Message from the acting chief executive
Like Sally, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our previous chief executive, Clare Pelham, for passionately leading the charity for the past five years, and I am working with the rest of the senior leadership team to continue to deliver on our manifesto going forward.
Internationally, I am extremely proud that we continue to work with projects in Africa and Asia which get more children into school and programmes which help people learn new skills.
This vital work helps to support over 19,000 people live more fulfilling lives. We also continue our collaboration with the Cheshire Global Alliance, a network of over 200 organisations across 54 countries, advocating disability rights.
It was a great privilege to be asked by new chair, Sally Davis, to step up to the senior leadership role of acting chief executive for a short period of time at our wonderful charity.
In the United Kingdom, reflecting on the year gone by, with cuts to social care and welfare, the costs of the new National Living Wage, pressures on fees, and the need to recruit and retain the right staff, times remain difficult for social care providers. This is why we have been developing our five-year strategy to make sure the charity is best placed to continue to offer support and choice to disabled people.
This will also make us more resilient for the future, which Sally talks more about elsewhere in this report. However, it’s not all been difficult as we have also enjoyed celebrating some fantastic achievements over the last year too. This included opening our doors to local communities to mark National Care Home Open Day and celebrating the work of our young global campaigners, who received a Young Leaders Award for Young Voices from our patron, the Queen, following their speaking up for the rights of disabled people worldwide.
We also launched the third year of Change100, our flagship employment programme which brings together the UK’s top employers and talented disabled students, as well as celebrating our ninth year of working with business leader Stelios Haji-Ioannu, by launching our Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs 2015.
The event this year included yachtsman, Geoff Holt MBE, accepting an award for his business WetWheels, which will undoubtedly inspire other disabled people to consider similar ventures of their own.
Not forgetting of course, our work to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities at events at the House of Lords and at the United Nations. Each and every one of these achievements makes me proud to be part of the team that makes up this inspiring organisation.
In the coming year, I am delighted that we will be partnering with The World Bank to help the adoption of successful models of inclusion. We will do this through joint research and capacitybuilding initiatives to improve disabled people’s access to employment and education.
Next year we will also have a new chief executive, and I very much look forward to welcoming him or her to take our charity into an even more successful future. I would like to end by thanking all our wonderful staff and volunteers, who are the absolute lifeblood of what we do. It is quite humbling to consider how much they all achieve, putting the needs of the individual first, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, all around the world.
As Leonard Cheshire said, ‘The basic key is people. If you have the right people, the rest will follow.’
Acting chief executive