The press and PR manager for the disability charity Livability talks to Annette Rawstrone about helping to inspire the Paralympians of the future
- Have the Paralympics had an impact on your work?
There's been an increase in media interest in disability issues in general, such as accessible transport. It has helped to challenge stereotypes and raise awareness. We run a sports college and hope that our students will be the Paralympians of tomorrow.
- How have you capitalised on the event?
We are launching a national campaign this autumn that calls for greater inclusion of disabled people in society. Coming after the Paralympics, it is a good time to push the issue of inclusion. We're keen to see disabled people portrayed in positive ways in the media, instead of negative stories that concern issues such as benefits.
- Part of your role is to recruit celebrity supporters - who would be on your dream list?
The Paralympian swimmer Ellie Simmonds shows that a disability doesn't stop you from achieving great things. She's inspirational to other young people and their families, who often worry that having a disability is an obstacle in life that will stop them from fulfilling their potential. We work only with celebrities we feel have a real commitment to what we do.
- Which charity campaigns have impressed you recently?
The Disability Benefits Consortium, made up of more than 50 charities, has looked into the concerns of disabled people about changes to disability allowances. It produced a set of pledges that can be signed up to by private firms with contracts for reassessing disabled people. It is a simple initiative based on an issue that takes into account the needs of thousands of disabled people.
- What stories get the most coverage for you?
We get good take-up on stories that reflect the concerns of disabled people, such as reforming the Disability Living Allowance. Regional stories about fundraising activities also get interest from the local media, and the London Marathon generates a lot of coverage.