Recently the Board was pleased to appoint Dave Woolley, Chief Executive of Your Voice Counts, as Chair of the Consortium. Dave has a lot of experience in designing and delivering projects and in working with people with learning disabilities, becoming Chief Executive of Your Voice Counts, a charity that provides a range of services to support vulnerable people, particularly those with a learning disability, across the North East, in 2012 having worked for the organisation for 10 years, initially as a group worker supporting people with learning disabilities to establish and run their own Self Advocacy groups across Tyneside.
He lives in Gateshead with his partner and two children.
Below, Dave writes about his background and his vision for the Consortium.
I studied Community Drama at Northumbria University, graduating in the year 2000 before practising as an arts worker, delivering projects into local communities across Newcastle. It was during this time that I first began to work with the learning disabled community using drama to help people explore and speak up about the issues that affected their lives, and working alongside groups such as The Lawnmowers and Liberdade. I then went on to undertake a Post-graduate Certificate in Education and for the next 5 years worked as a tutor, designing and delivering courses to adults with learning disabilities.
Keen to take on a more direct role in helping people with learning disabilities to speak up for their rights, I then moved to Your Voice Counts in 2006. During this time I worked with Gateshead People, a self-advocacy group set up and run by people with learning disabilities, supporting them to campaign around the issues that affected their lives and to work directly with the council and health services to ensure local policy reflected the needs of people with learning disabilities. I also helped to established Talk 2 Us, a self-advocacy group for people with learning disabilities in South Tyneside.
I continue to be passionate about ensuring that the most disadvantaged people in our society are afforded the same rights and opportunities as the rest of us and joined the Board of the Blue Stone Consortium in October 2015 because I believe that we are stronger together. Only by collaborating with each other can we protect and those rights and give our most disadvantaged communities of place, interest and identity good opportunities that will bring them benefits economically, socially, culturally and in the environment.
I am delighted to be chairing the Consortium’s Board, which, at its last meeting, decided that health, care and wellbeing is the new focus of the organisation. In everything we do we want to support our members to do what they do best; promoting, protecting and providing services and engaging with people to take control of their own lives to improve their health, care for themselves and each other and engender wellbeing in their neighbourhoods and communities.