Chris travelled to Doha to take part in the Definitely Able Conference held in the amazing surroundings of the Museum of Islamic Art. Sasol and the British Council, in partnership with Qatar Museums, partnered to organise the conference and accompanying ILHAM art exhibition. The two-day Definitely Able Conference addressed the theme of ‘together enabling inclusion’, which reflects the partners’ belief that through dialogue society can become more inclusive for the benefit of all. The conference brought together an audience of more than 200 stakeholders in the disabled community, the private and public sectors.
Chris was delighted to speak at the awards ceremony for the Department for Education’s Character Awards – a national awards scheme for schools and other organisations to demonstrate their commitment to building character in young people aged 5-16. Applicants were asked to prove that their character building programme developed character traits, attributes and behaviours that underpin success in school and work such as: perseverance, resilience and grit, confidence and optimism, motivation, drive and ambition, neighbourliness and community spirit, tolerance and respect, honesty, integrity and dignity, conscientiousness, curiosity and focus. Congratulations to all the winners.
Chris delivered the key note opening speech to delegates at 2015 UKTI Global Sports Projects Conference. His combination of insights gathered as an elite athlete over the course of his long and successful career, coupled with the experiences gained in his key LOCOG role as the Director of Paralympic Integration for London2012, ensured he was the perfect key note speaker to open the event. Interwoven with Chris’s unique narrative style, drawn from his first-hand experiences, were key lessons for UK business leaders already involved, or contemplating seeking business opportunities in overseas markets related to Global Sports Projects. This enabled them to draw parallels between the client focused delivery of Major Event Organising Committee’s and the commercial focus of their delivery partners and suppliers to ensure a cohesive and coordinated approach, that together deliver the powerful and tangible positive effects experienced as a result of London 2012 and Glasgow 2014’s collective success. Chris provided the perfect ingredients to motivate, inspire and galvanise the UK business leaders present to ensure that the UK is doing all it can to capitalise on the opportunity to create a lasting business legacy in Global Sport Projects.
Chris knows, from his own personal experience, all about the opportunity that sport can provide for people and its unique power to transform lives and inspire others. The fact is that some groups, particularly women and girls, Asians, Muslims and disabled people, have disproportionately low rates of participation in sport – as players, spectators, volunteers, officials and employees. The Equality and Human Rights Commission receives money from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to promote inclusion in sport. This funding is allocated to grassroots initiatives administered through organisations like Premiership Rugby . Another partnership with the England & Wales Cricket Board is expected to be announced soon. The funds are also being used to improve access to stadia for disabled people. Discussions have been held with the Premier League and given the windfall the Premier League has just enjoyed, Chris believes “it would be scandalous if clubs don’t do more to improve access for disabled fans.”
The report, entitled “Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future”, urges the incoming Government to seize the opportunity to secure the UK’s place as a global digital leader and makes some significant recommendations. Key recommendations are: treating the internet as a utility and prioritising and regulating it in the same way as other essential utilities, making digital literacy a core subject, as important as English and Maths and putting a single “Digital Agenda” at the heart of Government with a Cabinet Minister responsible for it. Chris feels strongly about the need to set more ambitious goals and urges the next Government to adopt the Committee’s recommendations.
Chris is delighted to announce a new role as spokesperson for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women. The charity was founded on 29 January 1951, to provide support and services to blinded World War I veterans. Exactly 100 years on from its foundation, a specially commissioned survey into public attitudes has found a “major positive shift” in the public’s perception of blindness. 65% of the general public have indicated that if they were to lose their sight, it would not mean that their “lives were as good as over”. Chris is pleased with the survey’s findings and observes that “the amazing stories of blind veterans supported by the charity show that its support can make a life-changing difference and can spur people on to do inspirational things, contrary to any negative views about blindness limiting a person’s ability.” Watch Chris’s birthday message to Blind Veterans UK.
Chris spoke at a conference organised by Demos that was focussed on exploring how policy can build character. The particular question Chris considered was whether sport, art and extra-curricular activity build character? This is an important area and one Chris feels passionately about.