24 November 2022 – The charity Sense held their nineteenth annual Sense Awards on Thursday 24 November, celebrating the achievements of people with complex disabilities and those that support them. After receiving hundreds of nominations, the charity revealed the winners at their online ceremony which ranged from actor and activist Ruth Madeley to Newcastle based influencer Lauren Gilbert.
The winners of the awards were determined by a judging panel of disabled celebrities and influencers. This year’s judges were journalist Liam O’Dell, influencer Shelby Lynch, BBC broadcaster Mark Lane, blogger Georgia Vine and Sense’s Chief Executive Richard Kramer.
The evening started with the award for ‘Young Person of the Year’, recognising a disabled person under 25 for their achievements over the last year. The award went to Shaheen Sultan of Tower Hamlets, who was commended for promoting volunteering to other disabled young people.
Shaheen is a member of Sense’s Buddying programme in Tower Hamlets, which matches young disabled people with volunteers from the local community to form friendships and explore new things together. Shaheen volunteers at his local Bushcraft centre and recently at Sense’s Thrive festival, an accessible arts and music festival for disabled people. He has been enthusiastic about promoting volunteering to other disabled people in Sense’s Buddying programme and sharing his experiences.
Shaheen Sultan said:
“I’m really happy to have won. Thank you to Sense for supporting me.”
Max Fisher, a deafblind scientist from Cambridgeshire, was awarded ‘Person of the Year’. Max is a drag king and uses canes and BSL to make their performances educational, inclusive and even more entertaining for the audience. The judging panel also noted Max’s use of YouTube to educate and make the case for a more inclusive society.
Max Fisher said:
“If you had told me a year ago that I would be winning a national award, I don’t think I would have believed you. I never thought I would be a disabled scientist, let alone a deafblind and disabled scientist – and good at it!
“The Sense Award will be taking pride of place in my house.”
Lauren Gilbert picked up the award for ‘Influencer of the Year’, which recognises a disabled person using social media to raise awareness of disability. Lauren, who lives in Newcastle, was inspired to start their social media accounts under the handle of ‘Neurodiversity with Lozza’ after receiving an autism diagnosis last year.
Lauren Gilbert said:
“I’m so honoured to have been not only nominated for a Sense Award but to actually win one.
“I never thought any of the work I do around autism and disability would go anywhere, I just thought I could maybe help people if I shared my experiences. I feel so lucky and grateful for the award.”
The Sense Award for ‘Celebrity of the Year’ went to actress Ruth Madeley. Ruth recently starred in Then Barbara Met Alan, the true story of two cabaret stars who fought for disabled civil rights, as well as making a documentary on abortion and disability. The judging panel noted Ruth’s determination to put disability on the UK TV agenda.
Ruth Madeley said:
“Thank you so much Sense for awarding me Celebrity of the Year, I’m so made up. Being part of the disabled community is one of the biggest joys of my life and I feel lucky to be in this community.”
Able Magazine editor Tom Jamison presented the Sense Award for ‘Journalism of the Year’ to Emily Brager of the Express, in recognition of her leading role advancing the End the Disability Bills Crisis campaign.
Other honourees included the British Deaf Association, who won ‘Campaign of the Year’ for the BSL Act Now campaign, and Baroness Tyler of Enfield who was awarded ‘Parliamentarian of the Year’ for her work campaigning for disabled children. To see the full list of winners, visit: sense.org.uk/sense-awards/
Sense Chief Executive, Richard Kramer, said:
“This year’s Sense Awards was an outstanding evening recognising the achievements of disabled people, as well as the people around them. It’s an honour to be able to recognise those breaking down barriers in society. We wish a huge congratulations to all our Sense Awards winners, and those who made the shortlist.”
Contact Sense’s media team
Email: [email protected]
Phone number: 0203 833 0611