Chris to chair YODA (Channel 4s Year of Disability Adviser Group)

Channel 4 has announced 2016 as the network’s Year of Disability. Exactly a year ago Channel 4 launched their 360 Degrees Diversity Charter which laid out a number of diversity targets. This year, the Year of Disability, Channel 4 has introduced new targets specifically on disability and Chris is delighted to chair the group of experts who will be known collectively as YODA (Year of Disability Advisers).  Other initiatives are to double the number of disabled people in C4’s most popular shows, invest £300,000 behind the scenes, assist the career progress of 20 disabled people among its suppliers and commit half of its apprenticeships and 30% of work experience placements to disabled youngsters.

There are more than 12 million disabled people living in Britain today, yet just 2.5% of people on screen are disabled. Only half of disabled people in Britain are in work compared to four fifths of non-disabled people. There are significant barriers to opportunity and Channel 4’s moves to increase participation by disabled people both on screen and behind the cameras is to be welcomed.

 Chris said:

“Three years ago, London 2012 was seen as a turning point for the visibility and inclusion of disabled people in our society, driving a clear social, economic, physical and cultural legacy for disabled people. Since then, Britain has made progress on many fronts but there is increasing evidence that disabled people are being locked out or left behind.

“Far from enjoying increased visibility and being able to participate more fully in every aspect of life there is a risk that disabled people will become more invisible as both consumers and participants, with organisations losing out on their valuable experiences and custom.”

“I welcome the moves by Channel 4 to make real progress on this issue and urge other businesses and service providers to look again and what they are doing and what they are able to do to increase representation and participation by disabled people in order to unlock the talent that is out there and to avoid Britain becoming a more segregated society.”

“This isn’t about political correctness, or being “nice”, it’s about this, creative, competitive edge.”

Channel 4 enlists YODA for its Year of Disability, Disability News Service

 

Introducing Guide Dog Lottie

Chris was honoured to be featured in one of the first video portraits of dog owners and their pets produced by Pet Fi, a new website for pet owners aiming to provide a gateway to beautiful storytelling and exceptional experiences for the discerning pet owner. Learn more about how Chris and Lottie work together, why having a guide dog is “the difference between crawling and flying” and what Lottie gets up to at the weekends!

Celebrating 20 years of the Disability Discrimination Act

Chris on BBC News channel to discuss Disability Discrimintaion Act 20th anniversary

The Disability Discrimination Act was a significant achievement in advancing the rights of disabled people. It focused on driving social change towards the full inclusion of disabled people at every level of society. However, twenty years on, there are still issues impacting on the enforcement of disability equality rights. Chris chairs the Disability Committee at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and their recent report “Is Britain Fairer?” clearly shows that disabled people in Britain still face daily challenges. Many are still ‘locked out’ of full participation in society due to barriers remaining in the provision of housing, transport, leisure facilities, education and workplaces. Chris wants to use this anniversary as an opportunity to highlight that using the Equality Act, we must all work together to continue to highlight, address and remove those remaining barriers disabled people face to full and fair inclusion.

20 years on from the Disability Discrimination Act disabled people’s rights are still not yet fully realised EHRC

Is Britain Fairer? EHRC

Hague’s great achievement, Conservative Home

Justin Tomlinson MP: The Disability Discrimination Act laid the foundations for equality – now we must finish the job, Conservative Home

 

Daily Politics asks if ‘shared space’ is safe….

Inside Daily Politics Studio with Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn

Chris answers with an emphatic NO!  The Daily Politics looked at shared space on the day of a debate Chris had tabled in the House of Lords to question the government over the controversial schemes he has been campaigning against. Shared space is a design approach which minimizes demarcations between vehicle traffic and pedestrians often removing features such as curbs, road surface markings, traffic signs, controlled crossings and regulations. Increasingly popular with local authorities Chris complains that it is a social experiment that risks public safety and scares people away from their own high streets. With increasing numbers of local authorities now facing legal action and/or making expensive U-turns Chris asked the government if Department for Transport guidance (LTN 1/11 Shared Space) is “fit for purpose”. He was joined in the debate by Lord Low, Baroness Thomas, Baroness Royall, Lord Tope, Lord Rosser and Lord Ahmed. Baroness Kramer dealt with this issue when she was Minister for Transport in the last government and it was great hearing that she very much supports the specific recommendations made in the Holmes Report.

Lord Holmes: Government must act on dangerous ‘shared space’ projects, Politics Home

Guide Dogs support Lord Holmes, Politics Home

Accidents by Design: The Holmes Report into Shared Space

Shared surface roads “like a pernicious class A drug” says Paralympic gold medallist, Cornish Guardian

Gloucestershire peer says shared space will turn city centres into ‘no go areas’ for deaf and blind, Gloucester Citizen

 

Chris announced as Diversity and Inclusion Adviser for the Civil Service

Chris at podium at Civil Service leadership event

Chris is delighted to be one of the four new expert advisers appointed by the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, to help the Civil Service become more representative of modern Britain.

The advisers will work to challenge policies and provide advice to Ministers and the leadership of the Civil Service as they continue to improve the numbers of people in the workforce from under-represented groups. They are respected leaders and campaigners from the worlds of business and sport, each with a long and unique track record in creating fairer, more representative workplaces.

Chris feels strongly that the civil service has a tremendous opportunity to lead in this area and act as a beacon to others.  Improving opportunities and career pathways for everyone will not only transform the civil service it will have a profound impact throughout the UK.

Chris has written a blog on this idea that a truly inclusive Civil Service, because of the range and nature of the service, would have a profound impact on this country.

As well as this new adviser role Chris is also one of the judges at this years Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Awards due to be announced at a ceremony on 13th October.

Civil Service World, Civil service diversity: business and sport chiefs brought in to keep an eye on progress.

Public Sector Executive, New diversity advisers to help Civil Service be a ‘socially inclusive employer’.

The Times, Paralympic hero is hired to challenge civil service bullies

 

Accidents by Design: The Holmes Report into Shared Space

Lord Holmes and Lottie at side of Exhibition Road as taxi passes
Lord Chris Holmes and Lottie in Exhibition Road surrounded by cars

Stuck in shared space on Exhibition Road

 

On Friday 1st July I published detailed research into so called “shared space”.  This is the architectural conceit, the planning folly, which proposes that the removal of kerbs, road markings, controlled crossings such as zebras and pelicans and so on leads to a better experience for all users of our streets.  To be clear this means no road or pavement, no safe space, buses and blind people, toddlers and trucks sharing the same space.  Unsurprisingly, the research findings do not support a sunny view of shared space.

Sixty-three per cent of respondents reported a negative experience of shared space. Even more worryingly, thirty-five per cent said they actively avoided shared space, that’s over a third of people planned out of their local community, their local shops, their local support services.  This type of totalitarian planning would make even an old style Soviet feel some shame.  The research also indicated a significant under reporting of accidents in these shared spaces.

The findings are stark, the solution clear, an immediate moratorium on all shared space schemes until thorough impact assessments can be conducted.  This must be combined with a central record of accident data including “courtesy crossings”, which must be defined and monitored.  There is also a need for updated Department for Transport guidance to enable local authorities to fully understand their obligations, not least in relation to the Equality Act.  

Has so called “shared space” achieved an inclusive experience for all? No, it most certainly has not.  Has it opened up our high streets, increased safety and usability? Again, no it has not. Shared space is not a safe place nor a pleasant place, it has turned high streets into traffic free for alls, it has caused confusion, chaos and catastrophe.

In the words of survey respondents, shared space is:

 “Lethally dangerous” (Pedestrian)

“Absolute nightmare that I avoid if I can.” (Driver)

“Shared space is a false promise with poor delivery” (Cyclist) 

Holmes Report on Shared Space

Shared-use streets a safety disaster says, ex-Paralympian, BBC News

Halt city ‘shared spaces’, says report by Lord Holmes, BBC News

Cars and pedestrians don’t mix well concludes study into shared space schemes, Independent

Chaos, Confusion and Catastrophe, Politics Home

Lord Holmes calls for immediate moratorium on ‘lethally dangerous’ shared space, Transport Monthly

Shared space schemes labelled dangerous in Lords report, Architects Journal

New Report calls for a moratorium on shared space crossings, Transport for All

Top Town shared spaces branded ‘dangerous’ and ‘Third World traffic free-for-alls’, Grimsby Telegraph

“Dangerous and Costly” shared spaces should be scrapped, Lord Holmes claims, Gloucester Citizen

Ex-Paralympian in call to end shared space crossings, Swindon Advertiser

Time to stop sharing?, Lord of the Blogs

Blurred Lines #Shared Spaces, Unity Law Report

IHE Response to Holmes Report

Daily Politics asks if ‘shared space’ is safe….

End of the road for white lines on highway, The Times

Please tweet using #stopsharedspace,

Lord Holmes and Lottie at side of Exhibition Road as taxi passes

Still stuck on Exhibition Road

 

 

TED Talk ‘Seeing isn’t believing’

Chris standing on red circle giving TED talk at TEDx Event

Chris was delighted to give a TED talk at a TEDx Event organised along the theme of Momentum; Moving Forward, Gaining Speed and Building Traction. Chris’s talk was titled ‘Seeing isn’t Believing’ as he explained how a working class kid from the Midlands got from an underperforming comprehensive school to Cambridge University, from a rundown 25 yard swimming pool to the gold medal podium at 4 Paralympic Games, from a terraced house to the House of Lords. For Chris this path was not guided by the light afforded by sight, that sight having departed, without notice, overnight. Vision instead of sight and a clear path firmly built on the bedrock of self belief.

Watch Chris’s TED talk

TEDx Whitehall Women

 

 

 

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