GOVERNANCE AND TRUSTEES
Toucan Diversity is a social enterprise set up as a company Ltd by guarantee with no share holders. The management committee has the overall responsibility for the strategic direction of the social enterprise and its financial overview. The committee meets twice a term and is very busy in setting up a solid infrastructure to secure the organisation for years to come.
Our company is registered in England and Wales, registered number 8521048. Our registered address is: Toucan Diversity, Innovation Space, 1-2 Hampshire Terrace, Portsmouth PO12QF
BOARD OF NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS/ TRUSTEES
Paul Smith OBE
Position: Interim Chair/ Ambassador
Paul Smith OBE was born in Kingswinford in November 1958, adopted 6 months later in April 1959, I emigrated to Australia with my parents where I lived for 9 years. We returned to the UK in 1968, where I grew up in a number of different towns and cities. I Joined the Royal Navy on the 8th April 1975, just 12 days after leaving school. During my career, I served in the Falklands and 1st Gulf campaign. I also represented the Royal Navy in several different sports, including the ultimate of sporting achievements, the Royal Navy Field Gun Crew. I represented Portsmouth Command Field Gun Crew (twice) at the Royal Tournament in front of Her Majesty the Queen at Earls Court.
In September 1991 my career was affected by a Road Traffic Accident. I went into lock-in/lock- down Syndrome for 12 years. The road to recovery was long and difficult, especially for my family. Then in 2006, my life took a dramatic turn for the better, when I took on my first physical challenge by pushing myself 6 miles in my NHS wheelchair to raise funds for Teenage Cancer Trust. The fundraising continued with the fantastic support of my wife, Jane, my 3 daughters and a brilliant, dedicated support crew. The challenges took off and by 2015, we had raised an amount that surpassed anything we could ever imagine. Charities I and my crew have supported are Teenage Cancer Trust, Kiya Survivors, GOSH, Centrepoint Youth Homelessness, Save the Children and 2 local children here in Portsmouth.
I live with my family in Cosham and my fundraising continues with the same, kind support. I am now a fully qualified UKA Athletics coach and am the lead wheelchair coach at the City of Portsmouth Athletic Club (COPAC). I also coach Physical Preparation(strength and conditioning) for all athletes at the club.
Position: Development Director
I have lived, studied and worked in Germany, Switzerland, France and England. After living in Richmond for over 20 years I finally settled on the Isle of Wight. My earlier professional life was in hotel management where I held several senior positions for more than 15 years, until I had my two daughters.
My second career took me into the world of charity development for another 20 years. Recently, in 2006 I founded Me too & Co, a charity based in Richmond providing support and services for families who have children with additional needs. I am excited to report that Me too & Co ‘s volunteering model received the Queens Award for Voluntary Service in 2018.
The concept of setting up a social enterprise is a new and exciting venture for me. The idea of starting Toucan Diversity came about after I saw the struggle of many disabled young people trying to obtain a job as most of them were ‘shelved’. I firmly believe that they deserve better and with Toucan Diversity we hope to encourage a social change in attitudes towards disability in general.
Toucan Diversity was rewarded in 2015 a Business and Enterprise Award by the Portsmouth business community Shaping Portsmouth.
My name Is Jude. I have been on the ‘mobility impaired’ scale at various stages since 1987, when I was first affected by a cavernoma bleed. However, this was initially diagnosed as ‘Transverse Myelitis’ and not diagnosed as a cavernoma until 2008. It was removed in 2009 and now I use a wheelchair.
I am a fitness instructor at the John Pounds Centre in Portsmouth. I became a fitness instructor through Aspires ‘Instructability’ programme, which is all about encouraging more disabled people to not only become more active, but even become fitness instructors themselves. Through my work as a fitness instructor, I aim to promote my belief that disabled people should be enabled to do the things they can do, rather than unnecessarily disadvantaged because of the things they can’t do. Toucan Diversity get this message out to people! I live with my partner, Jeanie and our 2 dogs.
For the last five years I have been a student at Manchester Metropolitan University studying combined honours degree mathematics with computer music. However due to reason linked to my disability I decided to postpone my degree and continue my studies at a university closer to home. I made this decision because it is my overall ambition to live a fully independent life.
I am looking forward in getting involved with the marketing aspect of Toucan Diversity. I hope to gain relevant experience in this field and develop my communications skills whilst being involved at board level with Toucan Diversity.
I am a very competitive person, enjoy watching cricket and rugby. In addition I love sailing and speed boat racing.
I am a fully qualified teacher and taught with the old LEA in Battersea in the seventies. I spent 12 years in the US working as an editor in educational publishing. From 1997 I was involved with — and eventually ran — fully inclusive out-of-school clubs. In addition, I also worked for 10 years with ‘Crossroads Care’, caring for adults and children. I am very interested in the process of helping every person to find satisfactory work through which they can make their contribution.
Hi, I’m Rebecca. I’m a professional copy-editor, proofreader, writer and general content wrangler with more than 20 years experience of making content accessible, inclusive and engaging. My purpose is to make important stuff easy to read. Clarity, simplicity and trust are my watchwords.
And I’ve got MS. Living with a largely invisible disability has taught me a lot and, being a communicator, I want to share it. It’s essential that more people know about diversity, accessibility and inclusion, the social model of disability, and equality (notably the Equality Act 2010). This is the important stuff. And that’s why Toucan Diversity’s work is so valuable.
A trained journalist, I worked for local weekly newspapers, then the BMA (British Medical Association), before setting up Thomas Editing in 2015. Since then I’ve provided editing services to access and inclusive design consultants, the Terrence Higgins Trust, and NHS trusts, among many others.
Paul is a Chartered Management Accountant and has worked in the financial services industry for more than 30 years developing significant technical, operational and management experience throughout his career.
Paul has extensive experience in finance, accounting and treasury management and has held senior positions in major UK companies including Zurich Insurance and RSA Insurance plc.
Currently working as a business consultant, Paul provides specialist services supporting companies implement optimal operating frameworks by reviewing and redesigning end to end processes using technology solutions where available.
With a successful track record in the design, implementation and management of business operations, organisations have benefitted from a versatile individual who can transform inefficient systems and processes and create highly effective operating frameworks.
Paul has excellent communication skills based on a personable style which ensures that his interactions with people are always constructive and positive outcomes achieved.
Paul has been a major supporter of his great-niece Annabelle, who has cerebral palsy, and has been involved in numerous events over the last 2 years which have been focused on raising sufficient funds for SDR surgery which Annabelle was fortunate enough to have had in January 2021.
Paul is now looking to develop a recruitment and consultancy business focused on supporting individuals with disabilities find jobs and support prospective employers with the services they require to create and maintain diverse and inclusive working environments for its people.
Paul is looking to work with like minded people and companies and introduced himself to Toucan Diversity Training when researching Disability Confident Leaders in the Portsmouth area and has offered his services to the organisation as a volunteer.
Alex joined the Toucan Diversity team as a Volunteer Support Worker in January 2020. She is aiming to become an accredited Disability Equality Trainer this year. She has over 25 years of lived experience with Cerebral Palsy and is an ambulatory wheelchair user. Currently working in the museums sector, Alex hopes to be a keen advocate for developing truly accessible heritage after first learning about the Social Model of Disability in late 2019.
The ancient world has been a passion since childhood. Alex studied her BA in Egyptology & Ancient History at Swansea University, graduating in 2013. In furthering her career, she graduated with an MA in Collections Care and Conservation Management from West Dean College of Arts & Conservation in 2018. Outside of work she writes a blog on perceptions of disability in 2020: https://chairtales.wordpress.com/
She is also an avid Tennis fan, an enthusiastic gamer, and enjoys a good West End Musical or two!
Position: Marketing Support
Hello, my name is Alice.
I am currently a third-year student, studying English and Media Studies at Portsmouth University. I am also a marketing volunteer for Toucan Diversity, where I am involved with marketing on Toucan’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, helping to produce Toucan’s Diversity newsletter and SEO marketing. When I graduate, I aim to use the skills gained from volunteering with Toucan Diversity, to help with future job opportunities in the marketing sector. Also, I hope through volunteering with Toucan Diversity to become more disability aware with the opportunity of attending training sessions.
Position: IT Expert
I am local to Portsmouth and spent my working career in IT. I am now semi-retired and work as a Church Administrator. I wanted to put my “spare” time to good use and support a worthwhile organisation while retaining some interest in the subject of IT. Toucan Diversity seems to fit the bill (no pun intended)! I have a number of friends and other contacts who suffer from one form of disability or another and so I feel strongly about the subject of discrimination. Having training provided by those with real life experience seems so much more valuable than simply providing a set of rules to be followed in order to be politically correct. As so often, real change comes about when people’s perception is changed through education and experience, not through “being talked at”.
Position: Admin Support
My name is Parissa Asgari. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12 and have struggled with the control of my sugar levels ever since. At the age of 26 I had a Stroke in my left eye causing a blind spot and then developed diabetic eye retinopathy that has left me with further visual impairments, anxiety and depression.
When my sister (the founder of Toucan Diversity) passed away in October 2020, I felt compelled to make sure her legacy continued and to fight for the cause she valued most- ensuring that everybody is viewed and dealt with equally.
I have a degree in Sociology from the University of Kent and have a special interest in Mental health. I am also a qualified mental health first aider (MHFA). Over the years I have worked various job roles that included caring, rehabilitation and volunteering for various charities.
My anxieties have made me live quite a solitary and private life. I have a big interest in nature especially ornithology and mycology. I also particularly enjoy photography, long walks, gardening and I try to live an active life when I can.