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The Disability Resilience Network is designed to lift all disabled people beyond the vital debates on equality, diversity and inclusion to the raging issues of society through disruption, innovation and resilience.

The goal of the network for disabled people is the inclusive economy.

 

It is about disability but it is even more about adaptation and coping in response to loss.

 

In this approach everyone has something to offer and something to gain.

 

It is a network because you don't have to be anywhere other than where you already are.

 

To act in the interests of disabled people you can simply join the network. 

Philip J Connolly - DRN Founder

The PurplE Influence

Join the

network

The Disability Resilience Network invites and needs you to participate in all sorts of ways.

 

From volunteering, skills sharing, donating funds and offering services this membership allows the network to grow and support each other in this new community. 

Fill in the 'sign up' form to be part of our network! 

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Join the network to take action.

Read our Campaign for an

The team

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Philip J Connolly

Philip J Connolly is the founder and President of the Disability Resilience Network (DRN). He has worked professionally as an advocate in the disability sector since 2000, specialising in employment. He is qualified in teaching, construction and environmental management. He has worked in policy and campaigns for Living Streets, RNIB, Disability Rights UK and Leonard Cheshire Disability. He is partially sighted and also has Parkinsons Disease.

Philip has a vision of disabled people and those with a long-term health condition being both resourceful and a resource to each other. He asks people to bring their own vision and attributes whether a technical skill or altruism to the network and share these with others, to form collaborations and then to create or innovate practice. He invites members and supporters to imagine that their vision has already taken hold and that they are already successful. He recognises that many disabled people wish to use their energy and time to communicate the coping strategies and adaptation techniques learnt in response to the challenges of their condition and offers the network as the place to do this.

 

He is motivated to establish a community with the power to resolve its own challenges or where and when it cannot, the power to influence decision makers to act in disabled people's interests. In the DRN, he says "You are not required to be an angel but to want to be on the same side as the angels.

Angelika Welzel-Connolly

Angelika brings with her fast experiences both personal and professional to the role of DRN committee member. On a personal level, when Angelika developed epilepsy in her late 20s her life changed on many levels and she had to learn to adapt and be resilient, especially as her son was still quite young. Professionally Angelika worked with disabled people in various roles for charities and statuary service providers over 20years.

 

She started from being a PA to a Project support and development officer working with people with learning disabilities and autism to working in a mental health resource centre as a coordinator with people with severe and enduring mental health problems. Other roles included working as a community advocate, supporting self-advocacy groups and in the last 10years as a dementia advocate and founder of Dementia Dialogue a training provider and consultancy. At present Angelika is working with the Royal Borough of Greenwich to develop and create dementia-inclusive communities. She is also currently studying for a PhD Doctor in Dementia studies at the University of Stirling. 

 

She is excited to be part of the Disability Resilience Network and is looking forward to contributing and collectively taking action to raise awareness of disabilities and health conditions. 

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Dave Gregson

Dave worked for over 20 years in front-line health and social care in both management and front-line care as a support worker, also Dave has worked and volunteered for a range of community and voluntary organisations that included supporting accessibility for people with disabilities.

Dave founded and ran the non for profit company Important To Important which focussed on neurodiversity, workplace bullying, mental health, and community events between 2020 and 2022, now combined with his writing project Dave Gregson Writes.

 

In addition to being neurodiverse himself, with a late diagnosis of autism in 2018 he faced a long period of lack of understanding and workplace bullying, he was dismissed from his job with a large national disability charity in 2018, however, he won a legal case against them in 2020, which lead him to be involved with much of his work and the privilege and honour of joining up with the DRN.

Dave is also an author of both children and adult fiction genres and many of the issues that he is involved with and cares about are reflected in much of his writing.

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Clare Fairbairn

I am a Dyspraxic SEN specialist Teaching Assistant, Setting Manager, Teacher of English as a Foreign Language and former Bookshop Manager. I spend my spare time playing/writing music and building electric guitars.

My professional experiences bring almost 12 years of suffering disability discrimination and raising awareness on Dyspraxia. My life is driven around educating and raising awareness of all types of disabilities and workplace bullying.

My time as a charity Bookshop Manager developed my organisational skills and knowledge of employment law, which make my appointment as Acting Secretary ideal. With a background in economics and data analytics, this role enables me to organise and analyse data for the Network whilst also being a first responder to government consultations.

As currently the youngest member with an acting position, I bring a different approach to the network, alongside a stronger comfort surrounding social media. I am excited to continue my work with the Disability Resilience Network and hope to use it to continue my work raising awareness on all

types of disabilities.

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Nigel Niles

I have varied local government and education sector experience, working with adults and young people of different backgrounds within an Inner London setting.

 

I have been teaching General Science at the secondary school level for nearly 15 years to a variety of students with various academic abilities. Over the last two years I had the privilege of experiencing the amazing multi-agency effort that goes into children with SEMH/SEN needs through a nurturing curriculum.

 

I am looking to pursue a new direction with the mentoring, pedagogical, planning, organising, and time management skills I have gained.

 

I consider myself an educator in the wider sense; I strongly believe in the power of education for its own sake and believe people are missing out on an important aspect of a very human experience. The joy of trying something new is often hidden by the social subordination of learning to earning, narrowing our focus on who we are, how we live, and why.

 

I see the Disability Resilience Network as an exciting opportunity that anyone can take part in, to be not just what you bring to the table, but open to what you can learn from sharing your own experiences. As a lifelong Asthma sufferer, I myself have only recently begun to appreciate the breadth of "hidden" disabilities within our society and the resilience required for people just to take part in everyday activities.

 

One of the neglected areas is small organisation that nurtures and inspires its members with no strings attached, not defined by money making. As DRN's volunteer Operations Manager, I want to push boundaries and make a difference. Perhaps we might even become the nucleus of something new!

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Martine Waltier

Martine has supported DRN from the beginning and is the Web Designer and Tech Support. Her background is as a musician and she currently uses a variety of healing modalities to support individuals with their self-directed healing. 


Growing up with a visually impaired father, Martine has had direct experience in understanding the resilience of people with disabilities. She has worked in various creative settings with people who have learning disabilities and uses her musical skills to connect individuals in playful and fun activities.

 

She has a background in information, advice and guidance within local government adult services and has worked within urban play and youth centres supporting young adults. 

 

Currently her development in yoga and breathwork has lead her to lead retreats and workshops across Europe and her passion is to reconnect people with their natural beauty. 

 

She continues to learn and engage in new ways of thinking and has a deep interest in all areas of society where people are marginalised and misrepresented. 

 

Our Focus

Disruption

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Innovation

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Resilience

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Artist residency

Poet and Creative in Residence.

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'J' Ahmed 

"Licensed to rhyme 

For the good of mankind".

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'J' is a talented poet, artist, rapper, innovator and friend from Salford. 'J' writes on all matters which are concerned with the human condition, often writing poems on race and equality related issues and those issues rarely broached in and around mental health.

 

"I've always believed I have a responsibility as a poet to use my art to ardently promote positive change in the world. But, my work now goes deeper than that - I believe the art form of poetry to have dynamic and as yet unexplored healing properties. I try, therefore, to actively promote the practice of writing poetry almost as much as I continue to avidly write and explore, alongside others,  this valuable process... Poetry is change - poetry is growth - poetry is healing "

DISABILITY RESILIENCE

network for change

POEM BY 'J'.Ahmed

It is the very longest road

This road we tread for change.

And, this road 

Is one which throws us

Curve balls -

Please maintain;

The strength which you

Will surely need

To move us to a plane

Where people are more equal,

Treated more the same.

 

This test of our resilience

Called life,

Well it began

Way way back in history

From the genesis of man -

The struggle for amoeba

To rise up from the seas

To claim the lands of all the world

To become who we now be.

Evolved to this society

With each our part to play,

We represent the struggle

And we struggle every day.

It is from birth

That we progress 

To surely find a way -

Falling before walking

Then striding through our days.

 

And this Is our resilience,

This unseen golden gift.

The quality 

Which helps us rise

And gives our friends a lift.

It is the strength that holds us

Firmly to our course

And keeps us striving onward

A potent Natural force.

Coupled with the ability

To truly self reflect,

We understand the value

Of changes we affect.

We are a force for reckoning,

We are a force for change,

We are the unified

Who cannot see things

Stay the same.

This universe is ours.

We are the stars that shine.

The cosmic laws of governance

Have helped us to refine.

See just like all known energy

We are set to change

From one form 

To another

If we only use our brains.

 

And remember,

What we leave behind

Pays testament to us.

Our loving living memories

Live on when we are dust.

We are each original,

Some lead and some will follow -

Always so creative 

In our quest for new tomorrows.

 

The path for the disabled

Requires resilient minds,

Our burden is our gift

And we must always 

Strive to find;

Ways of adaptation,

Ways to help us be

Enabled to be able

For this will set us free.

 

Please join us on our journey

Whomever you may be.

Please dont be defined

By your disability.

We tread this path

In our own shoes

And never tread the same

But wherever we are coming from

We tread this path for change...