Learning Disabilities & Autism Real Lives

Speaking up, and helping people shine

Each month we feature an inspirational individual or team who overcome barriers to make a real difference in their communities.  This month we feature Dan Watkins who’s innovative approach to speaking out for people with disabilities during the pandemic landed him a place on the Dimensions Coronavirus Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List.

Introducing…Dan Watkins

Within a few short months of being supported by Dimensions, Daniel was being employed by them too!

Age just 19, Dan has a particular flair for identifying good candidates for both junior and senior positions across Dimensions; he is kind, clear and fair and even unsuccessful candidates have commented on Dan’s contribution. Interviewing over Teams has been a new process but Dan has embraced this with enthusiasm.

Dan has produced a newsletter to help those around him benefit from his personal insight into topics such as bullying. He’s hosted online discussion groups with other people supported by Dimensions and on the day of the launch of the 2020 Leaders List, Dan will also launched his own website: www.dwatkins.co.uk. Check it out!

He also sits on the local Healthwatch in order to champion the rights of people, like himself, who are autistic. Dan says:

“I believe it is essential for health and social care providers to listen to the people they care for and support. Because that sadly doesn’t always happen by itself, it is important for people like me to speak up with and for vulnerable people all across the UK.”

Dan has faced many personal challenges throughout the coronavirus period but he always carries himself with grace and quiet dignity and he always has an open ear for anyone else who may be struggling. He has used this experience to research mental health and to create blogs and resources to speak for people with disabilities and to encourage them to ‘speak up.’

Dan spoke to BBC Radio Shropshire to help listeners understand what lockdown and wearing masks has been like for people with autism. In Dan’s case, the texture of the mask provokes a flight reaction meaning he cannot, for example, wear one in a shop. He gave a brilliant interview and carefully explained why businesses should be aware of hidden disabilities and make their businesses as accessible as possible for all people to enjoy. Dan told us,

“I enjoyed explaining the difficulties of wearing masks to the BBC. I hope it changed a few people’s opinions. I hope to be able to use my Leaders List award to make a difference to more people in the future.”

Dan feels a sense of pride and satisfaction in helping others and also making his own future plans. He’s very happy to sit in the background and let other people shine or coach less confident people to do the same.

He seeks feedback on his own performance with humility and is really respectful about the different ways that people contribute.

People always feel included with Dan.

The Coronavirus Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List is produced by Dimensions in partnership with Learning Disability England and VODG. It is an adapted version of the annual Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List.

The Coronavirus Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List is produced by Dimensions in partnership with Learning Disability England and VODG. It is an adapted version of the annual Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List.

dimensions-uk.org/covidleaderslist

Follow @DimensionsUK and #CovidLeadersList to stay up to date.

 

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