Michael is partially sighted and has a learning disability. In 1998, frustrated at the lack of opportunities for people with learning disabilities, he started a self-advocacy charity called My Life My Choice, which has grown to provide opportunities for hundreds of people with learning disabilities.
My Life My Choice now has 575 members, ten self-advocacy groups, a monthly nightclub and a Travel Buddy scheme encouraging independent travel for those lacking confidence and skills.
Michael has been at the forefront of developing and leading these projects.
Before My Life My Choice
Before Michael started My Life My Choice to champion the voices of people with a learning disability, people were not listened to and had little control over their lives.
Michael stood against this and challenged the status quo; he would not allow himself or his peers to be treated as second-class citizens and acted to change it.
His determination to make a difference once led him to get up at 4am to travel to a Southern Health NHS public Board Meeting, so that he could put questions to the Board about their treatment of people with learning disabilities.
Michael’s drive, determination, kindness and patience has guided people from situations of isolation, loneliness and disempowerment to paid work opportunities at My Life My Choice where they serve as consultants, trainers and inspectors for organisations such as the NHS, Care Quality Commission, Oxford University and Thames Valley Police.
By starting My Life My Choice, Michael helped people to gain confidence to speak up and to voice their opinions, a revolutionary act for people who were assumed to have nothing to say.
Michael’s efforts have not only transformed the lives of many of his peers but also changed the way the public and professionals view people with learning disabilities.
Kate Terroni, Director for Adult Services at Oxfordshire County Council said: “He has demonstrated real commitment to supporting people with learning disabilities to have a voice, learn new skills, and increase their confidence.
“Undoubtedly, Michael’s efforts have helped to improve the quality of life for many people with learning disabilities”