A man who has campaigned for the rights of disabled people has been appointed as Chair of Toucan Diversity, a social enterprise that provides equality and disability awareness training.
Rob Trent, who is himself disabled, will take over as Chair of Toucan Diversity on July 2. Rob, who is a mouth painting artist specialising in landscapes, is a keen football fan of AFC Bournemouth and has worked with Football Authorities to improve access for disabled people. Rob graduated with a BSc Honours Degree in Information Systems in 1991 and worked for Ordnance Survey before retiring in 2018. He has been a trustee for Disability Rights UK for the past six years and is also a trustee for Flat Spaces, which is a charity providing accessible holiday accommodation for severely disabled people.
“I was honoured to be asked to serve as Chair for Toucan Diversity”, said Rob. “As a disabled person myself, I believe my lived experience of disability, along with all the challenges that can entail, will enable me to make a well-informed and constructive contribution to the work Toucan Diversity does”
“Although I have been fortunate to have enjoyed a successful career in I.T., it hasn’t been without its challenges. Toucan’s training is designed and delivered by a team of accredited disabled trainers who share their lived experience of a disability. I believe that training will enable employees at all levels of organisations to be better informed about disability, including the practical issues that might come up”.
Rob was born with arthrogryposis, a condition affecting the joints and muscular development. From the age of 6 he attended Chailey Heritage Special School where he was taught to be as independent as possible. In addition to holding a number of trustee positions with charities, Rob is also the Managing Director of an online private sector start-up business (Access Advisr Ltd) which has a vision of making difficult journeys easier for disabled people.
Toucan Diversity’s Development Director, Anne-Marie Asgari, is delighted to have Rob on board: “I have no doubt Rob will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge of disability, along with the challenges it presents, to our organisation”. “In addition to his impressive career with Ordnance Survey, Rob has shown his commitment to working to improve the lives of other disabled people. He will furthermore provide us with expertise and strategic oversight that will enable us to continue to go from strength to strength”.
And with around 20% of the population having some kind of disability, Rob argues the case for disability equality training has never been stronger: “There is a huge wealth of untapped talent out there … with our training, employers will learn how to make the most of the skills and experience disabled people have and service-providers will be better placed to offer services that meet the needs of their disabled customers”.
“I am passionate about equality and inclusion for disabled people which is why I was keen to get involved with and offer my full support to Toucan Diversity. I look forward to meeting the team and the many other people we work with”.
After Toucan Diversity’s founder, Madissa Asgari, passed last October, they are now legacy fundraising to employ a professional disabled person to continue her work. An abseil of the Spinnaker Tower, a skydive, and the Great South Run are all being completed in memory of Madissa. Find out more at www.toucan-diversity.org.uk/legacy-fundraising