Category Archives: Uncategorised

Stepping Forward Working with Disability Rights UK on Disability Confident Course

Stepping Forward is delighted to announce its first training workshop with Disability Rights UK to take place on Wednesday 18 July in Reading. The Disability Confident Course is run by a trainer with lived experience of disability and many years experience of delivering training courses.

The one day course is targeted at anyone wanting to increase their awareness of disability issues or gain more confidence working with and supporting disabled colleagues or customers.

Course objectives
By the end of our course, participants will be able to:

·         Identify the difference between the medical and social models of disability

·         Approach and assist disabled customers or clients with confidence

·         Identify potential barriers disabled people face and potential solutions

·         Understand disability legislation, including the Equality Act, to a basic level

Course content

·         the definition of disability and the different models

·         disability myths and misconceptions

·         why disability matters

·         making things fair: what the law says

·         better communications

·         the importance of language and avoiding assumptions

·         sharing stories


£30 for voluntary sector organisations

£50 for businesses

Please email us at if you would like to register for the training course. Invoices will be sent out upon registration.

Autism Conference in Sierra Leone Generates Calls for Action

The Pan-African Experiences of Autism Conference took place at The British Council in Freetown on 4 & 5 December 2017 and was extremely well attended, with participation from parents, carers, teachers, NGOs, health workers and Ministry officials. The event marked the International Day of Persons With Disabilities and we are very grateful for the support of The British Council for the venue and for sponsoring guest speakers from Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Feedback has been very positive and we are now working on the report, including the ‘Next Steps’ calls for action and priorities for implementation. We will make this available as soon as possible so that everyone involved can build on the outcomes of the event.  A WhatsApp group has already been created ‘Autism Tok Salone’ which will keep the discussions and planning going.


Dr Bakare from Nigeria reviews current autism research and practice in Africa.


Dr Virginia George, a parent/carer, talks about her experiences of bringing up her 19 year old daughter.


Rugiatu Koroma, Human Rights Advocate and former Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, calls for support for community awareness-raising so that parents may be supported to make positive decisions on behalf of their children with disabilities.

Umu Bentil

Umu Bentil, above, a parent/carer shares her experiences of prioritising her autistic daughter’s needs against the wishes of her family – and the estrangement from her mother and husband that resulted. ‘Hold your child close and don’t let anyone tell you that your child should not be cared for’.


Dr Tsitsi Chataika of the University of Zimbabwe presents on inclusivity and the right to education.

Andy Nowak

Andy Nowak of Queensmill School, London and volunteer with Disability Africa, shares effective ways of supporting autistic children and young people.

Pan-African Experiences of Autism: Transforming Rights into Reality – A Practical Conference


Pan-African Experiences of Autism Conference

Click on the link below for the full Conference Programme as a PDF

Pan-African Experiences of Autism Conference Leaflet


There are very few studies on autism in the African context but it is clear that specialist autism support services are limited across the continent – and in some areas are non-existent. Just 53 publications were identified in a recent review of research into autism in Africa (Franz et al, March 2017), but findings suggest a substantial need for large-scale clinical, training, research and awareness-raising programmes to improve the lives of people who live with autism in Sub-Saharan Africa. The UN Secretary-General has urged the international community to focus on autism globally, to address stigma, lack of awareness and inadequate support structures.

Globally many autistic children and adults are living difficult lives, denied education, support and acceptance, and often prevented from participating in family and community life. In resource-poor settings in particular, the lack of opportunities for support and education, accompanied by the profound and isolating stigma that can accompany disability, can put individuals and families in intolerable and often dangerous situations.

Generating Support & Action for Change

To genuinely improve the everyday lives of people living with autism there is an urgent need for increased support for awareness-raising programmes and for sharing the latest developments in good practice, including in education, in research and in social care. As elsewhere, this complex process of social change necessarily involves multiple agencies – within the education sector, at NGO level, from within the community and at government policy level.

This is a practical conference aimed at developing working partnerships to transform rights into reality. The conference will bring together a selection of best practice and perspectives from African countries, with the aim of providing opportunities for individuals, organisations and others to share experiences, information and to plan genuine strategies for transformative action.

The event will look at what is working, how we can strengthen, support and widen best practice, what research needs should be prioritised, identifying resources and forming partnerships to build capacity in education, training, social care, awareness-raising, and to explore future networking possibilities.

The conference will be aimed firmly at action and at developing future collaborative partnerships – international, continental, regional and national – to contribute towards the enhancement of capacity.

If you are interested in attending the event please outline your interest in a sentence or two and email:

There is no charge to attend the Conference.

Funding for Disability Awareness in Schools

With funding from The Big Lottery’s Awards for All, Stepping Forward has joined forces with Just Different to provide innovative, exciting and educational Primary and Secondary workshops on disability and difference.

Workshops sessions are specifically designed to engage children and young people into thinking more imaginatively about the world they live in, and the diversity of the people within it. Created and presented by disabled adults using a variety of simple interactive methods, the workshops encourage children onto a path of learning that is captivating and enlightening.

If you are a school in Berkshire and the surrounding counties and would like a free disability workshop at your school, please get in touch with us at We will be offering workshops from the school year commencing September 2017.

Supporting School Transport for Special Needs School, Sierra Leone

Stepping Forward is trying to raise £8,000 for a bus for the Hosetta Abdulai Special Needs School in Freetown, Sierra Leone through crowdfunding at:
The school is for children/young people with learning disabilities, including cerebral palsy and autism.  Many of the children require personal care and are non-verbal.  A significant number have severe epilepsy.  The School is the most appropriate available provision for the children but most of the pupils simply cannot get there.
There are 73 boys and girls on the school register but some days there are only 3 children at the school due to transport problems.  Families face many obstacles to getting their children to school: the daily transport costs for two people (pupil and parent/carer) to travel to school is prohibitive for most families and the average journey in Freetown takes two hours each way. This does not allow time for the parent/carer to work in the day before returning to collect the child.
We have raised £3,000 so far for a bus to take the children to school and now need to find an additional £5,000. The used mini-bus that we plan to buy is in Freetown and has been checked by a mechanic. It is a 27 seater.  The owner has reserved it for us and has given us until the end of May 2017 to raise the funds to purchase the bus.
We hope that people will  consider supporting the purchase of the school bus – and by doing so supporting the children and young people at the Hosetta Abdulai School to access their right to education.


Human rights of people with autism not being met, leading expert tells United Nations

The basic human rights of autistic people are not being met, Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, a world expert on autism, told the United Nations in New York today, to mark Autism Awareness Week.

People with autism account for a significant minority of the population worldwide, yet we are failing them in so many respects

Simon Baron-Cohen

In his keynote speech, Professor Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, argued that even with the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities having been adopted in 2006, people with autism still do not enjoy human rights to the same extent as everyone else.

At least 1% of the world’s population is on the autism spectrum, which equates to some 70 million people with autism on the planet.  Autism is a spectrum of neurological disabilities involving difficulties with social relationships, communication, adjusting to unexpected change, dealing with ambiguity, and entailing sensory hypersensitivity and anxiety. Autism also leads to a different perceptual and learning style, so that the person has a preference for detail, and develops unusually narrow interests, and an unusually strong preference for facts, patterns, repetition and routine.

See the full article here:

Overcoming Obstacles to Educational Access

We are pleased to be working with the Hosetta Abdullai Special Needs School in Freetown, Sierra Leone, which provides education to children and young people with intellectual disabilities.

1 girls at schoolboys at school 2

Although there are 73 children registered at the school, there are often only three or four children in attendance. Transport costs and the time taken to accompany children to school are huge obstacles to participating in education. We have agreed to support the purchase of a second-hand bus for the school and now need to raise £8,000 for this purpose. We would be grateful for your support. Our details can be found on the Contact Us page.

Fundraising Ball for Disability Organisations at The Hilton Reading, Saturday 11 November

Stepping Forward plans to once again coordinate this unique event which brings fundraising and networking together to benefit local disability organisations. Can you help us with sponsorship of the event?

The Ball will take place on Saturday 11 November at the Hilton, Drake Way, Reading for organisations working on disability issues in Reading and the surrounding area. Participating and benefiting organisations will be: Parenting Special Children, MS Therapy Centre Berkshire, Reading Mencap, Berkshire Phab, The Engine Shed and Autism Berkshire.

John Williams (, comedian and writer of sell-out show and forthcoming book ‘My Son is Not Rainman’ will once again be our MC. We hope that the new Mayor of Reading will open the event. Guests will be able to dance to all the hits (Stevie Wonder, The Killers etc!) provided by our award winning band.