A time to celebrate being proud of being disabled  

Details of the first Birmingham Disability Festival, hosted by Birmingham City University (BCU) on Saturday 6t July, have been announced today.

Created by Birmingham Disability Festival Committee (BDFC), this FREE inaugural event showcases a wide range of disabled talent through performances, sport, interactive games and disabled business owners and aims to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the UK’s second city.

The Festival features a packed day of events including live performances, arts and crafts, a ‘Human Library’ featuring key speakers, invaluable networking opportunities and essential resources to empower disabled people to thrive in their future life.

Highlights of the Festival include; dance performances from wheelchair based Freewheelin and Cerebral Palsy West Midlands, and music from DJ Ben Love, who has a regular set at Birmingham’s famous The Night Owl.

Games and sports for people of all abilities will also be on offer including boccia, curling, blind football, volleyball, wheelchair basketball and RUN OF A KIND, Birmingham’s first and only Running Tour Team, will be providing a tour for blind/visually impaired runners and a disability friendly walking tour.

Attendees can take part in workshops including: Ways for Wellbeing UK and Birmingham Metropolitan (BMet) College’s nature and wellbeing workshops around the themes of planting; and Tai Chi and on the spot muscle therapy from Release and Repair’s Roland Baskerville.  Running alongside these events is a dedicated market place featuring a  variety of organisations run by people with disabilities who will be sharing their experiences and services.

Nabila Gardner, Director at Ways for Wellbeing UK CIC a health and wellbeing coaching organisation led by disabled women said “We are very proud to lead the coordination of the first Festival of its kind in Birmingham. We know what it is like to not be seen and recognised for our work. We want to motivate others like us to see how they can make a difference just by being who they are and doing what they do.  We all have different ways of being included in our world and we are proud that we do things differently.”

The day will also feature a ‘Human Library’ where people can attend discussions with keynote speakers. The ‘Human Library’ is facilitated by Dr Shani Dhanda the multi-award-winning disability inclusion and accessibility specialist, social entrepreneur and broadcaster (Loose Women, This Morning). The ‘Human Library’ also includes, amongst others,  Dr Amo Raju, Amit Ghose, Charlie Fogarty MBE., Alice Hargreaves and Charlotte Berisford. 

Dr Dhanda, said ” We welcome everyone to join this joyful event – a celebration of our community’s achievements and a source of empowerment for future generations.”

Birmingham Disability Festival is organised by Festival partners Ways for Wellbeing UK CIC, BMet College, Birmingham City University, SCCB, Arts Therapies UK, Augmented Lifestyle CIC, Sakeenah Foundation.

BMet College commented BMet is proud to be part of the city’s first Birmingham Disability Festival. It marks an important step for us to showcase disabled talent in Birmingham, celebrate our diverse identities, as well as supporting the ongoing work to improve experiences and outcomes for our disabled people.”

Birmingham City University Vice Chancellor Professor David Mba added BCU  is delighted to join forces with Birmingham Disability Festival (BDF) to host this inaugural and extremely important event. Inclusion and diversity are at the heart of our University, as is our determination to continue fostering close working relationships with the city of Birmingham and its people. 

“Occasions like this allow us to make those connections run even deeper. We look forward to welcoming everyone to our City Centre Campus on Saturday 6 July and playing a key role in the event’s success. It promises to be an action-packed day.”

The first Birmingham Disability Festival is FREE to attendees and takes place at the Curzon Building, Birmingham City University (near to Millennium Point) on Saturday 6th July between 12 noon and 4pm and is fully accessible. 

British Sign Language interpreters and quiet spaces will be available. Assistance dogs are fully welcomed. Food and drink and seating areas on site. Festival organisers will be present throughout the day for information and guidance.

Free parking at Millennium Point car park is available for blue badge holders. Whether travelling by train, bus, tram or car, please check for delays, cancellations or road closures ahead of your journey. 

Although the event is FREE, attendees will need to register for a ticket.   For more information and to register your attendance please go to the following link:- 

http://bit.ly/BrumDisFest24

For further information please email birminghamdisabilityfestival@gmail.com

Birmingham Disability Festival is funded by Birmingham Metropolitan College, South and City College, Northfield and Ladywood Network Neighbourhood Scheme, Birmingham City Council.

Key Speaker biographies

Alice Hargreaves (she/her) is the CEO and Co-Founder at SIC a social enterprise based in Coventry that works to close the disability employment gap in the UK. Alice was born with a variety of respiratory issues and was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. She is a disabled and neurodivergent entrepreneur.  Prior to founding SIC, Alice spent over a decade in marketing, communications, and research, specialising in equity, diversity, and inclusion, particularly women in STEM and widening diversity in leadership roles.  Founded in 2021, SIC has worked with over 250 businesses and 300 disabled professionals so far.

Amit Ghose Amit was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). His journey has taught him to find confidence in his unique appearance and navigate a world sometimes too focused on appearances. Encounters with curious onlookers have strengthened his resilience and conviction that we are all uniquely human. Amit’s message is clear: embrace your individuality and remember that our differences are what make us human. Celebrate every facet of who you are and inspire others to do the same.

Dr. Amo Raju OBE DL has an incredible story to share with countless examples of his ability to defy the limiting expectations of society but particularly those in authority who felt he should not aspire to living a ‘mainstream’ life. As a disabled person since birth, he has pushed and smashed boundaries paving the way for others, with a mind-boggling journey which includes stints in the bhangra music industry, politics, commerce and now published as an author of his book based on all these and many other life experiences – ‘Walk Like A Man’ which also captured his very secret relationship with fluctuating levels of mental health and depression. Since 1997 Amo has been at the helm of Disability Direct, a user-led charity supporting disabled people and carers. To date he is responsible for the generation of £28m in grants, contracts and trading ensuring complete stability for vital services. Since 2022 he has received numerous awards and accolades including a Doctorate from the University of Derby, an OBE in the King’s Birthday Honours, the Lifetime Achiever Award at the ITV National Diversity Awards and most recently at the 2024 Scope Disability Equality Awards as a Role Model.

Charlie Fogerty MBE an aspiring footballer and bright school pupil had the world at his feet when in March 2012, Charlie suffered a severe brain injury after being hit by an overtaking car whilst crossing the road. Following the accident Charlie was rushed to Birmingham Children’s hospital, placed in an induced coma and spent 11 uncertain days in intensive care. He then was transferred on to a Neuro ward where he spent the next four months in the early stages of recovery. Charlie then went on to complete an intense six-month rehabilitation programme ran by The Children’s Trust in Surrey where he learned to eat, walk and talk again. He finally returned home in February 2013, from there, he began his inspiring journey to recovery.  Shortly before the accident Charlie had finished a four-year contract at Birmingham City FC’s Academy and was trialling for Milton Keynes Dons. Charlie is back on the pitch where he belongs, he is now back playing football for his local Solihull Moors FC Community team and his beloved Northern Ireland CP team.

Charlotte Berisford is a 29-year-old woman living with fibromyalgia following a fall in 2022, Charlotte is also living with nerve damage in her neck and bursitis in her shoulder. She has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and is an advocate of therapy. In her free time she loves to play video games, paint, draw and write. She works in Learning & Development and is passionate about supporting people to thrive. She was named Birmingham Apprentice of the Year in 2021 after sharing her story of overcoming Class A drug addiction and severe mental health.

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