This year, we asked you to share your stories of how disabled people have been involved, included and helped create a kinder world in 2020.
“At the start of the pandemic Direct Access was approached by disability and third sector organisations who were struggling to find PPE.
Using our contacts we were able to source and supply over one million items in the first few weeks of the pandemic. Since then the PPE service has grown significantly with moving to a dedicated distribution facility in Wrexham, North Wales and contracts to supply a variety of PPE products in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
We have not furloughed anyone during the pandemic and indeed are increasing the number of staff to meet demand. Each member of the team has a disability and had been out of work for at least two years before joining Direct Access.
Carrie has a visual impairment and has joined the team previously not been in work. She helps with our marketing and is the main point of contact when people call us.
Andrew Hopwood is deaf and communicates in sign language – he works for us as a Business Coordinator. He was unemployed and had applied for several jobs since being made redundant from Marks & Spencer.
Steven Mifsud (profoundly deaf) set up Direct Access in 2004 having previously worked as the Access Officer for the City of Chester. He lives in Nantwich with his family with two children and a third at Cambridge University.
I, Steve Dering, was unemployed before joining Direct Access initially as Business Development Manager.
I completed my Masters in Occupational Safety & Health at Manchester Metropolitan University then spend two years working for Direct Access in Dubai on the Expo 2020 Dubai programme then returned in July to manage our Consultancy team delivering a range of accessibility programmes in Europe and Middle East. I am profoundly deaf.
We have recently launched our own Direct Deaf Mask with a clear panel enabling deaf and hard of hearing people to lipread the wearer.” – Steve Dering