- Nicola Phillips
I'm Nicola and I am the Chair of the Staff Disability Forum at UCL. I have worked at UCL since 2001 in various departments and joined the Department of Chemistry in 2011 as the Executive Assistant to the Head of Department & Lead HR Advisor. I have a flexible working arrangement and work from home two days per week. In my spare time I like walking my dog (Harvey), exploring new countries with my Fiancé Michael and I am a keen photographer currently working on setting up my own business.
- Valerie Cooper
I am one of three Capital Projects Team Leaders. We oversee the building projects creating new, refurbishing existing and refreshing old places and spaces about UCL. I have been with the Estates Division since 2011. Much is changing. We are Transforming UCL and I am proud to be a part of the improvements being made to the finishes, fabric and environment in which we work. I am also part of a Task Group introducing Inclusive Design Standards so that all our projects consider the needs of the whole UCL community. I have low vision so am particularly interested in ensuring our built environment is clearly signed and easy to navigate.
- Laura Cream
I am the Head of Public Engagement. I joined UCL in 2012, having never worked in academia before, and find it a stimulating and enjoyable environment to work in. I'm really keen to contribute to making UCL an even more welcoming and supportive environment for its disabled staff. There are lots of people at UCL who are able to offer advice and support, but it can be really hard to know who to ask; I'd like to make this process easier for people by sharing my own experiences and learning from others on what worked for them or what they would like to see UCL putting into place.
- Lisa Daniel
I have been the Graduate Programmes Administrator at the Institute of Archaeology since 2002 and was diagnosed dyslexic a year later, whilst in post, at the grand age of 29. Having a hidden disability can be frustrating especially when the difficulties you experience are often not understood by UCL colleagues. I jumped at the chance to be involved in the SDF to make a difference for both current and future disabled staff by changing attitudes. I hope that the SDF will enable UCL to consider the needs of disabled staff and students as part of the norm during future development of both within UCL's physical environment and computing facilities.
- Mark de Freitas
I have been a Careers Consultant at UCL since 2012. I have worked with students and academics from a wide range of departments and I love my work here. I share the SDF’s vision of ensuring UCL helps all staff and students achieve their full potential; and to confront the wider stigma facing people with disabilities, in particular regarding mental health.
I have personal experience of managing a mental health disability alongside the demands of a professional career. Prior to UCL, I had a managerial career in the food industry and I worked for a number of years as a solicitor in the City.
I was first diagnosed with bipolar around 15 years ago. This came as a real shock to me. I was diagnosed with the most acute form of the disorder but I continue to be able to manage it successfully. I generally don't suffer from the changes in mood associated with my condition; and I have only ever missed a couple of days' work here as a result of it.
There are many misconceptions and a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness. Previously, I have always been very guarded regarding my disability. Most of my colleagues and many friends are not aware that I am disabled. This is the first time I have openly disclosed it; and I am looking forward to working with the SDF and UCL more generally in addressing the stigma and barriers disabled people can face.
- Michele Farmer
I'm the Disability IT Support Analyst and support both students and staff with sourcing technological solutions to aid them in their work and/or study. This assistive technology ranges from ergonomics through to software such as JAWS for screen reading.
I'd like for UCL to have a joined up, highly visual, support system for disabled people to access without having to stress out on either arrival here or after diagnosis. I'd like to see UCL be on top of the list for places that disabled people would like to go to knowing that their needs would be met easily.
- Martin Fry
I'm Martin and I'm a Lecturer in Medical Electronics in the Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering. My interest in medical engineering and physics was formed through a childhood spent tinkering with electronics and growing up with an elder brother who has cerebral palsy. This interest was further focused as a UCL undergraduate when I became critically ill with meningococcal septicaemia and associated complications. During the following year, I made a remarkable recovery, but continue to experience the neurological effects of this infection: an 'invisible' neuropathic pain radiculopathy. I was elected as a non-professorial member of Academic Board to serve on UCL Council for the 3-year term 2013-2016; and I joined the Staff Disability Forum as I am keen to contribute in whatever ways I can: raising issues I am aware of from personal experience together with issues raised by colleagues. I look forward to learning from, and working with, other longer established UCL Equality groups
- Rex Knight
I am the SMT champion for staff and students with disabilities. If UCL is to fulfil its mission we need to have a diverse population of students and staff, and to support them in achieving their objectives. The SDF has a vital role to play in identifying needs and priorities for action, to ensure that our commitments are translated into actions.
- Manjula Patrick
I have been Centre Administrator of the Deafness, Cognition and Language (DCAL) Centre since 2006. I am delighted to have the opportunity to add my experience to that of the Staff Disability Forum (SDF) to help work towards a fairer and more enlightened workplace. The SDF can and does contribute significantly to raising general awareness of disabilities and gives staff with disabilities a collective voice which is empowering in itself. UCL’s foundations are built on an ideology of inclusiveness for all so it is only right that we lead the way to achieving a truly equal working environment for people with disabilities.
- Steve Perkins
As a Professor of Structural Biochemistry at UCL, I work in the Darwin Building where I run a research group of around 20 staff. We study immunology at the level of the proteins involved in this and the interactions that the proteins make with each other. These include antibodies which are very important for countering invasion by pathogens and are key to the development of new therapeutic drugs, and the proteins of the complement system that may lead to age-related macular degeneration (blindness) and renal (kidney) failure if they do not work properly. I used to be the Chair of the UCL Disability Committee and I have a Hearing Assistant who helps me with my routine work. I regard myself as a lay member of the Staff and Disability Forum at UCL, and I follow the activities of the Disability Action group in Islington.
- Jenny Rattray
I joined the Institute for Women’s Health in 2010 first as a Module Administrator and then as the Module Coordinator for the Year 5 Women’s Health and Men’s Health module. I have recently been diagnosed with osteoarthritis but have also been diabetic since 2002. Having two disabilities can be frustrating especially when some of the difficulties you experience are not fully understood by colleagues. I jumped at the chance to be involved in the SDF and I am eager to highlight the problems faced by disabled people, and hopefully change people’s attitudes towards disabilities. When I am not at work I support with my disabled husband, the access programme at the Royal National Theatre and the art through words programme at the National Gallery.
- Jacqueline Sheehan
- I have been at UCL since 2002 initially working for the Vice Provost of Special Projects and now in the role of Personal Assistant to Head of Department, Management Science & Innovation. As well, I am currently Disabilities Officer and joint Vice-Chair of UCL UNISON.
- Ash Talwar
I am Ash and my role at UCL is currently two-fold: I am the UCL Student Funding Manager and DEOLO (Departmental Equal Opportunities Liaison Officer) for Student & Registry Services. I have worked at UCL since 2011.
Prior to starting at UCL, I was at Aston University (Birmingham) for ten years (1999-2010), where I was the Student Support Manager and headed the Disability & Additional Needs Unit, Financial Assistance, International Student Support and the general Advisory. I also played a full role in equalities issues through membership of various equalities steering groups: Religion & Belief, Disability, and the Race & Ethnicity. I was also responsible for rolling out SENDA (2001) to the University.
I have a long-standing interest in equalities and diversity issues in my personal life and professional. I am very interested in our having a visible and open culture of support that has at its heart, a greater understanding (especially from Managers) of the various needs of individuals that allows people to perform to their best abilities, without unnecessary self-imposed barriers of either ignorance or disinterest. Disability and equalities issues need to be at the heart of an inclusive environment.
I received a diagnosis in 2013 for Type 2 Diabetes and in 2014; they identified a long-term vascular disorder and therefore display both seen and unseen disabilities.
I have a huge interest in archaeology, history, politics and travel. I have two honorary granddaughters, three godchildren and am an official uncle to my best friend’s two children – therefore, any spare time sees me doubling up as a climbing frame!