Trustees/ Support Team

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Our Trustees

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.

The day-to-day running of the organisation is led by the Operations Manager Madissa Asgari. 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

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BOARD OF NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS/ TRUSTEES

Victoria Edwards

Victoria Edwards

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Position: Secretary

My name is Victoria Edwards and I’m currently a college leaver volunteering to gain valuable experience to pass onto a future job opportunity.
In 2010 my life changed forever; I suffered a Brain haemorrhage and my whole left side had no feeling or movement. I’ve slowly beaten the odds and can now walk and talk again. Also due to the Brain haemorrhage I started to loose my sight as fluid has built up in my retinas so I’m now registered severely partially sighted. Although this happened, it has not stopped me for setting myself goals in life. These have been things such as, 4 A levels, plus a Gold Arts Award (surrounding marketing and event management), also the Queen Scout Award and Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award.  I now believe that anyone can do anything if they set their mind to it.

Adele Rosa Benson

Adele Rosa Benson

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I currently serve as a student trustee at the University of Portsmouth Student Union. As part of this role I have had to be adaptable and accountable, as a result, I have ensured that I educate myself before making decisions and taking on board all training in a positive manner in order to fulfill my role to the highest of my capabilities. Often my commitments demand that I remain professional, which will be completely transferred into any roles I adopt. Through my previous role as the Vice President at the Rotaract Club of Portsmouth and Southsea,  I was involved in the liaising between Rotary and Rotaract clubs, as well as the fundraising and arrangement of certain activities within the club. This will serve me well in a fundraising position as my role featured a range of fundraising opportunities. This ranged from appealing to Rotary clubs for financial contributions to bucket fundraising in the Cascades.

In my role as a student ambassador and hub leader with Foodcycle I was responsible for the engagement of the student population and the on-the-day organisation of Foodcycle evenings and the teams in both the kitchen and the serving and presentation of the evening. A relevant part of my role as a student ambassador has been the use of persuasive writing, I have written several press releases and role descriptions in order to attract students to the organisation.

My degree is relevant to this role due to a wide array of writing and analysis that I conduct as well as constructing my own independent arguments and opinions.

Originally from Newport Pagnell, I moved to Portsmouth in 2016 to start my degree in International Relations. Personally, I am passionate about doing my bit to make the world a better place, swimming, and dogs.

I have had various positions in the third sector. I have previously been an ambassador for Save the Children, a TEFL teacher in South Africa, a Student Ambassador for Foodcycle.

 I am very passionate about empowering people to have their voices heard, which is what initially drew me to Toucan Diversity. I founded the University of Portsmouth Politics and International Relations Model United Nations in order for students to hone their debating skills and empower them to use their voices for good elsewhere.

Den Barry

Den Barry

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Training area: invisible disability

Den is a passionate advocate for equality in all areas of society and delivers training on the subject of invisible disabilities.

He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a lifelong chronic condition, in his early 20s. In late 2011, while being treated for early-stage diabetic retinopathy [damage to the retina], he had catastrophic bleeds in both eyes. His sight was partially saved by surgery but he was left visually impaired and is disabled as a result.

Den has experienced periods of low mood and anxiety throughout his adult life and has been diagnosed with moderate to severe depression several times, particularly when dealing with his sight loss.

Den’s story

Den was born in London but has spent most of his life living and working on the south coast.

He has a History degree (BA Hons) in history and a post-graduate professional diploma in social housing management. He is the Chair of Toucan Diversity.

He has a Level 3 Award in Education and Training.

His accreditation was funded by The Partnership Foundation, which is an urban regeneration charity serving Portsmouth, Gosport, Fareham and Havant.

Training aims:

  • Clearly define what constitutes an invisible disability and use statistics to compare their frequency to seen disabilities.
  • Discuss – using personal life experience – how invisible disabilities can impact upon an individual‘s life and that of their family, friends and colleagues.
  • Explore how becoming disabled in later life differs from being disabled from birth or early years.
  • Support learners in becoming better enabled to support people with invisible disabilities.

Training outcomes:

  • Establish a better understanding of what constitutes an invisible disability.
  • Raised awareness of how the lives of those with invisible disabilities are impacted.
  • Raised awareness of how becoming disabled later in life can affect a person’s life.
  • Better enable attendees to support a family member, friend or colleague who has an invisible disability.

Training Methods: 

  • PowerPoint
  • Video 
  • Quizes 
  • Group work and discussion

Course Duration: 1 hour 

Group size: maximum 20

Anne-Marie Asgari

Anne-Marie Asgari

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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  

Jude Caunter

Jude Caunter

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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.

Matt Shipp

Matt Shipp

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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.

Barbara Hicks

Barbara Hicks

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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.

Paul Smith OBE

Paul Smith OBE

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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.

Support Team

Alex Foster

Alex Foster

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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.

Background

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! 

Mike Harris

Mike Harris

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I have spent many years involved with causes promoting
equality, diversity and inclusivity within Portsmouth and was
invited to help with fundraising efforts for Toucan Diversity in
2019.

I am passionate about helping others achieve their goals,
overcoming barriers and including all parts of society in the
decision-making process. What Toucan do is facilitate an
environment where people with learning disabilities can build
skills and knowledge confidently; without fear of discrimination.
Utilising my own skills and experience, I have confidence in
helping to raise vital funds to provide a sustainable future for
Toucan Diversity and its stakeholders in the local community
and strive to enable bright outcomes for people with learning
disabilities.

Alice Quinell

Alice Quinell

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Hello, my name is Alice Quinell.
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.

Mick Walters

Mick Walters

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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”.

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