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Claire Holland Head of Training

10 Reasons you should book Enhance the UK’s Disability and Communication Awareness Training

By Business, Disability No Comments

I was recently asked why service providers and businesses should book training with us and what sets us apart from other organisations offering training. I thought I would share my response with you.

1. Increased Confidence – Ask a disabled person about a ‘rabbit in a headlight’ moment and they can always recount several experiences when customer facing staff have not known what to say or do when realising the customer is disabled. Sometimes it’s funny, other times offensive, but either way it’s never good for business. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I haven’t had to pay for things or queue simply because the employer doesn’t know what to say or how to behave when finding out I am profoundly deaf. A memorable one was when I lost my car park ticket. After realising I was deaf the car park attendant rather than try and communicate with me, simply turned round to his colleague and said, ‘Do you know how to explain to her that she needs to pay for a full day parking? No me neither!’ Before proceeding to give me an exit ticket free of charge! Think of the lost revenue. Incidences like that simply wouldn’t happen if staff had received our training. On our feedback forms we are proud that we always have 100% agreement that the training gives increased confidence with interacting with disabled people.

2. Tips and Strategies – it’s all very well your staff having information about disabilities but unless this is applicable to everyday practice in your business it’s useless. We at Enhance the UK always offer tips and strategies to help your staff better engage with disabled people.

3. Fun and engaging sessions – There is nothing worse than being forced to sit through long boring training sessions. I myself have been to a few. Eventually you switch off and retain very little. This to me is a complete waste of your money. You obviously want your employees to retain information and utilise their knowledge. Training with Enhance the UK is fully interactive and PowerPoint presentations are banned! Attendees have fun and as a consequence remember what they learnt. Please see our testimonials!

4. Develop an understanding of barriers – It’s always better to pre-empt possible barriers that disabled people may face when accessing your venue/ service. It really doesn’t reflect well on you as a business when after being asked if the venue is accessible and a member of staff informs the customer it is to then find out it isn’t. This happened to a colleague of mine recently. We attended a venue together whilst working for Enhance the UK, having been told it was accessible to find out it really wasn’t. This resulted in my colleague having to crawl on her hands and knees into the toilet as it simply wasn’t big enough for her wheelchair. I am quite sure this is not an experience she is keen to repeat and was embarrassing to all concerned including the manager. Barriers aren’t simply physical barriers, I have lost count the number of times I have said that I am profoundly deaf to then be told to ring an accessibility line, err hello? Really?

5. Disabled trainers – Would you want your employees to learn about living in Paris from a person who has never lived in Paris? I suspect the answer is probably not. All of our trainers are disabled themselves and are therefore able to share their experiences with your staff. They are also all very welcoming of questions and provide honest and open responses.

6. Tailored training – we do not provide ‘cookie cutter’ training. We always ensure that we tailor our sessions as much as possible to the requirements of your business. This results in your employees benefiting more from the session and ultimately you as a business.

7. Show you’re a business that cares – Advertising that your staff have Disability and Awareness communication training just highlights that you are interested in more than simply turning a profit and hitting targets. This can be no bad thing for any business/ service.

8. We don’t hit you over the head – A friend who has her own business explained that at times she has been told what she must do in order to ensure that she provides an accessible service without any consideration of the feasibility of such things. This has put her off any further training. We at Enhance always offer advice in ways to ensure your business is accessible but not in a ‘bullying’ way.

9. Team building – Our training is so interactive that not only do participants walk away more confident and knowledgeable about disability but also they have also spent the day together in interactive situations having fun. This is always good for staff morale.

10. Learn about another language – We always ensure that we include a very basic British Sign Language session within our day.

Claire Holland Head of Training

Claire Holland on Deafness and Dementia

By Disability No Comments

One of the many things I love about being involved with Enhance the UK is no two weeks are the same. This week we were privileged to be asked to attend a roundtable event organised by the Mental Health Foundation entitled Rights, Dementia and the Social Model of Disability: A New Direction for Policy and Practice. You might ask why would we be invited along to an event about dementia. For those of you who don’t know, we at Enhance the UK have developed a Deaf and dementia course.

The need for this was highlighted when the director and founder of Enhance the UK, Jennie Williams, met Lily and her daughter Dee. Lily was an older woman living in sheltered accommodation. She had dementia and was also a Deaf, British Sign Language user. Dee was concerned that care staff were not able to communicate effectively with Lily because of her dementia and were also not able to converse with her in her first language, BSL. She feared that this was leading to Lily’s basic daily needs being ignored and that she was completed isolated in her own home. After further investigation we found that the University of Manchester had highlighted that ‘very few support services were accessible or appropriate for Deaf people with dementia.’

Furthermore it is not only Deaf, BSL users who are finding it difficult to access appropriate support. Since the majority of dementia patients are elderly, hearing loss is also common among them. It is our belief that it is essential that anyone involved with supporting people with dementia also have a good understanding of deafness and hearing loss in order to be able to communicate effectively with and appropriately support the individual. We secured a contract with Hackney council and were able to deliver the Deaf and dementia training to various care professionals. The feedback from this course was very positive.

So, back to the roundtable event. Overall it was a fascinating event, one in which I feel was very worthwhile us as a charity attending. From my perspective, it really is shocking how the treatment and attitude towards people with dementia is firmly rooted in the medical perspective. Discussions on the day centred around how the social model of disability could be applied to improve things. For those of you who don’t know, the social model of disability states that how society is organised disables people rather than their impairment or difference. It focuses on removing barriers and encouraging society to become more inclusive. I could go on all day about this but for me personally a few things on the day hit home.

Early on in the day we had the pleasure of meeting Peter who is a wheelchair user. We had quite an in depth discussion regarding Enhance the UK and the attitude that we aim to perpetuate. We all sat down and I gave it no further thought. It wasn’t until the afternoon that I realised that Peter was one on the guest speakers who has dementia himself. This really should not have shocked me as I have a hidden disability myself, but it did. It really powerfully illustrated in my mind why people with hidden impairments find it so much more difficult in everyday life. There is a choice of either not disclosing the impairment, in which case should you need any support or adaption then you are unlikely to receive it, or having to tell everyone you meet what your impairment is which isn’t the best at times.

During the course of the discussions the dementia friendly community programme created by the Alzheimer’s Society was raised. This worthwhile scheme is firmly based in the social model of disability and is aiming to encourage communities to be inclusive of people with dementia in all aspects including attitude and physical environments which are easy to navigate. One of the delegates raised that currently dementia is ‘sexy’. The government is keen to support people with dementia and there is a lot of focus on this at present. However, it was agreed that this will not always be the case. It more than likely won’t be long before the focus moves away onto something else and funding and support will be harder to come by. It was suggested that rather than focusing on dementia friendly communities we should be focusing on inclusive communities. This to me hit a chord. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if all disability organisations worked together to aim to create inclusive communities which are accessible to all. Currently, for a number of reasons this is a pipe dream but one in which I like to indulge in.

The Undressing Disability shoot 2013 in front of Big Ben, London

Charity Projects at Enhance the UK by The Learning People

By Business, Disability No Comments

How do you deal with disability in the workplace? That’s a question asked by awareness charity, Enhance the UK.

Jennie Williams, founder and project manager of Enhance the UK, offers awareness training designed to combat prejudices against disability in the workplace and schools in a fun, interactive and engaging fashion.


“Part of the reason I started Enhance the UK was because I am a hearing aid user.

“This has given me greater empathy, understanding and passion to support people who have physical and sensory impairments.

“It is important to me that these people have a voice, so that’s why being user led is imperative to the success and integrity of the charity.”



“Like with anything you set out to do, you will have some amazingly supportive people and then people who completely do not get it.

“We sell disability awareness training to promote equality in the workplace but some businesses simply do not see why they might need it, which can be frustrating.

“More specifically, one of our most challenging but rewarding projects has been the 2014 calendar for our ‘Undressing Disability’ campaign, which featured disabled models in their underwear in public places.

“One of our shoots took place on a boat on the Thames so we had to make sure we were organised – taking enough photos with limited time.

“When the first round of calendars was delivered we were dismayed to find the watermarks hadn’t been removed.

“This was stressful as we couldn’t afford to buy hundreds more of the calendars, but fortunately the calendar company were sympathetic and replaced our order free of charge.

“Finally, we had the calendars but no real platform to sell them on a large scale, however, we did have social media and we also sent press releases to major publications.

“These proved fruitful and we were featured in large international publications such as The Guardian, The Daily Mail and The Huffington Post, ending up selling all of our calendars worldwide.”


“Communication is key to ensuring everything gets done in the different projects we work on.

“Myself and my staff are in constant – several times daily – communication through every given medium, even WhatsApp.

“We regularly stay on top of emails and have a group Google Drive folder which contains spreadsheets for fundraising trusts we approach, which is updated weekly.

“We have a big, face to face meeting every three months, while myself and my core staff will typically have strategy meetings every couple of months.

“Skype is also useful for speaking to potential volunteers or trainers around the country.”


“Many disabled people are fiercely independent and want to get that across by offering us their opinions.

“Others may be more reserved and not used to having their voices heard so you have to try and gain their trust – it’s all about working with what individuals need.

“When it comes to sensory impairments, more technical issues surrounding communication arise, so we make our website – and ourselves – as accessible as possible.

“This will include subtitling our videos, as well as using a BSL interpreter in them and adhering to the correct guidelines for blind people.”


“While setting up our crowdfunding Indiegogo campaign for our teaching children about disabilities book, The Secret Sign, we were required to offer our contributors/stakeholders rewards for their donations.

“We meet these expectations by offering perks such as personalised thank you notes, copies of the book, voice recordings and artwork – all things we can offer while keeping our costs low.

“The estimated arrival time for the product is three months, which we will strictly adhere to, but which also gives us plenty of time to custom print the books so our stakeholders are not let down.”


“A new survey by Scope shows us that only 5% of people who aren’t disabled have ever asked out a disabled person.

“I hope in the future that this drastically changes, to the point where disability is not an issue for people in any setting.

“If disability awareness training, much like the programme we offer, is implemented in more schools I would hope we would see a much more natural and empathetic approach to disability.”


Claire Holland Head of Training

Claire Holland and Perceptions of Disability

By Disability, Lifestyle No Comments

One of our experienced trainers, Emily Yates, ran a twilight training session with members of the student union at Queen Mary University of London last week. The session was attended by 16 students who are keen to volunteer in the local community. It was like a trip down memory lane for Emily as this was the university that she attended. I asked Emily what the highlight of the session was. She explained that for her it was seeing the positive transformation of people’s perception of disability throughout the session. This got me thinking about what perception do we actually want to foster?

It’s much easier for me to think about what we don’t want to promote than what we do. Personal stories and experiences are an essential part of our training sessions but we certainly don’t want our trainers to be seen as inspirational just because they are disabled. I always feel a real sense of discomfort when I see what is known as inspirational porn – a phrase coined by the late Stella Young.

You know the type of thing, the ‘if we can do it then so can you’ philosophy. That being said, some of our trainers are inspirational! Emily is still in her early twenties and is a accessibility consultant, travel writer, blogger and presenter. She’s a go getter and I am full of admiration for her. Therein lies the difference though. I do not think of Emily as inspirational because she has a disability but because I know her as a person and am aware of what fantastic achievements she has accomplished due to her sparkling personality and bloody hard work! Emily’s disability simply does not come into the equation for me in that respect. I always remember that intense feeling of discomfort at school when a French teacher said, ‘if Claire can do it then so should all of you’! My parents in a roundabout way stuck up for the teacher when I went home and said that it was obviously more difficult for me as I am deaf so the teacher was right. The more I thought about it though, the more uncomfortable I became with it. Yes ok, lipreading in French and learning to speak it was really hard work, but I had a natural capacity for languages that other students simply didn’t have so in my view the teacher’s logic was flawed.

We also need to be careful of implying that disabled people can do everything non disabled people can. This is an easy trap to fall into. We want to encourage a positive image of disability and show that disabled people lead normal lives. It is very easy to underplay the challenges that we face and skim over the things that we can’t do. I myself have been guilty of using the phrase I can do everything that you do but in a different way. When you actually look at things clearly, this is simply not the case however much it galls me. The same can be said of all disabilities. That said, we clearly must ensure that we are not seen as individuals to be pitied. I think the crux of the matter is that we wish to promote empathy and not sympathy.

Claire Holland Head of Training

Behind the Scenes with Claire Holland: Enhance and Business

By Business, Disability No Comments

Enhance the UK has decided to put its business hat on! I don’t mean that we will no longer be a charity or stop aiming for our charitable objectives but simply to achieve these we recognise that we need to learn from commercial leaders.

In today’s economic climate fundraising is hard work – it’s a case of taking one step forward and three back. Several charities this week have announced they are under threat of closure due to being unable to raise enough money for core costs. Just to explain, core costs are the day to day running costs of a charity which are not linked to a specific project, examples are salaries, admin, financial compliance, etc. All of these need to be paid for in order to continue with our projects, however, these are very hard to find funding for. And fundraising for the campaigning that we do, well that’s a nightmare!

Luckily, the team at Enhance the UK are not the type to admit defeat and crawl into a hole somewhere (although I am sure the urge has been there at times). We have decided to take the bull by the horns. We recognise that one way to finance our core costs and various projects is to sell more training to organisations and have been lucky enough to have met an inspirational woman from a media advertising company who has agreed to mentor us. We met this week and were provided with guidance regarding a business plan focussing on sales. During the meeting we concentrated on our mission and exactly how we plan to get there. I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty, but it’s safe to say that we had some fantastic advice which we intend to use.

Equally as important, in my view, is that we left the meeting drained but enthused by a vision. There has been a lot of publicity this week around International Women’s Day and rightly so. The conversation turned to all the initiatives to encourage women in business as there is immense pressure for businesses to diversify their staff. A large number of businesses now publicly recognise the positive impact that women at all levels of the business can have on them. The changes that are being made are irreversible, although it is acknowledged that there is still some way to go. Wouldn’t it be amazing if in five years time we could be in the same place regarding disabled people in business. In fact, not just in business but in society.

You may think that this is a pipe dream. Maybe it is, but I sincerely hope not.

The secret sign cover

Behind the Scenes with Claire Holland – The Secret Sign

By Business, Disability No Comments

This week at Enhance the UK I have been promoting our Indigogo campaign – The Secret Sign. This is a campaign to raise £3,000 to be able to publish the book that we have written.

Anyone who knows us understands that we are all incredibly busy and are likely to be asking, ‘what were you thinking writing a children’s book?’ I thought I would take the opportunity to fill you in with the details.

When running disability awareness sessions in primary schools, I often had teachers asking if I could recommend good books with disabled characters in them.  This made me think about why it is important for disabled characters to be in children’s books. We at Enhance the UK are running the disability awareness sessions in schools because we believe that attitudes to disability are shaped during childhood and therefore we wish to encourage children to develop positive views relating to disability. It has, for a long time, been established that books allow children to see characters who look like themselves, have similar thoughts and feelings. Books also allow children to see characters with different backgrounds and learn about the world. It therefore stands to reason the importance of having positive disabled characters in children’s books in order for disabled children to be able to identify with characters similar to themselves and for non disabled children to learn about disability in a positive way. I then decided that I had better conduct a bit of research and, to be honest, the findings were shocking. Now don’t get me wrong, there are books out there. But in my opinion, they frequently fall into one of three categories.

Firstly, the books which address disability and being different in an abstract way. I am sure that we are all familiar with them. The characters tend to be animals who struggle to fit in. I am in no way discrediting these books. I think they are lovely stories and have a time and a place but I do not believe that the majority of the readers relate these characters to real people with disabilities.

Next, there is the picture book story in which one of the characters is wearing a hearing aid or in a wheelchair. The disability itself is not mentioned during the plot. An argument for this type of book is that it normalises disability. There is a drive to ensure diversity is displayed within children’s books. Picking up books written when I was younger (25 plus years ago. .. cough, cough) nearly all the characters in books were white and it was rare to see a character from a different ethnic background. Now there are far more books out there in which the characters are clearly not from a white European background but there is very little in the written content of the story about the cultural background of the characters. This, to me, can only be a positive thing and I hope that more books will feature children with disabilities in the same way.

Lastly, there is the book which features disabled characters who are central to the story, but tends to address the disabilities in stereotypical ways. In my view it is fair to say that books including disability which do not fall into one of the mentioned categories are few and far between. We at Enhance didn’t want to write a good book about disability. We wanted to write a good book, full stop. We have created a story about twin brothers Seth and Sammy – Seth is deaf, while Sammy is hearing. The book is about their relationship and how British Sign Language affects their lives. It’s the first in a series of books which will include characters who have various disabilities. We are also very lucky to have a fantastic illustrator on board too.

I hope you can all see why this book is incredibly important to us now. If you can support us in any way we really would appreciate it.

Emaciated mannequin

Behind the Scenes with Claire Holland – Body Image and our Workshops

By Business, Disability No Comments

This week I was shocked to see a photograph of a shop mannequin which appeared to be completely emaciated, posted on my friend’s Facebook. The tirade of comments underneath were predictably negative towards the practise of shops promoting unhealthily thin body shapes. On further investigation, the photograph had come from an article in the Daily Mail on the 21st February. The mannequin was displayed in a Whistles store in London. Eating disorder support charities had condemned the store and called for shops to be more responsible for setting standards.

Whilst I personally accept that it is not correct to pin the blame for eating disorders on shops who use unrealistically sized mannequins, I certainly feel that the image of body size and shape that these mannequins promote is dangerous. Having previously spent a considerable amount of time researching body image (a person’s inner conception of his or her own physical appearance) when creating Enhance the UK’s Body Image Workshops, I was shocked by my findings. There is extensive evidence that a woman’s self worth in western cultures depends on their resemblance to the thin youthful image portrayed by the media.

Furthermore boys and men evaluate the worth of their partners, mothers, sisters and friends against this unrealistic image. If this is correct then I myself must be seen as lacking! It would be wrong to assume that the media does not also impact on men’s body image. Research findings have shown that the media also provides external pressure for the ideal of the masculine perfection for boys.

You might be reading this and tempted to say ‘who cares?’ But when looking at the impact of poor body image on adolescents the results were worrying. Body dissatisfaction plays a huge part in the development of a low self esteem. Which in turn can impact on mental health and wellbeing. The consequence of this can be seen in nearly all aspects of everyday life. I apologise if it appears that I have got on my high horse, it’s a personality quirk of mine!

So how is my rant linked to behind the scenes at Enhance the UK, I hear you ask. Well, as I previously mentioned Enhance the UK provides Body Image Workshops. These are delivered by positive disabled role models. The day comprises of 3/4 mini workshops focusing on a variety of topics including self esteem, the media, communication as well as fitness and nutrition. The topics are all bought together in a final assembly. It’s important to stress that the focus of the day is not disability. I was privileged to be involved in the delivery of these workshops at a girls school in Kent.

At times during the day emotions run high but the feedback from all the girls involved was highly positive. One attendee wrote that the day had made her think about how she sees herself and she had realised that the expectations she placed on herself in terms of her appearance were not realistic. She went on to say that she would continue to use the techniques she had learnt about raising her own self esteem and that she felt the day was a profound experience for her. With feedback like that we were simply buzzing! I really believe that the day we have created is such a positive experience for young people and urge everyone to recommend it to schools and youth groups etc!

Last week Enhance the UK had an exciting meeting with Platform Productions about creating a short, thought provoking film about Body Image. This is something that the Enhance the UK team is incredibly excited about so keep an eye out for updates.

The author Holly Williams

Holly Williams on Scope’s End the Awkward Campaign

By Disability, Lifestyle No Comments

I’ve just found out that SCOPE is running a brand new campaign called End The Awkward. According to them, 67% of Brits feel uncomfortable talking to people with a disability. Part of their campaign is a whole lot of really useful tips and clear answers to questions that might run through the mind of someone who is meeting a disabled person for the first time. While I think SCOPE is really onto something here, I can’t help thinking they’ve maybe missed a bit of a trick.

It’s great they’re trying to help people to feel more at ease around disability but not everyone is going to visit their site. There are always going to be people who make wrong assumptions, feel uncomfortable and get the urge to ask awkward questions. What SCOPE has missed, and what I personally am in very much need of, is advice on how disabled people should react to able­ bodied people, especially when they get it wrong.

I’ve said before in this blog that I, personally, am not much of a social animal, especially with people I don’t know well, so when I meet someone who is clearly not use to dealing with disabled people I don’t know how to deal with them. A lot my issues come from the fact that I have quite a bad speech defect and just getting across what I need to say is sometimes a Hell of a task.

For instance, could someone, either from SCOPE or just with a greater grasp of social etiquette than me, tell me the proper, polite way to react when someone very kindly, but very patronisingly talks down to you? This has happened to me all my life and I still don’t know how to react. The first option is to just ignore it but that’s no good because a) the person will assume they’ve got it right and never know any better and b) it makes me quietly resent someone who is trying their best and that resentment builds up until I tend to react in the second way. The second way is this, sarcasm. I am constantly told that I am very sarcastic. So much so I genuinely cannot pay my Mum a compliment without her thinking I’m taking the Mick. Sarcasm is a great stress reliever for me as it allows me to vent my frustrations right in the person’s face and half the time they don’t realise how bitchy I’m being. But sarcasm is a bit like picking a scab, it feels great at the time but is often counterproductive as people either are completely oblivious to it or come away thinking that I’m, and therefore all disabled people, are nasty.

You could always cut all pretence, look the person straight in the eye and say, ‘Look, I don’t have a learning disability and even if I did you shouldn’t talk to me like I’m a child, thank you.’ But like the phrase ‘I’m not a racist,’ having to explain to someone what you’re not, I think, makes them more likely to believe you are. I mean, what kind of idiot goes round saying ‘I’m not an idiot’? I use to think I had the perfect solution. I thought that if I just used my large vocabulary in conversation people would think, ‘wow she sounds really clever, I’d better not patronise her.’ But then I got to know people who were articulate but not that bright and realised showing people you sounded clever didn’t mean you were, case in point Russell Brand.

Then there are the occasions when people talk to the person with you instead of you. This happens to me a lot, mainly because, like I say, I have really unclear speech. It happens to me so much that I actually have come to consider it normal and I get more awkward when people talk to me and not my Mum. That’s not normal, is it? For a woman my age to freak out a bit when she has to talk to a stranger? I’m so not use to it that I actually struggle to put a sentence together because I’m worrying whether the person is understanding what I’m saying. I know it’s lazy but there’s part of me that’s glad when people talk to the person I’m with instead of me, it let’s me duck out of all the trickiness of being understood. But how can I then moan about the fact I’m not involved in the conversation?

But the thing that bothers me most of all is staring, especially from kids. I think it’s because I feel adults should know better but children are naturally curious and not aware they’re being impolite. Part of me feels that as a disabled person it’s my responsibility to show the younger generations that we’re just like other people, so whenever I see a child looking at me I try to smile and say hello. That is, however, when I’m feeling in a particular cheery, altruistic mood. But there are days when you just want to have a coffee or a meal out without feeling like the two ­headed woman escaped from the freak show. It’s quite endearing when a little kid smiles and waves back at you, you feel like you’ve reached out and made them see you’re not a scary monster after all. But there are some little bug……. bundles of sweetness who aren’t happy with a shy glance from behind mum’s legs, who just stare and keep staring, swizzle round in their seat to get a better look.

I remember one time I was on holiday with a group of disabled friends. We were in a hotel’s lobby-cum ­lounge bit, watching a cabaret, sitting at a long table. On the other side of the room there was a family with a six ­year ­old girl. This kid repeatedly walked away from her parents, all the way across the dance floor until she was about three feet away from us and just stared, like Eddie the dog out of Frasier. Then she moved along to the next person and did the same to them. She did this every night of our stay. Every night. It got so bad that a young lad who was helping us had to be restrained by his aunt (another carer) from dragging her back to her parents and giving them a piece of his mind. On the one hand, I can’t blame him but then it’s never a good idea to go round disciplining other people’s children. On another holiday, I was riding down in a lift with a little girl and her grandma. She was looking at me and I, being relaxed and having a good time decided to humour her, saying what a pretty dress she was wearing. Then she turned to her grandma and with pure innocence in her eyes said, ‘Nanny, why does that lady talk funny?’ Obviously, ‘Nanny’ looked like she wished the ground would swallow her and I was left feeling like someone had just used my heart as a punch bag. But you can’t blame the child for not understanding and what answer can you give?

So, going back to SCOPE and End The Awkward. I’m putting out a challenge to anyone reading this blog. Communication is a two way street and if anyone, disabled or able ­bodied, can tell me how to deal with situations like the ones I’ve described please post them in the comment section below, because I’m running out of ideas.

Claire Holland Head of Training

Behind the Scenes with Claire Holland – Training with the National Gallery

By Business, Disability No Comments

It’s been an exciting time at Enhance the UK recently as we are involved in some really interesting projects. A short time ago two of our fantastic trainers delivered Disability and Communication training for education staff at the National Gallery. They were so pleased with the training that we delivered that we were invited to attend a meeting regarding how we might work with them in the future.

I recently attended the meeting with Jennie (our CEO) and was pleased to learn how seriously they are taking access. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the education team at the gallery already have a project in place to encourage and support schools in bringing children with special educational needs to the gallery. This includes outreach work and visiting the school prior to the trip to provide INSET training to school staff.

The gallery itself also provides tours in British Sign Language and has information available in Braille and large print. They have been rated highly on the access guide Disabled Go. It was refreshing to find that they are still striving to improve accessibility. Orlagh Muldoon the schools programme manager explained that she is working in conjunction with the Museum of London to strive to make it easier for children with Special Education Needs to access what is rightfully their heritage. They are setting up a specialist network and inviting museums and galleries around London to join. This will be an opportunity for those involved to share experiences regarding making their venues and experiences accessible to children with SEN, support each other and receive advice. Enhance the UK has been invited to talk at one of the meetings about what we do and the importance of Disability awareness training.

I personally am incredibly excited by this. Orlagh’s comment regarding rightful heritage resonated with me. People with disabilities regardless of age should be able to fully access museums and galleries. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. I have lost count of the number of times I have attended museums in London to leave frustrated. Anything which we at Enhance the UK can do to help improve matters on this is incredibly worthwhile from my perspective. It’s early days on this project, so watch this space!

Claire Holland Head of Training

Behind the Scenes at Enhance: Claire Holland, Head of Training

By Business, Disability, My story, News One Comment


When Jennie (the CEO for Enhance the UK) asked me if I would like to write a blog, I was a tad hesitant to say the least. What I currently know about the blogosphere (Google is my friend) can be written on a postage stamp. What can I write about, I thought and then it dawned on me. I could blog about my experiences working with Enhance the UK.

I am in a lucky position to work on a freelance basis as the Head of Training for Enhance the UK, a charity I am passionate about. Not many people are able to say that they look forward to going to work and that no two days are the same. Furthermore, without wishing to sound gushy, I genuinely believe that as a collective everyone who is involved with Enhance makes a difference. That’s not to say that it’s all sweetness and light; some days can be frustrating and you feel like you are taking one step forward and two steps back.

So what do I do for Enhance? Good question … a bit of all sorts really. I am one of the Disability and Communication Awareness trainers. I mostly provide the communication element as I am profoundly deaf and wear a cochlear implant. I love delivering the training as it’s always good fun. PowerPoint is a swear word at Enhance and is banished. The training is always really interactive and tailored to meet the needs of the delegates so no two days are ever the same. This keeps me on my toes. It is really rewarding to see the change throughout the day to the group of people who enter the training room at the beginning. They often start looking anxious and unsure of exactly what to say as they trudge through the minefield of what disability related language to use so that they don’t offend. By the end of the day they always look more relaxed and that fearful look on their faces has disappeared. That to me is a job well done. I wholeheartedly believe that removing the fear factor around disability is essential.

I also attend schools and deliver disability workshops to children in primary and secondary schools. Although it’s hard work dealing with children aged 4 and upwards all day this is one of my favourite elements of working with Enhance. Children are naturally inquisitive about disability and their curiosity is crushed at a young age by adults who tell them not to ask questions or stare. I have lost count of the number of times that a child has poked my implant asking what it is or asked why I am waving my hands around funnily in the air. The response of the parent is always along the lines of turning red with embarrassment, looking like they want the ground to swallow them up and shushing their child whilst apologising to me. I think this is a crying shame. Children should be able to learn about disability in an open and safe environment and this is what we achieve with Enhance. Talking about disability, playing games related to disability and answering questions allows children to learn positive messages about disability which we hope they will take with them into adulthood.

It’s not all fun training days though. I do a lot of putting pen to paper. I can often be found writing letters to companies, writing policies and strategies and filling in grant application forms to name a few. Anyway that’s a little about me and the work that I do. Look out for my next update as to what’s been happening behind the scenes at Enhance the UK.