Ann Norris EV nominated for Lifetime Achievement Award for Diversity
Posted 5 May 2016
Ann Norris - an NOCN External Verifier – was recently nominated for the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her contribution to improving inclusion for people with disabilities in the UK and overseas.
he Lifetime Achiever Award honours an individual who has devoted a major portion of their professional life to enhancing the practice of equality and diversity, making significant, innovative, and cumulatively outstanding contributions to the cause.
The Excellence in Diversity Awards event was held on May 12 at a prestigious event in Leeds. Although not chosen as the eventual category winner, her nomination recognises the contribution she has made to further inclusion for people with disabilities.
Ann is the External Verifier for NOCN’s Pathways to Adulthood study programme; an initiative designed to support young people with learning disabilities or difficulties to live more independent lives. Her support in developing this programme has been essential, drawing on her experience and knowledge gained over a lifetime dedicated to helping others, which we outline below.
In 1955 Ann Norris was 12 years old and Sylvia was born to the family next door. Nothing unusual about that except Sylvia was born with Down’s syndrome. She soon found out what a delightful and responsive baby Sylvia was, Ann then spent a great deal of time playing with her and encouraged her to communicate and walk. This started her lifelong work in the disability field.
Starting her professional caring career in 1965, Anne became an Assistant Supervisor at Norfolk Park Training Centre Sheffield - later to become a special school. She went on from there be a qualified teacher and specialist social worker for people with disabilities, based at various local authority special schools, including an education department at a long stay hospital for adults with disabilities - an experience which heavily influenced the direction of her professional career because she witnessed first-hand the damage done to people who are incarcerated long term in such institutions.
At the time Anne was embarking on her career in care there was a shift in professional, public and political opinion towards better integration of people with disabilities into the wider community, bringing them out of institutionalised settings and into mainstream classrooms, employment and housing. This movement towards integration continues; it is a passion which has driven Ann ever since and which still drives her work in education to this day.
When Ann started out, people with disabilities and especially those with learning difficulties were not included in mainstream education and were unable to gain recognition of their learning. To address this, she wrote accreditation packages to enable learners to achieve, gain self-esteem and be valued in society in general, based on her conviction that a social model of disability was more appropriate and effective than the medical model.
Ann eventually became a college moderator for accredited qualifications, which led her after retirement to become a Principal Moderator and Quality Reviewer in the field of disabilities. She was then seconded to become the External Verifier for NOCN’s study programme Pathways to Adulthood; designed to help young people with learning difficulties or disabilities to become as independent as possible, meeting the objective of integration which Ann has championed throughout her career.
Ann’s voluntary work has also touched many lives and improved the wellbeing of people with disabilities both in the UK and overseas. From 1969 through to 2000, Ann volunteered at Sheffield Mencap where she assisted and then ran projects, raised funds and held numerous senior the positions. She was instrumental in setting up several education projects to demonstrate their potential as an approach which resulted in the Sheffield Education Committee continuing the work.
In 1995 she was selected by VSO to work on an EU funded project in Albania with Mencap and a local NGO supporting people with disabilities. The brief was to enable the project (which became MEDPACK) to become an active pressure group to fight for services for people with disabilities. Now Ann has been working there as a volunteer for twenty years, visiting twice a year.
In this time, she has achieved amazing things; improving the integration of children into mainstream education, training teachers to deliver more holistic education based on the skills and abilities of learners, supporting local residents with disabilities to further integrate, educating the wider public and local government on the needs of people with disabilities and attracting further community support in the process.
In 1996 the Town Council awarded her Honorary Citizenship for her voluntary work with people with disabilities. In 1999 she raised £15k to purchase an apartment that is now a useful resource Centre, with equipment that can be borrowed by families. This venue is a regional focus in for information, assistance and the fight for equality. Ann is now Vice Chair of MEDPAK which has branches throughout Albania and she continues her work in Albania to improve and increase inclusion.
This is only a snapshot of Ann’s achievements. She has done much in her career and continues to help others improve their lives and wellbeing.
For further details of the 2016 Excellence in Diversity Awards Winners http://www.excellenceindiversity.co.uk/2016-winners/