 is to help get more people with a learning disability into work and to continue delivering The Oliver McGowan Training.