inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – December 2020

On 3 December it is International Day of Persons with Disabilities and with that in mind we have chosen Warwick Davis as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Warwick began his career at the age of 11 when film producer George Lucas put out a call for actors under four feet tall. Soon Warwick was battling Stormtroopers in a galaxy far, far away as Wicket the Ewok in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. From there he went on to star in Willow, had several parts in the Harry Potter movies and has made numerous appearances in the Star Wars movies since.

He is also well known through his work on TV, including portraying a fictionalised version of himself in the Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant sitcom, Life’s Too Short. He also starred in a season of the comedy travel show An Idiot Abroad with Karl Pilkington. Warwick has also appeared with survivalist Bear Grylls on Bear’s Mission with Warwick Davis.

In 2014 Warwick became the first disabled person to regularly present a primetime show when he hosted ITV’s Celebrity Squares. For the last four years he’s presented ITV’s quiz show Tenable.

Warwick helps others build careers in show business through the talent agency Willow Management, which he co-founded. The agency specialises in representing actors under five foot tall, working for positive representation and more than niche roles.

He also founded the Reduced Height Theatre Company which casts theatrical productions entirely with actors who are little people, giving talented short actors a platform and also produced a musical, Eugenius!, which has had multiple theatre runs.

Warwick co-founded the charity Little People UK, which provides support to people with dwarfism and their families.

To find out more about International Day of Persons with Disabilities see here

To find out more about Warwick see here To find out more about Little People UK see here

It’s a Sin: Gay on the Isle of Wight during the Aids epidemic

It’s a Sin has been an emotional watch – not least for members of the Isle of Wight’s gay and lesbian community who lived through prejudice and isolation in the 1980s and 90s.

The Channel 4 drama, which ended on Friday night, was penned by Russell T Davies and tells the story of Ritchie Tozer – an 18-year-old from the island whose family do not know that he is gay, and who leaves for university, bright lights and excitement of London in the 1980s.

He ultimately makes a sad return home across the water as the HIV epidemic casts its devastating shadow.

It’s a story that echoes with many in the island’s LGBT community who lived through those times – being shamed for the ‘disgrace’ of coming out, while also while also living in fear of Aids. More

The Big Promise for Race Equality Week 2021

During this inaugural week, our Vice-Chancellor Prof Jane Harrington made a pledge as part of The Big Promise – a commitment to action not just words.

I, Jane Harrington, promise to:

  • set a zero tolerance to racism and microaggressions policy, with published, clear consequences for those that do not adhere
  • annually publish our ethnicity pay gap and set targets with an action plan to meet them
  • actively sponsor ethnic minority (especially black) talent in our workplace.

You can find out more about The Big Promise on the Race Equality Matters website.

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – February 2021

February is LGBT History Month and with that in mind we have chosen the Elton John Aids Foundation as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

After losing friends and peers to AIDS-related illnesses, Elton John was inspired to set up the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992.

They fund projects for the prevention, treatment and education of HIV/AIDS and prioritise the most marginalised groups: gay men, adolescents, people who inject drugs, sex workers and transgender women. On top of this, the Foundation battles the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS; as Elton John himself said, “The AIDS disease is caused by a virus, but the AIDS epidemic is not. The AIDS epidemic is fuelled by stigma, by hate, by misinformation.” The Foundation also runs various fundraising events, including the star-studded Academy Awards Viewing Party.

The Foundation’s mission is simple: to be a powerful force in the end to the AIDS epidemic. They are committed to no more discrimination. No more HIV infections. No more AIDS deaths. No matter who or where you are.

They believe AIDS can be beaten. But only if everyone at risk of HIV, no matter who they are or where they are has access to the non-discriminatory HIV information and compassionate care that allow them to stay healthy and safe and live with dignity.

To find out more about the Foundation see here

To find out more about LGBT History Month see here