(1965 - )
Mark first started campaigning on behalf of rights for disabled people in the early 1980s, when he was asked to help set up what is now known as the West of England Coalition of Disabled People (WECODP) with a friend. WECODP was set up after “We realised that we were disabled by society’s barriers and that gave me the passion to fight for Disabled people’s rights.”
In 1994, WECODP managed to get Avon Council to set up an independent living scheme by offering support and guidance to disabled people about employing their own personal assistants, making Bristol one of the first cities to do so. The council also provided funds for the purchase of a property, the residential hostel of Courtland’s School in Knowle, which became a Centre for Independent Living, later becoming the West of England Centre for Independent Living (WECIL).
As a result of Mark and other disability rights activists’ efforts, the disabled people’s movement in Bristol has always had a strong voice. However, Mark continues to fight for disabled people’s rights, as many people believe that the coalition-government’s austerity measures have made times tough for all. He says, “there is still a lot of work to do.”
When not busy working as a co-chair of Bristol Disability Equality Forum or helping to run WECIL, Mark is a governor at Broomhill Infants School. He is also involved with the training of social work and medical students at Bristol University.