Leadership & Empowerment

I am passionate about leadership; I am fully committed to the empowerment and leadership of people who are living with disabilities which includes people living with HIV and people living with long term health conditions and injury.

As a person who is living long term with HIV and a degenerative spinal condition; I am determined to remain a positive role model and promote, sustain and support the leadership potential and human rights of people living with disabilities as an actualised reality.

I view our leadership as a journey and an ongoing proactive human rights debate and have a preference for Authentic Leadership, the Emotional Intelligent Model of Leadership developed by Daniel Goleman and in the Principal Centred Leadership Model developed by Stephen R Covey who are both committed to and recognise human potential, autonomy and empowerment.

Setting my scene

I have a personal invested interest in HIV and disability because I have been living with HIV for approximately 32 years and a degenerative spinal condition for approximately 10 years.

It is currently estimated that there are 36.7 million people living with HIV worldwide and an approximate calmative total of 101.200 people have been diagnosed with HIV in the UK by the end of 2015; more than 35 million people in the world have died of AIDS. (sourced Avert)

There are approximately 12.9 million disabled people and people living with long term health conditions in the UK. (sourced Scope)

I am passionately committed to the leadership competencies and potential of people living with disabilities and long term health conditions. I believe that it is the social responsibility of society, organisations, companies and professionals who are involved in the business of serving and employing people to commit to the challenges and opportunities of HIV and disability. I also believe that we all have a social responsibility to invest in, enable and recognise the core empowerment skills and leadership contributions of people living with disabilities and long term health conditions.

I am committed to The Social Model of Disability and am currently developing an innovative leadership model ‘The Social Model of Leadership’ which perceives and promotes disability as a leadership advantage.

As a disabled person, I believe that it is essential that I remain proactive in my leadership; this is an act of authenticity and integrity and is paramount in the continuing development and establishment of positive images and role models of disabled people in society.

Our empowerment and leadership as people living with disabilities has many functions which will form the foundations of inclusion, equality and the human rights of future generations.

In 2017, the percentage of people living with disabilities in the UK and throughout the world who currently occupy public positions or who are in positions of significant leadership is of a significant minority, there are very few positive role models of people living with HIV and disabilities in the UK and only a handful living worldwide.

People living with disabilities are commonly portrayed as being helpless victims or as a burden to society; we are stereotyped and stigmatised. We are perceived as being sick or ill (Medical Model) and as deserving of charity (Charitable Model), we are often portrayed by the media as humorous characters who serve to make us laugh, we are not taken seriously and our heritage is unknown or forgotten

My Leadership Journey

I support and proactively encourage people living with disabilities and long term health conditions to develop their empowerment and leadership skills and contributions by enabling them to achieve their potential, be influential leaders and remain positive role models within society.

I believe that it is my core purpose to promote, champion and encourage the leadership skills of disabled people and people with long term health conditions and it is to this endeavour that I have been actively developing and delivering a range of leadership, training and coaching programmes which are specifically designed for and informed by people living disabilities and or long term health conditions.

In April 2007 I initiated and developed a six-week leadership programme specifically for people living with HIV at the former ‘Positive Place’ in southeast London and subsequently went onto developing a similar programme for volunteers of the former ‘United Kingdom Coalition of people living with HIV’ (UKC).

In June 2008, I delivered a two-day leadership programme to members of ‘The Open-Heart House’ in Dublin and addressed the ‘All Ireland Gay Health Forum’ about HIV and leadership. I returned to Ireland in October 2008 to deliver an ‘Empowerment and Assertiveness Training Programme for ‘AIDS West’ in Galway and was consequently invited to address the ‘Nordic HIV Conference’ in November 2008 regarding HIV & Leadership.

I have worked extensively with Norway’s key LGTB organisations facilitating leadership programmes and continue to deliver aspects of my leadership and empowerment programmes as an element of the ‘Work Positive Programme’ for Terrance Higgins Trust, The Cara Trust and The River House Project in London.

I have also successfully worked in partnership with Disability Rights UK in designing and delivering their highly successful pilot Leadership Academy Programme (LAP).

In 2009 I was commissioned as part of a small team by Mike Adams ‘CEO ‘of The Essex Coalition of Disabled People to develop an innovative leadership modular based programme for people living with disabilities called ‘LeadingAbility’, I have since been involved in the delivery of several programmes utilising the ‘LeadingAbility’ model. Additionally, I adapted and delivered a pilot of this programme to a cohort of military service men who were in the process of being discharged from the forces due to injuries sustained in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In 2010 I worked tirelessly to bring together my training and coaching resources and practice materials to develop a leadership programme called ‘Leadership+’ specifically designed for people living with HIV. The materials and approaches designed for Leadership+ utilises my extensive experience and knowledge and continues to be delivered in partial or modular form throughout the UK and internationally. My approach aims to empower people living with HIV, nurture positive role models and embrace the empowerment and leadership contributions of people living with HIV within society.

In 2015/16 I was commissioned by The Local Government Association (LGA) to develop and deliver a range of leadership training programmes for people living with disabilities and long term health conditions who aspired to become local counsellors and provide mentor training for their mentors.  

I am currently the chair of the board of trustees for the National Long Term Survivors group www.nltsg.org.uk