Cradley Heath disabilities champion and charity founder gets MBE

7:01am Friday 3rd January 2014

THE Cradley Heath founder of a charity for people with learning difficulties has been awarded an MBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours List.

Jayne Leeson launched Changing Our Lives in 2002 and has spent the last ten years fighting for the rights of the disabled across the Black Country and the Midlands.

Along with a group of self-advocates with learning disabilities Jayne had the basic aim of ensuring people with learning disabilities lead valued independent lives in the community.

The 47-year-old said: "I am honoured to receive the MBE for the work I have done championing the rights of people with disabilities.

"As all of the work is in partnership with people with disabilities, recognition needs to go to the many people who have over the years inspired and supported me to challenge and push boundaries; people like Frances Painter and Darren Selman, two of the founding members who have since passed away."

She added: "Recognition also needs to go to all of the current self advocates who continue to fight for their rights, people like Issy Brant, Alex Johnson and Steven Harvey. “

The former Earl's High School pupil pupil now lives in Cradley Heath and helped raise the profile of those with learning difficulties on the national stage, frequently visiting Parliament about the issue.

Changing Our Lives now supports on average 1200 people annually, all of whom are determined to advocate for themselves and others.

Throughout this development, Jayne and the self-advocates have always stuck to the belief of working in partnership.

A Changing Lives spokesman said: "With Jayne’s leadership, self-advocates supported by Changing Our Lives have been instrumental in the development of national standards that define the rights of people with disabilities both in their day to day lives and in the healthcare.

"These ground breaking standards have since become the foundations of all NHS service contracts for people with learning disabilities."

This year the Quality of Life standards will be launched in the House of Commons which have been drawn up with the help of Changing Our Lives.

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