Richard West, who is deaf and has a learning disability, has received an MBE for services to the arts and disabled people in the Queen’s birthday honours list.
West, who comes from a Black Minority Ethnic community, has worked tirelessly for people with learning disabilities for many years and continues to be influential in the sector.
He has supported the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities (FPLD) by adopting a key role within their learning disability reference group and helped to develop standards for Easy Read information.
As part of accessible information provider Inspired Services, West has worked with the government to develop policy for improved services, helped set up the National Forum of People with Learning Disabilities, was involved in the disabled arts programme for the Olympics 2012 and chaired the Department of Health’s National Advisory Group on Learning Disability and Ethnicity.
In addition, West was, for many years, a member of the Department for Transport’s Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee.
Empowering people with learning disabilities
West said: “I feel honoured to have been given this award, which means so much to me and the work I do to help improve the lives of people with learning disabilities. It came as a huge shock and surprise.
“There is still so much that needs to be done and I hope my work to empower people with learning disabilities will be recognised and help lead to increased support for those who need it most all over the world.”
Additionally, West is passionate about music and drama which led to his involvement with the arts through his work, including Heart ‘n Soul, an arts organisation led by people with learning disabilities, and setting up Oska Bright, the first film festival showing films made by people with learning disabilities.
Andrew Holman, managing director of Inspired Services, welcomed West’s award: “It would be difficult to think of anyone who has worked as hard or achieved as much for people with learning disabilities as Richard, and who continues to do so despite these hardened times when he has seen his own support service cut. He has been an inspiration to many, with and without a disability, and changed both services and everyday life for thousands of people with learning disabilities across the UK and abroad. He thoroughly deserves this recognition.”
Christine Burke, senior development manager at the FPLD, added: “It has been an absolute honour to work with Richard, who has made a huge impact on services and Government policy. [This] is a much deserved celebration of his ground-breaking efforts and there is no doubt his work will leave a lasting legacy to enable improved support for people with learning disabilities.”