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Awards for members of the Big Mouth Forum

Published on Friday, July 13, 2018

MEMBERS of a disabled participation group have received awards at a special celebration event.

The Big Mouth Forum was set up in 2008 to give young disabled people aged 11-25 a voice and involve them in the delivery of services that affect them. It is supported by the city council’s disabled children’s service.

The forum celebrated its 10th anniversary with the event at City Hall last week (6 Jul).

On the evening, 20-year-old Shaidean Williams, from Wigston, won an award for best contribution to the Big Mouth Forum.

Shaideen was a founding member of the forum in 2008. She received her award for her willingness and enthusiasm to contribute to projects including developing the Big Mouth Forum website and campaigning to stamp out bullying and hate crimes.

Markel Hyman, 20, from Highfields, won an award for outstanding project or campaign. He was recognised for his work developing a teaching tool that promotes the importance of celebrating difference. Along with other forum members, Markel now helps to deliver a workshop, called ‘what do you see when you look at me?’, in schools.

The award for personal success went to 21-year-old Jason Barnfather, from Northfields, who started attending the forum three years ago and has worked hard to increase his independence so that he can travel without support from his parents. He has now been able to get a job and was recognised for his determination to achieve, which inspires other attendees at the forum.

Ayesha Ishrat, aged 17, from Wigston, won an award for personal development. The forum is helping her learn how to interact socially with other young people better, and her improving confidence has meant she was able to give a presentation to students at her college.

During the evening, a number of guest speakers addressed the audience, including Paige Murray, a former member of the forum and an athlete at Warwick University, who has represented Great Britain; and Patrick Cox, a 2011 Great Britain gold medallist in the Special Olympics.

Another former member of the forum, Sohail Khalifa, spoke about his successful YouTube channel and aspirations to start his own boccia coaching business. Boccia is a precision ball sport, played by competitors in wheelchairs.

Further entertainment included a performance from DMU Gospel Choir. Former Leicester Tigers player Matt Hampson also recorded a message for the forum members.

Matt said: “The Big Mouth Forum is so important for disabled people to get together and try to change the world a little bit. It’s so important to change people’s perceptions and for disabled people like ourselves to get out there and show people that disabled people have difficulties in their lives, but also they are pretty amazing people. Together, we can change the world and get busy living.”

The event also included a cake sale and raffle to raise money for Flat 108, an independent living project for disabled young people. Many of the forum members have been supported and benefitted from Flat 108, and are raising money for the project so that more young disabled people can learn to live independently.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Sarah Russell, who is responsible for children, young people and schools, said: “This was a fantastic, feel-good event to be involved in and I loved hearing stories of these dedicated young people’s successes.

“It’s really important that these young people have a voice and a platform on which to express their views and help effect change. The Big Mouth Forum has been fulfilling this role for 10 years, and I am sure it will continue to thrive in the future.”

For more information on the Big Mouth Forum, visit