- Laura BennsChair - Committee MemberLaura BennsChair - Committee MemberHello! I’m Laura Benns, the Chair of the I Am Me Committee. I first became involved in I Am Me over three years ago, when Carol had the idea to start a small local community group to raise awareness of disability hate crime. I didn’t realise at the time just how prevalent disability hate crime is, and I didn’t realise just how huge the ‘small local community group’ would become! I’m very proud to be a part of something that has grown to a national level and is helping to make a positive impact on people’s lives throughout Scotland. In my spare time I enjoy relaxing and taking on new arts and crafts projects – although I don’t get much spare time to do that anymore as my puppy, Buster, keeps me on my toes! I also like to visit friends, and to spend time with my family. I’m excited to see how I Am Me continues to expand over the next few years – I wonder what we’ll do next?!
- Carol Burt-Wilson (MBE)Project Manager - Committee MemberCarol Burt-Wilson (MBE)Project Manager - Committee MemberMy name is Carol Burt-Wilson and I am the founder of I Am Me Scotland. The project started in 2013 to help raise awareness of Disability Hate Crime and to raise awareness of the various methods for reporting incidents and crimes. We worked with a fantastic volunteer committee to develop a range of award winning resources, including Keep Safe and the I Am Me resources. Since then the partnership with Police Scotland, Renfrewshire Council and the support from the Crown Office has enabled us to extend the initiatives across Scotland. Before starting the charity I worked in various roles within the Local Authority, including within Housing and Social Work and had around 10 years experience of working in the private sector (Admin/HR/Payroll)prior to this. I have completed a BA (2:1) in HR Management with CIPD accreditation in 2009 with further achievements including a certificate in mental health in children and young people, advanced ECDL and a HNC in management.
- Myra ReidTreasurer - Committee MemberMyra ReidTreasurer - Committee MemberMy name is Myra and I am the Committee treasurer. I noticed that my son, Graeme could not achieve the same goals as his sisters, but put this down to being a boy. I contacted my health visitor with my concerns, but nothing was achieved. Things only came to light when Graeme started school, he was sent to the Head Teacher for his reading as he disrupted his class. I noticed he would only attempt to read if I said the first word for him, I realised he was doing this from memory and notified the head teacher who informed me that he wasn’t and that he could read. This continued until I got a call to say that Graeme had got the blame of something in the school, but it couldn’t have been him as he was not at school that day. I phoned SW for guidance as I had no-one else to turn to, they could not help me but suggested I ask the school for Child Guidance, they arranged an assessment for Graeme and he was diagnosed with severe coordination problems, dyslexia and that he was only at the stage of a 3 year old (he was 5). I was informed that he could not get assistance with the dyslexia until he was 7, in the meantime his teachers were frustrated with him and ripped up his jotters in front of him, he eventually did the same in frustration. When he was 7 he got transport a few days a week to take him to Carbrook St where he got 2 to one tuition for his Dyslexia, he also had to attend child psychology appointments. This continued to High School where he got a scribe, but automatically lost points in the exams. Graeme was supposed to have a record of needs that would help him find employment when he left school but he never got this help. During his high school years Graeme was picked on by the teachers and was suspended by the head teacher for a week for copying something rude from a desk. I had to go to the Education Authorities. Graeme also got the blame of everything when out playing, it was always my door the parents came to and no-one else’s house. My son survived his school years and has succeeded in adult life and can turn his hand to most jobs. I volunteer for the I Am Me project to use my own experiences to offer advice and guidance to help makes things better for others who may experience the same issues.
- Fiona MacintyreCommittee MemberFiona MacintyreCommittee Member
I am a mum of three young adults. My middle child is 29 and has Downs Syndrome. He travels independently on local buses. As a mum I find the statistics of disability hate crimes very frightening. I want my son to enjoy his life to the full but I also want to protect him from being the target of abuse of any sort. Not surprisingly I feel very strongly about the work of I Am Me/Keep Safe.
The play, film and school materials all help to raise awareness and change attitudes. The network of Keep Safe places mean that when my son is travelling alone, he can get to help if he needs it for whatever reason. That is reassuring for me as his mum.
Folk with learning disabilities all deserve to live their lives free of fear. I Am Me and Keep Safe are making that a real possibility for people in Scotland.
It makes me proud of Renfrewshire - where it all started.
- Megan MilliganCommittee MemberMegan MilliganCommittee MemberHi, I’m Megan. I came to I Am Me in January 2015 as the Project Intern, making me the first paid employee for the project. I graduated in 2014 with a 2:1 MA HONS English Literature & Theatre Studies from the University of Glasgow. I’m very close with my grandparents, who all happen to have disabilities, and they drive my passion and motivation to work hard. But as we all know, disabilities don’t discriminate in age - I have young and older friends and family members that are all touched by disability in some way. Afterall, 20% of Scotland’s population is registered as disabled... In my spare time, I like visiting my grandparents, and making (and eating) nutella brownies. I also like to play with my puppies, Gatsby and Lola! They are the cutest puppies, ever*. I’m so proud to be a part of a project that is trying to make a difference in Scotland.
- Stephanie RoseForce Liaison Officer - Committee MemberStephanie RoseForce Liaison Officer - Committee MemberMy name is Stephanie Rose I have been a police officer with Police Scotland for 19 years. My current role is a National Equality and Diversity Officer. I have responsibility for issues relating to Disability, all aspects of hate crime as well looking at how we make our services more accessible for all. I am the Police Scotland liaison officer for the I Am Me / Keep Safe charity. It has been a privilege to work with the team. Their determination to increase awareness of disability hate crime and make people feel safer in their communities is inspiring. I am amazed at what the Charity has achieved so far and I am excited by the plans for the future.
- Debbie CampbellProject Initiatives Officer - Committee MemberDebbie CampbellProject Initiatives Officer - Committee MemberHi there! My name is Debbie and I am the Project Initiatives Officer for I Am Me Scotland. My main focus is working with Primary Schools to educate pupils about disabilities, bullying and hate crime! I studied Graphic Design for Digital Media at university. This means that I have an eye for detail and I’m a bit of a computer wiz, so I’m quite handy to have around! What I enjoy the most about working for I Am Me Scotland is making a difference to people’s lives across Scotland, through tackling Disability Hate Crime and raising awareness of it within our communities and schools. In my spare time I love travelling with my friends, re-reading Stephen King novels and baking lots of yummy cakes for my family. Although, the thing I love most in the world is playing with my dog Max!
- Kieran KellyClerical Assistant - Committee MemberKieran KellyClerical Assistant - Committee MemberHello. My name is Kieran Kelly. I am 19 years old. I am a trainee with I Am Me in Renfrewshire House for 25 weeks. After my traineeship I will continue to work with I Am Me by volunteering until I get another post with them. I joined I Am Me in January 2016 through work experience from Project SEARCH which is an employability course based through Glasgow Clyde Collage for people who have Autism or a learning disability aged between 17 – 26 years old. I live with my grandmother who has looked after me since I started high school. She always spoils me and loves me at the same time. My grandmother thinks that I Am Me will be a life changer for very many people in Scotland as she always knows what the project is up to. I agree with her. In the near future, there will be no doubt that disability hate crime awareness will increase heavily and reporting disability hate crime will go under reported a lot less often and hopefully disability hate crime will occur much less. During my traineeship I am mainly in charge of administration tasks such as making up the business packs for the Keep Safe premises, updating databases and spreadsheets, organising files in a proper manner etc. I also usually work with Carol and Megan with the stuff they focus on such as the Cinebus, Police Scotland and more. I always enjoy their company and probably describe them as the funniest, kindest and most excitable people I have ever met.
- Andrew MacIntyreLead Keep Safe Ambassador - Committee MemberAndrew MacIntyreLead Keep Safe Ambassador - Committee MemberI am Andrew James Macintyre, I am a committee member. I so love my work I do for I Am Me Keep Safe, I am always more than keen for all events -I will never stop. I Am Me Keep Safe Scotland are major part of my life. I would love to help with the Cine-Bus.
- Ava RaesideCommittee MemberAva RaesideCommittee MemberBio coming soon!
- Mhairi O’RourkeSecretary - Committee MemberMhairi O’RourkeSecretary - Committee MemberMy name is Mhairi O’Rourke and I am the new Project Initiatives Officer for I Am Me. For the past 11 years I have had the privilege of being part of the Care and Support at Home Service which is a part of the Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership. Prior to this I worked for the private sector supporting adults with learning disabilities in their own homes promoting independence in all aspects of daily living. I first learned of I Am Me in 2015 when I was invited to see the film at my local cinema. The only way to describe how it made me feel is “it got me”, and I have followed the charity ever since. I am passionate about the work that I Am Me and Keep Safe do and am ecstatic to be part of the team, my kids are very proud too! My family and friends are very important to me and we love going to the theatre, travelling (I want to see the world!) and I like to run.
- Meghan McGheeMeghan McGheeBio coming soon!