Being under represented in employment and politics, both at a local and national level, means that leadership opportunities are thin on the ground for disabled people and people with experience of mental health difficulties. Not everyone wants or is suited to leadership roles, but there needs to be opportunities for those who show sparks of leadership brilliance to take hold of this and see where it leads them.

Leadership development underpins all of our work in Changing Our Lives, as it’s essential that people with lived experience have the skills and tools necessary to negotiate, challenge and create meaningful and sustained solutions with a range of professionals and statutory bodies. Our support for leadership development takes many forms:

  • We run leadership development programmes for disabled people and people with experience of mental health difficulties of all ages. Some of these programmes are run in-house as we develop people to take leadership roles within our organisation. Other programmes are developed in partnerships with schools, organisations and communities.
  • We provide mentoring opportunities for individuals who take part in our leadership programmes.
  • Where we can we take individuals on a journey from volunteers into paid leadership roles within Changing Our Lives.

  To find out about Kashmire’s journey, download his book

Reflections from current leaders within Changing Our Lives

We asked current leaders to reflect on what leadership means to them and why leadership of people with lived experience is important:

‘It has been a refreshing experience to be involved with a rights based charity which has limitless optimism and passion for raising the aspirations of what disabled people can achieve.’ A new leader
‘My role is to champion and engage. I also do a lot of networking, and I work to understand the jargon often given out by professionals. I think my main role is to ask questions to people who are directly in charge of commissioning services. I want them to be accountable. I like to hear their honest answers, and I can feed these back into the community. I know more about what’s going on than other people, and I can understand the reasons behind why commissioners sometimes cut services. I still think I have a way to go in growing my understanding, though.' MP in the People’s Parliament
‘It’s important that the People’s Parliament is led by people with personal experience of mental health, as only then do you have a clear understanding of what is being offered. You see things from a different point of view to a professional. MP in the People’s Parliament’ MP in the People’s Parliament
‘My lived experience coupled with my leadership qualities enables me to be an MP in the People’s Parliament. Power needs to be given to people with lived experience so we can be in the driving seat making a difference.’ MP in the People’s Parliament