Stewart Chappell has been a leading self-advocate in the North East for many years, using his skills and experience to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities and/or autism.
Stewart is an essential part of Skills for People, taking the lead within their self-advocacy group, Geordie Voices.
As part of his role, Stewart is involved in training professionals such as the police, social workers and trainee medical staff. Stewart shares his lived experience and that of others to help improve the treatment of people with a learning disability.
Stewart has also created and developed Mate Crime training, which is delivered to schools in Tyne and Wear.
Mate crime is a form of hate crime, whereby an individual befriends someone with the intention of abusing the friendship for their own personal gain. By educating school children about this type of crime, he’s equipping future generations with the knowledge of learning disability hate crime and how they can help prevent it.
Not only does Stewart advocate for people with learning disabilities but he is also a paid project worker for the Skills for People Easy Read service.
His skills have been recognised by other organisations and has now become the co-chair of Inclusion North, to help them with many of their national projects.
Further to this Stewart has acted as co-trainer on the Inclusion North leadership training project for self-advocates and is currently helping to pioneer a similar course for young people, with the aim to create young leaders in the community.
Stewart has proved an inspirational leader for people with a learning disability, with many looking to him for peer support and his leadership qualities. Only recently Stewart supported a group of men to relaunch their men’s group, Men of the North, providing leadership and assisting them with recruitment and planning.
Whatever challenges Stewart faces, he confronts them head on, despite barriers imposed on him by society.
Boccia in Barcelona
Stewart is also a keen sportsman and has just returned from the Cerebral Palsy World Games in Barcelona.
Despite having never been to Barcelona, having a learning disability and using a wheelchair, Stewart proved no barriers would stand in the way of his goals, travelling independently to compete in Boccia throwing.
It’s fair to say Stewart is an inspiration to his peers and the people that know him. He is the heart of his community and he is one of the key individuals that make Skills for People such a success.