CDG Accessible Politics: Zoom Panel - Joint CDG & CPF Event - 'How do we make our politics more accessible for disabled people?'

Wednesday, 15th July 2020
7.00pm - 8.00pm

As part of the CDG's 'Accessible Politics' programme we are delighted to be holding our first joint event between the Conservative Disability Group (CDG) & the Conservative Policy Forum (CPF). The event will be a Zoom discussion on the topic of 'How do we make our politics - and the Conservative Party - more accessible for disabled people?' - Michelle Lowe, CDG Policy Lead

Our excellent panelists and Chair for the discussion will be as follows:

  • Anna Firth - (Chair) Voluntary Director, Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) & former Parliamentary Candidate (Canterbury)
  • Cllr Daniel Duckworth - Councillor on Preston City Council & CDG Member 
  • Barry Ginley - Former Local Council Candidate & Deputy Chairman of the CDG
  • Celia Hensman - CDG Member, Party Campaign Manager & Young Conservatives Chairman

The CDG's 'Accessible Politics' programme aims to make the Conservative Party more accessible for disabled people and see more disabled people selected to contest seats for local councils, the devolved Parliaments and Westminster. 

About The Panel: 

Anna Firth will Chair the event and was elected as the National Director of the Conservative Policy Forum in April 2020. She is a Sevenoaks District Councillor, and gave up her cabinet position to fight Canterbury as the Parliamentary Candidate. At the General Election in 2019 she increased the Conservative share of the vote to its highest for 30 years. She is a grassroots campaigner and passionate about giving members a greater say on the policies and priorities of the Conservative Party.  A former Barrister, she is also a strong advocate for the environment, health equality and social justice.   

She is on the Board of the Conservative Environment Network and a Patron of Tories for Climate Action. In 2017 she co-founded and Chairs, Every Step Counts , a successful, not-for-profit, well-being, walking scheme, to increase access to open spaces and tackle loneliness. Prior to entering politics she was a healthcare Barrister for 12 years, also using her legal skills and expertise as a Charity Trustee for West Kent MIND and as a secondary school Governor.  

Anna has recorded this short video exclusively for the CDG in advance of the event taking place.

Cllr Daniel Duckworth - Daniel who has Aspergers Syndrome (an Autistic Spectrum Condition), is a Conservative Councillor on Preston City Council and successfully proposed a motion on 30th January 2020 that Preston City Council works towards the award of being an 'Autism Friendly' City. At the time Daniel said, "I feel as a council we can play a major part in the community by raising awareness and challenging stigma and prejudice surrounding learning disabilities. We recognise some good work has already been done but there is always more we can do.”

Daniel continued, “It would be great if Preston City Council could strive to achieve to be an autism and learning disability friendly city and achieve the autism friendly award from the National Autistic Society in order to start a conversation and drive change within the wider city. “

Barry Ginley was first elected as the Deputy Chairman of the CDG in March 2018, having been on the executive for the past eight years. In March 2020 he was reelected as the Deputy Chairman of the CDG in March 2020. He has worked on Soccer Sight and Activate access projects for the Royal National Institute of the Blind and as the V&A’s disability specialist for the past sixteen years. Barry’s political experience has seen him stand as a Borough council candidate in Maidstone and he became an Approved Parliamentary Candidate in 2013.     

Barry is a board member of the Global Disability Innovation Hub; a member of the government’s Paralympic Legacy Advisory Group; and a Trustee of the Maidstone Relief in Need charity. In 2017, Barry gained an Masters in Business Administration MBA from Henley Business School, the first blind student to complete the programme. In 2019 Barry was appointed as the Chair of the South East Regional Stakeholder Network, a newly created disability forum to listen to the views of disabled people. 

Celia Hensman is a member of the Conservative Disability Group, a Manager in the Conservative Party and is also a Young Conservatives Chairman. Celia has been campaigning and working to improve disability rights since she was 16 years old, including being part of Parliamentary Select Committees and various charities. Celia herself as Loeys Dietz Syndrome and has experienced first hand the challenges of working in politics with a disability, this has not prevented her and many others from achieving their goals.  

Please note this zoom discussion is for CDG & CPF Members only. To register your participation please do so via our contacts page.